Continued from Part I….
– Once it was clear that baby was indeed on her way, it was time to go through the process of checking on the baby with the external fetal monitors. This process of being in active labour and needing to lie down on the bed whilst being monitored was something I had been dreading. I lay down on my side and the nurse attached the monitors. I stayed in that position for a little while, but not the full 20 minutes requested, opting instead to move to sitting on the ball with the monitors still attached. From my point of view, this was a good thing. I felt a lot less anxious about pain management once I got out of the bed.
– I’m not sure how long it took, but after a while, the nurse seemed satisfied with the data gathered about the baby’s heartrate and whatnot, and we took the external monitors off. Whew. Free at last.
– All this while, Erica and Mark worked with me to make me as comfortable as possible. Mark stayed close by and applied counter pressure to my back during contractions. Erica put cool wash cloths on my neck and placed peppermint aromatherapy oils nearby to help with nausea. Every so often I was aware that there was music playing softly in the background. I specifically remember listening to “Blackbird” at some point, and for whatever reason that song has stayed with me, floating around my brain.
– At some point, I went into the bathroom to use the toilet. While I was in there, the doctor who was on call came in to check on me. I thought I had met all the doctors at my OBGYN’s practice, but I didn’t know this doctor. So, I’m inside the toilet, with the door closed when the doctor, who I have never met, comes into the room. The very first words I hear come out of her mouth are something to the effect of “Has her water broken yet? No? Ok, well we can rupture the membranes to help move things along faster.”. Immediately, alarm bells started ringing in my head. This was not what I had in mind! I finished up in the bathroom and shuffled out to meet my doctor. I decided to introduce myself. “Hi. I’m Kristen. We haven’t met before.” I don’t remember exactly what was said from here, but between me, Mark and Erica, we made it clear that I was progressing just fine and no artificial rupturing of anything would be required at this point in time. To which the doctor replied “Oh. Well, I guess they’ll rupture at some point.”. She guesses? GUESSES? Pah. [Also, I’m pretty sure the doc was wearing some sort of perfume. If I had to guess, it was something Estee Lauder – either Beautiful or Pleasures. It may have been pretty faint, but I could still smell it. It made me feel nauseous. Ick.]
– I laboured for a while longer, mostly sitting on the ball, bent over the bed with my head on a pillow. I began feeling increasingly nauseous and DANG those contraction hurt. I started asking for an epidural. Mark and Erica talked calmly to me, explaining that in all likelihood I was going through transition and this was the worst part and soon it would be time to push and so on. And I wanted to believe them. But I was flat out terrified of having to lie on my back for delivery without any pain management in place. So I persisted with my request for an epidural.
– At some point around this time, a new nurse started working with us. Our previous nurse had been called in to assist with another birth in a neighbouring room. Although I liked the first nurse – she was supportive and upbeat – I was kind of glad when she left….because she was so supportive and upbeat. Apparently I prefer silence when I’m concentrating during labour. New nurse was a lot more quiet.
– An IV was placed to get the necessary fluids into me as required by the docs before the epidural could be administered. Then the anasthesiologist showed up and asked me to get into bed and lie on my side, so he could do his thing. I got onto the bed and lay down, only to promptly get up onto my hands and knees in preparation for an oncoming contraction. I figured I would deal with that contraction first before laying down, since I knew it would hurt more once I was on my side in bed. But the contraction just went on and on and on, and after a while, the anasthesiologist helpfully informed me that if I would just lie down, he could administer the epidural, and my pain would go away. I snapped my head up, and said “Yeah. I get that.” and finally succumbed to laying on my side.
– HOLY MOTHER OF ALL THINGS PAINFUL. Is there anything worse than having mega-contractions whilst laying down in a bed and trying to stay still so that someone can stick an enormously long needle into your spine? I THINK NOT.
– And then it was done, and the pain eased and I waited for the fog to lift. Which it did….sort of…except that my next set of contractions made me want to PUSH. My body knew what it wanted to do, and it just did it. The pushing motion broke my water and suddenly there was a full on gush of warmth. I told the nurse, Mark and Erica the news. “Uh. I want to push. And my water broke.” The nurse peered beneath the sheet that was draped over my lower body and asked “How long did you push with your first child?”. “Not long.”, I answered. The nurse promptly disappeared from my field of view and called in the doctor and delivery team. Meanwhile, Erica started to prepare the bed for push time, lifting the stirrups out for placement. As she was doing so, the nurse told her not to put the stirrups up yet and that we needed to wait until I was ready to push since the combination of the epidural and having my legs up in the stirrups for an extended period of time was a paralysis risk. As all this was going, the doctor arrived, checked me and asked the nurse to put the stirrups up, because I was ready to push. HA.
– All this while, I could still feel the contractions and I could still wiggle my own toes. The epidural had taken most of the pain away, but I still had sensation in my lower body. The first proper push attempt felt very different than it had with Alexander’s birth. I could feel what I was doing. And it was quite hurty. Meanwhile, the doctor started messing with my delivery zone, presumably to help prepare for the upcoming stretchathon. YOWCH. I snapped my head up and shouted at her “HEY! WHAT ARE YOU DOING DOWN THERE!”. She looked up and caught my eye momentarily before answering brusquely “Trying to make sure you don’t tear. It’s looking tight. Did you have an episiotomy with your first birth?”. “No, I did not!”, I replied. And in my head I was screaming “AND I DON’T WANT ONE THIS TIME, THANK YOU VERY MUCH.” but I kept that gem to myself.
– Fortunately, after about 20 or 25 minutes of working hard with the pushing, the baby appeared without any further drama, and the next thing I knew, she was there in all her glory, wailing and wriggling on my chest. For all the doctor’s doom and gloom, the baby was delivered with only very minor tearing and I did not need any stitches. So YAY for that.
– Oh, just remembered one more thing – when the baby arrived, the doctor announced “Congratulations! It’s a boy!” and I was all “What? A boy? Really?” while doc quickly corrected herself “It’s a girl! Sorry! A girl!”.
Suzanna Mary was born at 11.51am on Sunday November 29th, a mere ~3 hours after we arrived at the hospital that morning. Not a bad, eh? She is beautiful and perfect and nurses like an absolute champ. We could not be more thrilled.
Part III to follow soon – a short round up of what happened once Suzanna arrived and some general reflections on her birth.