The Birth Story (Chapter Two)
2:45 pm - As the nurse was finishing recording my vitals and giving me an anti-nausea medication, our doula and douler got to work inflating a "birthing pool". St. John's Hospital recently purchased this pool for mothers who hire a doula and strive for an unmedicated birth. It had only been used by a few women apparently, as most of the medical staff had not yet seen it. The hospital has a policy against a woman delivering her baby in the tub, but she is allowed to labor in it (as long as she is wearing the waterproof baby monitor) until it is time for the baby to be born. This tub was the main reason I chose to deliver at St. John's. I had read of the advantages of laboring in water, and I was positive it would help with the pain.
So, I (not-so-patiently) waited for Nancy and Hope to get the pool inflated and ready. My contractions were pretty frequent at this point, and our nurse had to move quickly to get an IV line started between these moments of intense pain. She was still positive that our labor was progressing quickly and that she needed to get things ready.
3:15 pm - Right after the nurse got the IV line prepared, I had one particularly painful contraction. Douler Hope came and applied pressure on my hips while Nancy applied pressure on my lower back (because, y'all, back labor is of the devil). All of sudden, I felt a snap, and I knew that my water broke! No one else seemed to notice (my shorts were dark), so I informed Chance, the nurse, Hope, and Nancy.
The nurse said that it was time to check my dilation again since my water had broken. When she checked, I had progressed to 5 centimeters!
3:30 pm - Finally the birthing tub was ready. Chance helped me get in. It felt like taking a warm bath (with a rather uncomfortable number of people in the room!) My contractions were very, very strong and there was hardly a break between them at this point.
It's important to mention that until this point, the Reverend was mostly a spectator in the labor process. I had decided early in the pregnancy that I desired a natural/unmedicated birth. Chance was supportive (to the point joining me in watching testimonial videos of crazy hippies who delivered their children in their living rooms in front of thirty of their closest friends), but he is very squeamish with anything medical related. He hates to witness pain, and didn't really understand my desire for an unmedicated birth. As we were discussing our birth plan a month before our due date, Chance threatened to corner the doctor in the hallway and convince him to slip me a few drugs. Multiple times, he even asked to be allowed to wait in the waiting room until the baby was born (like in the old days)!
This was the reason I hired a doula.
I knew the Reverend would be no help.
After my water broke and contractions got stronger, I put Chance to work. He was in charge of the ice chips, the cool wash rags for my neck and forehead, and he was to let me squeeze his hands during each contraction.
As I leaned over the tub and squeezed Chance's fingers during the contractions, he had to pull himself backwards to keep from falling into the tub with me. His poor fingers and back were sore for two days after the delivery (I almost apologized to him, but then I remembered the amount of pain I was going through!)
Labor continued and contractions were strong and fast. I actually began falling asleep between contractions, which seems impossible as I look back on it, considering they were only one to two minutes apart.
Labor was awful. I'm not going to lie. It was intense and horrible and painful and miserable. The worst part is not knowing how long labor will last. Through it all, I would think of my friends who had spent 24+ hours in active labor. I was not sure I could continue with such intense contractions for that long.
I started saying, "Nancy, I can't do this!" And she'd reply with, "But you ARE doing it!" and I'd quietly curse her and her offspring...
It did help to meditate on something other than labor though. Nancy knows of Chance and I's love for the children and people of Sierra Leone, Africa. She reminded me to pray for those women as Sierra Leone has the HIGHEST maternal mortality rate in the world. The country's infant mortality rate is very high as well. The women of Sierra Leone do not all have access to modern medical procedures. Many of them aren't given the opportunity for an epidural. They may have large families and aren't given much time to heal after delivery, as their survival depends on their ability to work or care for their families. My African sisters are my heroes. At this point in my labor, I prayed for these women. I prayed for their physical strength and their mental strength. I prayed for their health and the survival of their babies.
4:55 pm - Without my knowledge, Nancy sent Hope to find the doctor. She could tell that things were progressing very, very quickly. The doctor was with a woman next door who was in the process of pushing and he assumed she'd deliver her baby first. He told Hope that he doesn't check the dilation of a woman until two hours after her water breaks. Hope is a pretty calm and quiet natured gal, so I don't think she argued with the doctor. She returned to our room and reported to her mother.
5:15 pm - The contractions began to feel a little different at this point. I told my doula that I felt like I wanted to push. She told me that it wasn't time for that yet and that I should just try to relax through the contractions.
And then I cursed her and her offspring for the second time that day.
And I ignored her advice.
If I felt like I needed to push, I pushed. If I didn't, I didn't!
5:20 pm - Nancy secretly sent Hope for the doctor again. Nancy is not trained in the medical aspect of delivery, but she was pretty sure we had a limited amount of time before the doctor would be necessary (read: she could see our baby's head!)
5:21 pm - Hope had summoned the doctor with a bit more urgency this time. He came running into our room with the sonographer and two nurses close behind him. The doctor took one look at me and instantly began shouting, "Get out of the tub! Get onto the bed!"
I remember saying, "No!" but then being drug to the bed anyway. Chance and the doctors grabbed my arms and moved me there.
I opened my eyes long enough to see rubber gloves flying across the room. The nurses were throwing them to the doctor and the sonographer!
As Chance and the doctor placed me on the bed, I was laying on my left side. I had a horrible contraction and felt myself pushing again. Nancy had me reach down and I was able to feel our baby's head!
The doctor and his team rolled me to my back and pulled my knees back. One more contraction and all the pain stopped. Our baby was BORN!
5:29 pm - The doctor looked at our baby and exclaimed, "Was it supposed to be a girl?!"
Chance gasped and said, "No... It was a boy, right?"
The OBGYN visibly relaxed and said, "Yeah, it's a boy. I thought you had been told it was a girl!"
Everyone in the room had a quick laugh!
Actually, at that moment, everyone began to breathe again! Delivery had happened so insanely fast, the doctors and nurses were completely out of breath. If only they had come when Hope went to get them the first time...
One of the nurses held our baby and the doctor asked if Chance wanted to cut the umbilical cord. Chance hesitated (he was probably trying not to pass out) and I said, "Yes! Of course he'll cut the cord!" (Chance was sorry to learn that contractions stopping meant that I could talk again!)
Chance did cut it and then they brought our perfect baby boy to my chest. They laid him on me. He was so beautiful!
I was very tired from the labor, but I was so happy to be done with the pain.
Chance later described my next few moments of speech as "magical." Now, I've never been drunk, but I'd say THAT is a more accurate description of the words coming out of my mouth...
I was so happy that our baby was cute (and not ugly... Let's face it, some newborns are kind of ugly). I was happy that he was healthy. I couldn't believe he was finally here.
I started talking to our sweet boy. I told him that we had been waiting a very long time for him. I told him about how much we loved him. I complimented him on his adorableness. I continually talked to him about how much hair he had.
The nurses came and took Louis to a nearby table to examine him and wipe him off. Chance stood with them as they completed these tasks. Other nurses kept blocking my view of my baby boy, and I asked them to move. I told them that I had worked very hard to get him here, and I wanted to be able to see him.
Next, the doctor and sonographer asked me if I wanted to see the sac that our son had been in. They said that it was very intact because of the quick labor and the lack of medical intervention.
My college major was child development (conception through third grade) so I was very interested in seeing the sac. They held it up and showed me. They also gave me a quick tour of the placenta. It was actually very interesting, since I'd seen pictures and diagrams of such things in school. The doctors and nurses were also very intrigued by it because of its rare condition. At one point they asked if Chance would be interested in seeing it. I instantly began nodding my head, but then remembered how squeamish he was, and shouted, "No!"
Directly after delivery, I began to shake uncontrollably. I assumed it was my adrenaline, but Nancy informed me that it was because of the hormones.
Now, I read quite a few books on the topic of labor and delivery during my pregnancy, and not one of the books mentioned this. I shook nonstop for the next five hours. I shook off and on for the next twenty-four hours. When I write my book (I'm not writing a book...) I will be sure to highlight the fact that shaking uncontrollably is totally normal.
I had a second degree tear which required four stitches. The doctors set about dealing with that, and Chance took our boy to the nearby couch and had a heart-to-heart with him. He told our minutes-old baby all about our family (including a brief warning about Nasko!) and how wonderful life was going to be. It was precious...
I also got to enjoy holding and feeding our baby. Because of the lack of drugs, he was very alert. It was so great to see him and look into his beautiful eyes!
So, there you have it! And now you know, the nurse won the bet...
And Doula Nancy saved our baby from being delivered without a doctor present...
And that poor mother who was pushing and keeping the doctor from coming to our room...
She was still pushing at 8:30 that night, as we were transferred to our new hospital room.
On June 2, 2013, we had a very healthy, very beautiful baby boy to add to our little family!