I told hubby to focus on his driving as I howled in pain. It felt like I was in a dark, black hole. Hubby was the only thing to make me feel I wasn't in some alternate reality where I couldn't bear what was happening to me. I remember the windows were foggy and it was colder than expected, though it was quite early in the morning. I couldn't wear a seatbelt because every time I had a contraction, I needed the entire space to get through it.
There was absolutely no traffic and hubby drove at a normal speed and he still couldn't get there fast enough. I had 4 contractions in the car and did my best to be controlled so I didn’t scare hubby. We finally pulled into the parking lot of the birthing center. Hubby pulled up to the entrance, and I remember a midwife with the most beautiful scarf in her hair and a mask across her face. I was in the midst of a contraction when she said hello.
It was cold and dark and the only thing that made me feel safe was hubby. I kept praying I was dilated enough so I wouldn't have to get back in that car in labor. I waddled into the center gripping onto hubby. It felt like a blur as we made our way through the halls where we started our pregnancy journey, and where I had several of my prenatal appointments. The midwife brought us to an exam room.
I remember feeling that whatever was going on down there was super wet and moist and liquidy. I don’t remember exactly what the midwife was saying because I had a contraction while in the exam room. After I got through it, she needed to check my cervix to see how dilated I was. When I took off my pants to reveal my diaper, it was soaking wet and there was blood in it – the bloody show! What I thought was me peeing my pants at home was actually the first part of my water breaking. With my first birth, I felt a pop which is not what I felt this time around.
“This Baby is Coming Soon!”
After doing the cervical exam she shared the best news yet: “This baby is coming soon!” I was 9 centimeters dilated! Just one more centimeter and baby would be ready to come out! I don't know why, but that sounded crazy to me. I really thought she was going to tell me I was 3 centimeters dilated or something like that. Although the contractions were mind-blowingly painful, I thought nothing was happening down there. Thankfully something was happening!
past the edge
I don't know how, but I managed to walk to one of the birthing rooms. I had decided on a natural childbirth, and at this point, I don't know why I did. Simply put: the pain was excruciating. I'm no stranger to hard-as-heck workouts but this was a whole different beast. While working out self-preservation kicks in. You pull yourself back from that edge of pain because it's just too painful. With natural childbirth, you are pushed well past the edge, hell, you are freaking jumping off the cliff. And there is nothing you can do about it.
How Was this Baby Going to Come Out?
When we got to the room, it looked warm and inviting enough, with a cozy quilt on the bed. But all I could feel was cold and scared and terrified of what it would take to get this baby out of me. As soon as I got to the room I felt a contraction coming, I got on all fours on the bed and hubby massaged me. The sensation was so many parts painful and terrible all at once and not only did it feel like my butthole was going to burst but everything down there too (sorry for the TMI, just keeping it real!) I pushed and bore down and as I did, the second bag of water broke and got all over hubby's pants.
Body Couldn't Relax
The midwife kept telling me to push my butt back while pushing in order to relax but my body wanted to constrict. It was the hardest thing for me to do, to relax and push through the entire contraction. As soon as the pain got severe I would back down because getting to the climax of the pain was too much for me. I stayed on all fours for a while and I kept feeling poop coming out. Hubby was amazing and kept cleaning up after me. I kept wondering where I could go or what position I could be in that would relieve the pressure because nothing felt right.
The Tub and Where Else?
I asked about the tub. I was on all fours and hubby put a stream of warm water on my back. But again all I could feel (and see in the water) was poop. The midwife kept telling me we were close but my belly was still huge and it felt like I was in that black hole all by myself with hubby staring at me at the end of it, but I was the only one in all that pain. I asked for an epidural. Hubby asked if they had any pain meds. At this point, there were two midwives monitoring the situation but they didn't make me feel better. They exchanged looks when I asked about the epidural. “By the time we get an ambulance to the hospital, it will be too late for an epidural.”
Next Stage Primal
The midwives kept instructing me to push through the entire contraction and not let up at the peak like what I had been doing. Knowing I would have to bump up to the pain in order to push the baby out made me terrified. I decided the tub wasn’t going to work for me. I stayed in there maybe for two or three contractions and then got out. We then went to the bed and I tried to squat and keep my legs open as best as possible and listen to the midwives but it felt unbearable for me to be open. I wanted to enclose and constrict upon myself. I then went toward the bed and leaned on a birthing ball. Again the contractions were so acutely painful I felt that whatever pushing I was doing was useless. The midwife decided that I needed to go to the toilet and get all the poop out so I could focus on the baby. I was on the toilet through about two or so contractions.
Even the Bed Was Uncomfortable
I remember how nonchalantly I spoke in between contractions and how hysterical I was when in the contraction. One of the midwives made a joke about that. I guess it was kind of funny. When I returned to the bed I remember the feeling of blood and liquid all under me. And I felt terrified shaky and cold and shivering. This is how labor was supposed to feel? Why did I decide to go into this unmedicated? I told the midwives I couldn’t do this anymore. That it hurt so badly and I was in a lot of pain. I felt myself crying with no tears. I couldn’t believe how painful this felt. And I was starting to feel angry: at my body for not delivering, at my big belly, for the baby inside of me who wouldn’t come out. Why wasn't he coming out? What more could I endure for him to come out?
Pain Eroding Me
I bore down, pushed, and used beast noises, but at a certain point, the midwife told me to not push because the cervix had covered the baby’s head. I had to get through about 4 contractions without pushing which was incredibly hard but at some points, my body pushed anyway. Even though there was a second midwife there, hubby was my partner through it all. The midwives were talking to themselves and focused on the baby. It was hard because I felt I was descending, the pain pushing me to a point where I felt myself eroding. I couldn’t do this anymore is what my mind was telling me. And every push during the contractions didn’t seem to be doing anything.
Beacon Through It All
My only beacon was hubby: his touch, his presence, his calm, his comfort. I asked the midwives what to do so I could follow their directions but as my body couldn’t bear the pain, my mind took over and I kept saying “I can’t do this, I’m in so much pain…” I recall being in the bed and no position was comfortable. No position gave me relief. I gripped onto the frame of the bed and pushed as hard as I could while channeling an ape. I screamed and thrashed but my body was still constricting upon itself because of the agony.
The Baby Needed to Come Out
Finally, I settled onto my side, and hubby lifted my leg during each contraction. The midwife told me to start pushing at the peak of the pain and to not let up. They kept telling me I was close and hubby was to the right of me. I kept focusing on him, he was my lighthouse. I was fatigued and at one point I told them I couldn’t do this anymore, I kept on talking about the epidural and the hospital. The midwives acknowledged my feelings of defeat but as soon they did, it annoyed me. And I told them I was going to say a lot of nonsense but I knew I could do it.
Ring of Fire
I kept looking at my huge pregnant belly because he was still inside and I wasn’t sure how I was going to get him out. Finally, laying on my side, a contraction came on that reverberated through my pelvis and my back and I pushed with everything in me and they started to see the head. I started crying and moaning with no tears and was so afraid of the pain. It felt impossible: knowing the intense amount of more agony I would go through once he got through the birth canal and had to go through my vagina, causing the terrifying ring of fire. I kept looking at hubby, every time I did I had the strength to continue. I told the midwives it was going to hurt and I was afraid it was going to hurt. But one contraction came and I bore down and pushed hard, the baby’s head started to come out. And they needed me to push even more because he was stuck. I took a moment and the world was blurry because I knew my son needed me to push more but I was drained. I pushed more and his whole body came out.
Our New Little Guy
The midwives were quick to work on him. His cord was wrapped around his neck twice and I watched. He was covered in blood and the other part of his cord was hanging out of me. I didn’t know what to think or feel but I was so afraid he wasn’t breathing. Finally, they brought him to me and I heard a little cry. They put him on my chest and it felt both surreal and strange and wonderful. He latched on really well but it also hurt immediately (later on I realized I had pregnancy-induced thrush, hence the severe latching pain). He stayed with me for quite some time and I pushed out my placenta.
Delivering the Placenta
Let me tell you. The single best part of natural childbirth (other than the baby coming out) is the relief, the happiness, the complete euphoria of pushing your placenta out. It is nothing at all like giving birth to a human baby because in the words of the midwives: There are no bones. As soon as the placenta came out the midwives got to work on stitching me up. I had second-degree tears with the worst being fourth-degree. The baby was also cold so they covered him with blankets. I was still laying in all of my bodily fluids and would have done anything to get out of the bed, but was also nervous since my body had already gone through so much.
Hubby Heads Back Home
In the midst of the morning frenzy hubby forgot the car seat though thankfully we live only 15 minutes from the center. I was happy he was going home so he could check on our first guy, let my parents know how me and the baby were doing, and bring the much-needed car seat. They took the baby from me so he could warm up under the light and one of the midwives helped me into the shower.
It felt amazing to be in the shower, the warm water, and the blood washing off me. I stayed there for a long time because I was nervous to feel cold. When I was about to get out of the shower, I felt extremely light-headed. It turns out I had lost a lot of blood, and I hadn’t eaten. So I needed to at least eat a little something. That was the moment my sister called. Not only was it the baby's birthday, it also happened to be her birthday! I heard how emotional she sounded when I picked up the phone. I told her about all the poop (!) how I felt I couldn't get through it, how the baby was amazing. I spoke to her for a bit but had to go so I could get out of the shower and eat. Thankfully, hubby came back. I asked him for my medication and some cookies. I laid on the bed while the midwife went through the next steps in care. And in the next few hours, me, hubby, and our new little guy went home!