After my epidural took hold, I kind of freaked out a little. My legs got really, really numb. They felt heavy and pain free. I was convinced that they were so heavy I'd accidentally move them in my sleep and the weight of them would pull me off the bed. My mom told me that it absolutely could not happen, but I demanded that they lessen the intensity of the epidural. I wanted the pain to be dulled enough to snooze, but really wanted to know what my body was experiencing in this whole labor thing.
Everyone kind of looked at me like I was cray-cray, but it was important to me. This will become significant later. You know, when I am regretting that decision and feeling some serious pain.
At around 2:00 a.m. (after some really nice epidural induced sleep) the nurse came in to ask me if I was feeling any pressure and felt like I had to push. I think my response was something to the effect of, "Well, I could push. I feel some pressure." Apparently that wasn't quite convincing enough, so she checked me, assigned a new number to a new measurement and went to talk to Jen. She came back a few minutes later and told me we were going to wait a little longer to see if the baby scooched down a little further. (Yes, that is a medical term.) I went back to sleep for about an hour.
I woke up to a much stronger desire to push. Everyone (you know, the 47 people needed to participate in the birthing event) got situated. Jen told my mom to hold my left leg and Beau's mom to hold my right. It was apparent that she wasn't sure what her role was in this event and she started to back out toward the door. Like I said, there were about 47 people in the room already--all of whom were going to get to know me VERY personally--so I thought she should be there for her grandson to be born. I was not going to be shy if she wasn't. So, she stayed.
Oh, I forgot to mention during the long boring part that the AC was out on the floor. Throughout the night it was moderately uncomfortable, but as more and more people poured into the room, and the baby warmer got turned on it got downright hot. Grody, sweaty hot. On top of the grody, sweaty hot one gets when working really hard to push a baby out of her. It was not pretty. (Nor was I as you shall see.)
I started pushing. It was slow going. I totally thought that since my pregnancy had been so easy and so uneventful I was going to have the easiest delivery. About an hour into the pushing, I realized that every hope I had of the last part being smooth was dunzo. Out the window with my birth plan. Probably having donuts or something yummy.
If you've ever been at the hospital for any reason you know that they ask you to identify your level of pain using this handy chart:
Up to this point--through allll that time-- I'd hit an eight or so once or twice. When I started pushing I was still at an eight, just a consistent eight. (The closest I'd ever come to this was when I broke my rib--that was a six. And it hurt like hell.)
Perhaps an hour in to the pushing after varying positions and such, I was feeling really sick. I looked at my mom and, with the little bit of strength I had left, I asked for the puke bag. I expected her to know that when I turned my head toward her and mumbled "puke" she'd know what I needed. She didn't and I managed to puke on myself, my pillow and my bed. That was my break between contractions. Awesome.
And to really gross you out, I'll let you know that when you have had nothing but water and orange popsicles for over twenty-four hours, you puke up green watery bile. You're welcome for that visual.
Between two contractions, about two hours in to the pushing I asked Jen what the record was. She told me she wasn't going to let me go beyond four hours. I thought she was kidding. I really thought this pushing part was supposed to be relatively fast. Turns out I would keep pushing for three and a half hours total.
When Jen let me know that she could see out Little Man's hair, I asked her what color it was. I'd always half joked that I had to have blond babies. When she said she thought it looked dark, I told her I didn't want it. I was trying to be funny, but, well, my delivery was off. (Oh, how about totally unintentional pun.)
Now, I was at a nine on the pain scale, and I was getting frustrated. I was working so hard, she could see his hair, where was he? Was he stuck? I was starting to panic and fear that something was going to happen to my baby and I was going to be rushed in for an emergency c-section. I was terrified of that, but honestly, at this point I was more terrified for my baby. I didn't think I had enough strength to get him out and that is a really scary feeling.
Jen suggested a little game of tug-of-war with my mom to help me really bear down and push. She took a sheet, tied it in the middle and gave me the knot and gave my mom the two ends. She stood at my feet while another nurse took her position holding my legs. It is possible that Beau's mom took my other leg. I really think she did, but I'm not certain. When it was contraction time I'd pull and mom would brace herself and give me resistance. I was able to push much harder doing this, and it kind of got my mind off of what was going on. I had to concentrate so hard on pulling that I wasn't thinking about what was happening *down there*.
I'm not really sure how long I did that. I know at one point I
calmly mentioned moaned that I was at a ten (hoping that there was a prize when I reached the max, perhaps.) That, I guess was the "ring of fire." "Pedro's" head was pushing through. Jen told me his head was out and I'd have to deliver the shoulders. I wanted to cry. The thought of pushing again was overwhelming. The contraction started and the next thing I knew there was a baby on my chest. My body contracted enough that I barely had to push again.
All of a sudden, at 7:23 in the morning, this squirmy, slimy baby was in my arms on my chest. I kept chanting, "Oh my God." It was, I suppose, as much an exclamation of my mind being completely blown as a prayer of thanks.
I finally got to meet Carter James. I'm not going to try to describe it, because I honestly don't have the words. At that moment something inside of me changed. I felt the most overpowering, breathtaking love. I thought I had loved the baby that grew inside of me for 37 weeks. I had no idea what love really was until that moment he was squalling in my arms.
He was absolutely perfect. (And his hair wasn't dark...)
With all of that tug-of-war going on, I'm not sure how my mom didn't have two dislocated shoulders, but when she was asked if she wanted to cut the cord, she stepped up and did it. (Honestly, I think that is almost as brave as pushing a baby out. Gross.)
Jen told me that Carter came out with his fist pressed to his temple, holding on to his umbilical cord. No wonder I hit a ten; he added another inch to the width of his head!
Almost before the pain had subsided, the acute memory of it subsided. Today, I can tell you it hurt and that it was the most pain I'd ever felt, but I can't really remember the pain. It is an abstract concept. Words, really. I'm not as scared of having another as I should be...
I'd never say these are the finest pictures of me, but they are so, so beautiful. OK, so my head is in puke, I'm sweaty, swollen (look at those chins--yes, plural. aak.) and haven't showered in twenty-seven hours, but damn, I'm a mom and that's pretty beautiful.)
Fortunately, before my Little Man was born, it was explained to me that because I had been running a fever and had been put on antibiotics, he'd have to be put on antibiotics and be monitored in the nursery to make sure that he didn't have an infection. I'm so, so glad that they told me that beforehand. I'm also really glad that my midwife understands the importance of that bonding time right after birth. I was absolutely the first person to hold him. His skin touched my skin. When he was cleaned off, it was done right there on me. Eventually he was taken for his Apgar and to be examined. (Because he was on the cusp of being a preemie they wanted to make sure he was healthy and sound.) That was quick and he was brought right back to me and I was encouraged to feed him.
For about forty-five minutes I got to hold my baby before he was taken away. I talked to him and told him how loved he was, and I really have no idea if anything else was going on around me.
I snapped out of it when the moms mentioned Panera for breakfast. Yummy. The nurses took Carter to be examined and such in the nursery and I waited for breakfast. I'm not sure if I wanted food or a shower more, but because of the epidural, I wasn't allowed out of bed quite yet. I waited patiently for my food and after breakfast got up to take a shower. It was glorious. And a little gross.
The nurses brought Carter back to me after my shower for this picture.
I hadn't brushed my hair after the shower and look funny, but look at that sweet baby peeking out from his blanket.
It hadn't occurred to me that in order to give a baby antibiotics they would have to jab a needle into his poor little body, but they would have to do that. I don't have many photos of him from the first few days because of that. The IV line just made me sad.
Before leaving so I could rest (heck, so she could rest, too) my mom went to the nursery and took this photo of my brave little boy (pre IV, but still pretty wired).
And at some point he was wheeled to my room. I have no idea when this was, but I know it was in my room on the first day of his life. They let me hold him one last time before he was encumbered by all those wires.
You'd think since the whole birth thing is over, my birth story would be done, but that's not true. He hasn't met dad yet, and that is so, so important.
When Little Man was born, Beau was on a flight to New York. In New York he got to see pictures of his son. It was 1:41 p.m. when he got the texts that confirmed he was a dad and pictures were sent. It was not long after that that he was informed all flights coming in our direction were cancelled because of a tropical storm off the coast. After taking a two hour helicopter ride, and two eight-plus hour flights, he would have to drive the eight hours to the hospital. He did it with no rest and in record time (and got out of a ticket, too!).
At just after 11:00 p.m., I was in the nursery feeding Carter and the nurses in the nursery asked me if the man standing at the door was dad. Indeed it was. He finally got to hold his sixteen hour old son.
He looks absolutely exhausted, but like a darn proud papa. Right after I took this, he changed his diaper. Before I even changed our son, dad did. He's awesome that way. I'm easily the most blessed woman.
After some complications and some worry about his eating, Little man was released from the nursery on Thursday night and got to spend his first night with mom and dad. He was free of IVs and monitors and sensors. We finally got to hold him without fear of moving his line or setting off a sensor. Holding him in my arms knowing he'd be heading home with us the next morning was the an incredible feeling.
One last picture from the nursery for you and then I'm done. Three generations:
So there you have it my friends. My birth story. In its three-post entirety. I never, ever thought I would post photos of me without make-up, lying in puke, half naked, etc. on the Internet for the entire world to see--for all of eternity-- but it is my story and I'm so incredibly proud of it.Thank you for letting me share it. Thank you for reading it.
And especially, thank you for not judging my appearance (or my fuzzy slippers in that last photo...). You guys rock.
What's the scariest, most rewarding thing you've ever done?