“Press 1 now if you think you are in labor.” I heard that exact sentence every time I called the midwives to make an appointment. Now I actually pressed 1, knowing labor began with my water breaking. The very-nice-yet-object-of-my-pain-frustration triage gentleman whom I would talk to several more times that night, answered and fielded my call to the on-call midwife.
That midwife said yes, that sensation and liquid confirmed my water breaking. We discussed the COAT of it: color, odor, amount and time it happened. Yellow or greenish brown color would indicate that the baby had a bowel movement in utero (meconium) and puts the baby at risk for inhaling it through the amniotic fluid. Luckily all appeared fine with my leaking-self. The midwife calmly suggested I lay down and try to sleep, and call her in the morning once things moved along. This seemed fair enough to my naive laboring self, as of midnight nothing appeared to happen with my uterus, amniotic fluid leaking aside.
I texted our amazing doula, Amber and let her know the situation, and went to lay down to rest.
By this time, Mike seemed to be back in control of his body and mind. He apologized profusely but I wasn’t offended. This was an intense time and expecting him to remain calm seemed foolish.
Speaking of remaining calm, I went and poured myself a very large glass of wine. Let’s not forget, due to that migraine which teased me earlier I downed a benadryl and tylenol already. Oops. However when your body goes into labor one might flood with anticipation and adrenaline so wine plus benedryl seemed no match for my anxiety.
I laid down anyway (on the clean bed sheets which Mike took care of — and yes, we had a waterproof mattress cover already on the bed).
And the very second my swollen with anticipation belly laid on that bed, the most intense contraction coursed through my body. I attempted to remember what we learned in birth class. See, the blog post which I meant to write earlier included my birth plan and desire for natural labor. Many of our mothers labored without drugs some years ago and epidurals were not all the rage back then, so why couldn’t I?
The thing is: all labor is different.
As I laid there pretending the pain didn’t hurt, having just started laboring, I breathed through that first gut punch and as soon as it finished I thought, “Ok, I can do this….for about a couple more hours.” See, my contractions didn’t start off small and ticklish. My contractions came with a vengence and intended to get that baby out. Another contraction fell over me like a wave and with that second contraction at home I already questioned my natural labor desires. It hurt. And I know labor hurts, duh. But this hurt like no hurt no one prepared me for, ever. That second contraction came and I shot out of bed because I wasn’t taking this laying down. I remembered the positions from class; I needed my birth ball. I called downstairs to Mike that rest felt horrible, as did laying down. I started pacing and the moans came immediately, and loudly. I remembered learning how to time the contractions and with the next few horrendous mallets jackhammering at my womb cursed the hormones that brought me here. I managed to get to the app store on my phone and download the very first free “contraction timer” the search results brought.
After timing the next few contractions it became apparent why they hurt so badly (aside from the fact that labor hurts): my contractions began at five minutes apart and danced around between that and three minutes apart. Most doctors want you in the hospital once you progress to three/four/five minutes apart. That’s where mine began.
Around this point Mike tried telling me stories and talking to me about anything to get my mind off the pain. But you know how when you were little and tried to do homework with a parent? Remember the clash and arguments because things were too close for comfort? I liken laboring with my husband to that scenario. Nothing Mike said distracted me enough, I felt like he couldn’t read my mind (duh), and the poor man had his cards stacked against him.
I called Amber this time instead of texting, because I needed to know what to do. My doula served as a great support person through our entire labor, and she didn’t fail right from the start. Around two in the morning she headed over and found me laboring in the bathroom, on the birthing ball (aka: yoga ball). She talked me through the contractions, while Mike gathered things for the hospital and I barked more orders at him (water! apple juice! in the cup from my childhood! water it down some! too watered down!!)
Two more hours passed, I’m not even sure how. The birthing ball made things mildly better, nothing else worked. We tried the rebozo lifting up my belly during a contraction and I just about elbowed Mike in the gut trying to get him/it off me. In fact I probably did punch him.
We called the midwives two more times, I think – and eventually decided to head to the hospital. I thought Amber called to tell them we were on our way but in an act of miscommunication Mike and I were supposed to call on our way…more on that later. That car ride felt hellacious. Every pothole triggered a new contraction. And in DC, our nation’s fine capital which focuses money on the federal government and not the local streets, there are many potholes. Mike said if a cop saw him they would pull him over for drunk driving, as he tried his very best to avoid each divot in the road.
Once outside the hospital a very nice man who reeked of cigarette smoke, offered to help Mike. He talked a lot and asked if this was our first and did I mention he smelled? I politely as possible asked him to go away. He’s lucky I didn’t unleash my labor wrath on him, as we headed to L&D.
To be continued (again)