The Universe was ready for me to go into labor that day. Despite of leaving right before rush hour and driving through a usually very congested freeway on our way to the Greenhouse Birth Center, not only was the weather relatively comfortable and clear(in the middle of a Michigan January), but so were the roads. I always wondered about freaking out dads-to-be driving like maniacs as their laboring wives thrashed and moaned in the passenger’s seat on their way to the hospital. If they were driving really crazy and got pulled over, if the cop realized they were a couple about to have a baby would he/she drop the ticket and lead the way for them? Well, we didn’t need an escort for our 90 mile journey. Matt was a fantastic driver. Driving one handed, while having his other hand in a death grip by me the entire way. I couldn’t handle any bumpiness so he was steady, calm, and reassuring. 90 miles is a long way to keep composure when you have a woman in labor sitting next to you.
The contractions were starting to get more and more predictable, and my body and I were working out a pretty good rhythm. There was always a split second where I would be absolutely terrified right before the contraction was about to come, but once it came I just squeezed the seatbelt and Matt’s hand, breathed, and chanted “it’s gonna be over” over and over again. And sure enough, after a minute or two, it would. Apparently I was doing this exactly every 4 minutes for the whole ride. 4 minutes doesn’t seem like a long time, but MAN, did I need those 4 minutes to “rest” in between contractions. I even managed to fall asleep. I know, right? I actually have the talent of being able to fall asleep on the dentist’s chair while having work done. But I realize that’s still quite different from sleeping through a sensation I can only describe as having a subwoofer blasting Beethoven’s 5th at full volume. INSIDE MY UTERUS. It’s amazing how a woman’s body works. I just really had to trust my body and let it do it’s thing. All I had to do was keep breathing. Breathe through the bumping Beethoven, rest and prepare myself for another uterus blasting experience, and repeat. And before I knew it, we were pulling into the Greenhouse parking lot.
Every Thursday night was the birth center’s information night. This is where Matt and I went to at first. The prospective parents…excited, curious, and scared. What time did we roll into the birth center? Right before their information night began. I busted through the doors, moaning and grabbing onto whatever to support myself. By then I knew this place by heart so with my eyes half open, I plowed my way through to my room. But not before catching a glimpse of a horrified dad-to-be in the corner of my eye. He was talking to one of the midwives. Very well dressed, presumably came straight from work, still wearing his nice wool sport coat. I wanted to smile at him as if that would’ve made up for his trauma, but I don’t think I actually did. Sorry, dude.
When the midwife checked me and told me I was dilated 4cm, for some reason it surprised me. Whoa, I’m in labor! To avoid infection, the birth center doesn’t perform vaginal exams unless absolutely necessary. So this was my first time. I didn’t need anybody to tell me that I was in labor to know that I was, but for some reason all of a sudden that made it really real. I’M IN LABOR.
They asked me what I wanted to do. This is nice…I remember thinking. Between Matt and the midwives asking me my needs and making sure I was comfortable, I was so happy to be where I was. I had no idea what to expect, but I wasn’t scared. I wanted to get in the bathtub. Let’s see if it really is as comfortable as people say it is… Ohmygosh, was it. It was a deep, oval shaped tub that allowed me to really stretch out and soak. My belly didn’t feel as tight and the warm water was really soothing. The next few hours are a big blur for me. The lights were dimmed, the meditation-ish music list Matt put together was on repeat on the IPod, and Matt would feed me fruit and chocolate pudding. But other than that, I think I was in a zone alternating between soaking in the tub and lying on the bed. Until things started to take a turn. An intense turn. Like, whoa, What-The-H turn.
I had been lying on the bed when I decided to get up to go to the bathroom. “Splat”. Again, one of those things that I was curious of pre-pregnancy and had been told that “you just know.” Honestly, at that point I was in so much pain that I wasn’t even phased or cared that my water broke. I told Matt that I thought my water broke in the same tone that I would tell him to go pick up a bag of chips from the corner store. I was glad that I was at the birth center and not in the check-out lane at the grocery store though. That would’ve just been awkward. And I was surprised to find out that the “water” was totally clear and odorless. I was excited, because this meant that my labor could progress more. I was getting tired of this whole contraction business and wanted them to go away, but I also knew that it meant that they were only going to get worse first. Ugh…
What happened gradually after my water broke can only be described as a sensation like none other. It was as if I was constipated for three weeks, and then finally felt like I had to poop. Only I couldn’t, because it was a massive load and it was HARD. But my body was literally trembling and just DYING to take a massive sh*t. I didn’t even care if I pooped on the floor standing, something just.had.to.come.out! Have you ever heard a constipated tiger being teased by a chimpanzee with a pineapple? I’m sure I sounded just like one. I ROARED, and I was PISSED. We learned in our Bradley course that the “transition” period was the last most intense stage before giving birth, and that it only lasts for 20~30 minutes. Mine was going on 2 hours. I didn’t understand. I was just so frustrated. “AAARRRRRGGGGHHHHEEEERRRROOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!”
All the while Matt kept his calm(at least on the outside) and kept reassuring me that everything was okay and told me over and over that I was doing a good job. You’d think it’d get old hearing that over and over again, but I really needed to hear it, and it helped so much. Finally, Matt went to get one of the midwives in hopes of getting some help. When the midwife checked me, she gently suggested that maybe I try to empty my bladder with a catheter. She said that the baby could be pressing on a nerve that was preventing me from peeing, which increased the pressure. Or something like that. I just heard “this could help you!” But wait, a catheter?! How does that work again? A tube goes up me? I was hoping to get something out. Not in. I had been in some serious pain for hours at that point but the thought of having a plastic tube go up me sounded painful so I just had to ask. “Is it going to hurt?” Thank goodness I gave it a try because it helped immediately. The pain was just as intense, but the three week constipation sensation was reduced to a week and a half. Phew!
It was almost midnight. Both Matt and I had practically been up since 5am. I was just TIRED. JUST. TIRED. It really was a marathon and I truly understood how important it was to rest when possible, and to eat and stay hydrated for energy. I excreted goop, liquids, and vomit. I had a plastic tube up me. I had a subwoofer inside my uterus. Enough with the pineapple teasing, you chimpanzees! This massive load, er, baby needs to come out! I was just feeling so discouraged and I could tell Matt was feeling helpless too. I just wanted something to happen. I’ll even pass the baby for poop! At least it’s something.
Finally, the midwife checked me again as I was leaning forward on the bed. I heard a pause, followed by a whispy “I think it’s time to have a baby!” THANK. YOU. You would’ve thought I heard that I won the Mega Millions. I can’t take this uterus rave anymore. LET’S DO THIS!