The Birth Story – Part 4
The room was almost silent except for all the beeps and heartbeats coming from the machine next to me. There were heavy breaths from Stephen who had just dozed off. And then there was an occasional sound of a piece of paper coming from my sister who had decided to stay in the room and read a book. She said she wanted to stay because that chair was better and it was quieter, but I’m sure the real reason is because she wanted to be close to the action.
Then we heard it. A blood curdling scream. There were no words at first, just the sound of a woman in the next room in serious pain. Then came the words. “OH MY GOOOOOOOOOD!” We all looked at each other with wide eyes. “OOOHHHH. THIS HURTS LIKE HELL!” Screaming and more screaming.
“Screw the sleep, y’all. I can’t do this. No. This has got to go. I’m about to have to DO that. I can’t listen to that!” So I turned on the television which, in my memory, was located about 30 feet away. The remote was attached to the bed and the sound came out of it. I found something on television that didn’t feature any screaming, blood, pain, or babies and I turned the volume up and put it right by my ear.
A few minutes later my nurse came in to check on me and read the secret number code that was coming out of the machine next to me. The fetal monitor, my monitor, my IV bag, my epidural which was under lock and key, my pee bag, and my blood pressure stats. I felt like a freak show being attached to so many cords and wires, they’d even added a danger-red wristband that said “FALL RISK” to the collection I had around my wrist.
I looked up at my nurse with wide eyes, “Are you hearing this?” She looked back at me and with a sigh and a nice eye roll she replied, “That chick needs to learn how to breathe!” I thought she was being snarky (and I liked it) but then she went on to explain how all of her screaming was taking her energy and oxygen and blah blah blah, she was making her life a lot harder than it needed to be. That was the extent of what I was told at that point. The following day I learned that she’d gotten an epidural but it “didn’t take.” I don’t really know what that means but if I’d had my epidural for longer than 30 minutes and my legs hadn’t gone numb, you’d better believe my doctor would be in there jerry-rigging the heck out of that epidural catheter!
My epidural actually was wearing off and I was beginning to feel the strength of my contractions. They were totally bearable but I knew that it would continue to wear off and I had the worst of it yet to come. They gave me one more pump of the good stuff and I prayed it would last. I don’t know why my body doesn’t understand that painkillers are supposed to kill the pain. I will continue to blame migraines.
It was getting late (around 11:30, I’d guess) so people decided to go home and get some sleep. They knew there was a chance that it could still be several more hours. My FIL went home for a nap, my sister and SIL’s went to my house for a bit, and my parents and MIL continued to try to nap in the waiting room. Stephen went back to sleep in his little twin bed and I tried to go to sleep. I found that it was hard to sleep while your eyes were as round as coke bottles and you were staring at the clock. I rested my hands on my belly, simultaneously begging Jansen to hurry up and also to stay put for the rest of our lives. I was so excited, but so very terrified.
At around 12:50 I thought I might be getting this elusive bowel movement feeling they warned me about. I wasn’t sure though and I didn’t want to cry wolf. I put all of my effort into debating the question, “Do I feel like I need to poop or do I not feel like I need to poop??” I felt a lot of pressure down under and I assume that meant that Jansen was beginning his grand entrance… or grand exit. The last time I’d told a doctor that I “just felt a lot of pressure” was early the previous morning (since we were now into Thursday at this point) and that pressure had actually been contractions. So when my nurse walked in on perfect cue, she looked at my screen and then immediately looked at me.
“Your contractions are really strong.” Uh huh. “Yeah, I think I have that bowel movement pressure you warned me about. And yeah, these contractions are really strong.” She gloved up and checked my cervix. “Ten centimeters. It’s time.”
Time. It’s time. Already? I’ve only been here for 1, 2, 3, hmm, like 16 hours. How is it already time? It can’t be time, my husband is asleep!
“Stephen. Stephen, wake up. It’s time.” Stephen popped up. He was a bit taken off guard and kind of in a half-asleep state but he tried to ready himself for the big task at hand. “Can I put my shoes on? I want to put my shoes on.” So he sat back down on his bed and put his shoes on. The same shoes he put on the previous day to go to work, but instead went to the hospital.
My nurse was running around the room preparing everything. Towels and water and whatever else was needed. Stephen stood up with his shoes on and sleep still showing in his eyes, “Deanna, can I go to the bathroom before we start? Please?” So Stephen went to the bathroom and bought me a bit more time. He was back before I knew it. And Deanna told me that we were going to do some “practice pushing.”
Good, I thought. So it’s not actually time. We’ll just do some breathing exercises and wait it out a bit. She started to explain the process to me. “So wait. I push? Like I really push? Like hard? Like I’m trying to push him out?” Okay yeah, there is nothing practice about this. It’s just real pushing without the doctor. The quick lesson and ease of breathing further proved to me that you don’t need birthing classes if you’re getting an epidural. Your nurse is a genius and an angel and she’ll get you through it.
The room was dark and I felt like I was watching all of this happen from the outside. My husband was on my left, holding my leg and speaking words of encouragement to me. My nurse was on my right with my other leg and a wealth of invaluable knowledge. As I felt a contraction hit, I’d begin the process. Breathe, breathe, push, breathe, push, breathe, push. Then the contraction would be over. We’d sit and wait for the next one, and do it all again.
After about 10 minutes of this, my nurse told me to stop and she paged my doctor. Within minutes, my room was full – or so it seemed. My nurse, my doctor, the pedi nurse, and some other woman who I imagine was there incase of an emergency. My doctor got set up with her tools, hair cover, and gloves and turned on the overhead lights. I immediately felt the urge to close my legs and grab a blanket. I’d had my fair share of people looking at my business that day, but spotlights? Really?
Finally they were all in place and it was time to start pushing again. My nurse continued to be my encouragement while my doctor had her serious OB face on. Stephen was gitty and overwhelmed. The real pushing started. It was all very awkward. Since I only pushed during contractions, we had minute or two breaks when there was nothing going on. We had small talk. We discussed the weirdness of the day, the fact that my doctor had already delivered several babies that night and would still deliver a couple more before she got to go home, the baby’s name, how thrilled we were that I didn’t need any pitocin, how my body was made for making and birthing babies, etc.
With the next pushes, the head started coming out. “Stephen look!” my doctor said. He was already looking but she wanted to be she he was seeing it happen. “Oh my gosh! Awesome. Chelsea, the head! I see the head! He’s coming!” He was sort of bouncing up and down as he stood there holding my leg. It was so fun to see his excitement.
I continued to push. It hurt. No amount of drugs can prevent your body from the pain of pushing a human being out of it. It wasn’t bad, it was just there. I was more concerned with the fact that I was pushing so hard I thought my ears and eyes were going to burst off of my face. My doctor’s words changed from “push!” and “good job!” to “keeeeep going!” and “come on, almost there!” I could tell we were getting close. And all of a sudden, at 1:37 am on September 2, 2010, she said, “Okay stop pushing!” I could feel the pressure ease and see a 7 pound 14 ounce red, white, and purple thing get pulled from my body. He immediately peed on my doctor.
She laid Jansen on my stomach and I had no idea what I was supposed to do. He was filthy. And I’m sure my hands weren’t clean. Could I touch him? Should I touch him? He’s very pissed and naked and not really that cute. What’s happening? I told my doctor that Stephen wanted to cut the cord. She seemed excited by that. The cord was short, she told him, so he’d have to be careful. He was nervous but he did it.
The nurse took Jansen to the other side of the room for a quick clean and all the other stuff they do. Stephen went with them. I laid there, wondering what I was to do. I thought I’d have to do the push/breathe thing again to deliver my placenta. But it just sort of plopped out with a little tug from my doctor. Stephen was taking pictures of Jansen like a mad man. I think we have 12 pictures of fresh Jansen screaming on the table with his legs wide open and his newborn baby junk exposed for the world to see.
Stephen came back over to me, probably so he could see the placenta with his own eyes. My doctor showered me with compliments as I’m sure she does with all of her patience. Regardless, it felt good. I only had one tear so the stitches and recovery would be minimal. Once she was done and I was all cleaned up, they brought my little bundled baby to me. I didn’t cry, I didn’t instantly fall in love. I was overwhelmed and tired and mostly I was hungry.
I knew it would take me a while to bond with that baby in my arms. I don’t understand the people who say, “I fell in love the second I laid eyes on him.” I’m sorry, I didn’t. Sure, I loved him. But he didn’t feel like my son. He felt like a stranger.
A nurse came in to make me try nursing. Everything is a blur at this stage. It was after 2:00 am and I’d just been through the most life-changing event in my life. When I think back to this time, I remember it so differently than I think it really happened. I’m sure I wasn’t sitting in a gigantic white room on a random chair in the middle of the room. But that’s how I see it now.
They eventually took Jansen away again for his check ups and real cleaning. Stephen went along to show him off in the hallway to our family who had all come rushing back. I was only a slight fall risk at this point so my nurse walked my to the bathroom where I proceeded to pee the longest pee of my life. In reality though, it was mostly fluids. She walked me back to the bed and asked me if I wanted anything.
“Food. Please, food.” She brought me some chips or crackers or something and the most delicious can of Sprite I have ever laid lips on. We waited around for another hour or so because there hadn’t been a room available, and at 4:45 they finally wheeled me down to the room I’d be in for the next 2 days. It was a shared room but we were told it would be private in a few hours when the other new mom left.
I laid down and started dozing off while Stephen tried to make himself comfy on the new awkward chair-turned-twin-bed. We were asleep for about an hour before the nursery wheeled Jansen in to me and left him at my side. I had a slight panic attack that the people who were trained to handle babies would trust me with a newborn. Buck up, Chelsea. This is it. You’re a mom now and this little boy needs you. There’s no time for doubt or uncertainty, there is only time for parenting. And love, a lot of love.
I smiled and closed my eyes. It was a great day. It was shocking, long, and exhausting, yes. But it was the most exciting day of my life. It’s a day that I like to remember any time I have a free moment with my thoughts. And have no fear, it didn’t take long for me to fall hopelessly in love with this little boy. He’s pretty well wrapped around my finger and filling up my heart!
(The first picture of us as a family. The nurse caught this moment.)
(I will be posting all 4 parts as one piece tomorrow. You can ignore it, I just want to have it all in one place.)