This is part 2 of 'The first birth' story. You might want to read part 1 here.
We walked to the car, in between contractions. Once we were in, we headed to Chicken Express. It hilarious, cause it's all I wanted during pregnancy, and it's all I wanted here in labor too. As we pulled around to pay and get our food, I remember having a real tightening and saying "Oh no, here one comes, I'm gonna be loud." And Tyler looked at me and said, "It's OK, go ahead." And I did. I was mooing like a cow at the pick-up window of Chicken Express and pretty sure the cashier heard me and gave Tyler a honestly worried look.
We headed home, where I downed my meal and got to work. And as I write this, I think to myself, what real work it actually is. You watch the movies and how they portray birth. And you either realize that it is all fake, and believe your body can do this amazing thing, that usually isn't at all as dramatic as T.V. makes it out to be. Or, you freak out after the movie is over and accept the fact that it 'will be horrid' and never even think of birthing the way God made you to.
Well, I must preface all of this with "Every one's birth is different." But, even with all of the natural birth information I had (12 weeks of Bradley Method, Ina May and Dr. Sears and lots of other reading materials) I never realized how much work it would take to have a baby and how intense it really is. Birth is painful. Anyone that tells you otherwise is a liar. But is a natural, vaginal, unmedicated birth possible? Yes, more than possible. It is empowering. But still painful.
All that said, I remember right after I finished eating I got the birth ball out that my friend lent to me. I rocked on my knees on the floor back and forth with my torso resting on the ball, my face buried in a hand towel. And the towel was soaked with my tears. I cried and cried for at least the first hour. It hurt so bad. But the fact that I was crying revealed that I wasn't hardly even started. After that first little while, I stopped crying. Because it stopped hurting? No, no, no...just because it time to get serious. It was like, inside I was saying "You need to get down to business. Stop crying. This is happening and crying isn't going to make it any better!"
I used to wonder what all of the first stage of labor did for the baby actually coming out. Now I know. Working through that stage, trying to stay relaxed, while feeling these intense cramps, was like scaling a rock wall. The beginning was hard, and it continued to get harder, but I could do this!
While rocking on the ball, I kept saying to Tyler, "Ohhhhh, Ohhh it hurts so bad, Tyler." Like I was trying to make him understand. Even though he didn't and NEVER will. He spoke to me sweetly. Tried to empathize with my pain, "I know sweetie, I know." He tried to pat my back, but I didn't want him to move his hand. He didn't understand this so he simply backed off. An hour or so went by and he quietly mentioned the tub. "Would you like to get in the tub?" I replied with a "yes" rather quickly, I believe.
I had used baths toward the end of my pregnancy to calm me down after a hard day at work in the daycare, to soothe my anxieties about labor, to practice 'relaxation'. And at this moment it sounded like the perfect way to labor.
It seemed like only seconds had passed and he was back whispering to me that the tub was full of water. I nodded, worked my through the contraction I was in and stood with his helping hand. I quickly made my way to the tub, where Tyler helped me in. The hot water felt so good on my stomach, and my back, which was just starting to ache, was relieved also. I sat leaning on my arms and moaned out loud for a long time and the contractions came strong for a while. I started getting a few breaks in between and those were a relief. Tyler thought I was getting a little too comfortable and should maybe move around a little. We wanted to make sure things kept moving right along. Keeping the baby's heart rate up.
With his help, I got my robe around me and climbed up onto the bed. I was getting very very tired at this point and tried to lay down. As soon as I did, I would start contracting and would have to get up on my hands on knees. I felt that it was impossible to have a contraction laying down, no matter if it was on my back or side. Sounding it out kept my mind off of tensing up. If I kept breathing and moaning, then I would remain open and every muscle loose. As soon as I stopped, I noticed that I would clench my teeth, furrow my brow and start shaking my head back and forth, like I was saying "no" to the pain.
With each stronger contraction, my moans went up in range. The peak of each contraction at the very beginning was the loudest and then I'd slowly descend, only to breath in quickly and start the next one. They were coming much closer together now. With no break hardly, in between, I felt as if I was starting to loose control. "It's not fair. Where's the rest, I thought all women had?" My mind was reeling with the intensity of the tightening.
My arms were starting to get too tired to raise myself up, and my knees had no strength for all the work they had been doing to hold me. I had been on the bed for awhile and had thrown up a couple times from the pain. I always had a feeling I would be a "nauseated laborer." A chronic migraine sufferer, It just seems like that's the way my body deals with pain. Tyler kept changing out the bags, and I kept growing weaker. He suggested I try some peanut butter. I tried and could hardly swallow it. Food was revolting. I wanted nothing at all.
He suggested I go back into the tub, so I made my way into the bathroom again. And I remember thinking, "Where is Nancy?" You see, my doula had some serious things happening in her own life that prevented her from attending me. We had talked about it earlier in the day and decided that I should use her back-up, Nancy. She asked if I was comfortable with that and I told her that it was more than fine. Now, I wondered when Tyler would call her. Little did I know, he had been keeping count of minutes between contractions and had been calling her every once in awhile to tell her how I was progressing.
"I'm calling Nancy, honey," assured Tyler, just when I needed to hear it. He had been doing a fantastic job, but around 9:30pm it had gotten to where, I believe we both felt like we could use the help. "Okay," I replied, relief echoing in my voice. This gave me a new confidence. I felt a deep wave of peace rush through me, as I thought of my doula, her comfort, assistance and strength, there to guide me the rest of the way.
It seemed like no time at all had passed and I heard a woman's voice in my bedroom, "Tori I'm coming in, OK?" And I remember plain as day, telling her that I was "indisposed" and she said, "that's the way it should be." She came near the tub to help me out, wrapped the towel around my body and her strength around my heart. I felt a new energy, calmness and assurance as she helped me to the bedroom. There are times when a women needs another woman's touch. A helping hand from one who has climbed this mountain before. And this was one of those times. I needed Tyler and I needed Nancy. I thank God for the friends He gave to me for this moment.
We had been taught in our Bradley class to labor as long as you possible could at home. This cuts down on unnecessary interventions in the hospital during the "waiting process". Had I gone to the hospital when I had first started laboring, then I not sure I would have had the birth that I did. My instructor, Donna, had told us to wait until I was "all seriousness, down to business" about it all, and then to head to the hospital.
Nancy applied pressure to my back. And it was heavenly. The back labor had started a little while before she had gotten there and was one of the hardest parts. I felt as if my back was on fire. Applying pressure really helped. Tyler had done it for awhile and his hands were getting tired. Nancy had a fresh set of palms ready to work! I got back in the tub for awhile, getting out a few times to use the toilet, and the contractions I had there would be the most painful. During those, my knees would start shaking and I would get the chills and hot flashes all at the same time. I was throwing up and shaking my head "no" so much, that Nancy and Tyler both thought for sure that I was in Transition. I even remember pushing once or twice.
Nancy started to get a little nervous at that point. You see, she had an unplanned homebirth because her child's head started crowning while she was still in her home! She was not about to deliver my baby, she told me later. She looked at Tyler and said, "I think maybe you should start the car."
She helped me dress. Now that I look back, I have no idea how I did it. The pants, the shirt, the sneakers even. We slowly made it outside and into the backseat of the car. I remember that the trip to the hospital was one of the most awful experiences. Not that I would've been doing anything differently anywhere else, I was still in first stage, but it was like, "Get me somewhere, so that I can birth this baby.
We finally made it to the hospital. Sixth Street and Rosedale at Harris Methodist Downtown has to be the bumpiest road in the world! I was dying in the backseat, or at least I sounded like I was. I was so mad at my husband, but, at the same time, totally understood that it was beyond his control. He pulled up to the door and I remember sitting in a wheelchair and being pushed into the tall building and feeling a little silly. I slid through the entrance and into admissions mooing like a cow. There I was met by what I thought was a man, Nancy told me later that it was in fact a woman. She put her hand on my belly and went on to let us know that we "should've been there hours ago." I was so annoyed by this, but decided I had more important things to do than argue with this ignoramus.
I kept my head down the entire time. From this point on, all I saw was feet. I was concentrating, focused, "in the zone."
More to come soon...