When your contractions start, they're mild at first. Because remember up to this point, I had been in labor for supposedly 12 hours without knowing it. So I naively went into this thinking I could handle the pain.
After they break your water, your stomach goes down considerably, but you're also on the clock. Because the baby can't survive more than 24 hours without any fluid in there. However when your water breaks, the contractions come closer together. So instead of one breath-stealing moment every five minutes, you start having them every three, every two, every one, and then there are only seconds between contractions.
The only way I can describe a contraction, and be aware that I had back labor the entire time, is it feels like someone is spreading your pelvis with their bare hands. You have to breathe through them, because most people, myself included, hold their breath during pain. Andy and I had the birth ball we brought from home, and they covered it with a large pad. I tried sitting on it, but it just hurt too much. So we put it on the bottom of the bed and I leaned over it, spread my legs apart on the floor about shoulder width, and just swayed. Andy stood behind me and put pressure on my lower back- LOTS of pressure, the more the better- and swayed with me.
My goal was to dilate to half way before getting an epidural. Stay on my feet as long as possible, and make it as far as we possibly could before being tied to the bed with an epi. So Andy and I took to the halls. At first the contractions came at the beginning of the hallway and then at the end of the hallway. And I'd hold on to the handle bar around the hall, and breathe, and then we'd keep walking. And then they contractions started coming ever three doors. And then they started to come every door.
The L and D nurse suggested pain meds. I said no. Everyone I had spoken to said that pain meds doped you up and they wouldn't use them again. She suggested the jacuzzi tub. I said okay.
What can I say about the jacuzzi? In the birthing movies, they act like this tub was the end all be all for birth. People do underwater births. It makes you feel weightless. Blah blah blah. None of this was true for me. When on land, gravity takes over and you can bear down, hold on, and manage the pain. In water, there's none of this. You're floating. The water was warm, which was nice, but the jets were loud and relentless. I was able to fall asleep a little, but Andy tells me every twenty minutes like clockwork I would wake up and start screaming. I remember some of this. I felt like I was out of control- like I was drowning. He would hold me, help me out of the tub, help me use the bathroom, run more hot water in the tub, and help me back in again. And this went on for hours.
5:30AM, Saturday October 6th- It's time for the epidural. I was up at 4:30AM Friday morning. It was now 25 hours later and I had not slept soundly in that amount of time. Andy was helping me out of the tub for the final time, helping me get dressed, and Dr. Berich came in. "Thank goodness you're here!" I said. To which she replied, "WHY don't you have that epidural yet?? I told you to order it whenever you wanted!" When they did the internal, I was dilated to six centimeters- more than half way. I had reached my goal. The L and D nurse called the anesthesiologist and I waited for relief.
People ask me if I screamed during the contractions, and the truth is I didn't scream. I didn't say much of anything except "ouch" and "oh my goodness this hurts so bad." I cried a good deal, and sobbed a good deal, but there was never actual screaming. Leave that for the movies.