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Time to Push, Is There a Doctor In the House? No, Just Wait a Minute...
Wannabwestern is my pen name on HubPages, where I write about all of my favorite things. Humor has helped me through two pregnancies here on HP, where I appear to be perpetually pregnant. Here are some of my other pregnancy and parenting hubs.
He was my fourth child, a precious little son, and we were in our last moments of childbirth. After almost an hour of pushing, I felt a pop as the baby's head and shoulders pushed under my pubic bone. What a relief! I felt this moment would never come. The pushing had been long and difficult, and the progress was very, very slow. Each time a contraction would come on, I'd push with all of my might, only to feel as if he were sliding back, like an ocean wave coming in with the tide and ebbing back out to sea.
I wasn't at the edge of exhaustion, I was well in the depths of it. It was time for the baby to come out. So when he finally crowned, I knew the hardest work was done. And I pooled all of my energy, every last bit of strength that was left, to push him out with the next contraction.
"NO! WAIT! HOLD ON!" said the attending nurse in an urgent voice that made me listen and take heed.
"The doctor isn't here yet and he'll skin me alive if I let you give birth to this baby without him present."
"Where is he?" My husband asked, wondering aloud what I was screaming from inside, but too tired to ask myself.
"Oh, he's across the hall, helping with a C-section. But he won't be long. Can you just hold tight and wait for him?"
Hold tight? Wait? WHA??? We're not talking about running to the corner store to pick up the odd Diet Pepsi here, there's a baby under my pubic bone, and unbearable pressure like the most intense bowel movement I've ever experienced, but you want me to HOLD IT IN? The nurse apologetically offers an explanation: the doctor can't bill the delivery unless he is present to perform the delivery.
I agreed, reluctantly, because I didn't have a choice. I wanted someone to be able to catch the little squirt on the way out.
The next contraction came. I had received an epidural but had resolved not to self medicate at all. So the epidural was wearing off, little by little. I was able to wiggle my toes, though, and my thighs didn't feel like lead balloons. I could feel the sensation of warmth below my waist, but other sensations were blocked. But, oh, the pressure. Nothing can relieve the pressure, not even an epidural. The oncoming contraction told me that pregnancy and childbirth are natural processes. They take on lives of their own, and nothing or no one can control it. Not even the doctor across the hall who is having a scheduling conflict.
The nurse took one look at my face, and hastily reminded me to breathe. "Don't forget to breathe, honey. In, Out, In, Out." It seems like whether the duration of a contraction is spent pushing until you can't breathe, or holding the baby in position while your body is screaming at you "PUSH! What's wrong with you you already! PUSH!" The contraction feels like it lasts an eternity. But finally, it is over, and I sigh a breath of relief, knowing the next one will be upon me soon. Okay, I think, watching the door with a mixture of hope and terror, wondering how long a C-section takes.
The baby resting between my legs doesn't seem to mind. It is an odd sensation, having a baby's head resting under your pubic bone. He is a big baby and it is a tight fit. I think I can feel his shoulders hunched up under there.
A minute passes. Then another, and another. Another contraction comes, then another, and another. I am starting to feel desperate. Must get him out. Anything. Just got to get him out. I look at my husband, who is standing there looking apologetic (I'm sorry I did this to you. It will be over soon, I hope). And I tell him, "I'm pushing on the next contraction."
The contraction comes, and I start to push. The nurse says, "Should I go and get the doctor?"
I should have said "Yes dear, that would be lovely," or for melodramatic effect, picked up any random items that happened to be within reach of the hospital bed and threw them at her. YES! Get the doctor! NOW! Because I am having that baby, even if that no show doctor doesn't walk through the door. The nurse leaves the room to find the doctor, and we are now completely and utterly alone with each other and the baby, who has crowned and has been sitting there waiting for further instructions for the better part of 10 minutes.
I look intently at my husband. Sweat is dripping from my forehead, and I silently will him to catch the baby if the doctor AND the nurse are both gone when the baby decides to join the world. For a brief moment, (really brief, mind you, I had other things on my mind), I think of the women who would give birth in the fields, squatting down, catching the baby themselves, cutting the umbilical cord with their teeth, and going back to work. Did they really do that? How is it possible.
Where are they? I wonder aloud, between painful contractions. I've been pushing through the last 6 contractions. It's been almost 20 minutes.
My husband pipes up to correct me. Actually, it wasn't that long, he reminds me, three, maybe four. Sometimes his need to be right takes on an absurd life of its own. Remember, we've been married for 18 years. Our argument is interrupted by another contraction.
And I bear down. The nurse comes in, the doctor following. He takes one look at me and orders me to wait. "Just let me get into position." he tells me. I've been in position for a very long time!
The nurse grabs my legs and places them in stirrups. At this point, there is no indignity I would not face to just squeeze that baby out.
An Argument for At-home Childbirth?
The doctor looks a little irritated. Clearly I have put him at a real inconvenience. With everything in place, another nurse comes in the room to prepare the weighing station for the birth of the baby. "Do I need to wait for her, too?" I ask the doctor. She chimes in from the back of the room with a fresh, cheerful voice I'm in no mood to hear, "No, I'm fine, you just do what you need to do!"
Then the last contraction comes, and the baby is ready to be born. With all the effort I can muster, I push one last time, and I can feel the muscles catching on the baby's shoulders, then a slight burn as something tears a little and the baby comes completely free. Looking down at the newborn child, he is wet and covered with white stuff. I begin to cry, I am so relieved it is over.
Now the attention is on my husband, whom the doctor has invited to cut the cord. There is smiling and a congratulations, and I hold the baby to me while my husband cuts the cord. Then he is wrapped up and they take the baby out of my arms. The doctor begins to deliver the afterbirth, well-practiced at pushing, I use my muscles to expel the rest of it. The doctor looks up at me, a little surprised, then says "thanks," and I reply "you're welcome." Then, like Santa Claus, the doctor is gone as quickly as he has arrived.