Today is August 6, 2009. It's 9 p.m. Six months ago, from this very minute, I was in full-fledged labor. It was probably around this time that I remembered a comforting piece of advice: Just when you think you can't go on, it's just about to be over.
Good advice, I thought. Until I asked how much longer my nurse thought it would be.
Nurse: Well, let's see. Yeah, you're still only 4 cm. dilated. So we have awhile. Me: How is that possible? Does it look like it'll be today or tomorrow? (I couldn't really talk in full sentences, but that's the gist of it.) Nurse: Tomorrow.
I wanted to break down. I wanted to cry. But when you're in labor, it's just wasted energy. Instead I focused on the present, getting through this minute. And then the next.
I glanced at the small clock on the wall, imagining how far that hand had to stretch to get to tomorrow. And I wasn't sure I could do it. And it wasn't about to be over. Not even a little.
It wasn't just the pain. At this point, my body was pushing the baby out. You know how you hear of doctors saying "DON'T PUSH!" and then the woman immediately follows with "I HAVE TO PUSH! I HAVE TO!"
Well, I was told that this stage feels like you have to take the biggest crap of your life and if someone said "I'll pay you a million dollars to not take this crap" you would say "I'LL PAY YOU TWO MILLION TO LET ME DO IT!"
But what I DIDN'T expect is that when people say "I HAVE to push!" it's because their body IS pushing. Or at least mine was. I could control the intensity of the push, reigning it back as much as I had the strength for. But my body was fighting against me, determined to blow the baby out and be done with it. But my cervix -- oh, that damn cervix -- had its feet up, beer in hand, saying Chill, man. I'll dilate when I'm ready. And it wasn't ready until midnight. Technically it wasn't even ready then. My midwife delivered the baby at 9 cm. -- without a tear or complication, I might add. Have I mentioned I love her?
But I did it. I got through it. A more accurate piece of advice:
When you think you can't go on, you can. And you will. And in six short months you'll look back with accomplishment, feeling physical strength and mental maturity that you didn't have seven months ago. You will go on.