The day before Baby Boy was born I woke up later than usual and had an overwhelming NEED to stay in bed. It was then that I knew something was up. I had a few of these moments during the past few weeks. Most of them told me that this pregnancy would draw to a close much as my pregnancy with Sophia had – Early. For the past three weeks I had my family and our friends in high gear helping to finish the construction in our house. I left the office every day with detailed post-it notes on my piles and nary a dirty coffee cup to be seen. Our bags were packed. All of this was the direct opposite of where we stood when I went in to labor with Sophia (she came 3-weeks early). I was determined to not be caught off guard again. But really nothing, absolutely nothing, can prepare you for the actual event and I can now say with some degree of certainty – that each and every labor and delivery is a crazy unique event.
I went to work that day, dragged through really. Went home and laid on the couch for the evening surfing the internet, and went to bed much too late. I figured that my body was just telling me to slow down and enjoy the last waning days of life with one child and her relatively new independence that afforded me a change to even THINK about lying down on the couch (if only for 15 minutes). I did take note of the instinct to hibernate for a bit and thought back to the day before I went in to labor with Sophia. I did not notice any marked change during that time directly before her however, at the time, I wasn’t looking for it or aware that it could even be there.
Soon after I feel asleep at twenty minutes after midnight I awoke to water. A lot of water. I thought about it and realized that I was not in control of it and guessed that it must have been my water breaking. Just like in the movies, in bed, the mattress! At least it was not the grocery store. So. What do we do here? Contractions? Nope. Nothing. Hmmm, I knew I had at least 24 hour before a medical intervention would be argued (due to an increased risk of infection as nothing is protecting the baby). I called my midwife. I went and told Rob (“What?! What does that mean? What do we do?) who clearly forgot how this kind of thing usually goes. My midwife, being a wise and wonderful woman, told me to get some rest (yah, right), take a shower (perfect idea), and come in when I was ready to be in the hospital.
I striped the bed and hopped in the shower. By the time I was out of the shower contractions had started in earnest. Hmmm, okay… let’s pack up the rest of our stuff. As Rob rushed around I started timing contractions – close together and pretty long, in clusters. Hmmm, not as painful as they were with Sophia (I had back labor with her, she was sunny side up. Good Lord, I wouldn’t wish that pain on my enemy!) but still not comfortable. We hear a cry over the monitor (it’s about 1:30am at this point) and Sophia is awake. Crappity Crap. Rob goes in to rock her, I go down to wake up my sister (she lives with us). Margaret (my sister) times a few contractions and I realize that we need to leave for the hospital – like soon. The sweet sister packs up the car and takes care of me as I run (?!) to the bathroom multiple times. Over the next hour I find myself in more and more pain and hoping Sophia falls back to sleep soon. I am standing downstairs with my coat on, the car is running in the driveway and Rob finally strolls out without knowing how far along we are. What a strange experience that must have been with him.
We arrived at the hospital at 2:55am. I know because the car clock was my focal point as we drove to the hospital. I wasn’t able to really walk but somehow made it into the emergency waiting room and a nice security guard sat me down and wheeled us up to the triage in the maternity ward. (Incidently – this is almost exactly what happened with Sophia. Except with her it was 8am, we were in the hospital next to where I worked, my coworkers were strolling through the lobby on their way to their offices, and I was pushed SCREAMING through the VERY large lobby as Rob fumbled with our car (this was in Boston).)
~3am – Once in the triage I wasn’t leaving. I was stubborn and in pain and not wanting to move. My midwife calmed me down, got me to focus my breathing and convinced me to get undressed so she could check my progress.
~3:10am – I was 5cm. 5cm in 2.5 hours. Yah, you can imagine how good THAT felt. And so it went. She encourage my progress, reminded me of my birth plan intentions (intentions are all they can be as you never know how it will go until you are there) and told me we needed to move from the bathroom – where I was – to a labor and delivery room. I told her that I did not care about my intentions, that I wanted drugs and I wanted them soon – because I wasn’t going to be able to take another 6, 12, whatever hours of these schenanigans. She listens and tells me that I can have an epidural only if I’m in a labor and delivery room and only after I have an IV. Sneaky midwife.
~3:20am – Rob somehow gets me back in to the wheel chair and I am brought in to a labor and delivery room. With my focused breathing I am much better off, the pain becomes a bit more manageable. In the security of the room, in a bed, I am much better off. I meet our incredible labor and delivery nurse, she starts asking me silly, ridiculous questions (for the paperwork as I hadn’t gone through admissions when I first got there) and another nurse starts an IV. I begin to think that maybe, just maybe I can do this on my own. Just as I planned, just as I wanted – then another contraction hits.
Here’s where the time goes all fuzzy.
~3:25ish – My midwife lets me know that she has to leave to go check on another patient. She says a bit over the shoulder “If you feel like pushing you should push”. (This is rare for my midwifery practice. If they have more than one laboring woman they rarely are on the same trajectory. With Sophia’s birth I had my midwife with me the ENTIRE time I was at the hospital, about 6 hours. You could tell that my midwife wasn’t feeling great about having to leave.) Just about 4 minutes after she walks out the door my labor changes. I realize that I feel like pushing that something is happening. It was the strangest feeling I have ever had, Sophia was delivered after I had an epidural (much to my disappointment I was NOT strong enough to handle the back labor). I tell my nurse that I need to push and she casually says, “go ahead start pushing”. So I do… and they run to get the midwife. The world is a bit wobbly now. My midwife checks my progress again. I am 10cm, and the baby is right there at the cervix. Let’s do the math here again – I dilated 5cm in, roughly, 15-20min. And so, I push and push and push. I want it to be over, I want to pain to stop. And it does. And there he is, sweet baby boy. Bruised in the mouth and nose from his rapid entry in to the world. Quiet, alert, and PEEING ON ME! Born at 3:43 am.
Wow. Everyone was a bit freaked out. My midwife kept saying, “I did not anticipate this, you were awesome.”
He is weighed, I am cleaned up and stitched. We are left alone to meet him and learn about what it is to be parents again. I am powerful, I feel incredibly proud of myself and marvel in the beauty of it all. This is not what it was like with Sophia – none of the this. It was not peaceful, we were not left with her. She was born via vacuum with 2 ob-gyn’s in the room, 3 pediatricians, 2 nurses, and my midwife (she was in distress). She was taken up to the NICU, I was left without her not even have held her for 45 minutes. I was happy that she was here safely. I knew no other way. This baby boy healed that experience for me and gave me the confidence and knowledge that I can do the impossible. I can bring a human in to this world as millions of women have done before me.
Now, I am not a natural child-birth militant. I believe that each of us must choose the path that is right for ourselves and our family. I believe that there is no way to know how events will work their way to a baby’s arrival and we make the best decisions that we can. I do know that had my labor with Samuel progressed longer I would have had an epidural and I would still have a sweet baby boy to love and I would have not beat myself up over it all.
BUT I am so glad that I did not have one. I am so glad that he rushed in to this world. Because now I know what I am truly capable of doing, that I CAN do on my own. I know what it physically feels like to give birth, and while it may be generic to say this, it is all I can say: Knowing that physical power is one of the most amazing things I have ever felt. Knowing what it feels like to push a child to this world is crazy, beautiful and fan-freaking-tastic. Knowing that I have two beautiful children that I created, while terrifying, is incredibly fulfilling. Now, if I can just get them to adulthood…