My children apparently think that being born is some kind of race. When giving birth for the first time I anticipated 12 hours or more of contractions steadily increasing in intensity, followed by an hour or two of pushing, and ultimately a gorgeous baby. Anyone who’s read Violet’s birth story knows that the only thing I was right about was the gorgeous baby part.
Because Violet hauled ass out of my uterus at an alarming pace, I knew that my next kid would probably follow suit. This reality became increasingly clear when I told my OB that my first child was born 6 hours after I had my first contraction. Her eyes bulged out of her head as she said, “That was your first?” and I replied, “Yep.” She then proceeded to tell me that as soon as I felt any signs of labor I needed to head to the hospital. That’s what she said with her mouth. The face part of her appeared to convey the more ominous message, “You cannot fuck around, or your next baby will be born in your car.” Awesome.
Unfortunately, Matilda made things a little less obvious than Violet did. With Violet, I never ever had a Braxton Hicks contraction. In fact, my first ever contraction was a for-real birth contraction, and I mistook it for indigestion at first. With Matilda, however, I started having Braxton Hicks contractions at 29 weeks, and they didn’t stop until the real ones started. At about 38 weeks, the contractions were 5-10 minutes apart. Consistently. Like, for days, you guys. After one trip to labor and delivery for monitoring, and one late night phone call to the on-call midwife at my OB’s office, I started to feel like kind of an asshole for not knowing if I was in labor or not. I also started to feel like my tiny little baby was kind of an asshole for faking everyone out; especially after my OB’s warning to get my ass to the hospital ASAP when I started having “regular contractions.” As a result, I spent the better part of the end of this pregnancy contracting, hoping that when my water broke it wasn’t on my parents’ new couch, or the nice rug in my kitchen, or the driver’s seat of my car, and waiting for shit to get real.
Finally, at 2:15am on January 22nd, shit got real. I had one mother of a contraction. Like the kind that you can’t talk or breathe through, and generally makes you feel like someone is trying to rip your colon out through your belly button. But…after weeks of, “Is this it?” I did exactly what my OB warned me not to do: I fucked around. I went downstairs, picked up around the house a little bit, went to the bathroom, and got stuff around in case it was time to go. Oh, and every seven minutes or so I had a paralyzingly painful contraction that lasted around 60-90 seconds.
By 2:45, I woke my husband up and told him I was pretty sure it was time, because, “those Braxton Hicks contractions were just contractions for pussies. These contractions feel like the Braxton Hicks contractions on cocaine and Red Bull.” Then I phoned the on-call midwife and told her I was in labor. I actually had to stop talking to her mid-conversation to breathe through what felt like Matilda Hulking-out in my uterus. The midwife asked me what my plan for pain management was, to which, I replied, “I want a huge epidural immediately when I get to the hospital.” She laughed and said she would see me in a bit.
So the hubs got Violet ready and in the car to take to my parents’, and I hobbled out on what turned out to be one of the coldest nights of the year. Also? Another thing that was awesome about Matilda’s timing? It had snowed maybe a couple inches in the four hours since we’d gone to bed. And living in a rural area, the counties hadn’t sent out snow plows just yet because, “It’s three-o-clock in the morning, and it’s rural Ohio, so obviously no one is driving anywhere.” Normally unplowed roads with two inches of blowing snow wouldn’t be that big of a deal. Unless you are totally in labor, you guys. And unless you have to depend on your husband who is from Tucson and not used to driving on snow-covered roads to drive you to the hospital. Then it’s kind of a big deal. The entire ride went something like this:
Me (not having a contraction): Don’t speed fast, I don’t want you to slide off the road and wind up in a ditch.
Me (during a contraction): PLEASEPLEASEPLEASE speed if you can! We need to get the hospital! I need an epidural rightfreakingnow!
Me (after the contraction): Okay, okay, slow down, we don’t need to get into an accident on our way.
Repeat about ten times.
We finally arrived to the hospital, and by this time, I was in so much pain that I had completely forgotten that we were about to welcome the newest member of our family into the world via my vagina. Because I was keeping my eyes on the prize: the sweet nectar of epidural juice. However, naturally, there’s a shit-ton of paperwork that simply must be filled out before I can be introduced to the anesthesiologist. That’s where I started getting kind of bitchy. Because, you see, I thought I had made myself pretty clear, about the whole pain management thing. And, to be honest, I was a little annoyed that the hospital staff hadn’t sent someone out to the parking lot to meet us with my spinal cocktail upon our arrival.
As I was filling out what seemed like a phonebook’s worth of paperwork that I assumed was my key to blissful numbness, my mom and sister arrived. I should have been…happy? grateful? I wasn’t. When Dan declared, “Your mom and sister are here,” I replied, “The only person I want to see is the anesthesiologist!” My sister, having never seen anyone in labor before, or witnessed a birth, or gone through hard labor herself, as she needed c-sections for both of her precious babies, tried to take the edge off with humor by suggesting, “Wow, what if they tell you it’s too late for an epidural?” That statement put me over the edge, and I’m pretty sure everyone in the ER waiting room heard me screaming, “SHUT UP MEGAN! JUST SHUT YOUR MOUTH RIGHT NOW!”
Shortly after I attempted to make my sister cry, we were all whisked away to labor and delivery where a very nice nurse who I was very not nice to asked me to take all my clothes off and put a hospital robe on so that she could be the first person of the night to put her hands in my hoohah. I went to the bathroom realized the robe wasn’t snapped up and may as well have been a damn Rubik’s cube that I was not in the mood to try and figure out. I exited the bathroom, butt ass naked with the robe barely covering the front of me, in front of my sister and mom, (neither of whom have seen me naked in the past two decades), and literally in tears. When the nurse walked in I cried, “I can’t figure this damn thing out!! It’s not snapped up! I’m naked!” After she dressed me like I was a two year old and got me to the hospital bed, she reached in to see how far dilated I was, declared, “about 7 cm” and practically ran out of the room as I screamed, “WHERE IS THE ANESTESIOLOGIST?!?!?!” after her.
Several painful minutes later, the nurse returned with another woman, who I immediately asked, “Are you the anesthesiologist?!” To which she replied, “No I’m the midwife, and I need to check how far dilated you are.” So the second fisting of the night commenced, and the midwife declared, “You’re like, 9-9 ½ cm dilated, Sarah. Here’s the deal: I can either break your water and you can have this baby in ten minutes, or we can wait an hour for the anesthesiologist to get here.”
You guys, you have never in your life seen someone lose as much of their shit as I lost right then.
I completely broke down, crying, looking at my mom, saying, “This is bullshit! This is not what was supposed to happen!” Basically, I didn’t really cope well with the news that I was either going to have to give birth naturally, or suffer for another hour until they could administer an epidural so strong someone could pull my toe nails out and I wouldn’t feel it. I was hysterical, but finally I acquiesced and told the midwife to just break my water.
You know that scene in Knocked Up? The one where Katherine Heigl is told it’s too late for the epidural? And then she’s all, “I FEEL EVERYTHING!!!!!!” That scene just kept running through my mind because that is EXACTLY how I felt. I felt EVERYTHING, and you guys? It felt bad. The first time I tried to push it was awful. I didn’t feel like I needed to push, it was so painful I couldn’t breathe, and I just quit. I yelled at the midwife, “I’m not doing it! I’m not pushing, get the anesthesiologist, I can’t push her out!”
At that point, I heard the midwife talking to the nurse about Matilda’s heart rate. Urgently talking to her, about how her heart rate was dropping. My mom looked at me and said, “You can do this.” My husband looked at me and did everything he could to comfort and encourage me. My sister just kept saying, “You’re so strong, you’ve already done most of the work.” And the midwife finally used her “stop fucking around and suck it up” tone of voice and said, “Sarah, you have to do this for your baby.”
And then it suddenly stopped being about me, and started being about my baby. And miraculously, I felt like I needed to push. And two contractions and about five minutes later, out came Matilda, screaming her face off, filled with life, and one of the two most beautiful sights I’ve ever had the honor of witnessing. It was 4:28am when it was all over.
Once Matilda was sufficiently cleaned up, in my arms, and things had settled down a bit, I was informed that we were very lucky that we even made it to the hospital. The first nurse that got to second base with me explained that she’d lied to me when she told me I was 7cm dilated…that I had actually been fully dilated by the time she got between my legs, and that she’d lied to me so that I wouldn’t freak out. (I told her she was a smart girl.) The midwife told us that we were lucky my water hadn’t broken in the car on our way, because if it had, Matilda would absolutely have been born on the side of the road. (Dan told me we’re lucky my water didn’t break in the car, because he watched when they did it in the hospital, and, according to him, “We would never have been able to get the passenger seat clean. I would have had to take ours out and junk it and buy a new one from a dealer.”) She also said that when the nurse came into the on-call room where she’d been sleeping when we came in and told her, frantically, that I was fully dilated, she was in such a rush to get to us, that she wasn’t even able to find her bra, and that she’s delivered Matilda while her girls went commando.
Now that Matilda’s here, I would say, it didn’t seem that bad. But it was totally that bad you guys, and I’m telling you if I ever get pregnant again, there will be a scheduled induction at the end of that rainbow, because I’m never doing this natural birth shit again. But was it worth it? Absolutely. Matilda is wonderful, and we couldn’t be happier that she’s here with us now, no matter how she got here. We are so blessed to have had two basically easy pregnancies, two quick and uncomplicated labors, and two beautiful and healthy baby girls at the end. We are very lucky, and thankful for our beautiful family.