When I was pregnant I was often told that a woman’s first labor tends to be very lengthy. At one point I read about a woman who baked a birthday cake between contractions to pass the time before going to the hospital. After returning home with the baby, she was able to celebrate the birth by eating a slice of the cake. I thought this idea was brilliant, so I bought the ingredients for a lemon cake about a week before my due date. Clearly, a part of me was ready for the baby to come.
Another part of me didn’t believe the baby would really come so soon, though. My husband was supposed to start a new job in Nuremberg just two months after the birth, but we had not yet found an apartment there. In Germany you are required to give notice that you are cancelling your apartment lease three months before you plan to move out. We had already given the three-month-notice for our apartment in Mainz, so I told my husband that he could drive to Nuremberg five days before my due date to visit some prospective apartments. I knew it was risky to let Christian make the long journey so close to the due date, but I really wanted to be able to give birth without fearing that my baby would soon be homeless.
On Saturday, May 21st, we went to bed at about 1 a.m. Christian was planning to make the three hour drive to Nuremberg when he woke up. I tried to sleep, but I kept feeling painful contractions that kept me awake. “It must be those fake Braxton-Hicks contractions,” I thought. I continued trying to sleep for the next two hours.
By 3 a.m., the contractions were coming so frequently that I decided to download a contraction-timing app to my phone. I felt a bit ashamed of the fact that I was using an app rather than listening to my instincts or looking at a normal clock, but I swallowed my pride and made use of the convenient start and stop buttons. I knew that you’re supposed to go to the hospital when your contractions come about every five minutes and last for one minute. It turns out my contractions were already coming every two to three minutes! I tried not to freak out about this, though, because they were only lasting for about thirty seconds. I told myself that it would probably still take a while for them to increase to a duration of one minute.
At some point Christian woke up. I informed him that the contractions seem to be coming very regularly. He told me he had already figured that out from my loud moaning, of course.
We debated whether or not to notify the on-call midwife at the birthing center where I planned to give birth. We knew there would be a shift change at 8 a.m., so I thought it would be best to wait until then to call. I didn’t want to call too early and wake up the wrong person. At 5 a.m. my water broke in a gushing deluge that settled the matter. Apparently the baby didn’t want us to wait for the midwives’ shift change before calling. I laughed about how fast everything seemed to be going. It seemed so unreal!
We immediately called the first midwife on duty, who actually didn’t answer her phone. Now I’m a fairly shy person. I don’t exactly enjoy making phone calls. But if there was ever a time in my life where I wanted somebody to answer the phone, then this was it! Thankfully, the birthing center always has 2 midwives on duty, a main one and a backup. The backup midwife answered her phone and told us to come in right away.
As you may have guessed, I did not have the chance to bake a birthday cake during my labor, and Christian did not have the chance to go apartment hunting that day as planned. To find out what caused my very fast labor to slow down, you’ll have to read part two!