2 am: I woke up to a searing contraction and two nurses standing next to my bed. I let them know I was starting to feel some more intensity. Clearly, my cervix had relaxed to the point where it decided to stop relaxing and just start screaming. I also let the nurses know that everyone should feel free to do whatever was in their power to make my birth as pleasant and pain free as possible and perhaps a little something something before the epidural was in order. The nurse who had just come on duty mentioned she had had natural home births for all her children. At that point I started to get a little wild-eyed. "I'm not having a home birth. I'm here at the hospital. And I'm going to need some pain medication because this is starting to hurt."
So then the nurse mentioned that pain is a pretty common labor symptom, and that I should "not be worried."
And then she mentioned that I could try sitting on a yoga ball or taking a hot bath.
And then I mentioned that those were birthing tools for people who don't take pain medication during child birth, and that I was not such a person, and that my doctor had assured me I could have pain medication at any point and that I did not have to be any certain centimeters dilated to qualify nor did my water need to be broken, (I had made sure to ask that) nor did my husband need to approve nor any nurse nor anyone BUT ME need determine when I needed a little pain medication so I would be wanting that now, please and thank you.
So the nice nurse went off to see what she could do and I reluctantly bounced on the yoga ball and waded into the hot tub with jet streams and clumsily soothed myself through contraction after contraction and the whole time I did not even think I was actually in labor because somehow in my mind I was convinced my labor wasn't 'starting' until they induced me via Pitocin, hours from now, at 6am. And this was only 2 am, and the cervix chillaxer was just a warm up, and the contractions were just tiny mountains on the squiggly monitor so I was definitely not in labor. But I still wanted something to take the edge off because every time I had a tiny mountain contraction I wanted to say motherf----er really loud. Because that's how they felt, they felt like mother f---ing contractions that hurt like a motherf----er. I mean, I'm sorry, that's the only way I know how to describe it.
3 am: Brent woke up after I got out of my bath. The nurse came back in the room. Cold, wet, and draped in towels with no idea how to change back into my hospital gown, I stopped saying motherf----er silently and started to say it out loud and continued to do so for the next two hours. Instead of breathing 'heeheehuhuheeheehuhu" to get through each contraction, I said 'motherf---er' to no one in particular REALLY LOUD. And then I would say, "I am so sorry for saying that." And then the nurse and Brent would say, "That's alright, you are in labor and you can say that if you want to." And that made me feel better. And like they understood me. And I also thought it was nice of them to not be mad at me for swearing. Someone brought me some Fentanyl. I guess it is a narcotic? I thought it was, like, a muscle relaxer. I think I'm the poster child for every single argument in favor of natural childbirth. Because I'm THAT MOTHER who is like, "Hey hook me up whatever you got, and I'll take a double dose, thankyouverymuch." (Although for the record, she came out looking quite sober and latched on like a champ.)
At this point, the Ambien had not completely worn off yet and the Fentanyl was kicking in. And, in between contractions, I was feeling GREAT. But during contractions it felt like your typical run-of-the-mill torture session. By the time 6 am rolled around it was clear that baby girl no longer need me to hold my horses. It felt like go time. "I'm ready for my epidural. I would like that now."
The nurse called the anesthesiologist and then came to tell me it would be about a half hour until he arrived. They checked me and I was 3 centimeters dilated. (And counting.) When the anesthesiologist entered the room I suddenly wished I had asked for the epidural hours ago. The contractions were coming very quickly, and one right after the other, without any breaks. Fear of paralysis was the only thing that kept me motionless when the needle went in because I was starting to feel really shaky. Afterward, the contractions continued, and continued, and continued. I began to panic because I was feeling each one, and the pain was not lessening. With Jack, the contractions subsided very quickly after the epidural. The nurse checked me again. I was 10 centimeters. (And counting?!)
"Oh my God and please Jesus, I do not want to feel the ring of fire." I told Brent who was filming again.
I started to plead with the anesthesiologist, "This isn't working, I need more, what can you do?" He told me the epidural must have only numbed half my body. (Obviously, not the half that the baby was coming out of.) As we started to weigh various pain-relief options (spinal anyone?) my Doctor arrived. I was VERY happy to see her. Suddenly I felt calm. Within minutes, the pain subsided. The epidural was working and it was time to have a baby.
The irony was thick as I realized I had just gotten my pro-epidural-shout-it-off-the-rooftops-soap-box-self all the way to 10 centimeters without any pain relief. Yes, the Ambien and Fentanyl were making me loopy enough to be doing a fair-to-modest impersonation of Anna Nicole Smith, but I can guarantee I felt the full force of every single contraction up until that baby's head was seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Next time I will remember to order the epidural ahead of time.
6:40 am: I had the green light to start pushing, but that's when it occurred to me that I had not taken the time earlier to 'fix my face'. What with being in labor and all, I had totally forgotten. And now the baby was coming, and I looked a mess. And photos would be happening. And I'm somewhat shallow. So this was a problem. I turned to Brent and said,"You need to find my make-up bag." Out of the corner of my eye I saw the anesthesiologist excuse himself from the room.
My doctor sat patiently at the end of my bed. She smiled. "I don't have a mirror so I'll just have apply it without one," I explained, before proceeding to put on a full face of lipstick, blush, eye-shadow, mascara, you name the product and I was putting it on. I WAS PUTTING IT ALL ON. And then I remembered my earrings. So Brent searched through my bags and brought my earrings over. My doctor, still sitting at the edge of the bed and facing me, mentioned they matched my hospital gown. I replied, "Yes, I like this hospital gown a lot." Then I puked 10 times, and announced I was ready to push.
The nurse asked, "Do you need re-apply your make-up?" I remember thinking to myself -- What a silly question, of course my make up is FINE.
Then I pushed little Hope out. And she was perfect. And she had a crazy mom waiting for her.
I didn't remember anything of the 10 minutes right before she came out, until hours later in the day, when it all came back like some kind of Alice In Wonderland dream. I turned to Brent with a question mark on my face, and he just shook the video camera at me, and smiled.
* * * Scroll down for accompanying videos* * *
And for your viewing pleasure: The Videos...
7:30 pm - Arrival
7:35 pm - The Prelude
10:20 pm - The Sister
6:24 am - Fully Dilated
6:41 am - Primping
8:49 am - Hope