Once I arrived in the labor and delivery room, my memories get a little hazy. I remember that I immediately climbed onto the bed and got onto my hands and knees. My husband had to go and move the car out of the 20 minute parking zone (at least, I think he did. Perhaps he did that after the baby’s birth.) At some point early on, I must have gotten into a hospital gown, because I remember taking off my clothes, which included a pair of huge maternity cut-off jeans that I wore constantly the last two weeks of my pregnancy. (I had bought them, along with a bunch of other maternity clothes, from a lady on Craigslist. I never planned to buy the pants, because they were HUGE, but she threw them in for free, I suspect just to get rid of them. Boy, was I glad to have them at the end of my pregnancy, because my belly was SO HUGE, and those pants were the only thing that fit me!)
Treesa, my doula, arrived not too long after we arrived at the hospital. I felt relieved to have her there, as she had been my emotional rock throughout the turbulent final month of my pregnancy. However, I was in a lot of pain, and I couldn’t relax into what was happening, so that made it even more painful. Although, to be fair, it was a really fast labor, and according to the childbirth books I later read, fast labors are often quite painful.
I remember that I was in such active labor that they couldn’t get the belt for the electronic fetal monitor on me, so one nurse just held the monitor against my belly. I remember that she was pushing very hard, and that it hurt. However, why that pain should have bothered me so much, I don’t know, because I was in a lot of pain. I remember yelling at the nurse to stop pushing so hard, but she said that she had to. After the birth, I found out why.
I remember getting an internal check at some point, and hearing that I was “eight centimeters and going fast.” I remember being told to lay on my side in the bed, and that Treesa held my uppermost leg in the air. I asked her after the baby was born why she did that, and she told me that if she hadn’t I would have screamed in pain.
My eyes were closed during labor, so I didn’t know what was going on in the room, but I sensed that there were a lot of people in the room. I was right; my husband said it looked like an episode of “ER” in the room. After the baby was born, we discovered why there were so many people in the room.
Despite all of this active labor, my water still hadn’t broken. But finally, while my leg was being held up in the air and I was contracting away, my water broke – whoosh! I vaguely remember hearing the nurses say that there was a lot of meconium in the water, and that apparently the baby was ready to come. I remember having the unstoppable urge to push; I couldn’t have NOT pushed! The baby hadn’t dropped into my pelvis before this point, and so I remember feeling my baby move completely through my pelvic bones in one single push – that was quite a sensation! The baby went from not dropped to almost crowning in one push. At the end of that push, my husband leaned over me and said excitedly, “She’s got a lot of dark hair!” After a second push, suddenly a whole bunch of people yelled to me, “Don’t push!” When that many people yell something at you, it gets your attention, so I was shocked into not pushing. I was then told it was okay to push, so I pushed a third time and out came my baby girl – silent.
The baby was born at 9:22 pm, and I had arrived at the hospital a mere half hour before, so labor definitely went fast. As soon as the baby was out, I started sobbing aloud, not from joy, but from pain. “That really, really hurt!” I sobbed to my husband and my doula. I remember that I wanted to cry during labor but couldn’t, because the labor took all of my attention. But inside I had been screaming and trying to fight the pain. As I cried, I discovered that I was wearing an oxygen mask. To this day, I have no memory of anyone putting it on my face, but there it was. I took it off not long after the baby was born, and in pictures taken shortly after that time, I can see it lying on my pillow.
Once I got my initial tears out, I remembered the baby and realized that she still hadn’t made any sound. I heard my husband say, “Should I baptize the baby?” to which Treesa replied, “We’re not there yet.” I remember that I hadn’t really opened my eyes much yet, and I remember that I didn’t even have any emotions about the baby not making any sounds. But then, finally. the baby gave a little, weak cry, and then a stronger cry, and the room full of people gave a cheer.
Read the final part of J’s birth story: a mother of two is born