Again, this is only for all the brave people who are comfortable with gooey labor language, with words like cervix, contractions, dilation, placenta, umbilical, etc, etc. Read Part I here.
By the time we drove to the hospital I was very much in active labor. Jacob, my Mom, and I were in our car and Ruthie followed behind. We only had a couple miles to drive and Jacob did his best not to hit any bumps while I was having contractions. We arrived at UCLA when I was in the middle of a contraction, and the valet had to wait to take away the car while I sweated it out in the front seat. Finally I pulled myself out of the vehicle and waddled into the hospital. Jacob and I (delinquents that we are) hadn't gone on a tour of Labor and Delivery. Thankfully, the people at the front desk of the lobby, with all its austere marble, took one look at us and pointed to the elevator. I leaned against the wall outside the elevators through a contraction, feeling grateful that we were close to the room where I could stay for the rest of my labor. The elevator doors opened finally, and I leaned on Jacob as I entered. A woman with blond hair rode the elevator with us. She said she'd been at her friends home-birth for the last 36 hours. Her friend had just been transferred to the hospital. This should've been demoralizing for me to hear, but mostly I just remember thanking God I hadn't been in labor for 36 hours.
We exited the elevators and we each headed cluelessly in three different directions. I was pretty sure I was heading the right direction, so I kept going, assuming they would eventually catch up with me...I was moving rather slowly...
We showed up at the desk at Labor and Delivery and they had us in a room quickly. We turned down the lights and I changed into a hospital gown.
I had this unrealistic image of myself practically doing yoga during labor, changing positions for every contraction, squatting, swaying, but no can do: I got on the bed, curled up on my right side and stayed like that for the remainder of labor. I was beginning to feel pretty beat up by this point, and in between contractions I would close my eyes and just try to relax completely and almost drift to sleep. During my contractions I would grab the bar on the side of the bed and lift myself up a little bit and breathe with Jacob/moan/wonder why in the world I'd elected to do a natural labor.
We'd checked in around 7pm, right before shift change (exactly what they tell you to avoid in birthing classes, but like you actually think, "let's hold out for half an hour, it's shift change" when you think it's time to go the hospital.) So our L&D nurse looked very ready to go home as she came in to ask us questions and and seemed even slightly annoyed at having to pause while I dealt with each contraction.
Dr. Mom--who was doing her best to be Mom and not Dr.--was beginning to wonder why no one had checked me. She went out and asked a nurse who said that we would have to wait for my midwife who was currently busy with someone else. To assuage my mother, they finally got an Ob/Gyn to come check me. She came in and introduced herself rather brusquely. As she checked me, she seemed a bit surprised and then informed us that I was at 8cm.
Knowing I was so far along was a huge stamina booster. This was one of the two moments in my labor that I was truly encouraged that I was doing this and things were happening. The other came later.
After the Ob/Gyn checked me the energy in the delivery room really changed. People began to take us a bit more seriously since I was already in transition, there was a lot of bustle, and within a few minutes my midwife was there.
The next two hours are all a painful blur.
Between contractions I would lie back and almost fall asleep.
I got annoyed very quickly when people would do things I didn't like. For example, a couple of times Jacob let go of my hand and I became irrationally angry with him. I didn't have the energy to express this anger, so I would just stay mad until he came back and took my hand again.
At some point, the midwife asked if I wanted her to break my water. She said this would make the delivery go more quickly but it would get more intense. This felt like an impossible decision, so I looked helplessly at my husband and my mother for guidance. They of course weren't going to decide for me. My midwife encouraged me that I was progressing beautifully (she used lots of luscious words like that) and breaking my water wasn't necessary. I couldn't imagine things being more difficult than they were, so I elected not too.
By this point in the labor, I'd got into a bit of a pattern with my contractions. I would have one really strong contraction, then I would throw up, and then I would have another not-so-strong contraction, and then the contraction would let go completely for a blessed minute or so where I could lie back and relax. Throwing up really wasn't as bad as it sounds. My midwife encouraged me that every time I threw up it pushed the baby down further.
When I was around 9.5 cm in one of my barfing-bouts, my water broke by itself in a gush...and when I say gush I mean like thank-God-no-one-was-at-the-foot-of-the-bed-fountain thing. I didn't even know that could happen. It was actually quite...funny...in a moment where not much was funny.
So just before 10pm I started pushing.
I've read so many birth stories in which women talked about how GOOD it felt to push. I always thought this was (forgive me) bologna. But honestly, pushing certainly felt different, and different was indeed REALLY good.
As I pushed everyone in the room was super encouraging. They told me over and over again that I was doing SO well. But I didn't believe them. I kept scanning their faces--the midwife's, the OB nurse's, the med-student's--for a hint that they were lying to me and nothing was happening. Because that's how it felt.
But they continued with their encouragement. The midwife would count me through three pushes per contraction, and afterward everyone would gush about how well I was doing. Lies. I thought. All lies.
After 50 minutes of pushing, my midwife and the OB nurse launched into action and they weren't wasting time. My midwife put on her baby-catching gown; the nurse pulled a table around to the foot of the bed, grabbing various things.
This was the second moment in the haze of labor where I felt like things were truly happening....where I felt like things were progressing, that perhaps--heaven forbid--it was almost over.
The baby's head was out with the next push.
His shoulders were stuck for a couple seconds, but in a flash they placed him on my stomach and Jacob told me it was a boy.
And I held him there as he wailed. My mother told us to shade his eyes, and immediately after my hand had blocked the light, his little eyelids fluttered open. And so we greeted our little Jake.