By the time I jumped out of bed with the first rush MAP was already sound asleep. I figured he would probably need at least a little rest with what was to come, so I let him be. I began tidying up bits and pieces throughout our apartment and finished packing last minute things. I had gotten an app for counting contractions and figured I should start using it. By midnight the intensity was increasing but they were still coming between five and seven minutes apart.
Around 1am the rushes were strong enough that I had to stop what I was doing and hold myself back from crying out. But at that point I still told my Mom not to come over, just to have a bag ready, and wipes because we were almost out. That was a big concern for about 45 seconds. Very quickly every movement I made would lead to a rush, sometimes two at a time with just seconds between them. What threw me off was how different these were to the contractions I had felt with Wry. When I was laboring the first time the rushes would take over my entire abdomen, often wrapping around my back. I always knew when I was about to have one because I would start to feel hot. This time they were localized to my lower belly, all the power felt between my hips. The most comfortable position for me to be in was an upright leaning stance that kept me running to the chair in our living room. It reclined just enough to stretch me a little bit as I leaned into the rush, and it wasn’t too difficult for me to stand again once it passed. It also used to be my Grandpa’s chair & that brought me comfort.
At 1:33am I sent my Mom another text that she needed to come over. I was on the living room floor by now trying so hard to breathe through the movements. I finally yelled for MAP to come help me. Nothing. Called again, still nothing. Tried literally calling his phone. Nope, still asleep. BLAST IT! I got up and woke the man from his sleep. “It’s time to go,” I told him calmly. I didn’t want him to sense that I’d been crying out for him & start a frenzy. He sat up and asked how long I’d been having contractions. About two hours, I said. MAP flew into action from that point and although I thought he seemed a bit panicked, he grabbed everything that I would have otherwise forgotten, called my midwives, my parents, and did exactly what he needed to do. Truth is I knew he was shocked that I had been in labor for two hours and he didn’t know about it. But it had been my time to work through this labor on my own, to welcome it after so much waiting and allow my mind to fall into place without anyone else there, even my husband. I needed and wanted to stay busy as my labor began. I can’t emphasize enough how wonderful that was for me. I was simply HAPPY to be in labor & to have done that first part solo.
My parents arrived at our home a little after 2am. (It is now 2:05am as I write this- so exactly a week ago!) I was working hard through the contractions, still bending forward over my Grandfather’s old chair, and pushing my parents away as they tried to help me breathe. They knew how badly I wanted to have this labor be quick and easy, but birth is something no one can make easier. It just is what it is- hard, painful work. Still, it was nice to know they were there and Wry was with his favorite Mormor & Grandpa. I had tried to go into our room to kiss him goodnight, but ended up running out to avoid waking him with a muffled moan. It was the only time I cried during my whole labor.
It took me working through five or six rushes before walking out to the car with my Mom & Dad at my sides. The cool air felt so good against my skin. The car ride was quiet except for my deep groans. I don’t remember seeing any other cars on the road. It was nearly 3:00am by the time we made it to the birthing center at the hospital.
MAP went inside to get me a wheelchair, despite me wanting to walk at first. A huge contraction washed over me as he ran inside and I let out a roar inside the car. I wondered how many of the neighboring houses heard women in labor as they arrived to the hospital. Surely it would be an unnerving sound to hear in the dead of night! But I was still welcoming it all in, and upon admission when the nurse asked me what my plan was as far as pain management/epidural I said I didn’t know. My midwife met us in the birthing room and I told her that I guessed the strip worked. She just chuckled. She checked me and behold! I was at 6cm. A whole centimeter more than I was after laboring for over 30 hours with Wryter. The rushes kept coming stronger and M (my midwife) said the labor would go fast. I ran into the bathroom and asked MAP to go out. Things just didn’t flush my system the way they had the days leading up to labor with Wry, which is what I had expected. Though I share a great many things with my husband there are just a few small intimacies that I would like to keep private! More likely than not this was just a fantasized privacy since my hubby knew not to venture far from the bathroom door. It was sometime around 3:30am at this point.
After what felt like quite a while I said I wanted an epidural. Both MAP & M seemed entertained by the idea, but not convinced. I assured them that I did want it, with obvious doubt in my voice. M asked me if I wanted to try the tub (I’d been saying how much I looked forward to it for months!), but I was so hot that the idea of sitting in warm water was almost nauseating. I had so much heartburn that I literally felt on fire in my chest and I was sweating on the outside. I only wanted cold washcloths on my forehead and my neck. After getting me back on the bed & revealing I was at 9cm, M said I had just a tiny bit of cervix left and that an epidural wouldn’t be a bad idea for relaxing to a 10. By then I was crying out & all for the idea. If I’m honest I will tell you that I was screaming, but I feel a little embarrassed when I think back on it. The rushes had become harder and faster, my pain tolerance was slipping away. I don’t know how many came and went before I looked MAP square in the eyes and yelled, I NEED IT NOW. I told him to go find M & the nurse and tell them I couldn’t wait for the anesthesiologist any longer. I knew that my window of opportunity was slipping away quickly. M had told MAP earlier that I could have the epi up until I needed to push, and the way I was going it wouldn’t be long. M had been right. This really would be fast. It was all going very, very fast.
Now I’m not sure exactly the order of events from here, but I remember M coming back into the room and not leaving my side again. The anesthesiologist was tending to an emergency in the main building and the backup was called. He was “on his way”. What did that mean? Was he driving from somewhere? Was he walking down the hall? Where was he?
Not in my room, and not where I needed him. I was officially zoning in and out from the pain and strength of the rushes. M asked me if I felt like I needed to push. I didn’t, and I wish I knew how to put into words what the contractions felt like at this point. They were wicked, wicked twists and cuts. In a flash they went from sharp rolls to slicing, searing pain as my baby was pushed further into the birth canal by my body. I began having longer pauses between them, dozing off at each break for a few minutes. I would fall away into my unconscious only to be startled awake as another would thunder through me. I felt every single movement of the baby’s body and hardening of my muscles. I felt my water break and wanted to tell M, but I couldn’t speak to anyone. Quite abruptly the urge to push took over.
M checked me and called out to the tending nurse- call off the epidural, she’s at 10, we’re going to start pushing- this baby is coming! I looked at MAP. There was no way back. The promise of relief was no longer a stranger with a spinal block, but the end of my labor as it would be on its own, untouched. I felt fear but I also knew that there was an end. An end that was really the beginning of something greater than any of the pain I was experiencing… But it was still all-consuming, insane, terrible pain. Then I pushed for the first time.
Once a contraction ended with the urge to bear down, the pain subsided and I could concentrate on moving the baby down. That feeling was a strange combination of good and awful, and all I kept thinking was, I can’t keep having these contractions, I won’t make it. And just as I did with Wryter, within a matter of minutes I yelled that I couldn’t do it. But the soft voices of the nurses and my midwife guided me. They had seen hundreds if not thousands of births over the years, I could trust them. I looked at MAP again and never once felt alone, only alone with what I had to do. I imagined what it felt like when Wry was born. I would force myself to remember what it felt to experience the sort of magic that happens only through birth. As the pain washed in and out of me, I did all I could to take myself to a happier place, though never quite feeling I got there.
I kept pushing at the end of each contraction and it was unbelievable to feel the baby as she started to crown. This was not at all how I remembered the first time, the epidural surely numbing a great deal, if not the majority of the experience for me. There had been pressure, absolutely, but not this. This was fire. It was life. In all the pain and feeling like I could cease to exist at any moment, my body couldn’t have been more alive. Those few minutes may be the most alive that my body will ever be, hardly needing my mind to power through. I let go of my thoughts and allowed my body to overpower my mind. MAP said to me after the birth that I appeared to be in a very “zen” state and asked between pushing and contractions to have the baby put on my chest right away. I was happy to hear he thought I was in such a calm place. The surrender to my body must have been what came across as zen, though I had plenty of voices still throwing curse words only internally now. The encouragement around me kept me going, kept me focused. My baby was so close. I tried to reach down to feel her, but I can’t remember having her there. I knew I had one more push, one more and it would all be over. The pain would stop. She would be here.
I gave it my all, and in a moment she came out, face up, the warm gush of her world coming out with her, and she was here. Our Story was finally here! She was handed to me right away and I picked her up and placed her onto my chest. She grabbed my thumb and held on tight. It had been her journey, too. We did it together. It was a magical, beautiful meeting.
Story was born at 4:30AM, barely 90 minutes after we arrived to the hospital. I pushed for 20 minutes. It was a lightening fast labor, but the intensity and quickness of it was much more vigorous & painful than my first birth (despite it having been two days long). As my midwife explained, having a fast birth often puts more strain on the body with less time to adapt to what is happening. And because our little ladybug came out sunny-side up the pain was more than it would have been had she stayed face down. But I will never forget seeing her come out facing the world, and though it took me a while to be happy not having had the epidural (yes, even after wanting a natural birth so badly and for many years), I wouldn’t change a thing. Not the waiting nor the pain. It was phenomenal to envision a supernatural and fast labor for months, and then to feel it and experience it in all its glory. As with so much in life, everything was exactly as it should be.
WELCOME TO THE WORLD, STORY BLOOM! Our darling baby girl <3
*Thank you for reading about my second journey through childbirth. I plan on sharing what I had in my birthing bag, how I intended to use different methods of pain relief, and what exactly changed or veered from my original birth plan. If you have questions send them to me via the ASK tab, and I will include them in my “birth plan” followup post.
All my love and light to you all- happy birthing to every shining mommy-to-be. Remember, you are divine, you are sacred, and you’ve got it!