The next thing I knew, it was noon, and my airman was still not home yet. The contractions were getting stronger with each one, and I was really starting to stress. A myriad of thoughts ran through my mind as I tried to concentrate through the contractions and finish packing our things.
I shouldn't be alone right now.
What if I end up having this baby by myself?
I can't drive to the hospital on my own.
I wonder when my water will break...
Maybe I should get a towel.
Where is my husband???
Thankfully, my airman arrived home a few minutes later. I had been timing my contractions while he was out, and they were 3 minutes apart, lasting 40 to 50 seconds each. It was time to go to the hospital I told him. Only he wasn't quite so sure. He sat with me, rubbing my back and tummy with each contraction, talking me through them while he timed "just a few more." He wanted to be certain we didn't go in too early.
I finally couldn't wait any longer. I told him in no uncertain terms: I need to go to the hospital. Now. Call the hospital. Let's go. Please, let's go.
Mercifully, he agreed we should start heading out. He called the L&D ward at the hospital at 1 and let them know my status. We made sure our things were in our bags and he loaded up the car with everything -- car seat, camera, suit case, all that good stuff. Just before we headed out, I decided to take a bathroom break, and my mucous plug came out. Great, I thought. Now I have to worry my water's going to break in the car. Of course, the thought was fleeting; as soon as I felt the next contraction, I just knew I needed to breathe through it and head out of the house... I had 3 flights of stairs to get down before the next contraction hit, and I didn't want to have to stop in the middle of those stairs.
Somehow, we made it to the car and were soon on our way to the hospital. I had my seat leaned back and gripped the seat belt and ceiling handle with each contraction. I kept my eyes closed until we were on the highway; when I finally dared to open my eyes, it was only to look at the spedometer. 60 mph. Barely going the speed limit. "Pass people," I told my husband, as I breathed through another contraction. He had been trying to go carefully, worrying about bumps and such, but I told him, "I just really need to get there and I need to get there now."
After what seemed like an eternity, we arrived at the hospital. It was 2 o'clock. We pulled up to the doors, and there was a group of people waiting for the valet parking. A contraction hit, and I remember saying out loud, "I don't want to have a contraction in front of all these people!!!" But that didn't stop it from coming. I could feel the eyes of strangers as I gripped the door handle and tried to focus. After it was over, I somehow got myself into the building, not even looking to see where my airman was. Another contraction would be coming soon, and I didn't want to be out there again when it came. I leaned over a glass wall as the next one hit, swaying my hips, closing my eyes, and trying to relax. I felt a hand rub my back. It wasn't my husband's. I remember thinking, "Why are complete strangers touching me?" but I was too focused on getting through the contractions to voice any complaints. A minute later another hand touched my arm. "Are you all right, hon?" said a woman. I nodded my head, but didn't look up. For some reason, I didn't mind when she touched me, though I was glad when my airman finally made it over to me and we were able to head to Labor and Delivery.
Finally, we made it to the 4th floor and started the check-in process. Not gonna lie -- I wanted to yell at some people. I guess they see labor far too often and have become desensitized to the whole birthing process. I'm so glad for my husband; he was my "voice" throughout my labor. The contractions were coming so hard and so fast, I hardly got a break between each one, so it made answering questions difficult. He answered everything for me, all while stroking my hair and whispering encouraging words into my ear.
The most horrible part of my labor was the fact that because I was attempting a VBAC, the nurse said we needed to let them do continuous external fetal monitoring (even though our doctor had agreed we would only need to run a 20 minute strip upon check-in, and they would only check intermittently, but that's a-whole-nother rant!) Also, I had tested positive for the GBS test, so they wanted to run a 40 minute dose of antibiotics through an IV... which meant I was basically stuck in the bed during active labor. Not fun. Not fun at all.
After a million stupid questions (seriously, why do they need to know if I completed high school or have a tatoo before I can birth a baby? Those questions couldn't be asked AFTER labor and delivery???), a resident came in to check me. It was around 3 o'clock. I was 5 cm dilated and definitely in active labor. The resident wanted to do an amniotomy, to which I wanted to say, "WHY?! Is my labor not progressing quickly enough for you or something?!?" but my wonderful husband was able to speak for me: "Could we just let that happen on its own?" About 45 minutes later, I felt a huge gush of warmth in the bed. My water broke. Without any doctor's help, thankyouverymuch.
The contractions were not letting up, and I think I gave up all attempts at relaxing through them. I told my husband that I would be okay with getting something for the pain. I just didn't want a c-section, and I was far enough along that I thought we'd be okay. "Please don't make me do this," I begged him. "Please. I need something." At one point, when all the nurses and attendants were out of the room, I begged him again to go after that anesthesiologist. He calmly tried to convince me otherwise. I looked my airman square in the eyes and said, "Don't make me hate you." Ummm, can you say "transition"??? At another point during labor, he was encouraging me, telling me "You're doing such a good job. You're doing so great, Baby." I remember thinking to myself, "If he tells me one more time that I'm 'doing a good job', I'm going to smack him." He said it plenty more times, but I never did smack him. Thankfully, I didn't voice my thoughts, either... I guess I did have some presence of mind left in me.
I couldn't get up and walk around because of the EFM and antibiotics, but eventually the nurse suggested I move to a different position. She said I had been "getting grunty" with the last few contractions and that meant I might be almost ready to push. A change of position might be just what the baby needed to fully descend, she told me. I ended up turning around on the bed (which was set with the back raised straight up like a chair), resting my head over the edge between each contraction. The resident came back around 4:20 and checked me -- I was 9cm. Praise the Lord, we were making progress!
After a few more minutes, the nurse suggested I empty my bladder to help "make room" and maybe "relax my muscles" for pushing. I felt so good to get out of the bed and move around. Sitting on the toilet helped a little, too, I think, though I didn't feel the need to go to the bathroom and told her so. She finally said I should try to head back to the bed. The contractions kept coming, one right after another, and I couldn't figure out when I would have a chance to get back to the bed. She then encouraged me once more to head to the bed since I would get to the point of having one contraction after another and wouldn't be able to stop myself from pushing. (Oops, pretty sure I was already there.)
I finally stood up and took about 2 steps before I felt another contraction and the infamous "ring of fire" between my legs. "I can't [get to the bed]. He's here!" I told her. He was crowning! Before I knew it, our doctor, the resident, and some other nurses were turning the bathroom into a delivery room. They asked if I wanted a birthing stool, but I didn't even have time to get to it. With less than 2 minutes of pushing, our second little man made his entrance into the world at 4:56 pm.
We did it!