The unabridged birth story, Part 3

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.


Kayla said... [reply]

My first delivery was really traumatic too and it took me a while to bond. I think it must be kind of normal. It came much more quickly and easily the second time around.

And I love love love birth stories. Thank you for sharing yours! He's beautiful!

Freckles in April | a modest clothing blog

MJ said... [reply]

I love birth stories, too, and I'm STOKED that you shared!! I don't know if I told you, but my 1st was 7 lbs 9 oz, my 2nd was 9 lbs 7 3/4! I don't know if the trend for me is going up, or switching back and forth. Guess we'll find out!

The good news is that the next time, all the crap that went bad most likely won't happen. The bad news is a whole new batch-o-crap will.

And any nurse that hasn't heard a swear word in the delivery room (ESP when the kid is born a toddler) is freshly out of school and this is their first birth.

Desmama said... [reply]

*Sigh* Thank heavens for happy endings. Even having heard this story once, it's good to hear it again. Mostly.

Seriously, though, I'm still a little agitated (though nothing like you felt, prolly) for all the things they didn't tell you about him--the posterior thing, which, um, that's kind of a big deal to know about, and also needing so much blood afterward--why did they wait two days and then throw it out like some afterthought, "Oh, hey, maybe you need blood? Hmmm?" I just . . . I don't know, I really feel kind of indignant that you didn't get more vigilant care. Maybe you feel differently, but hey, you're my good friend and I think my friends deserve the very best care, 'specially when they're birthing. ;)

He's so darling. Love all the pictures. That little mouth just slays me with cuteness.

Señora H-B said... [reply]

Oh, wow! What a crazy story. I'm glad you both came out on the other side. He's a beautiful, handsome boy. But seriously, I CANNOT believe that a 9lb 2oz baby came out of you. CRAZY!

Bridget said... [reply]

Am I still allowed to read your blog if I burst out laughing at your first family photo? I LOVE IT. Sometimes I get tired of those perfect makeup/hair post-labor pictures. Your picture made me smile because it is so genuine.

Congratulations again!

Grandma Lutz said... [reply]

Oh my gosh - thank you for sharing this (and most especially the family portrait at the end bc hello, I almost wet myself laughing at your reaction to it) - that was hysterical. But seriously - I cried reading your story! I remember that feeling of relief and stress and joy all at once - what a great experience birth is - no matter how they get here. Congrats. He's a lucky little fella.

Cinderella said... [reply]

I'm simultaneously fascinated and horrified by birth stories, but the way you tell yours is also amusing. Thanks for that. Glad that you and baby are both ok.

Nemesis said... [reply]

Kayla, thank you! I love your blog, by the way. You give me hope that one day I too may look put-together. ;-)

MJ, I bet THAT was a fun surprise (the 9lbs 8oz GAH!). And seriously about the nurse! Just because someone says "Are you sh***ing me" it doesn't mean they're trying to be rude.

Desmama . . . yeah. It's funny because I really thought I'd prepared myself to be this "I'm in charge, I know my body" kind of of patient, but once I got there and was actually dealing with labor it sort of flew out the window and I just trusted that my care providers would do the perfect things always. Am going to try to be a bit more on the ball next time.

Senora H-B, just watch your babies be way smaller than mine. Stay away from the Baby Bel!

Bridget, yes, we can still be friends even if you laughed at the most sacred image that is my first family photo. I now hate everyone who looks good in their hospital photos and prefer to think that the whole thing was staged with a 2-week-old baby.

Nemesis said... [reply]

Grandma Lutz, thank you!

Cinderella, thanks! I'm a birth stories junkie too. :-)

Sarah said... [reply]

Beautiful birth story. I also can relate to the gradual bonding post-traumatic birth. Meanwhile, my I'm-just-not-into-babies husband melted at first sight.

I have a theory that large newborns are especially cute and yours certainly follows that trend. Hope to meet him someday!


Lindsey Johnson said... [reply]

My hat goes off to you, Steph. I'm glad you shared this. I have been glued to the screen for each installment.

goddessdivine said... [reply]

So, I'm thinking maybe they should add "beautician" to the list of crew coming in to help with delivery. Seriously--after 24 hours of labor, which most people experience--how do they expect you to look decent? I think it would make everyone feel better. ;-0

Just the word "forceps" makes me cringe. I'll be staying single and childless, thank you very much. :-)

Liz Johnson said... [reply]

This sounds suspiciously like MY first birth, also at AF hospital, complete with Dr. P (whose name I assume rhymes with Bob Barker's) using forceps to yank my gigantic baby out. Also the delayed bonding thing. I'm both incredibly impressed by your birth story and sad that you went through the ringer. I hope you healed up well and that your next birth is an easy-peasy hypnobabies-inspired extravaganza.

Assuming you don't want to smack me for even mentioning the phrase "your next birth."

Thank you for sharing. I really, really love birth stories. They are all so beautiful.

Jenny said... [reply]

I don't think I swore when I was at the hospital except for when the nurse decided she'd cram a needle into the bone in my hand and not a vein. Just to clear my good name...

Also, That hair is karma for the pic you took of me with MY bad hair after having baby 3. SUCKER!!!!

I am so glad you didn't die and you love your baby.

Nemesis said... [reply]

Jenny, I have no idea what you're talking about. I don't remember your hair being bad at all.

Nemesis said... [reply]

This is the only post-birth picture I have of you, and if you think that's bad hair then, well, you're on crack.

Cinderella said... [reply]

Maybe the hair is a curly hair thing. So I will also have bad hair after giving birth. (You can't tell from my picture, but I have naturally curly hair very similar to yours...only brown. And thinner.)

Lady Susan said... [reply]

Awesome birth story. I love how you told it like it was. Way to be a rock star!

Jill said... [reply]

I completely understand how you feel....my baby was born just on Jan. 4th and after 19 hours of labor, I did have to have a c-section...and she was 9 lbs 3 oz so no wonder she was stuck! But I hear baby #2 is easier to get here...let's cross our fingers! (and toes!)

Kelly said... [reply]

Seriously thinking maybe this whole "birth" thing is not for me. Especially since word is Jason and his siblings were all quite large. Quite. Large.


Heather Rigby said... [reply]

First, thanks for sharing your birth story. Your writing style is fabulous and I love reading your blog.

Second, as a fellow forceps survivor, I feel your pain. And felt it for a while. Don't let anyone tell you that you shouldn't still be bringing your waffle butt pillow to church 6 months later.

Third, there is hope for the future. My second baby practically fell out.

Elsha said... [reply]

Glad things didn't end in a c-section! (My first did and that pretty much sucked) But the forceps still sound pretty brutal. Also, why in the world were the midwives not telling you the baby was posterior? Aren't there positions that help them turn? (You know, hypothetically if he wanted to turn.)

Your hair is awesome in that family picture! I didn't post any of mine with my son because I'm nursing him in ALL OF THEM. Not sure how we missed normal pictures, but we did.

FoxyJ said... [reply]

For some reason my brother and his wife asked my husband and I to come to the hospital when they had my nephew. My husband and I didn't have kids yet so we thought "OK, why not?" At the end there were forceps involved and I was very, very sorry that I was in the room for that moment. Blah.

After my second baby I had the doctor decide that I didn't need blood, they could just give me heavy duty iron supplements for a month. Um, recovering from a traumatic c-section, iron supplements, and narcotics equal a very bad combination. After not pooping for nearly a week I was in serious trouble. Ugh.

My mom had babies that were all between 8 and 10 pounds. At home. With no drugs. Because she's kind of crazy like that. I don't think any of them were posterior though.

Tess said... [reply]

Thank you so much for sharing your story!!! I love reading birth stories and I particularly appreciate your wit and perspective. I can't stop laughing at your commentary of your first family photo!

In all seriousness though, your son is adorable and I'm happy he's here safe and sound and that you are on the mend. In all my reading up on pregnancy and babies, no one mentioned how in addition to 9 months of baby-hauling, and hours of labor/pushing, recovery is truly awful. Good thing a baby comes with the deal to make it all worth it.

emandtrev said... [reply]

You have undoubtedly earned your place in the Birthing Hall of Fame. If there isn't such a list, we should make one, because you would be at the top.

Little Henry could not be more precious. I hope you are feeling and doing well (I said a resounding, "Yes, ma'am!" to Desmama's comments about the posterior news and them being slow about giving you some blood!!). It was wonderful to see you--let's do that again soon, yes?!

Jenny said... [reply]

I have a photo from the other angle where my hair is curly and sticking up in the back and straight in front. Your hair at least is uniform. :) I still can't believe how fat that baby o yours was. It looks like you're holding a two month old in that middle pic.

Azúcar said... [reply]

Forceps are WEIRD. Never felt anything like that.

beckyww said... [reply]

Slacker. My third one was 11 lbs., 6 oz. And yes - she did emerge the usual way.

i i eee said... [reply]

Loved reading this. Glad you found the time to give us the unabridged version!

The moose line... oh my, comedic genius.

He's adorable. My little one is not yet nine pounds yet (he's two months) and I can't even imagine having a baby that big! (Mine was only 5 lbs. 7 oz., although full-term, so the thought of birthing the size of him now freaks me out. You get a medal.)

What a gorgeous chunk of love, your Dark Lord!

JustMe said... [reply]

Amazed and awed that you can make this painful process sound so flipping funny. As a mother of 3, I can promise you that you will totally forget how much pain delivering a baby causes. I know this because my 3rd came 8 years after my second, and I thought "holy cow, this HURTS" - yep, I had totally forgotten.

My last bundle of joy was also 9 pounds - I had her without ANY drugs (not for the lack of begging) - and the first thing I said when they laid her on me was "get that baby off of me".

Can you believe how much you love something so little and so much work. Gotta admit it probably helps that he is so totally adorable.

mj said... [reply]

Okay that might have been worse than my story, although I can one-up you on the tear. And I had a 6-and-a-half-pound baby! So size isn't everything. Baby sticking her arm up where it doesn't belong can also play a pretty big role.

I also had the delayed bonding thing. Basically, labor/delivery/post-partum just really, really sucks. But, somehow it's magically worth it.

Missy W. said... [reply]

your first family photo made me laugh so hard there may have been some spit on my monitor. thanks for keepin it real :)

Shannon said... [reply]

Oh. Those two pictures of you holding him made me want to have a baby again right now. Which is really saying something since my last birth was only 6 months ago and kind of traumatic, too, and something I never wanted to experience again. But dang it. When you hold that brand new baby, it is just something unlike anything else. Your pictures captured it exactly. Traumatic or not, it's worth it.

Mrs. Clark said... [reply]

When I got that baby out, you could have taken him away and I wouldn't have cared, but the next day (actually, about 5 hours later--he was born at 4 a.m.!) it was golden. He snuggled up on my shoulder and I was a mom. 27 years ago and I still love him more than my next breath!

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