Continued from Part Two...
The sensation of the epidural was a little odd. My lower half wasn't completely numb. I could still feel the sensations of my uterus contracting, for example, but the pain was totally gone. The pressure that began mounting once baby started to push her way down the birth canal was hard to ignore, but it didn't actually hurt anymore. I guess the best way to describe everything would be to call it surreal.
Shortly after my water was broken the doctor checked my cervix again to see if she could tell how far the baby had come down. This is when things really got interesting. I remember her looking concerned, then reaching in again and saying "I'm not supposed to feel a nose."
A nurse was called in to confirm the doctor's suspicions and yes, Sidney was situated face first in the birth canal. They called it "full facial presentation" but I've since heard it referred to more often as "sunny side up". They explained to me that this was a really rare presentation and that there was some danger involved. Baby was pretty much guaranteed to incur a fair amount of bruising (mostly facial bruising) on her way out which would also increase her risk for developing jaundice. Further, there was a concern about her neck being too stressed by delivery and her airway being compromised.
The big decision at hand was whether to keep trying for a vaginal delivery or to go for the emergency C-section. In this moment, I was pretty grateful that I had gotten the epidural because the thought of my baby being in any kind of danger already had me close to tears. If I had been going through crazy contractions while listening to this drama unfold I think I really might have lost it. Eventually Dr. Angry Hands was called back in to weigh in. Despite the fact that she had already traumatized me once before, she shoved her hands way up and knuckled my perineum yet again. Even with the epidural I could STILL feel how roughly she was treating my nether regions, so that says a lot.
Dr. Angry Hands decided that my pelvis was large enough to handle a sunny-side up baby and insisted that we try pushing before jumping to the C-section. I was very very nervous at this point and actually argued against the vaginal delivery at that point because I was just way too scared of anything happening to this baby to take even the slightest risk. She continued to insist, and so we compromised by agreeing to push for ten minutes. If no progress was made, or if the baby seemed at all in distress we would stop immediately and go for the c-section. I agreed, and on the next contraction started to push.
Her nose and mouth appeared after the very first push. A collective gasp escaped the room. My doctors, nurses, my sister who was acting as my doula, and my husband started to bustle around and shout encouraging words. Suddenly there were three times as many people in the room. I kept on pushing. Sidney's whole face popped out. My sister told me, in between contractions, how crazy it looked down there so I asked her to take a photo that would later blow my mind.
Less than ten minutes later a tiny purple baby was plopped onto my chest. Just as I started to cuddle her close I heard someone yelling "clamp and cut! clamp and cut!" and suddenly she was gone - whisked away to a table across the room. I couldn't reach her. My legs were still numb and useless. My perineum had ripped almost all the way through, and I had just given birth. I was stuck where I was so all I could do was lay there listening for the sound of my baby crying.
When that sound didn't come, I started to get really scared. Suddenly I remembered that my sister was nearby. I asked her what was happening. Was my baby ok? She tried to reassure me. I asked her to go take some photos for me. I hadn't even had any time to see her. Scott later told me that they had given her a breathing tube for the first five or so minutes of her life. Then they took it off and she wasn't breathing on her own, so they put it back on. When they tried the second time she was finally breathing, but she wasn't waking up.
The doctors decided to try giving her back to me to see if she might perk up on her own before sending her to NICU. Luckily, she did. As soon as she got back to mama she started to root. I latched her on and she just kept nursing - for two hours!! She didn't end up going to NICU after all, and she even managed to avoid getting jaundice.
All in all, my hospital birth experience was surprisingly great. I'd been nervous about it since I knew it would be SO different from Charlie's birth, but it ended up being pretty awesome. Even staying in the hospital was kind of wonderful. I was able to get plenty of sleep and spend two whole days doing nothing but caring for (and staring at) my new baby. Compared to being sent home just four hours after delivering Charlie this part felt utterly luxurious. I chugged water day and night, took showers whenever I wanted, and even had food delivered to my bed.
I should also mention that the entire staff was incredible kind and helpful (besides Dr. Angry Hands who my vagina still has a grudge against.) A friend reached out to me a few days after Sid was born to check in on me and asked if I felt like the birth was traumatic. I thought about it for a moment and realized that for all the drama, it hadn't been. I actually felt pretty great! After Charlie's birth I suffered through insomnia, major anxiety, and PTSD style flashbacks. This postpartum period has been much kinder - just some migraines and vertigo! Both of which suck, but I'd take them over losing my mind any day.
Since birth, Sidney has had some more ups and downs. She was super sleepy for the first few days and on the borderline for jaundice. She also stopped gaining weight as quickly as she should AND has been breathing much more rapidly than is expected for a newborn. She ended up getting diagnosed with a double tongue tie (just like her brother) and we were luckily able to have it corrected right away. Since then she has gained really well, and her breath has become more regular once she hit her third week. If it works itself out before she hits two months we'll be in the clear, but if not she'll have to get her heart and lungs evaluated.
The fun never stops with these babies, haha. Overall though, we are both doing well and falling more in love with one another every day. Thanks for listening to our story. More mama thoughts and baby stories coming at ya soon.