Parts one and two.
Around 8 o’clock, MW2 left and MW3 came. I had gotten out of the tub and was back on the landing, labouring on my hands and knees, or lying on my side to get a bit of rest. Gradually, I started feeling sicker and sicker during the contractions—literally nauseous. It felt like my body was going in two directions, pressure going up and going down. Transition. I think I even mentioned to Jon that this must be transition because, apparently, at this stage, the contractions change from the uterine muscles pulling up in order to open the cervix to pushing down to push out the baby. And that is exactly what it felt like. Every contraction I wanted to retch, which was not a nice feeling, especially after my burrito lunch! And it seemed to go on forever. MW1 asked if I wanted some gas and air, but pain wasn’t the least concern for me (although it probably was there). Instead, I would have taken anything to get rid of the retching feeling! Lots of fervent prayers were said at this time: God, please help me get through this. God, make it stop soon!
Luckily, I did have my wonderful birth partner, Jon. My husband was an absolute star the whole day. He was always so encouraging and right there next to me, supporting me physically and emotionally, rubbing my back, offering food or drink as needed, giving encouraging words. I definitely couldn’t have done it without him. And apparently he was coming down with quite a bad cold and felt like crap all day, but never let it show, as he didn’t think I would appreciate his little miseries very much!
All the while I was labouring, MW1 was intermittently taking phone calls, talking to another labouring woman. This really annoyed me, especially as I was getting toward the end; I was mentally quite ready to start pushing, but I felt I needed to wait for her to get off the phone. I later found out that her daughter was in labour and having some complications, and she was helping her make some decisions. I didn’t mind once I knew, but she could have told me before, so that I didn’t have to waste energy being annoyed! And I think I only waited about 2 minutes. I don’t want it to sound like she ignored me the whole time, because she didn’t, it’s just that 2 minutes can be a long time in labour! But finally, she did a VE and told me what I was pretty sure I already knew—10cm, time to start pushing!
We started off quite relaxed, me kneeling and leaning over on Jon, pushing as I felt the urge. After about half an hour of this, I was getting really tired. MW1 suggested sitting down, so I sat in front of Jon, putting my hands on his knees or arms around his neck behind me to lift my bum up a bit with each contraction / push. I found it really difficult and tiring to push. I would start pushing at the beginning of each contraction, but get exhausted and stop after about 30 seconds. Additionally, I couldn’t really tell when the contractions were ending, so I didn’t realise I should (according to MW1) keep pushing. She wanted me to push through the whole contraction, to minimise the amount that Gus slid back up in between, I guess. Also, she was not happy with me making a lot of noise; apparently it wasted energy, although I couldn’t figure out how to do it without making noise, so I basically just ignored her on that one.
Pushing seemed to just go on and on. I was so tired, I think I was crying. I felt like I wasn’t doing it right, as MW1’s manner was quite prescriptive. All I wanted to do was rest. I thought maybe changing position would help, so I went back on my knees. But then it was really hard to rest in between in that position, and MW1 said that my pushes were more constructive when I was sitting, so I moved back to that position. At the start of each contraction, Jon would put his hand on my stomach, and let me know when it had stopped. This way, I could push throughout the contraction, although I still would have to take a break halfway through, out of sheer exhaustion.
Finally, Gus’s little head was visible and stayed in place, but there seemed to be a bit of a lip that I just couldn’t get his head around. (Jon looked and said it was really cool to see baby’s head and all his hair. He also liked that he could see my abdomen “deflating” as Gus moved downwards!) I thought maybe changing positions would help again, but I was too tired to move! After about an hour 45 minutes of pushing, MW3, who had been monitoring Gus’s heart rate with the Doppler every few minutes, told us that Gus’s heart rate was starting to slow. Not so much that we needed to worry, but that I really needed to muster all my energy and make these pushes count. I found this really encouraging. Not that Gus’s HR was dropping, but MW3’s manner. Up until this point, he had been really laid back, but the change in attitude really helped. So I pushed with a more concerted effort, but that baby’s head still didn’t want to move. MW1 suggested an episiotomy, which I really didn’t want, but after about 10 minutes, I couldn’t do it anymore. She made the cut, and with the next push, Gus’s whole body shot out, face up (so that explains the pain and pressure in my back!), screaming his little head off!
We have a Gus!
It was amazing. He was put straight onto my chest, but he just kept screaming away. Jon and I were touching him and talking to him, telling him how excited we were that he had arrived. And how much we already loved this amazing little person. MW1 asked Jon if he wanted to cut the umbilical cord. He was about to do it when she said Make sure not to cut his penis, which really freaked Jon out, and he decided to leave that bit to the professional. (I am not sure how you could get the two confused, or why the cord would have to be so close to the penis, but nevermind. Jon didn’t care too much about cutting the cord anyway.) I vaguely thought, Wait until it is done pulsing, but was too enamoured with my new baby to care. And then the placenta was delivered about two minutes later, so it probably had stopped by then anyway. It was funny, because I was completely wrapped up in my baby (trying to comfort him to stop crying—he went on for what seemed like ages!), but part of me noticed when MW3 commented on the true knot in Gus’s umbilical cord (!) and the assessment of my blood loss (<500 ml). A researcher’s brain never rests, I guess. J
We just cuddled Gus and helped him to suckle (champion eater from the start!) there on the landing for some time, then MW1 suggested I move to the bed so she could stitch me up. I was very thankful for the gas and air during the stitches! Jon sat on a chair in the bedroom, shirtless, holding Gussy to his chest. They were so beautiful. Gus was also weighed at this time, basically the only time he was out of our arms till we fell asleep that night. Then, after a quick shower, Gus was back at my breast. As the midwives left at about 2 o’clock that morning, Jon, Gus and I were cuddled up in bed together; as exhausted as I was, I couldn’t take my eyes off him. I briefly thought about asking the midwife to take our picture, as we hadn’t taken any yet, but I decided against it. The moment was just too perfect, I didn’t want it interrupted by anything. But it doesn’t matter, because I think I will always remember the overwhelming love at the start of our new life with this precious little boy.