Birth Story – Part 3: Hello Baby!

5 Dec

In case you missed it, Part 1: Waiting for Baby and Part 2: Active Labor

At 7:30 my favorite midwife’s shift ended and my least-favorite came on duty. This is the woman who wanted to  induce the week earlier and had a brusque manner.  She seemed much more pro-medicine than the others, and I just wasn’t comfortable trusting her.  Luckily, I was so far along that I just didn’t care. I’m a little sad that she got to deliver my son, but, whatever: all she did was catch him!  My husband, mother, amazing doula and of course, I, did all the work.

For the next hour or so I labored in the tub. I remember the wonderful feeling of soaking in the warm water between contractions and just about drifting off to sleep when another horrible contraction would hit–too soon! It was so frustrating to just not be able to rest!  I was in this pattern of survive-contraction-try-to-rest, repeat, when suddenly I needed to stand up. I just got the uncomfortable feeling that I needed to open my pelvis.  I think baby’s head was just too low to lay in the tub with my legs together. I stood up and my instinct said to open wider, so I put one leg up on the side of the tub.  And then the craziest most animalistic groan came out of me! This is how pushing very spontaneously began.

When I started to push, the nurse called the midwife in to make sure I was complete. I was still standing over the tub when she checked my cervix and she announced that I was only an 8! She said that I needed to breathe through the contractions!!  At this point, I wanted to give up. My thoughts immediately went to an epidural, but then I thought through that process: call the anesthesiologist, hold my back still. Insert needle, once, twice, all holding still.  Wait for medicine to kick in.  Sounded worse than just getting through the end of labor!  And so with the help of my doula I changed positions, moving to back into the main room, and squatting on the bed leaning over the folded-up back.  This calmed me and renewed my energy.

After moving to the bed, we asked the midwife to check my progress again.  It was much easier to check and she quickly said I was complete! She said that what she felt before was probably babe’s head, not my cervix.  Either that or I went from an 8-10 in just minutes.

Pushing felt nothing like the contractions and it burned in-between.  They were really painful in a completely different way. My guess is that I felt the whole birth canal stretching as the baby passed through.  Pushing surprised me: the sensation of contractions ended and I just occasionally felt this need to bear down. When I did this I growled.  I made sure to keep the sound low, breathing out, so that it was more efficient. But it was strange and loud. I know it was a frightening sound for observers, but I couldn’t control it.  My midwife told me to try to hold my breath so that I could use my diaphragm to push, but whenever I tried that I felt dizzy. And so growl it was.

After a while, I was asked to move to the front of the bed and use the squat bar—they folded down the end of the bed and attached a 3-sided bar. I put my feet on the low sides of the bar while holding onto it. Not soon thereafter, baby’s head was visible and I asked for a mirror to watch.  They told me to touch his head—it felt like nothing: something slimy and hard.  It was most interesting/useful for me to watch in the mirror—that slimy hard thing became bigger and closer.  My body opened wider and wider. No one was counting but everyone was excited and encouraging me to Push! Push! I knew I needed to do it at my own pace, so I pushed only when I felt the urge. Luckily this led to no major tearing—just a few “skid marks” on the sides.

At 9:35pm my boy was born—first the head, then the midwife helped his shoulders out and then his body quickly slithered out.  Even though my water broke early in my labor, there was still quite a bit of fluid left, so he came out in a gush.  The midwife passed him up to me and it was so strange and amazing! This little creature was mine!!

Just a few minutes later the placenta slipped out. Although he was afraid to do it, the midwife had my husband cut the cord after it stopped pulsing.  They then wrapped me and my little boy up (who was cuddled with me against my skin) under blankets. I attempted to feed him but he wasn’t interested–he was too busy looking at the big amazing world!

Because I was wet from the bathtub, baby couldn’t get warm next to me, so after a while they had to put him under the warming light.  At this point, just about an hour after he was born, they also did the Vitamin K shot and eye ointment.   Dad went with him and talked to him the whole time he was away from me. We requested that babe not get a bath (newborn skin is so delicate that it’s better to wait a couple days–most of the goo can be wiped off/rubbed into their skin), so the nurse wiped off his face, washed his hair, and dressed him. At this point, I was up and walking and got a chance to hang out with my love-bug under the warming light.

At around 11pm my parents headed home, then I got cleaned up and we packed my things.  We were wheeled downstairs to a post-partum room by 1am and settled in for the night.  My hospital is baby-friendly, so we all roomed together: I had the amazing movable hospital bed, babe had a clear bassinet, and dad had a moderately comfortable couch/daybed.

The first night was so memorable–I was exhausted so I fell asleep at the first chance I had. Dad, however, couldn’t sleep and ended up watching our boy all night.  Baby would start to cry and I was too tired to even hear him so dad would have to wake me.  At one point babe started coughing/choking on amniotic fluid and dad ran to him to roll him over in a panic. Every couple hours a nurse would come in to check my temperature and baby’s.  The nurse the first night was so cute–she made it a point to teach dad how to change the diapers and really include him. I don’t think I changed a diaper for the first few days with baby–I was busy enough feeding him!

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