So I finally feel the urge to push and am 9 1/2 cm dilated. I start pushing on my knees facing the back of the bed with my head and arms up over the back of the bed resting on pillows. I'm not sure why but I didn't stay in that position long, maybe because I was too weak to hold myself up in that way. I rolled over onto my back in the more traditional pushing position. The nursery nurse was there, my nurse was there, Mandy was there, and mom and Rich were there holding my legs as I pushed. My doctor popped in and out (every time she left I realized I still had a long ways to go or she wouldn't have left, that was discouraging). The first few pushes I was not pushing effectively because I was yelling, so after I settled down and got a feel for how to push it was much better. Suprisingly, this stage was much less painful than I expected. It was physically the most exhausting thing I've ever done, and by the end I was completely breathless and sweaty and had busted blood vessels in my eyes. My eyes were so blurry from straining so hard that I really couldn't see very well at all for a few hours.
I always thought that pushing only took like 20 minutes, but I wound up pushing for 2 hours and later learned that it is a fairly normal amount of time. Mandy brought out a dog tug-of-rope toy and every time I would have a contraction, mom and Rich would each grab a knee and a foot to hold my legs back, and Mandy and I would tug on the toy. It sounds crazy but that pulling motion really helped me to push harder. The funny thing is mom just thought she'd be in the waiting room, she didn't know she'd be such an active part of the labor team:) There was a point with the really strong pushes where it stopped being a conscious effort and my body would take over and push by itself. Sort of like if you try to make yourself throw up, then once you get that good gag reflex your body takes over and vomits by itself...gross I know, but that's the best way I can explain it. I was getting SO tired, but I knew there was no stopping or resting now.
Lucy's heart rate started dropping with the pushes and contractions so they put me on an oxygen mask and had me roll onto my left side to push. It was a more awkward pushing position but it helped her get more oxygen and her heart rate to recover. After a while her heart rate stopped recovering and was staying low and I was getting very anxious about it. I could hear her hearbeat on the monitor and would just try to will it to speed back up. It worked a few times, but then it stopped speeding back up. I pushed harder and harder and stopped resting between pushes, but she just wasn't coming out. I could actually feel the top of her head come out with a push, then slip back in as I stopped, over and over and over I felt like I was working so hard to push the same little bit of her head out again and again. Finally the doctor told me that we had to get her out now, and that she needed to cut an episiotomy. I had really hoped to avoid this, and she knew that, so I knew she wouldn't suggest it unless it really had to be done so I told her of course, do whatever you need to do. Mandy thankfully told Rich not to watch, but I could still hear it and it is an awful sound. She did give me a shot of local anesthetic before so it didn't hurt at all. One more push and her head was out. I sighed and relaxed then the doctor reminded me that I only had her head out, that we had to keep going. One more big push and her shoulders popped out and then I felt the single most incredible thing I've ever felt in my life...the slide and gush as her body slipped right out of me and into the world. That is a sensation I don't think I will ever forget. I have never been more relieved or more physically, mentally or emotionally fatigued.
I started saying "I want my baby, I want my baby" over and over. I wanted her on my chest immediately but her cord was short, so the had to go ahead and clamp it. Rich cut the cord, then they put her on my chest, in all her bloody, slimy gooey glory. I kissed her head and thought, Eww that's gross but I didn't care. She was pretty purple, I guess from the decreased blood and oxygen flow she had been getting. She let out some weak little cries, but the nurses were concerned because she wasn't crying loudly. They took her from me over to the warmer a few feet away and gave her some oxygen. Rich was able to be right there with her. Meanwhile, my doctor sewed me up and I remember saying "Ouch" and she said "Oh, well I thought I used enough lidocaine.. only a couple stitches left." Then we were waiting on my placenta to be delivered. After the baby comes out, the placenta will detach from the uterus and then comes out. But like everything else about the experience, this didn't happen as it should. She tugged the cord, I pushed but still no placenta. Apparently my uterus is just a really hospitable place. So she had to manually get it out. I couldn't see exactly what she did, but based on how it felt I think she reached her hands in there and scraped it all out. I yelled louder then that I did at any point during the labor or delivery. Holy sh!$ that hurt!!!!
Finally I was sewed up, cleaned up and empty of both baby and placenta. Lucy was cleaned up and breathing well. And then were were alone, well Mandy was still there. Mom left to go make phone calls and the doctors and nurses had all cleared out. Mandy tried to help us with breastfeeding but I think both Lucy and I were too exhausted then to give it our best effort. I was so weak that I honestly could not hold her up without propping her on a pillow. After an hour or so, Mandy left and Rich, Lucy and I were alone for the first time as our new family of three. Then Rich and Lucy went to the nursery for some of her follow-up exams and a bath. I ate lunch and took a shower.
We moved from the Labor and Delivery room to a postpartum room, Rich's mom and stepdad showed up a few hours later and my dad got here the next morning. It was wonderful having them all there and knowing how loved our little baby was already. We spent two nights in the hospital, and kept Lucy in the room with us the whole time. We came home last Wednesday the 19th.
Now she is 11 days old and all the family is gone except for my mom. She's staying another week or two to help with the baby/dogs/housework. Rich is back to work, and I'm just trying to get the hang of newborn care. We are really doing great, she sleeps pretty well, nurses well and we are completely smitten with her. She looks just like her Daddy, not a thing like me...after all that work she could at least look a little like me ;)
If anyone ever happens to read this who is looking for a doula in the Charleston, SC area, I cannot recommend Mandy enough. Her name is Mandy Reimer of Rite of Passage Doula and she is exceptional. I couldn't have achieved my goal of a natural birth without her support and knowledge. Or if you're just considering natural birth and/or a doula, DO IT. The feeling of accomplishment and pride in your body is similar to crossing the finish line of a race, only much much more powerful.
In hindsight, I think I instinctively knew before I ever even went into labor that she was positioned funny and that I was going to have a long, hard labor although I couldn't have imagined the reality of it. I know this is the longest birth story ever, but I wanted to be able to look back and have as much of it documented as I could remember. Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed it. As they say, in the end it was all worth it and I would do it again in an second if that's what it took to get this baby in my arms.
This is when I initially started pushing in the backwards facing, over the bed position.
Catching my breath between contractions.
Pushing, I seriously thought my eyeballs were going to explode.
FINALLY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! There's my baby girl!!! The first time I laid eyes on her.
Now she's nice and pink. Holding Daddy's hand.
The proud papa.
This was my first good look at her after she was cleaned up a little and worked on by the nursery team.
She has really long toes and feet, like both Rich and I do.
Her great grandma got her this outfit to wear home from the hospital so we decked her out in it, bonnet, bloomers, frilly socks and all. :) The shoes she has on are some of my newborn shoes.
THE END, and the beginning