My eldest and her husband became parents yesterday. I was privileged to be present for the birth..and much of the hard labor. I came away with that experience wondering just how the world's population got this big? OUCH. I also wondered why anyone would do it a second time ON PURPOSE.
You see, I never experienced what I likened to pushing a watermelon through a straw. While I had a nightmarish labor with Katie, I ended up having a C-Section (under general anesthesia) and another C-Section with Sophia. I really didn't know how the conclusion of labor works!
The hospital had implemented a lame policy due to the heavy flu season. Only two visitors were allowed in the room at a time, and the baby's daddy counts as a visitor. When arriving on the floor, a visitor is required to sign in and get a badge with the room number printed on it. For the entire day, the family members and best friends/photographers were swapping badges and taking turns in the room with Katie and Christian. How this prevents the flu I have no idea! The same number of people go in and out of the room...just two at a time. The policy makes no sense, but it was strictly enforced by a person at a desk with security camera feeds on two monitors.
It was hard to get text replies from inside the room, as the visitors were not exactly focused on their phones. All I know is that it was about two hours of "We're going to start pushing soon." Finally, the pushing started, with daddy and photographer in the room. About an hour had passed with no word. Then a text came in: "We're going to take a break. We aren't making much progress." Uh-oh. Time for this mom to feel a tinge of concern. I asked to switch places with the photographer since nothing was imminent so I could get the scoop and make sure my baby wasn't in distress.
When I arrived in the room, my daughter was in severe pain, with muscle spasms in her thighs and arms between contractions. The nurse said there was no progress and she had called for the doctor--who hadn't even been in there yet! When the doctor arrived, he checked her progress and coached her through a couple of contractions, which I think helped her know exactly how to push, and helped us to know how to help her. Suddenly I was a labor co-coach!
After about 20 minutes or more of helping by holding one of her legs up and watching for progress down below, I realized that the photographer was now locked out. I convinced the nurse to let her in and let me stay. I texted her and told her that the nurse gave permission for her to enter, and shortly after that, the Gandalf at the desk called the nurse to verify our story.
Now Katie had her best friend to help coach her breathing and take pictures, her husband to hold her leg and count down the pushing, and her mom to hold her other leg up and watch for signs of an emerging infant. No one else wanted to look but I was mesmerized by the unbelievable sight of a hairy little scalp emanating from between my daughter's thighs.
She had a very rough time for a spell. Before I came in, the epidural had apparently had a leak in the line, so she wasn't getting medicated. Once that was fixed, she did better for a short time, but then her muscles began cramping and she was getting exhausted. Just when the head began to become visible, a nurse noticed the epidural pump was empty. She went to get a refill and reported back that both med carts were empty and she had called the pharmacy for more. She never got that refill. That poor woman ended up with "natural" childbirth after all...except she was confined to her back because she still had the catheter in her spinal column!
When there was enough head showing the nurse called the doctor back in and things got really intense. He suited up, removed the bottom of the table and set up what amounted to a big Hefty bag under Katie's bum to catch the byproducts of childbirth. I watched as he gingerly slid his fingers between the baby's head and vaginal tissues, gently stretching the skin and lubricating the exit. Katie said it burned, but I think it's what helped her avoid an episiotomy.
I kept staring at this hairy little bump down there and wondering where the face was. After a few contractions, the rest of the head emerged and the baby was facing directly toward me! This was the only time during the whole affair that I was taken aback. The face was slightly bluish, covered in the waxy vernix caseosa, and scrunched up in an angry grimace. My mind immediately processed this as Kuato. Oh Baby E, forgive me for thinking you were Kuato for that short moment!
Next, the doctor guided one arm out, and then the other, and the rest of the baby girl slid right out. The doctor placed her on Katie's chest and the nurses went straight to work wiping her off and suctioning her nose and mouth. It was an overwhelmingly emotional experience for us all. The doctor clamped the cord and handed Christian the scissors for him to cut it.
As all that was happening I was watching what was going on at the bottom of the bed. No one ever told me just how much blood and fluid would be pouring out of my daughter! (Remember, I was asleep for C-Sections!) After the cord was cut, the doctor pulled out the rest of the cord and the placenta and dumped it in a bin. Some bloody fluid was drawn up with a syringe and set aside. So much red liquid kept gushing out of my daughter that after a few minutes I began to wonder if she might be in danger of hemorrhaging! She was quite uncomfortable as he tended to his business of removing every bit of tissue and clot that he could from deep inside her. He administered some medication to help stop the bleeding and then he picked up a suture needle.
Katie was holding the baby with her left hand. I took her right hand in mine and said, "Squeeze my hand, not the baby." She didn't know why and then suddenly OUCH. He put two stitches in her, "to make it look good."
What a privilege it was to see my grandbaby brought into the world. What an honor it was to be able to be a part of such an intense and important day of their lives. It is an experience I will never forget and I will always be grateful for. What an absolute joy it was to see my daughter nursing her child and my son-in-law diapering and cuddling his tiny daughter and comforting his wife.
I had not known the name of my granddaughter until after I left the delivery room. Grandma Linda was the next to go in and came back with a report of her first name: Evelyn. It wasn't until Grandpa Rod came out from his turn that we found out her middle name: Elizabeth--the same as mine! Evelyn Elizabeth. A beautiful name, thoughtfully chosen.
No one was allowed to post the name or photos online until Katie did so the next morning, but I texted it to friends and family because HOW COULD I NOT?
I left Auntie Sophia (I like to call her Tía Sophia because isn't that cute?) to hold her tiny niece while I went and Jamba Juice and food for everyone. When I returned I tidied up the room and we left the exhausted new parents to rest.
When we returned the following day with Katie's favorite lunch, I was amazed at how she had bounced back already. She had good color, was getting out of bed and walking, and she was nursing like a pro. Mom and baby both looked content. She did so much better than I ever did! What a strong, amazing woman she has become. She has a true parenting partner in Christian and they both have more than enough love to give this precious little one. I am proud of them both.
Welcome to the world Evelyn Elizabeth! GG loves you!