In case you missed it, Part One. And men, this is your warning. Be warned.
I was pretty confused by this point at what exactly my body was doing. Things were happening so fast, but I still had a ways to dilate. Lori admitted me and I was taken to my own room. Because the Midwives do intermittent monitoring with low risk patients, I did not have to be hooked up to the monitor and confined to the bed the entire time. I had wanted a room with a tub so badly, but they were all taken. I expressed my need for the shower and after an initial twenty minutes on the monitor, I was free to do whatever I needed to do to get comfortable and relieve pain. It was so bad at this point that I really wasn't sure how much longer I could take it, especially if I was only at 4. Because I was not planning on any kind of drugs, I didn't even have an IV. I was completely free, and it felt so good.
I remember the nurse that accompanied me to the delivery room was really getting on my nerves. She was nice. Too nice. She responded to everything I said or did with "Honey" or "Sweetie" or "Beautiful" tacked on the end of it and with an energy that left me mentally drained. When another nurse came in about half an hour later to relieve her, I was the one who was most relieved.
It was probably about 8:30 or 9 at that point and all I wanted to do was get in the shower and feel the hot water on my body. It was very painful even just walking from the bed to the shower and I needed a bench to sit on in the shower because my legs were giving out with each contraction. Any sense of modesty I had, which isn't much with medical professionals or my husband anyways, went out the door. I got completely naked, turned the water on hot and full pressure, and sat on the bench under the pulsing stream. This was around 9:15pm. The water felt SO good. The contractions were still hitting me every two minutes, and I felt a continual pressure even after the wave hit.
My nurse's name was Andrea and she was completely amazing. I truly think the Lord knew I needed her and intervened in that situation. I get tears in my eyes thinking about her even now. In fact, I meant to ask her if she was a believer. Something about her presence gave me a sense of the Spirit. She and Michael both were very attentive to me as I was in the shower. At some point during one of my contractions, my water broke. I had been slowly leaking fluid and blood since our arrival at the hospital, but this time I knew it had happened fully. I continued to labor in the shower. Another perk to being under the water is that all the fluid that was coming out was able to be washed off immediately.
Looking back, I now realize was in transition most of the time I was in the shower and I don't think anyone realized it. That explains the extreme pressure I was feeling. With each contraction, it honestly felt like I needed to be on the toilet. I kept telling Michael, if I could just GO I would feel a lot better. Obviously that isn't what needed to happen. I made my way from the shower to the toilet and back again several times. I remember thinking at one point, mid-contraction, "I know I can do this, but I don't know if I can do this ever again!". Michael was so sweet and he and Andrea were right there if I needed something. Because this was my first time, I ended up "updating" Andrea more frequently than was probably necessary on what I was feeling. I kept telling her, "I just need to push...there's so much pressure". And she would tell me, "You're not ready to push, you've got to breathe through this". She was so sweet and kind.
After about an hour in the shower, hospital protocol required an anesthesiologist to come in, debrief me on all my pain control options, and get me to sign something saying he did just that. So there I was, naked, on a bench, in the shower, soaking wet, mascara running, in transition, and a 30-something medical student on rotation at the hospital arrived to explain to me about all the things I was refusing. Apparently, he had only really done his spiel with patients who were laying in bed and somewhat calm. I was not getting out of the shower for anything, so after asking Michael to hand me a towel (which ended up being a small hand towel that did not cover much of anything), the anesthesiologist walked into the bathroom where I had the shower curtain cracked and was trying to breathe and grunt through another contraction.
He leaned over and told Michael, 'This is the first time I've ever done this with someone while they were in the shower." I could tell it was awkward for him, but he started and gave me the most long-winded version of "this is what an epidural does, here are the risks, etc" I think has ever been given. This thought went through my mind- "Ok, I have been so nice and patient with everyone even though I'm in pain. Maybe, just with this guy, I'll let myself be rude. Maybe he'll shut up and leave. His voice is so annoying." Because my contractions were literally every two minutes, I would put my hand up, let out a quick "hold on" and grunt, yes literally grunt and moan, through another contraction. Meanwhile, I was concerned that my urge to GO might just happen in the shower in the middle of this "talk". It took him forever to finish because I had to keep stopping him. Eventually he just kept talking through them and his voice was the most annoying sound on the planet at the time. I just kept thinking, "Shut. the. heck. up. Please. Just go. away.". He kept giving me examples of what he was talking about and they didn't even pertain to me or my labor He finally finished and then asked me to sign a few pages. I dried my hands off the best I could, signed his paper, got it all wet, and sighed a big sigh of relief as he left the room. Poor guy.
Andrea came in about every twenty minutes and checked on Noah's heartrate. It was so nice that she was able to do this with a waterproof heart doppler and I was able to stay in the shower. I spent more time in the shower than I did the actual delivery room. It was the only place I wanted to be. I can't imagine having been confined to the bed the entire time. An hour... hour and a half...two hours passed with contractions coming every two minutes and lasting about a minute or thirty seconds, I think.
Sometime later, around 11:20pm, I was feeling so much pressure that I literally thought Noah, or something, was going to come right out. I knew that Noah was coming soon, but nobody really believed me. Even I wasn't sure it was possible because surely I was only about a 6 or 7. It had only been 3 hours. My body literally took control at that point. Michael reminded me to breathe, but I could not control my body's urge to push. With each contraction I was tensing up and bearing down. By that time I needed something different. I sat on the toilet for awhile, then finally made the transition to the bed. Every step getting there, onto the bed, and onto my side was painful. Noah was SO low. Once I was on my side, the only position that was remotely comfortable, it was too painful to try to move into any other position. Contractions were every 1.5 minutes, and I was for sure that I was needing to push.
During all of this, my midwife Lori was with another patient who we later found out had pushed for two hours. Andrea left the room occasionally and by this time I was pulling the nurse cord with every few contractions. I'm not sure what I was wanting her to do, looking back, but having her around was helpful and comforting. She came in and together, she and Michael tried different things to help me through contractions. She rubbed my back and shoulders as he rubbed my thigh and held my hand. I don't know what I would have done without him. He was such an amazing support. It turned out that I found the touch from them to be more irritating than helpful. All I ended up wanting was for Michael to be by my side, close, and holding my hand.
With each contraction, the pushing pressure built stronger and stronger. The noises coming out of me came on their own and couldn't be helped. I did a lot of groaning, grunting, and "Aggggghhhs". Because Andrea didn't think I could be fully dilated, she kept encouraging me not to push. She and Michael both kept saying, "don't push, don't push, breathe..breeeaattthhheeee." The tears were flowing now, mostly out of frustration because my body was doing what it wanted at this point and the thought of having to keep up with this level of pain for even an hour more was overwhelming. I thought I had further to go. Andrea, although she knew I didn't want pain medication, encouraged me to try the nitrous oxide. After hesitation, I agreed. The same anesthesiologist, who was probably relieved to see me on the bed, came and administered the gas. I tried it through two contractions and sent it away. It left me feeling very strange, didn't help my perception of the pain, and trying to breathe in the mask left me feeling like I was hyperventilating.
It was 11:50pm. Andrea left the room and it was just Michael and me. He helped me breathe through two more contractions then "wham". And I mean "WHAM". I felt the scariest, most thrilling sensation I have ever felt. I frantically told Michael to call the nurse. I was freaking out at this moment and when she came in, probably expecting me to tell her I was having a contraction again, I told her, "It feels like something came out, or is coming out, or something." She calmly told me that Lori was in with another patient right now and then asked if I wanted her to check me just to see what was going on and for my peace of mind. I quickly said "yes!". Michael and I will never forget the look on her face when she pulled up the sheet. Her eyes got huge and she looked at me and said, "DON'T PUSH.....I can see his head!"
My heart was doing flips! I knew it! I knew I was closer than anyone thought! I looked at Michael and said, "We're going to have a baby, RIGHT NOW!" I think Andrea freaked out because she was the only one in the room and Noah was on his way out! I don't think anyone expected me to go from 4 to 10cm in less than four hours. She ran out in the hall, yelled for another nurse, and kept instructing me not to push yet. I couldn't help it at that point. Each contraction sent my body into push mode and my uterus did its thing. Andrea and another nurse got everything ready at the end of the bed for Noah's arrival. They were working so hard and fast and still waiting on either an OB or midwife to arrive. Andrea looked at me from where she was preparing everything and told me, "You're amazing, Kels, you're doing amazing, you're almost there, you're almost ready to meet your baby." After this, I lost it emotionally.
All the sudden several people came flooding into the room-a team from the NICU and another midwife they managed to find at the last minute. Energy was high and everyone was doing exactly what they needed to be doing. Those few minutes feel like a fog to me. Looking back, it was a welcome distraction to be observing what they were doing. I knew we would get to meet Noah any minute. I knew he was right there!
Michael was on my left, another nurse on my right, and I was on my back. In planning Noah's birth I was sure that I would be most comfortable on my hands and knees. But when the time came, the only position I could even move to was my back. The midwife finally gave me permission to push and everyone was in place. With both my hands being held, I began actively pushing with each contraction. I could feel Noah's head moving forward with each push. One of the nurses grabbed a large rolling mirror and placed it to where I could see what was happening. I appreciated that so much. It gave me a gauge on where each push was getting us. Michael and the nurse transitioned from holding my hand to helping me pull back my legs for a better push.
With each move downward, I could feel the stretching and burning that I had read so many times about. It felt strange in that moment. My body was focused on pushing and reading each wave and pushing past the last push, to push some more. But my mind was calm and excited at the same time, focused on the thought that I would soon have Noah in my arms and that our lives would forever be changed. The midwife and nurses were cheering me on and so encouraging. I could see his brown hair in the mirror and warm tears filled my eyes. I finally pushed his head through and knew the rest would come easily. One more push allowed the midwife to pull his body through and with it a gush of fluid.
12:13am. Early Tuesday, November 27th. A rainy, chilly night. Our sweet boy made his entrance into the world.
Because they noticed meconium in the fluid earlier in the pushing, Noah had to be taken right over to the NICU team to be cleaned off and looked over. He came out covered in green, and was placed on my belly for only a brief second before being taken to the corner. It only took that brief second for me to fall madly in love. They cleaned him off, made sure he was alright, then gave him to Michael to bring to me. My heart soared when he was placed in my arms... through the roof of the hospital and I've yet to regain it. It belongs to this sweet gift from God. I don't even think he cried after they swaddled him.
Ideally I wanted skin-to-skin contact right away, but because he had to be with the NICU team, they wrapped him up first. After I looked his precious face over, I unwrapped him and put him to my breast. He latched on well after a couple tries and it just "clicked". Michael and I locked teary eyes and whispered I-can't-believe-its and "we have a son" and "You did it" and "I love you so much".
He was finally here. After months of thinking and planning and feeling and pregnancy firsts. The baby boy I had felt the past several months kicking and moving was now on the outside. Nothing else mattered. He was here and healthy and we were a family. I thanked God through smiles and tears.
While Noah nursed, the midwife delivered the placenta and stitched up a small tear that I didn't even notice I had. The pain from the fundal massage was intense. After spending about an hour in the delivery room, we were prepped to move to another room where we would complete the rest of our hospital stay. We chose to delay his bath and did not send him to the nursery. He roomed-in with us the entire time and was only taken to the nursery for a few tests and brought right back. My mom and both of Michael's parents were able to make it to the hospital shortly after Noah's arrival. It was hard for my dad and both of our siblings, with their work and school schedules, to make it because we were eight hours away. It helped to have planned times when we would see them and when they would get to meet Noah for the first time.
Noah's birth was amazing in so many ways. Having the freedom, and knowing I had that freedom, to move around, to be free of IV,monitors, drugs, and intervention, to use the water to aid my pain, to choose how I wanted to give birth, and to bring life into this world....it was the most empowering thing I have ever experienced. It happened so fast, in a matter of about four hours, and the pain was intense, but nothing I couldn't handle. I'm grateful for the opportunity to labor in the way I wanted.
I'm grateful that my recovery was quick. I'm thankful that this was a good experience. I'm thankful for an amazing support in my husband. I'm thankful for a Godsend of a nurse. I'm thankful for a sweet, baby boy who has made us a little family of three and whose life has brought such joy, perspective, and love to our lives. I never want to forget this moment and look forward to one day sharing these words and my story with the boy who made me a mommy for the first time.
Mar 28, 2013
In case you missed it, Part One. And men, this is your warning. Be warned.