I managed to rest some in between contractions, but it felt like they were getting closer and harder. I was still coping pretty well (moaning, but not screaming or feeling ready to die), but in my head I was thinking over and over, "It's going to get so much worse. I don't know if I can do this as long as it's going to take. What will I do when it gets worse? I might have to have the epidural." I was also feeling a little bit of an urge to push at the peak of some of the contractions, and I was working hard to stay relaxed. I had some pushing sensations with Daniel around 7 centimeters and I had worked hard to not push before I was fully dilated. I was convinced that I was once again experiencing premature urge to push.
I felt like I needed some relief from the pain, so despite my worries about using the water to provide pain relief to early and not having it work well for later in the process when the pain got really bad, I asked if I could get in the birthing tub. The midwife checked my contraction pattern and said that I was okay to get in the water--yay! There was a lot of movement in the room as the tub was assembled, and it seemed to take forever for the tub to be ready. I kept moaning through contractions, saying "Aahhhh..." Finally, around 1:00 a.m. someone said I could get in the (still only half full) tub of water. Despite being in active labor, I clamored over the inflated walls lickety-split and sank into the hot water. Bliss. Tremendous relief. The contractions were immediately taken down a couple of notches. I was so happy. I was sitting at the edge of the pool, and between each contraction I would lean my head back and completely relax. My mom and Stephen were putting cold cloths on my head and giving me sips of cool water.
Gradually, my contractions went from being very frequent to more spaced out. I felt my anxiety level rise. I just knew that getting in the water had caused my induced labor to stall. Although I was coping really well at the moment, I knew that a stalled labor would mean getting out of the water and getting hooked back up to Pitocin. I felt my plans for an unmedicated birth go out the window. I could not keep going for who knows how much longer with stronger Pitocin contractions and minus the pain relief of the water.
Although my contractions had spaced out, I was still feeling kind of pushy at the peak of my contractions. I was working really hard to relax through that feeling instead of pushing with it. Most of the time I was able to breathe through the sensation without adding to it, but every now and then, my body would involuntarily add to the push, and my soft moaning would turn into a sharper "Ugh!" I could feel the baby shifting quite a bit inside me, and I visualized her getting moving around to get in the perfect position for delivery.
I sat in the water, coping and still worrying about how I was going to get through the rest of this labor that was going to be so long, so hard, and so painful. The room had gotten really quiet. I had been in the water for about an hour and 45 minutes. I decided that I needed to talk through my situation with Que as I badly needed a pep talk. I opened my eyes for the first time since getting in the pool and lifted my head up to try to locate my support people. The first thing I saw was Stephen, sound asleep in the reclining chair. I saw my mom and mother-in-law sitting quietly in two chairs at what looked like quite a distance from the tub. I couldn't even see Que at all. I thought, "Am I doing this by myself?" (Stephen told me later that I had been so relaxed and coping so well by myself that they were trying to rest up while they could to help me through the pushing phase later.)
At this point, it was almost 3:00 a.m. Since I couldn't see her anywhere, I said, "Que?" She immediately popped her head over the side of the tub, and I started explaining everything to her: how the contractions had spaced way out, how I was worried that my labor was stalling, how I wasn't sure I could keep doing it without an epidural if I had to get out of the tub and start having Pitocin again. Instead of providing me with a detailed plan of action like I expected, she said, "Well, you've been in that one position for a long time. For the next contraction, why don't you try squatting. Then after that, you can get into whatever position you want."
I was willing to try anything, so I moved somewhat clumsily into a squat facing the side of the pool so I could hold on and keep my balance. I felt a lot of movement from the baby, like she was twisting inside me. It was incredibly intense and after I completed the one contraction in a squat, I shifted into a kneeling position, still leaning on the inflatable side of the tub. After having one more contraction in that position, Que said to me, "You've got the purple line; you're completely dilated." As a doula, I knew about the purple line (it's a dark line that runs up between the butt cheeks, getting longer as you dilate more), but I didn't have a lot of personal experience with it, and with the head space I was in, that was not what I was expecting to hear. "You have a long way to go," yes. "We need to restart Pitocin," okay. "You have the purple line and you can push now," you said what? I said, "How reliable is that?" Que replied, "Very."
I sat in the pool for a couple of minutes stunned, but quickly decided that this was awesome, awesome news. All that I had to do for this labor to be over, and for me to get my nap which I still very much wanted, was to push this baby out, and now that I was fully dilated, I could. Yes! Without saying another word to anyone, as soon as the next contraction hit, I pushed as hard as I could. I could hear myself screaming as I pushed, and I remember thinking that I was probably scaring some of the women laboring in other rooms. (Remember our episode with the screaming woman and then the baby crying? This is when Stephen jumped up from his nap and grabbed the camera.) Que asked me if I wanted to reach inside and feel for the baby's head. I did, and I could feel a firm head, although my membranes hadn't ruptured, and I could still feel a slippery, rubbery layer over it, kind of like the top of a jellyfish. The baby's head wasn't that high up, so I redoubled my pushing effort with the next contraction. It hurt, but I repeated a mantra to myself, "The only way out of this is through it. The only way out of this is through it."
I was vaguely aware that the midwife was being summoned (fortunately she happened to be right outside my door at that moment), she put her gloves on, came over and reached into the water to check my progress as another contraction hit and said, "Slow down your pushing!" My doula brain knew that meant, "You're crowning, and we don't want you to rip yourself open," so I tried to dial the pushing way back, while still giving enough to oomph to get the baby out. My water broke as I was pushing the baby out. Anjli said, "Reach down and take your baby." I lifted her between my legs and placed her on my chest as I moved from kneeling to leaning on the side of the birth pool. The very first thing I said was, "You're out, baby!" (That's what you say when you deliver your baby at almost 43 weeks gestation). The next thing I did was look between her legs to verify that she was, in fact, a girl. (She was.) My entire pushing phase lasted 15 minutes, and about 3 contractions. Kaitlyn was born at 3:14 a.m. on July 17th.