(Continued from Part 2)
At about 2:15 am, the midwife encouraged me to get out of the tub in order to relieve my bladder and to check the progression of my cervix. The nurse helped me to remove the wet gown, and covered me in towels. I returned to the bed. In between contractions, the midwife checked my cervix. It was 7-8 cm. At this point, she recommended that she rupture my membranes (break my water) to check if the fluid was clear or stained with meconium. If it was clear, I was free to return to the tub if I desired. If there was meconium in the fluid (meaning that Trey had a bowel movement in utero), I would have to remain in the bed for the rest of labor to allow for prompt suctioning of Trey’s mouth and nose directly after the head was delivered (to reduce the chance of aspiration). My bag of waters was completely clear. About the time that the midwife explained that my contractions would become more intense now that the membranes had been ruptured, I was hit with an incredible pain. My breathing became rapid and uncontrolled. William quickly came to my side, softly reminding me to be calm and to breathe slowly. It is amazing the difference that controlled breathing makes. As soon as I focused on my breathing rather than the pain, the pain seemed to dissipate.
I labored in the bed for roughly 8-10 more contractions. In that short amount of time, I began to feel the urge to push. Every woman I have talked to concerning labor has said that the urge to push is uncontrollable. The body knows what it needs to do. At first, I felt as if something was jerking the top half of my body downward towards my feet. I felt tossed about. I couldn’t believe that the pushing stage had come so quickly. It was at that moment that I decided to return to the water. I told the midwife that I felt the need to push, and she told me to go with the urge. At first, we used the flotation pillow as a cushion for my back. It didn’t want to stay in place and I was having a little difficulty maintaining a proper pushing position. I asked William to join me in the water. He put on his swim trunks (hospital policy mandates that only the laboring mothers are allowed to “skinny dip,” but I don’t think William had any problem with this rule) and climbed in the tub behind me around 2:40 am.
By this time I was in full pushing mode. As each contraction began, I took some deep breaths in and out. Then, I would take a deep breath, hold it, and push. I found my coordination to be a bit lacking, and it took me a few contractions to get the hang of it. The sensation of the pushing contraction is difficult to describe. It felt like a shelf of pressure developing across my lower abdomen which quickly forced its way down into the pelvis. It was with that force that I pushed. During the other stages of labor, I was very quiet. I didn’t want to waste any energy on noise. It was a different story while I pushed. I couldn’t help but to make noise as the air I was so desperately trying to hold in would escape like a deflating balloon. The midwife was positioned at my feet with plastic-gloved arms extended into the water. The nurse knelt by the side of the tub cheering me on during the contractions. “Push, push, push through the pain,” she cheered. After roughly 15 minutes, I heard the midwife say: “I think that’s the head.” I couldn’t believe that Trey was already that low. I continued to push, starting to feel a burning sensation in the perineum. My eyes were closed through most of this as I focused my energy on pushing, but I peeked a few times to see the head as it crowned. I reached down once to feel the bumpy, squashed head. Between each contraction, the nurse placed a waterproof fetal heart monitor on my belly to check on Trey’s well-being. His heart rate was beginning to drop into the 90′s (when it is supposed to be in the 130′s to 140′s) because his head was being compressed in the birth canal. The nurse and midwife had a more intense vigor in their coaching as the urged me to “push, push, push, push, push…He’s almost here. You need to push him out.” The pain was strong, but I felt unable to hold my breath long enough to push effectively. Trey’s heart rate kept dropping. The midwife tried to massage the perineum to ease the head out, but it seemed to be stuck. I heard her say: “Bring the table over here. I’m going to need to do an episiotomy after this next contraction. We need to get him out.” William leaned in close to my ear as I rested for the next contraction. “Heidi, you don’t want that episiotomy. You need to push him out this time.” The incentive of avoiding an episiotomy and being able to hold my baby boy gave me the burst of energy I needed. I said a quick prayer for strength. As the contraction started, I began to push. I continued to push even after the contraction had ended. I was determined to push him out. With an intense burn, then an amazing release of pressure, he was born. He emerged into the water, eyes wide open. William’s eyes met Trey’s as the midwife lifted him out of the water and placed him on my chest. I could hear the quiver in William’s voice as he welcomed our new son.
After all this time, he was finally in my arms. He was tiny, white, wet and squirmy. We rubbed him with a dry blanket to stimulate a cry. It took a minute, then he gave a shout and he began to turn a rosy pink. The midwife clamped off the umbilical cord and passed William the scissors. After nearly cutting in the wrong segment, he cut the cord with a little squirt of blood. We were a family. William held me as I held our son.
Trey was taken to the warmer to be cleaned and examined. I returned to the bed to deliver the placenta. Without the use of pitocin and with little blood, the “after-birth” took only a few minutes. I called William over to take pictures of the placenta, but at that point he was much more interested in his son. It took the midwife 30 minuntes to repair the damage to my perineum, but she was amazed that I had not torn more. If she would have done an episiotomy, the injury would have been much more extensive. I lay there cold and exhausted, finding it difficult to relax while being pricked by needles. Yet, I finally shed a tear as I watched William gazing at his son. After examinations and repairs were finished, Trey was returned to me. He latched on to breastfeed like a pro. Everyone else left the room. We were alone. We were tired. We were parents. We smiled and stared in awe, thanking God for this most amazing child resting in our arms.