One of the Birthing Rooms at the Midwifery Center
Heather arrived, and we were off. She followed behind us. As we came up to the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel, we could quickly see that what is normally a 2 lane tunnel was going down to one lane for some night-time repairs. Wonderful. Every contraction I had was pretty painful and I was grabbing on to the "oh shit" handle (you know, the one above the passenger window?) and pulling myself up off the seat because it made my back feel better. As the cars were merging together into one lane, Heather was stuck to our bumper trying to stay with us, but there was this one guy who was acting like he was going to run her off the road rather than let her in. I was looking in my side mirror thinking "Oh my lord, my doula is going to get into a road rage incident on our way to have a baby!" Hahaha! She got in, and all was well. She probably would've gotten out of the car and beat the crap out of the guy if necessary, she doesn't mess around. I also shot off a quick text message to my friends (the Real Housewives of Hampton Roads) letting them know we were sneaking off to the hospital....they were all thrilled!
What normally was a 20 minute drive to the hospital ended up taking us around 45 minutes, so it is a good thing we left when we did. As we pulled into the hospital Marshall dropped me off at the door and then drove across the street to park the car. Heather was also parking, and hurrying to catch me. I tried the door and *IT WAS LOCKED*. No joke. I totally forgot that they said after 9pm (or maybe it was 10?) they would lock that entrance and you had to enter the hospital through the other entrance CLEAR ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE BUILDING. Not cool, DePaul, not cool. So I turned around and yelled across the street to Marshall, who was getting our bag out of the car, and said "The door is locked!". He thought I said "My water broke!" and came sprinting across the street with a towel in his hand! I think men who have a wife in labor have a little hard time hearing because of their adrenaline level. :)
Just then a car pulled up and a hospital worker got out and used their badge to open the door. She could see that I was there to deliver a baby, and told us to come on in! Thank you random stranger! We made our way up to the floor where the Midwifery Center is, and went right into one of the birthing rooms, since we had already pre-registered at the hospital. It was nice not to have to fill out forms and answer tons of questions right away. We met our nurse Colleen, who was wonderful and did a great job helping me get changed and set up to do the initial 20 minute fetal monitoring period, after which I was free to labor how I chose with intermittent monitoring, as long as everything was fine. Tara came in to check on me and see how I was progressing. She let me know that she'd be with the woman in the next room who would be delivering soon, but that she'd soon be back. The hardest part was just lying still on that bed, I wanted badly to get up and move around, it was SUPER uncomfortable. I was lying on my left side, which was most comfortable to me, and when I would have a contraction I was pushing with my right foot downward on the bed, lifting up my pelvis a little bit. I don't know why this felt better to do, I think it had to do with the position of the baby at the time. The contractions were maybe 3 to 4 minutes apart, I can't really remember at this point- I wasn't timing them anymore, just focusing on breathing. Heather was doing a great job keeping a cold washcloth on my head because I was sweating a ton (thank you hormones!) and so hot, and she also talked to me and helped keep my mind off of feeling chained down in the bed. The monitoring was FINALLY over and I got out of the bed as quickly as I could. I'm not sure exactly when it was, but sometime around now is when Colleen asked me if Marshall was my husband, and I looked at her and said "You don't think I drag him around for fun!?" Sorry Colleen! I bet nurses get snippy b!tches giving birth all the time right?? I think if that's the worst thing I said during labor, then that's pretty good!
I have to say, that at no point during any of this was I scared, and I don't think Marshall was either. We had taken a Birthworks Int'l class that helps couples prepare for natural childbirth, and it was fantastic. So, we knew what was happening, what was coming next, what we could do, etc. We were empowered and over all just excited!
They checked me and I was already 8cm dilated! Woot! I really felt great about that, like most of the hard work was already behind me! The tub was already filled, and I knew I wanted to labor in the water, so I got in. I left my sports bra on, but really, all modesty is out the window at this point in childbirth, you really don't care who sees your business, or what you look like. As soon as I got into the water, I knew I probably wasn't getting out. It. was. AWESOME. The water just lifts up all your heavy pregnant weight, and takes the pressure off of your joints and back. I was still feeling the contractions, but they were localized, and I wouldn't say they were severe. I was shaking on and off, which is a sign that I was having some major hormonal stuff happening, but I never felt nauseous. I leaned against the side, sometimes on my left, sometimes on my right. I tried to get on my knees and lean forward, but that didn't feel good, so I just leaned against the side again. At this point I started making this "Ahhhhhhhhhhhh" sound during the contractions- trying to keep my mouth open, taking deep breaths, and focusing on opening and relaxing.