Welcome back to Part II of Claire’s birth story where I promise I talk less about cervix dilation and more about actually delivering a baby! When we left off I was walking around Walmart at 6+ cm searching for castor oil and I had started to become increasingly uncomfortable. You probably don’t recall hearing about a baby being born in Walmart in October so you guessed right – I found the castor oil and checked out without alarming the people around me.
Here’s how the next few hours went:
2:00 p.m. – Leave Walmart and start making the drive to Cold Springs, a 3o minute drive from Reno. As I get to the summit before Cold Springs Valley, I have a monster contraction. I almost pull over, but it passes and I just drive on home.
2:30 p.m. – Decide to wait a little bit longer before doing the castor oil. Put it on front table, put eggs in fridge. Get back on the computer at home. Start talking to work peeps.
2:50 p.m. – Contractions are starting to happen more frequently. They seem to be about 9 minutes apart. I figure I’m going to have to hunker down and get ready to labor at home. After all, my midwife told me to abide by the 5-1-1 Rule. Contractions that are 5 minutes apart, lasting for about a minute for one full hour. I let my boss know that this is most likely my last day at work. Wonder if I’m sharing too much by telling him that I’m at 6 cm, but then remember that he has three kids. He wishes me well.
3:00 p.m. – My husband gets home early from work with our son. As he’s walking through the door I am packing my computer up.
“I think I’m in labor,” I tell him.
“Really?” he replies.
I have a few more contractions and they are getting painful.
3:15 p.m. – Monster contraction. I am breathing through it in the “prom dance” pose with my husband. My arms dangle loosely from his neck and we sway back and forth through the contraction. Then another hits and I start to cry.
“I want the drugs this time. This really hurts. I don’t want to do this again. I can’t do it,” I tell him.
“Ok, let’s get you to the hospital and get the drugs,” my super awesome husband says.
My husband starts to gather my son up to take him to our friend’s house. I go back to our bedroom, carrying the iPad with the Contraction Master app going, thinking that my husband will drop our son off and come back home to labor with me…I wasn’t really thinking clearly at this point. I hover over my nightstand, breathing and swaying, breathing and swaying. My 9 minute contractions are now 5 minutes apart. Then they are 2 minutes apart. Oh. My. God. This is happening. Husband comes back and gets me from bedroom. I protest that we should just drop son off and come back home. Husband ever so gently tells me that we should get to the hospital.
3:25 p.m. – We get in the car and get the midwife’s office on the phone. They recommend that we get to the hospital. I am having a contraction. Husband yells, “We are on our way!” We get to our friends Drew and Amanda’s house. My husband gets our son out of the car. Little guy knows something is up because he effortlessly gets out of the car, even taking the time to exchange “I love you’s” with me. Husband and man-child disappear into Drew’s house. I’m alone in the car when I start to feel a TON of pressure and like I need to push. Oh no, no,no…ain’t nobody having a car baby today. I never had the urge to push with my son so this is totally new to me. To say I was freaked out is an understatement. I lean over in the middle of a contraction and lay on the horn. HARD. My husband and Drew come out of the house. They might as well have been crawling at the speed they were walking (#men – amiright?). My husband comes around to get in the car and Drew says, laughing, “Hey Jenny! You want a beer? Or a soda?”
Y’all. Drew is lucky to be alive.
I scream at my husband to drive and off we go.
3:30 p.m. – My husband is being the best labor coach ever. With each contraction he coaches me through the hypnobirthing breathing. 10 breaths in. Fill the belly. 10 breaths out. Repeat through each contraction. In between contractions I sometimes cry and sometimes I just try to not think.
We’re going over that same summit out of Cold Springs when I kind of lose it. I’m hit with a huge contraction and my husband says, “Babe, you’re doing great. Just breathe the baby down.”
“I.DON’T.WANT.TO.BREATHE.THE.BABY.DOWN,” I reply (imagine this in the voice of Satan or something out of the Exorcist). “I just want to get to the hospital and get the epidural.”
Ok so drive, drive, drive….more contractions….my husband continues to be nice to me even though it’s clear that I’m possessed.
3:50 p.m. – We arrive at Renown. As we walk in I tell my husband, “Lynn is going to try to stall me, but you tell her that I want the epidural. I don’t want to do this again. I don’t want to be miserable. I don’t want to be in pain.”
All I can think is how much worse it’s going to get.
We get up to L&D and it’s like everything is moving at molasses speed. The admin is on the phone and I’m straight up having contractions, hunched over right in front of her. She finally realizes that I’m not joking around with this labor thing and she literally snaps her fingers at someone waiting in the wings.
Another admin takes us back immediately to the delivery room. I tell her I want the epidural. Actually, I tell everyone I see on that floor who looks like they have any sort of authority that I am going to be getting the epidural.* When my nurse comes in I tell her that I want the epidural before she’s even examined me. She tells me it will take an hour to get an epidural. I freak the freak out.
She is so nice and tells me that she needs to get me hooked up to the monitors and examined before she can call the anesthesiologist. I lay down. She examines me and says, “I have to go get the charge nurse. I think you’re complete.”
The charge nurse comes in. Her name is Jenn. She’s amaze-balls. She examines me and says, “Sweetie. You’re complete.”
Complete. As in 10 cm. As in no epidural. As in I get to push soon. As in this is as bad as it’s going to get. As in I Got This.
It was, maybe, one more contraction when I felt like I really needed to push. I was also incredibly hot. Jenn and my husband took turns fanning me with a piece of paper. Jenn sat right next to me on the bed and coached me through a variety of breathing distractions as we waited for my midwife to arrive. I panted, I blew raspberries, I ate ice chips (yeah, they really exist. I thought they were just in the movies).
Contraction. Water breaks.
2 Minutes go by.
Contraction. Water breaks again. How is that even possible?
Minutes went by and the urge to push became stronger and stronger. Finally, there was no more waiting.
“I have to push!” I told Jenn. She said ok and I bared down for the first real push. I made up for any fear or lack of confidence that I had carried from my son’s birth. I was going to deliver this baby, I knew how to do this and it was all going to be ok.
Lynn, my midwife, came running in the door after that first push. She looked gorgeous wearing a beautiful purple dress. “Jenny let’s have a baby!” she exclaimed.
I immediately perked up and said, “Hi Lynn!!!!,” in my best high school cheerleader voice. You know, like I wasn’t in the process of BIRTHING A HUMAN.
Although my eyes were closed for a lot of this time I remember a flurry of nurses surrounding Lynn – helping her get gloves on, adjusting the bed at her direction, putting those clear glasses on her.
I pushed again.
Lynn said, “Jenny we’re not going to push this baby out. We’re going to nudge her.”
Jenn the Wonder Nurse said, “Do you want the baby on your chest when she’s born?”
I said, “I just want the baby OUT.” Jenn laughed.
I pushed again.
“Ahhhhhhhhhh!!!!” from me.
“I know sweetie,” from Lynn.
“You’re doing great babe,” from husband.
Sweet, sweet relief as my baby girl’s head came out.
A brief pause. One more push.
4:28 p.m. – 19 minutes after I was hooked up to the monitors, Claire Elizabeth is born. 7 pounds, 12 ounces. 18 1/2 inches long. 100% adorable.
With my baby girl laying on my chest I remarked how tiny she seemed compared to my son and I thanked her for taking it easy on me.
*If you were at Renown on October 21 and were wearing scrubs, I’m the very pregnant woman who told you to get me the epidural.
** Jenn – I didn’t get your last name, but you were truly amazing. When you showed up I knew everything was going to be ok. Your coaching and kindness were exactly what a birthing mom needs. You are what nursing is all about.