Labour Day.... Part 3 (the Epic conclusion of the Epic)

Sucker for punishment? A few hundred hours to kill? Here’s Part 1 and Part 2
So where were we?
Oh yes, labour had suddenly kicked it up 10,000 notches, and I knew there was no way I could handle the intensity if it followed the course of some of my previous labours, wherein I would hustle and get to an 8 or so in a relatively short space of time, and then just hang around in transition for hours on end. Good times.
In truth, Le Bebe could be mere minutes away from showing her head, or I could well have hours of increasingly excruciating labour ahead of me yet. It has happened both ways in the past. No way to say for sure.
And I needed to decide how I wanted to proceed. Specifically: To get an epidural or not to get an epidural.
Well. I have always been opposed to epidurals. Not as a rule. Just for me. I'd had 4 kids without one and I figured I'd do the same this time.
But now I was seriously considering one. Like seriously. I had actually cried “epidural” at the end of my labour with Gracie (also a big girl) but decided not to do it when I discovered how I close I was to delivery. (I seem to remember that I’d mostly just wanted everyone to take me seriously about how much pain I was in.) But this time I was not crying wolf. I knew I was at my limit. Baby needed to arrive within the next 0-15 minutes with no increase in pain, or I needed some help.
I weighed my options, I could get in the tub to see if it took the edge off , (the midwife started running the hot water) or I could get the big needle. I had actually planned on having another water birth because the tub had worked so beautifully with Finny, but Finny’s labour (minus the maximum dosage of pitocin for 12 hours) had been been infinitely more manageable.
I consulted with the nurse. She said that since I was able to be so rational between contractions and that I was able to have so much control during them, she thought I could handle it. She seemed pretty excited by the prospect of watching me do just that. It would be a fun novelty for her to watch a natural birth. The midwife said that she felt that whatever decision I made would be the right one, and that there was just no wrong choice.
I said a prayer and I suddenly felt total conviction that the epidural was the way I should go. No question. I noticed that suddenly there was no fear over the needle and that I did not have a sense of failure or “giving up” that I always imagined I would. Rather than resigned, I felt peaceful and dare I say…excited about the prospect of having this new experience. I was looking forward to a more controlled lead up to meeting my baby.The next few contractions slammed me and it was confirmed in my mind. Much as I’d like to have given the sweet nurse a good natural birth show, I decided to call the nice man with the big needle. Stat.
As I waited I continued with my hypnobirthing coping methods which were a lifesaver*****At this point I must interject that if you are pregnant and you plan an epidural right from the get go for your birth, you really should learn a few natural pain management methods because there may well be plenty of time between when you experience the pain and when you get the relief. /PSA.
Epi-guy arrived surprisingly promptly (I was half out of my mind with pain and fatigue at this point but I noticed with some envy that he was looking very sunkissed after a beach vacation). He got the job done very efficiently. He was a bit alarmed that I was already at about 8 cm, but seemed to think it would still take if we hustled and got it started. I have always wondered how people stayed still through contractions when getting an epidural and I have to say it was not the most fun I have ever had. I hugged a pillow and prayed very hard that I would not move. I'm not sure if it was at this point or another when I begged somebody to pray for/with me and I remember the midwife hugging me and quietly saying a prayer in my ear. It was so touching. I am not sure if she is religious or not but it was just what I needed.
The epidural administration was really not as big a deal as I'd feared. The only part that I found really gross in the end was the scraping sensation of the needle against my spine right at the end….ewwww. Wait…Is that supposed to happen?
Then the midwife broke my water. All clear. Whew.
The nurse told me I should feel some relief from the epi almost right away and then increasingly so with each contraction. I did indeed feel a dulling of the pain on my left side, but the right side was still just as painful during contractions. My legs were both going very numb. It was strange and most unpleasant. The contractions were still really hard to get through with the added bonus that I could not move around to manage them better. This was stressing me out.
The nurse and midwife reassured me that this was normal, and that the right side would go numb soon. After about 45 minutes the right side had NOT gone numb, and I was having to do my vocalizations rather operaticallyto get through contractions. To my dismay, they hurt only slightly less (but only on one side-which oddly, and sadly, does not mean you are in half the pain). I think maybe they felt particularly hard because I was now lying down flat on my back (which by the way should be considered a form of torture-I kept thinking of all those poor Victorian ladies forced to labour on their backs sans pain relief.) Finally, after about an hour or so, I started feeling some relief on the right side. Hallefreakinlujah.
This was a fortunate thing, because one of my children had been calling regarding some school paperwork on and off throughout the hardest part of my labour. It was very special.
Right around the time that the right side started going numb and my vocalizations started to sounding less shall we say…primal, the nurse told me that I was about 9cm dilated. At this point I heard Aaron talking to said child who was on the phone again and from what Aaron was saying I gathered that he was upset. Because this kid is usually so self sufficient and not easily stressed, I felt that I should talk to him. Because sometimes only mom will do. (That and my friend Jill had told me earlier that said child had seemed worried about me, so I wanted to reassure him that I was alive and feelin’ groovy even though I was most decidedly not feelin’ groovy.)
So hear ye! Let it never be said that I am not a devoted mother or that the older kids got the shaft when mommy had the baby. For lo! I stifled my moans, put on a cheerful “it’s all good” voice and talked down my freaking out child when I was 9cm dilated. NINE CENTIMETERS DILATED with a DEFECTIVE EPIDURAL. So let it be written, so let it be remembered.
I'm just sayin'.

So back to the birthing of the child who was still inconsiderately hanging around inside the womb. It’s about I dunno... 10 pm now? And for maybe 15 mins there, I was feeling pretty good. Not totally contraction free but it was doable, and I was feeling confident that at any time, I would feel total relief and we could turn on the TV, break out the crushed ice, heck let's get crazy-maybe even a jello cup or something, and get this partay started. Dancing/Skating/Baking with the Stars at 9cm? I wanted in on that action, man! I wanted to be able to say, “I watched TV! I didn’t feel a thing!”
It was at this point, that I started extolling the virtues of epidurals, and telling Aaron that I felt guilt, real guilt for the part I had played in helping women get through labour sans epidural in the past because.. this! This semi-pain free birth thing was AWESOME! I proclaimed that I was going to abandon my doula-ish ways and become a full time advocate of epidurals. Now to be perfectly honest, even at this point, while things were vastly improved, it was still not feeling as warm and happy place-ish as others had led me to believe. I was mightily uncomfy during contractions and my legs were all heavy and tingly (like when you sit on one of them and it goes half dead). Not the best sensation, but compared to the Mach 4 killmenow contractions I had been having, it was most excellent. For a whole 5-15 mins.
And then….(cue the ominous music) I started feeling the contractions again, down low, in a whole new area, the original contraction feeling area remained mostly numb so that was something….but the down low thing was sucking. And now I could not change positions. And that was deeply unenjoyable. It was not yet unbearable though….( slow crescendo of the scary music….) for that was yet to come…
Cue: unbearable pain in my back. Now listen people. I am very much a drama queen in general. I own this. But here I do not say “unbearable” lightly. It was unbearable. As in I was begging Aaron to grab something blunt and heavy and KNOCK ME OUT ALREADY. DAMMITALLTOHELL! It was a bad feeling knowing that I already had the epidural and had no real pain real options left available to me.
I’ve had back labour before (more times than not), and I’ve done the pitocin without pain meds thing before, my previous 4 labours ranged from between 12-24 hours and nobody would classify them as easy. I have run half marathons, and let it never be forgotten that I hold the community center record for a 6:30 min wall sit and! 3:30 plank pose! (Because clearly, I have issues), I've had gallstones. All of these things entail considerable physical discomfort….but I’ve never experienced pain like this before. I thought maybe my bladder or a kidney was about to explode or something so the nurse cath’ed me, thinking it would relieve some pressure, but nope… nothing doing. Not sure how long that went on for. I'm going to take a guess and round it up to an eternity. Along with the pain was the weirdness. Half numb, not able to move my legs but still in a ton of pain. Seriously bizarre. Not to mention that I was probably half out of mind with fatigue at this point. Like I said….Neat. Good times. I think the fact that my Epidural Cruise had not lived up to my expectations also magnified the discomfort and my ability to cope with it all.
Eventually I got the news that it was Time To Push. Glorious words. Happy day! All is well! Like I said earlier, If I know how to do one thing in this world right, it’s push out a baby in a short space of time. Indeed my previous labours were always interminable, but those babies all emerged bruised and blinking in astonishment having been shot out like torpedoes as soon as dilation was complete, because in the past by that time, mommy has Had Enough Already and this is the part She Gets To Control.
So! If I could not have my TV watching, Tetris playing, jello eating pain free Cruise-Birth, I could at least get it over with already. I told Aaron to get the camera ready and not blink, because this would just take a moment. I looked at the clock and was pleased to see I still had a couple of hours or so to make it a March 21st baby. First day of Spring sounded good to me. These things please me.
And in just one big push she was out.
In my dreams.
Yours too? No. Sorry you'll have to keep reading The Longest Birthing Tale In the History of the World if you are to get to the end.
In reality: Somewhere in my youth…or childhood….I must have done something bad…
Some Very Bad Thing.
And so I pushed…and I pushed and I push .e……d.
After the first couple of pushes and no baby appeared on the scene, I was bewildered. In the words of Karen from Will and Grace (remember her?) What’s happening here? What’s going on here, honey?
And then after a few more pushes, I was mad. What was this rubbish all about? What?! Seriously???!
And then there was the next couple of hundred very painful pushes and still no baby and holy smokes. It all became very clear to me. I was going to die. Not only was I going to die, I wanted to die. Very much.
I kept trying to get into a better pushing position and actually, I was sitting up pretty nicely. But I wanted so badly to get into a squat, and guess what? When your legs are dead lead that is not really an option. Shoot.
That's what you get along with the big needle honey. Now with 8 weeks of reflection under my belt, I must say that I have concluded that I am still glad I got the epidural. I still believe it was the right choice for this birth. It seems that Le Bebe was somewhat stuck (and when she finally emerged we all figured out on) and we're pretty sure things would have been slow regardless. Adding what I was feeling prior to the epidural to what I felt post the epidural for any length of time ....No. There was no way. I would have died. I’m not kidding. No seriously I am not. Had I not died spontaneously, I would have jumped out of a window having first broken that window open with a bed pan.
While the epidural was a crushing disappointment, and most certainly not the tropical vacation I had been hoping for I have decided for this birth, it was inspired. It took, as they say, "the edge off". When I think about the words of blessing Aaron gave me prior to my labour I am further convinced of this.)
So back to the push, push pushing. What I remember most distinctly about this part was that I could feel her foot digging into my ribs with each push. it felt like it was hooked under my ribs(which was not at all encouraging) and I had the most dreadful heartburn with each push (which made me just plain mad-Now? Heartburn too??! Really!!??). The pushing was the most strenuous experience I have ever had. Bar none. Had I not been relatively fit, there is no way I could have endured it. For real.
Even so, at one point I proclaimed that I. could. not. I begged for the salad tong things as Aaron calls them, to pull the baby out. The midwife just laughed. (Luckily for her, I was unable to kick her in the face for that). Then I told her very seriously that I felt a c-section would be in order. She demurred, saying that the baby was not in distress and no c-section would be granted by any Dr just because I felt like one. I informed her that I in fact, was in distress (I was quite sure that I was going to going to have a stroke at any time from pushing so hard and for so long) and she told me that according to my vitals I was not at any risk. Then she had the audacity to look at me in a Jillian like fashion, and tell me that I was just going to have to “Woman up and get this baby out myself”. The worst part was that she told me that I was moving the baby “just the tiniest bit” every (just the tiniest bit???? ACK-all this time I was under the impression she was moving a lot judging by supportive commentary from the peanut gallery, and this really burst my bubble), anyway, she was at least inching along, so she knew the baby COULD be moved.
I sort of wanted to switch my escape plan to a murder-suicide at this time. And take her along with me. Aaron claims that he was hating too. He says that he was on the verge of informing her of my various insane, inane and pointless athletic pursuits in order to illustrate that although I was not of sound mind, I was not ordinarily a wimp in matters of physical exertion, and that if I said I was done, I was indeed done. As satisfying as this would have been to hear, it was a good thing that he held his peace, because it was at this point that I felt entirely on my own.
I realized that nobody was going to help me out of this quandary. And what a quandary it was. And so I prayed. Oh how I prayed. I had prayed on and off throughout the labour, but this time I really cried out to God. I begged Him with everything I had to help me. There was some serious bargaining thrown in for good measure. (Which I would later kind of regret..)
It was just me and Him in that moment. It is always amazing to me that life's most raw and painful moments are often also the ones when we are the closest to Him. And for that, they are also the most memorable and in their own way, the most sacred and beautiful. In retrospect anyway.
God in His infinite mercy, sent one more shred of energy and with it, I gave more than I had previously thought possible. At this moment the nurse was inspired to tell me to “push toward the ceiling” This totally helped. Suddenly Le Bebe was really moving. I remember a general cheer when they could see her. I was told of her dark hair. Of course she had dark hair. We had all imagined her with dark hair. Gracie had been drawing pictures of a dark haired baby girl for months. My mom had dreamed of a dark haired baby girl. I had been longing to hold another little “bwown”. (We have a blonde team and a “bwown” team in our house). In short, I was ready to meet the dark haired baby girl. One more monster push and I was determined that I would. Aaron got the right music cued up as we waited for the final contraction…
The cool thing about the epidural at this stage was that it eliminated the overwhelming burning sensation which eclipses all other feeling, and so I could feel every part of the baby moving down through my pelvis. It was trippy to feel her actually being delivered into the world. Her head(and arm), then her shoulders and the wiggly little limbs. It was surreal. The midwife told me to open my eyes, to look down and reach out to grab her. I reached down and lifted her up and suddenly the pain was over. Pure joy. Her warm, soft, smooth slippery little body was in my arms and then lying on my chest. This is the most sublime sensation in the world. That amazingly, soft, warm REAL little body is suddenly so there. From being so close yet so far…she was suddenly so there. From agony to ecstasy in one amazing moment.
Amidst the cheers everyone was remarking on her size, “wow what a big girl!" She did not seem big to me at all though. She was my tiny baby. I expected everyone to be proved wrong when she was weighed. (When they broke my water earlier everybody looked at what was left of my tummy and estimated a 7lber.) But it turns out that this chunk of baby girl was 8lbs15 oz! (We told people 9lbs because as I lifted her up she proceeded to pee about a gallon's worth all over me-She was apparently as unimpressed by the process as I had been.)
It turns out that little Miss had come down and was born with her chubby Randall arm presenting alongside of her huge Sayer head. And she'd turned posterior( sunny side up )at some point to make things extra special. So that accounts for all the fun and games.
Up until now I have never really cried when my babies were born. Maybe a sniff or a tear here or there, but I have never sobbed until this time. This time I looked up at Aaron who I loved so even more than I ever had, and sobbed with pure euphoria. It was such a wonderful release. I thanked God over and over. I was so, so so relieved that it was over and that I actually finally had this perfect, healthy dark haired baby girl . And yes, it was really a girl- as I sobbed, I lifted up her leg in a most undignified manner, and had Aaron perform a quick check. Upon confirmation of her being a member of the fairer sex, I could finally relax about that too (I did not know what I would do if I had to tell Gracie she was getting another brother after all). It was the cherry on top of the perfect moment.
For the challenges of the labour itself, the birth was safe and uncomplicated and I feel so blessed by that. A healthy baby, with perfect Apgars, no injuries for either of us, no tearing, a super easy recovery. As a bonus, she was my first non-jaundiced baby because I did not bruise her up by shooting her out too fast.
And then it was time for Aaron and I to enjoy the blissful reward. The counting of fingers and toes, the 10,000 kisses, the huffing of heavenly newborn baby smell, the stroking of the impossibly soft skin, the happy calls to share the news. She had arrived 19 mins after midnight and was officially a birthday present for Aaron's dad. (She had been due on his mom's birthday and arrived on his dad's.)
And finally (at about 4am) snuggling down for our first sleep together, breathing in happy synch, floating on that indescribable post-birthing high, opening my bleary eyes every few moments to take her all in once again.... in blissful disbelief that she was really here and she was really mine. It is just as magical the 5th time as it was the first. I am so blessed to have 5 best days of my life. (That said, when I called my sister I asked her to write down various direct quotes from me to ensure that I would never, ever, ever do this again :D
The little video below are snaps taken of her first few minutes of life. Turn on your sound if you watch it. The music is Rod Stewart's Forever Young which was playing as she was born. I loved that song when I was a young girl, and would always imagine singing it to my kids one day. The sentiments of the lyrics make me misty.

Ellabeth's birth from Kirsty Sayer on Vimeo.

If there is anyone still reading thank you for enduring this epic :) I know it was long-winded but I have difficulty editing my memories for posterity. While it was a bit of a mission to get her into the world, my perfect little Ellabeth was worth every second of it and I love her more every moment.

I'm reading: Labour Day.... Part 3 (the Epic conclusion of the Epic)Tweet this!


paparazzimom said...

WAHOO!!!! That was beautiful, Kirsty. I cried when you were praying. What a sacred moment. He is exactly what you needed and He definately gave you exactly what you needed to birth your beautiful baby girl. Thank you for sharing your epic and beautiful birth story.

Kallie said...

Wow. Loved it. I still have tears- those pictures of you first holding her are so real to me.

-dpl said...

Kirsty, you are a goddess. Need I say more? <3 Love from all of us!

Inappropriate Girl said...

LOL, not that Doug wouldn't have said that too. The perils of sharing a computer...

Amz said...

I too have been waiting for the last installment! What a story! I have to admit, before I ever got pregnant with this one, I told myself, I was going to have an epidural this time. I'm going out with that 'tropical vacation' bang....hopefully! Mike's brother is in nurse anesthesia school right now and he recommended I get the narcotic side of the epidural instead of the anesthetic...that way I can feel more, but it doesn't leave me unable to move. If I change my mind, they can add the anesthesia later. BUT, as we all know, plans are only that...we'll have to see what happens. Congrats again on a beautiful girl and of course we love the name....we have one ourselves!

Anonymous said...

Well worth the wait! That was lovely. Well done for having recorded it so fully. You will be glad, glad in later years. Left me misty-eyed too, but I didn't have speakers. Will have to do it again but with the sound on. Well done Girl. We are all so proud of you!

Brittany said...

I love those pics right after birth--so touching.
Bennett watched the vid with me...I swear he's crushin' already!!!

Jen Lynn said...

Finally got to read that. You're a great writer, I had so many emotions going through me.