Birth Story, Part III
4:44 p.m. - 2005-11-10
"Go ahead and turn off that pitocin, in case that's what's bothering the baby," he told the nurse.
The room was still full of friends and family members, and I was really grateful when they cleared them out. I was starting to get a little worried, and all the commotion going on around me was preventing me from being able to focus properly. The last thing I wanted to do in that situation was panic. My mother and Alan got to stay to watch the birth, and I could tell that my mom was nervous too, by the jokes she kept cracking.
My doctor seemed to read my mind at that point. He was calm and comforting when he told me that everything was fine, and to try not to worry. He did an internal check, and after a little stretching of my cervix, declared me fully dilated and ready to start pushing.
"You're about to have a baby!" said one of the nurses.
"Wow. That went fast," Alan murmured. It was one of the only things I remember him saying during the entire thing.
The nurses started "breaking down" the bed by dropping the foot and pulling out the stirrups so that the doctor would be able to reach both me and the baby easily.
"Is there going to be anything for me to hold onto?"
"Yes, there are some hand holds that will raise in front of you."
And then, like magic, the hand holds appeared, and I grabbed them. I could tell immediately that they would make pushing much, much easier for me.
"You can go on and give a practice push with the next contraction," the nurse told me.
I couldn't really feel the contractions, but I decided instantly that it didn't matter. All I could think of was getting my baby out. Everything was numb from my waist down, and I knew that that often inhibited women's pushing. I was determined to push effectively, tearing or episiotomy be damned, because I figured that I might as well take advantage of everything being numb while I could. I'd deal with the resulting pain later, but right then, the only thing that mattered was a healthy baby.
So I gathered all of the fear and panic and worry that had accumulated within me and pushed against it. I tossed aside every inhibition that I had, and did exactly as I was instructed: to push "like I was having the biggest bowel movement of my life."
All of a sudden, the nurse yelled, "Wait! Stop! Don't push anymore!"
Of course, that freaked me right out. I was sure that something had suddenly gone tragically wrong, and that the whole DIE DYING DEAD DEATH thing was about to come true.
"Looks like you don't NEED a practice push! I could see the baby's head on that one! Doctor, you'd better get changed."
The doctor turned to the little table that they had set up and began putting on his blue paper stuff. "You can push if you feel the need to," he told me.
I didn't know when the contraction was coming, so I decided to go ahead and push anyway.
Once again, I heard, "STOP! Don't push anymore! Her head came almost ALL THE WAY OUT on that one!"
The doctor got completely suited up and they draped some blue paper things over my legs. He told me that I just needed to push when I felt a contraction, and to hold it as long as I could. I was so grateful that no one counted in the traditional "1, 2, 3, 4" pushing style, because my one request to Alan was that he not allow any "cheerleader-y type" nurses to coach me.
I was surprised that I couldn't feel the contractions at all, and sort of wished that I'd had them to guide me. I was lucky in that the doctor would tell me that it looked like I was about to have one, because otherwise I'd have just been pushing with nothing to back it up.
I know there was noise in the room, because the two nurses were bustling around getting things ready, and my mother and Alan were oohing and aahing (they reminded me of this later), but I don't remember any of that. I was completely and totally focused on pushing my baby out. When I decided to push I grabbed the hand holds, and bore down as hard as I could until I absolutely had to take another breath. In the back of my mind I kept thinking, "This is probably going to hurt like hell when the numbness wears off."
I remember hearing people tell me, "You're doing great," and "That one was AWESOME!," but it's all vague and blurry. Not because I was doped up or in so much pain that I blocked it out, mind you, but because I was SO incredibly focused on what I was doing. As you'd expect, I've never devoted that much attention or effort to anything in my life, and it took every ounce of concentration I could muster. I DO remember my mother saying, "Oh, man, she doesn't have red hair! I was hoping for red hair!" which I thought was pretty weird under the circumstances.
I know that they must have told me that she was about to come out, but I don't remember that either. All I know is that suddenly the room filled with a high-pitched baby's cry, and that in the next second I saw a squirming, blood and vernix covered little person being lifted to my stomach. It wasn't until then--that very moment--that I really understood that there had been a BABY inside me.
And then everything else in the room completely disappeared, and she was lying there on me, screaming her little lungs out, and I was crying and rubbing my hands all over her slimy little body, because OH MY GOD I JUST HAD A BABY AND I CAN'T BELIEVE THAT THIS IS HER AND SHE'S ALL MINE. I let the tears stream down my face as I examined her tiny little fingers and rubbed her head. I didn't even try to shush her crying (like I've seen so many videos of new moms do) because that crying meant that her lungs were okay and it was the sweetest sound I've ever heard in my life.
I sort of remember them asking Alan if he wanted to cut the cord, but I don't think he gave an audible answer. After he'd done that, they took her from me over to the warmer. While I watched her wiggle around, I was really surprised at how pink and perfect she looked. I guess they cleaned and swaddled her there, but it seemed to take FOREVER, and all of a sudden I couldn't stand the sound of her crying because I wasn't there to comfort her.
"Rub her hand or touch her or something!" I told Alan, and he looked shocked and confused and a little scared.
"But...my hands aren't clean," he said, looking down at his palms like he'd been digging in the sewer or something.
"Seven pounds, one ounce," the nurse said, "And nineteen inches long."
"Look at that 'little' 37 weeker!" exclaimed my doctor.
When he spoke, I noticed that the doctor was busy down between my legs, and I asked him if I'd torn, or if he'd given me an episiotomy.
"You just have two small tears, one on the top, and one on the bottom," he told me. He held up a weirdly curved little needle. "I'm stitching them up so that they won't bleed, but they're not bad at all." Once again, I was grateful for the numbness of the epidural.
"Was I loud?" I asked Alan and my mother, because I honestly didn't know how much noise I'd made while pushing.
"You never made a sound," said Alan, and I swear, I saw a newfound respect for me in his eyes. "Not a sound. Your face sure did get red, though."
I looked at my mother. "You did really well. Definitely surprised me." (Gee, thanks mom, for having so much confidence in me.)
Finally--FINALLY--they gave her back to me. My baby. My perfect, beautiful baby. I couldn't believe how gorgeous she was. Most newborns are all wrinkly and squishy and often have red marks on their faces, but aside from her head being a little misshapen from being so far down in the birth canal for so long, she was flawless. Her eyes were sealed shut with sticky vernix, and I wished that they would open so that I could see what color they were. Her mouth formed a gorgeous little rosebud, and to this day I can't get over how perfect her lips are. I noticed that her nose was covered with tiny whiteheads that lay just beneath the surface of the skin, and mentioned something about them.
"We call those milk bumps," someone said. "They're completely normal, and will go away in a couple of weeks."
I held her close and cuddled her, telling her how much I loved her, how excited everyone was to meet her, how happy we were to have her. She quieted down, and I asked the nurse about trying to breastfeed right away.
"Of course you can," she told me, and then went to attempt to quiet the teeming masses (20 people!) that had gathered outside my door and were threatening to break it down.
She wouldn't nurse, though, so after ten minutes or so, Alan took her to the nursery to be measured, weighed, bathed, and all that stuff. I protested this, because I was under the impression that everything could be done in the room with us.
"Well, normally we can do that, but she has seven babies right now, and there's only one person working in the nursery."
I wasn't happy, but I conceded to let them do all the standard procedures in the nursery. After all, Alan was in there, and the reasoning behind it made sense.
A few minutes later, Alan walked in the room.
"Her blood sugar is low, and they're either wanting to give her sugar water or try to get her to nurse."
"Bring her to me, then. I'll nurse her."
He was gone for only a second, and then returned with his mother in tow.
"They say that they need to give her the sugar water, because it's apparently really low."
"But I don't want her to have a bottle! The first thing in her mouth can't be a bottle, because..."
His mother practically yelled at me, "If she doesn't get it she might get BRAIN DAMAGE! DO YOU WANT HER TO HAVE BRAIN DAMAGE?!"
Now, granted, she was worried about the baby, and wound up in the excitement of the moment, and the nursery worker had freaked her out with that worst case scenario. My mother in law is usually one of the nicest people in the world, and would never say anything to question me about the way I want to mother my child or hurt my feelings. Her yelling at me caught me completely off guard, and I immediately turned into a sobbing, bawling mess.
"N-n-n-oooooo, of c-c-c-ourse I d-d-don't *sob* want *sob* her to have *sob* BRAIN DAMAGE! *sob sob sob* Give her the water! Give her the water!"
So they gave her a little water, and her blood sugar came back up, and she was fine.
There's more to tell, but I've been at this for way too long, and I'm starving. Expect Part IV tomorrow. Maybe.