I was pregnant with my second child, and after a highly medicalized, but fast first birth (induction, epidural, baby out in just 5 hours), I knew I wanted to attempt a natural childbirth. As my due date came and went, my Dr. offered an induction, but I told her I just wanted to wait it out.  My in-laws were going to descend upon our home within a few days, and we didn’t have a proper bed for my mom-in-law to sleep on (just a mattress on the floor), so my mom and I drove an hour away to an antique store to look for an iron bed. While walking and shopping for a few hours, I was having Braxton-Hicks (or so I thought), and wasn’t terribly concerned-I had been having them for several days.

Later that evening, while couch surfing, I felt a little *pop*, and a tiny gush of fluid. My DH and I were terribly excited, but didn’t know what to do next-there weren’t any contractions, and I wasn’t uncomfortable at all.  So, we continued watching tv for about 45 minutes.  I finally said “Maybe we should call someone?”, so we contacted the phone-a-nurse service. The OB on call (who was NOT my regular OB) called back in about 20 minutes and in a very crabby tone, essentially told me to haul it in to the ER-NOW. So, we laughed, packed leisurely, and moseyed to the hospital about 10 minutes away. I had one strong contraction while filling in all of that crazy paperwork, but was still not really uncomfortable.

Up on the OB floor, the nurse checked me-4cm-and I settled in for what I thought would be a miserably long wait. After about 5 minutes, I just felt like kneeling on the floor next to the bed.  I still wasn’t uncomfortable, just having moderate contractions, and wanted to kneel. A few minutes later, the nurse brought in a birthing ball (much more comfortable than the floor). We discussed an epidural, and I told her that I wanted to wait and see.

No sooner had she left and closed the door, that I felt hot, sweaty, dizzy, nauseous, and felt like my throat was swelling closed. I gasped for air, and like Prissy in “Gone With the Wind”, I began screaming “Help me!  Help me!  I’m dyin’ I’m dyin!” (No kidding). Rational Brain knew that I was, in fact, NOT dying, but Primal Brain had kicked rational brain waaaaaay to the back of my skull.

The nurse (and what seemed like 10 spare, unidentified people) came running back in, and hauled me up on the bed.  They tried to put monitoring bands on me, but I was on my side, curled up, clinging to the bedrail, wild-eyed and panicked. My DH found a wet washcloth, which I put over my eyes for relief (and to hide). Then, The Uterus took over, and my body began pushing. The nurse told me to stop pushing, and I tersely told her that it wasn’t actually me, but The Uterus, and by heck if I was going to stand in its way. I tried the panting, etc., but The Uterus wasn’t to be swayed.

The OB arrived a few minutes later, introduced herself, and announced in a Very Important Proclamation, “NOW, you can push.” Thanks, lady. Someone rolled me onto my back, and someone put oxygen on me (since the monitor had long since fallen off). I pushed with each contraction until crowning, at which point, the OB asked me “Have you had an episiotomy before?  Because you’re tearing….Now with the next contraction, give it all you got!!!”  Huh?  You don’t tell a gal she’s tearing, then egg her on to tear more!!!!  I’m still shaking my head at how insensitive/un-helpful this was. I even sat out a contraction to seethe/ponder life. I remember having tunnel vision, staring at the fluorescent ceiling light, and everyone disappeared, except for DH and the OB (and me, of course).

As I looked at the light, I pondered my options. Option A: Quit. Take a nap. Pass out. Whatever. The OB firmly asked me “Are you having a contraction?  You’re having a contraction.  Why aren’t you pushing?” Put a sock in it, lady.  I’m thinking…Option B: Push really really hard and get this baby out. Option B really is better, because Option A doesn’t get the baby out, and I sure did want a healthy baby. I sat out one more contraction, then gave it my all!

At the ring of fire, I uttered “lidocaine”, and the OB just snapped “No!” DS2 came out through the “ring of fire” and was perfect. They put him on my chest, and he and I just looked at each other in disbelief. I swear. Total confusion. Then, I noticed that the OB (whom I have *affectionately* named Matilda the Hun) was sewing up my tear without the benefit of numbing.  What a great lady. Geesh.

From the time we rolled into the hospital until the baby was out was less than an hour. I highly recommend it!  In fact, #3 is due in three months, and I intend to go “natural” again, now that I know what it is like. I think that not knowing what to expect, and beginning my apparent labor already in transition (somehow I hadn’t felt the first phases of labor) set me up for the panic that I experienced, and I am really looking forward to approaching the next birth with a greater sense of calm!

Mary