This is the second part of my birth story, you can read part 1 here.
Shortly after requesting an epidural I began experiencing moments of serious low blood pressure and periods of losing consciousness. It was scary, and it continued happening for a couple of hours.
It turns out that some people respond this way to epidurals, and luckily the anesthesiologist, nurses, and midwives are all well equipped during these circumstances. The baby’s heart continued to stay strong and healthy, and showed no signs of distress at all, which was a comfort to both my husband Daniel and I.
At around 9:00 a.m. I asked the nurse to check if I had dilated much since getting the epidural. She hesitated to check me, but agreed.
“You haven’t changed much since our last check at 5 a.m., you’re still about 4 or 5 cm,” she said. She explained that the baby’s head hadn’t dropped yet, and without her head dropping I wouldn’t be able to progress much more.
I cried, convinced that I would need a cesarean to meet my baby.
I felt defeated; I had lost all strength and resolve. I was done, all energy spent and no desire left to keep persevering. I looked at my husband and said, “I just can’t go on.”
The nurse convinced me to try to roll over into a new position, and slowly I managed to heave my belly as I settled onto my right side.
I heard the nurse talking but I knew I was losing consciousness again. When I woke up I felt myself experiencing an intense need to push. I knew it made no sense because my body wasn’t ready, and I started to panic.
I could barely catch my breath between the contractions, and finally begged the nurse to check me again. She warned me that nothing much would have changed in a few minutes, but finally agreed.
“Oh wow,” she said. “Yep, her head has come down nicely and you’re 8 cm. I can feel she has a lot of hair.”
I sat motionless for a moment. She has a lot of hair.
I burst into tears, “It’s not fair, I want to see her. I want to see her hair,” I cried, losing all rationale.
After a few more contractions I started to shout, letting my midwives (and the rest of the hospital) know that I had to push.
Everything up until this point had moved painfully and unbearably slow. All of a sudden my labour was progressing so quickly that I didn’t have a spare moment to catch my breath, or to think about anything at all.
I continued to experience non-stop, very intense contractions, and with the permission of my midwife I began to push slowly. I tried to remember to breathe, I closed my eyes and willed myself to feel peace and calm, but my heart was pounding and my calming efforts were in vain.
I don’t remember anyone else during these moments, just a primal urge to push and the intensity of very painful contractions.
I screamed at the top of my lungs, and my midwives let me know that my daughter was ready to be born.
The Obstetrician arrived, and I knew that it was time to get down to business. The moment really had arrived.
For a moment I felt complete panic. Could I actually do this?
Enduring nine long months of pregnancy, various complications, and near constant “morning sickness” had felt impossible, but I had done it. Enduring the last 24 hours of a long and drawn out induction on no sleep felt impossible, but I had done it. Enduring all night labour with no epidural had really seemed impossible, but I was proud to say I have done it. And enduring the scary moments of low blood pressure while persevering through the fog had seemed impossible, but I’d done it.
I could do this impossible thing. My body would not fail me, it would do what my mind felt it could not.
I pushed, screaming and shouting and crying all at once. I used all my power and strength, calming my mind enough to get through the intensity and focus on what I had to do. The cord was around my baby’s neck, but was swiftly removed. For a moment the chaos of so many people in the room overwhelmed me, and I locked eyes with my doula. The room grew quiet and I felt calm. I pushed once more, letting my body take over completely.
Time slowed down, and I felt everything and nothing, my body filled with excitement, anticipation, fear, dread, anxiety, and every other emotion under the sun.
And then she was born. In that moment I cried out, just as Daniel did the same. Both of us sobbing in relief, two parents meeting the child they created together for the first time. It was a perfect moment, it was just the three of us in the entire world in that single moment. Our tears christening her birth, welcoming our daughter as our hearts exploded with pure love. Everything else melted away and it was just her, and our love for her.
I finally found my voice and whispered, “It was all worth it. Every moment was worth it for you.”
It was one of the hardest things in my life, giving birth to my third daughter, and I’d do it all over again. I love her with every ounce of my being, I would go to the moon and back to be her mother - and I know Daniel feels the same.
As I held my daughter for the first time I remember thinking that it’s so strange how you can feel so close and connected to a little person you just met. I’d created this child inside of me, and was finally meeting her after months of anticipation.
But all I really knew about this little girl was her name, the name I had chosen for her.
Eloise Wesleigh Bell.
My daughter. The one who showed me my strength, not just by giving birth to her, but by enduring a very difficult pregnancy. She has always remained the light at the end of the tunnel. My sweet prize.
I love you, my Eloise. You have completed our family and filled our hearts. I love every moment I get to spend getting to know you beyond your name. I love everything about you, and can’t wait to spend a lifetime enjoying my sweet prize.