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Saturday, July 11, 2015

Emerson: The Hospital Story

Alright, so this post will be about the rest of our hospital stay - our hospital stay post labor.  Last time it wasn't that eventful and I didn't have enough thoughts on it to devote a whole post.  This time I do!

So, first off, I remember that at some point when we were still in the labor room someone told us that Emerson had, had what's called a pneumothorax and that, that had something to do with why he wasn't breathing when he came out.  I didn't really know what that was and it's still a little fuzzy to me, but basically, his lung collapsed.  The whole time he was at the hospital I kept asking questions, trying to figure out why it had happened because usually it happens because either the baby's lungs are still immature because they were born early or because the baby has an infection.  He obviously wasn't early and after doing some tests, determined that he did not have an infection.  One nurse suggested that maybe because he was late the placenta had begun to deteriorate and that, that had affected the lungs or something.  Another suggested that his trouble with breathing when he first came out was caused by something else and that the pneumothorax was caused by them doing chest compressions on him (or by them using a ventilator, I can't remember which one she said), but when she checked the notes it didn't look like they'd done that.  Anyway, who knows?  Apparently, sometimes it just happens.  We'll never know.

Back to the timeline.  So, another thing that happened when we were still in the labor room is that I started asking everyone for food.  I am a food person.  Last time, one of my fondest memories is of getting to order whatever I wanted off the menu, whenever I wanted.  I ordered a steak right after labor and a bunch of other stuff and ate it all.  I was hoping to have the experience repeated this time, but it was not to be.  I did not end up getting any food for like 3 hours (and I was STARVING!).  At Salt Lake Regional you can order food anytime, but at the U they have set mealtimes.  I'm assuming that's because it's a much bigger hospital.

Both labors I was amazed at how busy I was while in the hospital!  Like, more busy than almost any other time in my life.  Between breastfeeding every 2 hours (or, in my case, pumping since he was in the NICU), filling out paperwork, nurse's checks, aid's checks, midwife's checks, pediatrician visits, pharmacist visits, visits with other random people (like the social worker, etc.), visiting the NICU, visits from Harper, updating family and friends, going to the bathroom (a labor in and of itself!), trying to find time to eat and trying to find time to sleep, it's always busy.  I found myself needing to schedule every moment.

And in the 3 days I was in the hospital (1 during labor and 2 after), I barely got to see either Harper or Emerson.  I remember feeling guilty that she was without her mother for so long and guilty that poor Emerson was having such a harsh introduction to the world with immediately having people work on him as soon as he was born and then spending the rest of his hospital stay on a warming table, by himself, in the NICU, mostly without his mom or dad.  It was really strange to be in the hospital room by myself most of the time (aside from the hospital staff), since Tom went home to Harper a few hours after Emerson's birth and Emerson was in the NICU.  It was also strange to know that I'd had a baby, but to not have him with me.  It was almost like a dream that he existed.  I'd love to talk to other women whose babies unexpectedly went straight to the NICU and hear what they thought and felt.  Tom was sad about barely seeing him too.  I didn't see him very often and Tom saw him even less.  For me it was hard to visit him not only because of my limited time, but because just getting to the NICU was painful and tiring, not to mention sitting in a chair and holding him.  By the time I left the NICU after each visit I was always exhausted and sore.

At first, Emerson was hooked up to a CPAP machine (I think it puts pressure on the lungs?), a canula (tube that goes in their nose to provide oxygen) and an IV (for feeding).  He was taken off the CPAP machine after a day and a half, the canula after maybe two and a half and the IV right at the end, the morning that he got discharged.  Because of all this, and labor, he looked pretty beat up and it was hard to hold him.  I wasn't allowed to try to breastfeed him til the CPAP machine was disconnected.  Because of this, he had a bit of a rough start with breastfeeding.  It wasn't until a couple weeks after he was born that he really started to do it regularly.  And even then, it was a struggle.  Until then, I only got him to really latch and eat a handful (or less) of times.  It was really exhausting, because I'd have to spend a lot of time pumping so that I could get enough milk for them to put in his IV, and then on top of that, I'd have to try to get him to breastfeed.  All of that every two hours, day and night.  And all while trying to recover, myself.  Both activities required me to be at least semi-upright, which was painful.

Anyway, the real fun began when, after 2 days post-partum, I was discharge and Emerson was not.  It was kind of ironic, because the only reason he couldn't be discharged, at that point, was because he wasn't feeding 100% without the IV (aka, he hadn't gotten breastfeeding down).  But, I was being discharged, which meant I couldn't be there with him to try to get him to breastfeed every two hours.  Kind of a catch 22.  I knew he'd be much better off at home, since he was a champ at taking a bottle at least and since that was the only way for me to really get him breastfeeding regularly.  So, I told them to please please just give him a bottle if I wasn't there, so that he could be taken off the IV and sent home.  Also, because I was recovering and couldn't really hang around the hospital to feed him all day, my nurse acquired this old exam room for me to use as my room for the night.  The U has these rooms called twilight rooms that are for NICU moms to stay in, that are these mini, very basic rooms.  But, there's a high demand for them and they were all taken.  This exam room was going to be turned into one, but hadn't been yet.  It was kind of like a mini dorm room and it was a godsend.  I kind of felt like Mary, begging for a room at an Inn for she and her baby and being grateful to end up in a stable.

The night that I stayed in the exam room went like this.  I was discharged mid-day.  I pumped and said goodbye to Emerson, then Tom drove me home.  I stayed, to be with Harper, until she went to bed.  Then, I drove (by myself, which you aren't supposed to do right after giving birth and which a nurse scolded me for) through a huge storm (and kept hydroplaning) to get back to the hospital (it's 45 minutes away).  I set my stuff up in my room, pumped, then went to see Emerson.  In the NICU, there are 2 babies to a room (the other baby in Emerson's was a suuuuper preemie born at 27 weeks and teeny-tiny) and one nurse.  Because the nurses only had 2 babies to watch, I found that they were usually pretty anxious to chat and I got to know them pretty well.  Anyway, after the visit I gave her my cell number and told her to call me when he was ready to eat again.  I made my way back to my room, got ready for bed, pumped again, dropped the milk off at the nurse's station.  All of that would take me like an hour and a half.  Then, I'd sleep for like an hour because my phone would ring and I'd have to wake up real quick and head over to the NICU again to start it all over again.  It was a rough night.

In the morning I tried to make it over there at the same time that the attending was doing her rounds so that I could try to convince her to let him go home.  When I got there, no one knew where she was or if he was being sent home or not.  I notice that his IV (which had been in his head) wasn't there anymore though.  When I finally found the attending, she gave me the good news that he could be discharged!

The rest of the morning was filled with trying to find someone to take Harp so that Tom could meet me at the hospital and help with the discharging and going through the list of things that needed to be done before he could leave.  Things like doing his hearing screening, checking to make sure his oxygen levels stayed stable while he was in his carseat, watching mandatory parenting videos, getting paperwork signed, etc.  We were lucky to have some friends volunteer to watch her while they went to Stake Conference (biannual church meeting) and after a few hours, we finally got to take him home!  We left the car that I'd driven up in Salt Lake for a few days so that we could all drive home together, as a family.  It was so nice to finally go home!

And that concludes the hospital stay!  Next up, the recovery / the rest of June, which will probably be combined into one post.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Emerson: The Birth Story

Writing this down seems really daunting to me, because it was so intense and I have so many feelings about it.  That said, I'll do my best.  I'm sure it's going to be long, so be forewarned.

So, the night of Tuesday, June 2nd, I had a couple of gift cards to use - one at Babies 'r Us and one at Target.  I was in the mood to get out by myself and get something for the baby, so I did.  I spent the whole evening wandering around those 2 stores deciding on the perfect items to get for the new baby.  On the one hand, it was SO exhausting.  I remember being at Babies 'r Us (my first stop) and just dying for a place to sit down.  I seriously considered finding a spot where no one else was and sitting on the floor.  Yeah, I was pretty done with being pregnant.  I also remember thinking that the previous Tuesday both Tom's dad and I had this thought that it was going to be Tuesday and I thought, "maybe we got it wrong and it was THIS Tuesday."  This could be revisionist history, but I think I kind of had a feeling something was going to happen that night, without consciously knowing it, if that makes any sense.  Anyway, as you might have guessed, that was my last night pregnant and I think it was kind of fitting that I spent it getting something special for the baby.

After my shopping trip, I came home and went to bed.  Around 3:30am I woke up and felt like my underwear was wet.  I don't remember if I actually felt liquid come out or if I just noticed the wetness.  It was early, so what can I say?  I decided to get up and go pee, and see if anything else came out.  I remember that after I was done peeing more liquid kept coming out without my control.  I started being more and more sure that my water had broken.  But, it was still really surreal and my brain had a hard time really accepting it on some level.  I got up to put a pad in my underwear and it just kept coming out in little squirts.  By this time I was pretty positive my water had broken, and I decided to try to go back to sleep if I could, since I figured I wasn't going to have the chance to sleep for a while.  It didn't work of course.  I just laid there trying to get my brain to stop thinking about it.  Finally, around 5am I decided to get up and start getting ready.  The first thing I did was shower.  I tried not to wake up Tom, but he had set his alarm unusually early that day, so in the middle of my shower he opened the door and said, "What's going on?" with this tone that said, "I know something labor-ish is happening."  I told him and said he should try to go back to sleep until 7.  He tried and failed as well.  The rest of the morning was spent getting ready for the day (eating, getting dressed, getting Harper ready for the day, etc.), calling the midwife who was on call, finishing packing bags (mine and Harper's), contacting our babysitter, etc.

The midwife told me that, if labor didn't start on its own, they would induce me 24 hours after my water broke and that until then I was free to either come into the hospital or stay home.  I decided not to go to the hospital and just keep getting things ready unless labor started.  Around 7:45am, the 3 of us went to Walmart to get some last minute things, including castor oil, since I really hoped to avoid Pitocin (drug used for induction) and castor oil can sometimes induce labor (and give you diarrhea).

I took the castor oil around 9:15 and tried to take a nap.  The midwife called around 10:15, which made me too awake to try to sleep any more.  She thought I should go into the Daybreak clinic and have them make sure my water broke and do a non-stress test and an Amniotic Fluid Index (basically, make sure baby was ok).  So, I got up and did some more picking up around the house (it was spotless by the time we left).  Around 10:30 I started having diarrhea and feeling nauseous.  I continued to have diarrhea most of the day.  Fun.  At that point I just sat around in bed until lunch (stopped feeling nauseous around then).  After lunch I used a breast pump (which is also supposed to be a labor inducer).  Then, around 12:30 I started to have really mild contractions that just felt like mild period cramps.  It was hard for me to time them, but I think they were about 5 minutes apart.  I tried to take a nap again, but Harper woke up from hers before I fell asleep.

Around 2pm I decided it would be a good idea to head to the hospital, for a few reasons.  My contractions were a little stronger and closer together (though still not difficult to manage) and I knew it would take us a little while because we'd have to drop Harper off at the babysitter's (my friend Jill and her hubby Dave) once we got to Salt Lake and it takes 45 minutes to get to the hospital anyway.  Plus, I didn't want to hit rush hour.  I felt like, while I probably would be fine waiting, it was better to be safe than sorry.  So, I cancelled my clinic appointment and we threw our stuff in the car and headed to Salt Lake around 3pm.  We dropped Harper off at Jill and Dave's house, which she was super excited about, then drove to the hospital.

When we got there, they took us to a triage room, where they made sure my water had broken.   I was positive it had at this point though, because it had been heavily leaking ALL day.  Pretty annoying, really.  Also, around the time we got to the hospital, my contractions stopped.  Boo.  While we were in that room we took this last pregnancy picture:

After that, they took us to a labor room.  I wanted one with a tub though, and all the tub rooms were taken at that time.  There was one that was going to be available soon though, so that room was also temporary.  While we were in that room they did some monitoring of the baby and checked vitals and all that, then pretty much let us do what we wanted.  We decided to walk around the labor ward.  Man, hospital walking is boring though.  It all looks the same and the labor ward isn't that big anyway.  We also walked around the delivery area and tried to catch a glimpse of a baby, but were not successful.  At one point, while we were walking around the labor ward, a new mom (in wheelchair) and dad came out of a room in front of us, on their way to the delivery area.  The young dad had this huge, cheesy grin on his face and kept turning around and looking at us.  Finally, he turned around and, in the happiest way you can imagine said, "it's all worth it!  It's all worth it!" Haha.  It was so cute.  Clearly they had a way different labor experience though!  Tom would NOT have been saying that right after ours!  While in the first room we also had dinner (Rumbi chicken salad).  Bless the U of U for allowing laboring women to eat!!!

Around 11pm we got moved into what I think was probably that couple's room, which had the tub. Once we got settled in we decided to try to sleep as much as possible before 3:30am when they would induce me if I wasn't already in active labor.  I was REALLY dreading being induced.  I was induced with Harper as well, because I had pre-eclampsia.  The thing about being induced with Pitocin is that it makes your contractions more frequent and more painful.  Now, I don't exactly have a non-induced labor to compare it to, but I can testify that that's absolutely true!  Anyway, getting ahead of myself here.  So, Tom and I slept until around 3:30am, aside from the hourly (?) nurse checks.

At 3:30am the on-call midwife came in to talk to me about induction.  When I'd talked to her about it the night before she'd made it sound like there were several options for how to start the induction.  I was thinking she'd probably offer Cytotec and Pitocin, but also maybe membrane stripping or something, based on how she put it.  When it came to it, though, it was just a choice between Cytotec and Pitocin.  I already knew what both were and what they are supposed to do, from Harper's labor.  With hers I started on Cytotec (which is primarily for ripening the cervix, otherwise known as effacement, and then sometimes the labor will continue on it's own, without Pitocin), then was given Pitocin once the 3 rounds of Cytotec (the max you can have) were through.  We decided to have them check me to see how dilated and effaced I was, since there would be no point in taking Cytotec if I were already all the way or nearly all the way effaced (effacement largely happens before dilation).  They hadn't checked me before then because the more they check you, the higher your risk for infection and my risk was already higher due to my water breaking.  It turned out I was fully effaced and dilated to a 4.  To me, that was good news because with Harper I wasn't even at a 1 when I was admitted and only at a 2 when I started Pitocin.  It took me a LONG time just to get to a 4 last time.

Also, I'm going to jump in here and explain where I was at with natural labor at this point.  So, with Harper I did a lot of preparation in hopes of having a natural labor.  It can be (and was) REALLY hard to go natural (meaning, no epidural) when you're induced with Pitocin, but I tried to do it anyway, last time.  I made it 21 hours and was still only dilated to a 5, so I finally gave in and got an epidural.  I don't AT ALL regret that choice, but I was really hoping to be able to go natural for this second labor.  I was told SO many times how much easier the 2nd labor usually is.  Plus, I felt like chances were small that I'd have to be induced again.  After all, I hadn't had any signs of pre-eclampsia or anything else that would require induction, until my water broke with no onset of labor. I was kind of banking on not being induced again, so I hadn't really much considered what I would do if I WAS induced.  Would I just throw in the towel?  Would I try again?  So, when I was faced with being induced again I wasn't sure where I really stood.  The previous labor was also really messing with my head.  I decided that since I was already farther than when I started last time and since I had a tub this time, I should at least give it a good try.  But, I decided that if things progressed really slowly, like last time, I wouldn't struggle for so long before just getting the epidural.  Ok, back to the story.

So, around 5am they started the Pitocin drip and my contractions started again.  Before long they were strong and close together, but still manageable. I learned a lot from Harper's labor and feel like I'm pretty good at handling the pre-transition contractions.  These contractions are still really difficult to handle, but with really focused, calm breathing and a focal point I can take them.  At first I just laid in bed.  When they were first started I mostly slept through them.  I was so tired.  When they got stronger I got out of bed and sat on the birth ball and leaned over the bed (same as last time).  When they got a little stronger I hopped in the tub.

For a while, the tub was fabulous.  Unfortunately though, the nurse had put my IV port (what's that called again?) in my hand, somewhere close to my wrist, which made it so that I couldn't put weight on that hand because I couldn't bend the wrist.  Really really dumb placement.  In labor it's REALLY helpful to be able to put weight on both hands!  This really became a problem when I was in the bath.  Eventually I started freaking out because the contractions were getting stronger, the bath was no longer helping, I couldn't get into a good position because of my IV.  To make things worse, I decided to be checked again because I was at the point where it was getting really hard and if I wasn't making reasonable progress I wanted to just get the epidural.  Unfortunately, the nurse who had checked me before was tied up.  I also wanted the midwife to come to help me talk through the decision, but she was with another laboring woman.  Both were tied up and took a really long time to come and in the meantime I was freaking out and poor Tom couldn't really help.

Finally, they came.  The nurse helped me out of the bath and onto the bed where she checked me.  I was at a 6.  This kind of sucked because if I'd been a 7 I would have felt pretty good about my progress and confidently continued.  If I'd been a 5 I would have pretty confidently gotten an epidural.  But at a 6?  I was conflicted.  I decided to continue but to have them check me again in like a half an hour.  If I hadn't made it to a 7 by then I'd get an epidural.  I also had the nurse re-place my IV.  Around that time I started being able to handle the contractions a little better.  I think it was a combination of getting out of the tub, having the IV replaced and moving positions.  Plus, I think the contractions may have died down a bit because I think I told them not to increase the Pitocin.

Anyway, because of that I kept putting off the next check.  I didn't want them to check me and not have progress and I felt like I was ok, so I could handle more.  Then, they started turning the Pitocin up again, so of course the contractions got crazy hard again.  I say crazy hard, and they were, but even though I felt like I could barely handle them at that point, they were to get so much worse!  Ah!
When they got harder again I started freaking out again.  I kept referring to my previous labor and the midwife kept trying to tell me not to focus on that one because this was a different one and my second one, which should make it easier.  But, it was really frustrating when she did that because I really needed to express my fears and she was basically trying to block me from doing so.  And, I mean, how can you NOT compare with your previous labor?  It's all you have to draw from!  Plus, up to this point there were just too many similarities that were freaking me out and I needed to address that.  Anyway, this was just the beginning of this midwife driving me nuts.  She really had an abrasive personality and wasn't good at letting me lead the way.  Plus, you know how some people tell you what you want to hear, thinking it will help you in the long run?  That's the kind of person she was, and that does NOT work for me.  As soon as you do it once and I know you're not 100% truthful with me I don't trust anything else you say.  So, the whole rest of the labor she told me OVER and OVER how I was SO close and it was almost over and it really had the opposite effect from the one she wanted it to have.

So, for a while, I suffered through these really intense contractions and intermittently...bickered with the midwife.  I mean, she drove me nuts, but maybe I needed a midwife like her or else I would have caved and gotten the epidural?  I say that because at this point I was really really ready to be checked again and pretty ready to just get the epidural.  Somehow it took longer than I wanted to get check again and I vaguely remember that it had something to do with the midwife being resistant to it and that I was frustrated, but I can't remember the details.  I also remember that before I got checked again I started feeling nauseous during contractions and I knew that was a sign of transition.

Anyway, finally she checked me again and I was dilated to an 8.  Part of me was excited because I'd never made it than far without the epidural.  Last time they checked me and told me I was at a 6 one time, then told me I was at a 5 the next time they checked (backwards!), so I didn't feel that way when they told me I was at a 6 this time.  Does that make sense?  Plus, I knew that an 8 meant I was officially in transition.  And thank goodness, because the contractions were getting SO HARD!  I wish there was a better, more accurate description of them, because that does NOT convey what I was experiencing at all.  At this point, I kind of felt like the epidural was no longer an option.  I'm not sure if that was actually true, but that's how I felt.  At the same time, I wanted one more than ever.

From this point on, things were on a whole other level.  The laboring up to this point was very hard and at some points quite difficult for me to withstand.  But at this point it was somehow at least 3 times harder.  Each contraction was just so violent.  Violent is the best word I can think of to explain it.  It was like something violent was happening to my body that I had no ability to control but that wouldn't stop.  Earlier labor contractions kind of feel like a charlie horse in your abdomen.  This was so much more than that.  Until this point, I was a pretty quiet laborer.  I just breathed a lot and probably loudly.  Once I was in transition though, I could not stop myself from screaming and yelling like crazy.  I remember the midwife telling me to try to make the yells lower pitched, because that's supposed to help, but even that was hard.  I just wanted to scream and it took too much extra concentration and effort to lower them.  I also felt like the contractions were nearly not stop at this point.  And I was definitely freaking out.  I really felt like I couldn't do it.  It's a horrible feeling to feel like you can't do something but that you have to somehow do it at the same time.

I remember sobbing and saying over and over, "guys, I can't do this!  I really can't do this!" in some vain hope that one of them would offer some solution.  Like, somehow one of them would say, "oooooh, you can't?  Well, in that case, I guess you don't have to.  Alright, let's go ahead and stop these contractions."  I really feel like labor is the closest you can get to understanding the atonement, as a human being.  I think of Mark 14:35-36 where the Lord is at Gethsemane and is experiencing the Atonement and it says, "And he went forward a little, and fell on the ground, and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him.  And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt." I mean, I feel like with  my own more limited ability to handle pain I was saying the same thing to everyone in the room.  By the way, that includes Tom, the midwife, the midwife's student and the nurse.  And just like with Jesus in Gethsemane, the "cup" could not be taken from me.  I had to just endure it somehow.

I remember getting in several different positions and that all of them seemed unbearable. I also remember that most of this time Tom was holding my hand and the midwife and student were both trying to press on pressure points on my back and that sometimes they wouldn't stop what they were doing or change it, ever so slightly, in the middle of a contraction and I would get so mad!  I mean, I'm sure they were all dying after doing this for so long, but having that change in the middle of a contraction would make something that already seemed unbearable that much worse.  When that would happen I would try to yell out and tell them to go back to what they were doing, but all I could get out was a nearly unintelligible, "stop!" or, "no!" and not only would they just say, "what?" (as if I could easily repeat the effort), but even if they understood the word they still wouldn't understand what I meant.  There wasn't enough time in-between contractions to explain either, as they were nearly non-stop.  And I was so exhausted than I had a hard time summoning the effort needed between contractions.  It was torture.  And all the while, the midwife just kept saying, "you're so close!"  Oh, and did I mention that Emerson was turned funny, so I was having back labor?  Yeah, Pitocin plus back labor.  Lovely.

So, as best I can figure, this transition period lasted for about 2 hours.  Probably from about noon until 2pm.  Finally, I started feeling a vague urge to push.  Everyone I've ever talked to about this has told me that they felt an undeniable urge to push.  They always say, "oh, you'll know when it's time!"  Somehow, thats really not how I felt.  I actually did need confirmation that I was ready to push.  I think that actually made it harder too.  Here's the thing, pushing is tiring and really really painful.  If you can help it (and apparently most women can't, as I just explained) you don't want to do it.  That's how it was for me.  Even when I was in the thick of the pushing phase, I could very easily not push.  This made it harder because then I wasn't being forced to do something that was extremely painful, like I had been with all the contractions, I had to consciously choose to push even though it hurt REALLY bad.  It's like having someone cut you with a knife versus cutting yourself with a knife...over and over.  Probably just as painful too.  The only thing that got me through it was that I knew it wouldn't end unless I pushed.  Such a mental battle!  

Once again, no position seemed right.  I tried laying on my side, squatting while holding onto a bar and leaning back against Tom.  It was also hard for me to figure out when to push and how hard and for how long and all of that.  I was constantly doubting whether I was doing it right.  And again, it seemed like it was taking SO long and I wasn't making progress even though the midwife was constantly barraging me with, "you're so close!  You're almost there!"  I even had a mirror down there so that I could see my progress and I swear they kept saying, "his head's right there!" and I'd look and could never see it until the last contraction or two.  This happened OVER and OVER before then.  It was driving me crazy.  Everyone also kept trying to motivate me by telling me about how I'd get a baby in the end and how great a prize that was.  Let me tell you, in the middle of all that pain and exhaustion, there was no spare brain cell left to concentrate on such an abstract (at the time) thing as a baby I'd never even met.  I finally yelled, "stop telling me that!  I don't CARE!!!"  Haha.  Yeah.  I was that DONE.  Another thing driving me crazy was that whoever was holding the mirror (the nurse?) had a really hard time placing it in the right spot so that I could actually see anything.  I spent so much energy trying to tell her to move it one way or another and yet it was almost never in a good spot.  Such a little thing, but it was so important at the time!

Finally, after what seemed like hours, but was only about 30 min, I could see the top of his head.  I remember Tom and I both feeling like the pushing took longer than with Harper, though in reality I pushed for 1.5 hours with her and only 35 min with him.  I also remember that the top of his head looked crazy.  It was really wrinkled and veins were popping out and it just looked weird.  At this point I was leaning back against Tom.  I remember thinking that once the head comes out, the body just slips right out.  Or at least that's how it seemed in all the birth stories I'd read or videos I'd watched.  That's not how it felt though.  It felt like all kinds of tugging and pulling and craziness was going on down there once his head came out.  It could be that it was because he had his hand up next to his face?  Maybe they had to maneuver some things?  I don't know.  Anyway, it felt weird.

So, finally, he came out and they pulled him up to my chest and for a split second I thought all the hard work was over...

Not so.

So demoralizing to not get to experience relief at that point.  I had just been through SO much and was clinging onto the thought of being able to relax.  Instead, when they pulled him up to my check it was quickly apparent that he didn't look right.  I remember noticing it right away and feeling like it took forever for the midwife the notice - even though I'm pretty sure it was a matter of seconds before action was taken.  He was blue and floppy and not crying.  The next thing I remember was the midwife clamping the cord and saying, "hurry! STAT!" to the student, who was going to cut it.  Then, they rushed him over to the warming table and a bunch of people started working on him.  In the meantime, they delivered the placenta (which was just more hurting).  Then,  they were waiting for some kind of anesthetic to arrive so they could stitch me up.  In the meantime it hurt really bad down there and I kept asking why it hadn't come yet, because I really wanted them to numb me down there already, even though it was just numbing in prep for the stitching.  I can't remember at what point they took Emerson away to the NICU.  I've had a lot of people say something to the effect of, "man, you must have been so worried about him!"  In reality, that wasn't as pressing of a thought as you might think.  First of all, I think that for some reason I felt like he'd be fine.  Maybe because Harper was taken and worked on right away too (meconium in the water) and she was fine?  Second of all, I was still in so much pain that my brain couldn't think straight.

Finally, the anesthetic arrived and they set to work on stitching me up.  Despite the anesthetic, it hurt really really bad.  Of course, the midwife kept saying she was almost done.  At one point she said, "I'm very, very close to being done" and then proceeded to continue for longer than she had done it to that point.  The longer it went on after she said that the more bitter I got.  But I was so exhausted and had been in so much pain for so long that I just reached this point where I was too tired for anger.  Instead, I just cried.  Yup, at this point I was DONE.  Poor Tom.  He was still holding my hand and had been for hours, I think and there was nothing he could do but just watch me cry.  I don't mean to put all of this on the midwife, especially since, in her mind, I'm sure she thought it was helping, but I was just really in a situation where I needed to be able to trust what people said.  Instead of it making me feel like the hard thing was almost over, it made me feel like I had no idea when it would end and took away my hope.  Does that make sense?  And I know we're just talking about the stitches here, but after all the rest it just felt like the last straw.  And it really was quite painful, it a totally different way from the rest of the labor.

Anyway, after what was probably 45 minutes or so, she finished stitching me up.  That's pretty much what I consider to be the end of the labor, because it was the end of a continuous string of pain.  Not that there wasn't more pain later, but it was a break in the pain.  I still have more to say about the hospital stay and Emerson being in the NICU, but I'll save all of that for the next post.