WARNING: This blog entry is a completely uncensored story about birth. If you're grossed out about things like natural labor, placentas, poop, vaginas -- specifically those belonging to me -- please stop reading now.
YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.
I suppose I have to begin on May 5, my due date. Actually I suppose I should begin the week before that because that's when Husband's grandmother died. Her funeral was to happen two days before I was due and we weren't sure who, if anyone, was going to be able to go. Sitting in a car for 8 hours was completely out of the cards for me and Husband didn't want to be out of town when I went into labor even though his dad offered to fly him there instead. Turns out everyone understood and would have been horrified if he would have gone anyway, but had we known how this pregnancy was going to end I would have pushed him to go anyway.
Ten days later, May 15. I had another appointment at the birth center that morning. Husband came with because, seriously, WTF we're 10 days overdue. We were actually going to try this balloon catheter thing to try and force my cervix open that morning but it turns out I was dilated to 4 or 5 cm and it wouldn't have done any good anyway. "Do you want me to strip your membranes?" the midwife asked. Uhh... I don't know... that sounds really uncomfortable...... yeah, sure, let's do this thing. So after being basically fisted (actual midwife's words) I was sent home with a bottle of cotton root tincture and instructions to take it every 15 minutes four time, then wait an hour, then repeat until I went into labor or did five rounds of that. Cotton root tastes like kerosene so I put it in a shot glass with a little water and chased it with lime like a tequila shot.
Four rounds later I'm feeling really uncomfortable. My contractions are stronger, getting steadier, lasting about a minute each every 5 minutes or so... kinda. They were still pretty inconsistent but by late afternoon it was getting a hard to concentrate on work. I told my boss I was going into labor, signed off, and called the midwife. I don't remember much of what happened before we arrived at the birth center. At some point Husband came home and we either both got the kid from school or Husband picked her up... I honestly don't remember. I was focused on timing contractions.
We got to the birthing center and my cervix hadn't changed. The midwife told us to go for a walk. We did for a little bit but decided we were all hungry and since we didn't know if or when dinner was going to happen we went to Noodles and ate there with everything in to-go containers in case we had to run. We went back to the birth center, Big Sister was picked up by Husband's uncle and driven in his "hiccup truck" to Husband's cousin's house to have a sleepover with their girls. I walked around the halls between our room and the balcony for a while, tried to hang out on the sling a little bit, drank some Gatorade, and ate more of my dinner until it was time to check my cervix again. No change. While she was up in there she asked if I wanted her to break my waters. There's nothing quite like the pressure of getting asked that question with a hand up your vagina. Umm... uh... I don't know... do I? Does that hurt? Uh... OK. Let's get this going.
I had a lot of waters. None of us were prepared for that.
Then! Finally! Active labor! For real!
I had forgotten how much those contractions suck. They really suck. I was still able to force a smile and talk a little between contractions but mostly I had to lean over the counter in the kitchen area or hang off Husband while he put counterpressure on my lower back. The contractions felt a little different than with Big Sister's -- not quite so much pressure in the butt. I was able to poo a bit earlier so I'm sure that helped. Then I had to push and I got into the tub and things got a little hazy. The water was really warm and the pain level went down by at least a quarter when I got in. I should have gotten in much sooner. I spent the entire time squatting on my knees because that's just what felt right. Husband swabbed my face and head with a cold washcloth and fed me water. The midwife and nurses basically just stayed out of the way and offered just a few words of encouragement.
I had told Husband earlier to just remind me to shut up and push this time. Last time I was making a lot of (involuntary) screamy-moany-grunty noises and once a nurse told me to put my energy into pushing rather than screaming things moved a lot faster. So I did my bearing down with as few sounds as I could manage and after about 45 minutes we finally got crowning. She didn't come out all in one go like Big Sister did and I unfortunately had to wait with her head hanging out of the ring of fire until another contraction and there was some twisting and pulling that had to be done but we finally had a baby! She came out looking completely calm, if a little bewildered, but she wasn't crying so they had to use a respirator bag on her to get her going. She was totally fine after a minute so we moved onto the bed for the placenta delivery and some quality bonding. I liked that the cord wasn't cut for a long time -- I think it was well after the placenta came out -- and we were able to just chill in the bed for a while. We cuddled, attempted breastfeeding (forgot how much that sucks at first too), and just had some time to decompress. Then Husband accompanied her for all her checks and measurements while I got to relax in an herbal bath. That was a nice perk of the birthing center.
We could have gone home sooner than we did but my blood pressure was staying high for some reason so I was very nearly force-fed water and juice until it came back down again. We were back home by 2:30 AM. We had a celebratory Fulton Libertine that we had been saving since fall and went to bed.
And now we have May. Life with two kids is exponentially harder but we're figuring it out more and more each day.