While I'm basking in the sweetness of my new baby, I've asked some friends to share their birth stories at This Heavenly Life. Today, I'm proud to have Lucy the Valiant tell us her story -- in true Lucy-style. Make SURE you visit her blog and poke around in her archives. She's magic, Lucy is. Magic.
Okay, so, my birth story! Brace yourselves! It’s kind of…gross. At the time, I was so mortified by parts of this story that I could barely bring myself to post it on MY OWN blog. And now, here I am a year later, happily guest posting it for even MORE people to read! Time really must heal all wounds, even mortification!
(Please remember, you guys, this story is Not Cute. This is no gauzy, romantic birthing experience, the memory of which will be retold and cherished for generations. In fact, it gets kind of seriously gross, and I would much rather forget parts of it entirely, FOREVER)
I think I subconsciously expected this birth to be exactly like the last one, only quicker and less dramatic. Which would kind of make it an ideal birth, but that didn't really occur to me.
At first, though, it was a lot better. Instead of being stuck in pre-labor for over a week, I went to the midwife, had my membranes stripped, walked vigorously for an hour (and managed to get a huge, hideously painful blister on the pad of my foot) and then went home with every expectation of going promptly into labor sometime over the weekend. My favorite midwife told me to call her whenever my labor started, even though she wasn't on call, and I had a back-up appointment for Tuesday to start labor if it hadn't yet.
And there was NO WAY that I wasn't going to go into labor before Tuesday!
Except for, absolutely nothing happened, all weekend. Sigh.
So bright and early on Tuesday morning, I got up and vacuumed all the floors and finished up various obsessive cleaning/organizing projects. Then we took Ariel to my sister's house, and picked up my mama and Kanga, and made the drive to the birth center.
We waited around for an hour or so, making jokes and being silly, while they cleaned up from an earlier birth. Then the midwife broke my water the rest of the way, and sent me off to do various labor-starting activities. Nipple stimulation and vigorous walking, primarily. But not at the same time, because THAT would be awkward! My contractions finally started up, but they weren't too intense, and the most discomfort that I had from walking around the little park next to the birth center was due to the fact that it was stinkin' hot outside, and I was wearing my Shape-Ups and my calves were killing me.
I walked for forty-five minutes, and then went in for a popsicle and a shower. It is official, I LOVE showers when in labor. Detach the shower head, rest on the little bench in there, and go off into a little pain-management place in your head. This is where I like to labor.
I don't know how long I was in there, but eventually I wandered out and the midwife went ahead and checked me. I think I had gone from two centimeters to three and a half, and she went ahead and gave me something off-label to bring the contractions on stronger. I had to lay down for an hour with that stuff, and so I labored in bed, which isn't really my favorite, but wasn't too bad just then. The contractions got a lot stronger, and Joey went from occupying himself with sudoku to coaching me through them. He was amazingly comforting, and I still felt very peaceful and confident.
After the hour was up, I got up and sat on the birthing ball for a while, but it was too unwieldy to really help. So I got back in the shower.
The great irony is that right around this point, I was managing my contractions really well, and as I stared at my reflection through the steam in the bathroom, I felt truly beautiful. Graceful and powerful and primeval. Like something out of a painting, a Birth Warrior. I very much doubt that for the rest of my life, I will ever feel that beautiful and strong again.
You can see where this is going?
(A hint: Not down paths of primeval grace, that's for sure.)
I got out of the shower after a while because I was feeling overheated, and I was very sure that I had made a lot of progress, centimeters-wise, and I wanted to be checked.
I was a four, which isn't really that much progress, is it?
This is when I started to get discouraged, because I had felt like I was going through a lot of intense contractions, but obviously they weren't intense enough, and obviously I had a long way to go. Also, I felt horrible... overheated and dizzy and tired. The midwife suggested that I needed an IV for fluids, which I declined. She also told me to go walk some more, which nearly broke my heart.
It was July. In Texas. At the hottest part of the afternoon. And I already felt overheated. Blech.
Adding insult to injury, the assistant who came out to walk with us was the one person who insisted on talking to me or other people while I was having contractions. Everyone else understood that this was NOT okay to do, that I wanted silence to focus on relaxing, but this lady kept right on chatting, telling me to "blow it out like a birthday candle" and telling Joey to walk me through visualizations of places that we had been together.
Um, not so much.
But I outsmarted them! After a few minutes of this treatment, I threw up all over my shoes.
So after that, I got to go back inside. I demanded some water, and refused an IV, and I'm not really sure where I labored for the next little while. It was starting to get seriously Rough.
And when the midwife checked me again and I was STILL a FOUR... I was pretty sure that I would just die. Since I couldn't be trusted to go outside and walk, and anyway, it was storming by then, the midwife gave me another dose of whatever medication it was.
And I promptly threw that up, and continued to heave. Dry heaving WHILE contracting is a miserable experience, is all I have to say. I lost all my focus and discipline and Bradley training for a while there. Instead I just kind of writhed on the bed and cried and clutched at Joey.
The midwife insisted that I take the IV, and she gave me fluids and an anti-nausea medicine. As soon as the bag emptied, I was shaking uncontrollably from the cold fluids, and I went BACK to the shower to warm up.
I also completely stopped speaking to anyone, and would only nod or shake my head. I'm pretty sure that I stopped even thinking in words, if that makes any sense. I was so tired and wilted-feeling already, and the anti-nausea medicine made me drowsy on top of that. So I sat firmly on the bench in the shower and ran the shower head around and around my belly in circles. In between contractions I actually fell asleep, and during contractions I was able to manage the pain again, focusing it all downward into the bench. I stopped crying and moaning, and barely made a sound at all, just drifted in and out. There was always someone in the room with me, usually Joey, but they could have been a million miles away for all I knew.
After about an hour, I came back to myself enough to worry that if I stayed in the shower any longer, I would start to get overheated again. I stepped out, and asked to be checked again, and I was dilated to... an EIGHT. That is four centimeters in an HOUR. Everyone congratulated me and I nodded briefly. The midwife wanted me to go empty my bladder, and I discovered that sitting upright on the toilet was nearly as good as sitting on the bench in the shower, only without the risk of passing out from too much hot water. So they tucked a pillow behind my back, and I sat there a few minutes, focusing the pain downwards again, which really did help, and not talking to anyone.
And then. I realized that I needed to...poop.
Probably you already know that when you're in labor, and you start pushing, some poop comes out. I was aware of this fact last time, and I really had hoped that I would be so busy pushing a baby out that I wouldn't even NOTICE if I was so unfortunate as to poop in front of God and everybody. That wasn't the case last time, and I always felt embarrassed about it. (Little did I know!) So when I felt that urge this time, I thought, fine. I'm already on the toilet, I'm going to be fully dilated soon, how great would it be if I could just get the poo out of the way decently without anyone seeing?
So I went with it. And promptly started screaming and gripping onto the bars next to the toilet with all my might. The midwife heard me and ran back down the stairs, and suddenly everyone was in my face. Hardly the private elimination that I had been hoping for!
And then they started trying to pull me off the toilet, but met with little success because of how tightly I was clinging to those bars.
"Really, I'm fine!" I gasped, "I just am pooping!"
"No honey," Someone said, "You're pushing!"
"No I PROMISE, I'm just pooping, I can FEEL it!"
"Lucy, you don't want to have this baby on the toilet, you need to come over to the bed now."
"Yeah, but just let me finish this first, okay? I am POOPING HERE!"
"Well, come and poop on the bed, then." Said the imperturbable midwife.
"LEAVE ME ALONE!" I shrieked, but to no avail, they hauled me off the toilet and to the bed. And out came Nessie's head.
Now, I distinctly remembered what pushing was like from last time. The midwife checks you, and tells you that you are fully dilated and may begin pushing. You wait for the next contraction, and then push when you are told to. You do this enough times, and voila! A baby comes out!
This was so far from that nice, predictable experience that I could not register it as the same thing at all. I was so upset that I completely LOST my head. All I could think of was fighting everything that was going on, because it all felt so out of control. I clamped my legs together, and it took Joey on one side, and about four people on the other, pulling my knees apart (I still have bruises on one leg) so that the midwife could deliver the rest of the baby, which took literally no time at all.
I calmed down once they put her on my stomach, and after I stopped cooing at the baby, I said, "WHAT the HECK was THAT?" to the room at large.
After that, everything was amazingly smooth sailing. You know, apart from the soul-crushing humiliation that I had been screaming about poop while my daughter was entering the world, and that I had physically fought everyone, and that I had lost my head so completely, and that you KNOW I am going down in birth center history as the Girl Who Wouldn't Get Off The Toilet To Have Her Baby... things like that.
It's seriously so embarrassing.
But we were all in great shape physically, and Nessie carried on the theme of the evening by covering both of us in meconium. We both had baths and got checked over (and I DID NOT TEAR ONE BIT, HALLELUJA!) and everyone ate some delicious take-out, and then we signed a waiver to go home early. And we picked up Ariel, even though it was midnight, because I couldn't stand for her to spend the night away from me, and we went home to be a family of four.
Now, admit it, you TOTALLY feel better about yourself after reading that, don't you? It's okay, I understand.