Wednesday, November 16, 2011

{day seven : one story you want to tell}

***Note: This is the final installment of my 7 day blog challenge, where I blog based on writing prompts from this post***

For months I'd looked forward to seeing his face.

I had even convinced myself the process of meeting him would not be that painful.  Women give birth all the time.  I figured I would go into labor during the night, and he would arrive by morning.  It would be shiny and happy and lovely.  Isn't that how it happens all the time  in the movies?

I started feeling the contractions at around 9pm on his due date.  Real ones, this time.  Not the vague tightening that I had been feeling for months.   My husband and I decided to go for our normal nighttime walk around the neighborhood, trying to induce labor.  We were happy, smiling, thrilled at the prospect that soon, very soon, we would have our baby.  After forty weeks of anticipation.  My belly larger than life.
I would stop in my tracks along our walk, the pain now sharp enough to actually have to stop and grab Paul's arm tightly.  At about midnight, when the contractions became consistently 5 minutes apart, we decided to call the doctor and see if we should make that fateful journey to the hospital.  The answer was, "Come on in -- you're going to have a baby!"  Gulp.

We had been up since around 6am the previous morning, but adrenaline and excitement had us somehow ignoring our sleep-deprived state.  I felt ready for a marathon.  Paul was all smiles, asking me a million questions about how I was feeling, and of course letting me squeeze his hand with all my might during these early contractions.   We basically bounced gleefully up to the check-in desk in the "baby wing" of the hospital: "My wife is having our baby tonight!"  He may as well have shouted, "Yippee!"  The nurse gave a knowing smirk, probably thinking, Suckers! and had us wait in the Triage Room.  This took forever.  "Forever" meaning about 45 minutes, but believe me, when you are in labor that qualifies as "forever."

When the triage nurse finally came in to check how far along I was and decide if I deserved a room or not, I was extremely uncomfortable from the contractions.  I was already to the point where I needed complete silence during them and was starting to get a little nervous about my pain tolerance.  Yet, I put on a brave face and handed over my birth plan.

The nurse determined I was 6 cm dilated, which seemed like good progress to me.  Everything was going according to "the plan."  I had labored at home as long as I could, and now I was ready to finish the process, naturally and completely drug free, at the hospital.   We had remembered our bag {thank God} and I was armed with all that I needed: supportive husband, comfy "labor" clothes,  iPod with motivational birthing music mix, water bottle, and of course, the camera.  The blessed camera.  Between contractions I was teaching Hubby how to use the fancy thing. 

Here is our test can tell it is around 2am and I was mid-labor.  This was before the contractions had become extremely strong, but still. Not pretty.  I can remember the pain just looking at this picture: 

Very quickly all my plans went out the window.  

The contractions started coming extremely hard and fast about 3am.   Little did I know, baby was facing "up" {posterior position} and I was having the most painful of labor: back labor.  Each contraction felt like I was getting hit by a truck.   Or that a truck was trying to exit my uterus.   I absolutely could not lay down -- that only doubled the pain.  I labored standing up, in my hospital gown, butt sticking out, leaning against Paul in those wee hours of the morning on July 13th, breathing as evenly as I could, moaning and groaning as quietly and calmly as I could.

For one hour I labored on the "birthing ball."  When a contraction would come I would try to control my breathing the best I could during that minute of intense, mind-numbing pain, while swaying in all directions on that ball, praying with every ounce of my soul for the Lord to get me through each one.  When I finally stood up from the ball we realized my water had broken.   I remember vividly that the water that was all over my gown and the floor was ice cold, so really we had no idea at what point it broke.

The nurse checked me again at 4am and I was at 8cm.  Not progressing as quickly as I would have liked.  For how intense and closely the contractions had been coming I thought for sure I would have been at 10cm.  Even the nurse seemed a little surprised.  But everyone tried to remain positive, for my sake: "You're doing so great!" and "You can do this!"  I had somehow managed to remain rather calm and quiet during the labor process thus-far.

But now I was tired.  So tired from the breathing and swaying and hanging on to Paul's shoulders for dear life during each contraction that I was literally falling asleep between contractions.  Yes, falling asleep.  Strangely, the contractions were slowing down.  Still every bit as painful, but coming a little less frequently. Something was wrong.

So when they checked my cervix again at 6am and I was STILL at 8cm, I started to panic.  How was it possible?  All that work I'd done the past two hours and my cervix hadn't budged.  I felt like I was going to die.  Not from the pain of the contractions specifically, but because I was too exhausted to go through that kind of immense pain for an undetermined amount of time.    I was having dark premonitions that I would simply shut down from exhaustion and not be able to push the baby out.  There did not seem to be an end in sight.

I felt physically at the end of my rope from exhaustion, and no one seemed to have any answers for why my labor had stalled.

I wanted the epidural.  

As per my birth plan, both Paul and my nurse gently tried to talk me out of it.  Told me again I could do it.  At that point there was no doubt in my mind what I wanted.  

Every woman has their limit:  ten hours {and God knows how many more} of back labor was mine.  Birth plan be damned.

So after 45 minutes more I got the epidural.  Those were the longest and most gut-wrenching 45 minutes of the entire labor process, because I now expected relief, and it was slow in coming.   I don't even remember the needle going in.  It could have been a foot long for all I know.  I just knew that once the contractions disappeared my panic about not being able to push the baby out subsided as well.  Praise Jesus Almighty.
After the epidural we spent the next three hours relaxing.  Yes folks, relaxing.  My body labored away, unbeknownst to me.  I could not feel a thing.  

My epidural was super-strength, apparently.

I slept.  Paul slept.  We played a game or two of cribbage.  I talked to one of my closest girlfriends on the phone.  All was glorious.  And very odd.
Then my doctor came in.  Finally.  This was the first I had seen of my doctor throughout the entire labor {which didn't strike me as weird until later.}  

He checked me:  I was STILL at 8cm.  He seemed puzzled.  He looked the handy-dandy printout that showed my contraction pattern.  They had definitely slowed down even more...yet had kept the same intensity.  

Upon further inspection {read: poking and prodding my lady parts} the doc came to a revelation:  my water had NOT broken.  Or perhaps there were two, um, "waters" because he had to break it again.  Another clear gush of fluid.

"Now we're cooking with gas," he said.  Well, not really, but something like that.

Another helpful revelation:  "Your baby is facing the wrong direction."  Thus, the back labor.  Even more fun news from the doc: "I will probably have to try to turn him."  That didn't sound good.

After another hour, I was finally at 10 centimeters and the doctor gave the okay for "us" to start pushing. Regarding pushing: when you've had an epidural you can't feel anything.  Which is good.  Also, it is bad...because you can't feel anything.  It can be very difficult to push out a baby you cannot feel.  The only way I knew to push was to pay careful attention to a very faint pressure I would feel somewhere in my uterus.  A tickle, really.  When I felt it, I would exclaim to Paul and the nurse who was only sometimes present during my "pushing process" that I had to push.  Whoever was there {the doc was off delivering other babies} would hold my feet so my knees were nearly touching my face and coach me through.

"1 - 2 - 3 - PUUUUUUUUUSH!"  sometimes twice during each contraction.   Paul kept excitedly telling me he could see the head, that the baby was getting closer and closer to coming out, that he had hair!  Lots of dark baby hair.  I could only nod.  I was in the middle of something, after all.

It took me two full hours of pushing before the doctor was able to turn the baby into the correct position and baby's head came out.   Quickly the doctor said, quite seriously, "Greta you better push again right now -- he's not taking this very well."   No problem, Doc.  With one final heave out came his wet, slimy, wriggly little body.  

During those first few seconds I felt nothing but relief.  I saw him.  He looked perfect.  He was alive!  

Paul, on the other hand, was on pins and needles until he heard the baby's first cry...which occurred after a minute of vigorous suctioning of mucous out of the throat.  Paul says those were scary moments for him.

Immediately after that first cry the baby was placed on my chest.  He was not wiped off, he was not weighed...just given to me, his mama, immediately.  Finally, something went according to plan!

I did not cry.  I was not scared.   I knew him already.  "Cormac Landon Ford," was all I said, to no one in particular.  For a full hour and a half we snuggled together, I fed him, and just looked amazedly at this tiny boy who needed to be close to my beating heart, that familiar sound.
Perhaps some forget the pain of childbirth...but you never forget the way your heart swells when you hold your baby the first time.

For months I'd looked forward to seeing his face.

It was worth every moment.


  1. Fantastic post! Brought tears to my eyes :)


  2. Oh, birth, sweet, birth. :) How very similar to my lil Mack's birth!!!! I have been putting off actually posting his birth story...oh, for almost 6 months now! I actually planned on posting for his 6 month birthday. ;) VERY similar. :)

    Seriously. Very similar.

  3. You are such an awesome person! I was thinking of Julia and I and how we'll be going through the same thing in a couple of months. I wish you and your husband many MANY happy memories.

    Would you go through it again?

  4. What a great story of the birth and meeting Cormac!! It was like reading a novel. Loved it!

  5. This post is great!! I'm so glad I found your blog! I'm a new follower!

    Digger ~xoxo~

  6. wow, this story completely sucked me in!! wonderfully well-written, and soooo sweet! :') *tears*

  7. Oh my gosh. Perhaps it's the pregnancy hormones, but here I am tearing up like a fool. Loved reading this! It made me a tiny bit nervous for labor there at the beginning, but I'm just so excited to have those first precious moments with my baby!


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