By the time I reached 40 weeks I had basically lost the ability to tell what was active labor and what wasn’t. A big part of it was when I got so sick – several times the pain got so bad I was convinced I was in labor, only to be told I wasn’t even close.
We were all on edge, because the doctors kept warning me between Paul’s fast labor and how far I’d progressed (75% effaced and ‘just short of 5 cm’) this baby could be born FAST. They said fast a lot. And told me to not hesitate to head to the hospital ASAP, especially if my water broke.
The hard part was I kept having strong contractions that would last a couple hours then go away. My family would look at me like a bomb that was about to go off and I’d insist it wasn’t time to go. Day after day. A couple times I had Thomas leave work only to end up saying never mind.
At 40 weeks 5 days I started having even stronger contractions. After a couple hours I reluctantly called my mom to come watch the kids and once again asked Thomas to come home. I was still pretty nervous about being sent home from the hospital (again) so I kept stalling. I took a shower, did my makeup, and blew out my hair. Contractions still coming. We left.
By the time we reached the hospital and walked to the maternity ward they’d slowed again. I almost turned around and left. Instead I told the front desk very hesitantly I thought I was in labor? By the time we were all set up in triage and a nurse finally appeared they’d all but gone away and I was miserable. How many times were we going to do this? She hooked me up to the monitors (to further my humiliation) and went through my medical history.
Finally she checked me and, wonder of wonders, it actually had been real labor. I was almost six centimeters dilated. This was really happening!
I got admitted and started walking the halls to get the contractions going again – which they did. They were coming at a decent pace, but not necessarily something that seemed like it would bring on transition so the doctor came and broke my water.
I thought that would do it – we all did – and labored through a couple hours of increasingly painful contractions. They were getting pretty bad, but I was sure I was getting somewhere. Finally it was time to check again and I…hadn’t changed at all. I still hadn’t even fully reached 6 cm.
I’d been hoping to avoid pitocin since I also wanted to avoid any pain medication and pit contractions just didn’t sound like fun. The doctor offered to put me on the lowest dose possible, though, just to push me through the plateau and I decided to do it. I’m sure I could have held out and been just fine, but I also wanted to get the whole thing over with.
The nurse kept offering options for moving around to help with the pain. I could have bounced on a ball or even gotten in the Jacuzzi tub in the room, but I actually preferred to sit completely still and almost meditate my way through it. Over the next hour I retreated further and further into myself and Thomas later said he assumed nothing was happening. He knew I was nervous about too much pitocin and was dreading the moment when the doctor would want to increase the dose.
Except, at the end of the hour, I had made it all the way to 9 cm. I wish I had a photo of the surprise on everyone’s face. I think I’d looked like I was basically asleep the whole time and I certainly hadn’t let on how bad the pain had gotten – mainly because I didn’t want to acknowledge it myself, in case there was worse to come.
The nurse called my doctor, who was close by, and started to get ready for the birth. Then, only a couple minutes later, I started screaming. Screaaaaming. My body went from totally in my control to forcibly pushing a baby out with no warning and certainly no input from my conscious self.
When Margaret and Paul were born, I pushed when told and waited between contractions. This was something else entirely and I had zero control over it. I now completely understand the expression “bearing down,” even though it wasn’t exactly a choice I made. I kept screaming I couldn’t make it stop while the rest of the room went into controlled panic mode because they weren’t ready yet.
I’m told the doctor, who had already been on her way, had to sprint down the hall and into the room. The baby nurses who are supposed to arrive pre-birth didn’t make it.
In some sense, it was a little freeing, although also scary, to have it out of my hands. My body knew how to give birth and it just…did. I don’t have any sense of how long it took, but I think it was pretty quick. Before I knew it there was a 9 pound baby on my chest and the whole thing was over.
If you can believe it, I have still more to say, so Part 3 is yet to come.