Sadie’s Birth Story: Part 2
Greetings from Week Three, the week in which my daughter decided she’d be all big and lose her umbilical cord stump (WAH), and then proceeded to hold her head up all on her own.
Right after this, she ordered a cosmopolitan and argued with her father about politics.
I’m writing this on borrowed time as Sadie chills out in her bouncer seat. I use the term “chills out” rather loosely, because this is how she looks when she’s in her seat:
That being said, Part 2 of the birth story may take me all day to write, but I’m determined to get this thing posted despite my busy schedule of boobs, poop, and…well, more boobs and more poop.
I left off just as we were about to move from the Purgatory of triage into our labor & delivery room – L&D number 2, to be exact. Of course, after Brad bitched at Nurse Assface, she didn’t come back to our triage room to disconnect me from the monitors and help us move. A much nicer triage nurse (not that it was hard to be much nicer) came to help us do that, and the nurses just got more and more awesome from there on out. Once we got settled into our L&D room, Nurse Awesome-and-Cheerful came in and took a glance over the paperwork that Nurse Rectum had prepared. “Who did this? It’s a mess!” she said to the other nurse in the room, who responded only with a knowing look and an eye roll. SEE?! Everyone hated Nurse Fuckstick – it wasn’t just us.
The midwives had changed shifts and Tanya was the new midwife on call. We were happy about this, since Tanya had seen me for quite a few of my more recent appointments, and we knew she was generally awesome. She once again proved her awesomeness by giving me the all-clear to order some breakfast, telling me I’d need some energy for the day ahead. I ordered some Rice Krispies, toast, and a blueberry muffin that ended up being the size of a grape. Since there was no limit on the amount of food patients could order (and since my hospital stay was going to cost roughly a zillion dollars), the nurse encouraged me to order enough food for Brad as well, so I tacked on some french toast and orange juice to my order. While we waited for the food to arrive, we decided to walk around the halls a bit to try to get my contractions to progress.
On our little stroll through the halls, we passed two things: 1) some orderlies mopping up vomit, and 2) Nurse AssHat getting ready to leave at the end of her shift. I will give you one guess as to which one was more pleasant to see.
Shortly after we got back to the room, our breakfast was delivered. I was starving, which seemed strange to me since we hadn’t gone to sleep the night before and – the hell of triage aside – it kind of felt like we’d just been at dinner. Once I finished my food (and crossed my fingers that I would not see it all again in reverse later), Brad & I tried to get some sleep before my parents arrived.
But I spent most of my time staring straight ahead at this, thinking THIS IS THE ROOM WHERE I WILL GIVE BIRTH TO MY DAUGHTER OMG WTF AAAAAH!
My parents showed up around 8am, I think, and the next few hours were split up between short naps and intermittent visits from my Mom & Dad. Tanya came to check on me periodically to see how I was progressing (I wasn’t), and talked to me about my options as far as getting things to speed up. Since my water had already broken, I knew the clock was ticking and that the baby needed to be out ideally before midnight that evening. NO PRESSURE OR ANYTHING, UTERUS. I told Tanya I wanted to wait another hour or so before starting Pitocin to move things along. I was really afraid that the Pitocin would ramp things up too quickly (and painfully) and force me to take the epidural a lot earlier than I wanted, which would then slow things down, increasing stress on the baby and my chances for a C-section, etc. etc. etc. panic worry BLAH. Tanya said she’d come back around 11am to see how I was feeling then.
Why, I’m feeling fresh as a fucking daisy!
At 11:00, my punk-ass uterus was still chugging along at a snail’s pace with contractions hovering around the “annoying menstrual cramps” level of discomfort. I told Tanya I was ready to start the Pitocin. Time to get this show on the road.
They started me out on a very tiny amount – 2 somethings (ccs? I don’t know. I’m just repeating things I’ve heard on ER). But sure enough, within 30 minutes things were picking up. Tanya told my parents they were fine to leave and get some rest at our house, because nothing too exciting was going to happen for at least a few more hours. My parents left and Brad stayed behind with me as the contractions continued to get stronger.
I had Brad draw a little picture of Tootsie on the whiteboard that was straight ahead in my line of sight so that I’d have a focal point while breathing through the contractions. There was a pretty substantial part of me that did not expect the breathing exercises to actually, you know, work, but they did. Brad left for about 20 minutes around noon to get some lunch, and I continued to breathe through the contractions. My Pitocin had been kicked up to 4, and things were increasing at a steady clip. Tanya came in to see how I was handling the pain, and as she watched me breathe through a contraction, she said “Good job!” and because I am an attention-seeking whore, this ego-stroking praise was enough to keep my spirits high.
Brad came back just in time to watch me go through some contractions that had morphed into truly painful little motherfuckers. I now had to grip something to be able to keep my breathing steady, and talking during the pain was no longer an option. Tanya checked on me again and said if I wanted an epidural, I should keep in mind that it would take about 20 minutes to administer, so it was best not to wait until things were tooth-gnashingly awful, just semi-tooth-gnashingly awful. That way it wouldn’t be too horrendously difficult for me to sit still while SOME DUDE JABBED A NEEDLE IN MY FUCKING SPINE. Sounds good to me, I said. She left the room at 2pm. At 2:15, I called her back in. I felt like someone was trying to snap me in half. I was only between 3 and 4cm dilated. It was time for the epidural.
Epidural McGee came in a few minutes later, looking all of 23 years old and reminding me of someone I went to junior high with. I sat on the corner of the bed and leaned forward, resting my forehead on Brad’s and grabbing his arms with my clammy hands. He and Tanya talked me through my contractions, which were now causing me to utter “FUCK!” without me really being able to control myself. “That’s right,” said Tanya, “Let it out.” Meanwhile, Brad’s poor arms were bearing the brunt of my fingernails, which I felt terrible about but, again, really couldn’t control. My contractions were coming much closer together at this point – good for the baby, but not so easy for mama. Getting the epidural seemed to take forever, but I managed to stay completely still when I needed to, and soon I felt Dr. JonasBrothers straining (and I mean straining) to push the needle into my spine (GROSS). A few minutes after that, the contractions started to lessen in intensity. Within about ten minutes, I was laying on my side, feeling no pain. My legs started to go a little numb, and I fell asleep.
***HOUR-LONG BREAK IN BLOGGING TAKEN HERE, IN WHICH BABY HAS TOTAL ASS-PLOSION THROUGH THREE DIAPERS, AND THEN DEMANDS BOOB. I COMPLY. ***
I woke up around 4pm. My parents had come back from the house, and I remember them, Brad, and the nurses filtering in and out of the room. I asked Brad how the contractions were looking (my Pitocin had been upped once more), and he told me they looked to be about 5 minutes apart, AGAIN. I felt so guilty. The contractions were really coming along when I got the epidural, and although Tanya told me that technically the epidural wasn’t supposed to slow things down, it looked like that’s exactly what had happened. I blamed myself for being selfish about the pain to the detriment of speeding my labor along – but at the same time, I knew if I had to suffer through my slow-ass dilation with that kind of pain, I’d never have the energy to push. Brad looked concerned about the contractions, and also about my blood pressure, which was dropping. The baby’s heartrate, however, was still steady and strong. That’s my girl.
A little bit before 5pm, Tanya came in to see how I was doing. She asked if I wanted her to examine me to determine if I’d made any progress on the dilation front. I said sure, but felt in my heart that I’d probably be somewhere disappointing like 5 or 6. I also knew that each time she examined me I was at a risk for infection because my water had broken. I said something about only wanting an exam if she thought it was worth it. She thought it was, and OMG, am I glad she did.
“Wow,” Tanya said, as soon as she began the exam, “Your baby is right there. You’re complete and ready to push.”
Cue the nervous anxiety shakes.
Things swung into action. The nurses started to get the room ready for delivery. My Dad came in to wish me good luck. Brad and my Mom took their places. “Haven’t you been feeling some pressure?” asked Tanya. “Well, yeah,” I said, feeling like a total unaware douchebag. “But I’ve been feeling it so much these past few days that I didn’t think anything of it.”
Of course, once Tanya mentioned feeling pressure, that’s ALL I could feel. It started to feel as though if I tried to push, the kid would slide right out onto the bed. At 5pm, after things were properly set up for a real, live baby-havin’, Tanya instructed me to grab onto my knees and try to push. My legs weren’t totally numb from the epidural, but they were noodly enough so that trying to hold onto them was like holding dead weight, and it just wasn’t working for me. They brought in the squat bar (lovely name, isn’t it?) and attached it to the bed. “Try that,” said Tanya, and AH. AH, YES. That was more like it. With something substantial to grab onto, I was able to put all my energy into pushing. Every time I felt pressure, I’d lean forward, grab onto the bar and push. “Good job,” Tanya said (and I think we’ve established what a little comment like that does for my motivation), “but you haven’t really found the right place to push from yet.” (WHAT?! But…but you said “Good job!”) Upon hearing that, something made me think about the voice lessons I’d taken nearly ten years ago. My teacher was always heavy on visualization – telling me to visualize joining the words of a song together like pearls on a string, or asking me to hit high notes by imagining myself landing on them from above instead of climbing up to reach them from below. I asked Tanya if there was something I could visualize to help me push from the “right” place. I kind of expected her to come back with an answer immediately, but instead she said, “Something to visualize? Umm…try thinking about pushing down.” Not exactly what I was looking for, but it was something. Brad – who has taken years upon years of voice lessons – began whispering to me during each contraction, “Down and open, down and open,” while putting his hand on my lower back. It was just what I needed. I started to hit a stride.
Soon it was 5:30: the midwives’ shift change. Although she would have normally stayed for the rest of the birth, Tanya had a commitment she absolutely could not miss, and had to leave at exactly 5:30. Her replacement (Emily – another of the midwives we’d met with often and really liked) was just down the hall at the nurses’ station, ready to go. Tanya left the room after instructing me to keep pushing when I felt the urge and when the monitor showed I was having a contraction.
Once Tanya left, there was only Brad at my back, my mother to my side, and a nurse over in the corner of the room, watching my monitors and still getting things ready for the baby. That is to say there was NO ONE manning the ol’ brewster, and I could totally feel the baby’s head pushing nearer and nearer to the big wide world. I told Brad this later, but I totally stopped pushing, no matter how strong the urge. I started getting really nervous again, CONVINCED that this child was going to slide headfirst onto the cold tile floor, and I asked for the nurse to please have Emily GET HER ASS IN HERE. “OK,” said the nurse. “But you’re totally fine. And I can deliver your baby if I have to.” I sensed that she was a little offended that I didn’t trust her enough, but FUCK THAT AND GET EMILY’S MIDWIFIN’ ASS IN HERE.
Emily showed up a few minutes later, and the pushing resumed. I have to admit here that I really liked the challenge of pushing. I’m sure this is all due to the fact that the epidural took all the pain away, but I had enough sensation in my lower body to feel like I was actually involved in the whole process. I could feel the baby’s head getting closer, and I knew it wasn’t going to be much longer. Everything started to feel incredibly surreal. “I need some more light,” said Emily, and flipped the switch that brought a large overhead light AND THE BIG GIANT VAGINA-WATCHIN’ MIRROR down from the ceiling. I can’t remember who told Emily that I was very much anti-mirror (I was pretty sure seeing what the fuck was going on down there would stop me dead in my tracks and freak me straight out), but she quickly put the mirror and light away and asked the nurse to find a freestanding light in an adjacent room. Unfortunately, the nurse couldn’t find one, and I started to feel as though I was dangerously close to having Emily leave the room (resulting in BABY ON FLOOR! BABY ON FLOOR!), so I told Emily that I really didn’t care about the mirror anymore – if she needed the light, just bring the damn mirror down already. “I just won’t look,” I said. After all, I was kind of distracted by the three ring circus going on around my ass.
The mirror came out. The lights came on. I kept pushing. Emily could see the head. “I think you’re going to have a little bald baby,” she said. More pushing. More pressure. I could feel the head getting closer each time. Everything started to blur together. Emily told me to abandon the squat bar and lean back for the final pushes. I grabbed on to the sides of the bed and gave a push. I felt the baby’s head come out. And there’s a nose – or the ears? Suddenly things stop – there’s resistance. A few seconds (or milliseconds?) later, I feel what I think are the shoulders twisting out of me. And then, at exactly 6pm, she’s out. My daughter is born. I look down and Emily is holding her up in front of me. My Mom and Brad are reacting and saying things, I’m sure, but I can’t process any of it. “Do you want to hold her?” asks Emily. I can’t say anything. She asks me again, with urgency, as I imagine she has some pressing things to attend to. I mutter an apology and something about being overwhelmed. I think Brad says yes on my behalf, and Sadie is handed to me. Everyone is crying, including this perfect little person, who has her eyes totally open and is screaming with surprising intensity. It’s the most amazing and beautiful thing I’ve ever heard.
Brad cuts the cord. After a few more moments (minutes? seconds?) they take Sadie away to weigh and measure her, and she calms down once she hits the warm incubator light that reminds Brad & I of how they keep the fries warm at McDonald’s (MMM…delicious, delicious fries. Have I mentioned how we were also totally starving?). Emily is still down south dealing with All Things Brewster, which she’d be doing for the next hour or so. It seems what I thought were Sadie’s shoulders was actually a rogue elbow, which made a few tears. And that’s all I’ll say about the rest of the action down below, as it was kind of ouchie and gross, and also? I REALLY DIDN’T GIVE A SHIT BECAUSE I JUST HAD A BABY, AND SHE’S RIGHT OVER THERE AND PERFECT.
Oh, my heart.
My Mom takes the baby book over so the nurse can put Sadie’s footprints on the designated page. At some point, I hear Emily ask “How old is the baby?” and the nurse replies “Seventeen minutes.” Seventeen minutes? Who is seventeen minutes old?! Soon after that, the baby is back in my arms. I can’t believe I can finally see her face – an image that is now permanently burned into my brain for the rest of my life after 9 months of complete and total mystery.
I hand her over to Brad, who holds her in front of the window, with the sun streaming in behind him. I can’t imagine the world being any more perfect than it is at this exact moment.
Stay tuned for Part 3: Denouement, in which I really start enjoying having food delivered to me on demand, my boobs wonder what they ever did to make me mistreat them so, and I suffer a complete and total breakdown upon leaving the hospital, thanks to those wacky postpartum hormones.
Your mama is crazy, little caterpillar.
Entry filed under: Thanksgiving.