And the drama continues ...
At around 4:00 pm, I was given a real room, a nurse (Dawn, who was awesome) and, of course, a paper gown. After having a moment to settle in and get comfortable in my gown, Dawn hooked me up to a blood pressure cuff (for me), a heart rate and contraction monitor (for the baby), got an IV port ready in case I'd need any medications or fluids during the delivery, and then we went through a massive list of questions covering my health history and my plans for the labor and birth. She didn't bat an eye when I said I was going to do things naturally, but told me we'd have to talk with the anesthesiologist anyway, as it was hospital procedure.
When the anesthesiologist arrived, he was a bit more skeptical of my "natural birth" intentions. He took about fifteen minutes explaining the procedure and going through his memorized list of procedural steps and potential side effects with little gusto. I agreed to sign the paperwork, in case an emergency situation would require me to have an epidural, but mentally told myself that I wouldn't be seeing him again.
With all of our pre-birth "business" taken care of, Dawn got the room's bathtub ready for me ... and I (finally!) got in. By this point, my contractions were pretty strong and very uncomfortable, so the warm water and whirlpool jets felt really good and did a great job at easing the pain. Unfortunately, my moment was short lived because my doctor arrived at around 5:30 pm and wanted to check me. Begrudgingly, I climbed out of the tub and made my way back to the bed.
As she announced that I was five centimeters dilated and 80% effaced, I felt some pressure and then a gush of fluid. My water had broken ... No more whirlpool tub for me! Instead, I tried standing in the shower and using the shower's hand-held sprayer to soothe my back where the pain was becoming the most intense. This was by no means as helpful as the swirling water had been, so I had my husband help me dry off and return to the bed. I stayed there, squeezing his hand with each contraction until I felt like I couldn't sit still. Dawn brought us a birthing ball and I sat on it, bouncing and rocking through contractions. At some point, a nurse/midwife named Sue who had heard that I was attempting a natural birth, popped in and showed my husband how to apply pressure to my hips and massage my back with a bag of hot saline. It relieved some of my discomfort, but only when Sue did it ... My husband was either squeezing too hard or rubbing too lightly. My frustration was nothing compared to pain that was starting to become ridiculous (especially in my back).
I guess I should mention that, by this point, my parents and one of my sisters had made their way to the waiting room. They would page our room occasionally, calling for my husband to give them an update (which he would).
Up until about 8:00 pm, I felt like I was doing okay, for the most part. I was definitely hurting, but the pain was still manageable. I knew I was in trouble when I had a contraction during the singular minute my husband left me to get a pop from the vending machine. Without his hand to hold, I felt lost. The pain was so intense that I felt as if a vice was squeezing me in half. I wanted to scream, but Sue had told me to stay in control by "keeping my sounds low." When he returned he said that my sister wanted to come back and see me to say "Hi."
I vaguely remember thinking that she must be crazy and shouting "No!" at him.
From about 8:30 onward my memories of Malcolm's birth become fuzzy. I do know, however, that during most of that time, I thought that I was going to die. Sue was back and she and Dawn had me moving to try and alleviate some of the pain ... I was rocking on the ball, then on all fours, hunching over the inclined back of the bed. I'd have a small contraction, then a huge earth shattering one. I knew I didn't want the epidural, but I wasn't sure how long I could allow my body to just do what it needed to do. I'm not sure if I just wanted the assurance that things were progressing, or if I just needed something to distract me, but I remember begging to be checked again. Surely I had to be ten centimeters by now. It had been all day! They kept telling me that they'd check again if I felt an urge to push.
I never felt that "urge," but at some point I started lying.
"I'm feeling a lot of pressure," I would say when I could speak. "Can you check me, now?"
When they finally obliged, it still wasn't time. I was 100% effaced, but only eight centimeters dilated ... And the small and big contraction pattern wasn't helping. They gave me some pitocin to help even things out, so from then on, whenever I changed position, I had to fumble around without getting tangled up in my own IV cord. Before I was given the official "okay," I started to push just to survive. I know for a fact that I peed everywhere, but I didn't care. The act of pushing relieved the pressure in my back ... The pressure that was caused from my baby being posterior (or, as they say to make it sound happier, "sunny side up").
At around 11:00, it was finally time! The baby had turned to an anterior position (or so they had thought). I started pushing, first from my back with my husband and Dawn bracing each one of my legs. Then I was rolled to my left side to push. Then I was instructed to get on all fours again and lean over the back of the bed again.
My husband recalls how proud he was of me for being so agreeable and moving when they asked me to ... But, the truth is, by the time I was able to push I felt no pain. I'm not sure if I've just blocked it all out, but I honestly don't remember any pain once I was pushing. There was no "ring of fire" either. Everything about pushing felt good ... It was certainly frustrating and exhausting, but much more comfortable than my contractions had been for the past two hours or so.
It was 11:54 pm and I was on my left side again, legs braced by my husband, Dawn, and Sue, with a room full of nurses wanting to see the crazy woman give birth naturally when a head (finally!) emerged (looking up at his dad instead of down at the floor, like a good baby should) and a slippery body came bursting out. The sensation was really strange and surreal ... And I'm glad that I got to actually feel it happen.
"What is it?" I asked my husband, in disbelief that the baby had just entered the world. "Did they say what it is?!"
"It's a boy!"
So now he was here!
I had just pushed out a six pound, eleven ounce baby boy ... Without any drugs! Crazy!
I spent the next few moments watching my baby boy get cleaned and weighed as my placenta was delivered (I didn't look at it, but I hear they look like monsters) and I was stitched up. I felt a little shaky (and tired), but otherwise great.
Seriously. I felt great.
I was on such a high that I felt like I could literally do anything at that very second. As cliche as it sounds, I immediately forgot about all of the pain I had just experienced as soon as my swaddled baby was put in my arms for his first meal ... And I said as much to my doctor, who just chuckled at me. The little guy was so alert ... Absolutely the most beautiful, perfect baby I had ever seen. The feelings of love and contentment pouring out of me were so overwhelming that, to describe them here, wouldn't do them justice. I could have just stared at him and stroked his little cheeks for hours ... It was difficult to hand him over to my anxious family members when they were let into our room at around 1:00 am.
I can't believe it's been a whole year since you arrived.