We got to the Labor and Delivery desk and… no one was there. At this point I am Captain Not Happy and kept calling, “Hello?! Hello?!” and was just about to tell Lee to go ahead and wheel me back when nurses appeared. Not just any nurse either, but the nurse I fell in love with on our first tour (We wound up taking like 4 hospital tours.) and would have booked to my labor nurse right on the spot if you could do that sort of thing. And here she was to be my nurse!
I hadn’t been able to find my birth plan before I left but it didn’t matter. This is why I love my midwife and Clark Memorial. They asked if I wanted a tub room/ no drugs, I said yes, and that was all they needed to know. They had a tub room available but no telemetry monitor and took me there to get set up. I guess I looked far enough along in labor to skip the whole triage check.
About two minutes after I entered the room and had finished telling them that I would like to continue laboring in my own clothes, my water broke. Just pop and whoosh. I went ahead and changed into their hospital gown then. They got me in the bed to check my dilation (which is really one of the worst parts of the whole thing. I’m convinced our bodies were made to deal with contractions, but not anyone’s hand going up there.). I was at 8 and they asked me to give a little push and I opened up to 10! Success! The staying-home-as-long-as-possible plan had gone perfectly and I arrived at the hospital just when I wanted to.
Even though I could’ve technically started pushing then, I didn’t. I was a little unclear as to some of the reasons why. I’m not sure midwife was there yet and doula was still on her way (What do you know she had another client in labor at the same time and was leaving a third client’s emergency c-section to come meet us. I’m just thankful she made it because it would’ve sucked without her.)
So they took more blood, got my hep lock on (The only needle I wanted.), took care of some paperwork and got me my wristbands. They didn’t have any telemetry monitors available so I stood next to the bed, kind of leaning on it, while they hooked me up to the external monitor. The only part that was really a hospital annoyance was the monitor. They kept me hooked up to that for a while because they couldn’t get the reading for long enough because the belt kept slipping. Or something. But the readings they were getting suggested that everything was fine. Not that I really felt like moving that much anyway, at that point. This stuff took about an hour to an hour and a half. It seemed that we were waiting for something but I don’t know what. I just leaned into the bed for the contractions. Lee kept pushing on my back, which still hurt but at this point I wasn’t sure if it was because of labor or because Lee had been pushing on it all day.
I was eager to push or get in the tub so they checked me and I was at 10! Push time! Do I care that I didn’t get tub time? No. Just get this baby out!
At 7 pm-ish I started pushing. I was hoping I’d be one of those people who pushes for 30 minutes. I told myself it would all be over in an hour.
The nurse from the tour had gotten caught up with someone else’s birth so now I was with a new nurse who was delightful. I was a little bummed, but new nurse was awesome and I love her and if it hadn’t been awkward would have probably given her lots of hugs afterward. (Of course, after all she saw of me why not hug?!). I was very concerned because my midwife wasn’t there yet but apparently it was fine for me to go ahead and start pushing. Perhaps they knew that it was going to be awhile. If they knew that, I’m glad they didn’t tell me. ;)
Lee was behind me and I propped my legs up on the squat bar and started pushing. Just like we learned in class, pushing is a bit of a relief. The hard part for me with the pushing was A. Holding my breath. Seriously. That was ridiculous. It felt so natural to exhale and moan/scream but no, I had to try to hold my breath. And B. OMG my thighs were so sore from my tendency to tighten them during contractions all day (I know, bad Katie.) so holding them up on the bar was miserable. Honestly though, at the point the worst parts of labor (For me, everyone feels it differently.) were vaginal exams and how tired my thighs were.
I kept pushing. I kept begrudgingly holding my breath. I felt like I was doing a horrible job but nurse, doula and Lee kept encouraging me with each push like it was my first. They were amazing. Seriously. In my head I felt like I wasn’t doing a good, but all I heard was praise and encouragement. So much excitement and praise and encouragement.
After an hour, there was still no sign of Elizabeth. I was trying to remember the cons of using a forceps or vacuum because I was sure that I was an insufficient pusher. Nurse and doula would help me stretch my legs. Lee would help me hold them back. Seriously, at this point I had no idea how I could hold my legs back and hold my breath and push. I was exhausted. I hadn’t really gotten any real length of sleep the night before. Doula kept the ice chips coming and the cool wash cloth on my head. I kept glancing out the window. Our room had a beautiful view of downtown Louisville. By sunset, I told myself, she’ll be here.
And sure enough, probably around 8:30, my midwife, who had been wearing dress pants and a fancy top, got a big hospital cover up thing on. She pulled out a fancy wand to adjust the lights (which were still dim) so she could see my lady bits better. My support team was getting more and more excited. More and more people were in the room, quietly getting together trays and equipment. I knew we were finally almost done. No one seemed to mind anymore when I would scream instead of holding my breath while pushing.
My doula said she had red hair but I kept thinking, “Are you sure that’s not all the blood?” I also remember my doula saying that the reason pushing was taking a while was because she was sunny-side-up. But we were starting to see that that was not the case. I reached down to touch her head. It was much squishier than I imagined. And then two more pushes, what literally felt like the biggest poop of my life – so poetic I know. But so. Much. Pressure. -- And she was out. 8:48 p.m.
They laid her on my stomach and wiped her down and sunctioned her like they were changing tires on NASCAR or something. It was so quick and efficient. She didn’t cry right away but my midwife assured me she was fine and then a few moments later, she cried.
Then I got briefly distracted by my midwife asking for some local. I did not feel myself tear, but I did feel the stitches. Then they were pushing on my stomach which was horribly uncomfortable. And after all the labor and birthing, you just want comfort. Just snuggles some Panera (I wanted Panera so bad!), not stiches and pushing on my tired tummy. But I had my baby. It was so surreal. And I think I was too tired to really know what to do or think next. She was huge. We were all surprised by that. I really wanted Panera. It was all I talked about while pushing, but Panera was closed. I was so hungry. I got some orange juice and a granola bar. My doula helped me start breastfeeding. Really, she did it for me. I was so exhausted. I just kind of watched.
We had probably a good hour to snuggle like that. My nurse came back and we handed Elizabeth off to Lee so I could go to the bathroom but I still wasn’t really into the idea of standing. They got me some more orange juice and an IV with fluids and Pitocin. Our family came in to visit briefly and ooh and ahh over baby and get our McDonald’s order. My nurse and I tried to go the bathroom again and I made it this time. She helped clean me up some more and E and I were ready for recovery. I was so weak I wasn’t sure if I could carry her, even in the wheel chair, to recovery. But Lee couldn’t carry her while walking (Apparently you can’t transport babies by foot around hospitals.) so I managed it. It really wasn't that hard after all. ;)
Lee went with her to the nursery. We all waited outside to see how much she weighted! 9 lbs 6 oz! (And 21.5" long and 14.5" head circumference) They found a 3 month shirt for her to wear and some size 1 diapers (The NB diapers they had in the delivery room were too small for her and kind of made her look like a sumo wrestler.) Probably around midnight I got my McDonald’s. I don’t know if I was still feeling wonky from the minimal food I had eaten that day and loss of fluids or if it was just late night McDonald’s, but it did not taste very good.
I was feeling so exhausted in about every possible way one could be exhausted. And really, you can only be so comfortable with an ice pack in your mesh underwear, but I had done it. I had given birth and lived to tell about it. And, minus a second-degree tear and a general desire that the whole process had been a bit quicker, things really couldn’t have gone more perfectly. And speaking of perfect, have you met my daughter?