After the rush of getting to the hospital and getting the room prepped, for the next hour or so, there was little I could do but breathe through each contraction and wait.
This was a vastly different experience for me.
In Hank’s labor, I progressed “slowly” (for me) through the early stages. It took me 3 hours or so to dilate to 6cm, and I did most of that at home until my water broke. Once I arrived at the hospital, things moved so quickly that it felt like I barely had time to get a gown on before I felt ready to push. I dilated 4cm in less than 20 minutes, rushing through the end stages right to his arrival.
Will’s labor was the opposite.
The contractions that moved me the first 6cm were hard and fast through that first hour… but my body didn’t move quite as quickly through the end stages this time. I’m sure that a big part of it was because I was laying down in the hospital bed, melding my body with the guard rails and the nitrus oxide mask. I think that if I had moved around or walked more I could have made things happen more quickly, but these contractions were unlike anything I remembered with Hank. At one point Karla encouraged me to get up and use the bathroom, and in the space of time it took me to walk across the room to the bathroom and back I had two contractions so intense I could barely breathe. The bed rail and mask were helping me cope, so there I stayed.
As we waited, my mom arrived and Karla presented the option of breaking my water for me to help move things along, as it still hadn’t ruptured spontaneously yet. She first offered the option to me around 4:40am, but I have to admit that I was extremely hesitant.
If you’ve been around for a while, you might remember reading Ruby’s birth story… where I was induced by a obstetrician I “lovingly” dubbed Dr. Evil immediately after my experience with him. I have no doubt that he is a very competent doctor who is highly skilled in his field, but he and I did not… mesh. He decided to break my water for me when I was approximately 5cm dilated with Ruby, and it was–bar none–the most painful experience of my life. To this day I don’t know what he did to me, but I had to be restrained through it because it was that painful. He later returned to apologize, and I have a note in my file with the midwives that he is never to lay a hand on me again.
So, the idea of having my water manually broken again was not initially appealing.
However, after 80 minutes of back to back contractions that continued to build in intensity, I finally relented at 5:20am.I was tired of intense contractions that didn’t feel like they were going anywhere, and I felt like I was dying of heat. The Hubster, my mom and Karla took turns keeping a cool cloth on my forehead and offering me ice water, but nothing seemed to combat how insanely hot I felt. There are some advantages to having winter babies I guess. ;)
Karla checked me again as she got ready, and let me know I had dilated to 9cm. She waited until I was in the throws of an intense contraction then ruptured the membranes… I braced myself for the pain I remembered from my first experience and felt… nothing.
No pain, just a rush of water and immediate relief.
The mood in the room shifted into high gear immediately after, as Karla let me know that there was meconium in my waters. This possibility has been discussed with me in every pregnancy, but has never been an issue before. She assured me that it was common and that I didn’t need to worry, but had my second midwife immediately page a respiratory therapist to be present as I delivered the baby.
The issue with meconium in your water means that your baby has already had his first bowel movement in utero. It’s very normal and happens often–the risk is that the baby can inhale parts of it that block the airway, making it difficult to breath at birth. That big healthy cry you so anxiously wait for the minute the baby is born can be delayed if the airway is blocked… which obviously needs to be cleared as soon as possible to avoid any further complications.
I felt things intensify in my body the moment my water broke. It was like Prince Will said, “Finally” and decided to rush through the last bit. My contractions built in waves and I knew it was time to push.
I retreated back into The Dark Place, but I remember more and felt more with this labor than I did with Hank. It was… intense. Natural labors are definitely doable, but I would not say they are for the faint of heart.
At 5:38am–on the day we had believed to be his due date since day one–Prince Will made his grand entrance into the world. To say I was exhausted would be a gross understatement, and what happened in those few moments afterward felt a little like an out of body experience.
Immediately after Will was born I could sense tension in the Hubster’s body. The respiratory therapist took charge and I realized that we hadn’t yet heard the baby cry. It felt like there were a flurry of people working all around me–Karla trying to deliver my placenta, the RT and my secondary midwife working on the baby, the Hubster and my Mom both at my side concerned about both the baby and I.
I’m sure it was only a matter of seconds in real time, but waiting to hear that cry felt like a lifetime. Finally, after having his throat and lungs suctioned Will gave a big cough and cried loudly for the first time. We all breathed a little in relief and I waited patiently to hold him and see my sweet boy for the first time.