Labor Fail, Part 2
aka: Labor Win
(Part 1 is here.)
Our nurse (our third one, by this time, I think), Agnes, had left Husband with instruction (I think) to get her when I felt like pushing. I told Husband my water broke, he asked if I felt like pushing, I pushed, he jumped up out of his chair.
(Timeout to say I love Agnes. All of the nurses and doctors we had at Sherman were so great, and Agnes was no exception. She’s a very sweet, Filipino woman who was, at the same time, prepared to drag me through the process if necessary.)
Somehow, I ended up sitting forward on the bed, legs up, trying to get the bed sitting up while the nurses tried to lay it down. Agnes showed me the little pull-up bars near my hips and explained how to pull and push, “like you have to take a number two” during contractions.
For an hour and a half Agnes would preface every contraction by yelling, “Like you have to take a number two! Ready! Breathe! Push!” And for an hour and a half, Husband would translate into his own vernacular, “Like you’re poopin’, babe, come on!” “Big poo!” “… turd … !” I’m not sure if he thought I didn’t understand Agnes’ direction, or if he was bored.
Then I started to wonder if I direct my bowel movements properly in normal circumstances. They said it every time, and after several rounds of this, part of me wanted to shout back, “I freaking get it! I’m trying, I’m trying, I’m trying! This is just how I poo!” Was I doing something wrong, that they needed to repeat this instruction every five minutes? Or did they think that after almost three decades of big girl pants that I was liable to forget the technique involved in the short time between contractions?
Sometimes they were clearly more impressed with my efforts than other times. I’d get accolades like, “That’s it!” “That was a good one!” “Just like that!” “Just like the last one!” But these were not empty platitudes, because some contractions would come and go with no gold stars, and I honestly couldn’t say what I’d done differently.
Finally, I hit a wall. I was exhausted, and I didn’t think I could do it anymore. I laid back and exhaled, “I can’t. I can’t.” Agnes sat up at the foot of the bed and very quietly but sternly said, “Alexis. Look at me.” She said it in that calm tone that you mother used to use when she was just not freaking kidding anymore, and she wasn’t even going to yell about it. That tone that you obeyed because you knew all bets were off and lightning actually would strike from heaven if you did not obey. I looked.
“Yes you can. … Push.”
She was like the labor and delivery drill sergeant in that moment, and I loved her.
Then, something happened, and all of a sudden there was a bustle. I opened my eyes and noticed three (I think) extra nurses in the room – bustling – and a doctor. I think I heard, “Dr. Mike” introduced, and decided I wasn’t sure if I liked Dr. Mike (he seemed too stoic, at first, for what was happening, but I would completely reverse that opinion within the hour) before I was being yelled at to poop on the delivery table again.
Now there were extra people evaluating the mechanism of my movements, but Husband was getting more excited every time. I heard something about a head, and just at the moment that I decided – for the third and final time – to really quit all this nonsense, a general, “Heeeyyyyyy!” went up under the spotlight, and a tiny little cry burst into the world, and I opened my eyes – actually quite surprised to see a gooey little baby being handed up to me.
We weren’t quite done yet, but I will spare you the bad part. Our little man had finally joined us. After four years of prayer and ten and a half hours in the hospital, he was in our arms – perfectly healthy and un-drugged. And we were in love.