intensely trivial

Jonathan’s birth story, Part 2: The birth

This is the second part of Jonathan’s birth story. Click here if you want to read the part about the pregnancy first.

Jonathan’s birth story: The birth

Well, Jonathan didn’t come before the induction date, so at 7 a.m. on Jan. 26, we showed up at the hospital. I was still scared to death of pitocin, so I’d asked the doctor if he would just break my water first and see if that got things going.
(You can probably see several red flags so far, and I agree. I would not normally recommend this to other people. If there’s ever a next time, which would be highly improbable, I vow to try to stay sane and not go crazy.)
Well, they broke my water. The amniotic fluid was clear; Jonathan was fine. I was at 3 cm. Dan and I went walking around the maternity ward again, and Heather joined us. I spent some time in the hot tub and progressed slowly – again. My nurse was Ginny Lee, a certified nurse midwife who was not catching babies at Mercy. (She did, however, transfer to the Ft. Riley hospital soon after Jonathan was born and practiced as a midwife there until, sadly, she moved away from Ft. Riley, too.) Ginny explained to me that they expected me to dilate a centimeter an hour, and if my cervix didn’t dilate that quickly, then they’d check out other ways of getting me to dilate. (Read: pitocin. This time around, I knew what was coming.) I began to have good contractions while walking around the maternity ward. During contractions, while I did my slow breathing, I pictured a mountain stream and kept things low-key. It worked.
In the hallways, the contractions really started to hurt, so I slowdanced with Dan, and Heather rubbed my lower back. In that position, I felt cocooned by love: my true love holding me, while a caring friend mothered me and tried to get me as comfortable as possible. It was a wonderful time of bonding. When I had a contraction, I got quiet and breathed slowly. I stayed on top of each contraction and just buckled down and did the work, as opposed to when I was laboring with Ellie, when I freaked out at each contraction and refused to relax. The contractions would slow down when I sat down to rest, so Heather tried doing acupressure to keep things going. I also used the jets in the hot tub for nipple stimulation, and that helped. Ginny came and checked on me every once in a while. She spoke with a quiet voice, smiled, and never expressed any doubt in me. She was gentle and respectful of me.
Even with all that tiring work, by 3 or 4 p.m., I was still only at 5 cm. I was too tired to keep running around the maternity ward, and frankly, I was scared of what was coming each time I got up to walk some more. Dan called some family members and friends to tell them I probably wouldn’t give birth anytime soon, and they should just plan on visiting tomorrow. Finally, Ginny said we needed to start pitocin. I agreed, with fear and trembling. I remembered vividly how horrible the advanced stages of labor had felt when I was on pitocin at Ellie’s birth. I think it was about 4:15 when Ginny started the pitocin drip, and I could immediately feel its effects. (I must have been one of those laboring women for whom a “whiff” of pitocin does it.) Heather brought me a cup of applesauce, and it refreshed me for the work ahead. I was being monitored, and I was tired, so I sat on the bed through a few contractions. Within 45 minutes of the pitocin being turned on, I told Dan and Heather, “I don’t think I can do this without drugs.” We had agreed before the birth that if I asked for drugs, they would encourage me to go another half-hour and then see how I was doing. And that’s what they said, at 5 p.m. when I hinted that I wanted drugs: “Why don’t you wait a half-hour and then see how you feel?”
Contractions had rapidly gotten pretty challenging, but I just kept up my slow breathing and made it through one contraction at a time, trying not to think about the next one around the bend and trying to ignore the ever-increasing discouragement. I didn’t think I was going to make it pain-med-free, but I was willing to wait for 30 more minutes and see if a vaginal exam then might show any more change. I tried sitting in the rocking chair for comfort, and it seemed to help, but it knocked the monitor off-kilter, so I stood up so Ginny could fix it. This was about 5:15. While I was standing next to the bed with Ginny adjusting the monitor, I had two earth-shaking contractions that took my breath away and made me whimper, helpless against the force. Heather told me later that her and Ginny’s eyes lit up as they recognized the change in the sounds I was making, but I didn’t realize what it meant, in those difficult moments. I was still trying to relax and breathe slowly, but there was no way I could relax through those contractions. Suddenly, I was grunting involuntarily, and I knew I felt like pushing. But that couldn’t be, since I had only been 5 cm dilated an hour ago, and the contractions hadn’t been that difficult for very long.
I told Ginny, Heather, and Dan, “I know I’m not supposed to push, but I really feel like it!” (Always trying to do what I’m supposed to do, you know.)
Ginny said, “Actually, that’s a very good sign!”
On the next contraction or so, a rivulet of blood flowed down my right leg and ran over my sock (good thing I wasn’t too attached to them), and that seemed to excite Ginny and Heather, too. I think Ginny checked my cervix while I was standing there, and that must have verified that I was complete. I was getting kind of confused and was very overwhelmed with the contraction and pushing sensations, and I asked frantically what I should do.
Ginny said, “Just listen to your body.” In the craziness, I remember asking how long I would have to do this, and Ginny said something like, “Not long at all.”
I asked, “How long will it be?”
Ginny said, “Like 10 minutes.”

This picture was taken about 10 minutes before Jonathan arrived. Ginny's frantically calling Dr. Gros. Not sure what Heather's looking at.

This picture was taken about 10 minutes before Jonathan arrived. Ginny's frantically calling Dr. Gros. Not sure what Heather's looking at.

Suddenly everything started happening very fast, I thought. I immediately got high with that information: 10 minutes, and I’d be done?!? Amazing! I could do ANYTHING for 10 minutes! I was going to make it! Ginny ran to call Dr. Gros and switched on the warmer, Heather ran to get a baby nurse in there, and apparently Dr. Gros was running to arrive at the hospital before Jonathan made his debut. Somehow I managed to get back in bed (I’m sure with a lot of help),and they turned me on my side to try to slow things down. This was probably 5:20 p.m. Personally, I did not care whether things slowed down. At that point, I could have picked up a car and thrown it across the state of Kansas! Heather was encouraging me to pant to slow down the pushing (so I wouldn’t tear so much with the rapid birth), but I just pushed as hard as I could because it was fun. I held Dan’s hand and pressed my forehead into his arm whenever the irresistible force of pushing came over me. Later he had a rather sore arm and hand, but I had no awareness of that. Ginny said she could catch the baby (of course, she’s a midwife) but would prefer Dr. Gros would arrive first. I kind of hoped Ginny could catch Jonathan, because I was in love with her, and in that moment, I had decided that having a midwife catch my baby would be the coolest thing on earth.
Pushing for me was the most primal thing I have ever done. I was completely given over to the design of my body, which knew perfectly what to do, once I stopped questioning it. I was powerful and potent. I was an animal; I didn’t care whether I was civilized or not. For the first time in my life, I felt released to do exactly as I wanted to do, and it was exactly right, exactly how God made me to behave. When Jonathan crowned, I reached down and touched his head – this time with full awareness of where he was and what was happening. I do remember that as he crowned, I felt the proverbial “ring of fire,” as my perineum burned, stretching to allow his head out. But it didn’t hurt that much, apparently, because I had the Johnny Cash song “Ring of Fire” going through my head, and I thought it was kind of funny. Dr. Gros came in and quickly put on his scrubs, just in time to catch Jonathan, who practically exploded out of my body in a spray of amniotic fluid that soaked Dr. Gros, Ginny, and Dan! (Cool, huh? Actually, it was probably warm. Sorry. 😉 ) It was 5:31 p.m., exactly a half-hour after Dan and Heather had encouraged me to wait another half-hour before asking for drugs.
I don’t know if you can tell, but I still get a rush thinking about pushing my son into the world. Jonathan was born with me lying on my side, and he was born fast. He’s always been a quick one. He was 7 lbs., 10 oz. After a quick wiping off, Dr. Gros placed Jonathan onto my belly, and I met this beautiful little boy. I thought his face was gorgeous. He had these fine, artful features that I didn’t know Dan and I could produce. (Forgive me while I wax romantic.) I held him and felt wonderful. It wasn’t an orgasmic birth, but after giving birth to Jonathan, I would not write off the possibility. I had a second-degree tear, but no episiotomy. The placenta came out a few minutes after Jonathan, and Dr. Gros checked it over. I was so completely charged up and alert that I asked him all kinds of questions about the placenta, and he showed it to me – the calcification around the edges, the smooth side and the vascular side, etc. I felt an intense warmth toward Jonathan, a glowing love for Dan, who had been there with me and been perfect for me, and a sense of confidence that I could be this child’s mother. Maybe that is “bonding.” I don’t know. I was also totally overwhelmed that so much had happened in merely 15 minutes or so. It took me weeks to process it all, and also Heather’s account of the events of that day. There were definitely holes in my memory, and I appreciated her story. (Aren’t doulas great? 😉 )
This is happiness. And to really gauge how happy everything is, take a look at Dan's face. That's an excited, happy Dan.

This is happiness. And to really gauge how happy everything is, take a look at Dan's face. That's an excited, happy Dan.

After my body expelled the placenta, Dr. Gros stitched me up. I felt that as tugging, because he’d given me a shot of lidocaine, but I was so happy that I didn’t really care. The newborn procedures were done quickly, and then I got to hold Jonathan for a longer period. I breastfed him right away – he had no problem catching on – and I believe I ate my supper at the same time.

The awesome Heather 🙂 🙂

After a couple of hours, the nurses checked the involution of my uterus. I don’t know if it didn’t contract down as quickly as it was supposed to, but I was hemorrhaging. They massaged my belly (so much fun), and I continued to bleed. A pill (methergine?) didn’t stop the bleeding. I wasn’t too worried, but I was pretty weak. Finally, they gave me a pitocin IV to get the bleeding to stop. That worked. I was weak but happy.
Jonathan spent a lot of that first night in my bed with me. He wanted to suckle for hours on end, until finally I handed him off to the nurses so I could sleep.
And that’s the story of Jonathan’s first day. He was a true gift. He was a sweet, sweet baby with a very strong will. I believe he needed that strong will to survive in utero. He still has a very strong will, and he’s still sweet, three years later. I enjoy him so very much. (I realize this last little paragraph isn’t very concrete – I should really write a whole post on my Jonathan.)
Happy third birthday, little boy! What a gift you are!
My beautiful boy

My beautiful boy

Rock on!

Rock on!


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Jonathan’s birth story, Part 1: Pregnancy « intensely trivial pingbacked on 9 years, 4 months ago


  1. It’s still a beautiful story…and I love seeing his little face again. What fun! Oh, and that picture at the end just made my day (again). 🙂

    Posted 9 years, 4 months ago
  2. * Echo says:

    beautiful!! I love birth!!

    Posted 9 years, 3 months ago

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