Labor had technically begun at 4pm on Monday. It was now noon the following day, and I was just at the point where the hard work would begin.
My wonderful nurse ushered everyone to the waiting room, ordering that under no uncertain terms could they stand right outside the door (which they wound up doing anyway, but that’s another story).
Once Jeremy and I were alone with the nurse, my doctor came in and delivered some news. Because Thanksgiving was only two days away, there was an unusually large number of scheduled cesareans at the hospital that day. She had already performed 2 that morning, and was currently in the middle of another one and had to return in order to sew her up. That bit of detail aside, she broke the news that although she would have to leave for a bit, a first time birth normally takes about two hours once the pushing starts. She would allow the nurse to begin coaching me, and would return to deliver in just a bit.
Admittedly, I was a little freaked out by this news, but I was also confident that the nurse assigned to me was very experienced. She had proved herself a saint during my first 17 hours of labor.
And so the pushing began.
Keep in mind that I have never witnessed a birth – have never even watched a birthing video. I may have mentioned in blogs past that I skipped that particular day of school in both high school and college, and refused to take birthing classes when it was my turn to be pregnant. So the only experience I had with the ins and outs of labor was what I had gleaned from movies (sad, but true).
I assumed that there would be stirrups involved, a sheet draped over me, and Jeremy wearing scrubs and a surgical mask.
I was wrong on all counts.
This experience was much more natural, and I decided from the first few moments that I preferred it that way. When a contraction hit (the nurse had to let me know since I was numb from the waist down), I held on to my thighs and crunched upwards while pushing. Because of this, there was much less pressure on my back and less risk of tearing.
Apparently the pushing went really well, because it wasn’t too long before the nurse informed me I had crowned and the baby was quickly on his way out.
Then she told me to stop and wait for the doctor to return.
I could only think…Excuse me? You want me to sit here with the baby crowned? Yes. That’s exactly what she wanted.
As she went out to page the doctor, Jeremy and I just looked at each other and laughed at the situation for a few moments. But then I experienced a bit of pain that the epidural didn’t seem to be covering. My right hip began to sing, letting me know that the baby was there and my bones were moving to accommodate him.
Before the nurse could even give me the doctor’s ETA, I asked her about the risk of pushing the epidural button. Would it effect the baby if I took a small hit of the drug? I got the go ahead, as well as being told that the doc would be about 30 minutes.
And so I lay there waiting. Luckily I was in only mild pain, calmly talking to Jeremy as we marveled at what was going on. We were very soon to be parents.
The doctor arrived and immediately allowed me to push again. I may have pushed 6 times before the baby arrived.
My exact words when that final push was underway: “This feels so weird!”
Because it truly did – suddenly my stomach no longer held the tiny being I had grown inside.
What followed was a frantic glance at Jeremy after glimpsing my son for the first time. I wasn’t prepared for how the baby would look, even though I had a vague notion that he wouldn’t be squeaky clean. “He looks like a baby mandrake!”
Yes, I meant the potted creatures from Harry Potter that Professor Sprout grows in the Hogwarts greenhouse. He looked a bit gray, a bit scrawny, and a bit cone-headed.
We had requested just a few things for our birth plan. Two of these were to happen at the birth itself:
- That the baby could immediately be put on my chest
- That the umbilical cord could pulse until all the baby’s blood was given to him
Neither of these things happened, however.
Because Griffin was technically a Preemie, the NICU had to be there just in case. They allowed the cord to pulse for about 30 seconds, but then took the baby to check his vitals and clean him up. Jeremy was allowed to be there and watch everything progress, but I had to lay where I was on the other side of the room, craning my neck to see the action.
Jeremy sweetly thought of me and gave me the play-by-play. The baby was pink! Not gray at all.
10 fingers, 10 toes.
Strawberry Blonde Hair, Blue Eyes.
5.7 pounds and 18.25 inches long.
Also very much a cone head because of the 30 minutes he had spent hanging out in one place. But when he was finally placed in my arms, he had on a cap and looked like the most perfect, tiny human that ever was.
But then the NICU wanted to go ahead and take him to check his lungs. Jeremy was allowed to follow them out, but once again I was left on the bed, my legs slowly gaining a bit of feeling as I watched everyone file out of the room.
In the hallway, I could hear our family’s exclamations as Jeremy proudly showed off our son. They all hurriedly followed the baby to the NICU, with the exception of my father.
My father, who came into the room where I lay alone. With tears streaming down his face, he took my head in his hands and kissed my forehead, telling me how proud he was of me, and what a beautiful baby I had.
I love my daddy!
Soon after this Jeremy returned and the nurse brought a wheelchair for me. We transferred to the room we would be staying in for the next few days, and our child was placed in our arms.
I was finally allowed to eat! The doctor came in as I was chowing down to let me know how well I did, how quickly it went, and how I only had minor scratches.
As for the quiet baby with wide, wondering eyes, he didn’t even need the services of the NICU. Griffin Holloran stayed in our room the entire time, and came home with us as a full term baby would have.