"I don't think you're going to work today, " I greeted Tyler as I went upstairs to join him, Jack, and Sheridan on the morning of February 11th. I'd been having some real contractions (not just the painful-yet-ineffective braxton hicks I'd been having for months) since 4 am, and they were getting closer together.
Then I ate a banana.
They weren't horrible contractions, mind you. I was able to relax and breathe through them just fine (except the one where Sheridan flopped onto my stomach mid-contraction...I thought I might break something or someone). Throughout the morning I relaxed with the kids as they watched Barbie Swan Lake, I showered, I spent some time talking to Tyler and figuring out a plan for what we'd do with the kids.
It was standing up to coif my hair and put on makeup that moved things along. In that half hour or so, contractions went from 8-10 minutes apart to 5-7. By noon, we hit the road (making a short detor to drop Jack at school), leaving Sheridan and Henry with our FABULOUS neighbor. Between contractions I was able to talk and laugh and just be myself. During contractions I needed to do some deep breathing and was able to deal with the increasing intensity just fine. The only hard time I had on the way to the hospital were the darn potholes in the road! With this winter's crazy weather and snow, it seems like those babies are all over the roads; the car bumping over these definitely challenged my relaxation skills!
This is our 4th time at Orem Community Hospital. Love it, love it, love it. Seriously, if you're giving birth in Utah County, natural or not, I HIGHLY recommend birthing there.
I was having contractions all the way inside, but again was able to breathe through them. I figured I wasn't very far along (I'd measured a 3+ the day before at the midwives') since the contractions weren't sharp, stabbing pains and I didn't need Tyler to talk me through each one and since I was able to be myself between contractions. The midwife checked me and laughed. "I don't think we'll be sending you home, you're at a 6 or 7". ( They hooked me up to antibiotics (due to my having an active case of GBS) but everyone kept going on about how I wouldn't have time for the 2nd dose in 4 hours (at which point Tyler and I are both thinking "don't jinx us!").
(Side note! Here are the funny things that weren't working at the hospital. Alone, each thing isn't worth noting. Together, it makes Tyler and I chuckle.
- The first room had no heat. They moved us before I'd done more than get my lovely gown on.
- In my new room, the montior machine was broken. They got another one and it took 3 or 4 tries to get the new one to work.
- The birthing bed was on the wrong side in that room. They had to unhook me, the monitor, the IV, etc and move the bed...except the brake was stuck and it took them 5 minutes to get it to move.
- The IV wouldn't work after they moved us.
- The computer didn't want to work again, either.
- The privacy curtain? Yeah, it wouldn't extend fully to block full view from the door. Fortunately, Tyler fixed it.)
Phew! By the time everything was working, I was dilated to 8 cm. Woohoo! I was still able to interact normally between contractions. I think word started to spread, because I had several nurses, CNA's, and other techs checking in on us and saying things like, "Wow, they weren't kidding, you're amazing." (I don't say this to brag, but because it was funny at the beginning and pretty annoying by the end--I felt like I was going to disappoint people when it came to pushing, since I know how that doesn't go as smoothly for me). I really wanted to hang out on the birthing ball for a while, which was nice and relaxing. Tyler and I had a little privacy and we could talk ("No, Tyler, I still don't know what we are going to name this baby" or "Yeah, Jimmer is having a really great season". Just kidding on that last one). It was about 2:30 at this point and I was at 9 cm. I was having a little bit of pushy feelings, but was mostly just relaxing through the contractions and carrying on like usual between (if usual is sitting around in a hospital gown having conversations that need to pause every 2.5-3 minutes for contractions). I figured it'd all be over soon since I was at a 9, for heaven's sake! I couldn't believe how well this labor was going, how much I was able to relax during contractions, how normally I felt (usually I'm laying on my side, focusing with all my might on relaxing cuz the contractions are INTENSE).
We were both really grateful that I had GBS and they hadn't broken my water since they wanted to have the chance to get the antibiotics all in me (usually I get impatient and have them break my water to get things moving along and that is WAY MORE INTENSE with far sharper contractions). We changed positions often, but weren't really moving past 9 cm. Finally, at 5 pm they ran my second IV of antibiotics (with statements of "I can't believe we actually have the time to do this!" and "Wow, I didn't think you'd be in labor that long!" Thanks for that, very helpful.). I was getting a little discouraged at this point, but was glad we wouldn't have to worry about baby getting GBS or the serious problems that can result from her picking it up while delivering. (we thought of those positives while I was bemoaning to Tyler that my body "wasn't doing what it's supposed to be doing!". ) When the antibiotic was done, I had the midwife go ahead and break my water. The first 3 contractions after that weren't any worse. "I'm starting to feel despondant, Tyler." The next one was were the stabbing, fully-intense, must-remain-in-relaxation-between-contractions sort.
And then, I started to lose it.
"I can't do this, Tyler!" I stared at him, panic-filled and way NOT in my happy, safe place.
"You have to believe you can do it, Ali, or you can't." (when I get like this, he knows pushing is VERY soon).
"Talk me through it, I can't do it alone!!!!" He talked me through the next 2 contractions, getting me to relax more, but not as much as I had been. At the end of the next contraction, I started pushing.
"I feel like I need to push, Tyler!" That was in a sort of desperate, trying-to-maintain-relaxation-but-failing voice.
"Go with what your body wants to do," he was so calm and yet so focused. It's very cute.
"Call for them to come in, I need to push!"
I then tried to get back into relaxation, but the sensation of baby's head descending is not one I deal very well with. I was very very focused on what my body was doing and the distinct feeling that there was no WAY my body was going to open up enough to let the baby move easily through my birth canal. I remember snippets of conversations through the next contraction:
The midwife "I'm not going to have time for a gown--ok, hurry, hurry, get it on!"
"Help her hold her leg back. Dad! You grab the other leg!" (Legs? I had those? Pretty much, all I was aware of was my uterus and birth canal...there was no way I was going to be able to move one of those "leg" thingies).
At this point, another contraction hit. Man, you cannot deny the pushing at that point! It HURT! I did a little head-toss thing (I think I was really trying to get the people holding my legs to let go of me), tried not to swear, and exclaimed "I can't do this!"
Midwife, "You are doing it, there's her head!" And then, the head was out. Tyler told me to push again and (without me really doing more than taking in a deep breath) the rest of the body followed. Those shoulders were WAY easier than Henry's! I got cleaned up and birthed the placenta, the delivery team cleaned baby up (at which point I was still shaking from the birth, so I had Tyler hold her). She was so tiny with so much dark hair!
"It really is a girl, right?" I asked Tyler. He reassured me that he'd checked!
I was finally focused enough to pay proper attention to my baby. She was so perfect and alert (when the bright lights were off) and precious. Having a baby is such a surreal thing. Even though we'd been through 9 months of pregnancy, which included a belly of hugeness that foreshadowed the baby-to-come, actually having that baby in your arms is something else. Suddenly, we're a family of 6. I had 4 kids. We're bringin' this kid HOME.
Admittedly, the last 6 contractions were hard. Pushing the baby out found me a little off-kilter (although my midwife was like "yeah, you lost it for one minute. Literally. I think that's ok"), something I'd been hoping I'd not struggle with this time. As I look at my little Amelia sleeping contentedly by me, every second was totally worth it...and hey, I'm sure I'll go through worse pains during those teenage years, right?