We arrived at the hospital a little before midnight. After waiting in the blasted emergency room for about 15 minutes, they took us up to maternity triage. Laboring in that tiny curtained area on what was basically a stretcher was insane, to put it mildly. Definitely couldn't walk around to cope with the pain. The contractions were hitting me every 1-2 minutes and I had to moan through them -- couldn't control it. Dill put counterpressure on my back and hips which helped some. We were watching the contractions on the contract-o-meter-majiggy (I don't know what that's called) and they were all off the chart.
All the while I was thinking, Where the heck is the nurse?! I need an antibiotic! I
tested positive for Group B strep and I wanted to make sure I got a
dose in before the baby came. Eventually, Paula the nurse came in and
got that IV started. It took 30 minutes for the drug to be
administered, so about 20 contractions later I was finally able to get into a
delivery room. By this point, I didn't care what I sounded like -- I had
to get through those brutal contractions and deep breathing wasn't
cutting it. I'm pretty sure I was scaring the other people in triage with my wounded cow noises.
It was sometime between 1:00 and 1:30 AM when we got
into the room. It was very spacious and nice. My midwife, Melissa was there. I basically hopped on the
bed and then decided, nope, I've sat on a bed long enough, I need a new
position to labor in. So I asked for the birthing ball and they rolled it in.
It looked huge and I didn't think I could easily climb up there. Mind
you, as a VBAC patient, I had to be continuously monitored, so I had all
these dumb cords hanging off me. But Paula and Melissa were great about
helping me maneuver around them however I needed to.
I sat on
the ball for a long time and the contractions continued to get much
harder. With each one, it was like a wave rolling in. I could feel it as if it were off
in the distance, and as it got closer, I braced myself the best I could
for what was to come. I tried not to fight the pain but it got more and
more difficult not to as things progressed. Eventually, while on the
ball, I felt this immense pressure and I surrendered to it -- that's
when my water broke.
I gingerly climbed back on the
bed to be checked. I was at 8 1/2 centimeters. But now, the contractions
weren't just painful but also causing lots of pressure. Like,
baby's-head-is-emerging-please-help-me pressure. Paula raised the head of the
bed for me. I knelt to face it while draping my arms over it and rested my head at the top. She and Melissa cautioned me not to push because I could really damage my
cervix. Well, it seriously took everything in me not to push. The feeling was so overwhelming, I started to get
scared and hyperventilate. Paula slapped an oxygen mask on my face and they called the doctor.
Dr. Guzman came in and basically gave me some tough love. He was in "game on" mode -- stern but calm. He told me I needed to breathe deeply because I was
stressing my baby out. "This is what you wanted, isn't it?" I nodded a
little regretfully. No epidural? Yeah, I did actually want that. But my body freaking out and trying
to eject the baby before it was ready? Not even a little. I did NOT want that!
was the greatest support I could have asked for. He did whatever I
needed -- brought me water to sip through a straw, rubbed my back and
arms, stroked my head, talked me through it all ... he was just what I
needed to get through it. True to his nature, he stayed calm through it all. A few times I looked him in the eyes and said,
"I can't do this ... it's too much to bear!" He'd just quietly remind me that I
could do it and was doing it and to simply focus on each contraction. He reminded me to breathe low and steady to keep the oxygen flowing. It was still incredibly difficult, but I knew I could do it as long as he was with me.
When things got really hard, I had to go deep within myself to find the courage to go on. I imagined my foremothers pushing their babies out without anesthesia. I envisioned Mary and Eve laboring outdoors. I thought of the Savior suffering these very same pains in Gethsemane.
endured several more of those head's-coming-out contractions before I
pounded on the nurse's button and begged to be checked. Melissa came in, checked me
and said I was complete! Freakin' hurray! "Let's do some practices
pushes," she said. I asked which pushing position would best prevent injury and
she suggested side-lying, so on my side I went. She put this nifty yellow yoga
ball shaped like a peanut in between my legs, saying it would encourage
baby to come down
As soon as the next contraction started,
Melissa directed me to breathe in deep and then push. I really didn't
have to try as I'd been holding back the pushes for what seemed like
centuries prior to that. As I pushed, she rubbed olive oil on my
perineum, stretching it out so I wouldn't tear. She complimented me on
my pushing so I kept at it. I could feel my baby moving down and
eventually I sensed that the head was RIGHT THERE at the precipice of
life. The feeling was confirmed when Melissa told me to turn onto my
back because with one more contraction, my baby would be out! I
enthusiastically flipped over and grabbed my legs. Paula directed me to
curl around Baby and push as I felt the next contraction. I did just
that without hesitation. And then, as they say on "Call the Midwife" ...
The head was born.
And oh my,
was her head ever born! It hurt like crazy upon exit and a whole lot of
amniotic fluid gushed out along with it. One more push and her body
slithered out, too.
I'd done it. I'd given birth and felt every
single part of it. Except, I was still feeling it. And by "it," I mean a
whole lot of pain and burning. Not the euphoric cocktail of oxytocin
and love hormones that you're supposed to get. Not even close.
put my newborn daughter on my chest and
began drying her with a towel. Oh, she was precious! All three times
I've given birth, I've been amazed at how small the baby is when I first
get to hold them. My belly always gets so huge by the end, I'm
expecting a 15-pound toddler to plop into my arms. But no, it's just
this tiny, slimy, wailing creature roughly the size of a Dachshund. It's
I was excited to meet Clara finally but also,
something wasn't sitting right. I felt sick, to put it mildly. More
accurately, I was in a lot of pain still and had begun trembling in
agony. Melissa made a discreet comment about needing another pair of
hands in sterile gloves to help stitch me up. My stomach sank ... NO! I
asked the question I already knew the answer to and Melissa confirmed I
had indeed tore, just in the opposite direction from last time. Yeah,
wow. Not the news I wanted to hear. Apparently, I had so much rigid scar
tissue from Carson's birth that I couldn't tear in that direction this time. I
got a tiny fissure there, but the main damage was done on the front end.
Her head came out so fast ... it was inevitable.
Dill cut the cord shortly thereafter and then I had to push out
the placenta. I somehow managed, knowing that the repair had to be made
and that couldn't happen until the placenta was out. They weighed Clara
-- a healthy 7 pounds, 3.5 ounces. Then, Paula put some Stadol in my IV
line and I kind of passed out. I could still carry on a conversation and
feel the stitching, but I felt very tired and "out of it." It took an
hour to complete the repair. I felt like I was in a dream the whole time and that I
would soon wake up in my bedroom, still pregnant. But then, I would open my eyes
and see I was still in the delivery room. I was so scared to face the
recovery from this tear. I knew I didn't have long before the pain
medication would wear off and I'd feel the acute pain from the
injury. I was terrified.
In a haze, I lamented to Melissa that avoiding a tear was
THE reason I didn't want an epidural. She was very kind and
understanding as midwives usually are. She had done everything to help
me avoid it, but that last horrible delivery came back to haunt me yet
again. As she reminded me, "Sometimes these things just happen."
the stitching, I got to nurse Clara. She latched on well and it was so
sweet to bond with her. I felt so blessed to have a perfectly healthy, happy baby in the aftermath of such a crazy birth. I had a feeling in that moment that she would be a peaceful, calming influence in our family. So far, she has been just that. She rarely cries and practically came out of the womb on a
feeding schedule. She nurses well, sleeps long stretches at night and she's just happy to be alive.
Everyone loves her. I am so grateful she is the one to complete
I have processed a lot of feelings since
Clara was born -- anger, pain, sadness and grief at not having the type of
birth I wanted. I didn't expect it to be easy; in fact, I expected it
to be exquisitely hard with the hope that my recovery would be infinitely easier this time. Everything I'd
read and studied supported this belief. But I managed to defy those
statistics. I also felt regret -- for not getting an epidural, for
taking the castor oil, for not taking a childbirth class. Maybe this was
all my fault. Maybe I deserved it.
It's now been two weeks since the birth and things still
hurt. I am healing, but it's a slow process. I still ponder on
what I went through that day and how now, I not only carry the emotional
and physical trauma of Carson's birth, but also some from Clara's, too. I hoped
that I would have a gentle birth experience to erase my past trauma and
subsequent pessimistic feelings on the matter. But I didn't, so those
feelings remain. I'm trying so hard to come to grips with it. I hope in
time I will.
Through it all, I still believe midwifery is the way to go if
you want to have your
best birth possible. I wouldn't have chosen any other way. Every step
of the pregnancy, I was guided by the most caring, kind women in all my
decisions. They supported me fully and encouraged me continually. They
really do want what's best for you from start to finish. And when things
don't go as planned, they are there for you to comfort and help you
heal. So, I want thank you to my wonderful midwives and OB -- Melissa Troncale, Ramona Joseph, Tiffany Jackson and Grayson Guzman, whom I now consider my friends. They're the best birth advocates out there!
I'll leave you with a shot of Clara from our last day in the hospital. She's simply precious and we love her to pieces.