It was 4am and I got up and had a bunch of bloody mucus discharge that looked suspiciously like the mucus plug.
6 am brought more discharge and a thin pink liquid, which I wondered if it was my water breaking (ha! That didn't happen until the first push I did and that water broke, gushing everywhere and on everything... they had to pull out two pads from under me and put in completely fresh everything, thank goodness it did it there.)
7:31 I went upstairs to actually wake John up, and by 8 contractions were every five minute, after a good, warm shower, and some grapefruit for breakfast. Nothing much more than that, as I'd been warned away from eating much that I'd throw up later.
9 we start to put everything into the car and debate going to the hospital or not. It seems silly later, but I didn't reallknow if I should go in, especially since the substitute nurse was telling me that I had to wait, with a first pregnancy for the really hard contractions. I am so very glad I didn't wait.
10:15 we check into the hospital, I get on a monitor and I'm contracting every 2.5 minutes, though John was timing them at 4 for a while before the monitoring. Walking across the parking lot I was doing a lot more contractions. Walking around in the room after the monitoring brought pretty much non-stop contractions and I actually went to the bed to get a little breathing space between them. Just too much.
John felt rushed just to get the bags. There really wasn't much time between stages and things just got stronger and stronger and faster the whole time. Acceleration.
The contractions were getting stronger and stronger and longer and longer and while John had gotten the stuff, he had to pretty much be right with me every minute after that. I really, really, really wanted to get into the hottub after the nurse said I was already 6 cm dilated, but they wouldn't let me in until I had an IV started. It would be for drugs and/or post=partum drug needs to help me drop bleeding.
The problem was that no one could stick a vein. I was either too cold or too dehydrated, but the first two tries only left big bruises. So the nurse that they then brought in was smart and told me to get into the hot tub and hoped the heat would help get my veins to stick out.
The hot water felt *so* good to get into I felt a whole bunch of muscles relaxing. Then the first contraction hit like a run away freight train in there. I felt a lot like I had, had to take a dump! Aiee... that meant that I was hurrying right up into the pushing stage. The nurse was really surprised, but she hung in there and tried to get the IV into me, during the second contraction, which hurt like hell, at the same time she missed another vein and dug around for it a bit. GAH! I started shaking so hard in the tub, at that point, that they started running really hot water in to help warm things up.
A third contraction in the tub and I wanted to push so badly I nearly cried, so they got me out, still shaking from the third contraction and found out that I was 9.5 cm dialated, right ready to push... with no tap in yet. Still!
So she tried once more, while I was up on the birthing bed and she finally got it. Right as I went into the really heavy contractions just before pushing. It was far too late for any drugs, as they would likely do more bad things to the baby than they would do good things for me. Pushing is also when I really needed to know what it was i was doing the most, so most of the drugs I'd been contemplating had been for transition, and were pretty much right out. It was also far, far too late for an epidural.
So I toughed it out.
John still says that he was so utterly impressed with how I went through it all.
I, on the other hand, remember, during the pushing askng John, in so many words, "Why am I doing this for again?"
There was a point during the contractions before pushing when I was utterly convinced that it was never going to end and that I was necer going to get this mass out of my body into the world. Too many things happening at once and nothing I could focus on. There just wasn't any way it was going to be possible and I was just going to be doing this forever. It really wasn't forever. It just felt like it.
And pushing really made it much better. The goal was in sight, and there was something specific that I could do about it. With the actual, specific effort of pushing, I did much better as I had something to focus on and everyone could clearly tell me when I was making progress.
John noted, afterwards that while there was obviously a lot of pain, I never seemed to really let it get to me. I appeared confident about handling it and about doing what I needed to do with it and my body, and once the focus was there, I went right at it. Occassionally I'd peg, like an amp hitting the rails and there just wasn't any more pain possible, and around the rails I could still work with my body on getting the real thing done and not just drown in pain.
From about transition on I was vocalizing when the peaks were hitting, some... not a lot. Transition into the tub then out of it and when I was back on the birthing bed, I was having really strong contractions with the pushing feeling. I couldn't push for a while, so I had to just live through the contractions while trying to breath. When I could actually start pushing, it hurt a lot. So I was keening through the pushes when they were really hard. Somewhere in all that I was doing a lot of "Oh God"s and outright screams, and between contractionsI heard the lady next door to me also screaming. The nurse told me, further into it all, that the lady next to me had been apologizing about yelling! But then she'd heard me! So she didn't feel quite as bad about yelling. Turns out, also, that across the hallway was a girl who was only 1 cm dilated, coming in and she'd heard the two of us going at it and was scared to death. Down the hall was a lady with an epidural, who wasn't yelling at all.
I can't imagine that, now, actually. I can't imagine not feeling for the pushing. The pain was like a huge pressure of awareness of where the Fish's head was in the pelvic area. I could feel where he was and where he was going and with all the feedback from everyone, I could tell which muscle set to use and how to use them. That was the interesting discovery is that with all the sports and massage and stuff, that it was possible to isolate that specific set and then use them as well as I knew how. From the cheering section, it sounded like I figured it out pretty quickly. The pain was an incentive to be done, and it was an indicator of where I was, and how far there was to go. It's really hard to push and know that the painis going to get worse if I do it, but there was a very interesting set of contractions where it was just steadily getting worse when I was doing what they said was the right thing. I did ask for a mirror to be setup for me, so that I could see. Especially when they all said that it was possible to see the hair on his head. Evidently, though, he came further out when I pushed and went back in when I was 'resting', which was the only time when I didn't have my eyes so squinched up that I couldn't see. As that pressure built and waned with each push, it did get worse and worse. To the point where I was doing this incoherent keening as I pushed really hard. Vocallizing just helped, and I didn't have the embarassement gene about such stuff, not really. What had to be done had to be done and if the only way I could do it was by screaming, then it was the way I'd do it. For the next three days, I'd have no voice. Everyone else blamed it on my cold. I knew it was from all the yelling I'd done.
I remember hearing everyone commenting on when the baby turned the pelvic corner, good feedback of 'he's turning, he's turning...'
John was great. He was right there and every time I started to lose focus or let the pain get to me instead of me riding the pain, he'd be there telling me to breath. It amazed him that every time he did that, I did slow down and take breaths. It was very useful.
There was also one sequence when I really needed to hang onto something, but John's whole hand was just too much for me to grab. So I let go, he instinctively opened up his hand for me, and I grabbed the two fingers I needed and hung on. I needed a certain amount of pressure, and that was perfect. I didn't even squeeze hard enough for it to hurt him at all, and certainly none of these stories about broken bones.
It was very, very useful to be on the same wavelength as him through the whole thing.
The ending sequence will be something I'll always remember.
I pushed really hard on one contraction and felt the gradual widening and a huge increase in pressure for the three pushes I got in. When I was panting for breath after it and whimpering a bit from the pressure Dr. Weinberg said, "Okay, you're starting to crown the head, it's called by some the Ring of Fire, this it's the hardest part. "
So on the next contraction I pushed really hard all three times and the end of the contraction left me right when it felt like the head was crowning. Oh ow. It took nearly all I had to just breath and try and calm down and it helped to have John there to tell me to just breath. I was actually glad when the next contraction came, and I could push again. I felt his head crown and come free, and then everyone was telling me to breath instead of pushing, as they had to clear his mouth and nose.
So I panted through the last of the contraction and the small break between. John was with the doctor, supporting Jet's head for the treatment. They got it all done before the next contraction, and I didn't have to push nearly as hard as I felt the bulk of the body within me leaving me in a sliding motion and then I heard him take a breath and yell a protest that wasn't urgent, but was surprised. John got to help support his body as he came out there as well.
Then they wrapped Jet in a surgery wrap and laid him on my stomach. I was still gasping, "Oh God"s from the last contraction and then from actually seeing this tiny, perfect body laid on my stomach. He had a full head of black hair, and his skin was surprisingly dark after we'd seen all those white covered babies in the movies. He was swarthy and small and muscular and he curled up contentedly on my stomach after a few yells and seemed to quiet with my voice.
It was amazing.
Utterly astonishing. Nearly unreal. He was outside of me, and wiggling on towels on my belly and he was breathing, beautifuly, black haired and squinting at me. He was covered in towels and rubbed down vigerously and then dry towels went around him as new pads and papers were slid under me and they cleaned up with enormous efficiency the mess of delivering.
They cleaned him up a bit more, clamped and cut the umbilical cord, John getting to do those honors as well.
In the meantime, Dr. Weinberg waited patiently for the placenta and eventually she had me push gently to deliver the whole, red mass with the birth sac and everything. All gone, all out. Finally, my body was pretty much my own again. And I had this astonishing little life on me.
They took him to weigh and measure him while Dr. Weinberg put a few stitches into me. I'd only had two small, more internal tears on the sides. Jet had come slowly enough that everything had stretched just fine. They gave him his vitamin K clotting factor and wiped his eyes with ointment and got him statted. Apgars of 8 and 9, which are superb for this high altitude. He only lost a little on the coloring, which improved dramatically as he fussed.
After they had cleaned everything up they left the three of us together, and Jet was wide awake and wide-eyed and quiet and looking around.
I was still overwhelmed by how amazing it all was. The emotional overload was pretty cool. John and I just watched Jet with incredulity. He was out. He was real. He was so darned cute.
I am biased.
He also figured out breastfeeding, and I had him in a football hold on one breast for a good twenty minutes and he got on the other one and just wouldn't come off it eventhough the nurses wanted to move us to a post-partum room. So they gave him forty minutes...
Jet didn't finish on his own. I had to take him off so that we could move to the new room.
The new bed was *much* softer. John's day bed, however, was much lumpier. I almost immediately got a dinner tray and I almost fainted at the taste of mashed potatoes in turkey gravy. It was so good and I was so hungry. I hadn't really eaten since the night before. John had been smart and eaten the food stores we'd brought with us during the labor, but they'd warned me that I'd throw stuff up if I ate during labor, and knowing how bad i am about having eaten even close to a soccer game, I believed them.
So my first food was turkey and mashed and veggies. I felt a bit new-born myself. All kinds of firsts to try again. The very first of which included actually being able to use my urine bladder again, which took a few hours, but I proved it could be done. I'd heard that that would be bad as well as the first digestive system movement after the whole system had shut down for the better part of a day, but that was to come.
John and I settled into the room and everything revolved a bit around Jet. He was just so new. So many things to learn and figure out and discover. Everything from the first diaper to the first feedings, from the checkup by the pediatrician to my getting monitored for how well or badly I was doing.
The three of us gradually settled in and Jet got to try out his plastic bassinet as a sort of changing table as well, as all the changing supplies were under that. I mostly just lay back and rested on the bed, and drank and drank and drank at a quart-sized insulated mug of ice water. With all the breathing and everything my lips had cracked and my lungs were dried out and everything was mildly dehydrated between the cold and all the work of labor. We watched a little TV, and eventually went to sleep. Only to get awakened by Jet crying for a diaper change and some cuddling.
I remember John sleeping and me holding Jet in the circle of the Boppie (a really nice lap pillow circle that can support his weight really well so that my arms don't have to) and dozing as he slept to the rhythm of my breathing...