Mean Girl to the Rescue!

How'm I gonna save the world when the world ain't ready?

Friday, May 18, 2007

Part the second, Labor & Delivery

Once we arrived at the hospital, I was in a bit of a fugue state. Booby pulled the car up into the emergency parking area, and off we went. Thankfully, we were preregistered, but I still had to sit at a little kiosk and hand over my insurance card and sign some stuff. Fun to do when you're gasping in pain and hardly able to walk! Thank the lord for bureaucracy.

Our midwife was there with a wheelchair for me to ride in. I'd heard a story about a laboring woman who was freaked out by the wheelchair; it took away all her I-am-woman-hear-me-roar-ness and she went up to L&D and got an epidural, toot de suite. But that wheelchair was to me like an oasis in the desert. Seriously, there was no way I could've walked anywhere beyond the front doors in the state I was in.

Once we got upstairs, it was kind of eerie. We were the only ones delivering that night, so it was very quiet, and our midwife, doula and nursing staff just set to the tasks of preparing for the birth. Booby was bringing all our stuff upstairs (note to self: pack lighter for next birth), and there I was, sitting there like tits on a log, doing nothing. But that didn't last long.

I labored, all told, for about ten hours, which really isn't that long compared to most first-timers. Most of us have been regaled with stories of 22-, 36-, or 44-hour labors. My hat goes off to those poor souls, because my ten hours felt like a hundred. And yet, even immediately after, I had forgotten huge swatches of time.

The doula asked me if I wanted to walk around a bit. I don't remember actually telling her no, but I made no moves to get up. The only way I was walking was if someone phoned in a bomb threat. Shortly thereafter, they began to set up the Aqua Doula*, or birthing tub, a device for which I am eternally grateful. My prenatal yoga instructor once referred to the tub as the "natural woman's epidural," and now I know why. The level of instant relief that came from getting into the tub was amazing. Without it, I would have been a screaming wreck.

I labored in the tub for several hours, with Booby giving me drinks of orange Recharge and offering me the food I had assumed I'd want to eat. I was too nauseated for food, though, and I knew that throwing up was coming soon and would signal transition, when things would get even shittier. Eventually, I did hork up my dinner (and may I say that emesis bowls are waaaay too small for anyone vomiting more than a dainty mouthful of bile?), and I guess it wasn't long after that that I felt a popping sensation inside me that was my water breaking.

Every fifteen minutes or so, my midwife would use the underwater Doppler to check the baby's heartbeat. I suppose I was pretty out of it, because I was knocked for a loop when she told me I was going to have to get out of the tub. "What?!" I said. And then I cried, for the first of many times. I remember her saying that the baby's heart rate had slowed again, but later I found out that she hadn't been able to get a heartbeat at all, and kept me in the tub until it was clear that we were going to have to make a change in strategy in order to keep labor going at a good pace and protect the baby from distress. But let me tell you, getting out of a nice, warm tub and into a cold hospital room while laboring is one of the crappiest things I've ever had to do. The second crappiest? Having to labor on my back in a hospital bed, which was at the top of my list of things I didn't want to do, ever.

Anyway, labor on the bed I did. Also on the toilet (which was very successful, if a bit ... strange). It's incredible how one's inhibitions go out the window while in labor. I was naked as a jaybird the entire time (I'd brought a bikini top to wear in the tub, but abandoned it after realizing that my ribcage was far too big to accommodate the top being fastened), and I was pretty impervious to the presence of nurses, midwife, doula and husband seeing me what was undoubtedly my worst physical manifestation, ever. I didn't even care about pooping in front of God and everyone, and that was something I had cared deeply about in the months leading up to that point. The only thing that annoyed me while I was in this "pushing" zone (aside from the pain, of course) was the fact that the nurses had become a 2-person cheerleading team after I got on the bed. I don't like being told what to do at the best of times, and being forcefully exhorted by two strangers to do something that I was already painfully aware I was supposed to do was just infuriating. Hey, I wanted to scream back at them. This isn't a basketball game! Just leave me the fuck alone and shut up. Those bitches were harshing my mellow (I never said a thing out loud, of course, but I felt so remorseful about my nasty thoughts that I actually apologized to one of the nurses afterward).

The distressing thing was, I had no impetus to push. I'd expected a primal urge to kick in and my body to take charge and, well, git 'er done, as it had with the contractions. But instead I just felt an uncomfortable fullness, with no urge to bear down at all. Instead, I pushed with each contraction, at times weeping, at other times just making a ridiculous boo-hooing noise without any tears. I was mightily upset that it felt like nothing was happening - I wanted progress that was inwardly measurable so I could feel empowered to keep going. Finally, my midwife said she saw the head. My doula gave me a hemp scarf to "play"tug-of-war on with her and make the pushes more effective, since the baby's head was popping out and then sliding back up. "Don't you want to see your baby's fuzzy head?" my midwife asked? Well, sure I did! I was just too tired to do the work required to get aforementioned head out to where I could see it. "Isn't there anything else we can do to get this over?" I asked. She pretended she didn't know what I meant. "Nope, you just gotta push, baby," she said.

The next thing I knew, the baby was crowning, and she was inviting me to touch Little Bun's head. I'd figured that this would be the thing that kept me going and made the end seem near and the whole endeavor wonderfully real. Instead, it was deeply alarming - babies' heads are made of plates that shift over top of one another in order to get the skull through the birth canal, and the result is a very spongy-feeling head. I felt like I was touching my unborn child's raw brain, and it was unsettling. Fortunately, I had the awareness to refuse her offer of a mirror so I could see the baby crowning. That might have sent me reeling.

After three hours of pushing, on all fours, on my back, and twice, excruciatingly, on my side, finally I was able to push hard enough to get the baby's head out. This is the part where most women tear. Luckily for me, my midwife instructed Booby to put the web of his thumb over my perineum to prevent tearing, and damned if it didn't work! At that point I was ready to rest anyway, because the contraction that I had pushed through was over, and I waited until the next one to push again and get the shoulders out. "Ring of fire" is an apt description of how it feels to push a baby's noggin out of your chocha, but I remember thinking that it wasn't as bad as I'd expected. Don't get me wrong - it hurt like a motherfucker - but it wasn't the pass-out level agony I'd been expecting. Then, suddenly, as I pushed again, the shoulders and the whole baby came flopping out, and the nurses flipped him up onto my chest.

"It's a boy," I noted, feeling very far away, as I saw my fuzzy-headed baby. It was now 7:05 a.m. Booby cut the cord, which was very deteriorated, thin in some places to the point of breakage. The nurses were rubbing the baby furiously with towels. His lips were blue. Uh-oh. That quickly he was whisked away to a table alongside the bed, where he was APGAR'd and weighed, then wrapped like a teeny burrito. Someone put him on my chest again, and we looked into each other's eyes for a full minute. His were navy blue and bottomless. This baby was one old soul. Then my midwife started rooting around in my uterus, because my placenta had broken off from the cord and was marooned up there, and it hurt so much I told them to take the baby wherever it was he needed to go, which was the NICU. At that point, Booby took over baby tracking, because I was in no shape.

Having the placenta manually pulled from my uterus was the most painful part of the whole night, probably because I had expected it to just slide right out like a large but flexible water balloon. Instead I was treated to repeated maulings in my uterine cavity by my midwife, who was so intent on her task that I only found out later that if any sizable part of the placenta was left inside, I'd have to have it surgically removed - kind of a bummer for someone who just delivered a baby drug-free to have to go under anesthetic to have a lump of tissue removed. Out it came, and went into a hazmat bucket so we could bring it home and bury it under our maple tree (I know, I'm a dirty hippie). I had one stitch for a tear on my nethers, but my perineum, as I said, didn't tear at all.

7 lbs., 2 oz. ~ 21" long ~ 7:05 a.m. ~ April 11, 2007

Tomorrow: The Aftermath: Why Does the Neonatal Nurse Hate Us So?

* The Aqua Doula at the hospital resembled nothing so much as a life-size version of the Mattel Barbie Pool Party my mother bought for me at a yard sale when I was a little unfeminist slip of a girl.



At 9:51 PM, Anonymous Stacey said...

Sweet Jesus. The only thing I could think the entire time I was reading this was that I honestly don't think I could have done it without the epidural.

Mother's Day was created for mothers like you!

At 10:11 PM, Anonymous wordgirl said...

I pushed for three hours with our first son and I can attest to how exhausted it makes you feel. You're one strong mother and I knew you'd come through with flying colors. Now it can be told! Mignon and I totally put the boy baby mojo on you, Arabella and Teebs! Who woulda thunk it?

At 1:34 AM, Anonymous Michelle said...

IT'S ABOUT TIME! I've been checking diligently for weeks already!

Congrats on Little Bun. I'm glad he's out and he's healthy.

At 8:13 AM, Blogger DebbieDoesLife said...

How wonderful! Congratulations!! Can't wait to see a picture of the little cutie.

At 5:03 PM, Anonymous Nancy said...

Congratulations, Mrs. Harridan! I can see what you mean about his eyes -- he definitely does look like an old soul (and a handsome one at that!)

Hope you are enjoying all of the wonders of motherhood. xoxoxo

At 5:03 PM, Anonymous Nancy said...

p.s., just noticed the birthday -- that's my husband J's birthday also. A great day!

At 12:31 PM, Blogger Arabella said...


You are an amazing woman!

At 1:18 PM, Blogger toyfoto said...

Congratulations. He's beautiful.

At 2:15 PM, Blogger Bliss said...

oh my God mommy! you are TOOOOO funny and a bit of a nut case. you're my kinda girl sista! LOL congrats on that precious little one (and yep, you're right. he IS an old soul. his eyes... wow...) i've gotta go find some newer posts so i can see what's going on now. :-) and despite my own drug-induced labor and birth experience, i remember it felt like i was trying to shit out a Mack truck and wondering why nobody had ever told me it was best to push with the ASS muscles...


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