Ms. C’s birthstory ends with her being born in three pushes, with no doctor present, and Hubby yelling “The head is out! The head is out!” Her birth was fast and just as I prayed for! So, let’s backtrack to what happened leading up to her birth on September 27th. Her official internet name, Caterpillar, was coined from her movements in vitro. Before she turned head down, she was sideways and would scrunch up with her back arched and head looking up, and then stretch out, causing me lots of discomfort. Even the ultrasound tech noted her caterpillar-like behavior, and I have permanently borrowed the nickname.
I call her birth, “the explosion,” because a few weeks ago Gadget asked me if she will just explode out of me one day. In reality, she came so fast, I would say his question was pretty accurate of her entrance. Her journey here started on the evening of Monday, September 26. I think she was trying to get into position, except she was still a little lop-sided and placing a ton of pressure on my hips and pelvic bone, so much so, it was excruciating to walk or sleep. I spent Monday night crying in the bathtub, praying for relief. My parents had already arrived, so Tuesday morning Hubby took the boys to school and then came back to get me to take me to a 9:45am impromptu doctor’s appointment. He had originally planned to go to work, so he was outfitted in his slacks, belt and button down shirt.
I told my mom I was going to the doctor to get something for the hip pain. My mom commented that they weren’t going to be able to give me anything at this stage in the game, but I left optimistically. By the time we reached the office, my Caterpillar must have shifted, because the pain was much more manageable. Dr. Jackson came in to examine me after 11. It was busy in the office that day, and I had nowhere else to be, so I didn’t mind the delay. The week before, at my weekly exam I was 3-4cm dilated, so it was no surprise when she told me I was a solid 5cm, stretchy to a 6.
“Great!,” I thought. That was progress. I was glad, but was really and truly exhausted from being pregnant. She then told me I was headed straight to labor and delivery. Whoa, wait a minute! Just like that? After weeks of hoping my water would break, or timing contractions at home, my Caterpillar’s birthstory was already beginning, and without my control? I asked if I could at least go home to get my hospital bag. For the past week I traveled everywhere with my bag, to the gas station just in case, to the grocery store, even to pick up Gadget from his after-school program two blocks away. But that morning I didn’t want to be too assuming, so I left it at home. Dr. Jackson said she could not send me anywhere other than the hospital with me being that far dilated. Normally, I would have been overjoyed, but I think reality had set in very quickly that labor and delivery were literally right around the corner. I did not have the adrenaline surge I envisioned. My heart did not palpitate, nor did my hands get sweaty. I had no anxiety, just a sobering feeling that I was in store for some intense pain since I planned not to have an epidural.
One of Dr. Jackson’s nurses wheeled me through the office building to the adjoining hospital, per Hubby’s request. I could walk just fine, as I did not have any contractions, but when it comes to my health, he doesn’t like to cut any corners. I went straight into a labor and delivery room, where the nurse and I discussed my labor expectations. Dr. Jackson wanted to start me on a slow drip pitocin (a drug used to induce labor by starting contractions), but I had other plans. I wanted to have as few interventions as possible. My desires were fueled by my horrible, long-lasting episiotomy recovery with the Lion. I was miserable during and after his birth, which consisted of an epidural, pitcoin, forceps, and an episiotomy that took over six months to heal. Gadget’s birth was much more uneventful and quick, which I attributed to the absence of the epidural. This go around, I wanted to have a natural birth, which to me just meant no epidural.
At the hospital, I asked if I could walk around for an hour to see if contractions would start and pick up on their own. The nurse asked if an IV was okay, and I consented for a few reasons. 1) If an emergency c-section was required, I wanted to doctors to have quick access to administer drugs. 2) I knew they gave pitocin after the birth to reduce the chances of hemorrhaging. 3) Sometimes they give liquids to help hydrate, but most importantly, 4) I wanted the option to have IV drugs. It took the nurses almost thirty minutes to get the IV started. I have one “supervein” (which I learned from my hip infection), and other than that my veins are small and weak. No one has ever been able to start an IV in my arm, but these nurses tried. The vein blew, and then they started listening to me. Eventually, they found a spot that would hold in my hand. Ughh. By 1pm, I only felt one or two contractions, but I at made it to 7cm. At 1:20pm, Dr. Jackson broke my water. (this is the TMI warning: do not continue to read if you have a weak stomach or don’t want to know me this intimately!) And boy, there was a lot in there! It slowly gushed out, and I knew there was no turning around. After almost an hour, my contractions still had not kicked in, so the nurse started me on the originally planned, slow-drip pitocin. She started the drip at 2:15pm, and by 3pm I was feeling the first few contractions. I think the drip was started at 2mL, and then turned up to a 4. Once my body kicked in, the nurse turned off the drip for the remainder of labor. With the first contraction, they were pretty painful and required me to focus on my breathing in order to get through them.
After about the third contraction, I asked for some medicine in my IV. She warned me that Nubain would make me drowsy, but would not take away the pain. I understood and agreed. I just needed something. She then added that if I was already 8cm, that it was too late because that would make the baby drowsy, too. I said, then check me now! She checked, I was still a 7, so I thought let’s bring on the drugs! Then she adds, I just need to check with Dr. Jackson. At this point, I lean over to Hubby and ask if the prior conversation determined that I could get drugs if I was less than an 8, and since 7 is less than 8, why aren’t there any drugs going into my IV? By then the nurse was back and with the consensus of the other nurses, (who said, if you’re going to give it to her, GIVE IT TO HER NOW!) finally administered the drug. At some point, I needed to go to the bathroom, but the contractions hurt too bad to get up, so a bedpan was used (I don’t remember the rationalization I used to justify it, but at the time it sounded marvelous. No need for more color commentary).
Immediately, I was high and drowsy and could relax in between the contractions. What helped me the most was the consistency in the room. A little earlier, a dear friend of ours had stopped by the house to bring my mom (and my bag) to the hospital so my mom could be there for Ms. C’s birth. My mom, Hubby and the nurse each had their section of the room, and it helped me to keep in control when they remained in their “zones.” At one point, Hubby was in the nurse’s zone and my mom was in Hubby’s zone, and it threw me. I asked them (not so nicely) to move! By 4pm I was 9cm, so the nurse asked me to try different positions to get her to descend. We tried laying on my left side, leaning over the back of the bed and squatting. Squatting REALLY made me want to push, so I just settled on leaning on my left side. Somewhere between 4:15-4:30 the contractions felt like I wanted to push uncontrollably, but I was 9.5cm and still had a little lip of cervix. The nurse told me not to push, because that could swell the cervix, which sometimes results in a c-section. Honestly, I was trying not to push, but at that point nature was totally in control.
One of the best things about this labor was that the nurse stayed in the room the entire time… until she went to the bathroom. She left, and didn’t tell me she was leaving. She was the strongest contributing factor to why I wasn’t already pushing. I didn’t want to “get in trouble.” As soon as she left and a contraction came, I couldn’t help it! I pushed, and I believe she crowned. I told Hubby to call the nurse. I was mid-contraction and couldn’t speak. He pressed the red button, and the nurses station asked how could they help me. I was hoping he would say “my wife needs some help in here!,” but instead, he calmly asked the nurses station to hold on, because I was having a contraction and couldn’t speak. By that point in time, another contraction hit and I was pushing again. From this point on I had my eyes closed. I don’t know why, because I really missed the details of what happened next, but within this push, Miss C’s head came out. I don’t know what made Hubby lift the sheet, but this is when he starts yelling, “The head is out! The head is out!” It felt like the world’s largest BM, and also gave me a ton of relief. At this point, I could hear several people buzzing around the room. Hubby says the nurse was back by then and had paged for the backup support. The scene must have looked kinda strange, because Hubby was in his work clothes holding my leg up, and Miss C was just one push away from being born. Nurses where everywhere from the sounds of it. One told me I had to push as hard as a I could to get her out. She had a concern and urgency in her voice, which lead me to believe she had no idea how easy that was going to be for me. She was so frantic, it felt like she had climbed on top of me to push on my uterus, but in reality, she was just leaning on my stomach to help push her out. I’m thinking to myself, where was all this help before?! So, I pushed a third time, still laying on my left side, and at 4:50pm, 2 hours and 35 minutes after pitocin was started, I welcomed my daughter into the world!
Dr. Jackson had arrived by this time after a sprint. She changed into her scrubs, broke down the table and put my legs in the stirrups. **A bit late, I’m thinking** But she did repair a small tear. Miss C didn’t cry right away, and because her birth happened so fast, the nurse cut the cord. This was the first time Hubby didn’t get to cut the cord. Once she was under the warming lights she started crying, and I guess there was a little piece of cord left that Hubby got to cut. I think the adrenaline was wearing off, so my pain level was really increasing. I was starting to lose it as Dr. Jackson was suturing me. I started crying and breathing hard, so she had them bring me my daughter. Holding her and seeing her for the first time calmed me down. I remember asking if she was okay, even after I heard her cry, and of course she is perfect.