The scene opens on a seedy nail salon in a strip-mall in Orange County, CA. It’s the type of nail place you go when you’ve already spent too much money on personal grooming that month, and you need a deal. Adequate, but so dated that it’s far from a relaxing and luxurious experience. There is a woman painting my toes and massaging my feet, as I quietly try to breath through contractions without causing a scene.
At this point I am ten days “past due” (my thoughts on that here), and I went to bed the night prior with some minor back pain. In the morning it was still mild so I spent a few hours working on a children’s book marketing project, making no bake coconut bites, taking a two mile walk, washing and vacuuming the car, and buying a new house plant, before finally heading to the nail salon at 2:30 pm. By then I had convinced myself that I was likely in labor, but I figured I had plenty of time since the pain was manageable and hadn’t come around to the front of my belly yet – it was still all in my back.
So, back at the nail salon…another woman started doing my gel manicure. I’m pretty sure it must have been her first gel because it took her over an hour. She kept applying the paint, then wiping it off and starting over.
Mind you, this entire time the back contractions are continuing to intensify. I was shooting the woman daggers with my eyes, praying she would get it together so I could go home and be miserable in peace. I finally asked her if she was almost done because I had to go, this baby was coming tonight. Every ten minutes I was having a thirty second contraction that I had to close my eyes and breath through.
By 4 pm she finally wrapped it up. I drove myself home and was in the tub by 4:15 pm. My husband came in to the bathroom to check on me. I told him what was going on, but figured the contractions needed to get closer together before heading to the hospital. I was planning another natural birth (read the first birth story here) so the last thing I wanted to do was arrive at the hospital too early.
I reached out to my midwife just to let her know that I thought we would be heading in to the hospital later tonight. I decided to track the contractions with an app on my phone. Come to find out, I am a poor counter in pain. The contractions that I thought were thirty seconds long, were really a minute, every eight to ten minutes apart.
I showered between contractions, while my husband made arrangements for our toddler, and then I decided to go lay in bed. My poor husband tried to push on my back during a contraction because the counter-pressure during contractions had been really helpful with my first labor. This time not so much. Laying down and having someone push on my back was the exact opposite of helpful. Contractions were lasting about a minute and a half every four to six minutes at that point. I was almost in tears and snapped at him to stop asking me so many questions!
That was my first cue that we probably needed to head in to the hospital. That, and the intensity of the contractions were getting to the point where I could no longer quietly breath through them. I was moaning out in pain. We headed out to the car for our four mile drive to the hospital.
During the ten minute drive I was alternating between texting my parents who had just arrived at LAX airport an hour away, giving updates to my midwife – contractions were now lasting for one minute – every three minutes, listening to my husband yell at every stop light, and me squeezing my cell phone like a stress ball as I moaned through contractions. As we rounded the corner by the hospital a very intense contraction got me and I firmly pounded my fist on the car door a few times. That got both our attention. This labor had gotten REAL really fast.
Once at the hospital I jumped out of the car while my husband grabbed our bags. I had to pause at a couch inside the hospital to moan through another contraction. There was a man and his young son near by and I was trying my best not to be too loud and scare them. By then my husband caught up with me and was trying to get me to take the elevator up to the birthing level.
“Nope,” I said. I needed to keep moving. I had one goal. Make it to the nurse’s station before the next contraction.
“I’m taking the stairs.”
Thankfully I did, because I literally made it to the nurse’s station, saw my midwife behind the counter and smiled at her, then put my head down telling the triage nurse to talk to my husband for any details she needed. I started moaning through another contraction, except this time it was different. I could feel my body start to involuntarily push the baby down. It was like my body knew I had made it. I was in the hospital. My midwife was there. I was safe. The time was 6:08 pm.
As soon as my midwife heard the types of sounds I was making, she took over the situation. She told the nurses to get me a room NOW. They offered me a chair to wheel me to a room.
“Nope,” I said. I wanted to walk since I had a break between contractions.
We made it to a room and they had me take off my pants (the comfy Le Tote ones I borrowed), and offered me a hospital gown.
“Nope,” I said. I didn’t want to feel like a patient.
The nurses told me I could climb up on the bed.
I was a woman on a mission at that point; my one and only job was to birth this baby, NOW.
“Hand me those pillows,” I said to the nurse.
That was the last rationale thing I said until my baby arrived. I proceeded to stand next to the bed, lean over, and bury my face in the pillows while I screamed through each contraction as my body pushed the baby down and out. I knew I was supposed to be trying to keep my voice low and relaxed, but all I could do was shrill and hang on for the ride.
Some how my husband was able to get the video camera set-up during all this (in case you’re wondering, it’s not a flattering angle). He then asked the midwife how much time we had before the baby arrived. She confidently responded, “About two more pushes.”
She was right. Two pushes later, she and my husband were catching a perfect baby girl. I laid over the bed panting as if I had just finished a marathon in record time. They offered to pass the baby through my legs so I could hold her and get up on the bed. Official time of birth – 6:16 pm.
Yup, eight minutes after arriving at the nurses station.
I’m not sure if that was a hospital record, but my IRONMAN husband is looking in to it. He laughs because on the video he says it’s like I have a race high. I am really excited and can’t stop jabbering with the nurses about what just happened. In my defense there were a lot of endorphins and hormones rushing through my body at that point.
An hour and a half later, the medical staff was finally done prodding my lower half, checking on the baby, and making me answer hospital in-take questions – since we bypassed that last bit on the way in. As they walked out, my parents arrived from LAX.
After a short visit with my parents, we sent them out to get Pizza Hut, the holy grail of post partum. The restaurant was located just a mile away, and they were supposed to deliver the pizza to my parents, downstairs at the main entrance of the hospital. Some how it took over an hour and they ended up delivering the wrong pizza! I thought about calling to complain, but it was 10 pm and I hadn’t eaten since 1 pm…so obviously I just grumbled about it as I ate three pieces. The good news was that it bought us a proper moment to meet our baby girl, and finally agree on a name.
Baby Liv Claire Coy entered our world (2.2.18) fast and furious. A crazy, yet perfect labor and delivery. Definitely, the most exciting Friday night these parents have had in a long time.
I’ve heard second labors are typically about half as long as your first.
In your experience, was your second labor much shorter than your first?