Part three (wherein the rambling really takes off) is unofficially sponsored by the Ktan carrier!
So, yea, four centimeters. Whine.
I should mention that immediately prior to that news, I spent probably an hour or more laboring in the shower. Everyone had to really talk me into this because the shower involved such logistical nightmares as walking 15 feet, bending, towels… fodder for the demon contractions. But the nurse told me she had seen women go into the shower and come out an 8. If the nurse had told me that she had seen women jello wrestle with Boris Yeltsin and come out an 8, I would have said well giddy up comrades, I hope it’s cherry.
They were right. The shower was awesome. No distractions, no clocks, the hot water never ran out like at home. I managed really well in there. Chicks- get in the water if you can. My mom brought me a big thermos of ice water and I remember standing there just reflecting on the different temperatures of water. This water is cold. But this water is hot. GROOVY. I’ve never been into the hallucinogenic drug scene, but I have to imagine childbirth is a similar experience.
But getting into the shower meant I had to part with my Hypnobabies tracks. And after the discouraging four centimeters news, I couldn’t go back to them. Looking back I probably should have tried, but the thought of hearing that woman’s voice again just made me so sad. I tend to form really strong associations with things, and her and those tracks just reminded me so much of all those hours I had spent being so in control and so optimistic and hopeful. Those happy emotions just seemed so out of reach at this point. Again, if there was even a 3% chance I could have reclaimed that state, I was dumb to not try.
I definitely stand by Hypnobabies and credit it for keeping me very sane for very, very many hours. When I was in the zone I hated having to pull off my headphones and would be desperately clamoring to get them back on. Did you have fish as a child? I would feel like the goldfish yanked from his tank, flailing about in the little green net, and then you’d stick him back in the water and he was all AHHHHHH THAT’S THE STUFF. Except for a few fleeting moments when I was very deep in the zone, it definitely didn’t remove the pain, but it did somehow make it easier to work through. I loved having the encouragement in my ears and would nod along when it told me I was so calm, so relaxed, so peaceful. My brain was just like “Uhh those aren’t the first adjectives I would select to describe my state, but OK if you say so.” Which is I guess how the whole hypnosis thing works anyway.
That said, I was also grateful I had read a lot of other stuff. One thing I looked at a few weeks before was Birthing From Within, which is as hippie dippy as they come (half the book was about “birth art” which I skipped), but it takes a very different approach. One exercise thing from it really stuck with me. It said to imagine how much you thought childbirth would hurt. Then imagine that it ends up hurting 100 times more than that. What would you do? That was a really helpful second opinion to Hypnobabies, which was telling me that it would be a beautiful, peaceful experience and I was NOT ALLOWED to think otherwise. And I think a lot of women do have nice, linear, complication-free experiences that lend themselves well to “peace”… but, uhh, not all of us. Ha. Two nuggets that I pulled from that book that really helped…
Labor is hard work. It hurts. And you can do it.
If you are to give birth instinctively, spontaneously, and without drugs, there is nowhere to go but through the pain.
I came back to both those reflections a lot as the evening chugged along. Another thing from Ina May that was really helpful…
The interesting thing about pain is that it is clean. When you are finished experiencing pain, it is over. You cannot reexperience its sensation by remembering it.
I thought about that a lot too, and concentrated hard on taking everything one contraction, one minute, one second at a time. During the contraction I’d tell myself That second is over. Now that second is over. It’s never coming back. And then it would be over and I’d think it was one more out of the way, one less between me and meeting Frogson.
I know I’m way off on tangents (again) but a little more motivational word vomit from me. I want to put this into words because I know I have a few preg buds that read here, and plenty more who will find themselves similarly knocked up in the future. The pain is… legit. And so different from anything I’d ever felt. And even those very first active labor contractions from way back in the middle of the night, I thought Uhhhhh these are kinda worse than I was expecting. Can I handle this?!?! If they’d told me I’d still be at it 9 zillion hours later, pushing through ones that were 50 times worse, I wouldn’t have believed I’d have made it. But I will concede this was one “beautiful” thing about birth. It really is designed so well. As the pain gets stronger, you do too. It intensifies gradually such that you don’t realize this one was stronger than the last one which was stronger than the one before that. You don’t realize it until you compare it to 50 contractions ago, and realize how far you’ve come and how you’ve acclimated against all odds.
The shifts changed so my first nurse was headed out. I had kind of love/hate feelings on her. She was super supportive of my drug-free preferences and was really helpful in keeping me going when I thought I couldn’t. She even made some remark about not letting “them” “do terrible things to you.” Ha. However, she kept telling me my demon contractions weren’t “real” and when I had consistent, 60-70 second contractions, then they’d be “real.” Umm, no. Sorrs. Don’t tell a chick in hour 15 of labor that paltry 1 minute contractions (a box I had checked longggg ago) are real-er than demon 3 minute contractions. Or do tell her that but pick a different word than “real” because that made me want to throttle people. She told me she’d be back in 12 hours and that “I better see a baby!”. New nurse Lisa took over and she seemed OK. By the end of the journey I would have grown to love her. Lisa was awesome.
I don’t remember much between 5pm and 10pm. I’m actually not sure where those hours went. I remember Lisa bringing me an Italian ice which was THE GREATEST THING. You know that Food Network show “Best Thing I Ever Ate”? It was that crappy hospital Aramark Italian ice on January 8, 2013. Lisa was all “Time to get back on the monitor!” and I was like “SILENCE WOMAN WE’LL TALK WHEN I’M DONE WITH THIS ITALIAN ICE.” (Maybe a little nicer than that, but probably not much). Honestly I am sitting her thinking what else happened and all I can remember is that ice.
I was checked again around 10pm. Five hours after being a measly four centimeters, I was…
FOUR AND A HALF.