Looking back, a week after things went down, when I'm a little less sore, a little more relaxed, and starting to love this mom-of-2 role I have to say I really had the dream birth experience. It wasn't super easy or super short, but it did fulfill everything I had secretly hoped for, everything that I had not let myself dream about because I was frightened of complications and more-so of disappointment. Here goes: *Warning: it's graphic*
12:30 a.m. I get woken up by back pain. I pop into the bathroom, thinking nothing of it, and get back into bed. Then again the back pain hits and I start to wonder if this is it. Just in case, I download a contraction timing app on my phone. After an hour of running to the bathroom, trying to work the app on one hour of sleep, and realizing this wasn't going away, I wake up M. Contractions were 30 seconds, 3 minutes apart.
1:30 a.m. I groggily tell M to email my mom, book a flight for his mom, get some things in the bag I had taken out to pack for the hospital but hadn't really put anything in yet, and make a warm rice bag. Ahh the back pain- I search back labor on my phone and then I try out different positions- sitting on the birth ball, leaning on it, getting on all fours on the floor, on the bed. The only thing helping right now was putting lots of counter pressure on my back. I needed to get into a groove, focus on breathing and relaxing and forgetting everything else.
We turn on Bahai music, I rock back and forth on the floor, I tap my feet, press the rice bag to my back and shake my head to release my jaw through the contractions. I realize that when I'm totally focused and in the zone, the contractions space farther apart and hurt a lot less.
At this point M really stepped up: he lit candles, tried to massage my feet, made sure my music stayed on repeat, and pressed on my back. He set up the reclined position for me, with lots of pillows behind my back and under my arms, first on the floor but eventually on the bed. We both tried to rest as much as possible. The only thing that threw me for a loop was when the music ended (we tried some other forms but the songs ending weren't working so we went back to the Bahai music) or when M would start to snore, otherwise I was managing pretty well.
5:00 a.m. The contractions lengthen to 45 seconds and the reclined position just isn't working, no matter how hard I press the warm rice bag to my back. At every contraction I lean forward so that M can press hard.
7:00 a.m. Contractions are now one minute long and I am feeling nauseous and experiencing hot flashes. Since it's morning, M calls our doula who listens to me on the phone and instructs us to head over to the hospital. M also calls a friend of mine to see if she can watch Little Boy. She's going to meet us as the hospital as well. At this point the commotion and logistics are totally messing with my head and I am slowly losing control. M gets Little Boy out of bed and into the car and I somehow manage to get in the car as well. I have a tingling sensation in my legs and face (because I was basically hyperventilating and not breathing well).
8:00 a.m. We make it to the hospital. M rolls into the emergency room valet; I get wheeled off to a delivery room, while M stays with Little Boy to check me in. Upon entering the hospital I am bombarded with questions: the on-call doctor wants to know all kinds of information, the nurses are checking my blood pressure and making me change out of my clothes even though I have no desire to but also no strength to argue; I can barely eek out my name. I'm connected to a fetal monitor, my blood pressure taken and hooked up to oxygen because I am barely breathing. This was the only point I felt bewildered and alone and I couldn't wait to see a familiar face.
Shortly thereafter my doula arrives. She has them unhook me from everything, stand up and lean into her. I am already recovering feeling in my extremities. She then asks about my pain, and since I have had back labor this whole time, thinks the baby might be posterior and has me move into a hands and knees, head down position for a few contractions. These are incredibly uncomfortable and eventually I have to get up.
The doctor then arrives and checks the position of the baby. He is slightly to the left side but not posterior. He checks out baby with a regular doppler and everything is good, so I can keep moving around. By this time M arrives and the doula suggests we try out the shower. I was sitting on the bed, and when I get up we can tell that I finally lost my mucus plug. The doctor can apparently tell by my back that it is getting close to time to push and offers us to get in the tub, but I'm afraid of going in too early, so we head to the shower where M laps my back with the hot water. After about 45 minutes I'm feeling the urge to push and they convince me to get in the tub.
The water most definitely helps to alleviate some of the pressure, but I needed them to keep lapping water onto my back. M and the doula take turns as it's tiring work but the only thing that is actively helping. I lean forward into the sides of the pool and grip the handles with all my might. I am having trouble getting into a good position, gripping the bottom of the pool, and this is probably the first time where I really feel like I have no idea what I'm doing and I'm vocalizing a lot which is probably not helping. M is trying to make suggestions (that the doctor is giving him), and the doula is keeping the water clean with a little sieve. I try to lean back but just can't stay that way. At some point my water breaks and after an hour or so in the tub without much progress, the team suggests I get out and try a new position.
M sits on a chair and I sit facing him on his lap. A few pushes later and the head is finally out; I was worried he would fall and tell them to catch the baby! One more push and the body slides out. It is 11:20 a.m. They place our precious bundle on our shoulders in between M and I.
After several minutes I get off and move onto the bed and Baby is on my chest, with the cord still connected. Meanwhile M is getting changed into scrubs, since I managed to ruin his pants. The doctor is checking things out, clamps the cord and M comes to cut it. One more easy push later and my awesome placenta comes out. It is big and looks great but I decide to forego its consumption and leave it behind. The doctor gives my stomach a little push and the last squirt of liquid comes out and then he gets set up with a local anesthetic to give me a few stitches. The tear was superficial, but at this point I am so exhausted that just holding my legs up is taking everything out of me and the stitches hurt a lot. Meanwhile, M is with the pediatrician that is checking out the baby. Everything looks great and he is a perfect 7 lbs 6 oz and 19" long. Before we know it, we roll into my room and Baby boy latches on for his very first feed!