It was July 31, a Sunday, the day before my due date. Ben had come a week early, so I was pretty impatient by this point, as I'd been 100% sure that the next one could only come sooner. Ben's birth was also quick (contractions started mid-morning, hospital by 4, born at 7) and labor progressed steadily, so I was expecting the same or faster. So when I was still having pretty mild, on-and-off contractions by mid-afternoon, I started to worry. We'd just been puttering around the house all day, and now we were all kind of bored and cabin-fevery, and instead of a steady progression from mild to intense, from long intervals to short, this labor was kind of all over the place. It would seem to be intensifying, and I'd have one or two whizz-bang contractions, and then nothing for half an hour.
At 3:53, I sent this email to C.:
Argh. Contractions pick up and then taper back off just when it looks like it might be getting interesting. I was worried she'd come even faster than Ben, but this is much worse. At it for 12 hours now, bored to death, not feeling like I'm making much progress, and worried about how tired I'll be if this drags on a lot longer.And it worked like magic: suddenly the contractions were coming stronger and faster. We called my mom to come be with Ben. We called my OB/midwifery practice's service to give them the heads-up. By the time the on-call midwife got back to us, we were ready to head to the hospital. Luckily Midwife Jaime lives close, and so do we.
We got to the hospital around 5:00. They offered me a wheelchair at check-in, but the idea of sitting didn't appeal at all. I draped myself over the front desk while Andy answered questions and filled out paperwork. I walked to the elevator and to the L&D room.
I got a room with a tub this time, which I was happy about -- I'd wanted one for Ben's birth, but the hospital was crammed and there wasn't one available. But they had to put me on the monitor for a while to get a baseline before letting me into the tub. Fine. Jaime was there, and so was Emily the L&D nurse. I remember much more coming and going with Ben's birth (a different OB practice, an OB attending rather than a midwife), and I liked very much the coziness and intimacy of having just Jaime and Emily and Andy and me in the room throughout.
During my labor with Ben, I was concentrating so intently on my breathing and relaxing that I think I put myself into some kind of deeply meditative state. Which was nice, because I really was relaxed, and though it was certainly a painful experience, it was almost as if I wasn't entirely there for it -- some part of me was deep inside myself and insulated from the discomfort. When the time came to push, they told me to put my knees up to my ears, and I literally had no idea what they were talking about -- Andy had to translate for me because I was able to hear him in a way that I couldn't hear the doctor and nurses.
This labor was different. I was breathing and relaxing, but I was much more present. Andy was making small talk with Jaime and Emily, and I was able, when not actually in the middle of a contraction, to participate. My eyes were open. I was there. I was decrying the experience with colorful language.
I got into the tub, and Emily asked if I wanted to keep my bra on, and I laughed. As if that would preserve that one last shred of my dignity! The tub was nice. I don't know if it actually helped ease the pain, but it certainly was distracting and comfortable. Jaime said a couple of times that she had a feeling I wouldn't be in there long, that she had better keep a close eye on me because I was going to need to come out fast. Which is what happened, of course. I was feeling like I needed to poop, which I failed to mention because -- well, partly because I was kind of busy panting through contractions -- but also because even though I knew that was a sign of needing to push, it didn't feel like it felt with Ben, and it just didn't seem all that relevant at the moment!
When I finally did mention it, Jaime started saying stuff about a water birth being just fine, and I was all NO WATER BIRTH GET ME OUT, so during the next interval, Andy took one arm and Jaime took the other, and they more or less hauled me, sopping naked, over to the bed. Where it was suggested to me that I could push on my back or on all fours, and while neither sounded appealing (what sounds appealing at that stage? unconsciousness!), knees seemed less horrible, as leaning over had offered some relief throughout labor.
So there I was on the bed on all fours, with Andy up by my head and Jaime and Emily poised to catch. There was a fair amount of screaming and yelling. My water never broke, so Jaime did it. I can't remember how many times I pushed, but I couldn't have been there for more than five minutes.
And then there she was! A tiny little person, passed up under my belly into my arms, and they helped me turn over and sit down while they cleaned me up. She latched immediately and nursed like a champ, thus no doubt tipping the scales on her birth weight, which wasn't recorded for a good while.
We looked at our list of names, still very much undecided. The final short list was Joanna, Jane, and Margaret. I told Andy to rank them and did the same myself, and our number ones were the same.
Jane W. L., born 6:11 PM. 8 lbs even, 20.5 inches.