Ruby's birth story - part two

This was written shortly after Ruby's birth. I'll post it in three parts as it's rather long.

When we got to L&D, we were brought to our room, and we settled in. We waited for Sara to arrive, and then we waited to see the doctor. The nurse asked us a million questions, and we talked briefly about our birth wishes. Actually, as soon as we mentioned that we had a written birth plan, she said, “Let me guess, you want this, and this, and this...” And she was right on all counts. It was good to know that we were on the same page. She’d done the “natural birth thing” before. When Sara got there, she did a little “redecorating” -- taking down the clock and the pain-scale drawing. I just love her!

Dr. Barrell was the family practice doctor on-call for the night. She did a swab to test for amniotic fluid (positive) and looked at the fluid under a microscope (unequivocal) -- she couldn’t say for sure whether my water had broken, or maybe I had a slow leak, or maybe I just peed. But since I was having contractions again at that point, she let us stay under observation with a plan to check for progress in an hour or two. She was totally on board when I told her that I didn’t want to hear “the numbers” with each check, and she said she would just tell Sara.

Now, before all this action started, I would’ve told you that I wanted to labor at home as long as possible and roll into L&D with just enough time to push the baby out into the doctor’s arms and then go home an hour later. Well, when we got to the hospital and I no longer felt like this was a false alarm, I really felt nervous about the possibility of being sent home. I felt safe at the hospital. I was glad that they were letting us stay, even though the protocol is to only admit Mamas in active labor. I was still probably at a 3 or 4.

Early labor was lovely, even at the hospital. John and I took one lap down the hallway to the NICU area and back to our room. I had to stop a couple of times and lean on John or the wall. Hula hips helped me through several contractions. Things were getting a little tougher. When we got back to the room, I labored on the ball for a while, swaying my hips with each contraction. I was still able to talk between contractions, but with each wave, I put my head down and concentrated on breathing. At some point (maybe around 10p.m.?) Sara suggested that John and I both try to get some rest. I was able to snooze off and on between contractions for about an hour. The nurses came in every hour to monitor the baby, but they were so good about it that I didn’t even really notice. In fact, it seems like maybe at some point that monitoring stopped, but it’s more likely that I just stopped noticing.

By about 11:30, things were getting increasingly more intense. I was no longer chatting with Sara and John between contractions, and I was no longer able to sleep. Each wave came on strong with no build up -- just intensity from start to finish. I remember struggling quite a few times to find a position that was comfortable. And if I didn’t find that position before the wave started, I knew it would be a tough one to get through. Being on my hands and knees seemed to work sometimes; other times, I had to hang off the head of the bed which was bent up at a ninety degree angle. Sara tried to get me to labor on the toilet once, and I said, “No way!” For comfort, I alternated between really going into myself for strength and focusing on low “Ohs,” and looking to one of my support team (usually John or Sara) and pleading with them to make it stop! While vocalizing, I repeated the phrase, “go in” in my head. I’m not sure where it came from, but I helped me stay focused on the baby and the reason for all this hard work.

We got into the shower sometime in the early morning hours, and that was a miracle. I don’t think I could have made it through without that water. I have no idea how long I was in there. Long enough to get overheated and feel a bit queasy, but it was lovely while it lasted. While I was in the shower, a guy from the lab came to draw my blood. Someone asked if I wanted to get out and get dressed before he came in. I remember thinking that was the craziest thing anyone had ever asked me... Why would I want to get out of this amazing shower? Like I care if this dude sees my boobs -- I’m in labor! Send him in! Later, Sara would tell me that the lab tech seemed to be in awe of the power of a woman laboring so calmly and intently.  

After the shower and as we got closer and closer to transition, it seemed like every third or fourth contraction was really difficult. There were a few that seemed like they would never end, or that felt like they would rip me in half before they finished. Those were the ones that had made me beg for an epidural. I started to say things like, “Ladies! This isn’t fun anymore!” and “Why isn’t anyone listening to me?” I remember more than once telling them that I couldn’t do it, and each time Sara would remind me what that meant -- transition. In my heart, I knew that Ruby was so close to meeting us. I knew that each contraction was our hard work together in getting her here. But my mind was playing tricks on me. Our son’s labor was forty hours. We’d only been laboring with Ruby for about ten at that point. My mind was doing math and telling me that we had thirty more hours of this. My body was saying, “no way.” I begged the doctor to make it stop. At one point, I even asked for narcotics, which I absolutely knew going into this that I did not want -- I had a half-dose with Jack, and I hated it. Thankfully, John was able to talk some sense into me at that point, and I agreed that I really didn’t want the drugs.

But by that point, I had convinced my support team that I wanted an epidural. I wanted an epidural right now. What I didn’t know was that I would have to get a full bag of fluids - which takes at least an hour - and then they’d have to hunt down an anesthesiologist. It could be two hours before I got any relief. What my team knew that I didn’t know was that Ruby would be here by then. I insisted they start an IV and then I think I demanded an epidural about every third contraction until it was time to push. Sara asked me if I thought I could do it for one more hour. I wasn’t sure, but I didn’t have a choice. At the end of the hour, either Ruby would be here, or the anesthesiologist would be here. {I found out later that this whole part of labor was a bit of a con-game on the part of my support team. They knew how important it was to me to have a natural birth, and they knew how close we were in getting there. They could have sped things up and gotten the epidural within about 45 minutes. I’m so grateful now that they stalled like they did; but at the time, I was quite frustrated!}

The crazy thing about this part of the labor was that the contractions that weren’t full of panic and fear really were lovely. I’m not going to lie -- they were intense, and they were hard work, but it was so rewarding. I don’t know how to describe the feeling of those beautiful contractions -- no words seem quite right. It was amazing. I felt powerful and so full of love -- love came from within and from the people surrounding me.

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