(As Fräulein Marie sings, it’s best to start at the very beginning: Part I.)
Since we arrived at the hospital shortly before 3 a.m., we entered through the ER. Someone we passed on the way in wished us good luck and we actually saw them later when we were on our way to recovery. Glad they could see we survived.
When I arrived at the hospital with E, we were quickly kicked out of registration and L&D took us directly to a room. Even though I swear I was in as much or more distress (Overall, this labor felt worse. A side effect of things progressing more quickly, I guess.), it seemed like it took forever for an L&D nurse to come escort us out of the ER and then they made me go to triage! And pee in a cup! Was I really in any condition to be sent home?! It felt like the bathroom was forever away from our triage room and I had to have had 4 contractions at least just to get through that ordeal. I would just drape my arms around Lee during the contractions, reminiscent of high school slow dances. Actually, it was probably more like the college sober-friend-supporting-drunk-friend-who-just-wants-to-curl-up-in-the-fetal-position-but-no-one-should-lie-down-on-the-floor-of-a-frat-house move.
My doula arrived and began giving me magic arm massages and saying soothing things in her lovely yoga instructor voice. Sometimes when people think I’m crazy for not taking the epidural option, they will ask, “So you had nothing?!”, which is ridiculous. I had all sorts of things: doula, supportive husband, shoulder rubs, ice chips, cool cloths, warm tubs, lovely midwife. I listened to Lionel Richie in the car. None of which required a catheter, giant needle or slight risk of permanent paralysis. Huzzah!
I was declared 6 to 7 cm dilated so I got to go a room. When I arrived to the hospital with E I was 8 cm dilated, so I tried not to be too disappointed. At least I’d have time to get in the tub!
They hooked me up to the monitors to make sure Albert was handling contractions well. Lee told me one of the contractions registered “over 100”. I have no idea what scale that was on, and while Lee is ridiculously smart on a number of topics, reading reports from machines in hospital delivery rooms isn’t one of his areas of expertise. However, I want to remember this as it is very likely evidence that I am amazing.
Finally I got to labor in the tub! While I was very excited about this, it was still labor. Very likely would’ve been worse had I not been in a tub, but still pretty unpleasant. I know 3 years can make your brain go fuzzy, but it seemed so much worse than E’s labor. I don’t know that I really wanted an epidural so much as I just felt incapable of continuing and was pretty sure they would just have to pull him out somehow. With each contraction my doula would remind me to “Breathe the baby down.” and I just kept thinking, “NO YOU WILL HAVE TO PULL HIM OUT! THERE IS NO MORE DOWN. EVERYTHING IS AS DOWN AS IT CAN GO.”
At one point, I think maybe after he was here, my doula told me that I was very much “in the zone” during this time. That sounds very nice but I was really just lost in a sea of misery. I guess that’s a zone though. I just kept reminding myself that transition is the shortest part of labor and I can do anything (like not dying during a contraction) for a minute. I kept waiting for a lull that I remember having before I pushed with Elizabeth and how calm I was in between contractions when I was pushing for her and I just kept waiting for that. But that relief didn’t really come until it was all over.
I remember one of my fears going in to E’s birth was that I would make it to the pushing stage and I would shut down in fear. I’m a pretty fearful person, and I was afraid that I just wouldn’t be able to do it. But when the time came, I was fine. I wanted it to be over. I wanted to not be pregnant anymore. And the quickest and easiest way to solve that was to push. So push I did. And I didn’t really even have that whole “Ring of Fire” experience, probably because after pushing for an hour and a half there wasn’t a whole lot of feeling down there. I mean, there was still a lot of feelings, but perhaps less than if I pushed for 10 minutes.
With Albert, I was terrified. I couldn’t stop thinking about how I didn’t want to do this. But I did it, because what else are you going to do at that point? The quickest way out was through.
So finally after maybe an hour or so in the tub, the feelings of needing to poop came. I tried to give little pushes, to see if that brought relief, but everything was pretty much horrible at that point. Somehow Lee, my doula and my nurse got me back to the bed and my midwife was there to check me and give me the all clear. I pushed once or twice before my midwife went ahead and broke my water, which I think made things feel a bit better down there. Kind of wish I had done that earlier maybe. I think maybe I pushed one more time before my midwife threw on her baby-catching gear and in one giant, horrible push Albert was out and resting in my arms. There was lots of screaming, mostly from me (definitely felt that “Ring of Fire” this time!). I feel sorry for any first time moms within earshot of that.
So on July 7, 2014 at 5:21 a.m., I held my son. In the same room, with the same midwife (and husband!), that on July 13, 2011 at 8:48 p.m., I held my daughter. One at sunrise, one at sunset.
At 8 lbs., 9.9 oz. Albert was almost a full pound smaller than E. Of course, he also was inside for 6 days less. His head was also over an inch smaller. Still a second degree tear. And OMG the stitches were so much worse than with E. I just kept screaming. I try really hard to be mildly reasonable during labor, but once the baby’s out, I morph into the worst and whiniest patient ever. I feel like that’s earned at that point.
At last, it was over. I had my sweet little boy in my arms and nothing left to do but chug some orange juice, snuggle and wait for breakfast.