Scott got to the hospital a little after I got checked into a labor room. I think sometime around 8:30. He was excited to discover a Blues hockey game on TV. We cut cable long ago, and he usually has to listen to the game via a radio app.
Like old birthing pros, we chilled in the room with no sense of urgency. Him watching the game, me giving the yoga ball a half effort. I thought I should at least attempt to move labor along, though I doubted it would do much.
There was no rushing to set up battery operated candles or fill the room with calming music. We laughed at how mundane the routine had become.
Around 10 I decided to try to get some sleep. I requested extra blankets and reclined in the not super comfortable labor bed. I don’t know that I ever really managed to fall into a deep sleep, but I rested off and on for the next couple hours. By then, my contractions were coming every 5 ish minutes, but only 2 or 3 an hour were uncomfortable until about midnight.
I rejoiced when it was past midnight because I knew that bought us an extra night at the hospital. Kendall, my first, was born at 12:30 in the morning, so we technically got 3 nights at the hospital since the first night didn’t really count, and I was looking forward to the same scenario.
I LOVE our hospital (Baylor Scott White in McKinney, TX for those wondering). It’s like a hotel. I also have 3 other kids at home, and 3 dogs, and was in no rush at all to get out of there. Call me crazy, but I’ll take a nurse checking on me every 3 hours over 3 kids “checking” on me every 30 minutes.
Scott remarked around this time that we’d “probably have a baby by 5 in the morning” and he wondered if he should drive home before or after the morning rush hour to shower and get the big kids. I laughed in his face. “A whole lot is going to have to happen really fast for us to have a baby by then. That’s not going to happen, so don’t worry about it.”
From about midnight to 1:30 my contractions became more consistent and uncomfortable. I was having to breathe through every one by the time I called the nurse in to come check me again a little before 2. I was hoping this was a sign of a little bit of progress- at least enough to ease my fears about having to start Pitocin when the sun came up.
When she told me I was still at a 4, I felt like all my worst fears were validated. I sat on the bed, crying, convinced that I really couldn’t handle the pain of contractions after my water broke.
I remember a previous midwife telling me that your bag of water cushions things, and makes contractions more manageable, and I’ve always believed in that fully because once my water does break (usually at 8 cm), all hell breaks loose and it really, really fucking hurts. (Though this is always the start of transition for me, too.)
I cried because these contractions didn’t feel like 4 cm contractions. I was doomed.
Meanwhile, Scott the badass dad pro asked the nurse to get the shower ready. If you read my last birth story, you may remember that I labored with Lowell in an AH-MAZING shower with a million lovely shower heads. It’s a heavenly set up. So I agreed to head that way, wiping my tears on my hospital gown as I took it off.
I remember the nurse saying something like, “I have a feeling you’re starting something, not stalling.” Of course, I assumed this was a lie to get me to calm down.
As soon as I sat down, my contractions started coming on super strong and super fast, with only about 30 seconds between them. And I began my first ever campaign for an epidural.
In my mind, I was in for this kind of pain for the next 6 hours, and then they’d inevitably start me on Pitocin, and hell if I was going to go through all that only to wind up with an epidural then. Fuck that. I wanted it it asap. I just wanted to sleep.
This visibly shocked Scott for a minute, and he tried to talk some sense into me. He knew I had to be progressing. And looking back, DUH, but in that moment I was just like, STFU, and tell the damn nurse to get the damn anesthesiologist.
The nurse, also clearly knowing what was actually happening with me, asked if she could check me again. Then I heard her ask the other nurse to call my midwife and tell her to head in. I thought that was dumb and mean because my poor midwife needed sleep and I wasn’t ever going to have my baby anyway.
It had only been 20 minutes since she last checked me, but I figured sure. They could check me, and I’d still be at a 4, and then they could all leave me alone and let me get the epidural.
Good plan! Except I was at an 8.
OH. Turns out it hurts REAL bad to go from a 4 to an 8 in 20 minutes.
My mood improved greatly for a little bit. I was no longer in uncharted waters. It’s like I finally had a map in a language I understood. 8 cm and my water’s broken? This I could do. This I knew. I wasn’t going to like it, but I’d been there.
I didn’t want an epidural anymore, which is good because there wouldn’t have been time anyway. I asked the nurse to fill the labor tub for me and she was like, “Girl, no. I’m sorry. We don’t have time for that.”
So back into the shower I went, just in time for the holy-shit-why-did-you-do-this-AGAIN contractions. I have no idea what time this was… maybe I was in there from 3 to 3:30 ish? I don’t have a good grasp on time at this point.
My good mood faded, and this marked the beginning of the part of labor that feels like I’m being dragged against my will. Like, if you’re being dragged through a field of thorns, the worst thing you can do is flail and kick and fight (I’d imagine). You just have to relax into it, don’t fight it.
Dumb, lacking analogies aside, this is the part that really sucks. And I knew that. I knew that the only way out was through, and I did everything I could to let my body take over and do what it could. I didn’t like it. I cried. But I knew what I had to do.
After a few really hard contractions, I started to feel a little like pushing. I was suddenly real glad my nurse had the foresight to call my midwife in. They got me out of the shower and moved me to a birth stool. My midwife walked in after one or two contractions there, and after a couple more I knew I was going to need to push soon.
I had the option to stay on the birth stool, but I’ve only ever pushed my babies while sitting in the bed, and I needed that familiarity. I moved to the bed between contractions, and with the very next one the rest of my water broke (the first break was only a small tear), and gushed everywhere.
I dreaded what was coming next, but again, more dragging and giving up control, and just knowing I had to get through it for it to be over. Pushing, for me, is super awful. I can’t recall exactly how awful because that’s how nature tricks us into keeping our species going, but I do know that every time I’ve been there, I’ve made a mental note that it’s the absolute worst pain I’ve ever experienced in my life.
The positive to this is that I am a fucking boss at pushing by now. I do. not. fuck. around. I pushed for about 20 minutes with my first, 2 pushes with my 2nd, my 3rd was born with one push.
And just like the last time, I began to push and would not let up until he was out. This one was also born with only one push. I paused briefly after his head crowned and then again to slow down his shoulders – like a damn PRO, not needing anyone to remind me.
I still screamed like someone was ripping me in half from the inside, though.
I remember the nurses kept telling me to look down and meet my baby, but I am the least sentimental person when I’m trying to get a human out of me. I would meet him soon enough. I needed to focus. I needed to close my eyes and get the job done.
And then, there he was, and it was immediate relief. I cried.
Not just because labor was over, but because the whole dang thing was- the pregnancy, the anxiety about labor. It was all finally behind me. “You did it!” everyone kept cheering. They had no idea how much I doubted that I could.
“I can do hard things,” I thought to myself as I looked down to finally meet my baby.
2016 tried to dismantle me, and I’m not talking about all the celebrity deaths. It pushed me and picked at me in a lot of ways I won’t get into here. But with 10 days left, at 4:59 am, 2016 gave me Wallace Austin Krause- 9 lbs 1 oz, 21.5 inches long- and reminded me I can still do hard things.