Over the course of several hours, they started some Pitocin, and slowly adjusted it to help my body regulate contractions. I’d been stalled at 6cm for a few hours, and I felt my hopes plummet. This was exactly what happened with Caden, the stalling out. “It’s over,” I thought to myself. “I’m going to have to have another c-section.” Since all I could do was lay there, Aaron took over. “No,” he said. “No. You can do this, you’re doing this!” And he proceeded to stand up, pace around, and command my body to open up, and command Riker to be born. He probably walked around or sat next to me praying for 2 solid hours. In that time no one came to check me, it being a shift change and things happening. I listened to Cory and Matt’s album “Holy” and tried to think open thoughts, like flowers opening, or big holes appearing, ya know, helpful visualizations. 🙂 Aaron continued to pray over me, and I tried not to let him see how discouraged I was.
When the new nurse showed up, she checked me and said, “Well, you’re at a 9!” I have never in my heart rejoiced like that before. A 9! At this point I began to run a little fever, which normally indicates infection, which makes dr’s want to c-section you, pronto. Anita’s back up doctor was WONDERFUL. She just kinda wandered through and said, “Well, keep going, you’re almost there, and we’ll give you some antibiotics, just in case.” I want you to know how unheard of it is for a doctor to let you labor beyond the 24 hour mark after water has broken. UNHEARD of.
I stalled for a bit at “9 with a lip” which means a teeny bit of cervix was still in the way of Riker’s head, and if I pushed before it was out of the way, it could swell up and trap him, leading to yes, you guessed it, a c-section. After flipping back and forth on either side for a while, like a whale, the nurse decided to try a new tactic. As I gently pushed, she shoved that lip of cervix back. Anita tells me this feels, for the person pushing the cervix back, exactly like getting your fingers stuck in a car door, as you are pushing between pelvic bone and baby’s head, while the mom pushes baby onto your fingers with about 25 pounds of pressure. The nurse did that for almost 40 minutes. She’s my hero.
At 12 oclock, doctor and nurse confirmed I was a 10, and good to start pushing. They dropped a HUGE light out of the ceiling, and Amber and Aaron and mom gathered round to help. Mom helped hold me up as I curved into a ball to push, and Amber and Aaron supported my legs. They even brought a mirror so I could watch, and man, that’s an angle you really don’t need to see yourself from. Even though it was kind of cool. Between pushes Amber would remind me to sink back into the bed, and relax. I tried, but I was so excited!
Aaron was so thrilled he could barely stand it. He’s never looked more handsome. I was afraid his grin was going to break his face. He kept touching my numb leg (which felt really weird) and cracking jokes. At one point, after I pushed and the contraction passed, he looked deeply into my eyes, and said, “Have you ever….pooped….a balloon?” Which is a quote from one of my favorite Office episodes. I almost shot the kid out from laughing so hard. The nurse thought we were weird. We are.
At this point, at Amber’s suggestion, I had the epidural turned off so I could feel how and when to push. I was pretty scared of the pain, but I didn’t want to be pushing for hours, which can happen when you’re numb and can’t really tell what’s going on. With each contraction I curved up like a sea-horse, and pushed for all I was worth. It was a bit awkward at first, since it didn’t really feel like anything, but Amber helped talk me through it, and I got better quickly. I thought back to holding my friend Susan’s shoulders when she had their first daughter, and I smiled to myself, I WAS PUSHING OUT A BABY TOO! I wasn’t broken! I could have kids the way God intended, dangnabbit!
After 45 minutes of pushing, the delivery team showed up and we could see the head! Not that there was any question in my mind where he was, because man oh man, I could feel him. It felt exactly like you’d think, like someone has shoved a football between your hips. That was an odd sensation to say the least. Then the doctor said those magic words, “Ok Jennifer, one more big push and he’ll be here!”
I gripped down, softened up my face, took a deep breath, and SHOVED. Hand over hand, the doctor pulled Riker out and set him on my stomach, while everyone cheered. Aaron and I meant to high-five, but we forgot. My son! My son was born! I got to hold him first! The nurse towel dried him on my stomach, as the doctor finished up, and I watched Aaron cut the cord and nuzzle Riker, this time without having to ask permission. I was elated. Here he was! My victory baby. Out like a rocket. A little Riker Rocket.
Due to all the molding, his head kinda looked like the grinch, but he was 8.5 pounds, 21 inches of tiny bow-lipped brown haired perfection. I was totally in love and totally wiped out.
They warmed him up while I got some stitches, (just a wee bit of tearing in two places, nothing major) and then brought him to me all bundled up. He was so cute!
The post-partum pain was pretty intense, those contractions don’t die down, and I no longer had an epidural going. Then my back started intensely spasming, which hurt as much as the contractions and I panicked, thinking I could NOT breathe through any more pain, I was so exhausted. After a transfer to a recovery room with a softer bed, and a heating pad on my back, I could finally rest. As much as anyone in the hospital with nurses coming in every 2 minutes and a newborn waking up CAN rest.
It was totally worth it. Riker Timothy Owen James was born at 12:52am on April 23rd 2010, a Vaginal birth after cesarean baby weighing in at 8.5 pounds, and 21 inches long, with a cute little mullet and a very proud mom. I could not love my boys more.