We started pushing, after a brief tutorial on how. My doctor and nurse were awesome coaches. I had a bit of trouble sustaining the second and third pushes per contraction because I wasn’t breathing right. They told me what to do differently, and I did it, and it went pretty well.
Musicboy had never planned on being right there, to see everything, but he was in charge of holding my right leg, so he got a birds eye view. He kept telling me “she’s right there! I see her hair!” and things like that. I was really just supremely focused on pushing.
It was all totally surreal.
I pushed for maybe 10 minutes. Apparently, after all of that, I am a really effective pusher. I was glad that wasn’t belabored, especially when the baby’s heartrate started to do something funky. I’m still not sure, but they wanted me to push harder and have the baby. It wasn’t scary, it wasn’t a drama, it was just a “let’s do this thing.”
I was on board.
My mom and musicboy’s mom were on my right, in the corner. They could see what was going on. I found it somewhat strange that everyone else could see everything, but I couldn’t. I still find that slightly strange. Perhaps next time, I’ll want to see. I’m not sure though.
We pushed and pushed and pushed. I think it might have been three or five contractions. Then we got to the phase where the baby was right there but the doctor wanted me to breathe through them and not push. That wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be.
Then she got these giant scissors out and I thought “oh good grief. seriously? she’s going to cut me?” but then she asked musicboy if he was going to cut the cord and I realized that we really were that close.
We pushed and everyone could see her head. I remember musicboy saying that she was moving around, which seemed rather impossible to me but, again, concentrating on the task at hand. They were all crying at the wonder of it all.
I was in a zone.
And then she was here. And it was surreal.
She was sort of blueish, but not scary blue. More like purply pink. She apparently had the cord wrapped around her neck twice. I didn’t see that, but musicboy did. I just was looking at her thinking “this is her” and thinking how surreal it all was.
I didn’t have that huge moment of “I’m totally in love with her” then. It was just…surreal. I don’t know how else to put it, and that’s my completely honest take. I didn’t know what to expect, and I didn’t know what to say or to do. I just…looked at her, on my belly, and was completely blown away by the reactions of everyone else. I think I was in a fog of a kind, which makes sense given what happened later, that sort of prevented me from really knowing what was going on. Plus, when you give birth to your first child, and suddenly there’s this person that has been kicking you and headbutting you and hiccupping for nine months, it’s a little overwhelming.
I don’t regret that feeling of overwhelming. I actually think I appreciate very much having my emotional memories of that moment be proxy ones, as I watched my husband fall in love with our daughter and my mom and mother-in-law beam with pride. They all quickly went over to the baby warmer across the room and kept giving me updates.
“She has my webbed toes!”
“She’s sucking her fingers!”
“She hates the light!”
“She has BLUE eyes!”
“She has your nose and my mouth.”
In the meantime, the doctor and I were working on the cleanup. I’m going to get really specific here, because I’m recording this not just for you but for myself and I don’t want to forget anything. It might be a little gruesome for those of you who are squeamish, but I don’t particularly think so. Of course, I also don’t think getting peed on is a big deal anymore and thought that gushing amniotic fluid was comedy gold, so use that as your barometer.
The placenta came out intact, or so the doctor thought. But there was blood. A LOT of blood, and it wasn’t stopping. We had begun to repair a small tear (barely anything, because the doctor was AWESOME at getting me to go slow and because my baby was smallish, I think), but that was soon diverted into what can only be described as uterine spelunking. My doctor told me to grab the button that would give me extra doses for my epidural and to keep hitting it.
And then she went exploring. The bleeding wasn’t stopping, and she was looking for the source. It hurt, but I can’t IMAGINE how much it would have hurt without the epidural.
She finally told me what was going on.
“The placenta came out intact, but I feel something attached. It could be a piece of endometrium, but I don’t want to pull it in case it’s something else. I’m going to get Dr. Head Honcho to come look at it.”
One thing I truly loved about the doctor who delivered my baby—she had heart, and she always told me what was going on. Somehow, I wasn’t afraid. I don’t know why I wasn’t afraid. I felt slightly detached. I kept looking over at the baby and my family surrounding her, and I felt detached.
Of course, I was losing copious amounts of blood, so that may have had something to do with it. I didn’t really know that at the time.
Dr. Head Honcho came in and examined me. I remember that he was kind. And I remember him telling me that if we couldn’t get the bleeding stopped, they were going to have to take me to the OR to do a D&C.
I might have been a little bit scared then, but I don’t remember being so. I just remember feeling safe in the hands of these people who had cared for me and knowing that everything was going to be okay.
Then I remember these words: “I want her in the OR in 7 minutes.”
Things became a bit of a rush then. My nurse was constantly calling for things using my call button. I remember her being really annoyed that they took so long to answer, though it was probably only 30 seconds. I remember tubes and IV poles and getting things ready for transport. I remember my doctor telling me that everything was going to be okay. I remember signing some forms. I remember realizing that I wasn’t going to be able to hold my baby before we went. As they were wheeling me out, I had musicboy hold her out to me so that I could kiss her.
I think that’s when I started to be scared.
As they were wheeling me down the hall, my delivery doctor told me that she was staying with me and that she was going to tell me what was happening. She ran down what was going to happen: the bleeding hadn’t stopped, so they were going to do a D&C. Hopefully, they could use my epidural so that they wouldn’t have to put me under, but they would put me under if they had to. If they couldn’t stop the bleeding that way, they would take me down to radiology to try to stop the blood supply to my uterus. If there was a chance that I would die, they would take my uterus.
That’s when I started to cry, as visions of my girl being the only one I’d get to have ran through my mind. It was the first time I’d cried since the whole emergency began.
The doctor saw and was very comforting, telling me that that was incredibly rare, that more than likely everything would be fine, that she just had to tell me the options.
She told me that I would be receiving a blood transfusion and that in 1 in 100 cases, I might catch something from it.
She said that she would be there the whole time, and would tell me what was going on.
The OR was a flurry of activity, with kind faces everywhere. I was scared, but mainly scared that I was going to feel it. My epidural felt like it was beginning to wear off, but soon they were dosing me and positioning me and I just was so scared that I was going to feel it. I just didn’t think I could handle that.
They asked me if I wanted a sedative, and I said yes after thinking about it. It seemed like a wise course of action.
Then I either fell asleep or passed out, because I didn’t come to until they were done. If you want to catalog the tender mercies of that day, from top to bottom, there are probably too many to mention. My selfish one, though, is that I was unconscious for the whole thing. I woke up and they were waiting to see if the bleeding really had stopped—because it had, and everything had gone beautifully, and they were just waiting to see.
In the meantime, my hips were KILLING me from the position I was in. I asked them if it was normal to feel like this was just the worst inner thigh workout ever. They sort of laughed and said yes. I also felt like it was really important to tell them that I was really thirsty. I blame the sedative for that.
Dr. Head Honcho was wonderfully kind and very in control. It was rather fascinating to watch how everyone jumped when he said to do something. I felt totally taken care of, even though I was desperate to move. Soon it was over and they were wheeling me into recovery, amid promises that my husband would be there. I was also told that I would spend the night in my L&D room—and that I could see my baby.
That was good.
I don’t really know what it was like for everyone I left in the room. I know that musicboy held our girl for as long as they would let him. I know that the parents let him be, knowing that he was worried about me. That meant that, for the parents, they didn’t get to hold her at all that day. But I know that, from the time the whole hemorrhage started, I knew that this was why I was prompted to get the epidural. I knew that the decision was the right one, for so many reasons. I knew that I was cradled in the hollow of the Lord’s hand the whole time.
At no point did I not feel anything but taken care of, both by the human angels that surrounded me and saw a problem and fixed it immediately, who took care to make me feel better, who showed me kindness in such huge measure, but also of the unseen angels who comforted me and buoyed me up and helped me to get through what was a very hard day.
Birth is a miracle. Of course it is. Our birth story, for me, is full of lots of other kinds of miracles. It’s the kind of story that reminds me of just who Heavenly Father is and how He works. It’s the kind of story that reminds me that prayer works, that the Spirit does prompt us, and that we are blessed when we listen. It’s the kind of story that helps me to remember that I am important, individually, to my Heavenly Father and that this work of parenthood is sacred. It’s the kind of story that renews my faith in humanity. It’s a story of the partnership between musicboy and me, of encountering hurdles and overcoming them, of grabbing on to each other and holding tight. It’s the story of love, every kind of love, and that’s the greatest miracle of all.
Margaret Joan was born on April 6, 2011 at 9:38 pm. She is a blessing, she is a treasure, she is a miracle. Her story is a miracle. So many things could have gone so terribly wrong. So many things went so differently than I had anticipated them going. Yet, she is here and she is beautiful and we are blessed. We are healthy. We are unscathed. We are whole.
I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’d do it again in a heartbeat. She’s worth it.
We are a family.