At long last. Part 1 is here, by the way.
The car ride. Ugh. I was dreading that before I even went into labor. If you have experienced major contractions before, you know what I'm talking about, right? Being confined for an unknown period of time in a small space is the last thing you want. But it had to be done because I really wasn't prepared to have this baby at home. I waited for one last contraction to pass and got in the passenger seat of B's car, which he had ready to go. Elise was there in the backseat.
Just the night before, I was reading some old Mothering Magazines for a little labor inspiration/motivation. There was a really nice letter from the editor by Peggy O'Mara about childbirth and the (perceived) pain that goes along with it. So many women are so afraid of it, and I won't lie, I was too. But it isn't true pain, which happens when something is wrong and is constant (until the problem goes away). With labor, you have many contractions, but each comes with a respite that is guaranteed. A break. With absolutely zero pain. I would dare say you feel normal between contractions, even near the end when it is very intense. So I decided that night before I went into labor that this time I was really going to take one contraction at a time and look forward to that break that was coming right after. This thinking is what got me through that car ride.
And the car ride ended up not being so bad after all. We didn't hit any traffic and I only had about 4 contractions. I'm pretty sure I chatted with B and Elise between them as if nothing was wrong (they may remember it differently!). Just as we pulled up to the hospital, I felt a big one coming on. Thank goodness, there was Ann standing there waiting for me at the entrance. I quickly got out of the car and before I could even say hello to her, I fell onto her shoulders and had a huge contraction. I had my arms around her neck for support and I buried my face in her shoulder. That one passed and we hurried to elevator and went one floor up to Labor and Delivery. We walked to the nurses' station and I had another. I'm sure the contractions were about 2 or 3 minutes apart.
It was 7:40 a.m. now. The nurse showed us to the room. I have to say, for a hospital setting, this particular one has the nicest ones around. They don't even have that funny smell. I went to change into a gown in the bathroom (I still had some sense of modesty at that point!) and came out to settle in. I remember looking around thinking, "So this is where my baby is going to be born." I looked at all the paintings, the window, the lights. This was where it was all going to go down.
The nurse asked if I wanted her to *check* me and I did. (I can wait my whole pregnancy to find out the sex of our baby but a chance to find out how far I've dilated? Yes, please! And now!) A quick exam and she announced "5 and a half or 6 centimeters!" Hooray, hooray, hooray! I think everyone in the room squealed a little bit (B, my mom, Elise and my two sisters were there). You see, in my prior experiences, I moved much more slowly than this. I remember Ann whispering in my ear that the hardest part was over. And that was so true now that I look back. Those first 6 cm are long and slow and hard...at least for me.
The nurse checked the baby's heart rate and what not and everything was great. With C-Man and Juju, I had to be on almost continuous monitoring which really sucked. It meant I had to stay on the bed hooked up to a bunch of cords. Not my vision of a beautiful, natural childbirth. So again: hooray, hooray, hooray! I was given permission to labor as I pleased (which was my biggest hope for this birth).
So you know what I did with all that freedom? I sat on the bed with my legs hanging off the left side and put my arms around Ann's neck to take the weight off my back. For. Every. Single. Remaining. Contraction. Can. You. Believe. It? All that freedom and the the thing that felt right was to stay put. Gah! Anyway, poor Ann must have had a very sore neck, back and shoulder area!
Dr. Greenberg came by at about 8:45 (her on-call shift had ended at 7 a.m. as luck would have it). As Ann says, she really does light up a room when she walks in. (Remember: Ann and Dr. Greenberg are dear friends.) Everyone was so happy to see her. She gave words of encouragement and support and gave me an exam (8 cm!! hooray, hooray, hooray!). She said she had to go to the office but would try to come back for me later. I knew she wouldn't be able to come back once she left, but, honestly, I was fine with that because I was in Labor Land and they could have told me frogs were falling from the sky and I wouldn't have really cared. All I remember from this period was telling Ann I couldn't wait to hold my baby. I was getting really emotional. This had been a very difficult pregnancy, and I was so ready to have my baby in my arms and tell him or her everything was going to be OK now.
As Dr. Greenberg left, I felt another contraction coming on and again, I fell onto Ann's shoulders. I think my *tone* must have changed because I heard Ann say "Tell her to come back." Next thing I knew, Dr. Greenberg was back in the room and she was putting scrubs and those bootie things on. Everyone in the room could tell it was just about time to start pushing. With both C-Man and JuJu, I had very intense transition periods right before I felt the urge to push, but it hadn't gotten that hard yet. I couldn't believe I could be that close. But on the next contraction, I started bearing down, as they say. And I knew.
With C-Man, I pushed for three hours and they had to finally use the vacuum to get him out. His head was ginormous. With JuJu, two pushes and she slipped right out. I had no idea what to expect this time. I remember the nurse rattling off instructions about how to push (something about count to ten, breathe in, and then push? I don't know...). Everyone in the room was giving me words of encouragement. I was trying so, so hard to listen and understand, but again, I was in Labor Land and they may as well have been speaking Mandarin Chinese. I just pushed when and how it felt right.
Let me pause here to mention something called the Ring of Fire. I heard about it before I had C-Man but did not experience it with him or Juju. But I got payback this time around. Actually, it's not that bad because it doesn't last long. But, yikes, it does burn. But that burning moved my baby down to a nice, low position after just one push. The next push or two, and my baby's head was out. Just the head. Which was a little strange. Everyone squealed with delight (except me....I was working hard!). I think I asked Dr. Greenberg if she was going to pull the baby out or something ridiculous like that. She just laughed and said, "No, Jora, you're going to push your own baby out!"
And with that, I gave my last push (ever!) and our sweet, sweet baby slid out and stretched her arms up to the sky and let out a cry. I looked down and now it was time for me to squeal. A girl! A girl! I was so very happy. B had tears streaming down his face. He was happy too. This is what we had both secretly hoped for I think.
Next thing I knew, she was in my arms, latching on for the first time. And I just knew that everything was going to be OK.