Cowboy said later that it didn’t really hit him that we were having a baby TODAY until he saw them wheel in the baby-warming table. Do you think the poor guy was in a bit of denial up until this point?
The standing OB was brought in to give me my last ultrasound. Missy was face up. (They have to be face down to easily pass around your pubic bone). I don’t know how I lay still for the ultrasound. The contractions were coming hard and fast. I was still pain-med-free although I began regretting my decision to wave off the epidural.
At this point, Nurse Nicole crouched down and addressed me inches from my face. "There is no shame in getting an epidural at 8 centimeters," she counseled.
Cowboy was still counting to 30 once a contraction began. I imagined that I was running up a long hill in Forest Park as each contraction peaked. The mental imagery helped but the news that it would take 30-40 minutes to turn Missy before I could even start the real pushing just broke me.
I’m a wimp. I want an epidural.
Still, Nurse Nicole – following my birth plan to a tee – made me ask for an epidural three times before bringing in the anesthesiologist. Who did a fast and fabulous job. I could still feel my pressure in my legs and pressure where Missy was, but the epi totally took the edge off.
Someone snapped a picture of me post-epidural and I’m all smiles. I kind of wish I had a before and after-the-epidural pictures because it would have been hi-lar-ious. Then again, I probably would have snatched the camera from their hands and smashed it.
As the epidural kicked in, I received two surprises that made the delivery so special:
First, our doula arrived from Seattle and got us into position for optimum pushing. She quickly became legend in the L&D ward when the nurses found out that she had driven three hours in the wee hours of the morning to make it to the birth.
Second, my OB, who was not on call that weekend, arrived in the room in her scrubs. We were prepared to have another OB in her group deliver Missy but my OB happened to stop into the hospital on her way to the farmer's market with her family. She saw my name on the board and ditched her family in order to deliver our baby. I can’t say enough good things about my OB. She is wonderful.
Then it was time for the big show. They had me start pushing mildly as a contraction started. I could still feel pressure when a contraction came. After three rounds of pushing, the OB would REACH UP THERE and TURN THE BABY ever so slightly as I relaxed. Yowsers. Did I mention how glad I was that I caved and got an epidural? I was thanking my lucky stars that Nurse Nicole checked my cervix when she did.
The doula was holding me on one side and Cowboy ponied up on the other. He was supposed to stay uptown and instead he was getting the full meal deal. While I am very proud of him, it will probably be a looong time until we do it with the lights on. Men being so visual and all.
I pushed for a little over an hour and then she was here. Full head of hair. Just crying up a storm. Skin as ruddy as a lobster. She had a little fluid in her lungs (part of preemie status) but they just had me keep her crying for about an hour before she had her first nursing session. Our hospital has such great new baby policies. Missy remained in either Cowboy’s or my arms for the first hours after her birth.
Nurse Nicole holds the lobster baby. Seriously, this was the color of her skin.
And like that, I was no longer pregnant. I was officially a mom. Only then did I start to tear up when I realized that she’s mine. All mine.
The very thing that had consumed me and our marriage for so long was wailing up at me in my arms. Feed me, damn it, was all she said.
IF and all its baggage went sailing on down the river. I had no more time to dwell on it. There was work to be done.
We had a little come-to-Jesus – mother to her daughter – before our first nursing session. Earlier in my pregnancy, I had adopted the same stance on nursing that I had on having a baby. I hope I’ll be able to nurse, was my train of thought.
A few weeks before I delivered, however, I was overcome with this re-borne confidence in my body that had ebbed with each pregnancy failure. With my confidence anew, I decided that the maybe-I-could-nurse protective stance just wasn’t an option. Of course my body would do what I needed it to do.
OK, we can do this. Rookie mom and rookie baby. But we can do it.
I took some deep yoga breaths and relaxed. With that, Missy latched on like a little barracuda.
I felt like I had arrived.