Sister Kay kept the lights dim and the room cool for me, and things were very timeless, in that it seemed like an eternity, though things were going very quickly. I got to a point where I was sure that I couldn’t handle anymore, and I wanted to ask for an epidural, if only I could sit still long enough. (At this point, I hadn’t sat down for more than a minute or two since being released from the bed hours earlier.) Sister Kay checked me in a standing up position, which I hadn’t even known was possible, and told me that I was fully dilated and could start in on some pushing if I wanted to. That sounded a lot better than an epidural, frankly. I wanted that baby OUT! I climbed back into the bed, with the head raised up and the bottom totally folded down, and the nurses brought in all the giving-birth stuff they keep tucked away to make the labor room seem cozier. It all seemed kind of surreal, and yet I was aware of every little thing, every sensation. It was time for the baby to be born, and I knew it. I think it was at that point I stopped complaining that I couldn’t do it and started concentrating on actually doing it.
Two nurses came in for the bearing-down phase, each one holding one of my legs and pushing back towards my body while I grabbed the backs of my thighs and curled my body. I didn’t want counting, so Sister Kay told me to go with my feelings, to push when the feeling was there, and release when it wasn’t. I had a lot of pushing feelings at that point, and somewhere in there I found the sweet spot, the good-pushing-feeling spot, where I knew things were happening. One of the ways Hypnobirthing encourages moms to practice bearing down is to concentrate on bowel movements, how it feels when you don’t have to push, it just happens naturally while you are bearing down, and it really did seem to work. I got to the point in pushing where it felt that way, where I was breathing and bearing down and it felt good even though it hurt. I concentrated hard on a yellow spot on the wardrobe across the room, with no idea what it was, just that it was something that could catch and keep my eye. I realized later it was actually a reflection of one of the lights that had been turned on so Sister Kay could see what she was doing.
The final moments were very intense, as Sister Kay directed me when to hold off so that I could stretch around the head and avoid excessive tearing. That was difficult, since I’d been listening so hard to my body up till that point, but it was important, and really did help protect me from tearing. I had asked not to have a mirror, but she let me reach down and feel the fuzzy head full of hair before most of him was born. That was the first thing we heard about him, “Look at all that hair!” Once I could feel that he was really coming out, I got one last surge of energy and push-push-pushed until he was born in one quick rush that I felt every moment of. I think that was the best part of no epidural, I felt every instant of him leaving my body and it was an immense and overwhelming sensation. Robert was born at 9:17am on January 17, 2010. I had been in the hospital for just over four and a half hours.
He was placed on my chest immediately, just as we had wanted, and he came out crying. His tiny lungs were very healthy, as was everything about him. I didn’t do toe or finger counting or anything right away, or even confirm he was a boy (though Sister Kay did that for us), I just stared at his tiny face and his huge eyes and listened to him cry, and marveled. They wiped him off a little, but we asked for an hour before shots and eyedrops and any of that, so we really weren’t interrupted at all in those first few minutes. Sister Kay cut the cord after it finished pulsing to let all the blood flow out of the placenta and into Robert where it belonged. M wanted nothing to do with the cord and I wanted nothing to do with the placenta, so we had very little awareness of any of that even happening.
After fifteen minutes of being totally blown away, I remembered my mom in the waiting room and let her come in too. She came in and cried, and it was nice, and called everyone who’d been waiting for so long to hear the news. After that first hour, I let them take Robert to get weighed and measured, and got up myself for some tentative walking and bathroom use. I actually felt amazingly good. Tired, and somewhat sore, but all the pain of labor was behind me, and I had no major tearing. There was no medication to walk off or sleep off, so I walked around the room and watched as Robert got all his baby chores taken care of, and spent a little time hugging my amazing husband.
Robert weighed in at six pounds, eleven ounces, and twenty inches long, and he was entirely perfect in every way. His head was amazingly cone-shaped, but it began rounding out almost right away, and was nearly normal by the time we left the hospital. We stayed in the hospital two days, though I’d been hoping to only stay one, because Robert was not getting the hang of nursing. He couldn’t seem to suck at all, even on a bottle, and we weren’t allowed to leave the hospital until he could demonstrate that he was eating. I wound up pumping for him for a month before he learned to nurse, but he turned out to be a good eater, and very healthy. We count ourselves extraordinarily lucky to have had a birth experience that, while it wasn’t quite what we expected, was exactly what we’d hoped and dreamed.