November 4th, 2015
Turns out I'm dilated to 3.5cm, when it was only 1.5cm yesterday afternoon. I'm glad to hear it- but I'm also having contractions so strong that I've ripped off all my clothes and am clawing my way up the side of the hospital bed they're examining me on.
"Are you planning on a natural birth?" one of the nurses asks me, and when
I'm capable of speaking again I say, "Well, that was the idea,
but right now I'm feeling pretty good about drugs. I'm feeling even
better about them in the middle of the contractions." No one laughs. Tough crowd.
They strap monitors to me, and never in my life have I hated anything as much as I hate these damn monitors. I don't like to be touched when I'm in pain- and the stupids things do nothing but touch me. I ask plaintively if we can take them off- but no, not until they've gotten 20 minutes of baby-monitoring out of them.
It does not seem likely that I can hold still for 20 minutes.
There is no way in hell I can walk by this point, so they begin the laborious process of wheeling the bed out the door and down the hallway to my private birthing room. By the time we get there I've progressed to 6.5cm, and I'm pretty adamant about getting into the bath I was promised I could labor in.
"Okay honey, but if you feel the baby drop, or like you have to poop, you have to get out: you can't give birth in the tub."
I snarl something unintelligible- anything to shut them up and get me into the water.
And then they begin the first attempt at inserting an I.V. port. I say "first" because it is not successful. Nor is the second. Nor the third. I have three holes in my arms, and finally they call for someone else to come and try.
But then I feel the baby drop.
I shoot up out of the tub like a rocket, shrieking, "I can't give birth in the tub!" because the pain has driven out any other coherent thoughts. The nurses catch me and Nathan says something along the lines of, "Okay but maybe let's not break your neck on wet tiles," and then they're helping me back over to the bed.
A new nurse comes and gets the port placed, so they can give me fentanyl to "take the edge of". It does not. Or if it does, I've got such a wide swath of pain that the edge makes no difference. Nathan will later tell me I clung to the bed crying out, "Why? Why? Why?", in addition to making low animal noises he'd never heard before.
They check my progress again as the epidural guy wheels his equipment in, and I'm at 8cm. He is telling me to hunch my back, but when I do he snaps, "No, not like that, like this!" and attempts to demonstrate. But he is in loose scrubs, and I am in labor, and who the hell knows what his spine is doing over there. At last a nurse touches me lightly on my mid-back. "We need you to make this part flat," she says gently. That I can do.
For approximately ten seconds.
But that's not long enough, so Nathan is gripping my hands and I'm drawing on willpower I didn't even know I had to hold perfectly still through not one but two contractions as they put a needle next to my spine, and it is literally the worst part of this entire experience, not being able to thrash and scream obscenities like I have been.
Oh but then it starts to take effect!
Except... only halfway. My right side is pain-free and relaxed, but my left side is still actively laboring. It's one of the oddest sensations of my life. But having the pain cut in half lets me speak coherently again, and I let them know what's going on.
They roll me on my side and up the dosage a bit, until at last I'm properly numbed- and just in time, as now it's time to push. The doctor moves to get the stirrups out, but I explain that I actually would like human touch, and is it okay if we don't use stirrups?
"Of course!" she says, and directs Nathan and a nurse to help hold my legs.
The epidural, by the way, is amazeballs. I am relaxed and cracking jokes. I think to myself, Oh good, now they'll know that I'm a fun person, and not just a screaming bitch, and to tell the truth I'm actually enjoying myself now, as insane as that sounds. Don't get me wrong- pushing is work- even with no sensation below the waist I can tell that, and I think, I'm so grateful for my strong body!- but it's satisfying that it's going so quickly. The doctor asks if I'd like to feel his head, and I pause. If you'd asked me a week ago if I'd thought I'd like to feel my son's head emerging from my vaginal canal, the answer would have been an adamant, "No thank you." But now? Hell, this is literally my one and only chance to feel him from the inside and the outside at the same time.
"Okay!" I reach down and she guides my fingers to his head- it's softer than velvet, and covered in downy fine hair. Looks like the old wive's tale about heartburn is right this time!
The final push isn't actually a push; I'm laughing at something, and the force of my laughter pops him out. I feel him slide free of my abdominal cavity, and my lungs fully inflate for the first time in months. It's miraculous on more than one level.
It's 6:15pm. Less than four hours after walking through the door, they are placing my son on my chest. He is the violet color of the sky at dawn, and I think he is beautiful. I stare at him as he screams his strong lungs into life, and I'm filled with joy, such pride, such-
"Did he... pee on me?" I ask. "No, wait, I think it's poop..." Nathan lifts the blanket they laid over us and sure enough- my son has used his first few moments in life to defecate on my stomach. I will be cleaning meconium from my navel for days.
I burst into laughter, into tears, and kiss him over and over. We'll do just fine.