Warning: Don't read this if you're squeamish or know me in real life and don't want to think about my reproductive organs when you're chatting with me over dinner.
At about 6:30 I suddenly needed to be out of the tub. So Scott helped me out and then we went back and the nurse reappeared (perhaps she'd been there the whole time) with warm blankets. I thought she was the best person ever in that moment. (It was COLD once I got out of the tub.)
This whole time I had been carting around my plastic cup of ice chips. I commented to the nurse that every time I ate an ice chip I felt like I was going to throw up. "I need, like, lemon or mint or something," I said, not in a "fetch me this" kind of way but just complaining. The nurse made sympathetic noises. I thought briefly that I might really be in transition if I wanted to throw up that much, but dismissed it. No sense getting my hopes up.
I asked for the birth ball to see if that helped at all. While we waited I leaned on the wheeled chair and the wall some more. Scott was once more enlisted to rub my back. I usually signaled the start of a contraction by saying "Ow" pointedly, but once I said, "Okay, we're going to sing again." (Referring to the vocalizing I was still doing.)
By the time a birth ball was fetched the nurse was telling me apologetically that she needed to get another strip. She said something about letting me sit or stand next to the monitor, but as soon as I got the Ace bandage thingy on I just flopped onto my side in the bed. The contractions hurt a TON that way, but I was too tired to do anything else.
After I'd been on the monitor a minute or two, the nurse and I started having an argument about whether or not I should be checked. (Well, not really an argument, but the sort of conversation you have with a woman in labor where you have to use very small words.) I wanted her to wait until after she finished her strip. See, I had decided that I needed to be at least an 8 when she checked me, because if this wasn't transition then I was just done, because I couldn't take anything worse than this. But I wanted to put off the check as long as possible, even just another 15 minutes, to give myself a shot at hitting 8 and getting a med-free birth. (My mental debates are a little weird sometimes.)
So the nurse kept saying, "I really think we should check you," and I kept saying, "Wait until we finish the strip" and then suddenly I felt like I needed to push. I knew exactly what it was as soon as I felt it, which was interesting. I reported to the nurse that I was "feeling pushy" and she reiterated that she really thought I ought to be checked. I finally conceded, but since I was still lying on my side she couldn't do a very good check. She thought I was 8 or 9 and told somebody (I have no idea who; I was deep in Labor Land with only Scott and Night Nurse as my companions) to call Dr. B and tell him to head to the hospital. At this point it was about 6:45.
I was both relieved and disappointed to be 8 or 9. On the one hand, it meant this really truly was transition and soon it would be over. On the other hand, I felt like even another centimeter of transition was too much. But I'd promised myself that if I was at least 8 I could do this without an epidural, so I steeled myself to do it.
I vocalized my way through a few more awful contractions and then suddenly told Night Nurse that I was pushing involuntarily, because I was.
She managed to convince me to get on my back so she could check me more accurately. I don't remember if I was 9 or 10 when she did, but I remember the baby was at 0 station. She said that was kind of high, and I made a comment about how maybe it was because my water hadn't broken yet. She said, "Oh, I don't feel your water." I said, "Huh," and we moved on with our lives. (I do recall thinking that this was more good news for my pain tolerance; everybody knows contractions are worse after your water breaks.)
(Later she would have to put in her chart when my water broke and we conferred for a while and then just said 6:00 arbitrarily, because we figured it probably broke while I was in the tub and that's why nobody noticed.)
At this point it was about 6:50, and Night Nurse told whoever it was to tell Dr. B to hurry and grab the resident on-call just in case.
I think I must have been a 10, because after that I just went with the pushing thing and didn't worry about whether it was the right time or whether I was going to get in trouble. And the nurse was well aware that I was pushing. On the other hand, I complained after a few pushes that it was NOT better than transition, and then a few pushes later it did get better, so maybe I had a tiny bit of cervix left.
At another point I asked anxiously whether the baby was tolerating contractions well, and Night Nurse said yes. (I don't know quite what order most of these things happened in; I was so deeply into the experience that my memory could only capture little clips of what happened rather than a long video.)
At some point the resident on call, a very young-looking Asian woman, came in and introduced herself. I didn't form any memory of her name even at the time. I didn't introduce myself either. I just said, "Don't cut the cord right away. Just put him on my chest and let it do its thing." She did not protest, just went and got set up.
At another point I saw that the clock read 7:00 and I asked Night Nurse, "Is your shift ending? Are you going to leave?"
"No," she said, "I'll stay until...I won't give a time. I'm staying." It was a relief to me that things wouldn't be getting all switched up while I was in the middle of pushing.
Earlier on, I had asked for a squat bar to be brought in, just in case I wanted it, and now suddenly I felt that I needed gravity. I had only been pushing for about twenty minutes at that point and it wasn't like the baby was stuck, but I just went with my gut.
The squat bar was set up and I pulled myself up on it and started pushing that way. The resident kept asking me to move up on the bed a little bit and I kept ignoring her, but finally I was convinced to move and aided in doing so by Scott and Night Nurse. The resident checked me and I was +2 station. Me: "How many stations are there?" Her: "+3 is crowning." Me: "GOOD."
I couldn't get as good a grip on the squat bar after moving back, so I demanded a towel and Night Nurse helped me loop it over the squat bar and hang on the ends. She gets points for knowing exactly what I meant when I tersely said, "I need a towel." I am not even sure where I got that idea; I think I might have seen it on TV once.
After that things started getting uncomfortable again and I suddenly got worried that I was pushing too fast and going to tear. I asked the resident if she thought I would and she said "Maybe" in a tone that said it made no difference if I did or not. That was strangely freeing and I pushed without further worry about tearing.
A few more pushes, and the resident was saying that the baby had dark hair. Scott shocked me by moving forward to look--he had not expressed an interest before in actually watching the birth. Then again, he's always been more a go-with-the-flow type and I didn't need physical support just then--I was doing fine with my towel.
I pushed a few more times, expecting to feel the baby slide out of my body at any moment. I never did feel that; just one minute I had the irresistible urge to push and the next minute I didn't and there was a baby squalling on my belly. (I don't remember what happened to the monitor bandage thingy--I have this vague image of it being cut off with scissors but that's so dreamlike it might not have really happened.)
I remember that my first impression was that the weight of him felt right--like we fit together.
To be continued...