Continued from Part 1
My midwife finally arrived at about 6:20pm. As soon as she got there, I lost my zen. I don't know if it was the presence of someone else in the house that I wasn't familiar with, or if it was another transition in my labor. The pain was reaching it's high point. Another thing that didn't help was her psychotic ring tone that kept going off. If you've ever watched Kill Bill, you will know how wrong it is for a nurse midwife to have the song the female assassin whistles as she walks through the hospital dressed up as a nurse ready to kill the main character as she lies helplessly in bed. Eric and I exchanged looks of horror as we heard:
The contractions kept getting more and more unbearable and I was slightly disappointed with myself for not being able to keep my cool. I had read so much about not tensing up for contractions that I knew I was not heading down the right path. Midwife checked my cervix (the second and ONLY time in the entire pregnancy- Thank you midwives!) and I was only at 5 centimeters. She praised me, but I knew it was not good enough. When the birth assistant came, my midwife met her at the door and unknown to me, said she had plenty of time to get things together since I was only at 5. It's a good thing I didn't hear that!
While she was out of the room, I prayed for a quick resolution to this labor since I was reaching the end of my wits. I started making noises that I didn't think I would make while everyone told me I was doing great. Not so much, I thought. I'm losing it over here!
Eventually, I succumbed to the pain. It was unbearable. I was tense all over and couldn't relax. The contractions spilled over from one to another and there was no rest in between. My birth assistant told me to try to relax, and I desperately wanted to. She said, "You need a break between contractions, try to relax." I remember wining like a five year old child, "YES! I need a break!" I knew something needed to change- either a position change, or to sit in the hot shower, or something. I couldn't do it very much longer. I said another prayer as I lied there in my bed shaking from the tension.
Then suddenly, I felt the need to push like the most intense uncontrollable bowl movement ever. I keep telling people it was like a bowling ball moving at 50 miles an hour through my body. There was nothing I could do but push. I screamed, "I need to push!" mostly because I didn't believe it myself. The midwives had only been there for an hour (my birth assistant is also a midwife). I didn't think they would let me push- not like I could do anything about it! Eric didn't think it was time for me to push either. "BREATH SARAH, BREATH!" was his response. So I breathed, then I pushed. I screamed, "I'm PUSHING!" again, to my astonishment because was surely, it couldn't be time. The midwife was still not in the room at this time. She was on the phone- not believing me, I guess.
After the second push, the birth assistant called for the midwife to get in here, right away! My husband recounts this part with hilarity. There was a tone of urgency and bewilderment in her voice. No one believed that I was actually pushing the baby out only about 45 minutes after having my cervix checked at 5 centimeters. So she calmly told me in voice like you talk to a small child "sometimes it feels like you need to push, but the cervix is not quite ready". The next contraction came and again, there was nothing I could do but scream and say "I'M PUSHING!" They finally believed me and ripped my pants off. The baby's head was crowning.
The next contraction, her head was out. The cord was wrapped around her head and the midwife told me to push her out. All this time, I had been pushing involuntarily with the contractions, and I knew another one was only a few seconds away. I knew the baby could wait a couple more seconds, so for the next contraction, I pushed her out. It was 7:17pm. My water hadn't broke, so the midwife pulled the water sack off her head and unwrapped the cord. She was perfectly healthy. She had some fluid in her lungs, but nothing to be concerned about. To my amazement, I didn't have any damage due to the fast and heavy pushing either.
The baby was placed in my arms, but I didn't have the strength to even hold her. I was completely drained. I recall with amusement the placid epidural births when the doctor would tell me to push and I calmly pushed with a smile on my face. Then afterwards, I would hold my baby and feel completely normal as if I just went for a walk in the park. This time, I lay there, shell shocked- from the adrenaline, the pain, and the exhaustion. It was my first experience of raw, unadulterated child birth. It was a good feeling and a proud moment. I also couldn't believe I just screamed that loud. The pain from pushing was more than I expected and I had been screaming at the top of my lungs; now my voice was a bit hoarse. If I had been in the hospital, I think I would have been humiliated.
After the baby was clean off and I could hold her properly, she latched on and was breastfeeding fine. I caught sight of her eyes and they looked very different- almond shaped. The birth assistant came in and asked if I had any questions. I knew what she meant. "Do you think she has Down Syndrome?" She nodded and walked over. "Yes, she is very, very special", she said. I wasn't disappointed, just surprised.
Earlier in the pregnancy, an ultrasound showed a spot on her heart, which is a marker for Downs. Since she had no other problems, and I'm only 31 with my husband even younger, no one thought much of it. She was given a 1% chance. Who ever thinks they will be the one who gets the 1%? Looking back, I'm glad were given the heads up. It was the chance we needed to mull the idea over in our heads and come to terms with it- IF it would ever happen- which we didn't think would.
So when Eric came back in the room to see the baby, I told him she has Downs Syndrome. He took it very well. I don't remember exactly what he said, but he told the story of his friend's brother who had Downs and almost killed him with a bear hug. He only saw it as a blessing and still does. Of course, we are nervous about the unknown. The thought of her going through any pain is hard for us, but fortunately, she doesn't have any health problems that we know of. Her heart appears to be functioning well, as is everything else about her. Her muscle tone is a little low, but that's it. She is a very low-key baby. She sleeps more than my other babies and only cries when she's hungry. I tell people she's TOO good!
After the birth, Eric went to get the kids and Ginny came over to make us food. While we ate our dinner, the midwife did all the newborn measurements on the bed with me while the kids watched. It was such a peaceful and happy time. We were filled with so much gratitude for a good birth and a healthy baby. The children couldn't stop smiling at their baby sister either.
Afterward, Eric put the kids to bed and the midwives and Ginny hung out in the kitchen eating and talking while finishing up last minute things. Eric's parents drove into the driveway at 11:00pm, just as everyone else was walking out. They talked for awhile in the other room before going to bed at midnight. I was left alone in the bedroom all this time with my baby. Too exhausted to move and too exhausted to sleep. I had so much on my mind. I think I only got a couple hours of sleep even though the baby slept very well.
I feel very blessed to have such a special baby. One of the first things Eric said about her having Downs is that she is going to help us get to heaven. I said, "Yeah, it's going to be pretty hard to screw this one up!" If there's anything we knew about people with Downs is that they keep their beautiful, child-like innocence all their lives. We both felt from the beginning that she was given to us as a wonderful gift from God. How else do you explain the surprise, but anything but being chosen for a special purpose? I admit to being completely naive about what it's going to take to raise this special child, but for right now, I want to keep it that way. We will take the challenges as they come. It's all in God's hands- her life and ours. No one knows what the future brings, but for those that trust in the Lord, He will be their strength.