Sunday, August 23, 2015

Jayne: A Birth Story, Part IV

I'm sharing Jayne's birth story this week. 

We waited another 30 minutes or so for the blood work results. The anesthesiologist came right in and got the epidural going. I lay back and waited as the pain of the contractions was gradually swept away until only the intense pressure of them remained, and after about 20 minutes, my midwife broke my water.

She pushed on my distended midsection again and again, and when the gush ebbed to a seep, she eased off.

A few minutes later, and I was pushing. The midwife had stepped out, and the quirky nurse had checked me and determined all systems were go. "This baby's head is huge," she said, eyes wide. "I hope the skull will mold as you push her out, because that head is like a bowling ball."

It was shortly after these and other similar comments that this nurse was "called out" to assist on another birth and was replaced by the condescending nurse I'd had that morning. Jay is convinced the midwife had requested the change since we'd heard her berating the first nurse ["Don't tell patients their babies' heads are as big as bowling balls! What is wrong with you??"].

{This hospital opened in 2008, yet their maternity gowns look like they're from the darkest fashion era of the early '90's. Not sure I want to know why that is.}

The new nurse's manner was both obsequious and patronizing. She talked to me in a baby voice as she held up one of my legs and coached me through each contraction. I wanted to punch her.

I pushed for about 45 minutes, and the further down Jayne came, the more I realized the epidural wasn't completely effective. It had certainly dulled the contractions, but mostly stopped at about the level of my pelvis. I remember feeling anxious, wanting to get the baby out, but afraid of the tearing and pain. They told me to push harder, but I felt that if I used any more force I would throw up. My delivery was accompanied by two beautiful classical pieces played on Jay's phone on repeat (one was Adagio in G minor; I forget the other).

Finally, she was getting close. I gave a few more mighty heaves as a contraction ended, and I could feel Jayne's head crowning and that agonizing "ring of fire." I kicked my legs (epidural notwithstanding) and probably yelled, back arching, as we waited another two minutes for the next contraction.

It came. The nurse told me to curl my chin to my chest but I couldn't; I pushed Jayne into the world with my head thrown backward and a series of gutteral yelps.

The rest is hazy; Jay cut the cord, they wiped her off a bit, and they handed me this wet little human and placed her on my chest. It was 5:55 pm.

{Bath time. How my body housed that enormous baby is beyond me.}

I remember, when Kate was born, that adrenaline overtook my malaise and exhaustion, but I was not so lucky this time. My body felt wrong, uncomfortable. And while after Kate was born I longed to hold her as they assessed her, my arms ached with strain after mere moments of holding Jayne. I felt none of the relief I'd craved after delivery--my whole body ached and my head throbbed. Somehow, miraculously, I needed no stitches, but the tuggings and pinchings of the midwife were sharp.

At this hospital, they had separate nurses for the mothers and babies, and we waited nearly an hour before the baby nurses came in to weigh and measure Jayne. The midwife and the nurses who delivered me hung around the whole time to find out just how big Jayne was. They repeated several times, "That's a big baby. Big baby."

And she was. Even cradling her in my arms, she felt enormous. It turned out Jayne weighed at birth as much as Kate weighed at two months old: 9 lbs 6 oz. I watched as they bathed her and could not get past the sheer size of her: her round tummy and thigh rolls and double chin were marvels to me.

We stayed in the hospital barely 24 hours after she was born--despite Jayne's large size, she had no problems with blood sugar. My mom took Kate to St. George so that the baby wouldn't catch her illness, and Jay and I took care of Jayne ourselves the first few days. It was blissful and relaxing, and I think we surprised ourselves with how much more calm and competent we both felt this time around. I healed quickly, and Jayne slept frequently (during the day, at least).

{With Grandma. You can see the purple bruises on Jayne's cheeks.}

After Kate's birth, I remember feeling powerful for several days. I was in awe of my body, my strength, myself. After Jayne's birth, I felt worn and weak. Birth had been brutal for both of us; Jayne ruptured blood vessels in both of her eyes and had bruises on her cheeks from her traumatic entry into the world. But the baby in my arms was solid and real; she knew me--knew my voice and felt the familiarity of my skin--and I knew every curve of her.

Despite--or because of--the pain of delivery and the nine months of growing and stretching together, we belonged to each other.

Birth percentiles:
  • Length: 21 inches; 90-95th percentile
  • Weight: 9 lb 6 oz; >95th percentile

Jayne's stats at 3 days old:
  • Height: 20.3 inches; 83rd percentile
  • Weight: 8 lb 11 oz; 90th percentile
  • Head circumference: 36.3 cm; 96th percentile


  1. What a beautiful baby. And I'm mad at both of your nurses. Good people make all the difference.

  2. Man, the nurse in me fumes a little at your experience with the nurses! So many problems there- I'm so sorry! Had I taken care of you it would have been a different story :) You have such graceful writing, I love reading anything you write and baby Jayne will love reading this story someday! Also- awesome pictures! She's a little beauty!

    1. Court, I wish you were my nurse, too! It makes me feel validated that other people (especially other nurses!) think my experience was less than ideal. I could have included some other bad nurse stories, but I didn't want to detract from Jayne's story :). Thanks for your kind words.