So. Was resting blissfully with my Epidural of Love. Somewhere in there the shifts changed. Midwife B said goodbye and Midwife C showed up. I liked Midwife C. Unfortunately she had another patient turn up in labor at the hospital down the road, so she had to go there a couple of times. Of course that woman had her baby hours and hours before I did. Ho. Anyway, Midwife C checked on me during the Resting Time and had me roll over to my other side "to encourage the baby to keep turning the right way." (Translation: Your baby is totally posterior and none of us are going to tell you for some freaky reason.)
Around 2am the nurse examined me, said I was at a 10, and called the midwife to get the okay to start pushing. It was a very, very weird experience trying to push when I couldn't really feel what was happening. GH and the nurse held my legs while I pushed during contractions, and in between them GH would lie down on the fold-out couch. He either fell asleep there or was just playing dead, but he stopped getting up for the pushing and so I just rolled my eyes and shrugged and held on to my own dang leg myself. And yes, I am tattling on him to the Internet.
After delivering the other baby at the other hospital, Midwife C came back. While she was talking to the nurse I caught the words of "when the baby is posterior like this," which is when I pretty much levitated off the bed. "WHAT????? Did you just say he's posterior???" She affirmed this, and I wish now so very hard that I'd had enough energy and presence of mind to ask just when the [Jenny's Word] they'd been planning to share that little tidbit with me. (Note: This is why next time I will inform any and all care providers that if my baby even looks like he's thinking about heading sunny-side up they are to inform me immediately while there's still time to do something about it. If they fail in this respect I will bludgeon them to death with an IV pole or birthing stool or whatever is close at hand.)
So then came the fun game called Let's Try to Turn Your Baby Because It's Just Now Occurring To Us That Maybe We Should. Midwife C reached on up in there and tried to turn him while I pushed. We did this many, many times. He would turn 90 degrees, and then stubbornly spin back around. They called the clinic's on-call OB (who is supposedly a pro at turning babies) and asked if he could have a go. He showed up, introduced himself, and went to work. During all the fun, I had two thoughts.
Thought #1: I'm so glad I am somewhat numb for this.
Thought #2: I imagine there will come a day where I do NOT have 11 fingers crammed up my cervix, but I'm pretty sure I will always feel them there.
So. After a while of this, we got to have another Talk. Dr. P explained that he was not able to turn the baby. He would like to try using forceps to turn & deliver him, and he felt it had a very good chance of working--otherwise he wouldn't bring it up. But if we tried with the forceps and they did not work, then we would need to do a C-section immediately. If I would rather not try the forceps, then he recommended a C-section.
I couldn't believe what I was hearing. I could not believe that after all this work I was looking at a C-section. I asked if I couldn't just keep pushing. He said I definitely could keep pushing, but that I'd already pushed for 3 hours without much progress. For the forceps to work, I needed the strength to push, and if I pushed for 3 more hours and then tried the forceps I might be too tired to help, which would make a C-section necessary.
This was the low point. I felt so exhausted and demoralized. Where was my Easy, Comfortable Birth, huh? Because this? This was the exact opposite of those things! I asked everyone to give GH and me a minute alone to talk it over. We talked and had a prayer together and felt good about going ahead with the forceps. They brought in this whole yellow-coated team--new nurses, people to take care of the baby once he was out and people to rush us into the OR if he didn't come out. It was crazy. While the Dr was getting all prepped down there, he started telling one of the nurses about his visit to the Royal College of Obstetrics in London. (Me: Ooooh, London!) Only then I realized where he was going with his story when he got to the part about seeing a display case of primitive forceps, and how they were originally only intended to save the mother's life, not the baby's. I popped my head up and told him he was done telling that story because I was trying to get my Bubble of Peace going. He stopped telling it. (Humph.)
And then the pushing (and pulling) started. It couldn't have taken more than 5 or so minutes, but I wanted to tell them to stop because there was no way this was working, they were going to crack my pelvis open, and please just do the C-section. But I could hear them all, especially GH right next to me, telling me that I was doing it and that he was coming. So I believed GH and kept pushing. (He later told me that he was absolutely lying to me--he could see the sweat pouring down the Dr's face as he pulled and knew there was no way this baby was coming out. Thank heavens for lying.) I gave it everything I had during the next three pushes (while making some sounds that probably had nearby moose lifting their heads and wondering who the new girl was) and suddenly everyone was telling me that I'd done it and he was out. It was 5:10am, almost 24 hours since my water broke.
All I felt was relief, and I burst into tears. I lifted my head to try to see him, but I was flat on my back and the Dr had him down in his lap. I could see one little red foot up on the doctor's chest and that was it. All of our birth preferences were tossed out the window by this point and I was too spent to care. They were worried about his lungs because he wasn't crying so they cut the cord immediately and took him over to the "Mess with Baby" station in the corner. GH took pictures while they worked on him.
And he looked back over to me just as I started hemorrhaging. Lucky guy. They said they were going to take the baby to the nursery to keep working on him so they gave him to me for about 45 seconds. When I saw him for the first time, I thought he was the handsomest little stranger I'd ever seen. He didn't look familiar at all and he didn't feel like my baby.
Eventually he started crying hard enough to please them and so they kept him in the room. They weighed him and when I heard the words of "9 pounds, 2 ounces" I said my second swear, which I think offended one of the nurses. I finally got a few minutes of skin-to-skin contact (not quite the hour I'd requested) and tried to feed him.
I look pretty great here, don't I? This was actually the best picture of me. You won't be seeing any of the others. And I'd like to know why no one thought to do something about my matted, straight-up-sticking hair before all the picture taking. Worst. Bedhead. Ever. Looked like I'd been electrocuted and then exsanguinated. Would it have killed anybody to pat that mess down? Actually, you know what? Here. Check out the first family photo:
Right? Won't be getting that one framed any time soon. And this was after I cropped out my "covered with a paper towel but still very much a key player in the shot" business end. Somewhere in all of this the OB was stitching up my 3rd-degree tears, and he remarked to one of the nurses that it looked like a jigsaw puzzle down there. "Not sure which parts go where!" That was awesome to hear.
While I was getting my eleventy-million stitches, GH was busy falling in love with the baby. It didn't come as quickly for me, which was not something I'd expected. I'm sure this was in part to do with the traumatic birth & recovery and the accompanying physical/emotional/hormonal Perfect Crapstorm, but that's another story for another time. The good news is that I did fall madly in love with my sweet boy, and every day I am so grateful that I get to be his mother.