Elliott’s birth story, part 2

OK, OK! Even my doula is giving me a hard time about finishing this birth story, so I had better get going.

9:30 a.m.: We arrive at the hospital and unload enough of our booty to get us started. We make our way up to the Labor and Delivery Triage area with me trying not to leave a trail of amniotic fluid through the hospital. The nurses in Triage are incredibly nice. They all read my birth plan carefully and joke around with us as we get our files and information in order.

I change into the standard-issue hospital maternity gown and try to relax as I have my vital signs checked and get hooked up to a monitor to see how the baby is doing. A nice student nurse comes in to ask 150 intensely personal questions for my chart, including my current weight. In front of my husband. I tell him to cover his ears.

10 a.m.: Jane the Incredible Doula arrives! We are having a great time in the tiny Triage room now, laughing and making jokes about labor and stuff. This is too much fun. I’m still not having any contractions.

11 a.m.: I’m admitted to the hospital and we are sent over to my official labor and delivery room. On the way to the room, we pass by the family waiting room. There’s a huge aquarium outside of the waiting room and the nurse points out an especially large fish swimming around. We all comment that, yes, indeedy, that is one big fish.

Once we get to the room, we are very impressed. It’s huge! This is a good thing, because once Tim starts assembling the labor tub, it becomes obvious that we are going to need all the room we can get.

Since Tim is occupied with getting the tub going, and I am itching to get this show on the road, Jane and I decide to take a walk around the labor floor. As we pass the aquarium, someone else comments on the size of The Fish. We concur. No contractions.

12 p.m.: My mom arrives. My doctor hasn’t yet made an appearance. When the nurse checked my dilation in Triage, she said I was at 2-3 cm. Since this is pretty much where I was at my last doctor’s appointment, I’m unimpressed. I’ve still got major work to do.

We walk. My mom is so excited. I’m just beginning to feel a little performance anxiety. It seems like everyone is waiting for me to do something. I’m waiting for me to do something. Except I have no idea what to do to get this labor going.

As we pass the waiting room, my mom says, ‘Wow, have you seen the size of the fish in this aquarium?’ I respond, ‘If I hear about The Fish one more time, I swear I’m gonna scream!’

Poor Mom. They always get the brunt of it, don’t they?

When we get back to the room, I ask my mom to turn on the TV so that everyone stops watching me. It seems like every time I close my eyes, someone asks me, ‘Are you having a contraction?’

1 p.m.: My doctor is here! She declines to check me out since I’ve only had a contraction or two since arriving. She brings up our options for getting the labor going, since everyone starts getting nervous if your membranes have been ruptured for too long. After 24 hours, the doctors start to worry about infection.

One of the options she mentions is Cytotec. This is a tiny little pill that they insert close to the cervix to help stimulate labor. The only thing I’ve read about Cytotec is the increased risk of uterine rupture for moms with previous C-sections. Of course, I’m not one of those moms, but still, “uterine rupture” is not a phrase you want kicking around in your head when contemplating labor options.

I ask for more time. And, hey, maybe my chiropractor will come and do some acupuncture! My doctor responds, ‘That would be great! If he will come up here, I will give his card to every mom in my practice.’ I call the chiropractor.

2:30 p.m.: After much switching around of his schedule, Dr. Geoffrey Norton, chiropractor extraordinaire, comes to my room at the hospital and inserts six tiny needles in my inner shins, my outer knees and the junctions between my thumbs and forefingers. Unlike most acupuncture, which is generally used to sedate certain areas of the body and doesn’t hurt at all, Dr. Norton is trying to stimulate these areas in order to stimulate labor. And it hurts! The pain is more annoying and aching-feeling than shockingly painful, but I am relieved when the treatment is over.

The couple of mild contractions I was having before Dr. Norton arrived stopped during the treatment. It’s back to walking again.

5 p.m.: As 5 p.m. approaches, I’m feeling really guilty. I feel like I’ve been wasting everyone’s time. I wish that we hadn’t come to the hospital so early, especially when I look longingly over at that beautiful labor tub. Dr. Norton calls and offers to come back for another treatment. I immediately accept.

5:30 p.m. Dr. Norton is back and, once again, the few mild contractions that I’d been having stop during the treatment. My doctor comes in and chats with him about how long the treatments usually take to work. He responds that it can take anywhere from 4 hours to a day.

After he leaves, she suggests the Cytotec. I reluctantly agree.

After she inserts the Cytotec, the nurse arrives to put in my heparin lock. This is an IV needle that is inserted into your hand, without the IV, in case you need an IV later on. The nurse puts the needle in a weird spot on my left wrist. I completely lose it while she’s finishing it up.

All of the emotions of the day just coming pouring out and Tim is doing his best to console me. That poor nurse! She probably thought that she was really hurting me! My biggest fear is that this birth is going to end up like Auggie’s. Now, that birth wasn’t the worst ever, but it was not fun. Being induced with Pitocin when you’re trying to have an unmedicated birth just sucks. Jane and Tim reassure me that everything is going to be fine. I try to believe them, but I’m worried that once you start with the interventions, things just start to topple like dominoes.

For the first time, the phrase “Cesarean section” enters my mind. I shake it out, not letting myself even consider the possibility.

6 p.m.: I get up to go to the bathroom and, when I stand up, see the Cytotec tablet in the toilet. Uh-oh. We tell the doctor, but she seems unconvinced.

At any rate, I’m finally having contractions! Yippee!

7 p.m.: Hello! I remember these! Even though the contractions are pretty irregular — coming every 5-10 minutes — I need help staying on top of them. Tim and Jane are the greatest, reminding me to keep my eyes open and make “horse lips” (blowing out of your mouth with your lips together, making them flap) to keep me loose.

“Last Comic Standing” is on TV.

9 p.m.: OK, now we’re getting somewhere! The nurse checks me, says I’m at 5 cm, completely effaced. Sweet! Now I can get in the labor tub!

The water feels so amazing, and once my contractions start rolling along, it really helps with the pain. Looking back, I feel like getting the labor tub was one of the best decisions I ever made in my life.

I have no idea what time it is. All I know is that I’m starting to feel a little out of control, like transition. I mention to Tim and Jane that I haven’t gone to the bathroom in a while and I don’t want to try to push this baby around a full bladder. We head to the bathroom.

I have two contractions on the toilet and it becomes obvious that the baby is coming soon. I have to decide whether or not I want to have the baby in the bathroom, where the contractions on the toilet are actually manageable, or if I want to head back to the tub to deliver. My brain can’t decide. Finally, I get up and walk back to the tub.

Right before I get in, another contraction hits. Hard. Tim holds me from behind as I squat and start to scream, ‘It’s burning! The baby is coming! Now!’

I feel really stupid for saying this now, but then, it really felt like that baby was coming out right then.

Once we get through this mega-contraction, I get back in the pool. Tim gets in with me and we get ready to start pushing.

The doctor comes in, there are two nurses and I’m not feeling the overwhelming urge to push like I had with Auggie. I can feel the contraction starting, but I have to start pushing on my own before the urge to bear down and PUSH comes on. After two contractions, I ask the doctor exasperatedly, ‘Can you even see his head yet?!’

Calmly, she asks me if I pushed Auggie out with two pushes. I sheepishly answer, ‘No.’

She says, ‘Well?’

I shut up and start pushing again. In between contractions, Elliott is kicking me. It feels so weird and I ask him several times to please stop.

The water is going everywhere in the room. The tub’s directions say to fill it up until the water is six inches from the top, but with both Tim and I in there, and the doctor reaching in too, the pool is overflowing. Jane starts bailing the water out into a nearby trash can. I am mostly oblivious to this, thank goodness.

After about 20 minutes of pushing, Elliott is ready to be born. In between contractions, I reach down and feel the top of his head crowning. It feels all wrinkly because the bones of his skull are squished over each other to squeeze out of my body. Wow. The nurse tells me to enjoy these last moments of being pregnant.

I push and push and push with all of my might and Elliott’s head is out! I push and push and push some more and — oof! — finally those shoulders come out and the rest of him pops out too. He comes up out of the water like a cork and the doctor is handing him to me. She suctions out his nose and mouth and he is wailing! I pull him to me and take a deep breath of his scent. He has a little vernix (that white, cheesy stuff) on his back and under his arms. He is beautiful.