It wasn’t supposed to happen to me. Second babies are never overdue, I thought, and I was pretty sure I read somewhere that most women have all of their kids around the same point of gestation. My son’s labor began at 38 weeks and 3 days, and so while my daughter’s due date was December 25, I informed anyone who asked that she would most likely be home in time for Christmas. But the holidays came and went, and as I stared down the final days of the year, my Google history filled with increasingly desperate searches:
how to induce labor
do late babies sleep better?
has anyone ever been pregnant forever???
The weekly emails and updates from my pregnancy apps stopped comparing my fetus to a fruit and started questioning my sanity. “Are you sure you’re really pregnant?” They asked gently. “Maybe you should see someone.” Strangers no longer smiled warmly when they saw me waddling down the sidewalk and instead crossed the street like I might have some infectious disease. My phone lit up with calls from the bravest among my family members, gleefully posing the dreaded question:
Have you had that baby yet?
Medical induction wasn’t an option for me, so I turned to the Old Wives for their recommendations. Black cohash sounded sinister, like something an ancient Greek philosopher would use to poison his rival. Evening primrose oil required more flexibility than I possessed at 10 months pregnant. Castor oil had the most promising data behind it, but I was not quite prepared to poop myself into labor. I drank red raspberry leaf tea and walked for an hour every morning, which did succeed in getting the baby into the entryway, but did nothing about opening the door.
“Anything you recommend?” I asked my doctor at my 57-week appointment, after she informed me that if it was possible to be negative-dilated, I was.
“There is one thing,” she said.
I reconsidered the castor oil.
New Year’s Eve came and went. One evening, while hauling my substantial bulk off of the yoga ball and lowering myself into a forward-leaning inversion, I turned to my husband and said, “I think we’re going to have to try.” He looked like a third-string quarterback that had just been called in for the final play against Alabama. A squirrel that fell into the lion cage. The young squire thrown into battle. For God and country, we were going to get this baby out.
“I think I have a headache,” he said.
The Saturday night before the Monday of my scheduled repeat C-section, I gave up. My husband and I stayed up late talking, mourning the lost chance of a spontaneous labor and a VBAC, pointing out all of the benefits of a scheduled birth. At least we would be well rested. We went to sleep at midnight, at peace with the way things were going to be.
Labor began at 3am.
My baby girl was born 26 hours later, at 41 weeks and 4 days—just a few days shy of forever.