I had just taken my last dose of [voodoo medicine] homeopathic remedy to induce labor. You have to take, like, six doses over 12 hours and at 9pm on September 26th, I'd finished it, told my husband (with my tongue in my cheek) that my labor was going to start aaaaaaany minute and went to curl up in the basement and watch some tv. For the life of me I can't remember what I had on but about 5 minutes in I felt a strange, *popping* kind of kick.
And then I felt a slow, spreading warmth and thought, 'Oh, holy shit.'
Even though I was officially overdue, I hadn't packed a hospital bag. (I had a feeling that I was going to be significantly overdue...don't ask me why.) My daughter was in bed asleep. My husband was upstairs on the computer. I walked up the steps, into the bathroom, sat down on the toilet and had a fucking panic attack.
'Um. I think my water just broke,' I yelled out to my husband, effectively passing my panic right along.
After what seemed like an hour of bumbling around, trying to figure out what to do, my brain took over and I directed The Man to call his mom while I called my midwife and started to pack a bag.
I had yet to have a contraction.
My midwife advised me to go to the hospital, since I was GBS positive and they needed to start the anti-biotics. I was happy to go, as the labor with my first progressed pretty rapidly and I had some fear that I wouldn't make it on time. (My sister had given birth to my niece and her labor was so fast that the midwife almost missed it. It, uh, was a home-birth ANYWAY but I was glad that *I* didn't have to deliver the baby.)
The Man and I got into the car when my MIL got there and off we rode. My sister was meeting me there. (The Doula was out of town and in retrospect, it was so, SO great to have The Little Sister there. SO.) All the way to the hospital, I thought of my daughter. I wept for her, a little, knowing that when she woke up, her whole world would be different. We had prepared her as well as we could, of course, but I already ached for what she was about to go through.
About a minute away from the hospital, I had my first taste of memory. The contraction was slight and easily managed but it brought back a visceral, physical memory from deep inside my body.
'Oh yeeeeah, I remember this shit,' my body said, 'this shit huuurts.'
We got settled into the room and my sister came and the nurse was asking me questions and talking about the iv antibiotics and blah blah. Then she asked if I'd saved the pad because she had to see if my membrane 'had really ruptured.' She said this in a way that made me worry about whether or not I'd misinterpreted the event. Like maybe I'd just been peeing my pants for the last 15 minutes. She got the long ass q-tip and lo, the water had broken. She checked me and told me that I was 2cm dilated.
'It's going to be a LONG night for you guys,' she said, 'we're not going to see that baby until tomorrow morning.'
This was the first time that I tried to tell her that my last labor had progressed quickly. I also tried to communicate the feedback I'd gotten from the nurses last time. They were all, without exception, shocked at my behavior during labor. Quiet but joking almost throughout. I wanted both the staff and my midwife to know these things, in case it was the same this time. The only reason that I hadn't had my daughter within 6 hours, start to finish, was because I pushed for OVER THREE HOURS (and I was still joking then, em effers.)
The nurse asked me if I wanted something for pain and I declined, telling her that unless the labor was long and unproductive, I didn't want medication. The contractions weren't really difficult at that point. I asked when she was going to call my midwife. She smiled at me like I'd said something endearing.
'Oh,' she said, 'I won't be calling her for a WHILE yet. When it gets closer I'll give her a call.'
This was about 11pm.
They came in and hung the antibiotics and I found out that my blood pressure was elevated (AGAIN) and so, I had to wear the fetal monitor OF DOOM constantly instead of intermittently and I was PISSED but RESIGNED and so I just moved whenever I felt the need to and the nurses had to come in and rearrange it and they weren't as sweet about it as the nurses at the last hospital but oh WELL, right? SORRY, thems the BREAKS, OB nurses. She also asked me about 1229489 more times if I wanted anything for pain. Something that doesn't bother me at all right now but at the time, made me inexplicably annoyed. It was almost as if she'd never seen anyone like me before. Like she thought she knew me better than I knew my own self. Like she just knew better.
My sister considered going home and then coming back later (since it was going to be so long and all) but she had a feeling that it wasn't going to be as long as the nurse thought and so she stayed. I felt the same way but since I'm the sort who's inclined to 'Not Get My Hopes Up,' I tend toward the, 'Well, it COULD take all night, I suppose.'
I was still joking, even though the contractions were getting more intense. I looked around the room and I was Tweeting, my sister was texting and The Man was updating his Facebook status. Ah, technology. At one point, the two of them (neither one a doula, obv.) were trying to time my contractions. As the pain set in, I'd let them know and then while I'm 'Going Inside' trying to 'Breathe Deep The Giving Of Life' and all that shit, I hear them whispering to each other. Talking out the sides of their mouths, quiet-like, thinking that I can't hear them while LOST IN THE PAIN OF LABOR.
The Man: 'Are you supposed to start timing from the beginning of the contraction to the end?'
The Little Sister: 'I think so. Or. I don't know. I'm timing from the beginning until the end, you're supposed to time how long in between.'
TM: 'So, should I time from the end of one to the beginning of the next? To find out how far apart they are?'
TLS: 'Hmm. I think so.'
Me: 'You both KNOW I can HEAR you, right?'
About 1:00 am or so, the contractions started to get more intense. I told my [crack-pot] cracker-jack team, who sat, one with a book, the other with a smart-phone, continuing to joke and loaf about, despite the dramatic increase in crampiness in my uteral region. It is a weird thing about a big experience like that, maybe, but I was shocked on a couple occasions that they couldn't, like, read my mind or intuit the change in my internal state. I know that's ridiculous, really, but it's kind of when a little kid presses on her bruise and says, 'Doesn't that hurt?' I had to actually speak. Out loud.
'Hey. I could use a little...you know, labor support over here.'
They both jumped up and it was about this point that The Man started to resemble one of those life-sized, movie house cut-outs of himself. He stood at one side of the bed, ashen-faced, and tried not to panic. My sister leaned in, comforted and did what a doula would do. The pain was still managable with that support and I recall that hour or so passing pretty quickly, despite the jump in intensity.
I wanted to sit upright and since it had been hours since I'd seen ANY medical professional, I got out of bed and planted myself in a rocking chair, monitors in place. The intensity of the contractions steadily increased and I distinctly remember thinking that if I wasn't progressing, if these contractions weren't productive, I'd skip the epidural and go straight for the cyanide.
For whatever reason, when each contraction would roll through, I would grip The Man's hand in mine, put my forehead on his forearm and push my head against it, like I was trying to snap that fucker in half. I'm so not kidding. I'm chuckling as I write this but at the time, it seemed like a completely logical pain reliever. So, there you are.
The contractions were getting longer and longer with shorter rest in between and at about 2:50 am, I looked at my sister and asked, 'Dude. Am I going through transition in this fucking rocking chair?'
About that time, the nurse came in. I don't remember if she asked me how I was doing or whatever. I just remember asking if she called my midwife yet.
'No, not yet. I'll call her when you get closer,' she said.
'We'll hang the second bag of anti-biotics at around 4.'
'Yeah, but...these contractions are getting pretty strong,' I said, 'Are you going to check me?'
'We don't like to check too much if you're GBS positive. I see that your contractions are getting more intense on the monitor. When we hang the next bag of anti-biotics, I'll check you. So, unless you tell me that you have to push, I'll see you in a little bit.'
And then, she left.
My sister said, 'She's not making it until 4. She's going to have this baby before then.'
I was starting to believe her and abandoned all thoughts of a cyanide capsule.
Around 10 minutes after 3:00, I felt like I had to pee. I'd felt that way after each contraction and I decided to go. My sister went to get the nurse and while the details are muddied, I recall being half-in and half-out of the bed, the nurse at my side, helping me to the bathroom. And then she said, 'Now, don't you go having that baby in the toilet.'
'That doesn't happen,' I said, but it was a question.
'Oh, yes it does, more than you'd think,' was her answer and then I realized that I was having another one of those moments when I thought others should be able to know my thoughts. Because suddenly, I wasn't going anywhere and I wasn't going to do anything.
Besides push out a baby.
The next few minutes were full of flurry and panic and flashes of motion and sounds. I was fully in the bed and gripped by such a fierce urge to push that I have no words to describe it. At some point, the nurse checked me and said something I didn't get, followed by, '...you are a 9, though,' along with some kind of injunction not to push. They were waking the on-call doctor, who was sleeping down the hall.
My mind and my body were in a battle, for sure, I was full of worry and panic, trying to hold in the urge to push and cheating--I couldn't help it--bearing down even though I was afraid I was hurting myself in the process. Not to mention, you know, no doctor, no midwife. I remembered my sister having to dance around in her bathroom and fight her own urge to push while we waited for her midwife--it was a home birth and it was the midwife or me and I remember hissing, 'You better cross your legs and keep them together because I am NOT delivering this baby!'
I had a true appreciation for her at that moment because as I laid on my side, trying not to push and failing, I couldn't believe she held out. I could feel my baby trying to get out of my body. I was freaked out that I was only dilated 9cm and was afraid of rupturing myself and then, from somewhere, I heard one of the nurses say that if my urge to push was so great, I was probably a 10.
Just the lack of the doctor, then. I looked at my husband and thought he might fall over. I was on my side, trying not to push but feeling my son's head descend, I could feel him coming out.
'He's coming!' I yelled, 'he's coming!'
And then, you'll never believe what my sister said.
She said, 'He's coming! They went to go get him, he's just down the hall!'
It was straight out of a movie, I swear, especially when I'm all: 'I'M NOT TALKING ABOUT THE DOCTOR!! I'M TALKING ABOUT THE BABY! HE'S! COMING! NOWWWWW!!'
Two seconds later, the doctor walked in and pulling on his gloves, he said, 'Uh. Can we--break the bed down, please?'
The rest took another minute, at the most.
One big, long, push and he was out.
The Little sister went with The Boy to the little grow-light table. The Man was still a cardboard cut-out, holding my hand. I looked at him, misty-eyed and worried. And the first words out of my mouth were these:
'I am SO GLAD I never have to do that again.'