Two days ago, two whole years ago, labor finally began. It was August 12, 2006; 15 days after my due date, 23 days after my original due date. I was tipping the scales in the mid-200's, my ankles were swollen to the size of my calves, and my patience was long gone. I was ready.
3:00 am: I wet the bed. Or maybe I bled the bed. Either way, it was warm, it was profuse, and it came from "down there". I woke with a gasp, and rushed to the bathroom. Flicking on the light switch and squatting on Old Faithful, it dawned on me that the liquid still rushing from me was neither urine nor blood. Hallelujah, my water had broken! I immediately called my mom. She laughed and said, "Finally! Now go back to bed, you'll need your sleep."
Go back to bed? Go back to bed? Did she actually want me to get back into bed after the single most monumentous event of my pregnancy had just occurred? I'll be dammed if I'm getting back into bed! I went downstairs and spammed everyone in my email address book: "My water just broke! I'm having this baby today!" Excited and nervous, I walked around the house holding towels between my legs and waiting for the contractions to start. Two hours later it appeared that labor was not imminent afterall, so caved and went back to bed. I assure you, I did not sleep.
12:00 pm: Mom hassled me all day with cooky tinctures: Cohosh, Evening Primrose Oil, Labor Start, etc. We'd try one method and wait. An hour later we tried another. Nothing was working! I drank some more castor oil, and later, as inticated in my previous post, I downed the fateful olive oil ice cream. Mom gave up and went home, assuring me that this would happen.
6:00 pm: The first contraction was mild, but strong enough to give me hope. Every three minutes another one came, and a few hours later they were painful enough to make me jump for joy...or would have could my enormous frame suspend in air long enough to qualify as a jump. I called my midwives, and told them the show had started: I was in labor! By the time they arrived, nothing exciting had happened, except that I was in enough pain that I requested they fill the labor pool we had set up upstairs. Mom suggested I get in the shower, which I did. The warm water felt amazing, and as each contraction would overcome me, I rested my forearms and head against the shower fall, letting the water pelt me on my back. I breathed in and out to an imaginary metrenome in my head.
8:00 am, August 13th: Light chased the darkness from the rooms, as well as my soul. My night had been frustrated by an agonizingly slow process. My contractions were still 2-3 minutes apart, and I was not even halfway dilated yet. The pain was unbearable, and I alternated laboring in the pool and on the edge of the bed. My midwives, amused at my intolerance and impressed with Ty's support, encouraged me to walk and try various acupressure points. I gritted my teeth against telling them what I really thought and obeyed. Every step was torture, and all I wanted to do was sleep. I wanted badly to lay on my side and rest, which they allowed me to do occasionally.
12:00 am, August 14th: Darkness came again. The midwives lit candles and I cried in the pool. Ty climbed in and sat behind me, holding me tight when each contraction would blind me. We climbed in and out of the pool together, until I whispered a confession to Ty that I peed in the pool about fifty times, and then he kneeled on the outside and held my arms. Mom put some God-music on until I begged her to turn it off. I wanted silence, I wanted to focus only on my pain. They forced me to eat and drink. When morning again shone through, I felt real despair. Why would this child not be born?
12:00 pm: I was finally dilated. Each contraction had me close to screaming and my exhaustion was acute. It was time to push. I should have felt elated, but each push felt more painful than the next. Where was the relief and wonderful feelings I had read about the pushing stage? I hated this more than the last 18 hours. We tried various positions; I squatted with the help from Mom and Ty, I sat on the birthing stool, I crouched in the pool, I got on hands and knees. A few hours later it was discovered there was a tiny lip of my cervix blocking the baby's head. My mom glowed at me, "I can feel the head sweetie, push as hard as you can!" With each push, one midwife or the other reached up and held back the lip of my cervix. The pain this brought me felt indescribable.
8:00 pm: My face was red and splotchy from pushing on and off for the last eight hours. The urge to push never visited me; each push was from energy I had to assume on my own. I would give an honest 1/2 hour's worth of my best effort, then collapse into an tortured heap of exhaustion on the bed, falling deeply into sleep for each two minute break between contraction. Ty laid behind me, pressing his hands intensly into my back when each contraction would start. It helped relieve some of the back pain I was having, but my mental state was slipping further and further out of reality.
10:00 pm: I didn't want to do this anymore. I wanted to beg my midwives to let me go to the hospital for a c-section. I couldn't bear the thought of pushing any more. Ty was visibily concerned now, and I could sense hesitation and unease in the faces of my midwives as well. They checked for heart tones every five minutes, and kept promising me that I was doing so well, that this was normal, and that this baby was so close to being here. I sobbed when it was time to push, and desperately wanted to sleep.
10:30 pm: After a push that took what was left of my strength to accomplish, a rush of meconium startled us all. My midwives quickly laid me on my side on the bed and placed the doppler on my belly to find a heart beat. Mom placed an oxygen mask over my mouth and told me breathe deeply. I was grateful to be laying down, away from the birthing stool I'd grown to despise. The baby's heart rate showed up on the doppler: 90 beats per minute. Mom threw it down, "That's it. We're taking her in." Her partner grabbed her shoulders and shook her, trying to reassure her I was fine, and we could do this at home. I sat up, and Ty helped me into some clothes. We didn't speak, but moved as one. We were ready for the transport, with or without them. My dad was downstairs, pacing for hours, and when he saw us he helped me into the car. We took off, the three of us, with mom and her partner in a separate car. We raced to the nearest hospital, each bump jarring me further into a senseless state. Suddenly I felt the urge to push. The first time I felt it all night. I breathed through it, the irony of holding in the natural urge not to push not escaping me.
11:00 pm: We arrived at the ER entrance at the hospital. Ty and Dad helped me out and supported me as we wobbled into the ER. The receptionist looked at us regretfully, "I'm so sorry, but you have to go around to the maternity ward, there's no access through here." We gaped at her, me visibly in pain, and turned back to the car. We drove around to the maternity ward, found a wheelchair for me, and entered. Nurses and aids swarmed around me instantly, wheeling me into a room. In less than five minutes I was naked and under a sheet, my feet in stirrups. A small, elderly Pueto Rican doctor entered the room and assessed the situation. He asked for forceps, and while he applied those, the nurse to my left tried to insert an IV into my hand. She requested a clenched fist from me while the doctor commanded me to push. A scream, louder than a siren, filled the air and shocked me until I realized I was the one screaming. Pain filled my vision and blackness filtered in. "Push!" He barked at me, nurses supporting my legs on either side. I could not do it. He threw the forceps to the ground and muttered something. Someone lifted me onto a table and pulled a sheet over my bloody legs. I was wheeled into an OR, and around me I could hear nurses arguing whether Doctor wanted general anesthesia or a spinal. Again I was lifted onto another table. A man pushed me forward and asked me to hold still. A bee sting in my back, a contraction leaving me breathless. I must be dying, surely I am dying. I lay back, and realized something incredible. I was no longer in pain. I smiled, feeling nothing. Ty came up behind me, tense and afraid. He touched my shoulder, "How are you?" He asked. I smiled at him, "I feel wonderful! I'm not in pain anymore!" And wondered briefly if I had died. There was complete silence in the room, despite the number of people. Nurses, doctors, anestetiologists surrounded me, working quietly behind a sheet. "Is the baby even out?" I asked Ty. "I don't know", he shook his head.
A female doctor came over to us from another room. "I'm so sorry to meet you like this, but your son is not breathing. We're doing CPR on him right now, but he doesn't have a heartbeat on his own. We'll keep working on him."
Ty and I stared at each other, stunned and wordless. Before we could register and discuss what she'd said, she was back before us. "I'm so sorry. It's been 19 minutes, your son is not breathing and does not have a heartbeat." I felt a flash of pity for her, having to deliver a message like that, before I realized what she was implying. I muttered something intelligible, turned my head and threw up into the basin waiting for me.