Labor Story Part 2
Before continuing, please read disclaimers from Part 1 here.
Okay, so I checked my contraction timer on the iPhone, and I actually called Leslee at 6:00 (I know, because there’s a break in the contraction timing while I was on the phone) but this just shows that everything that came next happened super, super fast.
At this point, we had decided that we would go to the hospital and Leslee would meet us there. Aaron was showered, and started packing the car, and my contractions were about 3 minutes apart. By 6:20, I had stopped timing my contractions because they were a minute and a half apart. In 20 minutes, things had gone from me politely saying “Let’s go to the hospital just to check and see” to me, white-knuckled grip on the bathroom countertop, growling at Aaron, “We need to go to the hospital NOW!”
Our doctor had told me to come to the hospital when I could no longer talk through the pain of a contraction, which was about the point I had reached when I called Leslee. I had assumed that using that rule would give us plenty of time in the hospital, where we would spend hours with all the pacing and the breathing and the pain experiencing. Well, apparently my body decided that I should go through all of that in the span of about an hour.
By the time I was heading to the car, each contraction was making me pretty miserable, even worse when sitting down, so the car ride wasn’t much fun. To make matters worse, I had no idea how far along I was, and because I had only been in labor for what I thought was 5 hours tops, I thought that I had a long, long way to go. I also thought that since I was only 5 hours into labor, that I was only maybe into active labor, which meant my pain had yet to get as bad as it was going to be. The prospect of pain that was going to increase substantially AND continue for possibly another 24 hours seemed pretty unbearable. So unbearable, that I told Aaron that if I got to the hospital and I was only 3cm dilated, I was going to kill myself. Okay, so I was kidding about that, but I knew that if I hadn’t progressed very far, I didn’t think I’d be able to say no to the drugs.
We arrived at the hospital after breaking several traffic laws, and Aaron dropped me off at the front door to go park the car. We decided we would leave all of our things in the car in case they wound up sending us home. While Aaron parked the car, I held on for dear life to the entry door handle while I had another contraction. Then I had another contraction while we were in the elevator. Then another while we were at the check in desk. Then another waiting in the lobby. All in the span of maybe 5 minutes.
Sidenote: How frigging stupid ARE we??? My contractions were a minute and a half apart and we STILL thought, “Well, maybe this isn’t it. Surely we shouldn’t bring in our bags.” Naïve? In denial? I don’t know, but we obviously missed the writing on the wall.
I distinctly remember looking at the lobby TV, which was on the ABC local news. Marco Villareal was talking about something newsworthy (and probably butchering whatever the story was. Dude can’t read a teleprompter) and the clock on the TV said 6:44. There was a poor girl in the lobby who looked to be about 8 months pregnant, definitely not in labor, and waiting with her mother. After I had my lobby contraction (which included a lot of moaning while bending over and gripping the dining table in the lobby and rocking back and forth from foot to foot while Aaron rubbed my back and directed my breathing) I looked over at this poor girl – the look on her face was like she was willing her baby to just be sucked back up into her body so she wouldn’t have to go through childbirth! If I ever see her again, I’ll have to apologize.
After the lobby contraction, I went to the restroom because my contractions still made me feel like I needed to use the bathroom. Aaron waited outside the door in case anything crazy happened while I was in there. After a minute or two, the nurse came to wheel me back to triage, but I couldn’t get up from sitting on the toilet. Every time I tried to move, I would have another contraction that would freeze me in place. I was finally able to get up and leave the bathroom to be wheeled back to triage so they could check my progress.
Let me just tell you how much fun it is to try to change into a hospital gown during hard core labor contractions! Almost as fun as trying to lie still on a hospital bed while a nurse puts a hand up your privates and feels around checking for dilation. And as if the first time wasn’t fun enough, I had to be checked by a second nurse because Nurse Cervix Checker #1 was having some trouble. I quote, “I can’t find the edges of your cervix – all I feel is head.” I don’t know how I remember that, or how I remember that the second nurse had much smaller hands, because I was in so much pain. I think this was also the point where they told us she had a lot of hair, which was a TOTAL surprise. It was sometime during all the checking and writhing in pain that Leslee arrived in our triage area, just in time to hear the completely unexpected from Nurse Cervix Checker #2:
“Adrianne, you’re completely dilated. It’s time for you to have the baby.”
Um, excuse me? Whooza jigga what? In my mind, I was thinking there’s no way this is possible! I’ve only been in labor for 5 hours! (12 if you counted from the “weird” contraction I had the night before.) I’m supposed to be in labor for a long time! We have to do a lot more breathing, I’m supposed to get in the Jacuzzi tub, there’s tons of labor positions we haven’t used, and I haven’t even screamed at Aaron yet. What the hell is going on???
Even though I was in total disbelief, the nurses were adamant – I was so close they wouldn’t even let Aaron go to the car to get our camera. Thank goodness Leslee had brought her camera in with her! Apparently, my condition sent the labor floor into a frenzy. Leslee had no idea how far along I was when we talked on the phone, and at that point I had been pretty calm, so her husband, Dan, had come upstairs with her when he dropped her off to say hello to Aaron and I. He quickly decided to retreat when he heard the noises I was making outside of my triage room curtain (smart man!) but apparently while he was leaving, there were a lot of people running around, pulling charts and grabbing equipment to take to our labor room. I kind of wish I had seen all of the excitement. It sounded very much like an episode of ER….
A lot of what happened after that is a blur. I remember being on all fours on the hospital bed for awhile, which is when my water finally broke (See? I was completely dilated and my water still hadn’t broken – that isn’t always a sign of impending labor!) Aaron and Leslee were on my right, and there were a lot of nurses buzzing around. I asked them if I had to keep my gown on because in the position I was in, it wasn’t really serving much of a purpose. The rest of the time, I just labored in a bra, which was much more comfortable.
I remember when they told me that Erin was on her way, I was really, really relieved that she was the midwife on call and not Little Miss Membrane Stripper. When she got in the room, I exclaimed, “I’m so glad it’s you!!!” She had apparently heard the story from the other midwife, Kim, so she was relieved for my sake as well.
Before Erin got there, I was still just writhing around and having contractions every few minutes, but when she arrived, they let me start to push. Everyone says that pushing during childbirth basically feels like you’re pushing during a bowel movement, and I’d say that’s fairly accurate. However, it reaches a point where it turns into something different, something that feels a lot more serious, and it’s pretty damn scary. I finally got the hang of it when one of the nurses told me that I was doing a good job, but that I kept backing off right when the pushing was getting productive. She told me I had to “push past the fear” and that’s when it clicked and I felt like I knew what I was doing.
Of course, what I was doing was pretty damn hard, and I wasn’t even having to hold up my legs. During contractions, I would grab my thighs and pull them toward me to get leverage, but in the breaks between contractions, Leslee and the other nurse were holding my legs up for me. Aaron was kneeling on the floor, holding my hand and keeping me cool by wiping my head with a wet rag. I was lucky that I had pretty long breaks to rest between contractions and I felt pretty good, considering. During contractions and pushing, it was like I turned into a completely different person – I was working SO hard, and it was so tiring, and I was doing a lot of very loud, very angry groaning that later turned into screams. (After watching all of those baby delivery shows, I had told myself I wasn’t going to be a screamer. Yeah, right. And good luck to you if you think you won’t be, either.) But in between, I was pretty out of it, just laying with my head right by Aaron’s with my eyes closed.
At some point, they asked if I wanted to feel the head, and honestly, even if I had wanted to, I don’t think I could have maneuvered myself to get a hand down there. I did have them wheel over a mirror and I looked in it for a second, but it wasn’t an image I wanted to commit to memory, plus I was sort of busy with the leg grabbing and the pushing. Aaron said he felt bad for me because I would push so hard, and the head would appear, but when the contraction was over, it would just disappear again and it was like all the hard work was for nothing.
After pushing for awhile, I was getting pretty tired of it. I even asked Erin, “How many more pushes do I need? I need a number! I want this to be over, and I need to know how many more times I have to push.” She humored me and told me, “I think two more good pushes will do it!” Like she honestly had any idea and like I could even count to two at that point. But it made me feel better.
Finally, I had gotten sick of the entire thing, and I told myself, “I’m getting this head out the next push if it freakin’ kills me!” I know everyone says the shoulders are worse than the head, but in my mind, if I could just get the head out, I would be fine and it would all be over. One more big push, and I was able to get the head out, and after that the next thing I remember was her being completely out and it was as if the whole world changed. I felt totally great, totally excited and full of energy – God bless adrenaline! I couldn’t stop smiling! I kept saying, “I can’t believe I did it! I can’t believe I did it!”
And I still really can’t believe I did it!
Addison was born at 8:04 am. For all intensive purposes, I was in labor for only about 7 hours, and I was able to have the drug free delivery that we wanted. I only had to have a few stitches afterwards, and I didn’t even wind up having an IV put in. I had the easiest delivery EVER! Yeah, it was painful, but the pain was never unbearable. Pushing was the worst, but that only lasted maybe 45 minutes. Honestly, I’m the luckiest woman on the face of the earth.
I’m also fully aware that I’m the mom other moms hear about and want to punch in the face. I’m very, very careful about who I tell labor details to. Strangers get a two-sentence answer on how my labor went: “I was really lucky. It went pretty fast.” When people hear I was at the hospital for under an hour and a half, I get a little afraid by the looks on their faces. Seriously, I made that mistake at my breastfeeding support group the other day when talking to a friend in mixed company. The room got pretty silent, and one girl looked like she would have killed me if she weren’t in the middle of nursing. I won’t make that mistake again.
Bottom line: I had a great pregnancy, an amazing delivery and now I have the cutest baby EVER! Besides the lack of sleep, I totally recommend this being a mom thing!!!