Monday morning blew into our house with all the hallmarks of winter. A touch of frost on the air, a crispness that burned the inside of your nose and chilled your ears. But by early morning, the warm unfiltered sunshine had banished all but the gentlest rebuke on the breeze.
I was "due" and at the height of prowliness. I had an obstetrician appointment at 12:30 and was fully expecting the day to go much as my previous labour days. An appointment with a stretch and sweep, an afternoon of uncoordinated contractions, a last night of debauchery followed by intensifying contractions and then later that night or maybe the next morning, a new baby.
It didn't happen like that.
At about 10am I felt damp. There's not really any other way to describe it, and nothing that will make it sound dignified. Not wet, no "oops, I dropped a jar of pickles", but damp. After the increasingly uncharming effects of late pregnancy including increased leukorrhoea I assumed this was more of the same. At the very least I was incredibly sure that I hadn't suddenly developed incontinence. I had a shower and asked a bemused Bingley what, hypothetically, we were supposed to do if it was something else. Something like my waters breaking (remembering that for the Elfling and Monkey I had my waters broken at full dilatation). We neither of us had any idea.
At about 12pm there was no gushing of waters and I had no idea if I'd imagined the "dampness", so we were all ready to go to my appointment. I was wearing one of my favourite red dresses, because we figured a trip to the city deserved some last minute shopping and dining et al. I grabbed my handbag and I stood up, and promptly worked out that either my bladder had exploded or my waters really had broken. It was sitcom cliched really, standing there, in the middle of the room, dressed up with my pretty dress and product in my hair and clear sticky fluid running down my legs with a completely nonplussed expression on my face. I honestly had no clue what you are supposed to do when this happens.
I called my obstetrician for guidance and was instructed to go to the hospital's assessment unit forthwith, the assumption being that with my stellar previous labours, that this one, with the turbo boost of already broken waters might be imminent. At this stage I'd had nary a braxton hicks, and didn't feel "labour-y" so was in no rush. I called the hospital to find out where I should actually go because I didn't think this was birth suite material, and ate some lunch before making sure the bag was in the car etc and tried to decide what to do about the girls. The Monkey was with us, the Elfling at school (finishing in just over 2 hours) and all of our "to call" people were at work.
By 1 o'clock we had sorted everything out. We picked up the Elfling from school and planned to drop me off at the hospital. Bingley would look after the girls at home with my sister on standby should labour kick in to look after them. I was dropped off out the front of maternity, and stood there, in my pretty red dress, with my glossy hair and my handbag and felt like a right royal fraud. Not in labour, not a single contraction, standing alone outside maternity, dress fluttering in the breeze.