Part One and Part Two
So, there I was, contractions 7 minutes apart. At this point I they were pretty painful, but I was managing them by myself. Now, I had called my birth team and let them know my contractions had gotten closer, but I didn't think I'd really be calling them to the house until the morning.
We headed for bed around 10, but the contractions were too painful and frequent to sleep. They were about 5 to 7 minutes apart, and getting more painful. I began contemplating calling the midwife on call, but decided to wait.
Shortly before midnight, I had a very painful contraction. I was sitting on the side of my bed breathing through it when all of a sudden, "BAM!" I felt a huge increase in pressure, not quite like I had to push, but almost. This made Nelson nervous, but I was still pretty certain we were no where near baby. I hadn't even had any bloody show yet, or lost my mucous plug and my water had not broken. By my guess I was still in pre-labor. However, because of the increased pressure, I decided to call the midwives.
I spoke with Alice, and I was uncertain what I wanted to do. My main concern was that I was going to have a third night of painful contractions and little to no sleep, and because I felt like I'd be having the baby the following day, I was worried. I was afraid that another sleepless night would compromise my labor and my ability to push.
Alice asked I wanted her to come, and I didn't know. I was really worried about having the birth team come out to find I was still in pre-labor. Then she told me she wouldn't be able to sleep thinking about me not sleeping, and suggested that she and Lisa (a midwife new to the practice that was attending births under Alice's supervision) come out and we could at least discuss some solutions to help me sleep. I agreed and she said they'd be there in an hour.
Alice arrived at 1AM and by that time my contractions were increasing significantly in intensity and were three minutes apart. I still hadn't had any bloody show and was still pretty certain I was not in active labor. I was having one very intense contraction, followed by a more mild contraction, and they were about 45 to 60 seconds apart.
Lisa arrived about 15 minutes later and wanted to check my progress. Because I am group strep B positive, it was important that they know if I was in active labor so they could give me antibiotics prior to my delivery.
I was really nervous about being checked. When I was laboring with Oscar, they check me after 12 hours and I was only 1cm dilated, and I didn't think I could bear Lisa telling me I was only 1cm after two and a half days of contractions.
So, I sucked it up and she checked me. I was 3cm and the head was fully engaged! That was why I was feeling so much pressure.
"Your are going to be having this baby very soon," she said to me.
We were elated.
Nelson and I began working on the contractions together. We paced, I swayed on the ball, and I leaned against the wall. When all of that stopped working, I would lean my back against Nelson and wrap my arms around his neck and we would sway together. We were also vocalizing together, low "ooooo" sounds, and this what really helped me cope with the pain, which was very intense at this point. My contractions were three to four minutes apart and around 45 to 60 seconds long. I just focused on the sound of Nelson's voice. As long as I could hear him, I could get through my contractions. I focused on him instead of the pain. It was very effective.
Lisa asked to check me again around 2:30 or 3:00AM. I was 7cm! My labor was moving at lighting speed and I was already moving into transition, the most painful, but also the quickest part of labor. I was pretty worried about my pain increasing, but Lisa told me that this was it, they wouldn't get significantly more painful, just closer together. I was relieved.
"I am so proud of my body and this baby," I said, "this is my dream labor," I told Lisa.
"You should be proud," Lisa said, "You guy are doing wonderfully. This is a really beautiful labor."
Or so we though.
I needed some new pain coping strategies so I began kneeling on the bed with my head/torso on the birth ball and Nelson rubbing my back. This was my favorite laboring position. I was feeling the urge to push, so I tried and nothing. She check me again and I was 8.5cm dilated. We discussed breaking my waters, since they were bulging and causing me discomfort. I wanted to wait.
After two more contractions, I decided to let her break my waters.
"You could have the baby right after I break your waters, " she warned.
Well, I didn't. Nothing happened. Just a lot of water. And my bloody show, finally!
At this point I stated getting worried. When was this baby coming? I'd been in transition for more than an hour what was the deal? I was also having trouble coping with the pain. Nothing was helping.
Lisa suggested the shower, so I stayed in there for a half an hour or so, until Lisa wanted to check me again. My contractions were four minutes apart, very painful, and about 60 seconds long.
I was 9cm dilated, and a lip. That fucking lip. I remembered that lip from Oscar. I had less than once centimeter to go. The only thing standing between me and my baby was that lip.
She tried to move it so I could push, but it didn't work. It became even more swollen. And I was becoming frustrated.
Lisa suggested I lied down but I refused. The contractions were unbearable when I lied down. So, I got in the tub.
At this point, I was completely exhausted. My third night with no sleep was taking it's toll. I was tired I was tired of transition, I was tired of begin told the baby would be here soon. The tub helped, though. I was sleeping between contractions, but they were getting longer and more painful because I was tired. I just wanted to sleep.
It was around 6am at this point, and they got me out of the tub to try and push again. She held the lip so I could push the baby past, but it kept slipping. It became swollen again. Still no baby.
I had had it. I was done, and I told them so.
"I"m not having this baby. I need to go to the hospital. He's not coming, not anytime soon, and I can't take it. I'm too tired, I can't do this, I'm exhausted. It's time to go."
They all worked to talk me off the ledge, Lisa, our birth assistant Liz, Nelson. They knew I really didn't want to go to the hospital, that I was just exhausted and disheartened, but I was belligerent.
It was Liz who finally broke through. "If we go to the hospital, you'll have to drive there and be admitted and hooked up to IVs and it will be at least an hour before they even get an epidural in, and probably another hour before you have the baby. If you stay here, you will have this baby in less than an hour," she said.
And as tired and angry as I was, this made sense. I did not want labor in the car, I did not want an epidural. I was just so tired.
"I need to sleep! I at least need to sleep!" I had had some sleeping medication with Oscar. Lisa suggested maybe we could go to the birth center and I could have some Nubain and sleep for a while.
Except that when she checked with Alice, it seemed I could not do this. They won't let you take Nubain unless you are at least four hours from birth. I was less than an hour away, and while they all knew this, I was less certain.
Alice came upstairs.
"You need to lie down," she said.
"NO! IT HURTS TOO BAD WHEN I LIE DOWN!" Yes, I was yelling, and I'm not proud of it.
"You need to lie down, and we are all going to help you, Nelson, Lisa, Liz, and I. We are going to help you melt away that lip on your cervix. If you just lie here for three or four contractions, it will be nearly gone. You can do this," she said.
I lied down on the bed with Nelson and Alice up at my head and Liz and Lisa down by my legs. They were massaging me and vocalizing with me through the four most painful contractions of my life.
Then, I really lost my shit.
The last contraction was awful, just awful. I felt like I was splitting it two.
"WHAT THE FUCK AM I STILL DOING HERE? THIS IS NOT WORKING! I'M TOO TIRED. I CANNOT DO THIS. I CANNOT DO THIS ANYMORE!" Yes, I used the "f" word. But just that once.
"Lie down, Jenni, let Lisa check you," Alice said.
And I did.
"The lip is still there, but it's much, much smaller," Lisa said.
I was devastated. It was still there. That fucking lip. I started to cry.
"Lisa's going to hold the lip back and you're going to push," Alice said.
"NO! I've done that twice already and it didn't work. I don't want to do it again," I said.
"Just one push. Just try one push," Alice encouraged me.
And so I did.
Lisa pushed aside the lip and I pushed like I have never pushed in my life. I pushed and I pushed and I pushed.
And the baby crowed. In that one, first push. The held a mirror so I could see, and sure enough, his head was right there.
My next contraction I pushed again and out came his head. And then I felt it.
The ring of fire.
"OH MY GOD! What is that? It feels AWFUL!" I said.
"That's the ring of fire, Jenni. You remember that from Oscar," Alice said.
"I did not have that with Oscar," I said.
In my next contraction, I pushed out his shoulders.
"That is not a small baby!" Alice said.
"No kidding, " I said. I was also majorly moaning and vocalizing because ohmygodthepain.
In my fourth and final contraction, the baby's torso spontaneously delivered and it was the weirdest sensation. I almost forgot to push. Until Alice yelled, "PUSH JENNI, PUSH!"
And in that final push, Miles was here.
"Is he out? Is he here?" I asked
They put him on my chest in all his gooey glory.
Nelson cried. I was too exhausted.
"I can't believe you're here," I said. And I kissed him.
In all, I was in pre-labor for two days and active labor for just under 12 hours. I was in transition for about four hours. I pushed Miles out in just four pushes in 13 minutes. His cord was wrapped once around his neck and once around his torso. Miles had some bruising from his speedy arrival, including a bruise in his right eye and I had a first degree tear.
This labor was by far harder, more intense, and more painful than my first, but I am happy with it and I think it happened just as it should have.
I read somewhere once that women are starved to tell their birth stories, and I find this to be true. Anytime I've ever asked any woman her birth story, she tells all with great glory, even if the birth was hard, or not as planned. So, I'm going to take page from Anymommy's book and invite all of you moms and dads to share your birth and/or adoption stories with me, either in the comments section, or you can write a post and link to it in my comments, or if you've already written it (them) please provide links. I love birth and adoption stories, and since you've shared in mine, I'd love to share in yours.