Right before we left the room, N asked our doula, “Do I need to start timing the contractions now?”
“I think we’re beyond that point”, she smiled knowingly.
We set out again to walk the halls as the techs moved into our room to connect and fill the tub. Walking felt good and I pushed through each contraction, willing my mind away from the pain and focusing on putting one step in front of the other. I hung onto N’s arm and let him guide me. Just like with the last two, when things get serious, I close my eyes or focus on the ground and triy not to make eye contact with anyone.
I still, however, had to endure the hallway comments, such as the nurses calling out, “oh she’s not smiling anymore, things are getting serious!” And hospital visitors watching us and making remarks to each other about their own birth experiences. I, much to my dismay, was feeling some pretty intense pain in my back and asked N to apply counter pressure during each contraction. This helped immensely, for a while.
After what felt like forever, though I think it was only an hour at most, I asked if we could go back to the room. The tub was ready and I felt relief that I could finally experience it, another box checked. N turned on my labor playlist and I felt myself being overcome with emotion; another labor milestone I personally look for. I cried more with relief than pain. Relief that we were finally here. Relief we were at the point of no return. Relief that after months of wait, I was going to meet my baby soon.
The songs helped me too, up until a certain point. I let my emotions be swept away and focused on the lyrics. I thought about my Nanow and how we would be naming this baby after her. I wondered if they had already met in Heaven before her little soul was sent down to earth, as time is not time there. And there is always a point where birthing begins to feel spiritual, where you feel connected to the generations before you, when you feel the most connected to yourself as a woman.
It was around 2pm and my contractions were coming very frequently and with much pain. Every time one would begin, my lower back would begin to throb. Then I would feel the pain radiate as the contraction wrapped around to the front. It felt as if her head was stuck directly on my lower backbone and with each contraction, it would send fiery hot nerve pain up and down my spine in protest. Rather than feeling the elecutionary contractions in my uterus, all I could feel were my bones being pried apart from the inside. It was completely reminiscent of MG’s birth and I began to lose my focus. I no longer had to tell N when each contraction was beginning, he just seemed to know and would apply strong pressure in the spot I had showed him earlier. Later I brought it up and he said he knew when they started because he could physically see the questionable bone in my back push out at the start of each one.
The counter pressure was now only mildly helping and I feared how much longer this could last. I began getting really vocal, saying all the transitional things like, “I can’t do this anymore.” N and Julie just winked at each other, knowing that all the signs were pointing to the end. Julie suggested I get checked again, as I was audibly doubting how close I was to the finish line.
I got really mouthy during this labor, more so than my other two. I am very rarely raw and unguarded in my feelings but there is something about intense pain that takes away the filter.
This labor, due only to the fiery heat of the back labor, made me doubt myself and my abilites to finish it. I wanted everyone in the room to know how badly I was suffering and though I was vocal, I didn’t have a way of vocalizing this: I was scared this labor was going to stall and I would be stuck here, in this burning, nervy, painful place for hours more.
Fully dilated, fully effaced somewhere around 3pm. That’s what the nurse discovered when she checked me. This should have been an encouragement, but all I could think was, “It’s going to be three hours still until I can push her out.” N and Julie tried to encourage me as they pointed out the warmer being moved into our room and Dr. B coming in, gloved up, ready to deliver. As much as the signs were all there, I still truly believed we had hours left to go. Even though I had begin pushing, just a bit, in the tub, I didn’t have a strong urge yet. I also feared that this baby, giving me back labor like MG, was also posterior like her and would take her precious time coming out.
Still, to everyone’s prodding, I moved to the bed around 3:15pm. Unsure of what to do, but knowing I HAD to get that baby off my tailbone, I began pushing in a few different positions. Finally, we found one that everyone cheered on, so I used their encouragement as a sign to stay there for the duration.
Three births under my belt and I can confidently say, my body does not handle the pushing phase very efficiently. Either I carry my babies high until the bitter end or they like to stay in unfavorable positions until they come out, or I am anatomically not built for this, or ??? This time it took about 45 minutes to finally feel that overwhelming relief of having her pulled from my body. But those 45 minutes were agonizing. The team around me did their best to encourage me, noting when they saw hair and what color it was. As the home stretch approached, they would say things like, “just one more good push’, as I struggled to hold her in position in between contractions.
But 3:56pm, the magical hour of her entrance arrived, and she was out. They pressed her to my chest; the wet-limbed, warm bodied reward for all the work. The last major box was checked. The first thing N and I said, “she looks like Bea.” Immediately followed by, “I never want to do that again. I’m never doing that again.” The first thing the nurses said, “that’s not a 6 pound baby”. Indeed, she came out all cheeks and wrist rolls and having swallowed some fluid on her way out, she initially struggled to catch her breath. After her cord stopped pulsing, and they cut us apart after our 10 months of growing together, they took her away to suction her and eventually weighed her in at over nine pounds. When they called out her birth weight, I pumped my fist in the air and cheered. I knew all that pain was worth more than 6 pounds of gain.
Meanwhile, back at home, mom told the girls the baby had finally been born and they gave a victory yell, hopping in the car as soon as possible to come see us. They arrived by 5:30pm and we did, indeed, get our first dinner as a family.
I don’t know if there’s a moment I’ve ever felt more content than watching my girls meet each other for the first time, answering their many questions and knowing the worst was behind me.
They asked us her name and it caught in my throat for a second. I found I really cared about their opinion and hoped it would meet their approval. I also knew once we told them, there was no going back. It would make it more official than ever and after carrying a deep secret for 10 months, I desperately wanted to savor the moment
And just like that we became a family of 5, and all I could think was all this and Heaven too.