After hesitating when the doctor asked if I was ready for her to break my water, and then feeling like it actually did break before she even left the room, she checked and decided that it did indeed look like my water had broken. (We’d find out later that I had what she called a “high break.”)
As the night wore on, I found myself feeling rather overwhelmed with it all and I remember telling the doctor I might need something to “take the edge off.” She knew that I had wanted to have our baby as naturally as possible, so she sat on the end of my bed and laid out the facts. She told me I was “close enough to having this baby” that taking any sort of analgesic (the alternative to getting an epidural) at this point would make the baby sleepy when he or she was born. I knew that would make it more difficult to breastfeed and assumed that it could also make the APGAR score a bit lower, perhaps resulting in the baby needing to have more time away from me to be monitored when he was born. Because of those things I hesitated, but was also feeling so overwhelmed at how uncomfortable I was during each contraction that I wasn’t sure what to do next.
From the end of my bed, the doctor looked me straight in the face and she said, “I believe you can do this. I’ve never believed anything more strongly in my life. Not a lot of people can do what you have done already. I see strength in you.”
Oh, what a gift.
At that point I didn’t even care if those words were completely true or not, they were exactly what I needed to hear from someone I knew had attended a lot more births than I ever will. Her words gave me the extra boost that I needed when I was feeling completely exhausted.
At some point in the early morning there was a shift change and a new nurse named Mary was assigned to me. She was extraordinary and exactly who I needed at that point when things were getting really difficult. She immediately came in with an encouraging energy and helped me figure out what my next steps should be. I’d been in bed for quite a while at that point and was feeling pretty uncomfortable. Mary immediately helped me out of bed and back onto the birthing ball, showed me how to raise the bed up, and helped get me in a position leaning over the bed that was much more comfortable and productive.
When it was time for the doctors to switch over, the overnight doctor who had been so encouraging to me came back in with the doctor who would be delivering our baby – he also happened to be my OBGYN so it was great that we already knew him. While she was checking on me one more time before turning me over to the new shift, she realized that my water actually hadn’t completely broken.
Between all the contractions, and even the pushing stage later on, this was the most urgency I heard in anyone’s voice throughout my entire labor. “There’s a bag of waters here. Her water hasn’t broken yet!” And she quickly and firmly told me, “Sweetheart, I’m going to go ahead and break your water.” She didn’t give me any more explanation and I didn’t ask for one. She went ahead and broke my water which was definitely uncomfortable, but not as bad as I had imagined it would be.
As my contractions continued, the nurses kept telling me, “You’ll know when it’s time to push.” I remember thinking – what the heck is that supposed to feel like? I feel like I want to push right now! During contractions I kept saying between breaths, “I’m feeling a lot of pressure! I feel like I’m supposed to push soon!” And mostly I felt like they ignored me for a while. They knew better than I did that it wasn’t time for me to push yet. I imagine I must not have been dilated quite enough. (As Tim read through this story, he told me I was apparently very eager to start pushing! Haha.)
I don’t even remember the transition when it actually came time for me to push, but I do remember Mary teaching me how. “Do you remember the instructions from your birthing class?” I hesitated. “Not at all. You can teach me all over again!” Honestly, I don’t remember learning how to push in our class. I remember a lot of talk about breathing, and that’s what had helped me up till this point. Now I needed a whole new set of instructions. Hold your legs this way, curl your body like this, breathe in, hold it, push, count to ten, don’t forget to keep your face relaxed, do it again.
Tim tells me I pushed for about an hour, but if I had to guess I would have said it was more like 20 minutes. At that point I was tired enough that I kept falling asleep between contractions – something I truly didn’t understand before when people would say that’s what happened to them. I figured you would be alert and attentive till the end. But somehow your body knows you need rest and allows you to get it in tiny increments here and there.
Our room was pretty calm and quiet in between contractions. When I felt one coming on, Tim would grab one foot, Mary would grab the other, and they would push my knees to my chest and help me count down through each push – Tim counting and Mary reminding me to hold my breath and relax my face. We’d do that three times over and then I would rest again. As the contractions pushed our baby closer and closer to the other side, Mary announced – your baby has a FULL head of hair!
Read the next part of the story here.