Labor started at about 10:00 on Wednesday night. By 11:30 I knew this was it! I told my husband to get some sleep and I went downstairs and wrote my letter to Avery, stopping every 10 minutes to get on my hands and knees during the contractions. By 3:00am the contractions were getting more intense and I woke my husband because I couldn't breathe through them on my own anymore. We stayed home until 11:30 the next morning. He rubbed my back during ever contraction and reminded me every single time that it wouldn't last forever. I called my midwife in the early morning and she encouraged me to labor at home as long as I could. My husband set up a makeshift bed for me on the floor so that I could try to rest in between the contractions and just flip over when each contraction hit.
By 11:30 the contractions were coming 3-4 minutes apart and were getting really intense. We packed up, got in the car and headed to the hospital. We live about 40 minutes from the hospital and that car ride was not fun!! I had 9 contractions on the way and I couldn't sit upright during them. The people on the highway must have thought I was crazy by the way I was straddling the passenger seat.
By the time we got to the hospital I was crying and getting a little bit hysterical. They checked us in within seconds and my midwife checked me. I was 4cm and 95% effaced. This was good progress considering I was totally closed and 0% effaced just 2 days earlier. My midwife was AMAZING! I told her I was still intending to have a natural birth and that I wanted her to encourage me to keep going even if I asked for the epidural. She had such a calming presence and suggested all sorts of different positions during the contractions. I was so happy to finally be in an environment meant for laboring and with a professional who knew exactly how to help me.
I labored in the tub for a while, which I LOVED in between the contractions. It was so relaxing and calming. We shut off the lights and my husband sprayed warm water over my belly. During the contractions, however, it was excruciating -- although I guess any and every position was excruciating at that point. At least in the tub I was really able to relax in between.
By 3:30 the contractions were coming right on top of each other and I could no longer focus enough to breathe through them. All I could do was scream. My midwife and husband kept encouraging me and reminding me how to breathe. They were incredible. My midwife checked me again and I was 8cm. I knew I was in transition and I knew this was going to be the hardest part. And it was! The pain was more intense than I ever imagined possible. I don't think I even opened my eyes again after that point. I was completely in a different state of being. I had no thoughts, just pain. I started to doubt if I could make it. I just wanted it to be over already.
Here is where I started to beg. I wanted the drugs and I wanted them NOW! I was screaming and crying and yelling for someone to PLEASE HELP ME!! My husband told me later he thought it was funny because here they both were trying desperately to help me and here I was acting like they were trying to kill me. Other things I remember hearing come out of my mouth were "I CAN'T DO THIS!" and "I AM GOING TO DIE!" and of course "GIVE ME THE EPIDURAL!" My midwife was amazing. She never said I couldn't have it, but she knew it wasn't what I really wanted. She just kept telling me over and over again that I was almost there and that I could do this. My husband kept telling me the same thing. He was so calm the whole time. Around 4:00 she checked me again and I was fully dilated and ready to push. I was so happy to get this baby OUT!!
I had heard that the pushing was the best part and a huge relief. I would have to disagree. My friend once compared it to pooping out a basketball. That sounds more like it to me. A very large basketball. I did not see how I was going to be able to get the baby out. But at this point I knew it was too late for drugs so I stopped begging. I didn't stop screaming though. My husband used the word "primal" to describe the sounds coming out of me. They were loud -- loud enough that I lost my voice, loud enough that I probably scared every other woman in labor in the hallway. But all I cared about at that point was getting the baby out as soon as possible. I wanted this to be over!! I kept asking how many more pushes, how many more minutes. My midwife never gave me an answer. She just kept saying, "You're almost there. You can do this. You are doing this!"
Finally after an hour or so she told me that I would have my baby with the next push. I've never wanted anything so much in all my life. I pushed with every ounce of strength I had left. I can't even begin to describe the pain. When her head finally came out it was an unbelievable feeling of relief. The rest of her slid right out and the next thing I knew, my baby was on my chest and I was holding her! She cried right away and was so pink and had this full head of hair! I was too exhausted and too in shock to cry or think. I just kept saying, "Oh my god, Oh my god. Oh my god." I couldn't believe I actually did it. I couldn't believe my baby was actually here.
My midwife lifted her up and told daddy to call it. He cried out, "It's a girl!" That was the best moment of my entire life. She was a girl and she was ours.
She was so alert and perfect and healthy in every way. I fed her soon after that and she latched on right away. I won't get into the gory details of my personal post-birth experience. We'll just say there was a lot of blood and it was a little scary. But all that mattered was that she was healthy. And she was!
Having a natural birth experience was something I always wanted to do. It was more intense and traumatic than I even had the capacity to understand before-hand. And I can't say I want to do it again anytime soon. But I am so thankful for the experience. It has changed me forever. And I am damn proud of myself for following through. I know that if I got through that I can get through anything.
And looking at my beautiful daughter right now I know it was worth every ounce of pain, every scream, every push and every overdue day of waiting.
I am completely in love.