So, I surrendered my preferences and laid down in the bed...it was awful. The pain increased so much and I was miserable. Lest I risk sounding completely negative, there were two good things about the bed: I hadn't laid down in about 12 hours, so even though I was hurting worse, I was able to rest my body a little. And taking on this position caused me to progress.
I'm not sure how long I was on the bed, because I really went outside of my mind at this point. I remember hearing my midwife say "Happy New Year!", which caused me to see a picture in my head of the final scene of 'When Harry Met Sally', when they finally get together at the New Year's party. I thought about people celebrating all over the world and how very, very far removed I was from all my previous New Year's celebrating at that moment.
Contractions--previously slowed by my time in the shower--started coming faster together again, and eventually I had no breaks between them. They all rolled together with only slight dips between the peaks. I couldn't talk, I could only moan. Tim was rubbing my back with heat packs and my mom was rubbing my feet. I would have been lost without them. Having those other sensations gave my brain something else to process besides the pain, which helped so much.
I laid there and thought about an epidural, and how badly I wanted one. I thought about an anesthesiologist coming in and performing the procedure on my back. Maybe I was so outside my mind that I thought it was actually happening. If I had been able to process those thoughts into words, I would have begged for one, but I was so deep inside myself that I couldn't communicate with the people around me. Eventually I heard my mom on the phone, talking with someone at the nurse's station. She was asking for them to send my midwife back to check my progress, because I'd "been having a continuous contraction for the last 25 minutes."
What?! That sounded so bad. My midwife arrived immediately to check me.
"You're at least 7 cm!! You're doing so great, Bethany!"
A chorus of praises rose up from Tim and Mom as well. I didn't hear their words but I remember their joy and pride and encouragement over me. And then I heard the very sound of salvation: running water. Someone was readying the birthing tub! I was going to be allowed off the bed and back into the water! This was my first glimpse of the light of possible release from labor. Laying there with a flurry of activity going on around me, I suddenly felt the need to fold myself over my next contraction and bear down through it.
"that can't be right..." I thought I wouldn't feel an urge to push unless I was a complete 10cm, and I had just been told I was only at 7cm.
I don't remember how I went from not being able to even speak to leaving the bed on my own strength and climbing in the tub. I just got in there somehow, and slowly sank into the water.
The water was hot, way too hot, and it was pure wonder. Everything went still and my body stopped screaming at me as soon as each part was submerged. My mom tested the water and worried out loud to the midwife that it would be dangerously hot for the baby. They asked me if I wanted some cold in there, and I could only reply "I just love it." Everyone snickered and left it alone. My midwife knew it would be a long time before any baby would be in that water.
The doppler heartbeat checks continued to show that the baby was fine. I was so grateful.
After experiencing a few more contractions, I admitted to my midwife that I thought I felt the urge to push but I was afraid to if I was only 7cm. She checked me for the last time and informed us that I was complete and the baby's head was at a -2 station. Such great news! All I had to do was push the baby's head under my pelvic bone and we'd be so close to being done.
So I pushed.
I always fancied that I would be a delicate, silent woman in labor. That was not the case. I was a yeller, and my midwife seemed to love it. With every contraction, I pushed with everything I had and "vocalized" to keep from holding my breath and turning purple.
"Goooooood, Bethany! That's so good!"
I must have been desperate for any positive affirmation that I was doing the right thing. If yelling while pushing was right and good, then fine.
Tim told me later that he didn't know I was capable of making such ungodly sounds.
The nice thing about pushing was that it replaced the pain of contractions with pressure. Not that it felt easy, but it was awesome to not have the terrible pain anymore.
This went on for two and a half hours (I found out later). I ran myself completely out of energy to the point where my best efforts were obviously more feeble. Contractions had slowed down so much that I was waiting and waiting for the next one to come so I could push with them. I felt stuck. I stopped hearing positive feedback from my mom and my midwife, and finally asked them what they thought I should do.
"I think we need to get you out of the tub and get this baby out."
"Ok. How about the birthing stool?"
I never thought I would use that thing, but I sure didn't want to lay back down on the bed again. I climbed out of the tub, spent one contraction leaning over the bed, and got settled on the stool. Immediately, everything changed. Gravity and instinct took over, and I had no control over my body anymore. I went from straining as hard as I could to move the baby, to feeling like an unstoppable force was pushing the head farther and farther down, and within about two minutes I felt the ring of fire. Tim was sitting behind me and I was gripping his hands for dear life. The extreme pressure, burning, and speed of everything was pretty scary to me, and I was trying to slow it all down with deep breathing. Everyone encouraged both of us to "Look! Look down and see the head!" but neither Tim nor I were interested in that sight. I kept my eyes tightly shut and told them absolutely not.
This part hurt so bad, but it was over so quick. I remember finally feeling relief and saying, "Oh, that feels better!", and my midwife replied "that's because the head is out." I still didn't open my eyes until I felt someone lift my baby into my arms. It was all finally over.
The relief was indescribable. I looked down to see the bloodiest baby I've ever seen in my life lying limp in my arms. Tim was beside himself with excitement and I just stared at our blinking, quiet baby.
"Look what you have! What do you have? Is it a boy or a girl?!"
"Why does that even matter right now?!" I couldn't have cared less. I was completely in shock that a human being had just been born out of my body. It was so surreal, but everyone wanted me to get on with it and announce the gender. I peeled back the blankets.
"You're a GIRL?! You're my Liesel??" I had wanted her to be a girl so badly.
Once the announcement was made, it was back to business. I was bleeding a lot and I had to change positions quickly to slow it down. Still holding Liesel, I was lifted up onto the bed and laid flat.
Someone in the room said: "Time of birth: 5:08am."
"THAT'S what time it is?!!" I thought it was maybe around 1 or 2am. She was born 23 hours after my water broke.
All too soon, the umbilical cord stopped pulsing, Tim cut the cord, and they took her away from me because she still wasn't crying or breathing as deeply as she needed to. The nurses went to work to deep suction her and I sent Tim over with them so he could talk to her while that was happening. She had always been so responsive to his voice while I was pregnant, I wanted her to at least be able to hear him if she had to be away from me.
My midwife had a lot of work to do on me to put me back together. More than once I asked her how many stitches she was doing, but she coyly replied "well, it's a running stitch, so....". It's probably better that I don't know, really. I just know it took her an hour to stitch me up. By then Liesel had her lungs clear and I could hear her big healthy cries as she was being weighed and measured, which was a great relief.
She was 7 pounds, 9 ounces, and 18 inches short with a full head of long dark hair.
The stitches finally ended and I got to change out of my bloody clothes and get her back in my arms.
There it is. The end. Thanks for reading this very long (longer than I intended) account or our birth.