In part one, we struggled with whether it was really labor or not.
In part two, we battled through labor up to 9cm, where we got stuck.
Now, I have heard/read several birthing stories where women get stuck at a certain dilation for much longer than I got stuck at 9cm. I don’t know if it was because I was stuck at 9 so the intensity was very high or I was just exhausted but there was no way I could endure much longer. We decided to give me five more contractions before talking about breaking my water since the bag was already bulging. The five came and went, so we ended up having her break it. She said it was pretty difficult to break so there’s a good chance I would have labored for quite a while longer had she not broken it. Or not, who knows. I will talk more about how I feel about this in hindsight in another post.
I was very disappointed that I didn’t feel the relief I had heard some women felt once their bag was broken. Instead I just felt an even stronger urge to push. I stood at the end of the bed and used the squatting bar through a couple more contractions before I started strongly insisting I needed to push. I tried what seemed like every position ever invented, but apparently my perineum was really tight and I ended up crowning for almost two hours. My midwife said it was one of the longest crownings she had seen. She offered to cut an episiotomy several times, but I was confident I did not want one. Afterward, as my midwife was stitching up my tear, she said I would have torn substantially worse had I had her cut an episiotomy, so I am very grateful I listened to my gut on that one.
At some point, it became clear to my midwife and nurses that baby had already passed her first poop. No one actually mentioned this to me; there was just a very noticeable change in the urgency of my nurses and midwife and they started coaching my pushes substantially more than they had been. The nurse started checking baby’s heart rate every other contraction. No one told J or I what was going on, but I remember asking if baby was okay every time the nurse monitored her and I remember trying to squeeze an extra push in every contraction because I did not want them to use the vacuum or forceps. J says all my veins were bulging as I tried to push as much as possible. Pretty standard since I was now stuck in prime purple pushing position. (how’s that for alliteration?) Finally, almost three hours into pushing, her head was out. The relief of crowning being over was glorious, and the rest of her was quickly delivered.
They pulled her onto my chest and J told me we had a daughter! Baby V was finally earthside- 7lbs 10oz, 21 3/4″ with lots of hair. It was a very overwhelming moment.
I may or may not have yelled at the nurse who was very strongly rubbing her with a towel; she said they wanted her to “perk up” but I just wanted her to be able to relax on my chest and adjust for a few minutes. Finally, someone told us she had swallowed meconium and would need to be monitored and probably suctioned. I asked them to please let her just lay on my chest at least until her cord stopped pulsing since she seemed to be breathing okay. After a few minutes, J cut the cord and she was whisked away to be looked at. They ended up giving her oxygen and sticking a tube down her throat to suction out as much as they could. A neonatologist came to look at her; he said she seemed like she would transition well since her color was really good and her suck was strong so he wanted her to stay with us, skin-to-skin, instead of going to the nursery. They had originally wanted to monitor her oxygen levels for 5-6 hours but after 1 hour, her oxygen levels hadn’t even dipped once so they agreed to take the monitor off. I feel very strongly that this was largely due to her resting on my chest instead of wrapped up in someone’s arms or in a bassinet.
So, that’s it! We were given the all-clear to go home the next morning and after waiting 3 hours for the guy with the wheelchair to come get us (we didn’t realize leaving in a wheelchair wasn’t mandatory… total newbs!) we were home! 30 hours at the hospital, 49 hours after labor started.