To the faint of heart – this is a birth story. I’ll use icky birth related words and mention things you may not want to know about me. You’ve been warned.
Right around the time that we discovered that the baby was sunny side up, the new nurse came in and introduced herself. I remember feeling a little wary of Kristen leaving, but in the end the new nurse Sheryl was absolutely wonderful. I liked her so much, I’d ask for her for any subsequent deliveries, if that’s an option. Sheryl was calm and optimistic – exactly what I needed. Furthermore, she was a trained midwife so I felt like I got the best of both worlds (a midwife in a hospital setting).
Thus began several hours of trying everything we could to turn that baby. Sheryl massaged my tummy a bit to see if she could get Vivian to turn. Then I was rotated from lying on my back to lying on my side. I hung out on my left for about 30 minutes, then Sheryl checked me again. No dice. Then I tried the right. I flipped from side to side with no change in Vivi’s position. Sheryl even attempted to turn her “manually”, if you know what I mean. Nothing seemed to work.
Sheryl mentioned that some pitocin might help increase the strength of my contractions, but I wasn’t ready to try more drugs. We decided to try pushing; it’s not impossible to deliver a baby while sunny side up, just more difficult. I pushed for about 30 minutes before we decided it wasn’t getting us anywhere. We had even tried a “tug of war” – Sheryl on one end of a sheet and me on the other – in an attempt to get stronger pushes out of me. Vivian’s little head just couldn’t make it past my pelvic bone into the birth canal.
At this point I began to feel a bit nervous. I asked Sheryl if I might have to have a c-section. She could see I didn’t want one, and she reassured me, we would turn Vivi, it was just going to take time. Brad and my mom reminded me that having a c-section wouldn’t be the end of the world – I’d be fine, and we would do whatever was needed to have a healthy baby. I relaxed as much as I could but made myself a promise: I could do it, and I wasn’t going to give up!
Luckily, we had all the time in the world, according to Sheryl. Vivian’s stats were good, and so were mine. There was no rush.
Sheryl asked me if I thought I could get on my hands and knees. My legs felt like very heavy tree trunks, but with some maneuvering, I was able to get on all fours. At this point, all you can do is hope that no unwelcome visitors pop into the room. I managed to stay up for almost 30 minutes, a feat considering I couldn’t control the lower half of my body and I was roughly the size of a (small) whale.
8am had long since come and gone; it was getting close to noon. Sheryl asked again about pitocin, and I acquiesced. After a quick shot of pitocin into the IV, I was instructed to rest for 30 minutes. We sat and chatted; Brad briefly stepped out of the room to give family in the waiting room an update. Before I knew it, the 30 minutes were over. Sheryl came in and checked me. “Okay, let’s go”, she said.
I was shocked… the pitocin had worked! While leisurely resting, Vivian had made the big turn and was in the right position! We wasted no time. Brad and Mom each grabbed a leg, and I started pushing again. Somewhere around this time, Dr. Orth popped back in to say hello. She was so sweet, commenting on how well I was pushing. Seriously, praise goes a long way when you’re a first-time mom.
One of the things I had worried about when deciding whether or not to get an epidural was if I would be able to feel contractions. I wanted to know when to push – I didn’t want to feel like I was on the sidelines at my own baby’s delivery with someone else telling me when I was having a contraction. I’m pleased to report, I could feel every contraction coming on and fading away. There was no pain – just tightening and pressure. I would take a breather in between contractions, then when I felt one coming on, I’d tell the group that I was starting to push again.
After all the waiting, I was just so excited to see Vivian; I had a one-track mind: PUSH! This is where everything really gets fuzzy. More and more people began to filter into the room – staff members who I had seen throughout my labor as well as nurses to care for Vivian once she was delivered. At one point, Sheryl commented nonchalantly, “I can see her hair”. My mom and Brad took a look, and I suddenly realized that I wanted to see too! I never would have thought I’d want a mirror during childbirth, but seriously it really motivated me. Once I saw the little top of the baby’s head, I had a new fire under me, and I pushed with everything I had.
Dr. Orth swooped in during the last 5 or 6 pushes, encouraging me to “push, push, push”. Finally, with one good push, Vivian’s head was out, and with their encouragement, I pushed one last time – and Vivian was born! 1:00pm on the dot, Wednesday December 28.
I’m not usually a happy crier, but tears just flowed down my cheeks to see her and hear her. They placed Vivi on my tummy, and I watched as Brad cut the umbilical cord. We were all beaming – she was perfect! They took her across the room to weigh and measure her. She looked around, ever the bright-eyed little girl, not crying anymore… just taking it all in.
Minutes later, Brad and I shared our first cuddle with Vivian, and I can assure you: we both fell in love instantly.
All in all, my labor and delivery was really pretty wonderful. In the weeks prior to delivery I had mentally built it up as this awful, painful thing, so comparatively it wasn’t so bad. And strangely enough, it was such a positive emotional experience for me that within weeks of delivering Vivi, I found myself already longing to be pregnant again (I blame the crazy hormones – I’ve leveled out now).
And now for your viewing pleasure – Vivian’s first days – click here.