Sorry for the interruption! It’s not easy writing with a newborn attached to you constantly! Then it was Alan’s birthday, then Mother’s Day! I definitely get it why people say screw breastfeeding and go with formula. Feeding this little monster entirely from my own body is a lot of work! I’ll get to that later…
So, there I am starting to bargain with the doula, doctor and Alan. I was sort of a mess. I had this idea in my head that if I took drugs I would be letting them all down, that they would be disappointed in me. I whimpered sheepishly at first, “I think I need some help. I think I want the epidural.” In hearing this the nurse was like “great idea!” and sprinted to find Dr.Gonzalez. The doctor came in and said “I think it would be better if we held off on that. But I can give you a narcotic through the IV that will take the edge off.” She left and I was like what just happened? Alan said “I think she said she won’t give you an epidural.” I was so confused. Jenny was saying the narcotic would pass through the placenta and go straight to the baby so if I was going to get drugs just do it one time with the epidural. I told Alan to go find her again and clarify that I’ve changed my mind – I do want the epidural. In my state I thought she was saying that because of our many conversations in our prenatal visits where I said over and over that I wanted as few medical interventions as possible. He came back and said she said since you’re still at 4cm and the baby is so high up that if I get totally numb she feared he would never want to drop and I would end up in a C-Section – the one thing I definitely did not want to happen. Again Dr. Gonzalez came in and didn’t exactly say it so straight forward. She said, “I think it would be best at this time just to go with the narcotic and then we’ll see how you do.” The nurse was making WTF gestures behind her back and when she left said, “I’ve never seen a doctor not allow an epidural when the patient directly asked for it!”
I’ve been with my doctor for the last five years. I knew she had my best interest at heart so I decided to trust her and go with the IV drug. It worked really fast and did just as she said – it took the edge off the pain. I could still feel the tightening of the contractions but I was able to relax and even doze off for a bit. The important thing was that I wasn’t numb and I wasn’t attached to my bed. I could still go to the bathroom on my own. I could still walk. Unfortunately this pleasant state only lasted about two hours and when the pain came back, it came back like gangbusters. By now it was evening or night time. It’s sort of a blur. I remember it being dark. Jenny said that taking a shower could help the pain. I’d take any help I could get. The nurses shift had changed so a new nurse put a plastic covering over my hep-lock so god forbid it wouldn’t get wet and they’d have to redo it. They let Alan come in there with me and it was nice to have a little time alone. I felt bad for him because I know he wanted to help me but aside from encouraging words and love, he couldn’t save me. I had to do this thing. I’m the only one who could push this baby out. It’s a terrifying realization that probably most pregnant women face – you have to go through with it. The baby has to come out one way or another. The shower did give me some relief though. The warm water felt good and it was nice to feel clean.
Dr. Gonzalez came back to check on me and said I was now between 6 & 7cm but my water bag was still intact and the baby was at a +2 station. When the baby is crowning he is at a +4 or 5 station so I had a ways to go. You usually dilate at the rate of 1cm per hour so I’d have another 4 hours of this! It was almost 10pm. I’d been in labor 24 hours. Despite the little nap I got, I was losing steam. I was exhausted. She said she wanted to break my water, which would bring the baby further down into my pelvis. She said “Once we break your water, things will start to move fast.” Now I was beginning to panic. “Wait!” I begged, “I don’t want to do this anymore! I want the epidural!” And thankfully she said, “Ok. You’ve progressed enough that it’ll be ok. I’ll call the anesthesiologist.”
Here’s where things get a little crazy. The breaking of the water bag was no big deal – just a little pop and a gush of fluid comes out. It’s actually a relief. They had me sit me up in the bed and the water was still flowing out of me. But it kept on coming…and coming…and coming! I noticed the nurses were acting strange. One said “Oh my!” Another exclaimed, “Wow!” They were all moving around the room, getting out of the way. Alan was like “Yuck!” His pants were soaked. I was shaking, “What is happening to me?!” The water soaked through the bed, flowed onto the floor, under the bed and practically out the door. Everyone was freaking out saying “I’ve never seen this much amniotic fluid – ever, in all my years at this hospital!”
Right then the anesthesiologist shows up and he doesn’t have the best bedside manner, to put it nicely. There I am, physically shaking with amniotic fluid still gushing out of me like crazy. He doesn’t seem to notice any of that and says, “I’m here to administer epidural anesthesia. Do you know what that is?” I can’t answer. “Do you have any questions about what I’m about to do?” Again I’m unable to answer. “So that’s a no? No questions?” I don’t know why Alan or Doula Jenny didn’t step in for me. I think maybe they were in shock too. Finally I say, “I’m kind of having some trauma right now. Can you give me a minute?” So he does – give me one minute – then continues. He said to Alan, “Dad, you may want to take a seat. This is a really big needle. I don’t want you to faint.” Me, the crazy needle phobe who wanted a home birth just to avoid IVs and blood tests, did not care at all. That’s how much I wanted relief. He had me sitting with my legs dangling off the bed, rounded forward in a C-curve. He said “Wow, you’re really muscular. You’re a Pilates teacher, right? Usually these needles slide right in most women but I’m really having to work it in there!” I just wanted him to stop talking.
Shortly thereafter I didn’t care who was talking. Sweet relief! The nurses cleaned me and the bed up, (I think the floor too) and I settled into an amazing calm. The lights were dimmed, voices lowered. Dr. Gonzalez said, “Just sleep for a while. I’ll be back to check on you later.” And that’s what I did. I fell into a beautiful, deep sleep. I don’t know where Alan and Jenny went or did. I just realized I never asked them. The nurse woke me to check my progress. I was at 8cm. She let me fade back into sleep. She checked me again at about 3am and said I was fully dilated and ready to push! Yay! Here’s where I get crazy. I really did not like the feeling of dead, numb legs. Yes, I liked the no pain part but I hated the feeling like a paraplegic part so I asked the nurse if it was possible to turn the epidural down. She said yes, she could turn it down half way. When Dr. Gonzalez came in I was beginning to feel my legs a tiny bit but they were still very numb and I hated that sensation. I knew I would – that’s why I wanted the natural childbirth! She said “We can turn the whole thing off. It’ll take about an hour to wear off and you’re ready to push!” So I said, “Yes, do it. Turn it off. I want to feel the pushing.”
It all started off well enough. I did a few practice pushes- the nurses seemed pleased and took bets on what time he would be born. It was about 3:40am and they bet on a 4:07 birth. I was pumped! A half hour! That’s great! I still was fairly numb infused with a big dose of adrenalin so I was like, awesome, let’s do this! They had me in a very awkward position though I thought- On my back with my upper body curled up in a Pilates C-curve, legs above my head. As the contractions would come they’d tell me to take a big breath in, hold it and push to a count of ten, then rest. I did this cycle about ten times and it was WORK. Nothing seemed to be happening. I looked at the clock – the 4:07 birth had come and gone. The position just seemed so uncomfortable and I was beginning to get the feeling back but I still couldn’t really move my legs on my own. Poor Alan and Jenny! With every push they had to hold my legs and my neck up. I asked if I could switch positions and we tried pushing with me on my side. It didn’t work very well. Another problem with an epidural – you can’t use gravity to get the baby out! I knew I’d be more successful squatting or on all fours but I was still too numb in my legs to attempt these positions so it was back on my back with my husband and doula hoisting up my two dead legs.
By about 4:30am I was getting frustrated that it wasn’t happening faster. I thought once you made it to the pushing part you’re home free. One of the nurses said something like my last push wasn’t as good as one before. I snapped at her, “I can’t hear that I’m not doing a good job! If you’re not encouraging me, don’t say anything!” I was really feeling the pain by now. That nurse left the room and didn’t come back. Everyone else in the room had been saying, “You’re doing great, Molly! Good job!” and that’s all I could hear. One of the nurses asked if I wanted to see what was happening in a mirror. I said, “No!” She said, “Sometimes it’s motivating to see how close you are.” “Okay, give me the mirror.” I won’t go into too much detail here. We all had to watch “The Miracle of Life” in sex ed. But I have to say, it was a little shocking what happens down there. I couldn’t believe that what I was looking at in that mirror was my own body. I saw my baby’s head part of the way out! I may have scarred Alan for life though. My mom always said “If you want any romance left in your marriage, do not let your husband into the delivery room.” Well I guess I’ll have to wait and see on that. I just think it would be so sad for him to miss the birth of his son and those first precious moments of life.
Seeing the head coming out was definitely a motivator and I had a renewed energy to push. By now it was about quarter to five and every time I pushed it hurt like hell. The position was more uncomfortable than ever. My tailbone felt bruised, my neck ached and every time I pushed I would see the head come out such a miniscule amount and then would retreat back in. After watching this about 10 more times I told them to get rid of the mirror. Now it was frustrating me. Nothing seemed to be happening and I was at the end of my rope. I was crying, swearing, pleading with Dr. Gonzalez to do something! “Just get it out! Cut it out!” She said calmly, “Molly, you don’t want me to do that.” Then I gave up. I said, “I can’t do this anymore. I don’t want to do this anymore.” I felt everything and was truly depleted. She said, “Molly, you have to do this. You’re so close. Stay with it.” I had to dig down deep – like to China. I knew I couldn’t really get out of it. So I mustered up every last molecule of energy I had in my soul and by now I was seriously vocalizing with every effort. I’m sure I was scaring the other expectant mothers. I didn’t care. With just a few more epic pushes I felt the relief of the head coming through. After that, the shoulders and rest of his body were cake. It was 5:09am and everybody in the room rejoiced, “He’s out! He’s here!” He was screaming right away. Such a robust, healthy boy! They showed him to me but had to whisk him onto a table to clean him off and suction his mouth, eyes and ears since there was meconium in my amniotic fluid (meaning he had pooped in my water). I couldn’t believe my baby had arrived! I kept saying over and over “Is that my baby? I can’t believe that’s my baby!” It’s like I didn’t quite recognize him.
The moment he came out, the pain was gone and the happiness and relief I felt was overwhelming. I was totally embarrassed by the way I was screaming just moments before. I delivered the placenta and was stitched up (I had torn a little). I barely noticed. Alan cut the umbilical cord and a nurse brought him to me. He was so perfect. I couldn’t believe how quickly he began to nurse. How did he know how to do that minutes after coming out? Amazing! Alan shook Dr. Gonzalez’s hand and we thanked the nurses and Jenny for their tremendous help. Then everyone left us alone to get to know our son for his first hour. He was so alert, looking all around. He was just so perfect. I couldn’t believe I did it. Giving birth was the hardest, most athletic thing I’ve ever done. I don’t understand how women who aren’t very fit do it. I’ve run five marathons – this was harder.
We moved to a postpartum room and our families started pouring in soon after. I didn’t want anyone in the labor/delivery room who wasn’t directly helping with the birth, which is something else I got out of my sister’s birth experience. Sorry Amanda! There were way too many people milling around her room while she was in labor. I wanted a much calmer environment, which I think my family was annoyed at me about. I would’ve felt like I needed to be nice and polite and entertain if too many friends and family were there. But now that Baby Boy Renshaw (We didn’t name him for a week – I’ll write about that later.) was there the family/friend flood gates were opened!
I now understand a mother’s love for her child. The need to protect and love them is absolute. I love my baby so much. I can’t imagine my life without him now.