I went to bed between 10 and 11 the night of May 18, 2009, four days before my due date. I came downstairs at least two times that night, ravenous and needing to pee. Twice I sat on the couch, dejectedly eating a slice of whole wheat bread and wishing the gnawing hunger would go away. Tim actually took a picture of me like that, bread in one hand, holding my belly with the other, with a look on my face that says, 'I've had it!' I'd have posted it here, but unfortunately I'm not wearing enough clothing in it to make it share-able. Finally I slept, deeply and dreamlessly.
At 2:30 a.m. I woke up because I felt something and was like, 'What is this?' I felt it again, a heavy pressure down in my pelvis and achiness in my back. And my inner thighs felt very sore, almost burning. But I didn't right away think I was in labor, because I'd been waking up with all sorts of aches and pains for weeks now. That's if I managed to get to sleep in the first place!
Soon the sensations drove me out of bed, and I found myself pacing and leaning against the mattress. I was completely caught off guard, but after a few minutes I started trying to time them. I didn't have anything with a second hand, but I estimated these were two minutes apart. I woke up Tim and told him, "I think it's my birthing time." (our Hypnobabies programming replaces the term "labor" with "birthing time.") I told him what I was feeling, but I was still unsure. He said "OK," hopped out of bed, made the bed, and said, "I'm going to get in the shower before you need it." We both had supposed there would be time for me to spend laboring in the shower before heading to the hospital. We wanted to spend as little time there as humanly possible before she was born, and I remembered how much the shower had soothed me when I was in labor with Delaney.
While he was in the shower, I realized these pressure waves were coming at me one on top of the other. I was trying to use my hypnosis, but I didn't even feel like I had time to stop and take breaths and get focused. I was also very shaky and shivery, and this made me think, 'Could I be in transformation (transition) already?' Impossible! This was less than 15 minutes after I'd woken up. The hospital was 30 minutes away, and we had not yet called my sister-in-law Karen to come stay at the house for Delaney. But I still had a little bit of doubt, so when Tim came out of the shower, I told him this was the plan: I wanted to see if this pattern of pressure waves continued for an hour, before we left for the hospital. Meanwhile, I wanted him to call Karen so we could have her here when we were ready to go. I said, "Don't make her panic, but tell her to get here as soon as she can."
She's right down the street, so she was here within minutes. I went to my bathroom to brush my teeth. I was having trouble getting them brushed between the pressure waves, but I didn't want to leave the house with nasty morning breath. Tim was very efficient about packing. Every time I'd say, "Remember the --" he would cut me off and say, "All you have to concentrate on is one thing."
Yes, one thing. Oh, I tried. I worked on deep belly breathing, and trying to move my anesthesia. But I could not believe all the pressure down in my pelvis. My bones felt like they were coming apart. I guess in a way they were.
Karen arrived at about 3:15 or so. I decided we would leave at 3:30, since that was one hour from when I woke up feeling the first wave. Even as we were about to go out the door, I was still doubting that decision. I said, "The rule is '4-1-1 --- 4 minutes apart, lasting a minute, and for over an hour.' Mine are 2 minutes apart for over an hour, but do they last a minute?" Tim timed a couple and said, "About 45 seconds." I said, "Good enough, let's go. The worst that happens is we get sent home."
I got outside, and braced myself against the car as another wave came. I tried to relax. I was dreading the car ride. I hated to be stuck sitting. Tim got everything in the car, and we left. The car ride was hard. When the pressure waves came, I tried to tell myself, 'It's just a big strong hug.' I opened my mouth and made a noise like the emergency sirens that I would hear every first Wednesday of the month growing up in the midwest. "AAhhhhh...." I would start quiet, then get louder, then quieter, just like the siren... Relaxing was so hard, but I tried.
Then, after about a mile down the road, Tim realized he'd forgotten his wallet, and had to turn around.
At 3:40, we were off again, and with the roads to ourselves, Tim exceeded all the speed limits -- not by as much as I wanted him to, though. Safety and abiding by laws was still important to Tim. It felt like the longest ride. As we approached the last big intersection in downtown Worcester, before St. Vincent hospital, the light turned yellow, then red. "We're not stopping, we're not stopping!" I yelled. Then, during a short break in between waves, I said, "Remember to ask for the room with the tub." Ha!
It was probably about 10 after 4 when we arrived at the ER. Tim parked the car. When I walked in the door, I had a very strong pressure wave that nearly took my breath away. I collapsed against the check-in desk. They had to ask me a few questions, and I answered in monosyllables, very basic information, stuff I could remember in the middle of a wave. One of the questions was, "How far apart are the contractions?" I told them about two minutes. I heard Tim say as he walked up behind me, "More like a minute and a half." There were a whole lot of questions to answer, for both of us, and I think we could have saved ourselves the trouble if we'd spared a couple minutes to call ahead.
I had to get on my knees for the next wave, and I hugged my birth ball that Tim had brought in. I couldn't believe how dramatic I was being. I did not think I would ever put on such a show when I came to the hospital to have my baby. I certainly hadn't the first time around. That time, Tim and I had laughed and joked our way through the check-in process, and the doctor hadn't really believed I was in labor until my fluid was tested and they could see my contractions on the monitor. But oh well. They've seen it all before.
We probably spent about 10 minutes at the ER, when someone came with a wheelchair, and took us to L&D. I was given a gown and a cup to pee in. I knew I was not going to be able to complete that task. As I sat on the toilet, I realized I felt pushy, and I didn't think the toilet was a good place to be.
They had me get on the bed for monitoring -- something else I dreaded! The nurse-midwife whose name I don't remember, because I'd never met her, checked me. "What am I?" I panted. "You're complete," she told me. "You just have a little rim of cervix." She told me I could push when I was ready. She told me that my bag of waters was bulging, and if she were to break it, the baby would come very quickly. Having read my birth plan, she knew that I didn't want that, so she said, "You could also just wait and see through a few more contractions if that's what you want." For the time being, I decided to wait and see.
But I began to feel fear and a lot of pain. I was bearing down with every wave, trying to "exhale push" the way I'd been taught, but I began to feel that if breaking my water could bring me even one minute closer to getting this baby out, why the heck not? So that's what I said. Tim said, "Remember that's (artificial rupture of membranes) not part of the plan, that's not what you wanted." I said, "I know, but it's by far not the most important part of my plan." "I agree," laughed one of the nurses. Everyone in the room had quickly scanned our birth plan, which was basically a natural, drug-free, intervention-free birth. It was also supposed to be calm and joyful, but at this point I was starting to panic.
I told Tim, my loving hypno-dad birth partner, that I appreciated what he was trying to do, but that I had decided I wanted my water broken. With that, a wave came, and a pop and a big warm gush made that point moot.
The nurse-midwife said that she was not allowed to catch babies (disappointing!), and Dr. Mendel would be in soon.
He came in, greeted us all, and I didn't even care who he was. I had hoped to have a midwife attend me, but of course I didn't give a crap who he was now. I remembered he had been on duty for the first two hours we'd been in L&D having Delaney. I remembered him as being nice.
I began to push with real effort now, especially after Dr. Mendel said that he could see her head. Sometimes the pain would scare me, and make me want to stop. A nurse reminded me to concentrate and think about the baby moving down and out. That helped a lot. "Please move down baby, please," I would say. Begging the baby to hurry up was not part of my Hypnobabies training, by the way.
Tim tells me I only really pushed about 7 to 10 times, about 20 minutes tops, before the 9 pounds and 22 inches of Annalise Elizabeth finally came out at 5:23 -- less than three hours from when I'd woken up.
When Dr. Mendel handed Annalise up to me, I cried in gratitude and relief. I was so happy. I held her close. We were both shivering -- my teeth were chattering -- and I remember hearing Tim asking for a blanket for us.
As per my plan, they delayed cutting the cord until the placenta started to detach. However, as Tim told me later, they clamped it right away, which rendered it pointless. If you're going to clamp it, you might as well cut it. I figure that these people are so used to doing things a certain way, they don't even think it through. They just do it. I give them points for trying to follow my birth plan, which they'd all probably seen for the very first time in their lives, only an hour-and-a-half before.