Every single airline in the world has rules. Some of them seem stupid – no more than 3 oz. containers, no hockey sticks (seriously, that one is detailed in print). But some, believe it or not, are actually there to ensure passenger safety.
What does this have to do with a baby, you might ask?
Most airlines do not let pregnant women fly in their third trimester, and women who insist on flying in their last month of pregnancy must get a written letter of approval from their OB/GYN.
This is a rule I did not listen to.
I was 36 weeks and 6 days pregnant. It was June 30th, and I was due July 21st. I was at home in Ohio, excitedly anticipating my beautiful baby girl – but not rushing it. No bags were packed. No thought of an early arrival entered my mind.
I thought Rose would be textbook, 40 weeks. She was absolutely flawless in every ultrasound, every test. Through the whole pregnancy, I had had not one complication. Not the slightest pain, ache, swelling, sickness, aversion, craving, you name it. I guess there is something to be said for 20.
My wonderful boyfriend (now fiancé) was in Coast Guard A School for Maritime Enforcement in Charleston, South Carolina. He was graduating on the 1st of July, and wanted me to be there. I wanted to be there to support him, as well.
I had an extra appointment with my OB the day before I left. He said there were no signs of labor, and since the flight was only an hour and 45 minutes, I should be fine to go.
So I did.
No one said anything to me at all as I went through security, boarded the plane, took my seat. From the back, you would never know I was pregnant, although because of my short torso, baby girl – who was measuring large – had no where else to go but out. Which, now that I think about it, may have contributed to what happened next.
The plane took off, and about 15 minutes in, it started.
No pain. No leaking. No cramping. I thought it was another gentle round of Braxton-Hicks. The only difference was, after an hour, these contractions still hadn’t stopped.
I timed them, and got even more paranoid. They lasted one minute. They were coming every 4-5. And I know I didn’t pay the best attention in that mommy class, but I think I remembered that that was the time you were supposed to go to a hospital… I tried to calm myself down. After all, there was absolutely no pain. And I’d also paid enough attention to know that it would hurt.
I tried to change positions and take deep breaths, but that economy class seat was not good enough. I saw the flight attendant eyeing me, and when she inevitably came over to ask if I was okay, it was all I could do to reassure her.
Labor? This? No. Are you crazy? Just some pre-landing stress, that’s all, ma’am; I promise I’m fine.
And really, I was fine at that moment. It really didn’t hurt at all. I was just scaring myself, I thought. And it seemed like an eternity, and everyone was staring, and the flight attendants were all on high alert, but it was ultimately unnecessary. We finally landed, and I waddled uncomfortably off the plane, to the relief of everyone in the cabin.
My boyfriend and I rushed to the hotel, very happy to see each other after his 10-week-long school. I told him immediately, of course. The contractions still had not stopped. And something was starting to feel different about these – still no pain, but the pressure. It felt like my abdomen was still 15000 ft. up in that airplane.
So when we got to hotel, I called my OB immediately. He informed me that it was probably just the plane, said to drink lots of water and walk around. If they still hadn’t stopped, I should go to the nearest hospital, explain to the nurses what was going on, and get checked out. “If you’re in labor, you’d know it,” he said. And I definitely didn’t know it yet.
Another hour went by. No changes. It was around 5pm now, and I told my boyfriend that we’d better go see what was going on with me. We explained my situation to the nurses, and they appeared relaxed enough. “We don’t have a room clean right now, so just sit tight and we’ll call you back when we can,” they said.
Finally, at 6pm, we got into a room. At 6:30, a fantastically brilliant nurse named Becky came in and told me she’d check me out. She went in to see if I was dilated, and gave me a funny look. She took her glove off and said, “Let me get the doctor in here.”
I exchanged glances with my boyfriend. This didn’t sound good.
The doctor, a no-nonsense lady from Cuba, repeated the same test as the nurse. She shook her head and laughed. “You’re 4 and 100, sweetheart. We’re going to break your water to speed this along, and you’re staying right here.”
Shock, that’s the only way to describe it. I thought it would’ve hurt before I got to this point. I laughed, said “Alright then,” and called my family to let them know. My mother had our car seat at their house; they started the 10-hour drive from Ohio that second.
My boyfriend ran back to the hotel to get our things, and I waited for another half an hour before he and the doctor came back in. After they broke my water, things moved way too fast. Another hour and I was 7cm. At 10pm, it started to hurt bad, and I asked for an epidural. That slowed things down somewhat – I didn’t get to 10 until midnight.
Pushing only took 30 minutes. It was 33 minutes into July, and Rose was finally here. They practically threw her, still cheesy, right onto my chest. She wasn’t crying, but she was breathing fine, so they let her stay there. I looked at her beautiful, swollen little face, so happy. It was a few more minutes before she could open her eyes past all the vernix, but once she did they locked right onto mine. She was home!
Babies have a funny way of knowing things. If Rose hadn’t decided to come that weekend, her dad wouldn’t have gotten to see her come into the world. She even gave him enough time to make it to graduation.
We are beyond blessed with this little girl, and so excited for all our adventures to come!
Check out more stories from this amazing Mama on her blog!