THE FLOODGATES OPEN
As a quick recap, my labor stalled so we went home. I really hoped that returning to the peace and quiet of my house would let my body relax enough to get things going again…and boy did it! The idea of a hot shower and my warm bed was so soothing to me. I was just about to change out of my hospital clothes when all of a sudden my water broke. Some people say that water breaking isn’t really like it is in the movies (with the giant gush), but for me it almost was. I’m probably grossing some people out, but come on, this is a birth story…you have to expect some ickiness.
I was so concerned that with my water broken, things would pick up really quickly and I would hit transition in the car, so we re-packed the car in a frenzy and sped to the hospital.
AND WE’RE BACK!
They got me settled into a new room and the midwife came in to check on us. We all shared a good laugh about how I was back 20 minutes after leaving…I guess being at home really did work! Even though I wasn’t any better rested than when I’d left, I was in much better spirits. My water had broken on its own and contractions were starting to pick back up again, all without me having to pump, climb stairs, or walk a marathon. My body had taken the rest it needed and was ready to get back to work.
THE MAGIC OF BIRTH TUBS
After a bit of laboring around the room, my contractions became strong enough that I wanted to get in the tub. My doula had already prepared the bathroom with dim lighting, a waterproof pillow (so nice to have), and super hot water….getting in the tub was incredible! I was able to completely relax between contractions and the water helped with pain management.
Soon, my contractions became really intense and I had to start vocalizing….I tried to keep it low and made horse lip noises (it felt so silly, but it really does work in keeping you relaxed!) I managed pretty well for a while, but before I knew it, things were getting really painful and I was starting to have a hard time remaining calm and peaceful. I’m almost embarrassed to write about how I handled this next part of labor (transition), but hey, labor is raw and hard and can turn you into a different person, but it’s still normal and beautiful.
THE BEGINNING OF CRAZINESS
So here it goes… I asked my midwife to check me (mistake). She told me I was 8cm and I just about lost it….I was really hoping to hear I was 9 or 10cm, but after seven hours of labor I’d only progressed 1cm. The logical and educated me knows that it doesn’t matter how long it has taken you to progress…it can take you 20+ hours to get to 8cm and then just half an hour to get to 10 (me, for example), but the emotional part of me felt like I still had FOREVER to go. My midwife told me to have my moment (and having it I was), and then refocus.
I tried, but I was fighting a losing battle. The contractions kept getting stronger, longer, and closer together (all good things and all signs that I was almost done), but I was not coping well. Gone was the relaxed breathing and controlled vocalizations…I was now writhing in the water trying to find a workable position (there was none) and letting out high pitched squeals (some might call them screams). The only thing that was helping me was my doula’s efforts to refocus me, and my sweet husband pouring hot water on my back.
At some point, I decided I’d had enough of the bath tub, but as soon as I climbed out I fell to the floor with a major contraction. And so begins the “on the floor” part of my labor. Thankfully, my midwife had the foresight to spread out a waterproof sheet.
This was by far the craziest and most intense part of my labor…and by crazy, I mean I turned into a crazy lady. I’m sure I scared some other laboring moms into getting an epidural. I literally felt like I would go insane with pain. I knew I was full on in transition, and that pushing was just around the corner, but I saw no end in sight. I screamed like a mad woman (yea, so much for the calm and peaceful birther I was convinced I would be)….I can’t tell you how many times I said “I’m going to die!!” and “I CAN’T DO THIS!!!” (Side note: I’m really not a dramatic or openly emotional person by nature. I tend to be pretty quiet and reserved, but oh my word, transition brought out a side of me I’d never seen before.)
SHE’S AN ANIMAL
I very distinctly remember one contraction where I decided to try crawling around….being still didn’t help alleviate the pain, so I figured I’d try moving through it. This is the phase I’ve named the “possessed hyena” stage, because that’s seriously what I felt like crawling around on the ground screaming like a mad woman. My husband said that at one point he looked around the room thinking to himself “Ummm, is no one else concerned about this?”, but everyone else was calm and nonplussed so he decided this must be normal. I was feeling really discouraged that I wasn’t dealing with the pain better, especially since I’d spent months preparing, but after discussing it with my midwife (several days after delivering), she said that for many women, once they hit transition, there is no managing the pain, there’s just surviving it until it’s over. Thankfully, transition is usually very short.
WHO NEEDS GLOVES ANYWAY
And then, all of a sudden, it’s like a switch flipped. Seriously, the pain just vanished and an immense and intense urge to push took over. While the transition was awful, the pushing was amazing and so powerful. I just stopped right where I was on my knees and started pushing. After about 30 seconds (maybe 2 pushes?) I heard my doula say “head is out” and my midwife say “oh crap”. Not because there was anything wrong with me or the baby, but because she hadn’t gotten her gloves on yet! 2 more pushes and our little Elle was born. (She told me later that she does one “glove-less” delivery a year, and I was it).
I cannot describe to you the immense relief I felt that it was finally over and I was getting to hold my sweet baby. That last half hour of transition was the most painful, intense, and crazed thing I’d endured in my entire life and I was SO HAPPY to be done and SO READY to meet my little girl.
What happened after that is kind of a blur to me…lots of skin-to-skin and nursing (and cramping, oh my goodness the cramping), nurses pummeling my belly (seriously), attempts at sleeping, and a whole lot of reveling in what had just happened. For days after giving birth, I felt like I was on an indescribable high. After 42 weeks of waiting, I had given birth and it was AMAZING. Yes it was long (25 hours), but most of the contractions were totally manageable. Yes, it was frustrating when it stalled, but that meant my body got a break. Yes I experienced incredible pain, but really only the last half hour of it. And it was drug free and complication free and I had a beautiful healthy little baby. God was SO gracious to answer so many of my prayers. I told Allen that I NEVER wanted to stop having babies!