This is part 2 of a 2-part post on my son Nolan's recent birth. For part 1, click here.
Sunrise came without much of a nod from me. I was a bit too distracted to notice it.
Sunlight streamed into my room, and I kept doing my thing. Tim did his thing. Tammy did her thing. We moved on, from moment to moment, working together to bring Nolan from inside of me to the outside.
There were some disappointments. When I heard "4 centimeters," "6 centimeters," "8 centimeters," I felt a little let down each time. I'd been working so hard that I thought we must be closer to the pushing stage. But there's nothing to do after disappointing news like that but continue on. Maybe try a new technique. Yell a little if you have to (and I did. I was surprised to find out that I didn't snap at anyone...at least I don't remember doing so. But I did yell things like, "I want this baby out now!").
Continue on, we did, until fourteen hours after my water broke, I was ready to push.
I've heard stories of moms pushing just a few times, or for 20 minutes, or something like that before their babies said their first hello to the world. I'd also heard that every labor is different.
My labor was different.
When it came time to push, Tim, Tammy, and I were joined by another fabulous part of the Welcome Nolan Team, my nurse, Beverly. I learned about the art of pushing a baby out. I think my favorite position was the one that had me grabbing the baseboard of the bed and then bending into a deep squat. There was more yelling. At one point I wailed, "I am going to lose it!" Tim told me I wouldn't, that I was doing great. That man. I don't know if he kept his cool the whole time, but in front of me, he did. That, along with his encouraging words, helped me so much.
Labor and delivery are active..and I was running on some kids' lemonade, water, a little coconut water, a piece of fruit leather, and adrenaline. Mostly adrenaline. Beverly gave me an apple juice box to help buoy my energy, and it tasted incredible.
Two hours later, and Nolan had not made much of an appearance.
That's when I found out that 2 hours is the maximum amount of time I'm allowed to push at the birthing center. A transfer to the hospital was necessary.
Tim packed up our bags and told our parents (who were still in the waiting room!). Tammy made arrangements.
Tim helped me (slowly, painfully) make my way to the car.
I labored in that car. In a nightgown and Toms. Immediately upon arrival, valet parking and a wheel chair was waiting for me. Because Tammy also works at the hospital, we were able to rush right to the delivery room...where more fabulous nurses were waiting to join the Welcome Nolan team.
I was given a "whiff of Pitocin" to help strengthen my contractions. ( The thought of getting even a little Pitocin had me feeling nervous at first. Stronger contractions?! )
Upon arrival, we got to work.
When I say "we," I mean we. Tammy, Tim, and my new team of nurses did a great job of coaching me. I needed it. I needed the encouragement, the directions, the help with what to do next. I listened to them- or I tried to. The "don't yell, just direct all your energy into pushing" direction was difficult for me to follow, but I did try.
Still no Nolan.
More and more of his head would appear... and then it would recede.
A doctor was called to use a vacuum and forceps if needed.
We were coming up on another two hours of pushing at the hospital.
Then Tammy asked me if I wanted her to make a small cut to make more room for the baby to come out or have the doctor use a vacuum and forceps. I was so tired and hadn't really thought of either of those options as possibilities, so after a very short discussion, I decided a cut was the best option.
I think it was the right one.
A few more pushes later (maybe more? I remember it as a few because I just could not believe it when I was told he was really coming this time), Nolan showed up, his fist up by his shoulder. I found out later that as he emerged, his arm shot forward into a fist pump. How fitting- "Nolan" means "champion." (Some sources also list "famous" and "noble" as meanings of his name.)
He was immediately placed on my chest, with no threat of having him taken away until I was ready.
Even with such skin-to-skin contact, I could hardly believe he'd arrived. Together we stayed while everyone else did what they needed to do, while my placenta was pushed out, while I was stitched up...until I could begin to believe this-he-was real.
Then he was cleaned up, measured, and weighed.
Eight pounds, ten ounces, 20 inches long.
Some days I can still hardly believe it.
Some things that made labor more manageable
My team. Truly, I am amazed by how helpful, supportive, and encouraging everyone involved was. I don't think Tim, Tammy, and all the nurses involved could have impressed me more. My family waited so patiently for news, directions, anything and celebrated with me afterwards. There was no pressure from anyone, just a lot of excitement and support.
Hot baths! Sitting in a hot bath (or 3) led to much more manageable contractions.
Previous prenatal yoga classes. Much of what I learned in class was stored in my body and mind and used during labor...although I did have to be reminded to control my breath on more than a few occasions.
Some things that made labor particularly difficult
Nolan had his fist up by his shoulder, which added to the width I was trying to push out. That explains why he kept coming forward and then receding.
My uterus was not contracting strongly enough on its own by the end of the labor process. (I only know this because my midwife told me.)
Nolan measured in the 78th percentile in height and61st in weight, but the measurement of his head? 97th percentile. My child has a big (but adorable) head.
Some things that redeemed the difficulty, pain, and fatigue of labor
Everything about Nolan and Tim and all three of us as a family made the challenges of labor worth doing. I think that's really got me through- it was pain with a purpose. Even with that in mind, though, I had no idea how much good awaited me at the other end until I got there.
Thank you to those of you who celebrated with me in the comments, on Facebook, through cards, flowers, and gifts, and in person. Sharing the joy that is my little Nolan makes this new mama's heart swell.
I've been having a hard time deciding where to start and what, exactly, I should include. There is so much to tell- a lot can happen in 18 hours! Perhaps I'll start at the beginning? I will warn you, though, birth is messy. Certainly more than a baby came out of my body. If that thought alone makes your stomach turn, this post may not be for you. If your curiosity wins out, read on.
Nolan's Big Debut, Part One
One of my favorite ways to find out about what is going on in the world is by watching The Daily Show. I know. There are better ways to go about things, but considering that just a short time ago, I was getting almost no consistent input of worldly news, this is a step up. And far more entertaining (and memorable) than rifling through a newspaper or watching...well, any other news show.
Sigh. This could be long story if I explain my every action. I'll try to restrain myself, but I won't make promises.
As you might have guessed, Tim and I were watching The Daily Show. It was around 7:15 on Monday night, November 7th when we heard a pop. My water broke. I didn't realize that's what it was right away because I wasn't expecting it- I was told that only 10-15% percent of women start labor with their water breaking. I'd previously found this particular statistic to be a relief because if my water broke, I had to go to the hospital to be induced instead of the birthing center as I'd planned to deliver my baby. I had Group B Strep and we needed to get this baby out so he didn't develop an infection.
When I did realize it, though? There was a phone call, a mad rush on Tim's part to pack everything we might need into the car, a what should we do now? when we still hadn't received a call back, and then? a drive to the hospital (just a few minutes away from our house), because that's where we were going to be told to go anyway and standing around waiting was just not going to happen.
When we arrived and still hadn't received a phone call back, Tim placed a second call and went inside to find out how to get the maternity ward, I called my mom, and was interrupted by a call from my midwife. I was told didn't have to go to the hospital because my contractions had started on their own and I should call her in 2 hours to report my progress.
Tim and I laughed at ourselves, called our parents, and headed home to watch a movie.
Ha. No movie was watched that night.
I stood in the kitchen almost immediately upon arrival home and called my sister...and the rest of my "water" gushed out of me (apparently it doesn't always happen all at once?). I quickly ended the conversation and went upstairs to clean myself up. I never got to call my brother, because after the second-half-gushing-thing, contractions got fairly close together- around 3 minutes, I think? For those who don't know, first time moms are instructed to call their midwives when contractions are 4-5 minutes apart for an hour. Since mine were consistent at 3, Tim and I headed into the birth center an hour and a half after we'd last talked to our midwife (whose name is Tammy, by the way, and she is amazing!). Time to get this show on the road!
Soon my parents and mother-in-law arrived and we were able to talk and laugh between contractions. I (think I) breathed slowly in and out through each one; labor seemed intense to me but fairly manageable. It helped that my husband was such an incredible birth partner. (Seriously. I'm almost tempted to rent him out. He's that good.)
I cannot give a timeline of what happened that night. I'm not sure that I could have even if I had written Nolan's birth story the day of his birth day. I was living in a world of one contraction at a time. I was moving from birthing position to birthing position. I laid over an exercise ball and swayed back and forth and side to side. I leaned on the bed, put my arms around my husband and swayed, soaked in the tub, laid on my side, squatted at the side of the bed, squatted while Tim supported the weight of my entire body, knelt on all fours.
Anything that felt right at the time.
One contraction at a time.
I know that my parents and mother-in-law left the room early on in the evening (maybe 10 or 11?) when I was to be "checked" and spent the rest of the night in the waiting room, waiting on news and getting just a few hours of sleep.
I know that I'd packed lots of snacks for everyone present, but hardly any were eaten by anyone. There was too much adrenaline. Too much anticipation. At the urging of both Tim and Tammy, I tried to stay hydrated. Without their encouragement, I think I would have ignored fluids all together. I had business to attend to and hydration was the last thing on my mind. (Thank God for Tim and Tammy, hydration being just one of the many reasons.). (Honest Kids Berry Berry Good Lemonade and water were my beverages of choice. The coconut water that I thought would help me stay hydrated made me want to hurl.)
I know that eventually, conversation between contractions was not happening.
I know now that some of what I was experiencing is called "back labor." Babycenter, my go-to pregnancy guide, defines back labor as "intense lower back pain that many women feel during contractions when they're giving birth." Yup, that sounds about right.
I know that at some point, Tammy told me that she thought we might be having this baby by sunrise.
One contraction at a time.
and sunrise went.
I'll post the rest as soon as I can! For now, I have some snuggling to do...