Read about the events leading up to the delivery here.
Warning: This post may be too graphic for some readers (ahem, dad).
5:00 pm: I was informed by my nurse, Kim, that my cervix was gone and that it was time to push. Naturally, I panicked. Having only arrived at the hospital five hours earlier, I was expecting it to take longer to reach 10 cm dilated. But suddenly the moment was upon us.
My mom kissed us goodbye and left to meet my father in the waiting room (She had flown in nearly a week earlier, and he hopped on a plane from NJ as soon as we learned that today would be the day). Kim explained to me how to breathe through the pushes, which I guess I hadn’t learned at our one-day intensive birthing class. During each contraction I would do three sets of breathing in, breathing out, breathing in and then holding my breath for the count of 10. I would push while I was holding my breath.
And then we simply began.
Kim and JB stood on either side of the bed, each holding one of my legs. Since the epidural had blocked all sensation in my pelvic region, Kim had to tell me when my contractions were starting and when I needed to push. I closed my eyes as I held my breath and tried to pretend I was pushing out a poop. (I think JB told me that I did, in fact, poop while pushing, but for some reason that didn’t make it into the journal.) I didn’t realize how much energy it was going to take in order to get through each set of those three pushes.
5:25 pm: We took a break from pushing so that Kim could call my doctor at home and tell her to come back to the hospital. Apparently, the baby was crowning! I began to worry that everything was progressing too freakishly fast and that I still didn’t feel ready to meet my son.
5:40 pm: My OB/GYN arrived, and I resumed pushing. This time, however, my legs were placed in stirrups for support. Again, I was surprised by the lack of drama in the room. My doctor and nurse were casually chatting with one another and with me, offering calm words of encouragement. From the reflection in the protective glasses that my doctor was wearing, I could vaguely make out my vajayjay and see that something was coming out of it. She asked me if I wanted to feel the baby’s head, and I only said yes because I didn’t want to regret not touching it later on. (Truthfully, in the moment, I actually wasn’t that curious. I felt like I was having a bizarre out-of-body experience and started feeling very detached from what was happening to my body, likely because I was just so fucking scared.) When I reached down and touched the top of his head, I flinched and squealed because it was softer, squishier and wetter than I had expected it to be, which made everybody laugh.
Although he swore that he was going to stay “north of the equator,” JB watched everything that was happening in my southern hemisphere and alternated between tearing up and motivating me. At times he was too enthusiastic in his encouragement, and I had to tell him to not say anything. All of the pushing was starting to make me feel nauseated, and I was given an oxygen mask to help me and the baby.
6:05 pm: For some reason, JB looked at the clock and made a remark about the time. I think he said something like, “I bet the baby will be born at 6:05 pm.” Sure enough, that was the exact minute that my doctor pulled the baby out of me completely. Although it didn’t hurt, per say, I was able to feel the pressure of his entire body passing through me.
As she held this new life up for me to see, the following thoughts popped into my head:
- He’s very purple.
- He’s enormous. How is it possible that he was inside of me?
- He looks like my 96-year-old grandmother.
- I can’t tell if he’s cute.
The doctor and nurse fiddled with him, trying to “pink him up,” and I voiced a concern because he wasn’t crying. Nobody else seemed to be bothered by his silence, and after what felt like one long minute, he finally let out a wail. Somebody put him on a blanket on my chest, and when they did, I felt nothing. Not joy or fear or relief or anything. Nothing. I didn’t even shed a tear. I just looked down and wondered, “Who is this little person with wet curly hair?”
The baby nurse took him across the room to clean him off, and I made JB follow her with the camera. He reported that our baby scored an 8 and 9 on his two Apgar tests, losing points for his blue hands and feet. Meanwhile, the doctor finished up with me. She discovered a loose knot in the umbilical cord but said it was a very good cord otherwise. The removal of the placenta — massaging it down my belly and then pulling it out — was very uncomfortable. I took a quick glance at it, and it looked like a liver. Kind of disgusting. While I was still numb down there, the doctor removed a mole near my bikini line that she thought looked suspicious, although I wasn’t terribly worried about it since that part of my body had never seen the sun.
All around me, my doctor and a team of nurses were performing the duties of their jobs like it was any ordinary day, and I just watched in disbelief, unable to comprehend that an 8lb 5oz baby just emerged from inside of me. The awesomeness of what had just happened in that room, the enormity of such a life-changing event, perpetuated the out-of-body experience I had begun to feel during delivery, and I sat in a daze for the next couple of hours. It wasn’t until family began joining us in the hospital to meet our new little guy that I slowly started to become aware of exactly what had just happened.
Holy shit. I just had a baby!
From start to finish, I was in the delivery room for eight hours, which included two hours of recovery time. They say that labor progresses faster the second time around, so I’m fully anticipating that I will give birth to my next child in the car on the way to the hospital. Wouldn’t that make for an interesting birth story!
Just like his birth, which was more like a sprint than a marathon, this past year has gone by in a blur. My 8lb 5oz baby guy is now 18lb 14 oz toddler. They grow up too quickly.