birth story -- part 2 (of 2)

We took a little nap and relaxed watching Criminal Minds to pass the time while I labored under epidural. By midnight, I was dialated to 10 cm and fully effaced... so we thought a few more hours and we would have the baby... we were all so excited. I think the nurse was really annoyed with our "how much longer?" and "is the doctor coming now?" questions.

Waiting, waiting, waiting for what felt like forever. Finally, the nurse told us at 5:00 AM that Dr. Dwight was in the hospital to deliver another baby and would stop by to see how we were doing, and if possible deliver us at the same time.

When he arrived at 5:15 AM, he instructed Eva and Mark to each grab a foot and lean my legs into my chest while I tried to push a few times on each contraction. We get this effort started under the oversight of the nurses. At this point, I am using a little trigger that came with my epidural that upped the dose a little bit on command. It was not quite doing the full job of blocking the pressure. As time wore on with the pushing, it stopped working altogether... right when I needed it most. They said they couldn't give me any more. Sort of gives me the opportunity to see what a natural childbirth is like if you take a break from it in the middle.

From Eva's experience, the pushing part lasted about 15 minutes. Ha ha ha. Without the benefit of epidural anymore, I withdraw to my own universe in my head and all I know is push during contractions and relax fully when not in contractions. I lose track of time, who is in the room, what is going on around me, and even that there will be a baby at the end. All I know is pushing - or resting for energy to push. This was VERY hard work - I was pushing through the count of 10 three or four times per contraction, depending on the strength of the contraction, and then resting for sometimes less than a minute before going again.

I had asked Eva and Mark to give me some cheerleading like, "push, come on, you're doing great, keep going, push-push-push." We were hoping to have the baby at 8:07 AM -- so I could have 11/10/09 - 08:07 numerical significance. By 8:05, Eva sees the clock and starts coaching like she is on hyperdrive: "push-push-push-push-push-push-push-push-push-push-push-push-push" until I kick her in the shoulder and yell "NOT SO MUCH!" My inner dialogue was more like, "I appreciate your enthusiasm, but could you please give me NOT SO MUCH!" Still, I hope I didn't hurt her feelings (or her shoulder.) 8:07 AM came and went, and I still had a long way to go.

They had me try pushing sitting up and then going to my side - difficult because I still can't use my legs or abs due to remnant epidural. I had such a strong urge to push at this point that I couldn't have stopped if they forced me to. We returned to back-lying pushing with Eva and Mark helping. -- Oh, and Mark wanted to be behind my shoulder with the non-gory view of the whole thing.... But he was down on the business end and had to let me know if my pushes were effective or not. He was the first (besides the nurse) who got to see Zoe's shock of dark, long hair. He said he was really glad to have that view and to be a part of the whole thing.

Somewhere along the line, and I was sort of aware of it, this thing became an emergency situation. More nurses came and went, the doctor, who was dropping in periodically before was staying more often -- and called in another doctor to assist. Tables of surgical equipment were wheeled in "just in case" and more and more nurses... Eva said at one point there were six nurses helping the two doctors. I'm just in my own world, pushing or relaxing... focusing on what I can do and less what is going on around me.

People were shouting, "This is IT!" I could tell there was some scrambling. Stuff being moved out of the way and other stuff being brought in. They took off my hospital gown so I was totally naked except for the belly band holding the monitors in place. I heard someone say "in case of Shoulder Dystocia" when they introduced me to the other doctor. I can feel Zoe. Well, I'd been feeling her for a while, but I could definitely tell that she was getting close to crowning. I could REALLY feel her. I reached down and touched her head to give me some motivation to do what had to be done -- and I pushed. And pushed and pushed. Dr Dwight told me he needed to give me an episiotomy to help her come out. Just get her out of me. I was losing it a little bit. I didn't care if he cut my legs off if it would help end this.

He only had a few seconds between contractions to make the cut. I could feel the sting of the scissors and then the next contraction hit hard. Mona, you only have a few more pushes and the baby is going to come out, okay? So don't stop pushing... keep going even when the contraction ends. Try not to take a breath unless you need it. Push hard. It is no wonder that I didn't pass out. I didn't breath for a long time. I just pushed until I could push no longer and it felt like a terrible place to stop... Her head was delivered but her body wasn't. At least I could believe them when they said, "Just one more contraction and you'll have a baby."

9:57 AM

And there she was.

They threw her on my stomach and I looked down into my daughters eyes. She was magnificent. I had forgotten about her in all the hustle and flow.... and there she was. She gurgled and complained when they wiped her down and again when they suctioned her mouth. But mostly she lay quietly on my stomach, blinking thoughtfully at me, glancing around the room curiously.
Mark pulled out the camera and took a quick video of her first quiet moments: getting acquainted with us while the nurses did some quick checks of her and I. Dr Dwight was stitching me up at the time and then delivering the placenta. I hardly noticed all this because of the beautiful distraction laying before me. The nurses did not disturb our chance to bond for our first hour together. I took Zoe to the breast within about 15 minutes and she sucked pretty well right away. When we finally let the nurses take her to be weighed, measured and examined more fully, she weighed 9 lbs 9 oz and was 21 inches long. A big little girl. Our baby was finally here.

Just in time for Thanksgiving.

I am thankful for Dr. Dwight -- for letting me labor so hard for so long to have the baby without surgery. Surely another doctor would have given up on me sooner.

I am thankful for Eva -- for giving up more than a month with her family, Marissa's first lost tooth, Halloween, and so much more... to be with me during those moments, encouraging me "push-push-push" and then for tromping up at 3AM to burp and change the baby for me so I could go back to sleep. Without her, this would have been SO MUCH HARDER!

I am thankful for Mark -- for becoming a parent with me, for holding my leg and giving me ice chips on command, and for collaboration on the many, many challenges to come.

I am thankful for Mom -- for now I fully understand what you have given and the fullness of a mother's love.

17 hours of hard labor.
5 hours pre-epidural.
5 hours pushing.
1 unforgettable day: priceless.

Actually, I am pretty sure I will be getting a bill. But you know what I mean.

I have been holding posting this until I have a chance to go through pictures, but better something than nothing. So, I will post more pictures later.

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