WTF. It had taken me two days to get from zero to 4.5, and one hour to get from 4.5 to 10?! (The monkeys were on to something after all.) I was of course happy and relieved but… kind of mad. What the heck happened?! What I assume happened is that just the short and glorious break was enough to calm me down and get my cervix to quit being a stubborn, procrastinating turd. I assume.
Who cares… it was time to get this show on the road! Lisa got everything set up and I was pushing by 11:30. She told me from the start that my pushes looked good; Jeff asked if she thought he might arrive before midnight and she thought maybe! We might have a January 8 baby after all! Except my optimistic thinking would again bite me in the buttocks, because little did we know we still had a lonnng way to go.
So, let me again try to expedite this. I pushed. And pushed. And pushed more. And pushed it real good (ooh baby baby). Lisa remarked the whole time how good my pushes were, that she could see the head! But I still kept feeling like he was still really high up there and I wasn’t feeling him budge. (I always thought the epidural made you totally numb, but I was pleased to find out I could still ‘feel’ the whole process). And after every push I’d pepper her with analytical questions (MONKEY FAIL). Was he close? How much did he move on that one? How much further to go? Did he look like he would fit?
I kept watching the clock and thinking to myself well surely he’ll be here by xxxx o’clock. And when that would come and go I’d recalculate and say well then SURELLLY he’ll be here by xxxx o’clock. And then that would be over and now I was starting to get scared. I knew we couldn’t keep at this forever. The clock was again tormenting me and I asked Jeff to go cover it up. Jeff replied– BLESS HIM– with something like “Uhh, how?” and that would be the closest I came to screaming at my spouse. I was like “I DON’T KNOW DUDE, MAKE IT WORK” because if I can squeeze an infant through my rickety Taylor Hanson hips then YOU CAN FIGURE OUT HOW TO OBSCURE A CLOCK FROM VIEW.
Take a guess as to what was mucking up the process. Freaking demon contractions! That first nurse who was convinced I wasn’t in real labor because of my weird contractions was incorrecto (called that one) because there I was at the tail end of things, and they had never transitioned into something more normal. They were right though that it was a really dysfunctional pattern to push against. Lisa would encourage me to push as much as I could during the 2-3 minute extravaganza, but then I’d be stuck with another really long break where Frogson would creep back up. Babies are also apparently not designed to withstand marathon contractions, so after a while he started to get stressed out too. His heartbeat was being broadcast live courtesy of the scalp monitor, which projected the beat as beeps instead of the actual whooshing of the belly monitor. I missed the whooshing. And as I pushed I could hear it slowing down and becoming erratic, which was EXTREMELY UNNERVING. Lisa told me over and over how normal it was, but eventually I asked if the audio could be turned off because it was making me insane (INSANE). She said yes, she could just read the numbers on the monitor. I was a douchebag patient and asked if she was sure she could stay on top of it without the audio. She forgave my doucheiness and assured me she could.
More time went by, more of the pushing. Same vag now a different day. I was now unaware of how much time had gone by or what the story on his heart rate was, but I was starting to get worried again because every now and then Lisa would tell me to take a contraction off to give him a break. And I was put back on the stupid oxygen mask– that thing annoyed the crap out of me, but if he needed it then obviously I was fine with it– and after every push I was being reminded to take big deep breaths for him. The epidural was hooked up to one of those remote control button things where you press it and you get more juice; but I was discouraged from using it until after he arrived because of our weird reactions from earlier. So I was starting to feel the pain of the contractions again, which made me ULTRA grouchy because after what happened I felt like I had paid my price and earned that stinking pain relief. I was in a foul mood.
When a bunch of doctors filed in, I knew he was either about to be born (yay!) or bad stuff was about to happen. Gulp. It was funny being in a teaching hospital, the doctors traveled in packs and it was always a bunch of residents and their boss doctor. When you asked them questions, the boss doctor would put one of the residents on the spot and ask them to answer it. I resisted the urge to make the dumb girl remark “OMG, just like Grey’s!” but it was! So it was actually a resident along with her boss who attended to the birth, and I was really hoping I got a smart Christina doctor and not some dingbat Izzy one. I had met a lot of the residents just in my prenatal visits, but never this chick–she was fine though.
Anyway, the boss doctor said what I thought she’d say– that babies had a shelf life for tolerating contractions and pushing, and Frogson was approaching his. I could either have vacuum assistance or get c-sectioned. I was surprised that they sort of offered it as a choice like that. I had been terrified of the idea of a c-section forever, but I can’t tell you how resigned I was at this point. Even writing this down I’m remembering how much I just wanted TO BE DONE. Dare I say I was even somewhat tempted to choose the section because at least it was A SURE THING. But even in my desperation I knew I wanted one last chance before I’d have to resort to that, as long as I still had the choice. I had this feeling that after all these hours, I really was at the finish line and this time, he really was almost here.
I wasn’t wild about the stupid baby Hoover either. This will tell you how insane I am, but many years ago– seriously I was probably 11– I saw some documentary on 20/20 or something about how the vacuums caused brain bleeds and other awful things. Yes it was probably sensationalized in the first place, yes technology has probably improved in all those years– but these are exactly the kinds of things that an anxiety-ridden kid will latch on to, and I made a mental note to never let them vacuum my future babies out. Meanwhile, in 2013…
The doctor said complications were mostly just an increased likelihood of jaundice and a bruise on the head. YEA WHATEVER physician person, thinking you’re all smart from medical school or whatever, GERALDO TOLD ME OTHERWISE. Don’t think you can go duping THIS person. Psssshhhhhh.
You apparently also can’t use the vacuum forever so this is when they said I had 3-5 contractions with the vac or he was getting chopped out whether I liked it or not. Otay then. No pressure. I feel like I’ve gone on and on and on about every detail about this saga and it’s ending kind of anti-climatically. The short story is that I pushed, and he came out, and the end.
The long story (can I tell stories any other way!?) is that I finally made the monkeys proud as I dug waaayyyyyyyyy deep down, expended every teeny weeny drop of energy I had left in my very low reserves, channeled all the girl power I had built up from my longstanding love of lesbian rock (INDIGO GIRLS FO LIFE)… and HOOOOOO boy did I push.
After all these hours, it must have only taken a minute or so for all this to go down. (Thx vacuum). Some parts of that 60 seconds are burned forever in my memory, but in general it remains very hazy and dream like. All I can remember is working with everything I had and then feeling that big old Frogson head come into the world.
I’m sorry, is this getting too graphic? Men? I’m sorry. Really sorry. This is your cue to excuse yourself from the story. As Chris Harrison would say, take a minute and say your goodbyes.
Are you sure you want to keep reading?
GIRLS HOLY CRAP THAT BABY HEAD IS NO JOKE.
I mean I know the concept kind of speaks for itself such that no warning is needed but WHY DIDN’T SOMEONE WARN ME. WHY. That is why I am writing this, as a public service to those who have yet to experience this. I hope for all your sakes it was just my scrawny boy hips and not the experience that everyone has. Cause it was… INTENSE. Empowering, and over quickly, but… there are just not enough OMGs in the world to describe it further.
Suffice to say it was memorable. Oh, and I SCREAMED– she who cannot send back incorrect food because it would hurt the waiter’s feelings– SCREAMING. I don’t know if it was the final burst of energy, or the pain of (literally) splitting open, (MEN YOU WERE WARNED), or just the culmination of the craziest 48 hours of my life… but it just came out. “Blood curdling” as Jeff described it. And my poor mother, who had cheered me on with a smile even in the worst moments, could only squeeze her eyes shut and duck her head against my left leg.
But out came the Frogson noggin, and with another much smaller push his shoulders and the rest of him, and this journey that had started 9 months and 1 day ago with a tiny little poppy seed of life had ended with a wet, wriggly, 8 pound boy being held up in front of me. A quick snip of his cord and we were no longer connected, he would breathe his own oxygen and circulate his own blood and move through this world on his own terms. And as much as I wish I could have stored up all those little hiccups and kicks and tiny heels pressed against the surface of my tummy, I knew that the real journey, the one that really counts, was just beginning.
Welcome to the world, sweet son. We love you so.