Our friends Susan and Aaron brought their daughter (Shaye's BFF) over tonight around 7:30pm because Susan said (as relayed by Caroline and Aaron), "I'm not feeling so well and we want to go to the hospital to have everything checked out." Ok, I had NO idea her contractions were now coming every three minutes! About an hour later, Aaron called and said that they had just checked her and she entered the hospital at 9 cm dilated! He said, "If you still want to see the birth.....HURRY!" We live less than a mile from the hospital, so I made it there before they broke her water (I will never forget that sound - ACK! It kinda creeped me out). I decided to forego the Sbux non-fat peppermint mocha that I was desperately craving to make sure I got there in time. ;) Turns out, I could have stopped.
I got there, sat down quietly, and she was in a lot of pain, but she was still able to talk and actually seemed to be fine between contractions. By 8:30 this all changed. She was laboring hard and started to push. And push. And push. She kept saying, "I can not do this anymore, GET THE SUCTION" and the doctor said that the baby wasn't far enough down yet. She labored naturally and the anesthesiologist came in at one point and offered a saddleblock to which the nurse said, "Let me see how she's progressing with this next contraction." I loved her demeanor because it was as if to say, "Go away...Mama's fine and can do this without you." I actually got a little irritated with the doctor and his "well, you didn't opt for an epidural" comment at one point. How RUDE! I think after about 20 pushes, little baby Maggie (Margaret Jean) entered the world at 9:10 pm weighing 8 lbs. 8 oz. with apgars of 8 and 9 (not sure about her length). The cord was wrapped around her neck 3 times which is apparently why Susan had a hard time getting her out. Not to mention her head was a little large. Mama and baby are doing fine and Maggie latched on and was nursing quite well when I left the hospital around 10:15pm.
As for my spectating experience, I won't lie - I cried. I'm not sure why I cried exactly, but I think I was crying more for Susan than anything. She was screaming in agony and I could feel myself holding my own breath and clutching the arms of the rocking chair I was sitting in. It was a little scary to see somebody in such pain. At the same time, I also felt extremely privileged that I could be standing in that room witnessing a human being brought into this world and taking her first breath. I am very grateful to have been able to have this experience since I have never even seen the birth of my own children. I am truly, truly thankful and honored that she allowed me to be there.
Those last 7 or 8 pushes were brutal. I was standing right over the nurse's shoulders at one point watching it all unfold and she said, "Look closely right there. Do you see it? That's the top of her head." and I could see a little sliver about the size of a pinky. She joked and said, "This baby doesn't appear to have one hair on her head" and we all laughed because Drew was bald until she was about 18 months old! That gave Susan the energy to seriously push that little baby out. With a few more pushes you could see the entire top of her head and I was honestly a little horrified at how everything looked, but caught myself gasping and saying, "OH MY GOD SUSAN THERE IS HER HEAD!" It was AMAZING. Truly amazing. I never knew what a beautiful shade of blue an umbilical cord is. I always thought they were just kinda red and grayish. But it's this beautiful sky blue color. It's indescribable, actually. I think you just have to see it to believe it. I was too busy taking pictures of the baby when the placenta was delivered, so I was PISSED that I missed that part. I asked to see it and Susan's mom somewhat freaked out about it and kept saying "how gross" it is. I was somewhat shocked by that comment, but just ignored her and the nurse started to jiggle the little bag that was hanging below the bed to catch all the, ahem, "stuff" that came out during delivery. One of the other nurses jumped in and said, "Oh, I'll pull it out for her" and she literally dug it out from the bag and explained to me what all the sides were and what-not. I think I just said, "Wow, that's really amazing and beautiful" while standing there with my mouth open and Susan's mom still kept going on and on about "how anybody thinks it's beautiful is a little weird." Umm...hello...I'm standing right here. I hear you, lady. It was cool, no doubt. Bloody and strange, but that is the little sac that the baby was in and nourished by for 9 months!!
Honestly, a little part of me was sad because the placenta was just laying in this medical waste biohazard bag. I felt like it should have at least been in its own separate little pan or something. If it were my own placenta, I think I would be one of those "weirdo's" who would request to take it home with me. What the hell I would do with it, I don't know. But it just felt so weird seeing it laying there all mixed in with papers, latex gloves, and poop. I have read about Lotus birth and I'm not sure I would want the placenta hanging out with us for 3 or 4 days, but watching them clamp the cord and cut it immediately just made me feel so sad. The baby was whisked away behind a curtain to be cleaned instead of immediately given to Susan and that irritated me a little. Why can't Mama see the baby being cleaned? It was all just very strange how it was handled. After about 7 or 8 minutes, they had the baby cleaned, wrapped, diapered, and topped off with the standard blue/pink hat and handed her over to mama. I helped the baby get UNwrapped so they could have skin to skin contact and she could nurse. Susan looked so helpless like, "I don't know what to do" and the baby was fussing a little looking for her nipple. I just wanted to jump in and say, "HERE...do it like this!" but I didn't want to intrude. By this time a few more visitors had arrived and I just sat back down quietly observing everything. I did mention how I nursed Naia for 6 months with a Lact-Aid and told Susan that if she needed to borrow it I'd be more than happy to lend it to her. I'm all for bottles and have spent many hours arguing with lactivists about the subject, but I hope she just doesn't give up. She said she had a low milk supply with Drew and the hospital kept giving Drew bottles and a paci (which is why she changed hospitals with this birth), so I reminded her that the baby needs to NURSE in order for her milk supply to meet demand. So many mom's don't get that and just give up so easily.
There were so many things about the birth that seemed so sterile to me. Had it been me, I would have changed many things. For starters, if I ever give birth I think having a water birth would be really cool. Another weird thing is that the nurse came in and said, "We're going to take her for a little bit and give her her first bath, etc." I'm sure they'll do the heel stick and do all the post delivery blood tests. But a bath??? WHAT? I am just shocked that Susan didn't say, "The hell you are taking her for a bath!" I mean, shouldn't Mama just be allowed to bond with her child? I think the bath can wait - like until they are all home and the PARENTS can do that! So bizarre. Again, if it was my birth, my child wouldn't leave my sight for anything. ANYTHING!
I said that this experience would either make me want to put my 7 embryo's into my uterus or it would make me want to donate them to science. I'm still undecided about it. The labor part was not appealing to me. Not at all. I didn't find myself wanting to be in her shoes. Seeing the baby for the first time was magical, but watching her scream in agony immediately made me think "surrogate"!! People say, "You forget the pain" or "Childbirth is beautiful". Yeah, well, that part is not pretty and I certainly don't long to do it. I laughed a little to myself because, to me, seeing the top of Maggie's head brought back memories of the first time I laid eyes on my own children: Shaye was brought to us by two social workers, laid on our coffee table in the car seat, and when the little blanket was pulled back I got my first glimpse of her. That rush of seeing my first child for the first time was mind blowing. Naia was in the ICU unit on a respirator and we walked in and got our first glimpse of her little, tiny body in this big, huge bed. I cried for her helpless little self and I knew at that point she was meant to be my daughter. I'll never forget the day we walked into the nursery to meet Laela for the first time. I saw a few babies and those couple of seconds that it took to find her felt miserably like hours. But when they pointed to her and said "here she is" I was overwhelmed with emotions. Seeing *MY* babies for the first time will never compare to watching another woman give birth. But it was really cool. I think I have the "been there done that" attitude now. My curiosity has been satiated and I can honestly say that I do not have the desire to go through with what I just witnessed.