I bounced on the birth ball, walked the house, and got in and out of the tub a few times. My mom returned. Immediately upon lying down my pain level increased from manageable to unbearable, so I was unable to rest. When the sun came up that morning, I was having a hard time walking and talking during contractions. They were coming every four minutes and lasting for one minute at a time. We were advised by the midwife to head to the birth center to check my progress. On the drive over, my contractions, and time, seemed to slow to an almost complete stop.
We entered the beautiful birthing suite we had chosen in the last few weeks of my pregnancy. I eyeballed the large tub and breathed through a few difficult contractions on the toilet before my midwife Kim was able to come and check my cervix. In the sweetest way possible, she told me I was only at 2 centimeters dilated. I was devastated, exhausted, and in shock. I asked myself how I was going to go on like this. I decided to accept her offer for an injection of pain medication in hopes of having a few hours to lie down and rest. I barely made it out to the car before I passed out. I don't remember how I got into the house when we got home.
In a haze of sleepiness and the wearing off of medications, I began feeling waves of contractions again. During the peak of one, I felt a pop, and I immediately jumped out of bed and ran to the toilet. The breaking of my waters was such a distinct sensation. For a short while, my contractions caused pain in my abdomen and my back got a little break. I remember thinking that this felt much more tolearable. The waves came every two to four minutes and lasted for a minute and a half. When I began having back labor again, we proceeded to the birth center for the second time, confident that I was now in active labor.
"You are very thin, and about three centimeters," said the friendly back-up midwife. If there is a word to describe feeling beyond shocked, then it could be appropriately applied to this situation. I wondered how I could be contracting so regularly and intensely and not be making progress. I was scared. I felt broken. I was mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausted and I know my husband and mom were, too. We decided to head to the hospital for pitocin and an epidural. I felt defeated and small. I felt like a failure.
At the hospital, I was having back labor contractions every two minutes. The anesthesiologist made me laugh and the epidural was an amazing relief. They turned up the pitocin and we waited. I couldn't sleep. I was being squeezed by the blood pressure cuff, had two monitors strapped around my stomach, an IV pouring into my arm, and I could still feel much of the contractions in my upper legs and vaginal area. As my husband napped, I looked over at my mom, who had proudly and bravely stood by my side from the beginning of this ordeal, and said "I cannot believe we are here right now, in the hospital, with an epidural and pitocin going." It was so far from my ideal birth situation, it was almost comical.
I began to experience very strong pain sensations in my upper left leg. I was told they would administer a bolus of medication to decrease the sensations of the contractions. I also mentioned to my mom that I felt the need to poop. I began shaking all over. My mom knew that I was in transition, but the staff insisted on getting the medication administered first. Kim was planning on inserting an internal monitor, but instead discovered that I was fully dilated and the baby was at +2 station. The epidural was turned off at my request, but unfortunately I could not move my legs.
Kim offered to let me labor down for awhile but I insisted that we started pushing. I wanted this baby out of me immediately. After nearly two full days in labor (and two, going on three sleepless nights), I wanted to be done with this labor experience and move on. My mom and my husband picked up my legs for me during each contraction. I would bare down and watch my progress in the mirror. I saw my baby's head inch towards the light, then ease back up into my body again. I felt rolling waves of nausea from the intense pressure. People in the room were talking around me but I was in a daze and would lie back between contractions with my eyes closed, blocking everything else out. It felt like the only people in the room were my mom, my husband and I. Finally, the baby's head was out. I watched Kim ease her shoulders out and she was placed on my chest. We finally had an answer for my back labor, and contractions with a lack of progress: Gisella came out with both of her hands up by her face.
I hadn't failed, I had prevailed.
Gisella is now a healthy and happy three year old. She's a sweet, caring girl who loves to make people smile. She continues to teach me flexibility and patience. She has shown me that even with the best laid plans, things will likely change, but I have the ability to adapt and overcome.
PS Read Gisella's entire (three part) birth story here.