(Part 2 of the birth story, with kind of scary picture of baby included)
The drive to the hospital, OH MY WORD. Unbearable. I had no way to move my body around in the way it needed to move to handle the intense contractions. It took us about 20 minutes to make the trip, and it was a really, really hard drive. I guess that's the downside of laboring at home for a long while - having to make the drive to the hospital in active (or in my case, transitional) labor. We arrived at the hospital and left the car in the fire lane before heading to the 5th floor. We made a few stops in between for contractions, and finally we made it to L&D. Oh, then the fun really began! I had absolutely no idea how far dilated I was at this point, but the nurses seemed to know something I didn't, and immediately started bustling around, five or six of them, setting us up in a room, getting me hooked onto several monitors, and bringing in scores of paperwork (which, honestly, I'm signing consents without even looking at the paper or my own signature, as I struggle through contractions). One of the nurses did an internal exam and told us I was dilated to an 8. An 8! This was wonderful news to me, because I had absolutely reached my pain tolerance level (or so I thought). They called my doctor, who promised to be there in 6 minutes, and asked me not to push. I told them I wouldn't, but I actually did a little bit on the really bad contractions. I just felt like I had to, and I didn't figure the baby would be sliding out onto the floor anytime soon. The nurses seemed very concerned that the baby would arrive before the doctor, and made me lay back in the bed, just in case.
I can't describe what these contractions felt like to anyone who hasn't done this before, but it was excruciating. This was the absolute worst part of the labor - being in the bed, waiting on the doctor to arrive so I could push. I did notice the nurses setting up the birthing tools and bringing in the bassinet, and this is always a good sign.
My doctor arrived, true to his word, in a matter of minutes. It was around 4 PM, and he immediately had me start pushing. The baby hadn't dropped at all throughout my pregnancy, and was still very high, so I knew we might be in for the long haul on the pushing. I had a very hard time figuring out where to push, and the first few pushes didn't advance the baby at all. I kept asking the doctor, "Is this working?" and he kept telling me no. Talk about discouraging! I should have quit asking. Eventually I got it figured out, but the pain was horrible, and I had a moment of sheer panic - as in, let me up, I can't do this, let's just forget it, okay? Eventually, after about half an hour of very hard pushing, they strapped some oxygen on me. And after a little more pushing, the doctor said he could see a head. Then they head was out. Then ... well, then nothing else happened as I pushed. The baby was stuck, with his head and left shoulder out, and his right shoulder still in the birth canal. The nurses were telling me to PUSH! HARDER! MORE! And I swear, I really was, but that baby was not moving. The doctor didn't panic, but I felt like some of the nurses might be starting to. This worried me. The doctor grabbed the baby's head and one protruding shoulder and rotated him 180 degrees trying to dislodge his right shoulder. A nurse climbed into my bed and pushed on my stomach. This scared me, but mostly I was just in absolute agony and wanted this over with. And then, it was over, and he was out. The doctor asked Keith to cut the cord, quickly, because they needed to get the baby to the warmer and to oxygen as soon as possible. Keith cut the cord, and blood flew all over the room, onto our camera and onto Keith's shirt and in his hair. The baby was rushed to the warmer, and he didn't make noise for the longest time. He looked very bad - noticably limp and blue. The doctor didn't seem worried, so I didn't panic, luckily, although his APGAR scores were 2 and 6. They were all gasping over his size, speculating and making guesses at his weight and length. My doctor guessed 11 pounds, 3 ounces, and the nurses were saying 23 or 24 inches long. They weighed him, and called out a number in grams, which was meaningless to me until the doctor translated for me - 11 pounds, 11 ounces, and 22 inches long. Unbelievable. I never dreamed he'd be so huge! He was born at 4:52 PM.
(to be continued )