after exhaustively researching labor stories at both dooce.com and fussy.org i thought for sure i was prepared for any labor sent my way be it poop labor (dooce.com) or toilet labor (fussy.org) but boy, was i wrong.
i ended work on friday, april 8 and was soooo looking forward to a week off before my due date of april 18th. ha ha. on sunday, april 10 i started to feel a little strange so i did what any normal person would do - i ran out and got a pedicure because i wanted to have pretty toes and feet in the delivery room. in my head i was begging ella to hold off through monday because i was getting my hair cut and i was having lunch with my two girlfriends and their little boys. so at least ella heard me on that one because monday night at 10pm the contractions started. now, in every pregnancy book i own they say don't call the doctor until your contractions are 3-5 min apart and are 45-60 seconds in duration. my contractions never got to be that regular. they were all over the place. and i was in some PAIN, friends. i thought they were so strong but i kept telling myself to stop being such a wuss because no doubt they were going to get worse. but as it turns out, they were "worse" right from the beginning and along about 1 am i probably should've been heading to the hospital but i was still slugging it out at home. nothing i read prepared me for what a contraction feels like but here's what I think it feels like: you know when you have bad chinese food and you get home writhing in pain and while you're doubled over with a stomach cramp you think "if i could just poo, i would feel a lot better"? - well, that's what a contraction feels like except they are over and over again for hours and hours. and the poo you think you might need to have turns out to be a baby.
i finally got some real sleep beginning at 8am on tuesday april 12 because for whatever reason my contractions stopped. along about 9am i had two ginourmous contractions and felt a strange popping sensation and i bolted straight out of bed holding my crotch and yelling to craig "my water just broke! get me the phone!". i called my doctor's office and they had me come on in with my hospital stuff just in case. the ride to the office was excruciating - every bump sent me searing in pain and the contractions were definitely getting worse and closer together. we got to the doctor's office where i was examined and told i was 7cm. now, you want to get to 10cm ("the diameter of a bagel" we were told in our childbirth classes thereby ruining breakfast for me for the rest of my life) for delivery. i was at 7! we were freaking out! my first question was "can i still have an epidural?". my doc, wishing me not to freak anymore said "we'll see". so we drive the 2 seconds to the hospital and get checked in and i talk to my nurse and the doc that will delivery me and i learn that i probably won't have time for an epidural. as the nurse is hooking up my IV for fluids i experience a contraction that makes me go "eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!" so she examines me and says "girl? you've done the hard part - you're 9 and a half centimeters!". at which point i say "i'm starting to feel like i should push" and she says "well, go ahead!".
a side note here: when entering the hospital one must pass through this magnetic field that strips you of all inhibitions and modesty. i had only been in the room for 10 min before 4 people had already seen my crotch and i already had my ass hanging out of my gown. by the time i left 2 days later, i had so many people touch my boobs and gut that i declared a moratorium on boob squeezing 10 minutes before we left because i couldn't deal anymore. while i was trying to be a good sport about everything, in the middle of a huge contraction a nurse had walked in and said that she was with a group of nursing students and she wanted to know if they could observe ella's birth. i had to draw the line there, folks. i was in enough of a tizz to know that i didn't need more people listening to me cry about not having an epidural and worrying about pooping as i delivered.
so, back to pushing. i started pushing. and here's the secret they don't tell you in any of the books - you reach a point in labor where you body takes over and it has decided this thing is coming out of your body and you can't do a damn thing about it. just go ahead and try NOT to push - you can't do it. you're pushing and that's final. so, five good pushes later - and 50 min after i sat on the bed - ella made her arrival into the world all squirming and crying. i had to get a little snip, snip done (at that point, had my doctor said "we need to take your big toe off" i would've gladly went along with it - just get this baby out!) so while i was getting stitched up i asked "did i poo?" and the doctor was happy to report that i didn't poo.
i was lucky that everything went so fast because that meant my recovery was fast. i didn't feel like i got ran over by a truck like it was described in the books because ella basically spent no time in my lower body. in fact, i walked myself to the recovery room and i ate cereal and fruit because I was starved. my dad kept saying "you're like a pioneer woman!". since it was only 1pm, craig and i just settled in to get to know miss ella and start feeding her and changing her and teaching her the ways of the world.