[Be sure to catch up on Part 1 and Part 2, if you missed all the contracting and dilating fun!]
No. We couldn't turn around. I was not going to be turned away from the hospital twice. I could not go back and have them say, "Oh, 4 centimeters, you're still not in active labor, the worst of your pain is yet to come." Okay, so they would not have been that harsh. But still. I wasn't going to have it. I needed to go and see my Mama, and have her look at my symptoms and tell me her opinion. Husband agreed, so on we drove.
By the time we got to the house, I had to wait until a horrible contraction was over just to get out of the car. It was around 9:30, and I could barely walk. I stumbled out of the car, Hubby held me up, and I went into the house feeling awful. I immediately smelled pizza, and I barely ate all day. I went to the kitchen and sat at the island, and took some bites of a slice, claiming I was starving. Within minutes, I pushed the plate away, and went over to my dad's recliner, doubled over in pain. I grabbed a blanket, closed my eyes, and fought through another contraction. Husband sat next to me, holding my hand, and my mama kept timing the contractions as they came. I asked for a bowl, because massive waves of nausea were coming now with every contraction.
My sister arrived after about an hour, and ran into the house in a fit of excitement. She came over to my side, and I immediately grabbed her hand as another contraction came. "Oh my God. Mom, what's wrong with her? Is she okay? Why are we not at the hospital??" I don't think Sister had ever seen me in that much pain, and I don't think she expected to see me in that much pain at that time. Mama assured her we were going to leave shortly for the hospital. Then, another contraction came, and I vomited. "We have to go. I want to go," I said. So off we went to the hospital. Brett drove, and my mama was in the back with a cord clamp, because that hour drive frightened me, and I was afraid she might have to deliver the baby. Everyone kept telling me that first babies never come that fast, but I needed to be prepared. I always need to be over prepared.
I don't really remember that ride. I'm told that I would contract, and then my eyes would roll back in my head and I would fall asleep for 3 minutes. Then another one would come. I remember saying over and over in my head, as the pain would come, "Oh my God, I can't do this. If this gets worse, I won't be able to do this. This pain is too much." Then I realized how negative I was being. I'm never that negative. Why was I letting the pain get the best of me now? So I did what anyone would do. I lied to myself. As each contraction came, I started repeating over and over in my head, "I can do this. I can do this. I can do this. I can do this." I barely believed myself, but I let the words fill my head and didn't let any other words in. I also prayed a lot. Not the cohesive, thought-out prayers that I had in the previous weeks (such as, Please God let baby's head be small), but more like incoherent babblings directed in the general direction of God. He heard me though. He always does.
I never intended on getting pain medication. I always said I'd like to try to go natural, but I never knew what to expect, so I wasn't swearing anything off. It's not that I was all "I'm going natural, no matter what, I hate pain meds!". But honestly, the thought of an epidural was not that appealing to me. I don't want to not be able to walk, or to have to be told when to push. Numbness actually scares me more than pain. I have had about 10 cavities in my lifetime, and have never, ever, gotten numbed at the dentist. I get drilled without the slightest bit of pain medication. I don't know why, I just like to know the pain my body is going through. I truly consider pain to be your body's form of communication with you, telling you what is going on, and I like to be involved in this conversation with my body at all times.
But that night, I was in rare form. My body was experiencing pain like none other. And on the way to the hospital, I started saying, "I don't know if I could do this. If this gets worse, I think I'm going to need medication. I don't think I can handle anything worse than this." Husband and my Mama assured me that it was okay, just take one contraction at a time, and if I wanted medication I would have it. The problem was, I didn't want it. But I thought I needed it.
We arrived at the hospital and went to the Emergency entrance, because it was about 11:30 and that was the only entrance that was open. I asked Mama to get me a wheelchair, while Hubby helped me out of the car. As I got out of the car, I vomited again. Great. My pregnancy was beginning and ending with vomit, my worst enemy! So we went up to the labor unit once again. New nurses were there, and they asked how they could help me. I couldn't even speak. Husband was parking the car, so I looked at Mama and said "Tell her." She briefed them on the situation. I remember thinking, "I'm not smiling now - do you believe I'm in active labor?" Then the nurse took my arm and said, "Okay come on, let's get you in the triage room." I said something related to the fact that I couldn't walk. She said that walking was good to induce labor. I didn't think my labor needed any more inducing. And I didn't really need her tough love at the moment. I needed to be wheeled. In a chair.
But I walked into the room, changed into the gown, and fell in to the bed. I remember kicking off my sandals and walking barefoot from the bathroom to the bed. That's how I knew I was out of it. I never walk barefoot in public places. I don't even take my shoes off at weddings.
The doctor came in minutes later to check me. Everyone was acting so nonchalant compared to how I felt. I felt emergent, as if things like "STAT" and "LADY WITH A BABY" should be shouted around me. But everyone was calm. Except husband, I could see the worry in his eyes as my pain came and went. My doctor checked me, and her eyebrows went up. "Well, good news! You're 8 centimeters."
"HOLY SHIT." I yelled that. The doctor said, "Well, your worst pain is over. You did some hard labor at home, huh!" Yes. Yes I did. Brett called my mama next, (she had to be in the waiting room while I was in triage) and told her I was 8 centimeters. Her response? "HOLY SHIT. She can do this!" Clearly one day Reilly will have similar 4-letter reactions to surprising events.
Then, Nurse Karen, who I actually came to love at the end of the night, gave me some more tough love. "Okay, come on, let's get you to the labor room." As she took my arm, I asked in desperation for a wheelchair. She said, "If you can walk into this room, you can walk out!" WHAT? Don't you recall me walking in here against my will, and begging for a wheelchair then too?? But clearly I didn't really say this, I just moaned as another contraction came. And then I walked. And almost fell over halfway down the hallway as a I grabbed the wall and she grabbed my arm. That's how bad the pain is. I'm just saying.
The room we were in was gorgeous. I remember thinking, 'If I could speak right now, I would comment on how pretty this room is." I mean, it was stunning. It was HUGE, there was dark wood furniture, and one entire wall was windows from floor to ceiling. We saw the night sky, and gorgeous city lights. But I really only cared about the bed. My doctor came in, and said that I still had a little more to go, and she was going to break my water. This was at 12:05. She used an amni-hook, which looks like a knitting needle. It really is that long. This tool used to frighten me, but at that point, nothing scared me. I felt relief as my water broke. She told me that it was too late for an epidural, but that I could still have IV medications if I wanted.
This is what went through my head: No, I don't want IV meds. They affect the baby. It goes through my blood stream and therefore to the baby. But what if the pain gets worse. How much longer will this go? What if I'm pushing for hours? Some people push for hours. They say it feels like you've have 5 margaritas. That would feel nice right now. But I don't really want it. I'm so tired. I've been awake since 5 am. What do I do?
The Nurse said she couldn't tell me how long it would be. Mama and Husband said they wanted me to do what I felt, but that they knew I could do it. Then the doctor said that I needed to decide soon, because if they waited much longer they'd have to resuscitate the baby when it came out. What? No. Done. I don't want it. Forget it. Then the doctor left.
I continued fighting through contractions, and I felt the most intense pressure that I had ever felt in my life. It was the baby moving down the canal, the nurse told me. I screamed. I screamed a scream I didn't know I could scream. It sounded like a wild animal had made the sound. I couldn't breathe. But they kept telling me to breath. My whole body was tensing, because I was trying with all my might not to push and to fight through the pain. Everyone was helping me pant to stop from pushing. I just wanted to push. I kept asking when I could push. The nurse was mulling around the room saying, "I know. I know it hurts. Keep breathing. Relax your body. That's the baby moving down. It's okay." I screamed that it was burning. I screamed that I felt like I was tearing. I squeezed husband's hand. My Mama was saying, "Look at me. Look at my eyes. You have to breathe." I felt like I could explode. It was the hardest thing I had ever done. With every contraction, the burning and pressure increased, on top of the cramping. Husband kept me grounded with his strength. I remember thinking, "Adoption is nice. I think we'll adopt our next one." I just wanted someone to tell me I could start pushing. I wanted someone to check me again to see if I was 10 centimeters! Anyone!
I was laying on my side, because I was so much more comfortable that way. I had a pillow under both my legs and was laying in almost the fetal position. I braced myself as another contraction came. I gripped the bed, and my husband, and screamed and breathed, and I felt myself unable to stop the pressure with breathing. The tearing pain was peaking. And then I felt the feeling I will never forget for the rest of my life. The best way I can describe it is a relief of pressure, pain, and fighting. Just pure relief...as I felt something come out of me. I was petrified. I screamed, "SOMETHING JUST FELL OUT OF ME! I AM NOT LYING!!"
The nurse pulled the covers back that were over my legs, and lifted my left leg.
"Oh my God, it's the baby's head."
Husband was by my side, as my mama was down by my legs, and the nurse ran to the door. The nurse yelled, "We need Dr. Bigus, NOW!" My mama said, "Kate, it's the baby's head! The head is out!" My response? "Why isn't it crying?!" They said it was because the body wasn't out yet. Then the nurse ran back in, and told me to give her one good push. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. Did my baby's head really just fall out? Why hadn't they all just listened to me!
What! Push NOW? I don't want to push now, I don't have any more pain or pressure! I feel fine now! How do I push now?? Mama said, "Kate, BEAR DOWN!" So I pushed. Husband was down by my feet, and says baby slid out "like a wet noodle". The nurse delivered our baby. Husband said, "Honey, it's a girl!" Then he came to my bedside and held me and kissed me and we cried. I was convulsing and shivering from the shock of the last 30 minutes, and crying and out of breath. Every emotion I was feeling, and every response of my body at this point was uncontrollable. The doctor and more nurses had run in at this point. Hubby cut the umbilical cord, as I heard comments of healthy healthy beautiful baby swirling around me. Relief and elation.
May 13, 2010, 12:45 in the morning, 6 pounds 5 ounces, 18 inches long. The life of Reilly Belle began. And so did ours.
More to come!