After the doctor left the room, Julie said that we needed to get radical. She wanted me to walk the halls. I thought she was crazy. The last thing I wanted to do was go for a walk, but nothing seemed to be helping with the pain and at least this had a guarantee of getting the baby out sooner. So we did it. I don’t remember much of this, but N said that it was extremely slow. All I know is that I kept my eyes closed the entire time and let N guide me. When a contraction would hit, I would stop (just like you see in the movies) and Julie would gently direct me to keep walking. I would put all of my weight on N and take the slowest steps possible. Someone passed us in the halls and Julie said, “Pretty impressive, she’s walking at an 8, huh?” The person seemed a little bewildered and all I could think was, “Grrrrr. If you are trying to encourage me, it’s not working.” (I later apologized for my behavior :)…through this experience I have come to realize that my default mechanism for painful/stressful situations is negative thoughts towards people….sorry, Julie!)
I was still keeping track of the time. As promised, an hour later, the doctor came back to check on me. 9! Still not good enough for me. But the contractions had taken a turn. They were still extremely intense, but there wasn’t a fiery, searing pain going up my spine during each one. We were in the home stretch and there was no way they were going to let me have an epidural now. I focused on managing my pain. I couldn’t talk. or communicate. I was also a sweaty mess. They kept turning the heat down for me until it reached the minimum 60 degrees. I tried to wipe my forehead with my gown, but it was so soaked with sweat that it was completely ineffective.
Finally that hour passed. It had now been 3 total since I had begged for the epidural. The doctor came in and said 9+. “Just give me one more hour.” Julie had me continue squats with N. I began pushing against the contractions.
At 11:30pm, the doctor came back in to check me and said I was good to go!
I opened my eyes for the first time in a long time. I felt like I had woken up from a dream. I even felt like talking. N and I looked at the clock and realized we only had 29 minutes left in November 29. We both seemed to be thinking the same thing, “Do you think there’s any way she’ll be born today?” N verbalized for me. The doctor had me give a practice push to see how effective I would be. It became very clear to everyone in the room that we could rule out the 29th.
Pushing felt very awkward. I thought I would be relieved to get to this stage and that the pain would be less intense. Nope. Julie and the doctor showed me how to focus my breath and work the baby out. Convinced he had time to kill, the doctor left the room and occasionally peeked back in on me.
Julie pointed out the baby’s head to N. He was so excited he could see it. I asked if she had hair. He said, “Yes!” I asked what color. They couldn’t tell, but said it was kind of dark. It was the motivation I needed to continue.
After an hour, the doctor came back in and asked the nurse if I had made any real progress. I was so discouraged when she said, “No.” I thought this was supposed to be the easy part! He worked with me on my pushes for about 10 minutes. N started to get really excited about how much of the head he could see. Every time I said I needed to push, he would grab my leg and yell, “Yeah!”. Julie pulled out a big mirror on a stand in an effort to show me the progress and encourage me. I couldn’t see anything. I was even more discouraged. This was so hard!
In between pushes, I kept watching the time. Another hour passed. I was soaked in sweat, in pain, stretched to the max, and so ready to be done. I wasn’t even feeling any excitement about the moment. Julie convinced me to flip over on my hands and knees to push. I pushed as hard as I knew how.
The doctor came back and said that we had made some real progress! Finally! He stayed with me for the entire final hour. Now even I could start to see the head . My contractions started slowing down to give my body the rest it needed. At some point, there was close to an 8 minute delay between contractions. The doctor (who is old and kind of a wise guy) said, “What the hell is going on up there, Mama? Are you on vacation or something?” Gradually, I started to feel myself turn the corner. I began opening my eyes. I told N “Something just feels different.” My adrenaline began to kick in.
The doctor left to get his supplies and put up “the goalposts of life” (as he called them). Julie tried to encourage me. “Look what the doctor is doing. This means your baby is coming soon.” With each push, it looked like her head was going to come out…but it just wouldn’t. The doctor encouraged me, N texted my Mom and said, “Should be soon!”. He then said to me, “I’m going to call my parents real quick” I emphatically said, “NO!” In order to do this, he would have to leave the room and I was afraid he wouldn’t be there to hold my leg for the next contraction. He texted my mom and asked her to call his parents and let them know.
Finally, I gave the push I had been waiting for the entire time. As soon as her head was out, she began to cry. They sucked out her mouth and the doctor ordered me to give little grunty pushes as he sneaked out her body. Then he said, “Okay you are going to feel a big relief” and he pulled her out!
Welcome to the world, MG!
It was amazing! They placed her on my chest and I just stared into her eyes. She seemed mad. Mad that we would push her out of her perfect environment into this freezing cold room. And I was mad (okay, not really mad) but upset with her for making me wait so, so long and then putting me through the worst labor possible (not really, but I think I earned the right to be a little melodramatic with her, no? :)). Our first mother-daughter stand-off. But, of course it didn’t take long for us to make up!
The doctor cleaned everything up and then shook my hand, “Congratulations, K, you are no longer pregnant.” And I replied, “Praise the LORD!” And I meant it. This had been a long, long 48 hours. We had finally made it and we had done it according to plan.
We were given an hour together. Our first hour as a family of three. MG practiced nursing and N and I marveled over her. Later they would take her away to be cleaned and weighed. To pass time earlier in the day, we each took a guess at her birth stats and time. I won both as I had guessed the latest time and the largest weight. Still, even I was surprised to hear that she was a very respectable 8 pounds, 11 ounces, 21 inches long. And absolutely perfect.
Not too long later, the room was emptied. N traveled with MG to receive her first bath, Julie went home, and I was left alone. That was when it truly sunk in that something incredible had just happened. I was now a Mama to a beautiful, healthy baby girl. The timing was perfect. She would never have to worry about having a Thanksgiving birthday. My parents, who had purchased their tickets months in advance, would be there in 3 days. We had the perfect nurses, the perfect timing of doctors and the wonderful help of a doula. I didn’t have to use medication and save for the Cervadil and breaking my water , my birth plan had been followed perfectly. Even though it looked much different than we had ever imagined, the LORD had answered our prayers.
To be continued and concluded tomorrow,