After the tub and the all fours position, I had another cervical check. 2.5. Awesome, all that pain for half a centimeter. At that point I was exhausted and discouraged. I asked if there was anything that I could get to help me relax between the contractions and Amber obliged by bringing me a bag of fentanyl. Strike three against my birth plan.
The medication did not do much for my pain, but it did help me to relax between contractions. The result was me being completely silent and out of it between contractions, punctuated with random and meaningless cries for mercy. This went on for a few hours. I heard the conversations around me, but wasn't really able to participate. I occasionally would interject a little nugget of wisdom, like apologizing to my sister for her seeing my "lady bits," or a reminder to Rob that he should take out his contacts if his eyes hurt. It was surreal to say the least.
At some point another cervical check was performed and surprise of all surprises, I was dilated to 8 cm! That meant nearly 5 cms in just under 3 hours. Finally I could put to rest my fears of being administered pitocin, although at that point I didn't care about much besides getting the baby OUT. Rob put on a Velvet Underground album, then the movie Endless Summer. I laid in bed and cried. Amber mentioned that I some point I would feel the urge to push and to let her know when that came on. It was around 1am when I registered that I was indeed feeling that feeling, and that is when the real action started.
The doctor was called, a table of instruments suddenly appeared, and Amber began to coach me on how to push. It took me several contractions to get the hang of it, and while the contractions still hurt like hell, pushing was oddly relieving. At some point the doctor showed up, and 44 minutes after I began to push, little Eleanor Jean Organ made her way into the world. Rob, who had been sitting next to me holding my leg the whole time, was the one who told me it was a girl. I hope I never forget exactly what he said and how he said it: "It's a... It's a girl!" He cut the cord and she was placed on my chest. All I could say was "She is so beautiful, you are so beautiful." In the background I could hear the theme song to the Endless Summer playing to the DVD menu.
I felt so good at that point. My body did it, my baby was perfect, everything was perfect. After I was cleaned up, the doors opened and the rest of our family poured in to meet Eleanor. I just sat back, amazed that the baby in the room was mine. I was pregnant, and I gave birth, and now I was a mother.
Even though the experience was not what I thought it would be, it worked out just fine. In retrospect, I think if I had been more focused and relaxed I wouldn't have needed the IV drugs. Although I do have to say that all the nurses were quite impressed that I didn't get an epidural by choice - the hospital I delivered at has an 85% epidural rate. Next time around I plan on using both a midwife and a doula and will have the same goal of a natural birth.
My recovery is going well. I was up and walking around the next day - which also seemed to impress the hospital staff. We went home on Saturday, a day earlier than planned, because Eleanor and I were doing so well. Not to say that I didn't hurt - I hurt quite a bit. In fact, my two "small tears" are still hurting. But the funny thing is, I can barely remember what the contractions felt like. It is so true that once you give birth, you forget what the pain felt like. I would do it all ten time over, happily. I think about that time in the hospital the way I do past vacations - nostalgic, happy, ready to go right back to that moment and place.