so i woke up at 8a with more braxton-hicks than normal. id been feeling them since like month 5, so it wasnt anything unusual. but these were more numerous than "normal." still painless, just felt like a muscle contracting. when i got up, i decided to start writing down when i noticed them though, "just in case." i had perhaps 16 noticeable braxton-hicks from 8a-noon.
since nothing was out of the ordinary, dave went to his planned ultimate frisbee practice at around 11a and was back for lunch. at noon, my braxton-hicks became more noticeable and could be put in the category of painful, though only mildly so. i could definitely still talk and joke around through them. these are the "early labor" contractions i suppose. at this point, i started to take care of the things i needed to do/get done in case this was going to be "labor day."
from noon-3p i had maybe 15 contractions. i think i emailed the doula at around 2p to let her know about this, saying that hopefully this was labor starting but maybe it was the false kind. i said i "hoped to see her in a couple days." also during this time dave was getting things ready on his end, in case today was the day. i had bugged him for the longest time about shaving his beard so that he would be presentable to meet monster. after his shower, he did embark on this monumental task. and almost as soon as he put down the clippers and razor...things escalated.
**things from here on may be described in more detail than you would care to read about. i say "avert your eyes" cuz im writing this as a record to myself and X for how things happened.**
at 3p, my mucus plug came out...and it all began...for real. i had about 10 contractions that hour and then dave started writing things down...a sign things were getting amped up. we were trying to look for the 4-1-1 pattern. nothing about what was happening was following a pattern. these were getting strong but were of varying intensities. they came at different times and were all over the place in terms of length. some required major breathing focus, which i hadnt practiced but my body ended up doing naturally.
the hour between 4p and 5p was largely spent in the bathroom. it was the only place i felt comfortable due to the strength of some of the contractions. at this time dave packed our hospital bag (i hadnt wanted to pack it early since i thought it would make me anxious to wait for baby). also, there was still no real pattern to my contractions. i had perhaps 17 contractions this hour, some were really bad, so i told dave to call the doula. during this whole time i could still feel monster moving and kicking so i was happy to know that at least baby was still having a good time and seemed healthy.
then, at 5p my water broke. i had a horrid contraction that was LONG, and somewhere in the middle of it i felt a weird sensation that something was holding me back, and that if i could somehow find a way to relax during the contraction, even for a TINY bit, i would somehow be able to release. so i did, and my water broke all over the floor (thank god i was still in the bathroom). i freaked out for a second. i was totally soaked, and it was warm, ew, and now it was seriously happening. today i would be going to the hospital. and now the contractions were MAJOR. the only way i found to get through them was to, embarrassingly, defer to whatever my body wanted to do. and that was to basically sing/bellow opera-like notes that would only be fitting for a full-on horror show. i am so lucky i didnt frighten dave away...and i can only imagine what the neighbors thought was going on on this sunny saturday evening.
anyway, while i was "singing" i realized i was completely paralyzed with each contraction and wouldnt be making it to the car. i just knew dave would have to call 911. thankfully he didnt argue with me and called, they were there in 4 minutes. at this point i was "on all fours" in the bathroom. i had tried to get down and take off my wet clothes and get into something dry before they came. nope, no luck. i was pantless when then strapped me to the gurney. thankfully i was in enough pain that i couldnt focus on being mortified. and thus i went to the hospital, half naked.
the paramedics were two men, and i think they were both a little skeptical and a little freaked out. i dont think they believed i was at the pushing stage of labor, but they deposited me at the hospital anyway. i had my eyes closed the whole time, trying NOT to push. THAT was fun! then i was on the labor/delivery floor and someone was ever so gently (NOT) examining my cervix. yup, fully dilated. ready to push. i was wheeled into a room and the on-call doctor was whisked in (recall, my dr was out-of-town, not that she woulda made it there on-time even if she were in town). it was also at this point that the doula arrived. now i had two support people to help me get this kiddo out. i felt lucky. i also, oddly, didnt really feel like pushing. everything had happened so fast that i just didnt want to see what this part was going to be like. i wanted to rest or get my bearings, but of course, it wasnt like i was pain-free, and the sooner i got her out the sooner i could exit this phase.
so, i commenced pushing and according to the clock on the wall, she was pushed out in 20 minutes. it felt like 5. once her head came, her whole body just slid out and she was born. placenta came very shortly after that and i had monster with me and the docs were taking care of my nether region. totally left all modesty at home. couldnt have cared less what was happening. i even thought that i wouldnt ever let dave at the foot of the bed to watch monster being born...but he was there. he was so calm through the whole thing and endearingly fascinated that i wasnt nervous about him being involved in everything. the only thing he was nervous about, was the possibility of having to deliver monster in our apartment. which, thankfully, he did escape.
so, in the end i guess i got my non-intervention, pain-med free labor that i had wanted. the doula said that typically labor is calculated from the point when contractions get painful and you cant talk through them because at this point things are progressing from whatever could be false or "early" labor into things that are definitely going to make a baby arrive. so, by that "standard" my labor was 3 hours long. while that may look nice and desirable, i would definitely say that something more along the 6-8 hours of steadily-increasing textbook labor would have been slightly more desirable. honestly. but i cant complain.