(Because 40 hours of labor deserves two blog posts. Read part one here.)
Now, this was Monday night. I’d been in active labor since around midnight and had had no rest and no food in well over 24 hours. I was fatigued, I was tired. And being in a hospital with a 54% c-section rate, I was concerned. I didn’t know if they’d let me labor for much longer before cutting me open. We had a conversation about meds which I did not want. Though we had talked about me possibly asking for meds and his direct order that he was not to let me get any, we hadn’t talked about issues or problems. I will never forget that the nurse was taking info when we were talking and in a slightly irritated tone told him “sir, this is her decision, she can get meds if she wants”. I’ll be forever grateful that he did not start an argument with her.
After discussing our options (and the fact that the nurses had told me I’d be pushing for an hour) we decided that the safest thing would be for me to get the epidural, rest and not risk a c-section. Can I tell you how horrible I felt? How much I did not want to be there and how disappointed I was that after all that planning, nothing was going right? The doula got there shortly after the epidural was administered and she told me then that the very tired feeling I had was normal. That it was my body’s way of preparing me for labor. That made me feel even worse.
My water was broken at one point. I did not sleep. The doctor came in to check on me and asked if I’d push for him. Now, let me tell you that I’ve watched many birthing shows and I knew he wanted to gauge my pushing abilities. So I pushed. Next thing I know I hear the nurse “she’s crowning!”. And it was like an alarm had been hit. Everyone came in the room, my bed transformed and stirrups flew out of nowhere. The nurse asked my doula if she’d gone over pushing with me. We’d talked about it before but, not here, we didn’t think I’d be ready for all that business!
Mami and the (ex)man on one side and my doula on the other. A mirror behind the doctor because hello, I wanna see what’s going on down there! She tells me to just push as hard as I can and to hold my breath for the count. I do as I’m told. Push, hold, hold, hold, breathe and push. BABY! Well, not just baby. I really wish the (ex)man hadn’t forgotten to turn on the video camera and hadn’t dropped the regular camera on the floor. If the video had been on, it would’ve captured beautifully how my daughter came into this world. With a splash! Her little body had been holding all of that water back and when I pushed and she came out, the remaining water created a Hollywood-esque splash that landed squarely on the doctor’s chest. Bonus points because let me tell you, I’d never dealt with such a dry, emotionless doctor in my life. Then I heard muconium.
My frog princess was taken, cleaned up and assessed to make sure she hadn’t aspirated any. I took the few minutes to distract myself by posting on FB that I’d given birth (yeah, I totally did). I was worried, though. I also recall that the cord had been wrapped around her neck. Can I just tell you I need some sort of chord device to be somehow implanted in bellies so that kids don’t play with those things inside and get themselves all in wrapped up in it? But, I digress.
She was here! And she was healthy. And she latched on beautifully (though other issues cropped up later). Nurses came by to see the “first timer” who delivered in two pushes (take that!). I felt relieved, happy that my mami was there. Ecstatic that my siblings were on their way and got a chance to see their niece. Beyond in love with the man holding his child.
In the blur after birth there was a deep feeling of disappointment in myself that still exists today. I can’t have that moment back. I can’t know exactly why it was that on that day so much went wrong for me. While I will be eternally grateful that my child was born healthy and happy, I will never know the feeling of having brought her here on my own terms. Then again, I feel that the experience brought to light the reality that while we can plan, things sometimes don’t go as planned. It’s a big lesson that’s come in handy as I walk down the path of parenthood.
In spite of not having the experience I wanted, I got the child I’d so desired. Forty hours of labor later. Oh, did I mention she was born during halftime of the Pats/Saints game where Drew Brees got me 52 points in my fantasy league? Because she totally was! Also, I’d predicted my child would be born on 12/1 and my friends laughed. She arrived one hour and 12 minutes before that date. Ahead of schedule and under budget. How’s that for great project management?!
If you’re still reading, thank you for hanging in. If you are a parent, what was your birth experience like?
PS: I’m still working on birth announcements, please stand by.