I promise I did not mean to end the first part of the story on a cliffhanger. I simply wrote myself to that stopping place and didn’t have the time or pain tolerance to sit up longer and finish it. Thankfully after several days concentrating on rest I am feeling better so hopefully I can get this story finished,
I remember feeling the “ring of fire” and being excited that it meant he was really about to be born. Then suddenly, before I knew what was happening, the midwives and nurse were yelling at Jason to help turn me around. I’d been laying in the center of a queen size bed and they were rotating me to the edge of the bed and simultaneously flung my legs up over my head as far as they could go. They were yelling at me to “Push!” and Rachel took over and was pushing on my stomach and pulling on Elijah. I was yelling back that I couldn’t push by which I meant that I had no more air left with which to fuel a push and they were yelling back that I definitely could push and I had to push. It was terrifying and probably more so because I knew what it meant – Elijah was stuck. In the paperwork it was called Moderate Shoulder Dystocia. The midwife explained later that he tried to come out with both fists up by his face. She had to loop her finger under his arm and pull it out and shove hard on my uterus to get him to come.
But after what was the longest minute or two, he was out and on my belly and it was completely surreal. 6:27 p.m. Less than three hours before they had broken my water and now here he was! Less than three hours of active labor. Crazy!
I lay there, completely spent and in shock – the most exhausted I’ve ever felt in my life – and I think it took me a few seconds to even realize that this was my baby and I tried to hold him and comfort him as best I could. He didn’t cry right away, but when he started he made up for lost time. After a time listening to him cry, I began to sing “You are my sunshine, my only sunshine…” – a song he heard almost daily in utero. What they say about babies hearing and being comforted by familiar sounds and voices must be true because he quieted down to the sound of my singing.
They did have to suction him, I remember, but I have no idea how long he was on my tummy first. I know I got to hold him for awhile, both before and after they suctioned him.
At some point I realized they were still working and I remembered I still had the third stage of labor to complete – delivering the placenta. It was closing in on 30 minutes before it finally happened. I’d read many birth stories where people said they barely noticed this stage. I, however, found it to be very uncomfortable. I had to do more pushing which reminded me of the much too recent birth, and it was mildly painful, probably in part due to the traumatic birth. When it came out they all exclaimed about how huge it was. Good to know I guess? They showed it to us and pointed out the areas that were showing age that had been one of the reasons for the induction. It was interesting, and not at all gross as you would think, but I mostly just wanted to look at my baby.
After a little bit, I asked Rachel if I’d torn and she said yes. Not what I wanted to hear. She explained that as she pulled his arm out she’d felt me “pop”. Upon examination she decided that it was too great of a tear for her to stitch so she called Cherie, the head midwife to come back to the Center and stitch me. While I waited I was able to hold Elijah and watch his examination. When they weighed him I couldn’t believe he was 8 lbs. 8oz. The sonogram had been wrong, which wasn’t surprising since they are known to be off by 2 pounds at that stage of pregnancy. It explained why I’d been feeling so uncomfortable. He also “tested” at 39 weeks instead of 38, just as I’d known.
When Cherie got there, I had to lay back down and she warned me that I would need pain medication for the stitching. I chose nitrous oxide since it wouldn’t have any lingering effects. I’m so glad it was available because there is no way I could have handled the pain on its own. It ended up being a third degree tear (4th is the worst) and she stitched me for an hour. The pain was excruciating and I sucked on that nitrous oxide for dear life, screaming occasionally in pain. The gas dulled my senses mostly, except it heightened my hearing so I lay there listening to her teach the other midwives about stitching. Jason stayed with me the whole time.
I also heard them testing Elijah for his blood sugar levels. My biggest fear was that he would need to go to the NICU to control his blood sugar. I had been so careful with my eating leading up to the birth, but I was scared. When I heard that his number was low, indicating a hypoglycemic withdrawal from my high blood sugars, I got really upset. I think they thought I didn’t want him to be supplemented with formula, but that wasn’t why I was crying. I just wanted to be there for him, not laying there helpless and still in so much pain. Thankfully Kimberly was able to stay with him while they supplemented with a small amount of formula and then they let him come lie there with me so I didn’t have to be separated any longer.
In the middle of being stitched they decided I was bleeding too much still and I had to have a shot of pitocin. That shot was one of the most painful parts of the whole birth process. I screamed and Jason said it bled a lot. All I know is 12 days later I still have a big bruise at the injection site.
When I was stitched up and cleaned up a little, Nathan came to meet him. I hadn’t planned on him coming unless Elijah would have to be transferred, and it was very overwhelming to have him there while I was so weak, but I think it was best for him. He had a very rough day of throwing up and anxiety and I think he needed to see that Elijah was physically there and Mama was OK. He stayed for awhile and charmed all the nurses. My parents went and got us Maggiano’s for dinner which was nice.
I know at some point I almost passed out twice and had to get IV fluids. I honestly don’t remember now where that fits in the sequence of events. I know it was after having to go to the bathroom. I know at some point they catheterized me. I know there were some times when they had to distract Nathan so he couldn’t see what was going on with me. I wish I could have written this a few days ago when the memories were still there.
I remember being so hot because they were keeping it warm for Elijah. I remember not really being hungry for Maggiano’s after all. I wanted something cold and loved the juice and soda they gave me. I remember Kimberly running to get the granola I’d forgotten to pack from a nearby Whole Foods. I remember looking down at him at some point and realizing he looked like me – what a moment. I remember nursing him for the first time and it felt like the most natural thing in the world.
Elijah passed his subsequent blood sugar tests which meant we didn’t have to supplement or be concerned about the NICU. Relief doesn’t quite explain how I felt to have that worry lifted.
After Elijah and I were cleared as healthy, the midwives left and the nurses settled in to take care of us for a few hours until it was time for us to go home. My parents took Nathan home to bed. Kimberly stayed with us. It was a sweet time of watching Elijah and nursing and eating and drinking. Finally I was able to just rest and enjoy him without more pain or chaos. Around 6 hours after the birth we began to gather our things and get ready to go. We received detailed instructions from the nurse on caring for both me and Elijah. And then we headed out into the night.
We got home just before 2 am, not quite 12 hours after we’d left to go have my waters broken. What a day.