One of my favorite movies is Father of the Bride Part II—mostly because I love the hospital scene. You know, the one where George Banks gets drugged on sleeping pills and—whoops!—mom and daughter end up going into labor at the same time (spoiler alert from 1995). Then there’s that touching scene when Steve Martin looks at the doctor and says, “They’re everything I’ve got.” Oh, how my heart melts each time I watch it. This is how my delivery story will go, I thought as I painted my toenails after eating waffles and sleeping in until double digits. My pregnancy had been blissful, so I felt pretty certain the delivery would be no different.
Several friends tried to prepare me for labor and delivery, but this was before I had a kid, so I was convinced I knew everything. I had my own ideas about labor and delivery, some of which were completely, utterly, and fantastically wrong. I started thinking about this on day two of my son’s life as I asked myself: What just happened here?
So, in the spirit of motherhood, and as an ambassador to life (a.k.a. a mom), let me help you out with ten things I wish I had known before labor and delivery.
10. The beginning stages of labor can take days or even weeks. At 37 weeks, I was dilated three centimeters. The doctor told us we probably wouldn’t make it through the weekend without going into labor. This was on a Thursday morning. Ten days later, with my contractions five minutes apart, I was still three centimeters dilated! What I didn’t realize is that your body does this as it’s revving up for labor, and it can actually take quite a bit of time to go into active labor, especially for a first-time mom. According to WhatToExpect.com, early or latent labor can last from “several hours to several weeks.”1