For those who missed it, here’s Part 1 of my labor story. Now on to Part 2…
Ok so when I last left you, I had progressed to 9cm by 9:00am. “Right on schedule” as the doctor said. As with so much of my pregnancy, everything happened like clockwork according to what the textbooks say. At this point I was beginning to feel like my epidural was wearing off faster than I wanted it too. I found myself saying things like, “Umm, can we top this off or something? We’re getting to the most painful part and I can feel EVERYTHING!”. Amazing how things went from “I’m not sure I even want an epidural” to “Give me ANOTHER epidural”. Ha. Anyway, I was definitely regaining feeling in my middle and legs, and could feel a lot of pressure and deep contractions coming very quickly. They felt different than the earlier contractions, probably because now the baby’s head was spreading my hips wide open.
I also started to experience some really horrendous back pain. My lower back felt like someone was sticking knives in me. It was a constant, throbbing pain that overshadowed the contractions and the hip stretching and made me really unfocused. The doctors explained to me that I had two options at this point:
- Have the anesthesiologist come back and perhaps increase my epidural. The downside of this was that it would most likely prolong my labor/pushing because I wouldn’t be able to feel the urge to push. The upside was, of course, that the back pain could be reduced so I could concentrate.
- We could start pushing, despite the overwhelming feeling of back pain. The nurse said sometimes the opposing pressure of pushing eases the back pain, and since I had a lot of sensation, I would probably be a very strong pusher if we started now.
I wish I could say I easily answered, “Let’s start pushing!”. But I didn’t. The back pain felt like it was killing me. And it took my focus and clouded my judgment. I said I wanted more epidural.
But then the doctor checked me, and she said “Give me one push and we’ll see how close you are to meeting your baby”. The nurse gave me instructions, I took a deep breath, and pushed. Her eyes lit up and she said, “Kate, the baby’s head is right here. I can see tons of black hair!”. That was all the encouragement I needed. I was ready to push. He was SO CLOSE.
So close, yet so far away. I pushed for 2 hours! On tv it looks like it happens in 5 minutes. But, miraculously, the back pain was gone and my focus was 100% on meeting my little man. Turns out he was face up (just like I suspected in the last two weeks), and his head was angled in my pelvis in such a way that he was rocking back and forth without making a ton of progress on each push. We tried various positions (pushing on my side, pushing with one leg up in the air, pushing on my back at different angles, etc.). The nurse was so encouraging and kept telling me exactly what I needed to hear to get from one push to the next. Little by little, we were making progress. Unfortunately that’s when we had a little scare. We had been pushing for awhile and the baby was getting a little stressed. His heart rate would drop every time I pushed. The beeping monitor would slow and everyone would get tense. The nurse decided she needed to put an internal monitor on him to watch the heart rate. Unfortunately I remembered from childbirth class that those probes are literally screwed into the baby’s head! Poor thing! But we all knew it was an important thing to keep an eye on. After awhile the doctor gave me a bit of an ultimatum — if the heart rate kept dropping and my pushing wasn’t strong enough to get him out soon, we may have to do this a different way. She said it was not an emergency, but I really needed to focus on my pushing and get him moving. That got my attention.
Anyway, after a bit more pushing and a lot of grunting and few screams, I heard the doctor say, “Here he comes! Stop pushing.” Those are some beautiful words to hear! He spun around right at the last second and came out just like he was supposed to. The umbilical cord was wrapped around him from all that spinning, so the doc had to cut it as soon as the baby popped out (sorry, Benjamin!). He was very purple and a bit stunned from the long journey and didn’t cry right away. I could see in Benjamin’s teary eyes that he was terrified. He kept saying, “Is he ok? Is he ok?”. Then just a few seconds later, I heard the baby’s little cry. I’ve never heard anything sweeter. Since he was looking a little floppy and there were some questions about his heart rate, they couldn’t put him on my chest right away. Although I had been so looking forward to that moment of holding him right after he came out, nothing mattered more than making sure he was ok. So the doctors took him to a little table in the corner of the room and cleaned him, measured him, etc. Benjamin just stood by his side and cried and cried and cried.
Everything seemed to go in slow motion then. As they cleaned him I kept asking, “How much does he weigh? Is he breathing ok? Is he cute? 10 fingers and 10 toes?”. It seemed like it took forever to deliver the placenta… that I was not prepared for. It was very uncomfortable to push it out after I thought I could stop pushing, and I had to get a few stitches for a little tear. Finally Benjamin came to my bedside with our little bundle. We just stared and cried and stared and cried. What an unbelievable experience. And what a prize we got at the end.
Pictures and more details to come later, but now it’s time to nurse (again!). My breaks are short but I’ll be back with another update soon. I can’t thank you all enough for your thoughts and comments. We are SO thrilled to be able to share this special time with you.