Read Part 1 of the birth first!
Annnnnnd I was only 7cm. In almost 12 hours, I’d dilated 2 cm. At that point I started crying through some of the contractions because I was so upset that I had not progressed very much. It actually really helped to just totally sob and let all the tension release. Then something in me snapped and I told myself to get a grip. So with that, any thought of an epidural went away completely, I went into a special place in my mind, and kept walking around my room to deal with contractions.
At the start of each contraction I would think, ‘I just have to take a few deep breathes and it will be over! Just a few more breathes. A few more breathes.’ And then sure enough, the contraction would be over, the relaxation would set in, even if it was only for 30 seconds, and I’d realize that I made it through yet another contraction.
I tried a few more baths here and there and quick 5 minute showers before the water would turn cold, desperately wishing for a longer shower. After that first nice bath, the water went out everywhere and wouldn’t stay warm long enough to fill that bath either. Maintenance came in and it still wouldn’t work, so I just accepted that I’d be stuck walking around my room for the rest of the birth.
Around 5am my nurse offered to check me again because I said I was having a lot of pressure, but didn’t feel ready to push, and I was at an 8. I once again had thoughts about how there was no way I could do this, but didn’t actually consider an epidural. I was just so far removed from everything that the thought didn’t even occur to me. So I continued laboring…
Once the sun rose (7ish? I think it was right after shift change…) one of my doctor’s came in since she just got on shift as well as a new nurse. I was feeling even more pressure and more intense contractions so I had her check me, and lo and behold, I was at a 9 with only a tiny bit of a cervical lip preventing me from getting to 10! I asked the doctor if it would help if my water broke, and she said it definitely would and asked me if I wanted her to break it. I immediately said, ‘But doesn’t that make the contractions worse?!’ Her response was essentially, ‘DUH’, but in a nice way. So I decided to have her break it so we could get things moving.
Within 15 seconds, my contractions were so intense I can’t even explain it. Thinking about them even now just makes me feel a little insane. That’s when I turned into the stereotypical pregnant lady that was full on screaming through each contraction. My new nurse had just said that my old nurse told her I was rocking this labor and that I was so calm and collected through everything, but that instantly flew out the window! They had me lay on my side to try and get rid of the last of the cervical lip, and laying down was so painful. So painful. It made all the previous contractions feel like a backrub.
The minute or two I had between contractions was such bliss though. I felt amazing between the contractions because there was such a dichotomy between the feelings. I was able to close my eyes between them and after one of the contractions I asked Vince if they were getting further apart and that I was really nervous my labor was slowing down, and he laughed and told me I had my eyes closed for maybe a minute in between, but to me it felt like 7 or 8! After a while of the screaming I was able to collect myself again, much like the previous time, and moaned through everything while gripping onto the bed rail. (Vince's hands were saved from extreme crunching!)
After a few hours of lying on my side, I started to feel a bit like I could push. I was checked at 10am and was officially at 10cm, so she told me I could push whenever I wanted. Vince turned on the Pushing Baby Out hypnosis track and I started off with small pushes while still laying down, not feeling like I should really put a lot of effort into them quite yet. I didn’t have the extreme urge to push like you hear about.
I switched positions a few times during the first hour or so, from laying, to squatting, to having the head of the bed upright and leaning over that while on my knees, then back to laying at the recommendation of my nurse because despite what you would think, it apparently helps to get the babies head under the pubic bone in first time moms. At that point the contractions weren’t painful as long as I was pushing, and I was happy to not be standing after being upright for so many hours! Not only did my nurse stay the whole time, but my doctor was still there as well. Though I didn’t want anyone except Vince in the room for the beginning of the birth, it was really nice to have them there at that point. They were both so great at getting me through this transition, repeating mantras from my HypnoBabies tracks and even moaning with me. At no point did they tell me when to push or how to push; there was none of the counting while holding my breath or any ‘encouraging’ shouting involved! They did leave Vince and I alone for a while to just be together while I pushed, and came back with coffee for him which he appreciated after being up for so long.
At 11am, I decided to really put effort into my pushes and switched to the ‘Queen’s throne’ position, where they drop the foot of the bed down with about a foot or two of bed for me to sit on, and the head of the bed is fully raised…like a Queen’s throne. Vince held one leg and my amazing nurse held another leg. They had set up the mirror and the nurse told me to try and open my eyes with some pushes to see what was happening, but I didn't have my glasses on! Vince grabbed them for me and even though I was only able to keep my eyes open a short time, it was really encouraging to see. After a few pushes, I remember her calling my doctor that had left for a few minutes to tell her that I was pushing really well and she should plan on being back within 15 minutes.
‘15 minutes!’ I thought. I could be having a baby in 15 minutes!
BUT (so many buts in this story) her head was gigantic. The hardest part of pushing is getting the babies head under the pubic bone and having it stay past the bone, but Devin’s wouldn’t stay! Her head would get past the bone during a contraction, then would go back after I stopped pushing. We’d be able to see her head, Vince and the nurse would get excited, then it would disappear. And this went on for three more hours.
As I mentioned before, the contractions weren’t actually painful anymore as long as I was pushing. I would get 4-5 good pushes out of each contraction, and the harder I pushed, the better I felt. My lower back was really hurting at one point so I had some hot packs on it, but other than that pushing wasn’t terrible and it did not feel like it took the amount of time they say it did. There was a few times I was just really tired and I kept saying, ‘I can’t do this!’ but Vince, the nurse, and the doctor would all say that I was doing it, which really boosted me up.
This is the time when I did want Vince touching me and being close while he said encouraging things to me. He said he was going to go get something (fill my water?) and I about freaked out on him. He was smart and stayed while my nurse went to fill it.
Finally, after 3 hours and 50 minutes of sweaty pushing, she decided to make her presence into the world. I definitely can’t say I had a ‘ring of fire’ everyone talks about. For a gross image, I had pushed half her head out when my contraction stopped, and had to wait for the next contraction to get the rest of her out. Even as she was halfway out of me between contractions I thought, ‘This is so uncomfortable and awful, but it’s not painful?’ but then I also said, “HOLY SHIT” and my nurse laughed and said she can’t believe that was my first swear word the entire time.
With the next contraction at 2pm on the dot, out Devin came, already screaming! Everyone laughed because it’s uncommon for the baby to start screaming until their whole body is out, but as soon as her mouth hit the air she screamed.
They put her on my chest and my first thought was, “She has Vince’s lips!” and then of course the usual thoughts of how perfect and beautiful my baby is. She smelled wonderful and felt wonderful and my whole world just felt like it was exploding with joy. THAT was the reason I went through months of sickness and hours of pain.
Devin laid on me for a bit while Vince cut the cord and the doctor took care of the placenta, then she was checked out by the special care nursery for a minute to be sure her thyroid looked good. It was perfect so they quickly gave her right back. (She had an enlarged thyroid on some ultrasounds because of my thyroid meds.) My doctor stitched me up while Devin laid on me, our skin sharing each other’s warmth. It was just perfect and the best moment of my entire life.
A nurse encouraged me to help her latch on to breastfeed, but my craniosacral therapist had told me the day before to try and let Devin figure it out on her own at first, so I just let her be. Within minutes, she was rooting her way down my chest and like magic, latched on right away with almost no help from me. Now that was a perfect feeling.
After about an hour and a half (maybe more, maybe less) I passed her over to Vince, fell madly in love with both of them all over, then rinsed off in the shower so we could transfer to the recovery room. The shower was of course crap (see above about NO HOT WATER) and a screw broke so that I had to actually hold the showerhead myself, which is hard to do that and soap up at the same time, but it felt pretty great. It was a wild feeling to look down and see no belly at all, it was almost completely back to normal just all bruised looking and squishy! There was a moment of extreme sadness when I realized that it was gone, just like that, until I realized my baby was now able to be in my arms.
After my shower we did Devin’s weigh-in and measurements, and she was 6lb 9oz and 20 inches long.
I was finally able to make eye contact with my nurse for the first time because my eyes had been pretty much closed since she had got on shift at 7am. She is another person who will forever have a place in my heart because she was just as great as my night nurse and was just what I needed for that transition of my birth. I can't actually picture her face anymore, but I can still hear her soft voice encouraging me.
After that we were transferred down a floor to recovery where we had some family visit and I got to say a million times to myself, ‘She’s here! I can’t believe she’s here! Look at how perfect she is!’ Vince got to get in his cuddle time with her and overall, it wasn’t a terrible night in the hospital. I expected them to not let me co-sleep with her in my bed, but they didn’t say anything about it when they came in for vitals.
The next day we had her pediatrician come check up on her (I think he may have come the afternoon she was born as well, I can’t remember…) and he was amazed at how long of a birth it ended up being. He said everyone thought it was going to be faster and he’d gotten a call the night we checked in with a heads up that a baby was going to be born soon. Oh, how wrong they were! Ha.
We had more family and friends come visit with us, my craniosacral therapist came to say hi and check out Devin, and the nurse that I had during the night of the birth came to say how wonderful of an experience my birth was for her and many other kind words. I thought it was so great that she did that!
And with that, we were out of there! Vince drove us home all paranoid and adorable and she was quickly welcomed by Roxanne.