The birth of Cecilia, part 2
Read part 1.
We arrived at the hospital at about 8:30, which, in case you were wondering, is Elliot’s bedtime. Appropriately, he was dressed in his pajamas. I had a few contractions in the parking lot, lobby, elevator and hallways of the hospital. I think at one point Elliot said, “Hurry up, Mama!”
As we approached what would become my hospital room for the next two days, Jan and a couple nurses were waiting right outside it in the hallway. After we entered the room, I had a contraction. Listening to my moaning, Jan said, “That sounds promising.” When it was over, Lenore suggested that I put on my gown. I made a point to express my satisfaction with my gown to Lenore, Jan and the nurses because it was hot pink, and it came with a matching headband. I was surprisingly myself in between contractions; I thought I would be much less coherent.
Jan then asked if I wanted her to check me. I said, “OK.” Not surprising to me or Lenore, she pronounced me 8-9 centimeters dilated.
The absolute worst part about my birth experience was the nurses’ insistence that I have a hep-lock in my arm. The purpose of a hep-lock is for hospital staff to gain easy access to a vein should the patient need an IV. I had written in my birth plan that I did not want an IV. The nurses knew this; they actually told me they read my plan before I arrived. They explained that if I were to hemorrhage after the birth, it would be much more difficult for them to find a vein. I already knew all this. I had been waffling back and forth for weeks about whether I was going to allow the hep-lock. Because I knew I was going to have the natural birth I wanted, I decided to give in to this one concession and let them put in the hep-lock. They assured me it would be quick – quick enough to be done between contractions. Now, I have excellent veins. I have been donating blood at the Red Cross for years, and the employees always comment on how great my veins are. The hospital nurses said the same thing, but the one who first tried to administer the hep-lock messed up. She “blew the vein.” I don’t know what that means; that was her terminology. So, the other nurse tried and was successful. It took them FOUR contractions to get that stupid thing in place. In retrospect, I know consenting to the hep-lock was a mistake.
While that ordeal was occurring, Mike was still in contact with my parents, tracking their progress and hoping they would arrive before the baby did! I kept asking, “Are my parents here yet?” Lenore told me she thought I was determined to keep Baby Girl in utero until my parents got to the hospital. A little while later, Mike announced, “April, they’re here. I’m taking Elliot to the waiting room.”
When he said that, I climbed onto the bed and got in a hands-and-knees position. After delivering Elliot on my back, I knew I wanted to try a different pushing position for this baby. I had a few incredibly painful contractions. I was screaming during the contractions and crying between them. Lenore was on my left, and Mike was on my right. I looked at Lenore and said, “I know it’s getting close because I feel like I’m going to die.” The pain was so intense that, with every contraction, I wondered how I could possibly live through it.
Lenore asked if I felt the urge to push. I wasn’t sure I was ready, but I tried. At first, it didn’t feel right. I’m not sure if my body truly wasn’t ready, or if I was just scared. After a couple more contractions, though, I decided to really give it a go. Instead of screaming, I held my breath and pushed with all my might.
For some reason, I completely forgot that my water had not broken yet. It never occurred to me that that would happen soon. Soon after I started pushing, at 9:27 p.m., my water broke. I mistakenly thought I was peeing.
Pushing with this baby hurt more than I remember with Elliot. In fact, it felt like she was crowning with every contraction. The burning sensation was unbearable. I kept saying to Mike, “I want her out!” After each contraction ended, I could feel the baby move back up, and that was terribly discouraging. I told Jan and Lenore that I could feel the baby “going right back in.” They did their best to encourage me. “The baby is just rocking back and forth,” Jan said.
I pushed for about 25 minutes. Cecilia Renee Henry was born at 9:48 p.m. Jan caught her, let Mike take a picture and passed her through my legs onto the bed so I could see her. I was completely overwhelmed. I just looked at her for a few seconds before I picked her up. She was still attached, so I carefully rolled over to my back and held her.
Jan commented on how long the cord was, saying it was possibly the longest one she’d ever seen. Cecilia latched on and nursed right away.
I held her for a little while longer before Mike brought Elliot in to meet his new baby sister. I will never forget what he said when he saw her: “Ah, she’s so beautiful.” It was a perfect moment that I will forever treasure.
I am so thankful to the midwives – especially Jan for catching her – and the nurses, despite the hep-lock ordeal. They read and respected my birth plan and my wishes for a natural birth; they never asked me to rate my pain, and they never mentioned pain medication of any sort.
Lenore and Mike were my advocates and cheerleaders, helping me to welcome our sweet baby girl to the world. I agree with Elliot; she is beautiful, and so is he. They are two healthy blessings from God.