By the time I was pregnant with my third child, I felt like I had this pregnancy thing pretty well figured out. I knew the difference between Braxton Hicks contractions and the real deal. I knew that my labors progressed slowly, so I shouldn’t go in until the contractions were 2-3 minutes apart (since we lived just minutes from the hospital). I also knew I should go in within 24 hours, regardless of contractions, if my water broke. The only thing was I didn’t know what it was like to have my water break spontaneously. It had never happened naturally before. This set me up for quite the ride when I thought my water broke, but I had really just peed myself instead. What even is life.
Late at night in my 39th week of pregnancy, I got up to get myself a glass of water. I was in the nude, because being in my third trimester in 90-degree weather meant I was in no mood for clothing. Especially at night when my sweating was profuse to say the least. I feel like it is vital to say that I had no need to pee. None whatsoever. So when a sudden gush of liquid appeared at my feet, out of the blue (it was certainly mere coincidence that I had just turned on a faucet of running water), I was sure my water had broken.
OK, I was pretty sure my water had broken. Like 80/20 sure that my water had broken. There was enough doubt that I got down on my hands and knees and inspected said liquid, which didn’t smell like pee, I assure you. It was odorless and clearish. (I was well hydrated, I guess.) I cleaned up, went back to bed and woke my husband to tell him my water broke.
“Are you sure?” he said.
“I mean, that or I just peed a lot on the kitchen floor. Like a lot, a lot.”
“But I’m pretty sure my water broke.”
“OK,” he said before falling back asleep. He did not seem as convinced as I was. I stayed up for hours, unable to sleep, waiting for contractions to descend with a vengeance. Eventually, I fell asleep, and when I woke, there were still no contractions.
After listening to my detailed account (of peeing on the floor), she decided I should come in to be checked.
Suddenly I had doubts. It had been so late at night. I was tired and prone to vivid pregnancy dreams. Perhaps I simply wanted to be in labor so badly that I convinced myself my water had broken. Was there really that much liquid? More than when I normally peed myself? (Which, let’s face it, was a frequent occurrence.) In the end, I settled on yes and yes. It was time to call my doctor.
She asked if I was still leaking any of the liquid, to which I answered with a strong maybe, because at this point in pregnancy everything was kind of leaky all the time. My nipples were leaky. My vagina was leaky. My urethra was basically a broken faucet. There was definitely leakage. After listening to my detailed account (of peeing on the floor), she decided I should come in to be checked.
On the third go, I feel like I probably should have known the difference between peeing myself and having my water break.
There wasn’t much liquid to collect (because I had emptied my bladder into the kitchen), but when she tested, it was definitely pee. I was at a point where I was continually leaking pee. I realized I had spent part of my night wallowing in my own urine, while trying to decide if my water had broke — and had then relayed all of this information to my midwife, who was being very professional about the fact that I was slowly leaking pee all over her exam table.
Had this been my first baby, I still would have been mortified, but at least it would have been an understandable mistake. On the third go, I feel like I probably should have known the difference between peeing myself and having my water break. To my credit: I peed a whole lot on the floor that night. To my discredit: I peed all over the floor and didn’t know it was pee. Luckily, the moment was soon eclipsed, as I gave birth later that week.
There was a moment, mid-labor, when I wasn’t sure if I had to push out a baby or was about to have diarrhea. Thankfully, it was the former. But the uncertainty? It made for a pretty pins-and-needles moment.
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