Wow! Can’t believe this turned into a 4 part story. This is the final installment. It did take 50 hours from the time we checked into the hospital to the time you were born, but still, this is a loooooong story. Especially for a story where we know the ending. Spoiler alert: I had a baby! If this is the first you’ve seen of this story, please go ahead and read Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 first.
So, at the end of Part 3, I was ecstatic to find that I had dilated to 10 centimeters and was ready to push this baby out in no time, with no problem. I was in a hurry to get this done because I had arrived at the hospital for my induction at 2:30 PM on Thursday, and it was now after noon on Saturday, June 25th. I asked the nurse how I would know it was time to push, and she said I would feel like I had to poop real bad. So, I waited until I could wait no longer (about 45 minutes) and said that I felt like I had to poop real bad (which was not entirely true). So, I started pushing at about 1:30 PM on Saturday, June 25th – 47 hours after I checked into the hospital, and 45 hours after the induction began. I keep mentioning how long it had been, because it felt like that was a REALLY LONG time. I’d heard of labor that lasted as long as 24 hours, but never of any that lasted as long as mine had lasted so far. So, when it was time to start pushing, I didn’t realize that pushing means that the nurse holds one of your legs up and back, and your husband holds the other leg up and back, so that was the position we were in. I needed the nurse to tell me when to push (from looking at my contractions on the monitor) because I still couldn’t entirely feel them. A couple times I caught her not paying attention (!) and forgetting to tell me. Hm.
But, she was very, very encouraging when I would push. I would give 3-4 good pushes every contraction, and was having contractions about 4 minutes apart. I was pushing so hard my face was turning purple. Chris later told me that he’d never seen my face that color before. The nurse was like, “Yes! You’re doing it! You’re a natural! You sure you haven’t done this before? WOW!” etc. This went on for about 45 minutes, and then the nurse said, “I can see her head!” Whoa. That really lit a fire in me and I was pushing with all my might. BUT, this kept going and going, and going. And in between contractions, the head would go back in the opposite direction a little bit, so the nurse was telling me that I needed to “hold” in between pushes. So, I was trying to do that. I was pushing and pushing. And the nurse kept saying she could see the head. After about 2 hours of pushing (yes, seriously), I no longer believed the nurse when she said she could see the head, or that I was only about 10 pushes away. I was so tired from the pushing that I was sleeping in between contractions. Chris would give me sips of water after pushes, and was telling me he loved me. In retrospect, it was very sweet. Yes, I made the nurse tell me how many pushes she thought I had left. I needed a number. Even if it was just a guess. She thought that was weird. I remember at one point after she said 10 pushes left, and I was so excited because I did 4 pushes in one contraction, and she clarified that she meant 10 contractions – not 10 individual pushes. I challenged her because I remembered she distinctly said “pushes” not “contractions.” And 10 contractions is actually more like 40 pushes. And 40 is a lot more than 10. Yes, as you can see, I was not in my right mind. But, in sum, I thought this nurse was full of bullcrap. She promised me 10 pushes which was 2.5 contractions, and now she was upping the estimate to 40 pushes! Incompetent! (Not really, but I was delirious).
We got to about 4:15 PM, and the nurse said she was going to call the doctor to come in so we could deliver this baby. Then I really got excited because I know they don’t call the doctor unless you are really about to have the baby! So the doctor came in, and I was still pushing and pushing, and the doctor said that he was going to give me 3 more contractions to get the baby out, and then he was going to “help” me. When I asked him what he meant by that, he said he would use the vacuum. Even though this was not on the birth plan (as was a lot of things we had already done!), I.Did.Not.Care. I was ready for the vacuum! I asked, “Is the vacuum something you have with you, or is it something you have to go get?” He thought this was a funny question, but he laughed and then said he had it with him. I was asking though because every time a nurse had said she was going to get something for me, it took at least 30 minutes, and I was Out.Of.Patience at this point. I didn’t even want to wait for the 3 contractions to get to the vacuum, I wanted the baby out right then.
Once the next contraction started, however, something clicked inside of me, and I thought, “I am not waiting anymore, I am going to beat this deadline, and I am going to get this baby out on my own right now.” And I pushed the hardest push, and at the end of that contraction, the nurse said, “The baby’s head is halfway out!” Since I no longer believed the nurse, I asked Chris to check. He peeked down in between contractions, and when he came back to my head, I saw the blood drain out of his face, and as pale as a ghost, he said, “OH.MY.GOD.Shelley. The baby’s head is HALFWAY OUT!” He didn’t even need to say it though, because his expression said everything, and I believed him. The next contraction, I did one big push, and then the doctor said to give a tiny push (not a big push), and when I pushed he said, “No! Smaller! A really small push.” That was the first time anyone told me to push smaller (!) and it was because (I think?) Scarlett was coming out, and they didn’t want me to shoot her across the room!
Before I knew it, she was out and on my chest. It was 4:47 PM on Saturday, June 25th 2011. I pushed for over 3 hours, and she was born just over 48 hours after the induction began. She was wide awake, and looking up at me. I put her to my breast and she nursed a little bit. We (she and I both) didn’t really know what we were doing though. We were just falling in love. When she was on my chest, I remember Chris put his finger in her hand, and she grasped it, and he exclaimed in amazement, “Look! She grabbed my finger!” I remember the nurse saying she was small, but long. She was 6 lbs, 12 ounces and 21 inches long. She had dark hair and really deep blue eyes.
I remember the doctor and nurse saying, “She was sunny side up!” as if they didn’t know this beforehand. And actually, they probably didn’t know beforehand, because there had been a doctor/nurse change since I’d had my epidural. I remember the doctor saying that this was why it had taken me over 3 hours to push her out, and he said that this was “the hardest way a woman could deliver a baby.” I thought, “Duh – I’ve been telling people all along that she was facing the wrong way!” but honestly, at this point, it didn’t matter to me. I didn’t care how long it had taken, or how hard it was deliver her. I had Scarlett. She was perfect. I remember thinking, “So this is what she looks like! She’s perfect!” Scarlett – you were. And you are. You were totally worth all the time it took: I loved you from the beginning.
Chris fell immediately and deeply in love with her as well. As soon as she grasped his finger, he was single-minded in her devotion to her, and I loved watching his devotion to me during labor turn to fatherly love for his daughter. In fact, this was one of the things I hadn’t thought of before – how awesome it was to see Chris become a father right in front of my eyes.
The birth wasn’t quite “according to Birth Plan,” but I was very happy to have had a vaginal birth. But, the most important thing was that Scarlett was OK. More than OK – she was perfect.