To read Part 1 of my birth story, click here.
Of the things I remember, the car ride to the hospital is etched clearly in my mind. It was one of the most painful experiences of my life. I was having contractions one on top of the other and my body was telling me to push but I knew that I couldn’t. I had gotten to the point where I couldn’t help but yell at the top of my lungs every time a contraction washed over me. I felt horrible for my bleary-eyed husband who could hardly see the road he was driving on because of lack of sleep. It was the longest and most painful car ride of both of our lives.
We finally arrived at the hospital and got set up in a room in Labor and Delivery. They told me I had to sign a bunch of paperwork and they had to draw blood to do lab work before they could administer an epidural. I tried to concentrate on what I was signing; there were certain things I knew I did not want to consent to. They had to stick me three times before they could get an IV needle in my arm. All in all, it took an hour and a half for them to finally get me the epidural I so needed, but when I finally did, I was able to sleep for two hours. Even after all of that, I kept being awakened by searing pain in my left hip; evidently, the epidural didn’t take fully on my left side. Also, what I didn’t know while I slept was that the nurses had told my husband that since the epidural was only working on one side and because my baby’s heart rate dropped with the administration of Pitocin, they might have to put me under to do a C-Section. That was my worst nightmare. For whatever reason, however, the OB/GYN and nurses decided first to try to let me push.
A nurse woke me up around 3:00 a.m. on Thursday morning. She told me it was time to push. I said no. She insisted, sat me up and prepped me and the room for the pushing phase. She turned down the epidural drip so that I could feel the contractions in order to push and we began. There was a mirror at my feet so that I could see the progress I was making. Even though I was exhausted and not thinking too clearly, I remember asking for random things that I knew I wanted: delayed cord clamping, no Vitamin K, skin to skin and breastfeeding immediately after birth. I suppose I felt I had to do something to protect my baby when she was born since it was happening in an environment that I had not chosen and that, frankly, scared me. I knew there were many things I could not stop from happening at a hospital birth, but I was damn well going to make certain that I controlled what I could!
After about an hour and a half of pushing, the doctor came in. I knew I must be making progress if he was there. I continued to push for another 45 minutes or so when all of a sudden, it seemed, my baby girl’s head was finally coming. I watched as her face emerged and then her shoulders and finally the rest of her body slid out of me. All of a sudden she was on my chest and I sobbed as I held her. I couldn’t believe it was finally over; she was finally here and I was a mom.
Our little girl was born at 5:40 a.m. on Thursday, November 29, 2012. She weighed 8 pounds, 7 ounces and was 21 inches long. I later learned that the doctor had to manipulate her head in order to get her through. I also learned that I had a 2nd degree tear. I didn’t care; I was just relieved that I was able to deliver my baby vaginally and that she and I were healthy.
Of course, having to be transferred to the hospital was not my plan for having my baby. I wanted a completely un-medicated, completely natural birth center birth. I wanted to have her in the water. I wanted so many things to be different. But I know that my husband, my midwife, my doula and I did every single thing we could do to make that happen, and yet my body, for whatever reason, did not want to cooperate. I also know that after 40-plus hours of hard labor, I had to admit that I was too tired to go on without any help and I am certain that I made the best choice that I could make at the time.
Although we did not want to have our baby in the hospital, the experience we had at the hospital we were transferred to was truly the best experience we could have hoped for. All of the nurses and our doctor respected our most important wishes about how the birth and postpartum care would be handled. They did not make us feel silly or stupid for making the choices we made and they were very helpful in getting us out of the hospital as quickly as possible.
So while I can’t write about the ideal birth story that I had planned for my daughter, I am confident that everything happened the way it was meant to and that the most important things, mine and my daughter’s safe delivery and good health, were first and foremost on everyone’s mind and that we all did what was necessary to have a successful, healthy birth. For that, we feel blessed and grateful and, of course, happy to welcome our beautiful daughter into this crazy, unpredictable world!