24 + hours of labor in preparation for our son's arrival.
… Apparently the giant contraction from hell took even more out of him than it did of me. That’s when I noticed that the midwife got all serious and down to business and next thing I knew I was being setup in the couch and being told “your baby needs to be born right now!” and being told to push.
The challenge with pushing is that they tell you to make it as if you’re having a bowel movement, but my problem is that for many years I had made a habit of not pushing that way so I had no idea how to go about it as I had been counting on getting the natural urge to push but baby was still too high up for that to kick in.
I knew that things were getting tense as Sandra was on the phone with 911 while I was trying to figure out how the hell I push down into my perineum instead of my stomach. I had no trouble breathing but I did feel compelled to say “I think I need oxygen” and it was already on it’s way to me. I knew that the oxygen was for baby and not for me and that things would start to stabilize after that.
After a few minutes in come bursting in a crew of EMT’s as I’m completely naked and spread and in mid-push, I had no sense of modesty and I didn’t care. I was just glad for someone to take over as I didn’t care for the midwife getting on top of my belly and pushing down.
I’m quickly loaded up into a stretcher and hooked up to all sorts of stuff and taken out into the ambulance, it was a surreal experience, almost like something out of a TV drama scene but I felt more calm than I had been for a while, I wasn’t worried and knew that baby would be safe.
The midwife was riding with me in the back and my husband was forced to ride in front of the ambulance. That part sucked as this man had been sticking by me for so long and here we are in the middle of a tense moment and he is pushed into the background. I was too busy to really miss him but I sure would have preferred his close presence.
Riding in an ambulance strapped on your back while having contractions was something I didn’t want for that is a horrible position to manage the pain in, add to that the fact that it was a bumpy ride to the hospital and the trip felt like it took an hour even though I knew that it was only a few minutes since they had the sirens on and didn’t stop at any traffic lights.
We made it into the hospital where I’m wheeled straight up to L & D and hooked up to monitors, a doctor comes in and hooks up an internal monitor so I can now hear what baby’s heartbeat is up to. They have me in there ready to push for a while and in the meantime I notice that his heartbeat is perfect until I get a contraction and drops even further if I push during that contraction. I’m sitting here wondering why nobody else is noticing that pattern and it makes me not want to put as much effort into pushing.
As it is I wasn’t feeling the pushing to be that effective even though I could feel the baby’s head at the top of the canal it wasn’t low enough and the position of his head was not going to make matters easier for a decent specially from the position that they forced me to be in. I was not allowed to sit up or move because of the monitors so baby would have to work against gravity and there was no time for that.
I decided to follow my instinct and not push during contractions, when they saw a contraction in the monitor and told me to push I faked it.
My contractions had been spreading out so there were less opportunities to push and I just wanted to either be allowed to sit up to have gravity help baby along or stop wasting time. The next time I had to push the doctor was there to witness the decelerations in the baby’s heartbeat and I saw by the look in his face that I was right to not feel like pushing. That is when he stopped everything and immediately confirmed what I already knew and explained that an emergency c-section would be best since my water had been broken for so long and therefore we were running against the clock and couldn’t wait for baby to drop on his own. At this point I must add that the midwife told the hospital that my water had broken at 4:30pm the previous day instead of the actual 9am, this is another thing that she had asked us to “back her up” on.
At this point I knew that it was coming and had time to prepare myself for it so I didn’t experience the trauma that I would have otherwise expected, by the time it was said I had already come to peace with it and my mothering instinct had already told me what to do.
After that it didn’t take very long to get prepared and transported to the operating room, my biggest anxiety was about the anesthesia and not the surgery itself. It must be the part about holding still while a giant needle went into my spine and being afraid that a contraction would hit and make me move, I had a very good supportive nurse that got me through the process quickly.
Daddy Fox was brought in and sat by my head after I was numbed and strapped and the doctor wasted no time going in, within seconds I heard a delightful cry of an angel and I hear my husband saying “he’s out!” (we still didn’t know the gender at that point). We then asked through the curtain “what is it?”. When we heard “it’s a boy!” THAT’s when I really started crying and I looked at my husband and said “we got our Shammy!”
We had been calling this baby Shammy all throughout pregnancy and even though we never had any ultrasounds to check the gender we always used “he/him” when talking about the baby so I wasn’t surprised to hear that it’s a boy.
Within seconds they took daddy away from me to be with baby and daddy got to talk to him and touch him while they did their usual newborn stuff (wipe, weigh, measure, prick, etc). I am glad that at least daddy still got to cut the cord. After what felt like an eternity they brought me a bundled angel to meet and touch and I was instantly in love.
Baby and daddy were ready to go to the room but I wasn’t so I had to lie and wait while they went off to show Shammy more of this new world he had just come out to. Annoyingly I had to sit in the OR longer than I wanted because the doctor dropped the needle driver on the floor and they had to wait for a new one to be delivered which took way too long when all you want to do is hold your baby.
I first found out about this when the surgeon starts cussing in Spanish because he didn’t know that I was understanding every word. So I got to lay there open for what felt like an eternity while my baby was being wheeled away, at least I got the consolation that he was with daddy and even though I lost a decent amount of blood they were eventually able to close me up and I joined Shammy about 30 mins later.
I was still under anesthesia and my body temperature had dropped below normal so instead of being able to have baby skin to skin with me they had to pile me up with special warming blankets and I got to watch my baby squirm around in the warmer next to me. I was sad that they wouldn’t put him on my chest under the blankets so that we would both be warm.
After a while I was able to finally hold him despite still being mostly paralyzed in bed but he wasn’t interested in breastfeeding right away as he was too overstimulated from all of the recent action.
A few hours later when he was more relaxed I offered my breast and he latched on like a pro that had been doing it all his life. I immediately understood what all of the breastfeeding mothers had said about the hormonal feeling that you get and I must agree with them. It was quite the amazing natural high that is repeated at every session.
A lot of people suddenly feel sorry for me because my birth didn’t go according to plan and I got my “biggest fear”come true, do not despair. I do not feel cheated, disempowered or let down by my experience because I know that I did everything in my power to avoid it and the gods simply had other plans. Even in my moments of greatest tension my logical brain never failed me and when it came down to the wire my logical side and mother’s instinct were in agreement as to what was best given the circumstances.
This experience is what I CHOOSE to make of it and I choose to cherish the lessons and joy of the journey than get hung up on little details over something that I knew from the beginning would not be under my control.
I am still glad for the 28 hours of labor that allowed me to experience the process as it should be, to connect to that primal side of myself (even though that side did step out on break several times throughout) and most of all knowing that the hormones that baby and I enjoyed during that time of natural labor served to pave the way to prepare us for the birth experience in a way that no hospital could have duplicated.
I am blessed to have the birth support team that I had as they were truly invaluable to my experience. My husband’s love and dedication was present constantly from the beginning and he rarely left my side. Our doula was amazing and I wouldn’t have been able to get through the final contractions before transition without the constant coaching of our midwife, I do feel betrayed by our midwife due to her illegal actions that were dangerous and the fact that after she left the hospital shortly after Shammy was born she disappeared on us and didn’t visit or call until sending an e-mail days later.
I honestly don’t feel like a failure, because I let go all my attachment to it being about ME when I found out I was pregnant. This was a journey of trust, surrender and humility and when I got to see me my baby for the first time I couldn’t have cared less about how he got here as all I cared about was that he was finally here.
So don’t worry about me, just worry about the moms that feel that have no choice or make the choice that is not right for them.
Coming soon (sometime), the post-partum recovery report…