Well, here it is. My LOOOOOOOONNNNNGGG birth story. I figured I need to do it right, get as many details down as possible before I forget. So please forgive me if it seems long winded (seems…hell, it is), but I am trying to preserve whatever memories I can before the baby sucks them all out of my head.
I’m sorry it’s taken me so long. I seriously never thought it would be this hard to find a little free time with a newborn. The eat like all the FREAKING time, and then they poop, and then they get gassy or fussy, and then they spit up on their little cute clothes, and then you have to do laundry, and then you have to find time to pee, and then they have to EAT AGAIN!!! It’s 3 in the morning. I told myself I could not go to bed tonight until this was done. I’m exhausted. Enjoy.
May 1st, 4:40 am – Wake up for the second time in 4 hours to pee…stumble to bathroom. Replace empty toilet paper roll…AGAIN. Ugh. Wipe, check TP (because this is now second nature)…spotting….SPOTTING!! YESSSSSSS! Head to bed like a giddy school girl. This is good. This has to be a sign of labor soon! Lay down at 4:45 and feel first contraction. Try not to get excited, Jill.
5:10 am – felt at least 6 contractions by now. I decide to call Scott at work. “Hon…I think I’m in labor. I’m going to take a shower and see if they stop. I’ll call back later.” Shower….shave. Yes, I shaved. Who knows when I’ll have time to do this again? Contractions are still coming every 5-6 minutes. Not terribly painful, but not comfortable. These are definitely NOT Braxton Hicks. I’m now noticing my mucus plug. Yay! My vagina finally sneezed! All signs are pointing to meeting my baby soon.
5:45 am – Scott is home from work. We’re excited, but both trying hard not to show it. It’s like we’re afraid we’ll scare the contractions away. My mom and Hailey (our niece we have temporary custody of) are still asleep in the other room. We start getting the bags ready for the car. I’m already starting my relaxation exercises and sitting on my birthing ball. Mom eventually wakes up and helps with the last minute packing. We call friends to come get Hailey. I’m very caught up in all the details right now. Do we have everything? The car is packed by 6:30. I’m imagining we will be in it by the time lunch rolls around. I’m so wrong.
7 am- Scott heads to bed for some rest before the big show. Mom and I watch Juno. It’s a cute movie, that Juno, but I thought it would be better. Hailey is awake by 7:30. I’m laying on the couch and contractions are still very manageable. So much so that I don’t think Hailey had any idea what was going on other than that she was about to go to a very long sleepover with her friend, Bhavika. Amy shows up shortly after to pick her up. We try to explain that there will be a new “cousin brother” when she comes back home. Yeah… I don’t think she really cares. She’s pumped about the sleepover and almost forgets to tell us goodbye. Ahh…relief that she’s gone. Not that I don’t love her, but I don’t want to labor with a nearly 4 year old running around in my high heels, begging us to “go to the ball” with her.
9 am – I head to bed. Contractions are still 5-6 minutes apart and a little painful. I figure I should get some sleep. Scott is in there and we wake up together for every contraction. He starts his job as coach at this point, rubbing my back through each contraction and timing them. We both have no problem passing out in between contractions, but it does make for very disrupted sleep.
11 am- I start to notice they are getting a lot more painful, and Scott decides to run me a bath. I never take a bath in this tub. It’s vile. Our apartment is old and I think it’s the original tub. The grout, no matter how hard I scrub, is never mildew free. Scott thinks ahead. He lines the entire perimeter of where the tub meets the tile with clean towels. He disinfects the tub before I get in. Ahh…I love my germaphobe. He also lights candles and dims the lights. It feels great, but it’s so frustrating that I can’t get my boobs and my belly under the water at the same time. After 30 minutes I decide I should get out. It’s made my contractions space farther apart. I want PROGRESS people!
11:30 – back to bed. I stay there, with Scott coaching me, until 3pm.
3 pm- I’m up. Contractions are slowly getting stronger. They are about 4-5 minutes apart now, although we’ve stopped timing them. I hang out with my mom and Scott. We chat between contractions. I notice they are much more painful when I’m sitting down, even on the yoga ball. From this point on, I’m pretty much laboring on my feet. I’m scared to even sit down between contractions because it hurts like hell to stand up during one.
5 pm – We decide to eat some dinner. Baked potatoes with butter and cheese…mmmm. I hope I don’t see this coming back up later. At least it’s bland, I guess. I start to notice the contractions are coming much faster. I remember the website that times your contractions for you, www.contractionmaster.com. Scott is thrilled by it’s geekyness. I now start out every contraction by yelling, “SPACE BAR!”
6:30 pm- We are out the door to the birthing center. I’m trying not to get excited/nervous because I know adrenaline can slow or stop labor. The downside to this is experiencing three contractions in the confines of the passenger seat. Did I mention it hurts like hell to sit through a contraction?
7:00 pm – Arrive at birthing center. Then I have the LONGEST most painful contraction yet as I wait in the hall to get checked in. I’m convinced I must at least be at 5 cm and that I’ll see my baby sometime tonight. By 7:15 I’m strapped to the torture bed for monitoring. Contractions hurt like hell sitting down, but they are absolute MURDER on the bed with me flat on my back.
That’s okay, I tell myself, you’re probably really far along now and that’s why they are hurting so bad. Yeah…the nurse determines otherwise when she finally checks my cervix at 7:45. Turns out I am STILL at 2 cm!!! No progress since my appointment yesterday. Seriously…what the fuck? I cry for the first time today. My nurse, Karen, an angel sent from God, looks me in the eyes and tells me, “No. You can’t do that. You can’t let this get to you. You have to get it together.” I like this girl. She’s not going to coddle me. She’s going to tell me to put on my big girl panties and take it like a woman. Good. I need that.
8:00 pm – Talk to the midwife on the phone. She gives me two options. Go home with some Ambien, get some good sleep, and wake up when I’m in “active labor” (errr…if this isn’t ACTIVE labor, I’m royally screwed) nice and refreshed. Or I could walk the halls of the birthing center for an hour and get rechecked at 9. Even though I am leaning toward the Ambien at this point (my spirits are more than a little crushed….I begin to have visions of 48 hour labor), my mom is wise enough to get Scott to convince me to walk. It is a painful hour with contractions still every 2-3 minutes apart. All I can do is lean on him or the helpful “ballet bar” that lines the hall every time I feel one come.
9:15 pm – I’m back on the torture bed. Preparing for the bad news. The nurse checks me. I’m at 4 cm!!! The nurse and I both are beaming. I’m confident again. I’m ready to kick labor in the ass. I’m a rock star. Now, get me to a birthing suite. I want a bath – ASAP.
(At this point, times are merely an approximation. It starts to become a blur.)
9:30 – I’m in the room. It’s like the contractions know it too. They are much more painful than they were in the hall. The nurse is trying to collect info from me in between. Isn’t this what we pre-registered for? Scott decides to bust out some of the labor “tools” we brought – tennis balls, rice sock, yoga ball. I nearly die when I try to sit on the yoga ball during a contraction and Scott reads my made up sign language that was meant to say, “Let me lean on you” as “Pull me up from this ball in the middle of this contraction”. Holy shit. That. hurt. so. bad. I proceed to beat him after the contraction is over.
He immediately leaves to run me my bath. While waiting for the tub to fill up we try some of the other tools. I was so psyched about how prepared I was before we left for the hospital, but wouldn’t you know, we didn’t use a damn thing once we got there. Tennis balls annoy the shit out of me, the rice sock is too hot. The yoga ball was sent from Satan himself.
9:45 – Finally, the tub is ready. I slip in and immediately feel relief. This is no pansy ass tub. It’s huge and deep and all bumps (boobs and belly) fit under the water at the same time. The lights are out and the battery operated candles we packed are making me feel like I’m at a spa. I’ve lost most of my modesty at this point. I’m naked except for a hand towel that is draped over my chest, mainly just to keep me warm when I am sitting up in the tub.
I chat in between contractions, crack jokes even, with my midwife, nurse, mom and Scott. As each contraction hits, Scott reads me like a book. He’s such an amazing coach. I try my best to relax every muscle in my body and just let myself float. Oh, it still hurts like a bitch, make no mistake about that. I catch myself a couple times in the middle of a contraction thinking, “How can I do this again?” but I stop that train as soon as possible and promise myself to only think about each contraction as they come. That frame of mind helps immensely.
11 ish – Still feeling good between contractions, but that’s only for about one minute before the next one hits. I’m surprised at how fast things seem to be progressing. We definitely have a routine down now. I ride the contractions and make lots of noises which I’m convinced are frightening anyone who may be outside the room. My mom and nurse swear up and down I’m not nearly as loud as I think I am. I think they are lying and pray there are no hospital tours tonight and that I’m not freaking out any innocent expecting moms.
Scott has a great eye and sees every part of me that tenses up. He reminds me very sweetly to relax that part of the body and doesn’t let me hyperventilate or scream through the contractions, which is getting hard not to do. He also fans me with this $2 personal battery operated fan we picked up from the camping section in Target – the one labor “tool” we did use. It was so worth it. Even though my bath water is tepid at best at this point, I am so hot. The fan, ice chips, and a cold rag are a great relief. He also talks to me about how this was just like the marathon (we trained for and ran our first together in 2005, the day he proposed to me). He tells me I am at the 20 mile marker. That it is going to get hard but it was almost over. Perfect mental imagery. It also really makes me want an orange. At mile 20 in the marathon I would have killed for an orange.
11:45 – My midwife tries to check my cervix in the tub. Uncomfortable and awkward to say the least. I can’t blame her. It’s dark. I am contracting almost constantly. It’s a strange angle. But somehow she just can’t….ummmm…find the opening. I know I have to be getting close from all the pressure I am feeling down low and the fact that I have very little time between contractions. She convinces me to leave the safety and comfort of the tub to get on the torture bed to be checked. The only way she gets me to agree is promising I can return to the tub if I’m not far enough to push.
So here I go across the room, naked, dripping, the nurse trying to cover me in sheets. I’m overly confident at this point that I will most definitely be at 9 or 10. Nope. I’m only at 8. My exact words as I leap off the bed – “SON OF A BITCH! I’m going back to the tub NOW!” My midwife and husband catch me just before my feet touch the ground.
They sit me back down and she calmly says, “Wait..wait..just wait. I think if I break your water you will go from 8 to 10 really fast and you will be able to push very soon. Is that what you want?” Is that what I WANT?? Are you kidding me? No. I want to experience this pain as long as possible and wait for the kid to decide at 4 tomorrow morning that he’s going to break my water in a game of darts. “Yes….YES.. do it…just DO IT NOW!” I see the crochet hook headed toward me, but I never feel what I thought I would feel when my water breaks. No gush, no warmth, nothing. I worry for a second that I have a bag of steel that will require extra effort to pop, but I am quickly reassured that the deed was indeed done.
11:50 ish – HOLY FUCKING SHIT!!!! Contractions…so strong…on torture bed…on my back…I may just die…right here. So THIS is transition. The rational part of my brain knows this. I know this is the quickest and most painful part of labor. I know that I am so close to pushing. I keep praying to feel that “urge to push” that I hear is just like having to take a giant shit. I mean, everyone always says how great it feels to push…how transition hurts like a bitch, but pushing is such a relief. The rational part of my brain says that I feel this awful because I will be pushing very soon and it will all feel so much better. However, the other part of my brain, the What The Fuck Have You Done part, does not believe the rational part.
Here is a brief excerpt from the conversation between the two sides in my head – “What the hell have you done? This is TERRIBLE!! You are such an IDIOT! You are going to die. You are too far gone for meds now, you moron….. Calm down, this is just transition. It’s good that you feel this way. That means you are close… What the FUCK ever. The only way this kid is coming out of you is if they kill you or cut him out. Way to go. You are NEVER doing this again. NEVER. Tell Scott that… tell him that NOW.”
And I do… many, many times. I tell him he better love this kid a lot because it’s the only one he’s getting. While telling him this I am gripping onto his shoulders like he was the only limb keeping me from falling off a cliff. He momentarily complains of back pain and reaches for the stool at the end of the bed. I come out of my pain induced haze just long enough to give him a look of disbelief and tell him, “No! That’s for the midwife! The woman who is supposed to catch our child!” Karen, the nurse, swiftly finds another seat for him.
12:10 ish – I begin to get that I have to poop feeling. Yayayayayayayay!!! I tell the midwife, just in case it really is me having to poop. She says no, that’s me having to “poop out a baby”. Oooh, goodie! It’s about to start feeling better. I’m so exhausted from transition. I am passing out for the brief seconds I have between contractions. The natural instinct to bear down and push begins to take over. The midwife tells me to give it a try on the next contraction.
Okay…so I just do what I think is pushing…well, crap…this doesn’t feel like it’s working… and HEY!… why is this not “feeling better”??? I tell everyone I have no idea what I’m doing. I begin to get a little freaked out. I remember the story of my best friend who just delivered last month. She pushed for 3 farking hours before ending up with a c-section. I don’t think I will last one hour and I will surely die by three. The next contraction comes, I start to push harder. I think I’m making a little more progress now, but THIS DOES NOT FEEL GOOD! What a load of crap! Everyone who says “Oh, pushing feels so good. It’s such a great feeling to push,” kiss my ass right now. Yes, it feels better than the alternative – keeping that 8 pound bowling ball in your vagina – but it does NOT feel good. It hurts like hell.
Oh great…I’m now peeing all over my midwife. There is definitely a projectile stream coming from me aimed straight at her face. I have no idea if I’ve crapped on the table, although I’m sure I have, but I know for a fact that I just doused her with urine. Scott says aloud, “Is that her water? It smells like pee.” Astute observation, my dear.
By the time the third pushing contraction rolls around I feel like I have the hang of it, and I’ve come to grips with the fact that this is not going to “feel good” until I get this kid the hell out of me. I start pushing like my life depends on it, and then I push even more. Everyone keeps telling me that I’m so close. I think they are lying. I tell them this aloud. I accuse them all of being big fat liars who are just telling me that so that I will keep pushing for the next three hours. I scream. I am reminded not to do this by my nurse and midwife. I’m supposed to “push through the pain”. This is so counter intuitive. I hold my breath and puff out my cheeks. My midwife tells me not to do this…to relax my face or I will end up with broken blood vessels in my eyes and on my face. Well, wouldn’t want that now, would we? I then notice that I have heartburn. Yup folks. In the middle of pushing, I get one last case of pregnancy induced heartburn. “Why do I have heartburn?!” I scream between pushing. My midwife laughs and says, “Well, he’s not out yet.”
Just when I think I can’t do it anymore I do start to feel progress down there. It’s the “ring of fire” everyone talks about. I have to say, it doesn’t hurt that bad. Maybe it’s because pushing was already so dang painful for or because this part of my labor went really fast, but it wasn’t as bad as I was expecting. I can feel him crowning and I can feel myself tear a little, but at least that feeling means he is actually exiting my body and relief is in sight. I finally started to believe everyone. I say aloud, “I WILL get him out on the next push. This is IT.”
12:40 ish – My nurse asks if I wanted to see it in the mirror, to which I swiftly reply, “Hell no.” When his head is finally out, I have such an urge to keep pushing to get the rest of him out, but my midwife STRONGLY urges me to stop. I looked at her like she is crazy. “I can’t STOP! Get him out…get him out NOW!!”
Somehow I manage to breathe through it and hold back just long enough for her to get his shoulder out. As soon as she opens her mouth to tell me to push I give it one last shot and all I see is a huge gush of bloody fluid exit me. I do not see the baby at first. In fact, for a split second, I worry that he is still not out. The next thing I know, he’s thrown on my chest by Scott and my midwife. Turns out he came out with such force and so much fluid behind him that my midwife could only catch an ankle and Scott ended up catch the rest of him like a football.
12:47 – I meet my son, Kendall. He looks up at me with the chubbiest cheeks and we both just stare at each other like the sky has just fallen. There is a wonderful picture my mom took of all three of us at this moment. Kendall and I both have the most vivid look of disbelief painted on our faces, and Scott is beaming from ear to ear. Scott’s lack of sweat and goo and the fact that he is clothed is a striking contrast against me and Kendall – both naked covered in all sorts of bodily fluids.
I clearly remember taking a good look at him and thinking, “Damn! You are huge!” He was 8 lbs 11 ounces and 21 inches long. I knew he would be big, but I didn’t know what big would look like. He was perfect in every way. He even had a pretty round head for a vaginal delivery. That’s probably because he shot out of me so quickly. He was completely alert. It was amazing!
At that moment, the pain was all worth it. I was so proud of myself for accomplishing a med-free birth. Scott was such a perfect coach, too. He got tons of compliments from the nurses and our midwife for doing such an amazing job. And I’m so glad that my mom got to be there for it all. I wasn’t sure how I would feel about having anyone other than Scott there through all of that, but looking back, I’m so glad it worked out for her to be there. It was the absolute perfect birth experience. I was so glad the pain was over….. or so I thought……
To be continued – stay tuned for the gruesome stories of post partum recovery.
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