Exit Nasty Nancy and enter Nurse Juanita. She was the best! Not only was she a sweet person, but she was totally supportive of me. She left Jon and I to ourselves for the most part, and only checked in when we needed her or when the alarms went off. Which was quite often. First, I had a blood pressure cuff that would randomly tighten on my arm, usually right in the middle of a contraction. My blood pressure is normally on the high-normal end, so it was no surprise that in the midst of this momentous and somewhat nerve-wracking occasion, it was slightly high. And just in case the nurses weren’t aware, every time the machine would check my blood pressure, and it would show up high, an alarm would go off. In addition, the piece attached to my finger would somehow monitor my oxygen levels. Apparently, I wasn’t breathing very well a few seconds before each contraction, because that would set off another alarm. Jon was constantly getting up out of his cozy chair by my side to push a bunch of buttons to make the noise stop. It was very annoying. I should have complained about it on the survey thing they made us fill out, but of course they would hand them to us at the end, while we’re holding our baby in our arms and the entire world is perfect. Naturally, I wouldn’t have anything bad to say at that moment!
Anyway, Juanita took good care of me. The contractions were really doing their job at this point. Jon had the TV on but I didn’t even notice what was going on around me. It took everything I had to get through each contraction, which were happening about every 2-3 minutes. Unfortunately, we never used all those great techniques we learned in childbirth class. I never made it to my “happy place” to relax. We didn’t even try to listen to music. There were no massages since that generally felt worse. No walking, no bouncing on a birth ball, no squatting which was disappointing because if you remember from my previous posts I was a really good squatter in class. For the most part, I just drifted off into oblivion in between contractions, and during contractions I would just breathe in and out as hard as I could until they went away. Jon was an awesome coach. He did a great job of rubbing my arm, shoving ice chips in my mouth and sneaking me a piece of his Power Bar when the nurse wasn’t looking. He also fell asleep in between contractions … and sometimes went a few more without waking up.
Labor is definitely painful, but it’s pain with a purpose. I think the key to a positive childbirth experience is knowing and understanding what your body is doing and why. There’s no fear when pain makes sense and you realize it’s only temporary. And I think that’s why Jon and I were able to enjoy this experience as much as we did, we knew that as long as things were going they way they were supposed to, as long as there were no complications, then there was nothing to fear. There was definitely a point when an epidural was very tempting. Around 9pm I began to think how much more pleasant this whole ordeal would be if I was only able to relax and enjoy the show. But instead I chose to stick it out. Jon and I aren’t “all natural” or anti-medicine type of people, in fact we really appreciated the hospital and staff and all they did for us, but it was important for me (I don’t think Jon cared either way) to try to go without drugs for the birth of our first child as long as everything was going well and neither Jack or nor I was in any danger. Unfortunately, right from the start I had to have penicillin and piticon. But I knew that my body was made for childbirth and that, at this point, there was no reason why we couldn’t have this baby without being numbed from the waist down. So I did it. I did it for people like Nasty Nancy who didn’t think I could (I hope she read up on my file when she checked in the next day!!), I did it for the amazing taxpayers who fully-funded Jack’s birth (as a thank you I’ll save you the $1000+ cost), and, on a more serious note, I did it because childbirth is what God has designed me to do and I didn’t want to miss out on one second of it!
Progress was somewhat slow, or at least it felt like it from my perspective. By 10pm I was 7 centimeters dilated and then, about 1 hour later, I was close to 9. The last hour was definitely the most difficult. At one point the contractions were coming so hard and fast that I wasn’t getting a break in between. I felt like my entire body was numb and then both my hands locked up and I couldn’t move them. I was trying hard not to panic but it was becoming more obvious that the end must be near. I’ve heard of “the urge to push” but I was never sure if it was a mind or a body thing. For me, it was definitely a body thing. During the strongest contractions my body started pushing even though I thought it was too soon. Finally, Nurse Juanita showed up at 1:10am and announced the best news I had heard since Nasty Nancy’s departure, I was complete and it was time to push!