He’s Here! Part 3

Part 1
Part 2

I probably shouldn’t have waited too long to write this part, since the mother of a new baby loses about 80% of her brain to sleep deprivation and cleaning up various bodily fluids. The mother of a new baby and a toddler loses the other 20% to trying to figure out how to parent a toddler while stuck on the couch with a baby attached to her.

So . . . where’d I leave off . . .

As soon as the new IV was in place the the Pitocin drip began, the nurse told me I also needed to do what I could to get the baby to turn around, so he didn’t come out “sunny-side up” (that is, facing up instead of down–can be a bit painful on the pubic bone) or in any other position than the textbook one. She brought an adjustable side-table over and made it tall, put a pillow on top, and gave me a stool to prop a foot on while I stood there. I was to switch feet every so often. Gravity would help him move down, and the position of my legs would encourage him to turn around.

I did that for about an hour or so, watching some TV on DVD we brought with us (although we couldn’t watch more than the first episode on either side of the disc, because there was no remote and no controls on the TV). If I have another baby there, I’ll remember to bring my computer, even though there’s no wireless. The TVs were much better than the last time I was there, but pretty useless without the remote.

They told me I could use the tub if I wanted to, but it would take about 20 minutes to fill, so I needed to let them know early. As much as I wanted to use the tub before I had Pie, I had no desire to use it this time. It was a lovely, deep tub (no jets, because they’re too hard to sterilize), and I fantasized about it before Pie was born–mainly because we had no tub in our house at the time. This time, we had a nice, deep tub at home, and getting out of it while hugely pregnant was not terribly easy, even with a handle. The idea of trying to climb out of an even deeper tub, dry off, put on one of those annoying gowns, and cross the room to get into a bed to finish giving birth did not really appeal. Experience has its drawbacks. 🙂

Probably around 10pm (or later?), I called in the nurse because I was getting tired, the contractions were getting stronger and more regular, and I needed a more restful position, especially since I didn’t know how much longer I would be laboring. She had me sit on the yoga ball, leaning up against the side of the bed. I was feeling pain in my lower back, so she applied counter-pressure (that is, pressing on the lower back to counteract the pressure making it hurt) when the contraction began, and let off when it stopped, all the while watching the monitor and resetting it when the contraction waves “topped the charts”.

When she had to leave the room for something or other, she showed my husband how to apply the counter-pressure. I had her bring me a barf bag, too, because the stronger the contractions got, the more nauseous I became. I only threw up once when I was in labor with Pie, but I hadn’t eaten anything yet that morning. I’d had one or two meals already before the Pitocin, and as time went on, I knew there was no way I’d keep them down. Sure enough, probably around 10:45-ish, I filled that bag.

I hate throwing up. It’s gross, it hurts, and it’s embarrassing–but, hey, what I was in the process of doing was even more so, so I just let it take its course. 🙂 Throwing up during a big contraction–now there’s a new lesson in discomfort! I’d say pain, except that the act of throwing up kind of distracted from the pain of the contraction. I think I did feel my water break, though, or at least partially. I’m one of the vast majority whose water doesn’t break before labor starts. They had to break it for me when I had Pie, but I’d felt it leak when I threw up before leaving for the hospital.

Once I’d emptied my stomach, I actually felt somewhat better. The nurse cleaned me up with a damp cloth and brought out a fan for me. It was pretty cool in the room, but my big, pregnant, laboring self felt like I was in an oven, and the fan on my face was a Godsend.

Probably around 11pm, labor had progressed to the point where the nurse could tell by my breathing and moaning that I was probably getting to the pushing stage. I could feel it, too–the contractions had changed. She left my husband pressing on my back and me moaning into the side of the bed to go page the midwife. While she was gone, I felt the first urge to bear down. I lifted my head and said, “Hurry up, guys.” My husband (possibly on the edge of panic; I’d have to ask him), asked me if I needed to hit the call button. I nodded my head, but didn’t move, so he asked me if I needed him to hit the call button. I nodded, tried to ward off another urge to push, and waited probably a couple seconds till the nurse, midwife, and midwife’s student/assistant (who would do the actual catching and follow-up, including stitching) burst in the door.

I told them I needed to push. The nurse smiled and said she had a feeling that would be the case. Everyone (a surprising number of people, I recall later) went into action getting stuff ready, including trying to get me up into the bed. There was a veritable crowd in there after the baby came (like, maybe three or four nurses or techs, the midwife and her assistant, and one or two obstetricians) but that was kind of a blur.

When you’re in labor, the smallest movement can feel like a Herculean task, so I’m still not really sure how they got me up in that bed. It’s hard enough climbing into it after having the baby! Somehow, in the few seconds between contractions, they coerced me into climbing up. I didn’t want to go. I was perfectly happy down on the floor. I would have knelt and given birth right there if they’d let me. Getting into that bed was the last thing I wanted to do! But, they got me up there.

Next thing they did was lower the foot of the bed to what seemed like the floor, and installed the squat bar (sticks up over the bed, and kind of out past the end of it). Then the nurse, who was a most patient individual, talked me into grabbing hold of the bar and leaning forward. I didn’t want to do that, either. I wanted to lay back in the bed like when I was delivering Pie. I wanted nothing to do with gravity, or holding myself up, or anything like that–but she got me to do it. What she couldn’t get me to do was stand on the lowered foot of the bed. She let me have that victory, at least.

I used to think when I saw television births that women shouldn’t yell or scream when they’re pushing, because it’s counterproductive. You need that energy to do the pushing! That worked just fine for me when I was having Pie. This time, though, I found that I couldn’t keep myself from groaning and yelling. I shut myself up whenever I caught myself doing it, so I could focus on pushing, but I was very noisy. I hope I didn’t scare anyone outside the door. 🙂

I had one moment of pain-free clarity in the midst of this all, between pushes. I don’t remember if it was before or after Beanie crowned, but I do remember opening my eyes and catching my breath. It was like this tiny oasis, and it was awesome. Thank you, God, for small favors!

Almost as soon as they had me take hold of the squat bar, my pushing began in earnest. I couldn’t take it easy, I couldn’t slow down–this baby was comin’, and coming fast. At one point, the nurse had me touch his head, and I think that helped me realize that it was almost over, and gave me another burst of energy. I didn’t want him hanging out there–I wanted him OUT.

It was four minutes of pushing, total–or so I was told. Even though it felt much longer, it really did seem fast, compared to my first child. That first delivery, which was pretty fast for a first delivery, was downright leisurely compared to this one.

When Pie was born, I had a mirror so I could see his birth. With Beanie, I was looking down at him when he came out–and I had to suppress panic, because the cord was wrapped around his neck twice, and he wasn’t crying. My first words to him were, “Breathe, little man, come on–cry!” But the nurses had it in hand. They got the cord unwrapped and got him rubbed, suctioned, and wrapped, then put him on my chest where he continued to nap peacefully until I could coerce him into trying to nurse. He wasn’t that interested at first–I’d woken him up from a great nap, after all! If it had been his choice, he wouldn’t be born yet!–but after a few moments, he latched on like a pro and ate for a good half-hour or more.

During that time, the afterbirth took place. The midwife assistant told me that she had a) never had a baby come out all at once like that (usually, it’s head, shoulders, then body, but he just shot right out–my husband says, “Think ‘muzzle velocity'”), and b) never seen such an immediate afterbirth. She thinks that the cord being wrapped around him (probably from him turning to exit the birth canal so quickly) detached the placenta and brought it right out with him. I didn’t really even have to push again, which was nice. I had her show me the placenta, because I didn’t get to see it when Pie was born, and I was curious. Yeah, it was gross, but it was cool, too! But I’m a geek when it comes to biology. 🙂

They cut the cord but didn’t bother to trim it while Beanie was eating. It kept getting tangled in my IV tubes. I didn’t care so much, though: My baby was healthy, near as I could tell, and eating like a champ. The stitching took much longer than the first time, because I hadn’t had much time to let things stretch before pushing a baby out. The tear was still minor, but a little more complicated to fix up–and there are just some places lidocaine will not work. I had my sense of humor back (my “defense mechanism” I’d called it earlier during the uncomfortable cervix checks), and was kind of humming to myself and singing about the pain, and biting down on my thumbnail, like I did when the guy tried to put an IV in my hand so many hours before. The adrenaline shakes came on then, too, and the midwife’s assistant was awesome about her careful stitching while I was trembling. I tried to relax and keep from shaking too much, but, hey, I was tired.

Only physically tired, though–my mind was on full power. The endorphines kicked in, and I was cheerful, talkative, and starving. The kitchen usually packed a snack for late-night laborers–kind of a bag lunch kind of thing–but the nurse produced a TV dinner (mac ‘n’ cheese, too! My favorite!), with juice and salad (and possibly dessert, but I don’t exactly recall). I ate as much as I could while juggling a nursing infant and leaning back in the bed. I think I cleared that table in half an hour. 🙂

My husband stayed by my right shoulder the whole time. I’m not sure if he felt more helpless this time around, or if he was relieved not to have to do too much. I feel a little bad that I’d forgotten much of his presence during and immediately after the birth, because I was so focused on Beanie. I’m not sure where he went when things died down and Beanie was nursing, but he might have sat on the couch to take a nap or use his computer. Beanie kept right on eating–he probably ate for about an hour, maybe. My sense of time after he was finally born was pretty skewed. He didn’t get his first bath or measurements until after midnight.

When I was done nursing him, the nurse came to detach the IV and see how we were doing. I told her I needed to use the bathroom (not something I was looking forward to, but when nature calls . . . ), so she took Beanie and . . . did something with him. That might have been when they did his vitals, or she swaddled him and laid him in the bassinet . . . I don’t remember. Maybe she gave him to my husband, who wasn’t asleep at that point? What I do remember is getting out of the bed and doubling over, because it felt like I’d been punched in the gut. I surmised later that the combination of heaving while contracting did a number on my already-strained gut muscles, and then gravity having its way with my innards after they’d been squashed up into my upper half did the rest of the work. If I held my abdomen up with my hands, the pain wasn’t as bad. I was short of breath for several hours, though, and it took a couple days for that pain to go away.

The bathroom thing was not too bad. I didn’t need much help, because I’d done it before, but she set it all up for me. It didn’t hurt as bad as the first time after having Pie, either. All the ingredients to the “underwear sandwich” that is such a wonderful, soothing blessing after giving birth were not available, but there were enough to make myself comfortable for a while. Despite having more stitches after this birth, I found that I was more comfortable without the ice packs the second day. I still used as much medication as possible, but I reserved the ice pack for when I really needed it.

They may have been in the process of weighing and measuring Beanie when I got out of the bathroom. I remember the nurse having me sit in the chair and hold him for a while, because it was a little more comfortable than getting back up in the bed. Sometime during this time my husband took a nap on the couch. I think there was a gap of time between when I sat down and when Beanie got his first bath, of like an hour or so. He wasn’t real thrilled with the bath–but what babies are?–but he liked the heat lamp just fine. They laid him on the changing table, under the heat lamp, and he just laid there, blinking and making tiny sounds. I dozed a bit in the chair, then got up to go see him and take some pictures (one of which you see in Part 1 of this story).

Around 3am, or so, the nurse helped me get into bed and feed him while laying on my side. I was never good at that with Pie, but Bean took to it right away. I had Sweetie help me move him once so I could turn over (I think) and feed him from the other side.

I didn’t sleep very long that morning. I was wide awake by 5:30, starving and bored. I put Beanie in his bassinet, went to the bathroom again, and decided to change out of the hospital gown. I’m SO glad I brought black stretch pants and a nursing tank with me to the hospital! I felt like a whole new person when I had normal clothes on. After having Pie, I didn’t change out of the hospital gown till the last day, and I felt icky, self-conscious, and at loose ends the whole time. This time, just donning some comfy clothes made me feel like a human being again. I think I even washed my face and brushed my teeth (I hadn’t brushed the whole night, so I really needed it) and got my hair back into ponytails.

I wandered about the room, taking pictures and watching the clock, hoping breakfast would come soon. I probably could have taken Beanie for a walk in his bassinet, but I wanted him to sleep. I raided my snack supply that I’d brought with me, but I wasn’t really in the mood for mixed nuts, and drank one of the cans of juice left over from the night before. It seemed like an excruciatingly long time before the breakfast tray finally arrived.

Our hospital stay was much better this time. Beanie slept a lot, barely cried, and ate like it was going out of style (Pie didn’t eat well until several days after he was born, and then only with help from some nursing shields). The nursing staff were more prompt when I hit the call button, and my room was well-supplied. It helped that they weren’t slammed like the second day after Pie was born.

I will say, something I didn’t anticipate was how much more painful the cramping would be after the second child. The midwife mentioned it the morning I came in, but I hadn’t expected it would feel quite as bad as birth contractions! They gave me Motrin (they cleared me for Percocet, but I never asked for it), and I tried to breathe through them, but, dang, they HURT! At one point, I began to feel nauseous and wasn’t sure I’d make it to the bathroom to throw up (no matter how good you might feel, you just don’t move very quickly after having a baby), so I hit the call button and had the nurse (a guy this time) find me a barf bag. I’d intended to hand the baby to him and run for the toilet, but the nausea subsided before he got there.

I had some visitors: My mom and Pie came that morning (Beanie didn’t poop till Mom held him–I guess she has the magic touch!), then later that afternoon my brother and newest sister-in-law showed up. My dad had visited the day before, I think. He’d been hoping Beanie had arrived by then, but was just too early.

Sweetie went off to do . . . stuff–get food, take a shower and shave, go to the store, etc. I wasn’t as dependent on him this time around, so he was free to do whatever it was he needed. Day two at the hospital wasn’t that exciting. 🙂

This post has gotten pretty long, so I’ll wrap it up now and do the last of the posting in this series later. The day we left the hospital is worth a post all its own . . .