Saturday, January 14, 2006

All about labour: Stages 2 and 3

Once again a warning - only read if you truly wish to hear labour details. Also, please bear in mind that every woman has a different experience.
When I was fully dilated, the nurse told me it was time to start pushing. Greg and Mom were instructed to hold my legs, which had to be bent such that my knees were drawn up towards my chest. I had to grab the back of my thighs and push when contractions started. I had to take a deep breath and hold it for about ten seconds while pushing, then exhale. I had to repeat the pushing and breath-holding two more times during the same contraction. Holding my breath was the hardest part. I could feel myself getting red in the face. I also gave a major workout to all the muscles in my shoulders, back and legs, which I felt for days to come. And a first for me - I managed to bruise the bottoms of my feet (there were eventually some wood supports for me to rest my feet against). The baby crowned very quickly, which prompted the appearance of various types of doctors, residents and nurses. Unfortunately, despite the progress, the baby kept slipping back in. Also, there was debate over which direction the head of the baby was pointing. Things were taking longer than expected, but neither the baby or myself were physiologically distressed. However, after two hours, the energy required to push was exhausting me and I started to fall asleep between contractions (at this stage contractions lasted a minute or two minutes, with thirty seconds to ninety second in between). I knew when contractions were started because at some point a little area on my body was no longer under the effect of the epidural and I could feel the pain. Eventually that was fixed (I guess the epidural was wearing off) but at one point it was truly excruciating. Anyhow, once it was apparent that my energy was waning and the baby was no further out, they began to discuss options to help get the baby out. This was a big relief - not only for myself but for Greg and Mom as well. Ultimately, they used a vaccum to help remove Rebecca. It looked like a toilet plunger. Before doing so, there was a great deal of poking and prodding going on - which thankfully, I did not feel. My biggest frustration was having a half dozen people telling me to push harder, when I was already pushing as hard as I could. It was at that moment that I wanted to kick people or yell at them - but somehow I refrained from doing so. On the final contraction they managed to pull Rebecca out. I could feel the pressure as she was removed and the enormous relief that labour was finished. The placenta came out immediately so stage 3 labour was quite short. Greg cut the cord and they placed Rebecca on my chest. She was covered in all manner of goo. I was sort of stunned, tired and overwhelmed. Then they weighed her. Both Greg and my Mom cried. I gave Greg a hug and as I took my hand away I noticed that I had left a bloody smear on his shirt (from the baby). Then, as Mom and Greg went over to look at Rebecca and take pictures, I watched the obstetrician stitch me up. I have such a clear memory of the curved needle going up and down for what seemed like forever. I couldn't feel anything though. I was told I had second degree lacerations and that the stitches were all internal. Second degree lacerations go through skin, mucosa and into muscles. It's worse than first degree lacerations which often require no stitching, but far better than third and fourth degree lacerations that cover a deeper and more extensive area.
In the end, I got to hold Rebecca -which was wonderful, and get a well-deserved sleep.

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