Sunday, January 20, 2013

Noah's Birth Story

Noah’s birth was like the classic textbook birth—perfect in every way (but definitely not to be confused with painless)!  Although I had already gone through labor with Judah, I still had no idea what to expect with Noah as Judah’s birth was induced.  This time, my body did it all on its own—from start to finish—and it was awesome (but again, definitely not to be confused with painless).

Me and Judah on the day Noah was born--Judah's last day of being my one and only.

After lumbering around like a giant ogre for 2 weeks, my cervix was still only 0.5 cm dilated on Noah’s due date.  Argh.  I forced myself to take a 45 minute walk (despite a persistent pain in my right hip due to bursitis) the day Noah was born, hoping that would help jump start my labor—guess that worked!

Around 3 pm my body evacuated all the food in my tummy to make way for the baby (it was not pretty, let’s just leave it at that).  Around 6 pm my mucus plug completely fell out and I had bloody show.  And around 9 pm I felt my first crampy contractions.  At first they were mildly uncomfortable and pretty far apart—15 min, 12 min, etc.  But by 10:30 pm they were definitely getting into a good 7-8 min pattern.

Of course my first thought was—oh crap, I just put my toddler down for bedtime!  I’d hate to wake him up on a midnight run to the hospital (40 min away) only to have the nurses tell me to go home cuz it was false labor.  The logistics of labor are infinitely more annoying with a toddler in tow!

So I called the OB on duty and she told me (and I quote)—Okay, you don’t want to come in and get checked?  Then you can just have your husband deliver your baby!

I responded with annoyed silence for about 10 seconds.  Man, OB’s can be cranky and sarcastic.  I prayed that she wouldn’t be the one to deliver my baby (spoiler alert—she was!)

When the contractions got to be very consistently 5 min apart at 11 pm, I told my spouse that it’s show-time.  Operation Deliver Noah was officially underway.  Go!  Go!  Go!  (Yes, I talk to him like we’re on a SWAT team).

We finished packing our half-packed bags, dropped our sleepy toddler off at his old nanny’s house (an hour away) and swung back to the hospital around midnight.  My doula (aka labor coach) came in while I was in triage and I waited forever for the nurse to come and check my cervix.  At around 3 am someone FINALLY checked me only to find that I was a disappointing 2-3 cm.  Only?!  What?!

Before I go on, let me say a word about doulas.  Doulas are awesome.  If you want to attempt an all-natural, epidural-free birth, I kinda think they are indispensable.  My first doula was super experienced and the crème de la crème of doulas (read: I paid a buttload of money for her services).  I really didn’t think she did that much for me so this time I decided to cheap out and hire a massage therapist who aspired to be a doula but has never been hired by anyone for that purpose (read: I paid ¼ of what I did for my first one).  I figured the thing I wanted most during labor was someone to massage me and give me pressure at the right points anyway, so might as well hire a massage therapist!

In the end, I realize there still is value in hiring a very experienced doula.  Sure it’s much more expensive but she will be able to coach you through a lot more verbally and knows different positions you can try out to help the labor along.  Although I got an awesome 7 hour massage from my 2nd doula, she really couldn’t help me with pain management in any other way and her lack of birthing knowledge almost caused me to have the baby on the floor without the doctor present!  More on that later.

Anyway, from about 3 am to 5 am my contractions started to get a lot more painful—probably an 8 or 9 on a pain scale of 1-10.  Whatever jokey, smiley disposition I had was quickly eroding and I was starting to get really worried that I wouldn’t have the energy to push this baby out after pulling an all-nighter.  I was getting really tired.  Tired of the whole darn thing.

When I asked them to check me at 5 am, it was REALLY disappointing—just 4 cm!  All that time and pain and I had only progressed one measly cm.  (Btw, for those who don’t know—10 cm is the magic number when the cervix opens enough that you can actually start pushing the baby out).

But I was a little heartened by the fact that last time, it only took me 3 hours to go from 4 cm to 10 cm.  So maybe this time, it would also go quickly now that I had reached a solid 4 cm.  And I was right.  From that point on, everything took off like gangbusters.

The contractions started coming on stronger and faster—every 30 seconds one of those mofos would rip through me like a bat out of hell and send me whimpering and begging for mercy from the blinding pain.  On a pain scale of 1-10 I’d put them at…oh, about a 20.

After a couple of these bad boys I was pretty much ready to throw in the towel and get me a freaking epidural.  As I said during labor (my last semi-witty remark before I lost all sense of humor)—sh*t just got real people.  But some masochistic part of me kept saying—one more.  Just one more.  If I can just hold out for 2 hours, maybe that’s all I need for my cervix to reach 10 cm.  Just 15 more minutes.

The first hour was hell.   Each time a contraction came I felt like a very small child facing a rising tsunami of pain head on.  There is nowhere to hide.  There is nowhere to run.  The only way through it is, well…through it.  Right down the middle of the line of fire.

And that tsunami came and came and came.  Every time it crashed over my head, wracking me with unspeakable torturous pain, I vowed—never again.  This is for SURE the last time I’m ever going through labor without pain meds.  The motto of the Jewish holocaust rang in my head the whole time—NEVER AGAIN!  But I believe my exact words, each time, was—F*CK!  F*CK!  F*CK!  F*CK!  F*********CK! (which is the only time I’m allowed to swear near the spouse's sensitive ears).

And then 2 hours went by and my urge to push became unstoppable.  Typically you shouldn’t push until the nurse checks you and says that your cervix is dilated enough to start pushing.  But my stupid labor nurse kept repeating her uninformed mantra to me—if you don’t feel pressure all the time then you’re not ready to push.  That’s pure b.s.  People, never fall for that.  I felt pressure only when I had a contraction and believe me, IT WAS TIME TO PUSH.

The nurse refused to check me even though I told her IT’S TIME TO PUSH LADY.  I guess she didn’t believe that I could go from 4 to 10 cm in just 2 hours.  Anyway, at some point your body doesn’t care what medical professionals say—it’s just going to do what it was designed to do.  And I was involuntarily pushing hard with each contraction.

After a couple of those hard pushes I remember yelling—I NEED TO GET ON THE BED!  NOW!  (I had been sitting on an exercise ball the whole time cuz it felt better to be vertical).  But suddenly I could feel something different—like a little head making its way down the pipeline.

And then that silly nurse came and took one look at the head coming down the pipeline and said—whoah, baby’s comin’!  WE NEED A DOCTOR NOW!  Five more minutes and 3 more good pushes later, baby was out for good.

Of course those last 3 pushes were accompanied by the longest most inhuman screams that ever erupted from the depths of my being, but finally, it was over.  It was all blessedly over.

That my friends is the look of pure relief.

And there was my squirmy little creature, who looked shockingly like his older brother at the same moment in time.  My perfect, red-faced, hairy little creature.

And now, writing this account a week later from the comfort of my own home.  I’m starting to forget.  Was the pain really that bad?  Was it really all that awful?  Would I really never do it again?

How quickly bad gives way to good. 

How wholly is pain swallowed up by joy.

How easily we forget momentary afflictions in the face of lasting glory.


Peggy E. said...

Side by side pictures soon?

Alice in Wonderland said...

you know it!

joy said...

aw loved your post. u are a brave mommy.

mine went like this. water broke. waited for jim to pick up his mom, then pick up kristen from school, then come get me. when i got to the hospital, OB was already looking for me.. once the contractions started, i said "epidural please" and the nurse said "already? how about some drugs in the IV first..." and I said "yes please" :)

Alaberi said...

and now I am even MORE terrified of labor. Thanks, C. ;) but seriously - go mama!!! :D yay for your two boys. God is good.

Alice in Wonderland said...

That's hilarious Joy! I always remembered you have a high pain tolerance though!

Alice in Wonderland said...

Amen Alaberi! Don't worry about labor--just get the epidural ;-)

Well-Sugared Student said...

You are SO right, you forget so quickly. I cannot even describe contractions anymore to my pregnant friends. I can't remember what they were like other than I honestly thought at one point that I might die.