Read part 2 of L’s birth story here.
At some point Dr. L. called and wanted me checked to see how I was progressing. I did NOT enjoy getting into a position where the nurse could check me, but with the help of Suzanne and JJ, we made it happen. I was at 8 cm! Very good news! Suzanne then said that it might be a good idea if I could try to go to the bathroom. Getting off the bed did not sound like fun to me, but we did it. I guess I peed a bit, but I don’t remember much. In trying to get back to bed, I went through some contractions leaning on JJ in “slow dance” style. Despite all the pain of the contractions, it was nice to be in his arms. 🙂
When we finally got me back to the bed and back on the birthing ball, I remember saying, “I can’t do this anymore!” to which Suzanne responded, “But you ARE doing it!” Interestingly, having the feeling that you can’t do it anymore is a classic sign of the final transition stage according to the Bradley method, and it was true in my case. I know at some point here I also threw up. I had felt nauseous off and on for a while and had said so many times. So, when I actually did throw up, it came as a surprise, especially to JJ, whose shoe I hit. (Sorry, babe.) However, Suzanne reassured me afterward that throwing up would make me dilate another centimeter. And when they checked me again not long after, I was at 10cm except for a small lip. I was lying on my side at this point, so to make the lip go away, they rolled me onto my other side. That did the trick, and pretty soon I was being told that I could try pushing. Thankfully, no one ever counted for how long I should push — I always pushed at my own pace, all the way through to the end.
At first I didn’t have much of an urge to push, but once it kicked in, I really got into it. At this point, Dr. L. arrived; I vaguely remember him trying to get the lights and other things ready for the big moment. Dr. L. and/or the nurse wanted to break down the bed and bring out the stirrups, but I managed to say, “No!” and thankfully, Dr. L. responded, “Do whatever she wants.” Gotta love when your doctor says that! So Suzanne held my left leg back during the pushing times, and JJ and the nurse took turns holding my other leg. I remember that Suzanne would ever so slowly put my leg down between contractions, and I remember it because it was a slow enough action that I could pay attention to it. It gave me something else to focus on, which is a wonderful thing in the middle of pushing a baby out! JJ and Dr. L. had always gotten along really well during my prenatal visits. In fact, if JJ didn’t come along to an appointment, Dr. L. would always ask how he was doing. I once complained to JJ that Dr. L. was more interested in him being there than he was me! Oh, well. They had a good time. In fact, JJ even taught Dr. L. a new joke at my last OB visit. Dr. L. had never heard the expression, “When the fit hits the shan,” before, and when JJ told it to him for some reason, Dr. L. thought it was hilarious! Anyway, I knew they would continue to get along well during my delivery, so I had told both of them together that I didn’t know if their joking around would annoy me or not, but that if it did, I would tell them. So, at some point as my pushing was going along and as they kept chatting and making jokes, I finally said, “Be quiet!” or something to that effect. And to their credit, they respected my wishes, and didn’t talk anymore. I was glad, although I don’t know why it was annoying me. In retrospect, I think it was because I was trying to hard to relax between contractions, and the chatter was keeping me from relaxing.
The four of them, Suzanne, JJ, Dr. L., and Linda the nurse, were all very patient during my pushing phase. They all waited quietly between contractions until they could tell another contraction was coming on. The part of the pushing that took the longest was getting the baby’s head past my pubic bone. That took a while, but it probably also took longer because I wasn’t quite sure how to push, as strange as that sounds. I knew that one was supposed to “push like you have to poop,” but that’s usually done sitting up, and I was lying on my side and back, which was unusual (and totally unlike how I had planned to do my pushing! Had I been able to sit up, it might have gone faster. I think with my next birth I’ll tell JJ and Suzanne to make me sit up, even if I don’t want to.) After a while, Dr. L. put his finger somewhere on my body and told me to push at his finger. As strange as it sounds, it really helped. Plus it also helped that when I did a good push, everyone in the room somehow knew it and would cheer me on.
It’s an amazing experience, feeling this large round thing move through your body. Although the contractions would come and go, the pressure never left. Being the wimp about pain that I am, I interpreted that pressure as pain, and was really looking forward to the pushing stage being over. However, at one point Suzanne asked me if I wanted to feel the baby’s head coming out. At first I wasn’t sure if I wanted to, especially since I had already refused a mirror so that I could watch the baby being born myself, but I decided to try it. It was a very strange to feel this smooth, hard lump inside of me, and it was even stranger when, a few contractions later, Suzanne asked me to feel again, and I could feel the lump a lot lower down and a lot bigger. Perhaps with my next birth I’ll ask to have the mirror put up.
As the baby got closer to crowning, Dr. L. asked me if I’d like him to do some perineal massage. Since I was hoping to avoid an episiotomy, I said yes. This massage didn’t exactly feel good — essentially he was stretching the tissues himself and massaging oil into them to help them stretch better at the crucial moment of crowning. However, if it kept me from needing to be cut, I was all for it. Apparently the massage helped, because after she was born, I only had a small tear, and it was too small to stitch.
As she was crowning, JJ told me later that it was a “two steps forward, one step back” type of pushing, but that with each push, she got a little further out. I remember once opening my eyes and JJ’s face was about a foot away from mine. He was smiling in a way I had never quite seen before, and he told me that I was doing a great job. It was so comforting to hear (and see) him say that. The final part of the pushing stage was quite exciting: Dr. L. was acting like a football cheerleader, chanting, “Push at my finger! Push at my finger!” JJ was exclaiming, “She’s almost here!” and Suzanne, in her quiet way, was cheering me on, too, with lots of reassurance that I was doing a good job. I could tell that the end was near, and I was pushing as hard as I could. As she was finally about to crown, Dr. L. asked me to just give little pushes, which I actually found quite easy to do, and it helped with the stinging sensation of crowning. I pushed her head out, and then with her head sticking out of me, I had to wait for another contraction to push the rest of her out. JJ said it was a pretty amazing sight. When I finally could push the rest of her out, it felt SO good. And once she was out – instant relief!!!
Read Part 4 of L’s birth story here.