At this point my memory is a bit more sketchy about how long it took, and I’ll have to ask the midwives at approximately what time I started pushing, but it seems to me that the pushing phase went pretty quickly. People are definitely right when they say that it is once of the less painful phases of labour. Not only can you tell the pain you’re feeling is actually doing something (she’s coming out!) but as well the pressure and stretching down there actually takes away some of the pain of the contractions. Except for that ‘ring of fire’ part. That’s true too. I’m also not sure how many contractions and sets of pushing it took to get her out; I would estimate that it was around 10.
Anyways, around 8:30pm, my contractions were getting quite strong, and whenever I would have one my belly would tense up all over (causing me to pee a little bit, I’ll be honest – there’s nothing graceful about labour) and I would slightly bear down as I was on my side. As I mentioned last time, I had no idea what the urge to push would feel like and wasn’t 100% sure if this was the urge I was supposed to feel I so I kept quiet about it for a while. I didn’t want to be told what I was feeling wasn’t the urge to push when I asked to start pushing! I’m weird like that.
Eventually, I started feeling a LOT of pressure in my crotch whenever this happened to my belly during a contraction, so I asked the midwives if I could start pushing with the next contraction; this was at around quarter to 9. The midwives were more than happy to oblige after almost 20 hours of labour, and soon I was grunting and pushing my way through the contractions.
They rolled in a mirror so I could watch the progress if I wanted to (I only glanced a couple of times as it always felt like her head was more out than it actually was, so I didn’t want to get discouraged.
The first half of the delivery felt like it went pretty slowly, but once her head was down enough that it was staying visible between contractions, the rest went really quickly. Honestly it seemed like mere minutes (and maybe it was, lol) between when they were playing with her hair between contractions and her whole head was out. It was SO difficult to stop pushing while the checked to make sure the cord was clear of her neck as it was so close and I just wanted to meet her! The second they told me it was OK to start pushing again, I pushed that girl out so fast, and once she was fully out, I pulled her up onto my chest myself (I’m very impatient, plus it was what I wanted in the event that Craig didn’t want to catch (he didn’t)).
She started crying the second she was out, but I started talking to her and cuddling her and pretty soon she calmed down and started opening her eyes. I put my hand up to shield them from the light and Craig and I got to watch our daughter take her first glances at the world.
Once the cord stopped pulsing Craig got to cut the cord. He hadn’t been in the class where they had said that it’s a lot like cutting raw chicken and I had forgotten to tell him, so his face while he was doing it was priceless. Kind of grossed out and amazed at the same time. I wish my mom had gotten a picture of him while doing it.
With the cord cut, the midwives were making sure I delivered the placenta (they asked me to cough and push gently a couple of times) but otherwise Craig and I were completely unaware of what else was going on beyond the yawns and sneezes of our little girl. She came out pink and perfect and covered in all of that gross stuff that you scrunch your nose up at on TV but don’t notice at all when it’s your own child. Her Apgar at 1 minute was a 9, with only her bluish fingers and toes keeping her from a perfect score. They were still a little discoloured at 5 minutes so she still scored a 9. She peed AND pooped on me in the first 5 minutes of life, which was also a great sign that her little digestive system and kidneys were in good working order.
I did end up tearing a little bit due to the fact that she was facing the front and her head came through at its widest diameter (thank God for a petite baby!), however it was borderline as to whether it would need stitches or not. They ended up putting 4 stitches in just to guarantee it healing perfectly, so I had to deal with sitz baths and some pulling when I climbed into the truck for a couple of days, but it healed really well and all of the stitches fell out by around the 2 week mark.
Craig got to hold her while I was being stitched up and because babies need skin to skin touch when they’re newborn, he had to take his shirt off to hold her. So cute! I just loved watching them together.
After they had me stitched up they asked if we wanted to see the placenta while they inspected it. My mom and I were more than interested while Craig chose to stay over by the warmer with Em (and perform her first (and his!) diaper change). I won’t include the picture of it, but it was really interesting as it still had the amniotic sac attached to it so we could see how she lived in there. They checked where the sac had ruptured to be sure it had been spontaneous (meaning the edges were smooth instead of jagged, so no pieces could have been left behind). They also looked at the condition of the placenta and noted that it had started becoming more pink than deep red and had some calcium and fat developing along the edges, meaning that she was indeed overdue. I had been concerned when she came out so small that maybe we had had our dates wrong or that I hadn’t eaten enough (LOL!) but they assured me she was robust and healthy and still in the normal range for newborns – she’s just petite.
Emily came back from her check with great reports. She had full wrinkles on her feet from toes to heel, also indicating she was over due (I guess preemies and those born before 40 weeks only have wrinkles going partway down or their feet are completely smooth on the bottom) and the same on her hands.
The midwives cleaned up and finished the paperwork while Emily and I got down to trying our first breastfeeding experience. She wasn’t super interested in eating, but she latched on like a pro and I was glad I had done so much research into proper technique and positions. They would serve me well in the coming weeks when I wondered if I was doing it correctly and if the pain would ever end! I’ll let you know more about what I’ve learned about breastfeeding (and parenting a newborn) later.
With her first feeding out of the way, we snuggled down in bed, got some photos taken as a family, and then had something to eat. While I was feeding her Craig had gone out to Wendy’s to pick us up some much needed dinner. We had been in labour for over 20 hours and had been running on little sleep and not much food. My mom was great for running out to Tim Horton’s or the cafeteria, but it was nice now that she had arrived and we could relax to sit down and have a full meal. Too bad I could barely keep my eyes open! I got a second wind after she was born and the exhilaration of finally holding our baby set in, but not sleeping since Thursday night had finally caught up with me, and I don’t think I had every felt so tired in my life. Not long afterwards the midwives had left and my mom (and Craig’s mom who had stopped in after she arrived) headed home and it was just the two of us and our littlest blessing. Craig tried to get me to eat a little bit more of my meal and then we settled down for our some sleep.
Due to the fact that I had needed an Oxytocin IV and because of the length my labour, I had to stay on the IV for four hours after the birth to make sure my uterus continued to properly contract and to make sure I got enough fluids. That put us to about 2 in the morning so despite the fact that we had the OK from the midwives to discharge at any time after that, we figured we might as well stay the night in the hospital and head home in the morning.
Turns out sleep would still be a distant goal as our little one had some trouble settling into this new world without being held.
But that’s a story for another day!
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading our labour and delivery story as much as I’ve enjoyed recounting and telling it. We feel so blessed to have been able to utilize both the midwives and the hospital during our birthing experience, and to have had such a positive, love filled experience.
I have a few more related topics that I’d like to post on (such as what I found helpful during labour, and what a fantastic husband and labour coach/partner I have) so check back in the next few days.
Did you miss the beginning of the story?