Thursday, April 1, 2010

Part III: Watermelon out of a grape.

(Part I and Part II here)

All my life, I've heard people compare delivering a baby to "pushing a watermelon out of a hole the size of a grape." You've probably heard it, too. Gruesome, huh?

I was about to find out how true that comparison really is.

After Pam hooked the pitocin bag up to my I.V., things started picking up immediately. Dill watched in awe as the contractions got much larger and closer together on the monitor. I lay in my bed and didn't feel a thing ... for a while. Then, I noticed I could actually feel my contractions. Not anything painful, just a lot of pressure. Like the fake Braxton-Hicks contractions I'd been feeling throughout most of my pregnancy, but stronger. They were coming frequently. I was glad for this development, but also worried my C-section scar would burst apart at any moment. I hated not knowing what was going on in my body, but at the same time, I was grateful I wasn't feeling any of it.

Dill grabbed some lunch, and then we watched mindless afternoon television. Have you ever noticed how many sleazy attorney/law firm commercials play during the day? Too many. Dill was astonished. He has never had the privilege of being home during the day to witness the atrocity that is daytime television. Soap operas, trashy talk shows and petty court cases. The finer things in life, you know. I can pretty much feel my brain rotting just thinking about it.

At 1:30 p.m., Pam came in and checked me. Eight centimeters! My heart started racing. This was it. There was no turning back now. I was going to get my VBAC. I was going to have to push a watermelon out of a grape-sized hole. MY grape-sized hole.


I kind of started panicking at that moment. I could feel a great deal of pressure in my butt and wondered if Smush's head was going to emerge at any moment. I asked Pam about it and she said there was no way; this was my first vaginal delivery and my baby's head was probably nowhere in sight. She left the room. Dill and I watched more boring television, but my mind was racing. Something deep within me was telling me this baby was about to come out. Maybe it was instinct, or maybe it was my numbed-up uterus screaming "It's TIME!" and I just couldn't feel it.

I pressed the nurse button.

"How can I help you?" a friendly voice responded.

"Um, I'm just feeling lots of pressure and it's not going away. I want to be checked."

Pam came in within a few minutes. It was 1:45 at this point.

"Well, you're a 9, and the head has moved way down. You just have a small lip of cervix left. But ..." she trailed off.

What? I thought. WHAT?

" ... there is a lot of blood down here, so I am going to go get the doctor."

My doctor came in with Pam moments later. He also checked me and made a similar comment about the bleeding. "Baby's still posterior," he said matter-of-factly. He attempted to turn Smush, but said Smush wasn't exactly cooperating.

As if on cue, Dill closed the shade to our window and turned off the television. He took his place by my left shoulder. The doctor then turned on the overhead delivery lights. You know, the big ones that mean it's "go time."

"When the next contraction comes, I want you to push."

Push. The word resounded in my ears. It echoed through canyons. It pulsed on the air.

Push. Push. Push.

Doctor watched the monitor intently. All was silent, except for the whooshing sound of Smush's heartbeat on the monitor.

"Ok, now."

Let me tell you, pushing with an epidural is the weirdest thing. Why? Because you can't really feel anything. You basically screw your face up and pretend to poop, except for you can't feel your butt. Yet, it works. It's wild.

As I pushed, the doctor tried to pull Smush down the birth canal, turning him as he went. His hand emerged covered in blood. I kept my focus on pushing and decided to let the doctor and nurses take care of the rest. I knew if I let my thoughts wander too much, I would end up a hysterical mess.

"There is still a lot of blood down here," the doctor calmly stated. He listed the possibilities: could be my cervix, could be my scar rupturing, or it could be my placenta detaching from the uterus wall. All bad scenarios. He said no matter what, it was time to get the baby out.

"We need vacuum assistance here," he told Pam. The stirrups came out, my legs went up. Then, while looking at the monitor, he directed me to push again.

I closed my eyes, held my breath and pushed. Apparently, I was doing it correctly because everyone kept saying, "Great job!" and similar sentiments. And all I could think was, Good thing, because I have no idea what I'm doing.

Pushing was hard work. With every contraction, I started feeling more dizzy and increasingly nauseated. A pool of acid burned in my throat.

Dang Hot 'n Spicy.

But before I could say anything, it was time to push again. This time, the doctor affixed a purple plastic cup thing to Smush's head. I knew immediately this was the vacuum extractor he had called for. It looked like a gun with a cup on the end. I knew this meant Smush was coming out and soon.

Oh, my poor lady parts.

When the doctor engaged the vacuum, I could definitely feel it pulling Smush out of me. It was like having a huge log of poo stuck in my bum. Only, instead of poo it was a baby, and he was stuck in my birth canal. But the feeling was exactly the same.

(Not that I know what it feels like to have poo stuck in my bum. I never poop. Just ask Dill.)

I kept pushing as directed. And about 15 minutes after we'd started, I heard those words every mother, no matter how she delivers, waits on pins and needles to hear:

"The head is out!"

Music to my ears.

I couldn't believe it.

"One more push ... "

I bared down, thinking, "My kid's body is still in me!"

And then, I saw him.

All at once. There he was, part of the world, alive and crying. Breathing.

I gasped and cried. I did it.

The doctor clamped off the umbilical cord and Dill got to cut it. A solemn, quiet moment. Then, they put him on my chest.

It is an amazing thing to see your child for the first time. You wait all those months, imagining what they're going to look like, and they ALWAYS comes out differently than you expect. At least, that's been the case both times I've had a baby.

But they're always more perfect and beautiful than you could ever dream.

And in that moment, when they enter your arms for the first time, you feel a great sense of reverence and awe. It's an entirely spiritual experience that can't accurately be described in words. You know this child, you've carried this child, you've sacrificed your physical being for this child and now they're here. They're yours.

After I had some time to get acquainted with my new son, the nurses took him across the room to a little warming station to get him weighed, measured, and all that. I admit, I was surprised to hear his stats -- eight pounds, four ounces, 21 inches long -- because he was born before his due date. So there's no telling how huge he'd have been had I carried him another week.

Oy. Good thing we'll never find out.

The doctor confirmed my placenta had detached from the uterus during labor. Placental abruption is normally a very dangerous event, but we were able to avoid any catastrophes by getting Smush out quickly. Kudos to my doctor for that one. I did lose a lot of blood, though. So much, my poor, normally non-squeamish husband had turned pale and started feeling sick. Thankfully, I did not need a blood transfusion, but I was rather white and weak for a few days afterward.

In the end, I am grateful I got to deliver Smush vaginally. It was a surreal experience. The recovery has been rather terrible, but quick (I thought my C-section recovery was long, but less painful). There is nothing easy about pushing a watermelon out of a grape-sized hole; whether you have pain medication or not, you still have to deal with the side effects.

Smush is a great eater and sleeper (so far). He is such a joy. He is very calm and easy-going and doesn't mind being left alone. Bubby adores him and likes to tell me when it's time to feed him. Dill is enamored with his little boy. They have a special father-son bond and it's been wonderful to see it develop.

And as for me, I could just eat him up. His nickname is fitting; he is the smushiest, cuddliest baby ever.

Six days old.
And what can I say? I'm in love.


  1. He is adorable! Thanks for posting his birth story :)

  2. So so glad he was able to come how you wanted him to! That was so wonderful you described it so well.

    I must admit it made me tear up some :)

  3. OMG He's soooooo cute! Love his little chibby cheeks!! I could eat him up too!! Tell him his girlfriend is still cooking but she arrives in 3 months ;)

    CONGRATULATIONS again!! Soooo cute!! And good job for pushin him out!! :D

  4. Congrats Jenna! It was so exciting to read the birth story and even though I CAN (and should) wait for my baby to come...I can't wait for my baby to come!

    Your Smush is so precious and sweet!

  5. Jenna I just love to read your blog. You are an amazing and entertaining writer. This is Becky Daley by the way.

    Congrats on your beautiful baby boy!

  6. BAYYYYBEEEEEEEEE!!! That was beautiful Jenna. It scares the snot out of me, thinking about giving birth, but I'm thinking I need me one of those babies. Way to go. You are amazing. And high five your doctor for me for keeping your best interests at heart.

  7. I love reading your writing. :) Congratulations on your VBAC! What an awesome story.

    And, if you want to try for an medicated delivery next time, it is night and day to having an epidural, and your girl parts don't really hurt afterward. Its an amazingly wonderful experience! I would say there are basically no negative side affects. I was up walking around like a half hour after I pushed Miles out. No tearing... and this might be TMI but waiting 6 weeks was DEFINITELY not necessary. ;)

  8. I'm with Elise, child birth sounds incredibly frightening. I think I can wait awhile before I give it a go. I'm glad you're brutally honest about the things most people don't talk about! Congratulations on your sweet new addition!

  9. I got on to Blogger just to see if you had posted the rest of the story. Now, it didn't really put me "at ease" as I am now very close to pushing out a watermelon, but I'm glad it was realistic. If you could do it, then I can.

  10. That first picture with him right out o' the womb is amazing! So glad that everything went well in the end :)!

  11. Congratulations! I was dying laughing about the poop thing. Because that is how it feels! In fact, to this day whenever I go poop (not that I do) I am reminded of the feeling of labor. Way to have a VBAC. You are only the second person I know personally who has had one!

  12. I can relate to EVERYTHING you wrote! Congratulations on the birth of your babe. It is so special and doesn't it stink how fast the time goes AFTER the birth? My gal is already 2 weeks old. AH! Enjoy every second.

  13. You're so much more entertaining than me. I loved reading Smush's story. Congrats, what a cutie!

    (And I totally share the feeling of having absolutely no idea how to "push". And yet, it works) ;)

  14. Great birth story! Happy SITS Day!

  15. I had a C-section with my first, and now I'd debating whether or not to try for a second when number two comes along... Sometimes I think it would be easier to just schedule a c-section. I'm glad everything went well for you! Dramatic, yet well :)

  16. Jenna, what an amazing birth story!!! As a VBAC mom (X3), I am so utterly PROUD of you for sticking it out and delivering vaginally with Smush! Would you mind if I added a link to your birth story on my blog? Here's the address:

    Congrats again on your VBAC!


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