The moment my back hit the bed, I felt it...
Let me first say that the phrase "urge to push" is malarkey. I've read over and over about experiencing the "urge to push" and I can now say, without a doubt, that it is not an "urge." Calling it an "urge" implies that a I have some choice about whether or not to push. It implies that I have some sort of control, that I feel a sensation that causes me to want to push, but that I can also ignore that sensation.
That is completely not the case.
Calling it an "urge to push," is like saying that when you have food poisoning you have an "urge to throw up," as though you could choose not to. And throwing up is exactly what it felt like, except that the sensation was coming from the other end. My body was expelling the baby, whether I wanted it to or not. It was about 11:45 a.m.
When I caught my breath, I hollered to the nurse, "I'm pushing!" She ran over, checked my cervix and said, "You're complete!" Jay came back to the room, the nurse broke down the bed, and we all worked to get me into position to push. Unlike Joshua, this baby didn't show any signs of distress when I was leaning back, so we decided that I would push that way. Unfortunately, though, the epidural had started to take effect and it was really strong. Pretty soon I wasn't able to feel contractions at all and had to watch the monitor to see when they were happening. It was really difficult to push because I couldn't feel anything. Not surprisingly, my pushing wasn't terribly effective and I was getting pretty aggravated. To make things more interesting, the baby kept moving around and the fetal monitor kept losing the heartbeat. So Jay began playing triple-duty...he held one leg for me, checked my progress with every push, and chased the baby around with the fetal monitor to keep track of the heart rate (the nurse threatened to monitor internally if we couldn't keep track of the heartbeat with the external monitor).
About fifteen minutes later the doctor came in. I was thrilled to see that it was one of the two that I liked and trusted most in the practice. This particular doctor is very calm, very amenable to limiting medical interventions, and very personable. As soon as he walked in I asked if he could please turn down the epidural. "Sure!" he said, and walked over to the machine. The nurse was documenting all of this on computer and asked him what he was turning it down to
"Zero," he said.
"You're turning it off?" she asked.
God bless him. I don't know how he knew that would be OK with me or even that that's really what I wanted, but he did. And suddenly pushing became infinitely easier. I was making pretty good progress with every push, and pretty soon Jay and the nurse were taking turns trying to determine if she was going to be a redhead or not. A few minutes later the epidural had worn off completely, much to my relief.
And as I sensed that that enormous head might be ready to do some damage, I remembered to ask the doctor...
"You're not an episiotomy guy, are you?"
"No," he said, and began to explain that he used to perform them until research showed that blah, blah, blah. I had my answer. And the nurse reassured me that, "Dr. S. is really good at saving bottoms." Although I was pretty sure nobody would be able to save mine, I was relieved that there would be no cutting involved.
I really don't remember much of what happened next, but I remember that I had to stop pushing a few times so that the doctor could try to ease out the head with as little tearing as possible. And I remember really wanting to push anyway to get that stinking head out because it didn't particularly feel good where it was. And I remember the doctor telling me that I was going to tear. And I remember asking him to be sure to use a numbing agent before he stitched me up since the epidural was quite gone (like he was going forget).
And suddenly there was a head and a really long body and a wail and there she was! There was slight meconium staining, but they were satisfied with a few good suctions and suddenly she was on my chest! We cuddled for a bit before I handed her to Jay. I delivered another fabulous placenta and was stitched up. The nurses took footprints, weighed her, expressed their appreciation for my enormous child, and gave her back to me so that she could eat. I forgot how tiny that mouth can look next to a full-and-ready-to-feed breast, but she ate like a champ! She was very content, unlike Joshua who didn't stop yelling the whole time we were in the hospital.
I avoided catheterization, and since the epidural had long since worn off I got to walk to the bathroom by myself. When I got back I took Clare again and she managed to poop all over both of us. After awhile the nurses came back to clean us all up. Jay went with Clare to the room where a pediatric nurse was waiting to take her temperature and blood sugar (required for babies over ten pounds). I followed with another nurse and we all got settled in.
Clare's temperature was low enough to concern the nurse and she made us keep her in the isolette to warm up for thirty minutes. There was also some concern about her blood sugar, but it went up quickly (poor girl had to have it checked every hour for the first five hours of her life) so they left us alone.
Food was bad, nurses were good. We only stayed 24 hours before heading home, thanks to my great doctor and the great doctor from our pediatrician's office.
One more part to go...