Hello again! Wow, a lot of posts this month! Welcome to Part 2 of the story of my first natural childbirth. If you missed Part 1, start here.
. . .
Andy finally returned, and I could tell that he was refreshed after getting away for awhile. He sat down in the corner of the room, texted, and fiddled with the video camera for a few minutes.
“Please stop,” I whispered. He didn’t know what I meant. “Please stop,” I said again, trying not to get upset. “I need you. Coach me.”
Another long contraction started, and I had to close my eyes and breathe. Andy took over my sister’s position on the stool by my bed. He tried to talk me through the contraction.
In the middle of my contraction, Andy’s grandmother came in.
We had put a sign on the labor room door that said something like, “Please do not disturb. Serious labor in progress.” Clearly she didn’t see the sign. Andy got up and gave her a hug.
“How is she doing?” his grandmother asked. “Is my great grand-baby doing OK?”
“She is great. Just trying to keep things quiet and calm in here.” It was really sweet. She must have been really excited to meet her first great-grandchild. I just had to get the baby out first.
Andy, always super respectful toward his grandma, took her hand and walked her out to the waiting room.
During my next long contraction, my own mother walked in. Both my mother and Andy’s grandmother did not see the sign on the door, or thought it was for people other than them.
“What is she doing?” my mom asked my sister, who knew immediately that she would have to get my mom out of the room before I got upset.
“She’s having a contraction. She’s doing great, don’t worry. She’s trying to relax and stay calm.”
“She’s not breathing hard enough,” my mom spoke up so I could hear. “Why is she laying on her side. She should be on her back. Isn’t she supposed to walk around?”
“Mom, we’ll call you in later, when it’s a better time,” my sister said, and she politely walked her back to the waiting room.
Andy and my sister were both gone, and I was having contractions with no one to coach me. So I self-coached, which turned out to be much better. For the rest of the labor, I went into my own head during each contraction, and I talked myself through the relaxation, visualizing the contraction growing and then subsiding, like a wave of the ocean. It would all be worth it once the baby was out. This was all for the baby, new life, a gift from God.
“Trust your baby. Trust your body. Trust God.”
I prayed for help from the Lord. It was a desperate prayer. I wanted my baby to be out. I wanted my baby to be healthy, in my arms.
The midwife came in for the last time. “You will probably be in labor for three more hours. My shift is over, so the doctor will be helping you from now on. Good luck!” She left.
By that time, it was dark outside, and raining. Andy and my sister came back into the room. Another hour went by. My contractions were so severe and so close together. Some were right on top of each other, like as soon as one ended the next one started. I was shaking and trembling. It made me want to cry, and I didn’t know what to do.
“Andy,” I said. “I need drugs.”
“Are you sure? He asked.
I didn’t answer right away. It seemed to be a strange question. Was I sure? I wasn’t sure about anything. I couldn’t even find words to string together to form a sentence. I had sweat dripping down the sides of my face. I was throwing up in the trash can. I was in the most vulnerable state, completely free from every inhibition, like anyone in the world could have seen me laying there naked in labor and I wouldn’t have even cared.
Was I sure I wanted drugs? Yes! But instead I told him what we had practiced in our mock labor sessions.
“No,” I answered, and Andy’s eyes lit up. “No? The last signpost,” he said. “Uncertainty. Self-Doubt. That means you are almost done! You can do it, Honey!”
He was right! Self-doubt was the last emotional sign-post, and it meant I was just about done. I had the courage to keep going, even though it was more than I could handle.
I continued to tremble furiously, from the tips of my fingers to the bottom of my feet. I tried and tried to relax, but I absolutely could not relax. (I realized later that I was having “pushing contractions,” but I was not pushing with the contractions, which was why they were so painful.) A doctor and a resident came in, and the resident checked my cervix again. “Are you ready to push?” she asked. “You are almost done. The baby is coming.”
“Really? The midwife said another three hours.”
“Well that was an hour ago, and now the baby is on her way.” A team of nurses started filing into the room.
Was it really an hour since the midwife had been in the room? It felt like ten minutes.
The resident seemed confident (and I didn’t know she was a resident until later) and the doctor stood next to her. “Do you want me to break the bag of waters now?” she asked.
“No!” I had no ability to be polite.
“The baby’s head is coming down. See Dad?” Andy came around and said, almost crying, “She’s coming, Chelsea. She’s almost here.”
“Do you want to feel the head?” the resident asked me. I reached down and felt something gooey, and pulled my hand away. It wasn’t the baby’s head, it was the bag of waters over the baby’s head, but I wasn’t expecting to feel that.
A big, friendly nurse grabbed one of my legs and told Andy to grab the other. “Are you ready to push, Mama?”
“Push! One, two three, four, five …”
I had not practiced the pushing part of delivery. I just figured the hospital would know how to guide me through the pushing. But the thing is that I could feel everything, so I didn’t need to push quite so hard for so long all at once. My body started to tear, and I could feel it burning.
“Ok, stop!” the nurse shouted.
“We’ve got to get this baby out, I’ve lost the heartbeat of the baby,” the doctor said. “I’m going to give you an episiotomy, OK?”
“Uh, OK,” I said, frightened.
She popped the bag of waters, and a gush of water came splashing out. Then the doctor guided the resident and she did a quick snip.
“OK, push!” the nurse shouted again.
I pushed one more time and the baby came out like she was on a slip-n-slide.
“A healthy baby girl!” the doctor exclaimed.
Andy cut the umbilical cord. It took two snips.
They carried the baby over to the heated baby bed.
My nausea and shaking stopped immediately, and I was elated. I was done. I did it. We did it.
“My God has answered my prayers.”