Everybody says that no two birth experiences are the same. Even the same person can have a radically different experience from one delivery to the next. Let me tell you, this is most certainly true. Anna’s birth went more quickly, felt more intense, and was easier (in some ways) than Sam’s birth. I’m not going to give the blow by blow of every detail and how it was different than the first time. You’d be here reading until next week. I’ll just tell a little story of how Anna was born.
It all started Wednesday morning, February 16. I had called the clinic the week before and asked to please be induced at week 39, so Baby Girl wouldn’t get any bigger than she already was. They agreed and had me come in that Wednesday morning to see if I had progressed any more, in order to decide how to proceed with the induction. I was 2.5 cm dilated and 100% effaced (meaning the cervix had completely thinned out) and Dr. Williams said to come in that evening. Before we left the clinic, we had a long talk with Dr. Keeton about the risks of delivering a big baby. There was risk for me — significant tearing, bleeding, etc. — and risks for the baby. She told us again about shoulder dystocia, where the baby’s shoulders are so big they cannot come out. There were three options for delivering a big shouldered baby, some requiring twisting of the baby as she was delivered, certain body positions for me to widen the pelvis as much as possible, and the last resort — breaking her little collarbone to get her out. The twisting movement had the potential to cause nerve damage to her arm, resulting in a palsy that may be permanent, like a “dead” arm that has no movement. We didn’t know Dr. Keeton as well as the other two members of the team, so Rob finally said, “Dr. Keeton, please don’t beat around the bush. Are you trying to help us come to the decision to have a C-section, because that is the safest thing to do?” She assured us that was not what she was saying, but that we needed to know the risks involved with delivering a giant baby. Needless to say, I went home with a lot more to think about before heading back into the hospital.
Once we got there, we were greeted by the staff and the residents who said that the original plan was to ripen the cervix before starting Pitocin. But because my cervix was already completely effaced, they checked with Dr. Williams and skipped that step. We started Pitocin around 8:30 p.m., as well as having my water broken. It didn’t take long for the contractions to start intensifying and I soon found myself rolling and bouncing around on a birthing ball. It didn’t do much for me in the way of pain control, but it was a nice distraction from the contractions. I’m fuzzy on the timing, but I dilated to five relatively quickly, then sat there, stuck at five for a while. I did get an epidural at this point, though it wasn’t a magical moment like the epidural I had with Sam. (I think because Sam was posterior, or facing backwards, the epidural provided amazing relief from the back pain I was experiencing. Not the case with Anna.) It was so strange to actually have abdominal pain with this labor, since I felt none with Sam, because of his position. The senior resident came in to check me and said she felt the scar tissue on my cervix. She broke that up and both Rob and I said, “Now would be a good time to call Dr. Williams in. If it’s anything like last time, this isn’t going to take long to start pushing.” They said, “Oh. Yes, well, every labor experience is different, etc. etc.” Sure enough, a short three minutes later, I was dilated to 9 — almost 10 — centimeters and feeling very ready to get the party started, so to speak.
Suddenly, the room was filled with residents and an attending MD, our nurse, and a few other people who are blurry in my memory. They said I could start pushing, then asked me to stop when they saw that there was no way Dr. Williams was going to make it in. So I sat there, breathing through contractions, waiting until they said I could start again. Finally, I think I mentioned something about wanting to die rather than wait any more. “I feel like I’m on fire.” One of the residents said, “Oh yeah, the ring of fire.” (Then all I could think of was the part in the movie Finding Nemo where the Tank Gang is initiating Nemo into their club. They shout, “The Ring of FIRE!” a few times.) So I started pushing.
This is the part where time stands still. It felt like an hour had passed pushing Anna out, but in fact, it was nine minutes. Nine long minutes. Because she was so big, there was no time to leisurely push her out. It had to be one semi-fluid movement. I yelled at everybody in the room. I yelled about everything. Not screaming, just yelling at people. Dr. Williams was teaching the resident as she delivered the baby and I heard the word “dystocia.” I shouted at her, “Don’t say dystocia!” Dr. Williams assured me that everything was fine, she was just teaching. I yelled back at her, “I don’t want my baby to have a dead arm!!” In real life, I’m not a yeller. I felt like someone else during those nine minutes. Someone out of control and yet, in control at the same time. Like I was two people.
And then — just like that — she was out and on my chest and we were marveling at her hair. Long, thick, dark hair. I nursed her right away — she was a champ right from the start — then they took her over to check her out. She scored a 9 on the Apgar — healthy and happy and screaming like a pterodactyl.
The best part is that I remember everything. There was no magnesium to cloud my memory of the event. And I didn’t puke. That was a plus, too. 🙂
She’s my little rabbit and I love her to pieces.