My nurse checked me and said I was fully dilated and ready to push! I couldn’t really believe it and I wasn’t quite feeling the urge to push yet, though I was feeling a lot of pressure down there and well kind of like I need to poop. I realized then that as much as I prepared myself for dealing with contractions and pain management, I didn’t really prepare myself for pushing. I was so used to letting labor happen to me and relaxing into it. Pushing was a whole different thing and I wasn’t quite ready for it.
The nurse got me set up on my back with my legs out and directed me to curl around my belly and push down. I did 3 pushes with each contraction and couldn’t really tell if I was doing it right. It felt good to push during the contraction, I didn’t feel any pain at all, but I couldn’t tell if I was making progress. The nurse asked if I wanted a mirror, I said sure so she called for one. I kept pushing with each contraction and I started feeling the urge to push and bring the baby down more and more. I felt like it was going so slow and I wasn’t sure if I was doing it right still. My nurse had explained earlier that I was to have nothing by mouth, but then told my husband to run and get me some water because no woman should have to push without water. My mouth was super dry at this point. There were a few times I’d asked for a paper towel that I could spit into, so this water was AMAZING and I wanted to drink a whole cup but I managed to sip as my nurse requested.
The nurse asked if I wanted to try pushing with the squat bar so we did that for a few contractions, but my legs felt weak and I couldn’t really feel that I was making any more progress. So I went back to my back, my husband and my doula each holding on to a leg and me holding onto handles on each side of the bed. I started feeling the urge to push more and more and the mirror was in place now. The nurse said she could start seeing the head and I could see a tiny bit of hair making its way down with the push and then with each push I could watch and try and push her further down. The nurse called my doctor and then things were getting real.
Suddenly, my doctor was there and the team from the NICU. I have no idea how many people total. Things really started to burn a bit down there as I was pushing. A contraction would start, I would bear down and PUSH PUSH PUSH and it felt like a ring of fire for sure as her head crowned, and I pushed through a few contractions and I felt my OB pull back my cervix a bit over her head. Or that’s what it felt like. I get a little fuzzy here as everything went fast and there was pain, but I pushed, her head came out, then, I remember my doctor telling me to stop, then PUSH NOW! YOU MUST PUSH NOW! I did and I felt so out of breath and out of power but I kept pushing. I didn’t know what was going on down there, I just kept doing what I was told, but afterwards I learned that my doctor delivered her shoulders one at a time and rotated her 180 degrees on the way out. It felt like an eternity, but later it was only 30 seconds that she was stuck there. All of the pushing took about 45 minutes – she was born at 11:46 am.
OB suctioned her quickly, cut the cord, and handed her right off to the NICU team who was waiting. I saw her come out and get suctioned, but hadn’t seen her move yet, and then she was out of sight with the NICU team. The NICU team evaluated her. My OB and the nurse both said “whoa, this is a big baby”, they announced her weight later to a gasp in the room – she was a big 11 pounds, 9.5 oz. Both my doula and my nurse were shocked and said that was the biggest baby they’d ever seen born, and not only did I do it vaginally, but without and epidural and a VBAC and I made it look “so easy.” I was proud and elated that I did it, but it all felt a bit empty and incomplete without my daughter in my arms.
I was hoping they would hand her right back to me after they were sure she didn’t inhale any of the meconium, but the woman in charge said they wanted to bring her down to the NICU for monitoring. They were afraid I had undiagnosed gestational diabetes so they wanted to watch her blood sugar, she was having some issues transitioning (breathing on her own), and they wanted to be sure that she didn’t inhale any meconium, she went through a difficult and fast delivery (should dystocia, cord around her neck, hemorrhages in both eyes). They let me hold her for about 30 seconds before taking her down to the NICU. I hated that once again, I had a baby but she was taken from me immediately after birth. I nodded tearfully as they explained things to me.
I had a second degree tear from the birth that my doctor was working on stitching up. The placenta was delivered without issue somewhere in here too – my doula and the nurses were so amazed at the size of it that they weighed it – nearly 3 pounds of placenta. I didn’t want pitocin after delivery, but my doctor strongly encouraged me to get it after delivering such a large baby, so I agreed. After I was stitched, the nurse came back in to push down on my uterus every so often to expel more blood to help it shrink back down to size. It was painful, I really wished it was my baby nursing that would be causing my uterus to contract back down.
My OB checked back in with me and talked to Carlos and I for a good 10 minutes about our daughter. He said they admitted her for a bunch of minor things that another doctor may not have brought her down for at all, but they were being cautious. He assured us that everything would check out fine and our daughter would be in our room in a few short hours. He said in his opinion, she didn’t look like a baby whose mom had gestational diabetes, she was very proportional but was just big. Yes, her coloring was a bit off but like a bruise it would return to normal soon. It was definitely good to hear it from him and I appreciated him taking the time to explain it to us, but I just wanted her with me now and to go to her, but I couldn’t.
After the doctor left, it was just Carlos, me, and Michelle (doula) for a while rehashing the delivery. We couldn’t believe how fast it all went, that she was here, that she was so big, and that not only did I get my VBAC, but I did with an 11.5 pound baby and no epidural. I was running on adrenaline, totally high from the experience and that I had done it. We ordered lunch, I asked for some ibuprofen for the uterine pain, and just waited to get everything squared away in labor and delivery so we could go down to the NICU nursery to see our daughter.