In triage, everything looked great! All my vitals were good, baby sounded great, and contractions kept progressing. I really needed to squat and slow dance with John to get through them, which I took as a really good sign of my progress.
So I was a little shocked when the doc (the on-call family medicine resident) finally checked me and said I was 4-5cm, 80% effaced, and baby was at a -1.
What?! For reals? I was definitely feeling around the same level of pain I had when I was around 6cm with John Paul, but I was possibly just a 4? And no progress at all with cervical effacement? Eep! Did this mean we were in for a lonnnnngggg night of labor?
But once the the doc and nurses left the room, my doula and husband both assured me that they thought he was wrong. And probably just being . . . conservative. Why? No idea. Perhaps because he was still a bit of a newb at the whole labor and deliv thing, being a first-year resident and all. But based on the length of my contractions and the level of pain I was experiencing, we all thought I was probably more like a 6. Phew!
From there, we all walked a few feet over to the delivery room: room number 2071. It was around 2am when we settled in, and I immediately changed into my L&D dress, the same dress I had worn for John Paul's delivery. I don't actually have any pics of me in it from this delivery, since I only wore it for approximately 2 seconds. But here's a pic of it from John Paul's labor . . .
So why was it only on for a few seconds, you ask? Right after I put it on, Wendy filled up the bath tub and recommended I hop in soon, since we were at a good point for tub laboring. So off it went!
I grabbed my bikini out of my hospital bag, but my rib cage has probably grown a bunch of sizes since I last wore it, so it didn't fit. Eep. So naked bathing it was! I was a little embarrassed by my complete nudity, so I knew I wasn't in the 8-10cm stage of labor yet. You know you're there when all modesty goes out the window.
Wendy found a mini towel I could wear over my upper parts, so that made me feel a bit more comfortable. Modesty restored!
Just like John Paul's birth, we lit LED candles and listened to Tibetan monk chant music while in the tub. It was so peaceful. Aside from all the painful contractions that is.
John stayed by my side the whole time, letting me squeeze his hand through each contraction, telling me I was doing such a great job, all that cheesy sort of stuff. But I needed it. The positive, gentle encouragement was my lifeline. Words of praise for the win!
While the water definitely slowed the contractions down just a little and made them a tiny bit more comfortable, they were getting more intense by the minute. Pretty soon, the moaning started.
Before giving birth to John Paul, I thought moaning was the most embarrassing thing ever. I would hear moms do it while watching birth videos and think, yikes! That's awkward. But during the really painful parts of labor, there's nothing better than letting it all out through your vocal chords.
Wendy kept encouraging me to relax all my muscles, so that I wasn't fighting against the contractions, and to keep the moaning at a low pitch, since that also helps keep things relaxed. When you moan in a higher register, you're tightening things up everywhere and essentially fighting against your cervix. Weird but true. So I tried to keep things low.
Actually, the moaning almost sounded like it was part of the Tibetan monk soundtrack. I joked at one point that it was like a sing-a-long in the tub. Or maybe John made that joke. I was quite in the zone at that point, so the details get hazy.
Pretty soon, it was getting reeeally really hard to keep the moans in the lower register. And I was squirming in pain all over the tub through every contraction. The pain was getting rough. Like probably 9-out-of-10-on-the-pain-scale rough. I even started to think to myself, "If this goes on much longer, I don't think I can do it." Contractions were long and painful and I was only getting like 1 to 2 minutes between each one.
At that moment, my body thankfully decided to take a break. A nice 4 minute break, or something like that. It was seriously glorious. No contraction for 4 minutes. Heck freaking yes.
But! IT'S A TRAP! Following the break, I had 3 HUGE contractions right on top of each other. Bam, baaaaam, BAMMMMMM. So much squirming and moaning and hand squeezing ensued.
I made it through, but after that, I was pretty much exhausted. It really was hurting quite nicely and if I was due up for another triple-traction soon, I didn't think I was going to make it.
I recall turning to Wendy at that point and saying, "Do you think I'm getting close? I really don't think I can do this much longer." And, thank God Almighty, in that moment she responded with the sweetest thing a laboring girl could ever hope to hear:
"You are so close. You're gonna have this baby in your arms very soon."
Amen, sister. Amen.
When the next contraction hit, I started feeling the urge to push. Which brought me right back to John Paul's birth, when I was in the tub and felt the urge to push, but was only 8cm dilated. Eep! If you push when you're not fully dilated, you can really hurt your cervix, so I was scared that's what was happening again. And I didn't want to get out of the tub to get checked yet because getting out at that point was going to require a huge effort on my part that I didn't want to do if I still had a few more centimeters to go. If the contractions were that rough in the tub, I didn't even want to think of how bad they'd be out of the tub.
We decided to use the ol' "blow through the contractions" trick, where you blow a brrrrrrrrrrr sound like a horse. For whatever reason, blowing like that helps you to stop yourself from pushing. Which sounds weird, right? Can't you just not push? But no. You can't just not push. Trust me. When your body wants to, it just does it. So you really of have to fight against it to stop it when your cervix isn't ready yet. I brrrrrrrrrrrrrrr'd my way through the next contraction and all was well.
And then Wendy advised me to hop on out of the tub. She thought my body was trying to push because I actually was at 10cm! And since she's seen about a bazillion labors, I trusted her. So at around 3am, she and John helped me up, and I started to make my way back to the bed to be checked.
But not a step away from the tub, I suddenly had the intense urge to have a bowel movement. I think I may have shouted, "I NEED TO POOP." Gah! So embarrassing to think about now. But like I said before, all modesty goes out the window when you're in that 8-10cm zone.
I immediately plopped down on the toilet and started pushing.
And then the nurse immediately started freaking out.
She shouted, "IS THE BABY COMING OUT?! ARE YOU SURE YOU'RE NOT PUSHING OUT THE BABY?!!!!!"
For part 3, click here.