I was planning on working until my due date, which is in 10 days. But this past weekend things seemed to be moving undeniably toward labor (yes, on Labor Day weekend), and when I went back to work on Tuesday, I was miserable enough that I threw in the towel. My supervisor was extremely understanding and supportive, and I went on leave at 38 weeks exactly.
At first I felt terribly guilty about this. I've found that many women who worked during their pregnancies have told me similar things about it: you don't want to be waiting around at home, you don't want to spend any of your maternity leave pre-baby. There is a sort of pride about it, working until you deliver. But after a day of feeling like a weenie for dropping out of the race, I'm over it. My job involves 13 hour days, a lot of which are pushing stretchers with patients on them down long halls to and from operating rooms, bending over to do things on the OR floor like empty urine bags and pick up all the stuff I drop, and sitting in (or avoiding sitting in) incredibly uncomfortable chairs while monitoring my patients under anesthesia. There isn't much space up at the head of the bed for walking around and relieving back labor. Plus, having a patient on my last day who was "ruling out" for VRE (a particularly nasty multidrug resistant organism) reminded me that every patient in the hospital has the potential to pass along a bug I might not want my newborn daughter to get when I deliver her.
Plus, I don't mind having the time to get my head in a new space, and being able to do as much or as little activity as I see fit to do right now. Yesterday, I was walking around a lot and being more active, but today I just haven't been able to do much at all. I have great plans to do all this cooking for after the birth, go grocery shopping, write my shower thank-you cards...but I haven't been motivated today. This blog post is the most ambitous thing I've been able to do yet.
My profession has made me a little more educated about pregnancy and delivery than I used to be, and perhaps more so than the average person, but one thing I didn't really get before is how ambiguous labor signs can really be. Not just the fact that contractions can start and stop multiple times, but that you can be unsure if they are actually contractions. Or if what you are experiencing is 'progressing' or not. Or if your water has broken or not. If it's your first time, not only can you be unsure yourself, but there are a hundred other women to tell you their hundred different experiences, which doesn't add clarity. I want something more definitive, but I haven't gotten it. And being stuck in a moment in time, unable to see if an hour or three from now things will be more obvious (as I know they eventually become...usually), is terribly disorienting. I find myself losing perspective. For every woman who tells me knowingly, "Oh, you'll know," there is another whose experience was not knowing she was in labor for hours, or days.
Anyway, I'm ready to be done. I realize it may still be a few weeks, or it may be any day.