Starting May 25th I had been having some pretty intense pre-labor signs. On Tuesday it was the inability to sit still and some pretty intense discomfort. The baby had already dropped, so I was in the bathroom every half-hour or so. Wednesday was mostly discomfort and painful contractions. Thursday I got a break from the painful contractions for the beginning of the day, but they came back during the Bradley Method classes I've been attending. I honestly don't remember much of what was talked about in class that day, I was just concentrating on relaxing and feeling what my body was doing.
7AM (on the nose) on Friday May 28th I woke up, ran to the bathroom, and felt my water break. Spent the next half hour sitting on the toilet dealing with the now-intense and painful contractions. J and I waited until the midwive's office opened for the day before calling. Found out that our favorite midwife, who agreed to 'special' our delivery, was actually on call that day ^.^ Contractions were jumping around between 7 and 10 minutes apart, and usually a minute and a half long. My mother, who had a very fast labor and delivery with me, rushed over expecting me to be similar. She expected us to run to the hospital, but instead worked on the quilt that I had started.
Jehosh was amazing, he was with me for most of the contractions (the only ones he missed were when I sent him to do something else). I spent my contractions with him holding me, swaying with me, and generally making sure that I was relaxing and letting my body do what it needed.
They stayed like that until around 3, when, even though they weren't much closer together (maybe around 6-8 minutes apart) I started feeling really anxious. It took till shortly after 4 before I could convince J that we really needed to leave. The midwife was hesitant, worried that I wouldn't progress fast enough once I was in the hospital and might be pushed into an induction.
When I was at home I was doing a lot of the laboring on the toilet since every contraction made me have to pee, so the car ride was pretty horrible. We got stuck in traffic, and the drive that should have taken 45 minutes (there are very few hospitals that offer what we got in Illinois) took like an hour and a half. To make matters worse, I had started getting a slight urge to push, the weather was extremely warm, and I had been really reliant on J for relaxation.
We finally got to the hospital, and after checking in the E.R., I was sat in a wheelchair in front of an elevator to wait for someone from labor and delivery to get me. Since I hadn't been able to pee for the past hour and a half, I was getting impatient, and it felt like it was taking forever for the L&D nurse to get me. So I started wheeling myself over to the bathroom. Guess they don't like that in the E.R., and I pretty quickly got someone pushing me to meet the L&D nurse half-way.
My midwife, Cynthia, was already waiting in L&D for me, and got me hooked up to an external Electronic Fetal Monitor for the required 20 minutes of monitoring. We had a really hard time keeping track of the baby's heartbeat, and kept accidentally picking mine up. This is one of the many times I was SO GLAD to have Cynthia as our midwife! Other health-care professionals might have gotten worried, or even started an intervention, but Cynthia was completely calm.
Oh, we also found out that I was 5.5 cm dilated when I came into the hospital! Cynthia's worry that I wasn't progressing fast enough was replaced by gratitude that we came in when we did. We were moved very quickly into an open Alternative Birth Center room. Once there, I finally got to sit on the toilet like I had SO wanted to, while the nurse filled the water birthing tub. As soon as it was full I got in and it was AMAZING! seriously, it was the best pain relief ever! I finally was able to relax, and the weight off my body was extremely cathartic. I was able to relax so much that I hardly even felt the next two contractions.
After that, I have to admit that I was terrified. Nothing can prepare a person for labor and delivery, especially transition. I managed to let go of myself and started screaming pretty loudly. J said it sounded like I was being tortured... I think that's because it kind of WAS torture!
Cynthia checked me at this point, and I was 9-cm with a small lip on my cervix. Unfortunately, her checking me gave me some horribly painful contractions.. and I didn't let her check again. At this point I felt the undeniable urge to push. Even though I knew I had another cm before I 'should' be pushing, my body didn't really give me a choice. Of the almost two hours that I was in the hospital, I think I spent a little over an hour actually pushing.
J was amazing through all of this. I pushed on all fours in the tub with J holding my head up so that I could push against it. I didn't realize that he was using the wrist that he had broken in highschool and apparently had never healed correctly. He was also great about supporting me and helping me relax between contractions.
After a few really GOOD pushes, River's head was out. I wasn't sure I had any more in me, but next thing I knew she was in my arms. It was amazing. She cried for half a second, almost like she just wanted to say hi, then she was completely quiet and looking into my eyes. She was already pink and wasn't covered in that nasty cheesy stuff. It was amazing, she just looked like this happy little baby. She scored a 9,9 on her apgar.
A lot of birth and what happened after is a blur. I know that at some point I looked around the room and commented that I hadn't actually seen it before because I had my eyes shut through most of the time I was there. I think J even had to lead me from the bathroom to the tub. We were left for over an hour with the baby, just laying in the nice queen-sized bed and bonding. Eventually River was taken to be measured: 7 pounds 9 ounces, 19 inches long, 34 inch head diameter (yup, I pushed that out of me >.< )
All in all, the labor was about 13 hours long, with only 2 hours of it spent in the hospital. River was born at 7:52pm. My mom was amazed at the end of it, she couldn't believe that I got through the whole thing with no medication or interventions. I ended up with only a small tear that didn't even really need stitches.
We decided to spend the next day and a half in the hospital, mostly so that I could get some sleep, breastfeeding assistance, and so that family could visit us in the hospital instead of at home.
Trying to write this (it's been up on my browser screen for the past two days) has really shown me how impossible it is to describe the pain and the emotions involved in childbirth. It's easy to talk about times and facts, but it's hard to describe exactly what it felt like. We are just so happy that we got the birth that we all wanted.