The nurse told me I was a rockstar for lasting as long as I did. She said not only was I having my own contractions on top of the Pitocin contractions, but I was also having back labor due to our little girl being face up. So I asked for the stupid epidural. She checked me before the anesthesiologist came in again and I was now at 6cm.
They made me lay on my side during the procedure because my contractions were so intense. My husband knelt by the bedside, held my hand, and looked me straight in the eye. He told me it was going to be okay. The poor guy was sweating – he hates needles – and hates the hospital – for he spent a bit of time in St. Judes’ when he was a little one. He was my rock in so many different ways – holding me down when I felt like I was going to lose control of myself.
The anesthesiologist kept trying to explain what he was going to do to me. I told him to tell me about his family instead – which ended up being my go-to question for anyone that entered my room. “Are you married? Do you have children? Tell me about your family…” I probably knew more about those nurses and doctors than any other patient in the hospital by the end of my stay.
I felt the needle. I felt something warm going into my back. And then I no longer felt my left side. They said the numbness would spread out, but it never did completely. That sucked. What was even worse: I still had to lay on my side with one leg in a stirrup because the baby was face up. Talk about uncomfortable…
After receiving the epidural I was able to relax again. I closed my eyes, but couldn’t find sleep. I listened to The Santa Clause playing in the background and my Mom, in-laws, and husband talking softly. I started praying that I would dilate more quickly and that the baby would turn the way she was supposed to.
I could still feel the contractions – but it was more like a tiny bit of pressure in my midsection every 60 seconds instead of knives tearing apart my insides. They checked me after about an hour and I was dilated to 7cm. Then I was dilated to 8cm and the nurse told me that when I felt like there was pressure in my behind, that’s when it was time to push. In other words – if you feel like you need to poop between contractions, the baby is on its way out.
I felt a ton of pressure in my behind and had my husband get the nurse. She said I was still only 8-9 cm dilated, but we could start practice pushing. Um… yah… pushing is not easy. There were so many things to remember: “Don’t hunch your shoulders.” “Push from your head down.” “Don’t furrow your brow.” “Hold your breath for 10 seconds while you’re bearing down.” “Hold your breath!”
We had always thought my husband would stand behind me and hold my hand. He and I didn’t think he’d want to watch everything going on down there. But after they broke my water, and he was still standing after all the yuck gushed out, I knew he would be fine.
There were instructions for my husband during the pushing too – “Hold her leg just like this and support under the knee with one hand while holding her foot in the other and look her in the eye and tell her she is going great.” For someone who usually has trouble listening to where I’ve put the car keys, he followed his instructions so well. But after 20 minutes of pushing, nothing was progressing, so we took a break.
Then our nurse came back so we could try again. I was so so tired. I pushed. And then fell asleep. Then I pushed. And fell asleep. Iheldmybreathandpushedandbeareddownandhopedforthebest. And THEN I THREW UP ALL OVER MYSELF AND THE NURSE.
I started crying as I was puking everywhere. It was that horrible kind of vomit that makes your eyes water and throat burn. They had another nurse come in to help change my gown as I sobbed into a towel. I felt defeated again. I was so weak – not strong like I had always pictured myself. How was this baby going to be born if I couldn’t hold myself together? The nurse said that she thought I needed to rest for awhile. She also thought I should try to sleep sitting straight up in bed, with my legs crossed, so that the baby’s head would drop lower in the birth canal.
It was around this time that my husband and I realized the baby might not be born on 12/12. We had joked that she would share a birthday with one of our favorite romantic singers Frank Sinatra. We were disappointed that the nurse I had been working with for 8 hours was going to go home and someone new would step in. It was now 11:30, so both Brandon and I decided to close our eyes …
A nurse woke me up at 12:45 am. She was new and she was just as nice as the one before. She examined me and said I was fully dilated. We were going to start pushing again. She was very reassuring that I was doing a great job and with each contraction, she looked me in the eye and counted with such enthusiasm that I felt empowered to push harder. Brandon started counting with her, and after I was done pushing, he would kiss my forehead and tell me that I was amazing. I feel like I pushed for 6 hours – but it was really only an hour before the nurse said she could see the baby’s head. She asked me if I wanted to touch it, and I did, but immediately regretted it. It was too weird… there was a tiny human down there. The nurse told Brandon he should watch while I pushed – she said it wasn’t gory – so he looked. I worried he would pass out, but he looked at me and said, “It’s incredible.”
I didn’t know that the doctor only comes in once the baby has crowned. My doctor was very intense, yelling, “Push, push harder!” during each contraction. I felt the baby coming out. I felt that ring of fire as she worked her way into this world. It hurt. It burned. I yelled at my husband for not holding my leg correctly. Then I apologized. And then I cussed very loudly… twice. Then I apologized profusely to the doctor, but he told me he had heard worse.
The doctor said I was so close… the baby was almost here. However, I had to know that NICU was setting up in our room in case something was wrong with the baby. They had to take precaution since she had stopped moving before I was induced. A voice told me that everything was going to be okay.
I mustered all of the strength I had left in my body and pushed. I pushed for 10 seconds, rested 20 seconds, pushed for 10 seconds, rested for 20 seconds. I screamed through each contraction – now not because of the pain, but so that she could hear me. I wanted her to know that I was here for her. That there was nothing to be scared of. That her Daddy and I were ready to meet her.
And then…just like that… after 10 months of waiting…Annabelle Claire was finally here.
I didn’t cry. I couldn’t cry. I had been crying for hours. I did touch her though. I touched her little body and I kissed her little head. As she laid on my chest and wiggled around I realized this was what life was all about. This moment of pure joy. Relief. And happiness.
They cut the cord that was lightly wrapped around her neck. She wasn’t crying. Why wasn’t she crying? Her eyes were open and her skin was pink, but she was silent.
A nurse took her away. My husband went over to the station where they would clean her while the doctor and nurse delivered my placenta. I watched over the doctor’s shoulder where my husband stood – Why wasn’t she crying?? My husband looked at me and then we heard it. A screech. And a scream. She was crying. The best sound I have ever heard in my life.
The doctor began stitching me up. I had a first degree tear. I think the stitches hurt worse then anything because I was focused on having the baby before. Now she was here and I wanted to hold her. I wanted to be able to put my legs down and focus on the beautiful 7 lb miracle that was now in my husband’s arms.