8 PM, Christmas Eve. I received the epidural — a needle in my back — and was finally able to lay down comfortably as the drugs dulled down my pain wracked body. The nurse checked all the IV wires now attached to me, made sure I was in a comfortable position, covered me with a super warm and cozy blanket just out of the dryer, gave me the infamous hand held epidural control to increase the amount of pain meds if I began to feel pain, and quietly walked out after turning out the lights. Greg laid on a cot next to my bed and we both caught up on some much needed sleep.
10:30 PM, Christmas Eve. I began to feel uncomfortable — the need to turn on my side was almost OCDish, so I called for the nurse. She helped me turn. It was thirty minutes later that I began to feel that back jabbing pain again. I pressed the button on the epidural control for more drugs. Greg was worried that I was pressing that button too often. Whether I was pressing it too much or not, it didn’t matter, because it wasn’t working. The pain was intensifying and that button seemed to not be doing its job! I called for my midwife, Bayla. She checked my progression — I was 9 cm dilated and she could feel the baby’s head, which by the way, had lots of hair! Bayla upped the Pitocin to make the inducing go faster. I needed to do something because of the pain, so she used some of her midwifery techniques and got me to try different positions to get the baby’s head down lower. The one position I remember was getting on my hands and knees. Prior to this point, I remember feeling timid about my body being uncovered, but at that point I didn’t care! Uncovered, I was! I was in so much pain that I would do anything for it to subside, even a little.
1 AM, Christmas Morning. It was this point in time I began telling Bayla and Greg that I couldn’t do it. It was too much. I began begging for a c-section. Bayla told me to press the epidural button for more drugs. I was pressing the button, but it wasn’t helping! She called the nurses in. I remember a few coming in to provide me with some physical and emotional support. The head nurse took Bayla’s place and began urging me to push. She told me that she could feel the baby’s head, even see it, and that I just needed to push — all I could do was somewhat push, cry and say I couldn’t. I remember constantly looking at Greg with such anguish and begging him to let me get a c-section. ”Cut me up,” I was thinking, just let this pain end. The pain was so unbearable — I can’t even begin to describe it. The nurses, after seeing all the pain I was in, decided to call the anesthesiologist to check my epidural. Once he came, they had me sit up. My body was being wracked with such forceful contractions that I was literally shaking. The head nurse took me in her arms and held me while the anesthesiologist checked the needle in my back. He was outraged — the needle had come out of my back at some point! [Put aside all the pain I was in, the very fact that the epidural needle came out of my back was reason for suing the hospital because such incidents could lead to paralysis, etc.] I personally think it must have come out when the midwife had me try various positions to get the baby’s head down lower. The anesthesiologist redid my needle and taped it all up. All the while, I felt the baby’s head lower while I sat getting the needle reinserted. It felt like I was literally sitting on the baby’s head inside me.
2 AM, Christmas Morning. After the epidural was replaced and the drugs now flowing freely through my body once again, the pain began to slowly subside. I laid back as I sucked on ice chips and began joking with the nurses, “I was just kidding about all the c-section stuff.” Everyone laughed.
It was then that I slept between contractions. The nurses would wake me up when it was time to push. It was heavenly sleep — those few minutes here and there. Heavenly. The pushing seemed futile to me because I couldn’t feel anything. It seemed to be futile to the nurses too because the baby’s head wasn’t budging. It was still stuck and couldn’t get past my tail bone. Greg watched and listened as the nurses shook their heads and quietly spoke about me needing surgery since the baby wasn’t budging. He left the room to call my parents. He asked for prayer — specifically that I would not have to get a c-section. They ended up calling my grandparents, and others in the church to pray for us. [My dad says that within a couple hours they stopped praying because they knew, by faith, their prayers had been answered.]
3:30 AM Christmas Morning. The surgeon was called in. A nice fatherly looking man. He felt for the baby’s head and the exact position of the baby. He talked to Greg and I and asked permission to try a technique he had tried once before. If that didn’t work, he would take me into surgery. Greg and I gave him permission to try the technique. The technique — during a contraction, he gripped the baby’s head and shoulders with one of his hands and began to turn the baby. It was such a forceful, yet concentrated maneuver, that the surgeon had to slowly turn his whole body around while turning the baby. Greg watched in horror thinking that his baby’s neck would snap at any moment. Instead, in a matter of a few minutes, our precious baby girl was born.
4:13 AM, Christmas Morning. Weighing in at 9 pounds, 1.6 ounces, and 21.75 inches long was, Dhara Avonlea Smith. Otherwise known as, Dhara Dear. As she came out, Greg’s eyes got real wide and he said, “Whoa, she’s a big baby!” Here’s a short video of her seconds after being delivered.
Below are two photographs taken of my sweet cupcake within a couple hours of her birth — her first photo. She literally looks like a cupcake. : ) Thanks to Zuma Aunty and her camera phone.
early morning rays and a sleepy newborn
All that being said, Dhara was delivered just fine, except for the minor cone head. Even though she was stuck in the birth canal for an extended period of time, her heartbeat always remained constant, as did mine. I did have a 3rd degree tear. But, so grateful to the Lord for our protection. I’m also grateful for a group of prayer warriors who prayed at 2 AM for a vaginal and safe delivery. I was literally 5 minutes away from being taken to the operating room for a cesarean section. I think it was their prayers that moved our mountain. Soooo happy now that I don’t have those scars on my tummy to show for it. Instead, God’s hand lead us all the way. It wasn’t easy, that’s for sure!
Most moms that I’ve seen look great after giving birth. I looked like I had just been in a train wreck. I felt like the whole experience could have added a couple of years to me. It’s a good thing that I’ve lost all sense of the pain I felt that day because all this being said, I still want to try birthing naturally next time around, especially if the baby is in the correct position. Call me crazy, but it’s still a deep desire of mine. Both Greg and I are interested in trying a birthing center next time around. We wouldn’t mind birthing at home, but I think both sets of parents would think we’re loony. But who knows, maybe we will one day. Greg personally thinks that we shouldn’t have had to induce with Dhara. He thinks the midwife could have done more to turn the baby during the early laboring phase, such as putting me in various positions, or using a rebozo to “sift” the baby.
For those of you who are wondering about the doula I initially hired, we ended up not having one because of the hospital switch I made later on in my pregnancy. The cost of the new midwives was not fully covered under our insurance, so we decided to forgo the doula. However, in hindsight, we both wish we had a doula with us. She would have helped in going to the hospital at the right time — we ended up going too early. She probably would have also helped in turning the baby to the right position with various “baby turning” techniques.
Also as a side note, the epidural ended up having a negative side effect on me. For about two months my right foot was numb. In other words, it was like I had a lead foot. I was worried that I would be stuck with it, but thank God it wore off in a couple months.
So there you have it! Our birth story. I’m going to go ahead and write up a brief Part III because I don’t want to forget what it felt like to have Dhara under the lights due to her jaundice. Part III coming up.
[End of Part II.]