Our due date was March 5th, 2010. My mom arrived 2 weeks earlier, eager and ready to help out, because both my sister and I were delivered 2 weeks early after very short labors. Well, the 2-week-early mark came and went, and March 5th was rapidly approaching. I was working like mad because I knew I had an unpredictable hard stop, and stuff at work was ramping quickly. In fact, March 5th, we had Techstars for a Day, and I (along with everyone else) was hoping I didn’t go into labor during the event. We had a little talk with the fetus and decided I would have the baby on Sunday the 7th, which would allow me to finish TS4AD on the 5th and have the 6th to recuperate.
This little kiddo inside me sure knew how to listen!
March 5th came and went without a hitch. At about 3:30 am on March 6th, a mere 10 hours after the end of TS4AD, I was rudely awoken to strange feelings. I went back to sleep a couple of times before realizing that they were labor pains. Around 4am I got up, went downstairs, and began working, trying to tie up some loose ends before going offline for a few days. I worked until about 9am, pausing during the contractions, until my husband and mom got up.
Initially the labor pains weren’t that bad. Uncomfortable, but not terrible. Mark and I walked around our neighborhood in what we affectionately dubbed the Labor Loop, trying to speed the process. Around 3:30, the contractions were about 4-6 minutes apart, and maybe lasting about 45 seconds, and were getting to the point where I couldn’t talk during one. We decided to head in to the hospital.
I was dead set on having natural childbirth – without pain killers. My mom did it, I have aunts and cousins in Greece that have done it many times over (in fact, squatted in a field to deliver their kids), and billions of women before me have done it. Plus, I’m in good shape, I can handle pain, and I trained for it.
From 3:30 until about 9:30pm was a blur. Whoever said ‘labor is the kind of pain you forget’ was absolutely correct – not because its forgettable, but because it’s so traumatizing that your mind/body blanks it out of your memory! I remember being in such pain that I couldn’t handle it anymore – the contractions were coming fast and furious and I was unbelievably fearful of the next one. I vaguely remember howling and moaning like an alien creature. I also remember demanding Mark uninvite my parents to the hospital, which I’m sure was a terrible disappointment to my mom. I didn’t want to be around anyone other than my husband. I remember having the urge to push, and demanding a nurse come in and check me. I thought I must be almost there! She comes in and says “Well, I have good news… you’re almost at 6 cm dilated…”
I said “SCREW THIS!!! GET THE DAMN ANESTHESIOLOGIST!!!” There was no way I wasn’t even to the hard part (7-9cm dilated) yet! The longest 30 minutes of my life was waiting for the anesthesiologist to come administer an epidural.
After the epidural, life was wonderful. Not because the pain killers put you in lala land (they don’t, all they do is numb feeling from about your navel down), but because suddenly I could be present for the birth of our daughter. I could still feel the contractions, I still had to breathe through them, but I could envision opening up, her being delivered into this world. I could be happy and content with the moment. And I was. And suddenly, it was time to push.
Pushing was great. I could literally feel her head moving down, and at some point I could see the top of it in the mirror. I had a nurse on one leg and Mark on another encouraging me to push, and each time I could feel progress. She was almost here! Mark held my leg and texted my parents furiously (hey, no iPhoning at the birthing table!!!) After about an hour, she arrived, a perfectly heathly baby girl. It was magical.
So I’m thrilled to present Alexandra Katina Florence, born Sunday, March 7th at 1:15am after 22 long hours of labor and 1 miracle epidural later.