As the contractions got more intense I got more and more uncomfortable. So far during my labor I had been laboring mostly without assistance, vocalizing when I needed to and trying to relax and utilizing Kourtney when I needed. But now I knew I needed something more. My sister woke up my wife and I asked her I wanted to get into the shower to see if hot water on my back would be helpful. She didn’t hesitate when I asked her to join me so I could hold onto her whenever I had a surge (one of the many reasons why I married her) . I am not sure how long we spent in there together, forehead to forehead, swaying slowly as the water ran down my back but for a little while it was just what I needed. Unfortunately I eventually got tired of standing and needed to get out.
At some point Kourtney texted Cynthia asking her to come back because it was clear to her that my labor had seriously progressed. I just remember her suddenly being back in our house, helping my sister and Kourtney set up and fill up the birthing pool so I could labor there. Once it was filled I got in and it was HEAVEN. For a solid 5-10 minutes I didn’t have any contractions, and I was completely relaxed. There are a couple of pictures of me in the pool and I look like I was sleeping (remember, I had been up for over 24 hours– I actually fell asleep between contractions at one point). I felt lighter, there was no more tension in my body.
I think that this was just the break I needed for my body to rest up for what came next.
After about 10 minutes the contractions started up again, only they were even more intense than before. I needed Cynthia and Kourtney applying pressure on my hips and back for every contraction. Sometimes they came one on top of the other, peaking twice. They felt like they were lasting forever. With the humid air and heat coming from the water in the birthing pool and my natural propensity for anxiety, it felt like it took so much more effort to breathe full breaths. It felt like the contractions were literally taking my breath away. More than once I said “this is so hard, I don’t know how much longer I can do this.” I was beginning to feel a lot of pressure and pain even between contractions. I was no longer getting any breaks.
I let Cynthia know what I was feeling, and she suggested I go to the bathroom and see if that was what was causing the pressure. Now, our apartment is very small, so the walk from the living room to the bathroom was about 50 feet, but it felt like such a long journey. I had to stop multiple times as another contraction flowed through my body. I finally made it to the bathroom and sat on the toilet which did NOT help with the pressure. I looked up at Kourtney and I said in what I hoped was a calm but authoritative voice, “We need to go to the hospital. I am done.”
Honestly I don’t know what I expected from the hospital. I know that even if I had transferred, I couldn’t just walk into the hospital and get an epidural on the spot. It could have been an hour or more before I would get any relief. All I knew in that moment was that I didn’t want to be in pain anymore. I was tired! I didn’t know when this would end, it truly felt endless. Now that I’m on the other side I know that I was deep in transition and the end was so, so close.
Kourtney convinced me to go back into the living room and get a cervical check before we made any big decisions. She helped me back into the living room (stopping for another few contractions), and sat me down on the couch so Cynthia could check me.
“I’ve got good news,” she said. “You’re at a 9!” Everyone in the room clapped! She double checked to make sure there was no cervical lip, and then told me that whenever I was ready I could try pushing. Honestly, the first thought when she told me I was at a 9 was oh no, I really have to do this now! I have to push out a baby! I actually got through another couple of contractions before I asked, “um, what am I supposed to do?”
“Whenever you’re ready, you can just try pushing, and if it doesn’t feel right you can ease off.”