How do I begin? Hmmmm…… I guess I’ll start at the beginning. Well, first let me say that I was hopeful that this delivery would go fast and that I would be able to get through it without an epidural. I just felt like it was something I wanted to do because I feel like it’s better for the baby and more than anything, I knew I wanted to avoid a C-section at all costs. I felt like if my labor was short, I could stand the pain for a short amount of time and make it through naturally. Careful what you wish for.
I felt my first contraction at 9:14 a.m. on Sunday, July 8. I was sitting on the couch watching Nick Jr. with Riley and I remember being like, “Ouch! What was that?” I guess it really is true that your mind blocks out the pain of contractions once you have your first child. I really didn’t think it was a contraction.
Throughout the day, I would sporadically feel them, but still didn’t think they were the real thing. Derek worked in the basement, which we’ve been trying to finish for months. Riley and I played outside in the heat. He rode his bike in the driveway while I sat on a lawn chair eating Greek yogurt.
Around 1:00 we all ate lunch and I felt my first painful contraction. To the point that I yelled to Derek in the basement and when he didn’t hear me, Riley went over to the clothes chute and yelled down, “Daddy! Mommy’s in pain!” Needless to say, Derek rushed upstairs. Though I still didn’t really think they were real contractions. But we started timing them anyway.
By 2:30 when Riley was down for a nap, I was starting to see a pattern, feel them intensify and it started to sink in that I was probably in labor.
Thank the lord, Riley napped. Things got pretty intense quickly and it would have been awful to hide my discomfort from Riley. This boy does not miss a thing. And he asks questions constantly. Around 4:00, we called the hospital and the nurse said we should wait an hour for them to get closer together and then call back.
I remember her saying, “Why don’t you walk around, take a bath or even take a nap? It sounds like you’re in for a long night.” Great. Not exactly what I wanted to hear. And what do you know? That nurse was wrong. But we’ll get to that in a second.
By this time, we called my mom and asked her to come over to stay with Riley and thankfully, the little man was still sound asleep tucked into his big boy bed.
I decided to take a bath and try to relax. Around this time it started to sink in what was happening. I started crying and told Derek and I really didn’t want to do this. I believe I even asked him to do it for me. He reminded me that a few weeks ago, while inquiring how the baby would come out, Riley told me, “You can do it, Mommy. You’re strong.”
The contractions were now 4-5 minutes apart and getting really intense. I couldn’t walk or talk through them and every time one hit, I had to brace myself on the counter or wall, close my eyes and breathe deeply.
Thankfully, by this time, my mom had shown up. I knew I couldn’t just leave without saying bye to Riley. So Derek and I went in and woke him up and explained what was happening. He was excited for what we were telling him and he was also excited that Grandma was over to play with him. We left him cuddling with Grandma and headed to the hospital. The drive was a blur. I have no idea if we talked or listened to music or what. It was just pain and breathing.
Finally, we arrived around 6 p.m., Derek parked the car and we went up to the second floor – labor and delivery. I got into a triage room and was checked to see how far dilated I was. I did not like the answer – 3 centimeters. Seriously? I was 2 cm at my doctor’s appointment on Thursday.
We were told to walk the halls for an hour and come back to see what progress I made. Derek and I were able to talk as we wandered the halls. I even joked that I felt like Bella in Twilight because I thought this baby was just clawing his/her way out into the world. That’s how it felt. He of course did not get my reference to such a horrible movie.
Anyway, after a while, Derek remarked how fast my contractions were coming. We’d get maybe 2-3 feet down the hall before I had to stop walking, grab onto the wooden railings in the hallway, close my eyes and breathe. Finally, an hour had passed and we headed back to the triage room to get checked. Better news this time – I was between 4 and 5 cm. Woohoo!
At this time, I asked the nurse if we could go to room 2007. While we were walking, Derek and I figured out that that was the room where Riley was born. The room was available and we got it. We walked in and it was just awesome to know that this baby would be born in the same room that our first born entered the world in.
At this point, things get pretty blurry in my mind. I remember the nurse asking me if I still wanted to try to do this without an epidural. I told her I thought so. She had to start an IV and get me some antibiotics since I had tested positive for Group B Strep while I was pregnant.
The IV and antibiotics were started and Derek was holding my hand. I remember thinking that he should call his parents to let them know, but the contractions were coming so fast, he didn’t get a chance to step away from my squeezing hand.
By 8:30 the contractions were soooo painful. As in, it was getting hard to focus on anything but how badly they hurt. They were also coming so fast that I felt like I didn’t have time to recover from one before another one started.
“I think I need the epidural,” I said to my nurse. She rolled in the anesthesiologist’s cart o’ drugs and paged the doctor. My nurse said I needed to finish this bag of fluids before they could give me the epidural.
“But I think you’re going to go fast,” she said, looking at the monitors. “I think you might just rocket this baby right out.”
She checked me again and said I was definitely at 5 cm. I was surprised I wasn’t farther along given the crazy contractions. I was at 6 cm when I got the epidural with Riley. Was I really wimping out earlier this time than the last time? I couldn’t believe it. But at the same time, I didn’t care, I knew I needed something to help.
In the meantime, she suggested I take a shot of a muscle relaxer. I didn’t want to, but Derek said I should. He later told me that my eyes were darting all over the room and I looked really freaked out.
“I need some help,” I said, growing desperate.
“They’ll help you,” Derek said. “Get the muscle relaxer.” So I did.
And all I felt was high for about 2 seconds and then NOTHING. I felt exactly the same as I had before.
And then…..my water broke.
The monitors were on my belly, keeping track of the baby’s heartbeat and my contractions. Suddenly the room was filled with a really loud thump and I gasped and shrieked in pain. The baby had broke my water by doing some crazy karate chop and I felt it break and then felt the fluid gush.
“My water broke! Derek, call the nurse!” We were the only ones in the room and I knew this was it. Within a split second (seriously, a split second!) the entire game had changed.
Painful is not the word to describe it. It was an out of body experience. I was terrified, shocked and in disbelief. The contractions were like nothing I had felt earlier that day. They were excrutiating.
Right on cue, in sauntered the anesthesiologist. I was writhing in pain. And moaning.
The nurse checked me and I was at 8 cm. It was 8:45 p.m. I had progressed 3 cm in 15 minutes. I didn’t even know that was possible.
This is when even the medical professionals in the room -and there were many- got frantic. I remember the nurse telling me, “You’re not going to be able to have the epidural. You’re progressing too fast and there’s no way you can sit still long enough.”
“But I need something!” I pleaded.
“What do you want me to do?” the anesthesiologist asked the nurse.
“She’s going to have this baby,” the nurse told her. The anesthesiologist, and my option of a comfortable birth, walked out the door.
If I was scared before, I was absolutely petrified now. I’ve never felt more alone in my life. Yes, Derek was a great labor coach and was really helping me, but at that point it became abundantly clear that I was in this alone. No one could help me. No one could do this but me. I remember I kept trying to say, “I can’t believe this is happening.” But all I could get out was, “I can’t…” Every nurse in the room, along with Derek, shouted “Yes you can! You’re doing this! You’re awesome!”
And then. I felt the urge to push.
In every natural birth story I’ve read, they always write about this – the overwhelming need to push. And they’re not kidding. I just remember shrieking to the nurse, “I have to push! I’m pushing! I’m pushing!” She told me to go ahead. She also told me that my doctor was 20 minutes away.
Honestly though, I didn’t give two shits where my doctor was. I had to push. This baby was coming out. Derek tells me that I kept saying, “This isn’t happening” over and over. I do not remember this at all. He did tell me to just look at him and focus on him. And I did.
It was 9:00 p.m. and I was 10 cm.
I had gone from 5 cm to 10 cm in 30 minutes. Again, I didn’t know this was possible.
At this point, more people came into the room. Including a doctor who I think introduced himself to me. But I’m not entirely sure. Blinding pain will do that to you.
Cue the sitcom birth – I was screaming. Screaming! Me! It was completely involuntary. And to the point that the next day, my throat hurt. An out of body experience, for sure.
I pushed for a total of 16 minutes and in those minutes, I felt everything – the burning “ring of fire” that happens when the baby’s head is crowning. I remember one glorious nurse said, “Your baby has hair!” and it gave me the motivation that this was almost over. My nurse asked if I wanted to feel the head and I said no. I remember I got to feel Riley’s head when I was pushing him out. But by this time, I needed it to be over. Believe me, I could feel the head!
In the middle of this intense, frantic, fast moment, I know I had one coherent thought – that I wanted Derek to tell me if this baby was a boy or a girl. And I was able to put together a sentence in English long enough to tell Dr. Random that Derek had to tell me what we just had.
After the head was out, I knew it was just moments until I’d see our baby. And I heaved and pushed like my life depended on it, which if felt like it did at the time. And in one surge, I felt our baby be born.
“Is it a girl???” Derek said, shocked. “IT’S A GIRL!”
It was a true moment of disbelief, joy and relief. I don’t know that I’ve ever felt three emotions more deeply than those three at 9:21 p.m. on July 8, 2012.
Charlotte Jean was immediately placed on my chest, beautifully pink and crying softly. She was here. We both made it.