You know how people say that women must be crazy to have another child after enduring childbirth the first time? Is it maternal amnesia? I forget. Anyway, I think I was ready to have another one like two weeks after having Greta...not really...but it's just amazing...and I will never forget it. The memory is still so vivid today.
I began having contractions in the middle of the night on Thursday. They seemed mild enough, but not enough so that I could sleep comfortably. I called Jessica, our doula, Friday morning and asked her if she thought I should go to my chiropractor and acupuncture appointments that day. She thought it would be a good idea…so Jon took the day off and came with me to both appointments.
I went to the chiropractor first (and have been seeing a chiropractor for a couple years now). The contractions were still mild and I wanted to do anything I could to get that baby out before my scheduled induction on Tuesday, so he recommended eating eggplant parmesan. I guess it’s an old wives’ tale that if you eat it, you will go into labor. He claimed it worked for his wife with their firstborn. I told Jon that I was going to have that for dinner.
I went to the acupuncturist next. I had never been to one before, but Mary, one of the midwives suggested it as a way to get labor going. I have to admit that I am scared of needles. I don’t like them. But when he put the needles in, it was just a pinch. Once he got them all in, he put them in even further. There were multiple people in the room, but it was still pretty relaxing…except for when one woman fell asleep and began snoring. I mean…it was LOUD. I wanted to throw something at her but feared it might hit one of those needles sticking out of her. All in all, it was a good experience, and he recommended doing it everyday until that baby came out, so I scheduled an appointment for the next day and Jon and I went to lunch.
We ate at Costello’s, a sandwich joint, and listened to a musician play his sweet guitar. I was still having contractions, but they weren’t regular and still mild. Jon and I debated whether or not to see a movie since we were right next to a theater. I decided I was pretty tired and so we went home. It was raining.
Jon ordered me eggplant parmesan and fettuccine alfredo for dinner. It was so delicious. And I kid you not, two hours later, the contractions were coming on fast and strong. I couldn’t sleep. I was getting in and out of a hot bath for some relief. I was tired. Jon was sleeping or trying to sleep. I think I called Jessica at 3 or 4am on Saturday. The contractions were about five minutes apart and VERY intense. Jessica came over. I was in the tub eating jello when she got there. She suspected that the baby was going to be here soon. So, Jon called his parents and they met us at the hospital.
We got to the hospital at about 6am. It seemed like it took forever for them to check me in. We didn’t call ahead, so it took awhile for the midwife to get there. I was about 1cm dilated and not effaced at all. I was disappointed to hear this. Jessica told me that my body had a lot of work to do to thin out and soften my cervix because at my last appointment the Wednesday before, it was still long and thick. So, I had a lot of work ahead of me…they asked if I wanted to stay there and walk around the hospital or go home. I chose to go home.
I was throwing up since the contractions were so strong. I threw up while I was waiting for Jon to pull the car around. I was throwing up and mooing like a cow. But not like any cow you’ve heard before. We got home and Jon and I both tried resting. That was impossible. I don’t know how any woman could sleep through contractions. I’m pretty sure the sounds I was making frightened Jon’s dad. His mom gave me a washcloth that was soaked in ginger ale to chew on. I was trying to get in any position that felt comfortable. Jessica and Jon’s mom both took turns rubbing my back. Getting on all fours was definitely NOT comfortable for me…probably because it was all front labor and I just felt more pressure that way. I had heating pads on my back. I got in the tub again. And again. The contractions would be five minutes apart and then right on top of each other. I was still throwing up. I was tired.
I decided that it was time for us to go back to the hospital at about 5 or 6pm. So, me, Jon, Jessica, and Jon’s mom got in the car and headed to the hospital. Jon’s dad drove separately. I was in the front seat and it was the longest car ride of my life. I felt every bump in the road and Jon was driving slowly for this reason, but it only made it worse. I was mooing so loud and so hard, I was sure that even with the windows up, the people in the cars next to us could hear me. Somebody joked that I should roll down my window and it would act as a siren.
I should also mention that I had a comb. Not just any comb, but a purple comb that used to be my sister’s. I’ve had it for years. Jon read the material that the acupuncturist gave to me about using pressure points as a way to alleviate pain. I don’t know that I would actually even call labor “painful.” Uncomfortable? Yes. Intense? Oh my, yes. I honestly didn’t know what to expect. It’s different for every woman. I think it’s all about having the right mindset going into it. “My body was made for this.”
I digress. The comb was my focus point. I squeezed that comb so hard into my hand while I was having a contraction that it made impressions in my skin. That comb, Jessica, Jon’s mom, my sweet husband, and Mary, the midwife, encouraged me…and that’s all I really needed. “you’re doing such a good job, babe.” “Are you an athlete?” “I am so impressed with you and how well you’re handling this.” I was surprised by these comments…I figured most women endured much worse. Mary told me that most women ask for drugs at some point and usually very early on, but the thought never even crossed my mind.
The only “drug” they gave me was something to help with the nausea. Jessica suggested it as a way of conserving my energy. They gave me apple juice. I rocked on a ball. I leaned on a counter and rocked my hips back and forth. These two movements gave me the most relief. I tried getting into the teeny tiny shower in my room. Jon got in there with me, too. At this point, when he tried massaging my back, I wanted to punch him in the face. “Don’t touch me!” Jessica had to eat something and stepped out of the room for a moment…Jon tried helping me focus on my breathing. “What are you doing!? That’s not how you do it! Jessica! Where’s Jessica!” I was tired and it was starting to show.
Mary’s shift was over at 10pm. A new midwife was there. Elyse. She would be the one who would deliver Greta. I felt like I had to push a couple hours later. I think I was 8cm dilated at that point. I just felt so much PRESSURE. Elyse told me my bag of water was bulging. I was like, “Can we do something about that?” So, she manually broke my bag of water. I immediately felt relief and then more PRESSURE!” It was then she discovered that Greta had pooped inside me…which is usually considered a sign of distress, and so they put the heart monitor strap around my belly. I should mention that being in a half laying position while in labor was the most uncomfortable I’ve ever been in my entire life. What the shit? No wonder women ask for drugs.
I pushed for about an hour. Elyse used warm towels and an ointment of some sort to avoid tearing. She told me not to be concerned if the baby didn’t cry right away…which immediately concerned me. I pooped several times and I could feel when I pooped (and smell it) and I would yell, “I Pooooooooooooped!” Jon was watching all of it while holding my leg up and didn’t flinch. At some point, I thought he looked concerned, but I was really concerned for him because he was in quite a good position to see all that poop. “Why do you look so conceeeeeeeeeeerned?” They were really good about asking me to lift up my butt so they could change the sheets under me as discreetly as possible.
One last push and she was out. I gritted my teeth so hard and pushed with everything I had. I felt so much relief and euphoria that I just fell back and kind of closed my eyes briefly. She cried on her way out and the specialty doctor and nurse took her right away to clean out her airwaves on the account of breathing poopy fluids.
Then I asked, “What is it?” Everyone, in unison, screamed, “It’s a girl!” I was surprised. I really thought it would be a boy. But I was so happy. “It’s a girl,” I said to myself.
I did end up tearing, so Elyse was stitching me up while they were cleaning her off and taking measurements and whatnot. Jon’s parents had just gotten back to the hospital. Everyone was taking pictures of her. She was screaming at the top of lungs the entire time. And then Jon picked her up and held her. She stopped crying.
Jon kept asking me if I wanted to hold her. I wasn’t ready. I wanted to be completely present when I first laid my eyes on her. I could feel every pull of the needle as Elyse was stitching me up. It seemed to take forever. She told me my vagina would never look the same again. Gee thanks, lady. When Elyse finished, they gave her to me and I feel like three people were positioning me and telling me how to feed her…but she knew. She latched onto my right breast right away and the feeling of pure joy that swept over me was unlike anything I’ve ever felt before. I was in love. She was so little. She was so beautiful.
“I hope you don’t mind that I put down in words…
How wonderful life is while you’re in the world.”