I woke up early on Wednesday, November 9th, with mild but uncomfortable contractions. They weren't intense, but they were coming regularly, and had more energy than the Braxton-Hicks I'd been having, so I got excited and began to time them. They were coming roughly every 6-7 minutes and lasting about 45 seconds to a minute. I got very excited and told DH I thought I'd be going into labor soon. I decided to take a nap since I woke up so early, and was thinking I'd probably need the energy.
I woke up from my nap a little after noon, and the contractions had stopped. I was SO discouraged and told DH to go to work and I'd call him if anything picked up, but I was very doubtful. DH called me many times to check in, and each time I had nothing to report. At around 8 or 9pm, the contractions started again, but they were so mild and had petered out so quickly before that I tried to ignore them.
At about 10:30pm I got a massive craving for peanut butter cookies, so I went upstairs to start making batter. As I was working, I felt some leakage in my underwear, and assumed I was leaking urine. But it kept coming in little gushes. I quickly put a folded-up paper towel in my underwear and didn't think about it. But when I felt a couple more gushes and the paper towel got soaked, I went downstairs to check it out. My heart was racing and it felt like the moment I took my pregnancy test and was waiting for the result when I already knew it was going to be positive. I went to the bathroom and checked and I was totally soaked with what was definitely NOT urine. It smelled very sweet and was clear. I knew that my water had broken. I called DH at work and told him my water broke but that labor could start quickly or not for days, and that he didn't have to rush home. He finished up at work and got home at about 11:30.
My contractions started getting more frequent and intense about 10 minutes after my water broke. The midwife on call told me to come in the morning for a NST if labor hadn't started, or to call earlier if things really picked up. Well, things really picked up fast, and by midnight contractions were coming every 2-3 minutes and lasting at least a minute. I was trying to get some rest since I knew I had a lot of work ahead of me, but it was impossible to get any sleep between contractions. I called the birth center again a little after 1, and the midwife could tell by my voice that I was in active labor, but could hold off and labor at home a little while longer.
Over the next 5 hours or so, things started getting really intense. Contractions stayed at least 2-3 minutes apart, but then I would have 4 or 5 right on top of each-other, with maybe 5-10 seconds between the end of one and the start of the next. I started to get a little nervous about what was to come, but I still felt relatively good, and was still having some down time between contractions.
By 7am the contractions were feeling almost unbearable at times, and I called the midwife. She talked to me and said it sounded like it was time for me to come in (amazing what they can tell by your voice on the phone). We got to the birth center around 7:15. I was set up in the room without a bathtub, since there was a full house that morning. One of our friends (who was in centering group with us) had just had her son in the other room.
The midwife checked me and I was 5cm. She seemed very excited about my progress, so I was happy. Things started to get really tough for me then. I spent some time in the shower, on the birth ball, and that provided some relief. But by about 9, I started feeling like nothing was bringing me any relief. DH was constantly pushing down on my pelvis from behind, which initially helped immensely, but it began to stop being as effective. I was making a lot of noise; tons of low, guttural moans.
At about 9:30am they let me move to the room with the bath tub, since the last people there had just gone home. By then I was about 6-7cm. I was in total agony. I started saying that I didn't feel like I could get through this. Contractions were one on top of another on top of another. One would end, there would be a 10-second break, and the next would begin. I'd get a break of a couple minutes maybe once an hour or so; otherwise, they were a relentless onslaught. By 10:30 or so I was out of my mind. I couldn't drink water cause it would make me heave; the thought of food or coconut water was absolutely nauseating. I forced down as many liquids as I could, but it was rough. I know I wasn't getting enough.
I felt altered on a cellular level. I felt like my body and my skin were made of a new substance. My mouth was bizarrely sticky and dry. Looking at myself in the mirror was an unusually intense experience. But I forced myself to look and say in my head "you are a warrior, you are a warrior, you are a warrior."
I was in and out of the tub, on and off the bed, but I spent 95% of my time pacing back and forth. I couldn't stay still. I felt like I was trying to run away from the pain. I knew it would hurt, but this was too much. I was in a panic. After each contraction, I thought I absolutely could not get through one more. DH followed me around applying pressure on my pelvis, like we were the first two members of a conga line. It helped but for the most part I was like a crazed animal. I was howling and groaning and at times just outright screaming. I could not be still. Even the few seconds between contractions were wrought with pain. The pain of the contractions themselves was beyond pain. Beyond anything. It was mind-altering. I kept saying I can't do this, I can't do this. I started walking around with a washcloth between my legs so I could squeeze on something. I would go to the bed and pick up a pillow and put it down. There was no rhyme or reason to my actions. I felt helpless, insane, out of my mind. I kept looking at the bed wishing I could hit pause and take a nap and start again later. The fatigue on top of the labor was overwhelming. At the start of each contraction I would cry to DH "Oh no, no no no." There was lots of "Make it stop" and "I can't do this" and flat-out howling and screaming.
At about noon I started to feel like I had to go to the bathroom, and I started pushing at the end of each contraction almost without control. The midwife had been out of the room for quite some time at this point and I started feeling like I needed some guidance. A different midwife came in at about 12:15 and I didn't even care who was there, I was just desperate. I told her I couldn't do it, I needed the baby out. She checked me and I was 9.5cm. I told her not pushing was not an option, and she said "That's fine, then go ahead and push."
I know some women say pushing feels good. It did not feel good to me. It felt like a force beyond my control; unbearable but inevitable. I kept screaming at the midwife "get it out, I need this baby out!" I was begging her to "just pull it out." I didn't think I could get through this final phase. I was in mind-bending agony. I was on the floor by the bed on my hands and knees, with my legs as wide as I could manage. I would writhe up and squat for a minute, then go back down. I was pushing with everything I had, and screaming. I was out of my head. I kept begging the midwife to "just reach in and pull it out!"
Finally I let them convince me to get on the bed, where I again got on my hands and knees. I didn't see how I was going to get this baby out. I would feel a head come out a tiny bit, and then go back in, and go out and come in, and I couldn't see how it would come out for good. But I finally decided it was time, and that I couldn't stop myself anymore, and that there was no going back, and that the midwife simply wasn't gonna do the work for me. So I pushed and screamed and finally felt a head come all the way out. The shoulders felt a little stuck but moved through with two big pushes, and then I felt the body slide out with a ton of fluid.
Sheer bliss! I pushed myself up onto my knees and looked down onto the bed and saw immediately that I had a little girl. I scooped her up and looked at DH and looked at her and all I could say was "No way, no way, this is NOT happening!" I couldn't believe it was over. I couldn't believe I'd made it. The pain I thought would never end was over and I had a little girl. Her head was covered in dark, almost black hair, just like her dad. I brought her to my stomach and waited for the cord to stop pulsing. I got to cut the cord, which was very cool. The nurse then checked me and to my delight, she saw I had zero tearing!
I delivered the placenta in 2 quick, easy pushes (and am drinking some in a smoothie right now). My sweet little Katie started nursing after about an hour, and hasn't stopped since. I'm obsessed with her, she's so awesome!