You can find Part 1 here.
With contractions four minutes apart and impossible to ignore, we hurried out to our car and started dialing for the midwife.
The night before last, we’d called her in the middle of the night as well, but I didn’t feel bad doing it again because this was the real deal. The first time we called, contractions were 6 minutes apart and I was still able to chat about them cheerily on the phone. Now they were four minutes and terrible, and I was going to make sure I sounded as terrible as I felt. I have spent a lot of my life living with chronic pain and perfecting the art of not sounding how I feel, so this was a little tricky.
I did my best, but she said exactly the same thing she’d said two nights ago: take some Tylenol PM and go to sleep. What?! The birth center was 45 minutes away and I felt like I was dying. But hey, I figured labor would be more painful than I could guess, maybe I was still in early labor. So on New Years Day at 2 or 3 in the morning, I sent my husband running into Walmart to get Tylenol PM.
I waited in the car and started to overheat, even though it was off and we’d never turned on the heater. I opened the door and let myself hang out in the dead of night dead of winter air. During contractions I closed the door so I could scream and hopefully not draw attention to myself.
Husband came back to find me hanging out of the car. He looked at the ground as he ran up, thinking maybe I’d thrown up, but I told him no, I was just too hot.
Driving home, he encouraged me to be vocal in hopes that it would help with the pain. He did not expect the volume on my next contraction.
At home, I took the Tylenol PM and climbed into a warm bath. It was amazing how much better I felt. Exponentially less pain, contractions spread out, warm, happy feelings…
For all of ten minutes.
Back to screaming and four minutes apart.
But here’s the thing.
1.) Our midwife, classes, and books told us that if you could slow the contractions at all, it wasn’t real labor.
2.) Even if it was real labor, the rule was not to go in until you could no longer walk or talk during a contraction.
Therefore, we reasoned, this either wasn’t real labor or if it was, it was still very early.
I tried really hard to go to sleep. But I just couldn’t lay down. I’d get in bed and it was just impossible to stay there. I jumped back up, I had to keep moving, keep walking around. Husband was starting to get very upset that I wouldn’t let him coach me. He told me to try to sleep and I did, I swear, but it looked like I was intentionally going against everything he said. I just couldn’t follow instructions.
That’s a sign of transition.
So is losing modesty, and boy, was mine gone. I was too hot. I threw all my clothes off. I kept going into the bathroom and sitting down, only to hop right back up off the toilet and keep walking. Everything was happening so fast, why shut the door? Occasionally I stopped at the sink to lean over and see if maybe I’d throw up. Nope! No time. Must walk, must keep walking, into and out of bathroom.
Husband accepted that I wasn’t going to sleep, so he tried to help me through contractions. He wanted to hold me and I wanted him to hold me but as soon as I touched him he was so insufferably hot I’d shove him away, glaring and yelling incoherently. I wasn’t actually mad at him for being hot, but all my actions said that yes I was, in fact, I HATED HIM FOR IT.
Contractions were down to three minutes apart. I was getting tired, so instead of walking in circles from bathroom to bedroom, I turned to crawling.
Around this time, I started earnestly telling husband that I could not do this. I had to go to the hospital – not the birth center, the hospital. I needed medication right now. RIGHT NOW!
And I was crying, because everyone everywhere was right. I couldn’t do it naturally. As soon as I felt labor pains, I’d cry for drugs. I wasn’t even in transition yet and the pain was already far more than I could bear.
(Spoiler alert: I was in transition. But our midwife said I wasn’t, and we believed her. She knew better than us! We were dumb first time parents, what did we know? Plus, it’s not like she was our unbending, out-of-date, over-medical doctor. She knew natural birth. She had to be right – in our minds there was no question. If I’d figured out that yes, this was transition, would I have pushed through it?
Every labor really is different!)
Husband stood his ground. He knew we both really wanted a natural birth. At this point, somehow, I still felt like maybe the baby wasn’t coming at all yet. In my mind, I needed to get to a hospital and get an epidural so I could sleep. I hadn’t slept in 24 hours at this point. Because New Years.
We fought. He tried being sweet, tough love, commanding, begging, encouragement, peaceful imagery, but I was just beyond talking to. I was screaming, crying, and occasionally choking out a plead to be taken to the hospital.
We called the midwife again. Again, she said not yet.
I pulled myself together enough to try to have a conversation about our options. I insisted that the pain was too intense and reiterated that since I wasn’t even in transition, it would only get worse. I asked if my husband didn’t want to go to the hospital because of our doctor. Husband thought that if we could go and have an uneventful natural birth, it would prove him wrong and lead him to research more and be supportive of his future patients who want a natural birth. Yes, part of our agenda was “saving” our doctor.
He assured me he was past that. But now we couldn’t trust that hospital, period. Even if we got a different doctor, our doctor was head of the department. It was likely we’d go though all the routine medical interventions no matter who we got.
This level-headed discussion was cut short when I lost it again and went back to yelling and walking in circles, stopping between contractions to curl myself around the box fan.
Two minutes apart now.
Husband called the midwife and said “either we’re coming to you or we’re going to the ER, but we’re going somewhere now.” She told us to head on over.
Husband had to work pretty hard to convince me I couldn’t go naked.
Is this baby coming in the car? That was a legitimate concern. Tune in next time to see if we make it…