When EG was born, I was in labor for 27 hours. It started slow, we went to the hospital way to early, and then at 17 hours I had an epidural. You know all about the aftermath, but the labor itself was long and exhausting.
When we were planning our 'strategy' for what was important for us delivering Ocho, we concentrated on the final phase of labor, the pushing, a lot. We thought about when to go to the hospital, and made plans to get there much later than last time.
So here's the story of Ocho:
Contractions started around 4am on Sunday night/Monday morning. I had been having trouble sleeping all night, waking up about every hour or so from 11pm until 3am. Around 4am was when I realized what was waking me up wasn't having to go pee, but rather contractions that were becoming too much to sleep through.
I had read somewhere that having a glass of wine and a bath or shower could slow contractions, so I opened a bottle and got in the shower. I was hopeful to be able to get back in bed, at least until the sun rose. The heat helped, but the wine definitely didn't make the contractions go away. I took a few contractions in the shower, then thought I would lay on the couch to rest and still be awake enough to breathe through them. I texted our doula Holly, and my cousin Ellen who would be taking care of EG in the morning.
Around 6am I turned on the TV and was started watching a new show that looked interesting, I thought I would keep myself occupied. Through this whole time I hadn't woken up Working Dad yet. I wanted him to get as much sleep as possible, anticipating that we would have a long day of labor ahead of us, and that maybe Ocho would be born sometime in the Monday/Tuesday early morning. I ate some cheerios, thinking that I needed to keep my strength up.
Around 6:30am the contractions started to get heavier and more painful, so I got back in the shower. Working Dad's alarm goes off on a typical Monday morning around 7am, so around 6:45am in the shower I started banging on the wall to call him into the bathroom. He was so dazzed and confused. It was sort of adorable if I hadn't been in a lot of pain. He turns off the water, thinking that I need help getting out of the shower. I yell at him and try to explain that I'm in labor, that the water's helping and that I want him to apply counter pressure to my back. We stay in the shower through one more contraction, but then I'm totally done with that. We start sort of wandering the house- I'd stop through the contractions. We watched 'The Lottery' together, and I just sort of struggled through the contractions.
I got back into the shower- the heat had seemed to help, and I love the shower. At that point Working Dad had texted Holly who had responded that she would be at the house around 10am. At this point it's somewhere between 7-8am, and I tell him that he needs to call her, that 10am isn't early enough, and that I'm not sure that I can make it through natural childbirth if it's going to be like this for the whole day.
We start hearing this chirping noise- it's the fire alarm making a low battery or signal. I make Working Dad deal with it, because it's driving me crazy. Unfortunately all he manages to accomplish is making all the alarms in the house go off. Which panic's EG, who was just resting in her bed waiting for Daddy to come get her. Working Dad was planning to take EG to school, but at this point I'm sort of freaking out. I tell him that he can't leave me alone, so he talks to Ellen, who agrees to come over and be with me. Around this point I've been in the shower, and am having serious doubts about what's happening.
Ellen comes, but Working Dad decides he's not leaving me. He gets EG ready, and Ellen takes her to school in our car. Then Working Dad gets a message from Holly, who suggests that we walk, and that I circle my hips, and that I stay upright. We sort of dance through the house, and I have him put on some music for us to listen to. We sort of find our groove, but at least once a contraction gets away from me and I burst into tears telling him that I'm going to die.
I get really hot so I go into our air conditioned bedroom and lie on the floor. He's on the phone to Holly and I'm telling them both that I can't do this, and that I want to die, and that it's horrible. Somehow he gets me off the floor, and we're back to circling my hips. Ellen comes back, and Working Dad goes to talk to her. I'm stating emphatically that we need to go to the hospital. Working Dad wants to wait for Holly.
Ellen comes in, and I'm in a towel, and she says I think you should go to the hospital. Working Dad really wants to wait, but I am insistent this time. I tell him that we're going to the hospital, I'm getting some drugs, and that I'm really sorry insisted on hiring a doula and trying to have a natural childbirth.
We're trying to get to the car, and I throw on my negligee. Working Dad is getting stuff, locking up, etc. and I am focused on stupid things- EG's present, the air conditioner, etc. I have at least 3 contractions on the way to the car, grabbing onto Ellen and breathing hard, concentrating on my breathing. Working Dad puts down a puddle pad on the seat and says should I go fast, or smoothly. I say just go! We start to go, and it's the most horrific car ride of my life. It's around 9:17am when we get in the car, and I remember a crazy contraction that seems to last until after 9:22am. Working Dad calls Holly and tells her we're in route to the hospital, so she turns around to join us.
I call my sister in law (the natural childbirth guru!) and tell her that this is insane, I'm going to the hospital to get drugs and that I can't do it. She tells me it's okay, that I'm awesome. I tell Working Dad that I'm sorry we paid for a doula. That I'm making a choice for drugs, and that it's okay- I won't blame him. I complain that I wish this was my sisters birth, since her baby was born at 10am, and this one likely won't come for hours.
We get to the hospital, I step out of the car, and I think I pee down my leg. It's my water breaking. I have no recollection of my water breaking with EG, so I have no idea what this really means. I get wheel chaired up to the maternity wing, and they put me in triage. Working Dad is there, and there's an issue with the paperwork... A midwife comes in to check me, and I initially say no, I need a doctor. But I change my mind, she checks me and it turns out that I'm 8 centimeters dilated.
8 CENTIMETERS dilated! WHAT! WHAT! I've only been in labor for 5 hours, I can't be 8 CENTIMETERS dilated! HOLY WHAT!
This whole time Working Dad has been dealing with the paperwork, and trying to get Holly upstairs. Turns out that he left our birth plan in his other bag, so the midwife asks me what's important. I tell her that the placenta needs to deliver on it's own- that she can't pull on the cord and that this is the most critical thing. We get moved immediately to a labor and delivery room. They try to put the monitors on me, but I refuse to get back on the bed, so they tape them to me. I'm standing there and Holly arrives, and Working Dad leaves to go and get all of our stuff.
I have about 4-5 contractions with Holly. She's amazing, helping me through the contractions. Working Dad gets back up to the room and they are trying to put an IV in me. I don't need antibiotics, but they still want a hep-lock. I am determined to get back in the shower. We head that way, Working Dad gets in his bathing suit and I wait on the toilet for the water to get warm.
I'm sitting on the toilet and something changes. Something pops. I'm in the shower, and I'm totally starting to push, and I tell them that the baby is coming. That it's time to push.
I hear them state that they are preparing for a delivery in the shower. Working Dad says, heck no, and physically lifts me up to get me to the bed. There is a nurse there with a gown for me, and I shove her away. I feel so bad, I apologize profusely, she says it's okay, just get on the bed, it's okay. I'm totally naked and fine with that. Holly is there, the Midwife is there, and she's letting me push however I want. I roll over onto my right side and we start to push. The contractions are really far apart now, but not as painful. I just let my body do what it does, I don't really push at all.
Then the head starts to come out. We're all working together for me to push out the baby without tearing or having any problems. We're going really slow, and all of a sudden I'm screaming my head off. The ring of fire. It seems to last forever- how slowly her head is coming out. Holly keeps asking if I want to touch it, but I just want to lie there, and have it be over. It takes another 3 contractions, then her head is out. No tearing, no episiotomy. Even though I'm screaming, it's oddly relaxing, and calm. It's totally different than birthing EG.
Then the shoulders pass, and we find out it's a girl. She's up on my chest, and we're letting the cord pulsate. The midwife (Esther) is amazing. She's been so wonderful, working with me, keeping it all together. Being totally available to whatever works for me.
Ocho is born at 10:32am. Just about an hour after we've arrived at the hospital. I don't think we could have cut it much closer.
We wait until just about 10:45am, then they cut the cord. They wait until just before 11am when the placenta delivers. It's HUGE. I can't believe how big it is, and how healthy it looks. It's totally complete, and that's a big relief.
Ocho is breastfeeding already- she latches on like she's a champ. They clean everything up, and we just sit there, reveling in the fact that we did it. Working Dad gets some time, he holds her and bonds with her. It's amazing how enchanted he is. He spends 2 minutes with her and knows that she's his.
They finally weigh her, and I can't believe that I naturally delivered a 9lb 5oz baby. So many crazy things happening today.
But we did it. I never had any drugs, not even some post delivery pitocin. Just me, my body, my husband, our doula, the midwife. Amazing.