It was getting close to midnight as we got settled into Room ___ (I need to find the room number...) at Swedish Medical Center. My mom and sister had arrived sometime in the midst of check-in, but I cannot remember exactly when. I was a little preoccupied (imagine that). I should ask my mom. When I think back to it all I can remember is the pain I was in at that moment.
So much pain. So much pressure and pain in my lower back. Every contraction felt as if someone was wringing my body as you would a wet towel. I tried to remember all the breathing techniques, but it seemed useless. I just decided to breathe! (I am full of brilliant ideas.)
They brought a wheelchair out and I felt dread wash over me. Walking was painful, but sitting was even more so. "Do I have to ride in the wheelchair?" I pleaded with Joel.
"I don't think so. Do you want to walk?" He compassionately replied.
"Yes; no. I don't know. I'll ride. No, let me walk. No, maybe I should ride," was my response.
If you have been in labor you probably had a conversation like that with your husband.
The 5 minute ride in the wheelchair up to the delivery room was the second worse ride of my life (the first, as you remember, being the ride to the hospital just 20 minutes prior). Contraction after contraction. More fluid everywhere.
It was surreal as we rounded the final corner and I saw the nurses desk. They were smiling compassionately and waiting for me. I was in labor. I was having a baby! The time I had imagined my whole life was upon me! It was like the moment I took my daddy's arm at my wedding to walk down the aisle. Was this me?
The nurses helped us get settled into the room, all the while briefing us on what to expect from them and telling me I needed to lay down for 20 minutes so she could monitor the baby's heartbeat. Lay down for TWENTY minutes? You have GOT to be kidding me! I just want this baby out. Right now. It was so painful to lay down. The pain, oh, the pain. She started asking me a myriad of medical questions. My contractions were still coming one on top of another and the pain I was feeling in my lower back continued to intensify. As soon as she got the monitor turned on the nurse said something like, "Oh, honey, you are having hard contractions." Really? No way!
We made it very clear that we wanted an all natural birth. The baby was to have no shots. They were not to offer drugs or suggest anything to us unless the baby and I were in danger. She took my birth plan and began looking it over. She suggested I still have the IV hook up just in case something did go wrong. I gave in (the worst mistake- it was so annoying!) and they put it in my left arm. After only 15 minutes or so I had to get up. Once I was standing Joel applied counter pressure during a contraction and I finally felt some relief from the pressure on my lower back.
My doctor came in to check on me at about 1am and I was dilated to 7cm. He also discovered that the baby was a little oblique (slanted towards one side of my pelvis) and partially posterior (facing forward). He explained that the excruciating pain I was feeling in my low back was mostly due to the baby's odd position. The contractions would do their job to reposition the baby, but my labor was going to be a more difficult one.
I remember taking a deep breath between contractions and asking the Lord to give me strength. He had made my body capable of labor and delivery. The pain had a purpose. It was a good pain. I was about to see my baby.
Ah, thank God for a strong, patient, gracious husband who was by my side through it all. He applied counter pressure with every contraction- not a small feat- and his arms were sore for a few days! He reminded me that God had made my body for this task. Thank God for a loving mother who gently whispered Scripture in my ear and reminded me that all I needed to do was focus on the next contraction. Thank God for a dear sister who got me water, cooled off my forehead and stood ready for what ever we needed. Her sweet smile was such a comfort to me!
I decided to get in the bath to see if it would relieve some of the pressure from the baby's head continually pressing on my pelvic bone, spine and tail bone. As I sunk into the water I told Joel that it felt like I was sitting on the baby's head. (Weirdest feeling ever- second to my water breaking!) It helped for a little while, but the urge to get the baby out was quickly overtaking me!
We moved me back to the bed, but I still could not sit down. I could tell the baby was trying to get into the right position. He/she wanted to come out as badly as I wanted them out! Resting upright, rocking with each contraction to help the baby turn was the best position for me. They checked again around 2:30am and I was nearing 9cm. This overwhelming urge came from nowhere and I told my doctor I had to push. The nurse was very adamant that I wait until I was fully dilated. My doctor said to go ahead if I needed to, but to push gently. (Um, gently, ok?)
A couple of contractions and pushes later I felt some relief from the pressure. The baby had moved a little! I could finally lay down and prepare to get this baby out! The nurse kept calling the baby a girl. And it really was starting to annoy me. What if it is a boy?
I pushed. And I pushed. And I pushed some more.
I was starting to feel more intense pain and was having a hard time breathing. The nurse gave me some oxygen. (Ah, love that stuff.) PUSH!
My doctor checked the position of the baby and gave the nurse some code language.
I knew something was amiss and asked, "What is it?"
"The baby is trying to come out ear first," my doctor said. The nurse looked concerned and my doctor calmly said, "It's not the first time it has happened. It's fine. It'll just take longer."
(Can I just say... I love my doctor. He is the best. Ever. 65 years old. Old school. Has delivered over 6,000 babies- including my three youngest siblings. He has one of the lowest c-section percentages in Colorado. And he has a dry sense of humor. And he's calm and professional. And yet sometimes a bit goofy. We love him!)
I pushed for an hour and twenty minutes. Sometime, somehow, the baby turned. It was long. It was hard. I felt like giving up. And about 2 pushes before the baby was born something clicked in me. I want this baby out. I remember looking over to see the little bed with the heater warming up, asking Joel if the camera was recording (one of the best decisions ever) and taking a big breath as I felt another contraction.
I want to see my baby!
They cheered me on and said I was almost there. The head was out. My doctor said not to push while he cleaned the nose and mouth out. He asked if Joel was ready to call out the gender of the baby.
It was the longest 10 seconds of my life.
"One more push," Dr. Bury instructed.
"It's a boy!" Joel exclaimed, filled with wonder, excitement and emotion.
And a little squirming baby boy was placed on my chest. I cried.
My baby. My firstborn. A son.
The love that washed over me in that moment cannot be described in words. There is nothing to compare with seeing your baby face to face for the first time.
September 15, 2010