It was Christmas Eve, and given that we’d labored 24 hours for two centimeters progress, I couldn’t put everything on hold just because I was in labor.
Then again, the contractions were continuing and were requiring my total focus. They were still a minute long and five minutes apart, but I couldn’t talk through them anymore. That was enough to rule out the morning worship service.
We settled on preparing my family’s traditional Christmas Eve meal. Daniel transferred one soup from the container I’d frozen it in to the crockpot (because Daniel has tried oyster soup when we were engaged and had found it wanting). I prepared the oyster soup. I pulled out the platters and the dishes and directed Daniel and his mom as they set the table and arranged the veggies and dip, the crackers and cheese and summer sausage and cheese ball, and the relish tray with pickles and olives.
Somewhere over the course of the morning, Tirzah Mae noticed her mother’s lack of responsiveness to her (during contractions). In between contractions, I explained: “Remember how mama said the baby would let mama know when it was time to be born? The baby would talk to mama by making her belly go” and then I squeezed my belly on either side, making it bulge further in front. “Well the baby has started talking to mama to tell her that it’s about time for the baby to be born.”
We sat down for our Christmas meal – Grandma and papa and the children in chairs, mama on her birthing ball. Every few minutes, I stood up, leaned over the wing back chair behind me (in the living room), rocked my hips and groaned a bit as the next contraction hit. Then I’d sit back down and eat a bit more.
If we were in a race to finish Christmas dinner, I’d have been dead last. Tirzah Mae would have been the winner. And, as is often the case when Tirzah Mae finishes her meal before me, she wanted to snuggle. But there was no way she was getting on that ball with me. It was hard enough trying to eat and manage contractions and balance on the ball and try to be pleasant at the table. I acquiesced to having her scoot her chair close to me so she could rest her head on my belly (when I wasn’t contracting, of course.)
She laid her head on my lap, patted my belly and said in the sweetest little voice: “Stop talking to mama, baby. It makes her crabby.”
The baby didn’t listen to Tirzah Mae’s advice (thank goodness!) Contractions continued, varying from five to fifteen minutes apart, but continuing to increase in intensity. Unable to concentrate on anything too focused (i.e. a book), I downloaded a Sudoku app on my phone and began methodically working through its puzzles between contractions. As the day wore on, the contractions started more abruptly, ramping up to seven or eight right away instead of slowly increasing to a peak.
Nevertheless, we went to bed yet another evening, still in latent labor.