12:10 pm. I'm in the back seat of the car for the five minute ride to the hospital. Each contraction feels ten times worse than the last and they are coming only a minute or two apart. I start to kind of freak out that this baby is coming very soon.
12:15 pm. We arrive at the hospital and pull into what we think is the valet area but no one is around. My husband runs in to find someone and a wheelchair. While he's gone I have two contractions that make me scream. I am frantic. Not knowing what else to do but feeling like some alarm should be sounded, I lean into the front seat and honk the horn. I am now starting to feel pressure and I do not like the idea of being alone. I feel as though I have not been able to relax at all through this whole morning. During my first labor things built up so slowly that I had time to adjust. I labored in a tub and zoned out with my hypnobabies soundtrack. This time around I haven't even fully accepted that I am in labor and already there is so. much. pain.
12:20 pm. He has returned and I have yelled at him for abandoning me for so long. Of course I'm not sure what good it would have done either of us for him not to have gone to find a wheelchair, but rational I am not at this moment. It takes a few minutes to get through the halls of the hospital and up the elevator to labor and delivery, where we are informed that there is no room in triage. I proceed to have a horrific contraction right in front of the nurse's station and that display wins me a ticket straight to a delivery room. Do not pass go and all of that.
12:21 pm. My sweet husband, does exactly as he has been told (by me repeatedly) and asks that we get a delivery room that has a tub in it. Bless his heart. The nurse tells him there is no time and there will be no tub.
12:25 pm. We're in a room and a nurse is hurriedly checking us in and getting me to change into a gown. Something about finally being at our destination allows me to relax the tiniest bit and I think that speeds things up even more. I am feeling a ton of pressure and am laboring on my hands and knees on the bed. At her request I flip over just long enough for my progress to be checked. My husband reports this via text to our doula. (And she's right, she didn't make it.)
The fog between 12:30 pm and 12:40 pm. My midwife arrives and I am so relieved and excited to see that it's Joann, my favorite of the group. She is awesome. I switched practices partially because I was disappointed in how hands-off my midwives were during Finn's birth. Joann is the opposite. My nurse is also awesome and is giving me lots of support.
My husband though, just like last time, is my number one labor coach. He is right by my side, holding my hand, staring me right in the eyes and assuring me despite my insistence that it is not possible, I can in fact, and am in fact, doing it. He is so calm, yet so excited, and so damn positive. In between contractions we are looking at each other incredulously and saying, do you believe this is happening? We are going to meet him right now!?
Contractions are now SO painful. They are ripping through me with so much strength behind them that I begin to think there is no way I can handle this. After Finn's birth I told many people that the best way to describe labor was as "work", not as "pain". Because I was so relaxed, my job had been kind of just to sit back and let my body do it's thing. It was hard to endure, sure, but not excruciating. Well this time is different. It is SO fast that there is no time to get used to anything, no time for those fabulous endorphins to build up. I keep telling my husband how much it hurts and how I am sure that I can't do it. There is also a whole lot of "get him out of me NOW". Unlike last time, there are no questions about my pain on a 1-10 scale. There are no long-winded history questions or forms to sign. I don't have an IV or a hep-lock. In fact, not a single needle is stuck in my arm the entire time I'm in the hospital.
I am screaming, trying to remember all the things that worked so well for me during my first labor. I remind myself to keep my voice low, to buzz air out through my lips, to move my hips in a circle and try to mentally stay on top of each contraction. I remember my mantras of "you never have to feel this contraction ever again" and "there is no memory of pain" and "there is a finite number of contractions and each one brings you closer to this being over". It is kind of working. By the time I feel on top of anything the next contraction is so much more intense than the last and I'm no longer in control again. But the beauty of a fast labor is that it's over before you know it, even if it hurts like hell.
12:40 pm. I'm 10 centimeters and I'm pushing. Pushing was a blur last time. There was so much going on with my complications and with heart rate monitoring that I really don't remember the feeling of it at all. Not the case this time. I feel everything. It is so much less painful than just having contractions. Every time I push I feel him move down. This is amazing.
12:47 pm. My midwife can see the baby. (I know the exact timing because she has requested my husband hand her my phone and she is taking pictures. These will not be a part of this story; you're welcome.) She tries to get me to stop pushing and slow things down a bit to prevent tearing. It's almost impossible but with her help I manage to wait out the next contraction.
12:54 pm. I get to experience for the second time in my life the most exhilarating and indescribable life event there is as I push out my baby. I'm thankful I'm so present this time for this moment; there is nothing like it. He's crying out at the top of his lungs, the most welcome sound in the entire world. He's placed immediately on me, which is my dream goal after not getting the chance with my first birth. I meet my baby. My heart expands to make room for him just like everyone has told me it will. He's perfect and I'm in love.