Yes, yes, it’s several weeks after Part 1. I thought nobody would notice if I just quietly deleted “Finish birth story” from the to-do list, but in the last 24 hours I’ve had two people bring it up to me, so back on the to-do list it goes. To be soon thereafter deleted. Because it really is shameful. Yes, Daniel, you are a third child. You don’t have a baby book and your quilt is not even started yet. What can I say, I was too busy protecting you from your oh-so-loving older siblings to get all that stuff about the placenta we shared onto the internet in a timely manner.
Enough banter. We last left me ready with my “team” of husband Ryan, doula Kate, and midwife Sr. Kay on their way, ready to get Pitocin started at about 6:00 p.m. The nurse was hooking up the IV when I felt a little head wiggle sideways. Daniel was turning out of position again! The nurse quickly paged Sr. Kay and Dr. Martin to come and get him back down again. I used my hand to keep that head from turning any more than it already had, copying the technique he’d used before, but I was afraid to actually push against him. Discipline begins in the womb, y’all. The doctor got there very soon and Daniel was quickly nudged back into position. Okay, NOW start the Pitocin!
It took a while, maybe an hour before I really felt anything, and then maybe another half hour before I had to work through the contractions. During this time Ryan and I said our Rosary. Then Kate arrived and made Ryan go get some dinner because he hadn’t eaten since our very late lunch in L&D. I lay on the bed to conserve my energy. Kate read aloud a scholarly article about how the various peoples of Middle Earth relate to the natural world. Note to first time moms: If you can chat lightly about Tom Bombadill and Wendell Berry, you probably don’t need to rush to the hospital yet. And get a doula who thinks to bring delightful reading material. (You mean you don’t want literary analysis read out loud between contractions?) It was like a dinner conversation colored by just enough good wine and good company, but the source of our excitement was clearly the child about to be born.
By the time Ryan got back from his meal and answering the many text messages from family, Kate and I were more focused on the task at hand. Sister Kay came at this point prepared to stay until the baby was born, even though her shift was officially over at 7:00. Now began what turned out to be a textbook labor. We had our putsy-putsy stage, which was pretty delightful, as short as it was. I had not experienced “early labor” at all with my other two children, but instead got right down to business. Now we became very businesslike. Everyone had a job to do and we did it rather efficiently. There was easy conversation punctuated by contractions. When the contractions began the team would get into position with me directing what helped most. Ryan would most often press on my lower back, and Sister Kay would usually do hand massage and/or verbally help me relax through the contraction. I labored side-lying for a while, then sitting on the rocking chair, hands-and-knees, and standing leaning on the counter the computer was on. Sounds odd, but it was the perfect height. I couldn’t stay in one position for very long. For a woman tethered to an IV pole and external monitor I had a LOT of freedom to move. Keeping the baby on the monitor was never an issue. After about two hours of this we were not really chatting between the contractions anymore.
One funny thing I remember was Kate had taken it upon herself to make sure I went to the bathroom every hour. This was really smart, because I was getting a lot of fluid with that IV! But what with other bodily sensations I didn’t really notice that I needed to go. I’m writing this as a public service announcement, because a full bladder really will get in the way of the downward motion and opening up you’re trying to achieve. Seriously, voiding made a big difference in pain. You’re welcome. Also, the computer monitor in the room showed the contraction monitors for me and three other laboring women. I never figured out why this was, but I found it very distracting. I was using the computer counter to lean on at one point through a really difficult contraction. When it was over I saw the tracing, which was a nice little hill, while the other ladies’ were probably measured by the Richter scale. We covered the monitor with a blanket after that. Later I found out that all three of those women got c-sections.
Sister Kay asked if she could check my cervix, and it was 4! We could turn off the Pitocin! Yay! So we disconnected and I labored unattached to anything for a little bit. Nothing slowed down, so Sr. suggested I get in the shower since I had hoped to labor in the water. There probably was not going to be time for the tub at this point. The shower felt A. mazing. For about the next hour I sat on the shower stool and said, “Left. Lower. Arggggggggggghhhhh.” My dear husband stood and directed the stream to exactly the right spot. For an hour. That’s love. I don’t know what Kate and Sr. Kay were doing all that time but there wasn’t room for them in there and I was not going to move.
Finally I felt the need to move back to the bed. I started feeling shaky and saying things like, “This sucks. This baby was not supposed to be here yet.” In my mind I knew it was transition and we were getting close. Another textbook labor thing I had not yet experienced. It really was as bad as the books make out. Ryan told me during this time that we had just passed midnight and the baby would have my grandmother’s birthday. I didn’t much care and was sort of mad that it was taking SO LONG and that he had to remind me of this fact. Sister Kay knew it was transition too, and so she checked my cervix again. 10! I remember her laughing and saying that the shower really did wonders for me! (Obviously it was not taking SO LONG.)
I believe with the very next contraction I felt the need to push. Crowning happened in three contractions or so. In another minute he was born. I was on the bed on my hands and knees, so I was not able to see the actual birth. I can’t adequately describe the moments of the actual birth. It all happened so fast and was so intense that I was not ready to hold the baby right away. I rested for a few minutes while the nurses took care of Daniel. Daniel needed oxygen at first, but just a little bit was enough to get him breathing just fine on his own.
He weighed 4 lbs. 11 oz., one ounce more than the ultrasound measured him at two days before.
We could stretch this out into a Part 3, but I think I'll condense a bit and have done. So the placenta answered all our questions about why he was so small. About a third of it was one giant clot . Yeah, gross. Early on in the pregnancy I'd had some serious bleeding from a small clot right in the middle of the placenta. That was why I'd had ultrasounds every month, just to make sure baby was still (miraculously) okay. Well toward the end I was feeding this thing more than I was feeding Daniel. No answer as to why my body did that or why this BLOB didn't show up on ultrasound. Praise the Lord that my water broke and he was born! He's since been very busy catching up on calories and getting adorably chubby.
*I know, WALL OF TEXT. But Blogger won't let me post any photos! My apologies.