My due date, October 4th, was just a date. I'd read lots of books and articles that said most people did not give birth on their due dates and that I shouldn't count on it. I wasn't locked into the 4th, but in my head, I was going to give birth in October. October was an exciting month. If I gave birth in October, then my Mom would have grandchildren with birthdays in July, August, September, October, and November. I thought it was kind of cool.
When we entered the hospital in June, the dates of the Twinsies' birth became rather murky. I did not know if I was going to have them that moment or what would happen. As we passed into July, the date they would be born left my head. My job was just to grow babies. I focused on getting through each day. I tried not to let runs of contractions scare me. I never thought about the end of my pregnancy.
Then came the day I hit 34 weeks. We reached 34 weeks on August 23rd. Mentally, my job changed. I knew that the babies had hit a major milestone. According to my twins book and lots of websites, the Twinsies had completed the majority of their developing. Now, it was up to them to gain weight and finish their final development. If they were born now, very few of the scary things the neonatologist had told me about would affect them (things like brain hemorrhages, blindness, immature lungs, etc.).
Week 34 made me start to realize that we might actually make it to September. September 6th specifically. September 6th is, of course, the ultimate goal: 36 weeks. If the Twinsies are born then, there is a very good chance that they won't spend any time in the NICU; they may actually go to the regular nursery and be able to visit me in my hospital room instead of me visiting them.
A major shift occurred in my way of thinking. I was no longer just growing babies. Oh, no! I was beginning a countdown. Countdowns, I have since learned, are an entirely different animal from passing the time. Passing the time goes quickly because you don't know where the end is. You can go from day to day and not keep track of Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday. You can just watch Forrest Gump or A Few Good Men for the 7th time and it doesn't really matter. But when a countdown commences, you start noticing things. For example, you start recognizing the same litigants on Judge Judy and The Peoples' Court. The clock becomes a greater focus. You pay much more attention to the date and correct people very quickly if they make a mistake. I, for example, took my calendar off the wall and started a countdown to September 6th. I actually worked backward from the 6th to wrote numbers for the countdown. Every person who walked into the room was reminded of the number of days I had left. In fact, every person who called me was also reminded.
Ick! Countdowns are awful. The sad part is that I did not realize I had subjected myself to the negative consequences of a countdown until it was too late. I specifically remember having 10 days left until September 6th and wondering if I was ever going to make it to single digit numbers. This counting down thing is torture!
When September 6th fell through as the day for the Twinsies to be born, a new obsession was born: I refused to let myself go into labor in August. I was determined to make it to September. I even told one of the nurses: "I will not give birth in a month that does not end in "BER." On Tuesday, August 28th, I had a lot of contractions. All day long, my eyes were on the contraction monitor and my tummy was sore! I told Dr. Hartford about my contractions the next morning and he decided to do a pelvic exam to see how we had progressed. He actually asked me when the last time was that we had done an exam. He seemed a bit surprised that it was back in June. When he checked me, he announced that I was 80 - 90% effaced. "Where is your husband?" he asked me. "He's close by, right?"
Aaaah! All of a sudden, my countdown was changed again. Dr. Hartford made it seem like we would be going into labor in the next few days. When I called Eddie and told him he needed to stay within 30 minutes of the hospital, he went into shock. All of a sudden, the babies were coming NOW and he wasn't ready for them. He told me later that day that he sat staring at a wall for hours trying to figure out if we were ready for babies to come. To this day, he is still in shock.
Every day following Dr. Hartford's exam slowed to a crawl. It was August and it was much earlier than my countdown had allowed. Friday, as a consequence, was torture for me. It was the last day of August. The babies were especially active that day and were making my uterus crazy! Iggy had the hiccups 6 times that day and all of the activity made me tired and cranky. I watched the clock like a child waiting for school to let out. If I could only make it 10 more hours...6 more hours...2 more hours. When the clock finally passed midnight, it was an enormous relief. We made it past August and into September. Yay!
It may seem silly, my need to make it to September. But when you've been in the hospital for almost 12 weeks, you focus on strange things. Here are some other things I have been focused on:
- The hair on my arms used to be blond because I drove with my sunroof open. Now it has reverted to my actual hair color and the little dark brown/black hairs are making me feel ugly.
- I haven't had a hair cut in almost 6 weeks. It has started to look rather wild. I don't do anything with it other than wash it and brush it. Sometimes, my bed hair makes me look like a crazy person. Lately, I have been getting up several times a day to wet it down and brush it so that the curls are slightly tamed.
- I check my email at least 20 times a day. Heaven forbid some one's message waits longer than 5 minutes for a response.
- I will not allow any trash to accumulate in any proximity to me. I will get up and waddle around my hospital room, collecting napkins, straw papers, etc and throwing them away. I almost drove Eddie crazy the other day, getting up and cleaning up after him. I just can't handle the idea that trash is around me. It needs to be in the trash can. Related to the trash obsession is the breakfast/lunch/dinner tray obsession. My trays cannot be allowed to stay on my table for more than 20 minutes before I start getting antsy.