Thursday, February 28, 2013

Kate: A Birth Story, Part IV

I'm telling my birth story this week. Part I herePart II here. Part III here.

Jay had been bugging me for a couple months to make a playlist of songs to listen to during labor, but I never got around to it.  Mostly because I was unsure what type of music I'd be wanting--something upbeat to pump me up like Eye of the Tiger?  Something cultured that I wouldn't be embarrassed of listening to in front of a doctor, like Albinoni's Adagio in G minor?  Or something super emotional like Adele's Someone Like You or Journey's Open Arms?  In the end, I never did make a playlist, but while the nurses were getting everything ready, he asked me what music I wanted to listen to.  I wanted something calm and beautiful, so I asked Jay to turn on a Josh Groban mix.  

{Our matching wristbands that proved Kate belonged to us}

One thing I'd been nervous about from the hospital tour we'd taken was the "spot lights" that were mounted in the ceiling, aimed right at the bed I'd be laboring on.  Thankfully, Amy left those off, as well as most of the other lights in the room.  It was cool and dark and filled with the dulcet tones of Josh Groban's voice.  Amy got everything ready, and Jay stood at my side holding one of my legs.  He brought me water and ice chips between my contractions to cool my feverish mouth.  

I still felt sick and worried about pushing, but after that first push, adrenaline took over and I was in the zone--I was so focused on my body and what it was doing that I no longer felt the discomfort of illness.  I watched my progress in a mirror (which I thought might be weird but mostly wasn't) and was as surprised as Jay to see that our baby had hair.  

{Jay giving Kate her first bath}

I've heard some people have problems knowing how to push when they have an epidural, but that wasn't the case for me.  I could feel the contractions in my pelvis (though not in my stomach) when the baby's head pushed down, so I knew when to push, and I instinctively knew what to do to push her out.  I felt very in tune with my body.  I remember thinking, "This is what my body was made for.  This is what I was made to do."  

I will never forget the way Jay looked at me as I labored to push our child into the world, his eyes soft and shining, his expression awed.  I could clearly see how much he loved me, how much he appreciated my efforts, how much he was impressed by my strength.  No one has ever looked at me like that before, like I was the most amazing person on earth.  

{Brand new, sleepy Kate}

I started pushing at 10:45, and Kate was born at 11:05 in a burst of unbelievable pressure and a slippery slurping gush as her body followed.  

I wasn't aware of much at that point, but I cried out at the strangeness of the feeling, the release and then the emptiness.  I watched through half-lidded eyes as Amy yanked the black cord over my baby's head even before she was fully out of me.  She quickly tied some things off and handed some scissors to Jay to cut the cord.  "Hurry," she said.  

I briefly saw my baby lying there beneath me; she was floppy and still.  I didn't understand what was going on when they handed my new, slippery baby to the nurse to be cleaned up.  I wanted to hold her close, to rub at the downy vernix with my fingertips, to share our moment of exhaustion and triumph, bruised and bloody.  

{Ten toes}

As they rubbed her vigorously with a towel under a warming light, my baby let out a little mewl and started waving her arms.  A split-second later, two people with wheelie carts burst into the room.  "We're here for the baby.  From NICU," one nurse said breathlessly.  

What? I thought.  NICU??  

But the nurse holding my baby said, "Actually... I think she's okay."  

They turned and left, still empty-handed, and my heart started beating again.

Apparently the cord had been wrapped twice--tightly--around Kate's neck.  Amy had felt that something was slowing the baby's descent (I thought 20 minutes of pushing was pretty quick, but I guess Amy expected it to be shorter), but she thought the baby's hand was just up by her face.  As soon as she saw the cord, she acted quickly.  We never heard the nurses call for backup.  

I sat on my bed as Amy pulled out the placenta (a second, smaller birth) and worked to clean me up.  Despite a few small abrasions, I didn't end up needing stitches.  I had to watch as they weighed my baby, took her temperature, measured her head.  I wanted to yell at them, to tell them I wanted to hold her, that she was mine.  Jay stood guardian, hovering and snapping pictures.


  1. I cant believe I've been able to read these posts as far along as I have been able to. Blurgh my words sound weird. You make pushing out a baby sound not bad at all. Kudos. I admire anyone that can give birth..I just dont feel like I was made to do that. Dunno


    1. Oh, Skinner. I, like you, am terrified of commitment and hard things. But I, like you, have found that when I need it, I have more strength than I imagined. You served a mission. You took the plunge and got married. Having a baby really isn't so different from either of those things. Yes, there is physical discomfort. It's worse for some women than for others--mine really wasn't that bad. I was terrified of pregnancy and labor and delivery, but when I found out I might not be able to have kids, all of a sudden I realized how much I wanted it. And even though I was so uncomfortable during pregnancy, I got to see and feel and love the little life inside me. It was scary, but exciting. And labor and delivery are hard, but modern medicine gives you a choice about how much pain you want to experience. And within about one day, it's over.

      If you and Tony decide not to have children, that's completely your right. But don't make choices based on fear. Don't let your fear keep you "safe" but rob you of joy. The most wonderful things in life don't come without some risk, but they're always worth it. And if you decide this is what you want, I know you can do it.

  2. That photo of Jay is really tender. Can you imagine how much of an heirloom that is going to be for Kate? It is beautiful.

    And yes, you-- we all were (you too Stacie!) were made to do this. It's part of God's plan an it's awesome.

    Love you Lindsay.