Saturday, February 1, 2014

The birth that proved I could trust myself: Part 2

If you missed part 1, you can read it here.  When we left off, I had just been laboring through 8 hours of hard contractions every 5 minutes.  And then they stopped.

I don’t know if maybe in all of my anxiousness and excitement, I’d psyched myself our or what, but I was beyond frustrated.  How could this be happening again?? I thought for sure I was going to have a baby this time.  I’d done 8 hours already! For what?? For nothing??

It was about 12:30.  I texted the doula to let her know it wasn’t happening. We watched a little more tv.  I decided to do the dishes that were in the sink.  I unloaded the dishwasher.  Then I got the laundry out of the dryer to fold and put in another load.  

“I guess it wasn’t meant to be on the 17th after all,” I told my husband.

“It’s ok.  It will be soon,” he tried to reassure me.  “Are you hungry?”

We ate our leftover pizza from the night before. I was having about one contraction an hour, but that was nothing compared to what I’d had earlier in the day.  My good friend’s mom even stopped by for a short visit. 

About 5:00, I called my mom and told her that it didn’t look like I was going to have the baby after all, so she should keep Little Spaghetti another night.  Maybe I’d really go into labor the next day.

I was sitting on the couch after I hung up the phone, looking out into the late afternoon sun that was pouring through the open blinds. I wanted to cry.  “We need to do this,” I told myself. “It’s just time.” The tv was on in the background, but I wasn’t paying attention.  

I’d never really fully believe in the power of positive thought.  It was a nice concept and all, but I just never actually believed it worked.  I put my reservations aside, though, and in my head – or maybe under my breath – I started saying to myself, “We are strong. We are safe. We can do this.”  

I kept repeating it. “We are strong. We are safe. We can do this.” 

I felt a contraction.  I kept going, believing myself more and more each time I said it. 

We are strong. We are safe. We can do this.”  I felt another contraction.  And then another.  By almost 6:00, the contractions were feeling pretty regular again.  And pretty intense.  I decided to get back in the tub because it had been so much easier to deal with the pain.

My husband started timing the contractions again.  5 minutes apart.  Then 4 and a half.  “If they stay under 5 minutes through a few more contractions, we’re going to the hospital,” I said. 

After 15 minutes or so, I convinced myself that I’d felt my water break.  I wasn’t sure, since I was sitting in a tub full of water, of course.  “I think we should go,” I told him.  I wasn’t 100% sure I was in labor; it felt just as it had that morning, and that obviously hadn’t been it.  I just knew that,  emotionally,  I was done. I couldn’t take any more starting and stopping.  I knew if we went to the hospital, I’d have a baby one way or another. 

“Ok,” he said. “Let’s get out of the tub.”  

I started crying. Sobbing.  “Oh, honey.  What if I can’t do this?” I said through my tears.  

“You can.  And you will,” he told me.  I believed him.  

We are strong. We are safe. We can do this.

We got in the car about 6:45.  I texted the doula to let her know. We were checked in at the hospital and up in the room by about 7:30.  The nurse came in to get us situated.  “Have you thought about what you’d like to do for pain management?” she asked right away.

“I want to try to go without any medication,” I told her.

“Oh, ok.  So just the IV pain meds, then?” she said.

“No,” I reiterated, “no pain meds at all.”

“We’ll see about that,” she said.
The midwife came in to check me.  I was a little terrified I’d still only be dilated a centimeter or two.

“You’re at about a five!” she said.  That was total relief.

She said they’d monitor me for a while, and she wanted to start an IV because I looked dehydrated.  I thought it was pretty unnecessary, but I also wanted to pick my battles, so I agreed to the fluids.  Then – after a while – she said we could take out the IV, and I could get in the shower if I wanted.  

A little while later, the nurse came in while I was having a contraction.  I was still in the bed because that’s where they told me I had to be so they could get the IV in and everything.  As I stopped breathing and opened my eyes at the end of the contraction, she said to me, “So, you decided to get the epidural now, then?”

“No,” was all I said.

Shortly after, I told them I was getting out of the bed.  I don’t think they would have let me if I hadn’t insisted, and they definitely wouldn’t have suggested it.  I stood by the bed and mostly rocked through the contractions.  They were getting more intense and closer together.  Even still, between them, I joked and talked with my husband.  The spaces between the contractions were such strange times for me.

At one point, I was breathing through a contraction, and my hand started to tingle.  I was wiggling my fingers, and my arm felt kind of numb.

The nurse smirked at me from the corner where she had been mostly keeping to herself.  “You have to stay still for it to get a good reading,” she said, pointing at the blood pressure cuff.  “Otherwise, it just keeps inflating.”

I must have looked at her sort of bewildered.

“You can’t be rocking like that,” she insisted. “You have to stay still.”

Oh, right, my bad.  I’m just trying to give birth! I’ll stop my silly rocking nonsense so your blood pressure cuff doesn’t cut off the circulation to my entire arm.

An hour or so later, I had dilated to about a 7.  It all seemed to be happening so fast.  Mr. Engineer texted my mom (the first she’d heard since the 5:00 we’re-not-having-a-baby-today message).  Never mind.  It looks like the baby’s coming today after all. We’re at the hospital.  At some point, moaning through the contractions started to feel really good.  I tried to say “O” sounds because I remembered reading somewhere that keeping your mouth open would help you relax and open the rest of your body. 

I tried to picture the contractions opening my cervix, and I worked really hard at relaxing my body instead of tensing all of my muscles during each contraction, which is what my body wanted to do. I’d drop my shoulders and force my muscles to release as I breathed.

The midwife was concerned that the baby was starting to rotate face up, so she told me I had to get into the bed and lay on my side to encourage her to turn back the other way.  This made the contractions almost unbearable.  This is also about the time the doula arrived.  

Lying on my side was nearly impossible.  I couldn’t put my upper leg down because…there was a baby’s head in my pelvis.  So I was holding my leg way up in the air in a completely ridiculous position.  The doula helped gather up five or six pillows to put between my knees to give my leg muscles some much needed rest.

At this point, I’d mostly stopped talking, even between contractions.  But even then, after the pain would subside, I had a healthy internal dialogue going.  I remember making jokes in my head throughout the whole process.  And mentally rolling my eyes at the nurse on occasion.  

I felt a contraction coming on, and just then, I also heard the machine kick on to inflate the blood pressure cuff.   I could. not. take it.  “Take it off,” I growled.

“I’ll get in trouble!” my husband said.

I looked right at him. “Take it off,” was all I could say again.  And he did.  And off it stayed.

The midwife came in.  “You’re at an 8,” she said.  “I can break your water or just let you keep laboring. The only thing is that if I break your water, getting in the shower won’t be an option, and I know you were interested in that.”

I looked at my husband, and I looked at the doula.  I didn’t know what I wanted to do.  It was a little after 9:00, and somehow in my mind, I still had a lot of laboring left.  I didn’t want to preclude the option of getting in the shower if I needed to.

“Look,” she said, “could you even stand up to get in the shower right now if you wanted to?”  I looked down at my legs.  They – along with my whole body – were shaking uncontrollably. 

“No,” I conceded.

“If I break your water, you’re just going to have this baby,” she said. I agreed.  “If you start feeling pressure like you need to push, let me know,” she said as she left the room.  The shaking, I knew, was a sign that I was in transition.  But I couldn't possibly actually be in transition yet, could I?

The doula was on one side of me, my husband on the other.  I moaned louder and louder through the contractions.  I heard them telling me it was ok, and I was doing great.  We are strong. We are safe. We can do this.

I remember thinking to myself after one contraction, “I want to ask for the epidural, but it’s probably too late for that.  I don’t want to be that girl.  It’ll be ok.”  My husband looked at the clock and said, “Well, there’s still two hours of the 17th left.” 10:00.

It seemed like the midwife had just left the room, and I felt like I needed to push.  It was so strange that the contractions felt different all the sudden.  It was like they went from feeling like they were ripping my body apart to feeling like they were crushing my body into itself.   I wasn’t sure, though, so I figured I’d wait for one or two more. 

After two more, I was sure.  “I have to push,” I managed to say.  Someone went to get the midwife.  Sure enough, I was at a ten and ready to have a baby.

“Do you want to turn over onto your back?” the midwife asked me.  I was still in the ridiculous position with my leg flying in the air.

I looked around. I thought about it. I knew I could handle the pain in my current position; I’d been doing it.  But I wasn’t sure if the pain would be worse if I moved, so I was afraid to change. “I don’t know,” I said.

“Ok, here’s the deal,” my midwife said. “You’re going to turn onto your back, and you’re going to push out this baby.”  In that moment, I was really glad she made the choice for me.

The time came to push.  Pushing wasn’t as easy this time around, but I still didn’t push for more than about 15 minutes.  Throughout the entire thing, I remember having conversations with myself inside my head.  

As the baby was crowning, I said (or shouted), “It huuuuuurrrrts!!!” 

“No duh!” I said to myself in my head. “You don’t think they know it hurts?”

Finally I felt her head come out.  Little Spaghetti had pretty much come out all at once after his head was out.  She didn’t.  I had to push again to get her shoulders out.  I felt them come free and slide out, and I smiled with the anticipation of that huge sense of relief you feel when the baby finally comes out.  But I didn’t feel it.

“Open your eyes!” the midwife said. “Look down at your baby!”  I opened my eyes and looked down at my half-emerged baby, her squished purple face with eyes closed sitting on top of a yellowish torso.

“Do you want to finish delivering her?” the midwife said. “Noooo! Just get her out!” I shouted.  She looked at my husband, “Do you want to deliver her?”  “NOOOO!” I said even louder. “Please just get her out!”  

In retrospect, if I’d been expecting the question, it might have been a beautiful moment.  At the time, though, all I knew was that I’d been expecting a huge wave of relief as the baby popped out, and I wasn’t feeling it.  I wanted to feel that relief!

She finally let the baby slide out, and I felt my whole body relax.  She brought her up to my chest.  “Hello, my girl. Hello, my beautiful girl.” 

It was an incredible and intense birth, but I am so happy for the way it turned out.  She was bright-eyed and nursed right away.  I remember all of it. 

Just about three hours after we’d checked into the hospital, we welcomed her into the world. 

Turns out she was an October 17th baby after all.  


  1. Wow that's so awesome! I delivered my little guy just a little over three weeks ago. I plan on sharing my birth story eventually. =) Congratulations!!

  2. Holy moly! I'm teary-eyed right now, and feel like I lived through it with you. That's one hell of a birth story. Reminds me a lot of my own. Maybe one day I'll take the time to write it soon as I got over the PTSD. :-/

    LOVE that picture of the three of you. =)

  3. Great story! Thanks for sharing. So much different than your last birth story!

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