Disclaimer: contains discussion of bodily fluids and other icky things. Reader discretion is advised.
The triage room was puzzling. I wasn’t quite sure what to do. There was a desk and some chairs but considering the three-minute interval between contractions office chairs somehow seemed inappropriate.
There was also a bed of sorts. More like a steel-framed table coated in faux-leather, bent at an 80 degree angle. That seemed inappropriate as well, so instead I stood in my nightgown, leaning against a chair, and wondering, quite loudly, when in the world we were going to be admitted.
Finally the assistant to Dr. Tarek came and checked me, awkwardly forcing me to lie down on the steel framed table, and noted that I was at a seven so we could be shown to a room.
A man with a bunch of keys took us to our room where we were left alone. Poor Andrew, left all alone in a room with a transitioning woman. He was fantastic, though!
He helped me change into my paper gown and then coached me through each contraction, successfully quieting my high-pitched wails of, “I can’t do this! I can’t!” into low moaning sounds. I had told him about moaning after yoga on Thursday and it’s the trick he chose to pull out of the hat and it worked wonders.
Soon, though, I was fighting the urge to push and demanded to be checked again even though Dr. Tarek wasn’t there yet. I was at a nine so they started preparing me to be moved to the delivery room.
I really don’t think they have many non-medicated patients at this hospital. The nurses were awful. They kept trying to make me do things while I was in the middle of contracting—things like getting changed or taking my blood pressure or hooking me up to a fetal monitor or making me climb onto the trolley bed.
I was sitting up in bed with my knees bent, which they didn’t like at all. They kept trying to put the back of the bed down and kept pulling my legs straight out in front of me. I was getting so angry!
Luckily I didn’t even have to snap at anyone because Andrew fought them off for me.
“Istina! Istina!” he’d hiss, shooing them away.
I wouldn’t even be surprised if he slapped a few hovering hands, although I wasn’t paying that close of attention. He was quite protective and successfully made the nurses wait until between contractions to do whatever it was they felt they needed to do and made sure that all of my beds were in an upright position (even though the nurses thought we were crazy).
Dr. Tarek arrived soon after and gave us the go-ahead to move to the delivery room, so the nurses had me climb onto the trolley bed and then attempted to wheel me out of the room. Unfortunately, we got stuck between the chairs and the bed in the room for a few minutes, so I sat in agony while my bed was jostled and jounced.
Andrew took over after a few hard tugs had me screaming and successfully dislodged the bed. We made it out of the room and into the elevator, Andrew coaching me through each contraction on the way. I was a little mortified to find that the hallway was full of people when we got off the elevator.
Here I am, in a paper gown, practically mooing like a cow just to keep me from jumping out of my skin…and then I get to be wheeled through a crowded maze of people. It was…fabulously awkward.
But we made it to the delivery portion and spent a good 3 or 4 minutes banging on the locked doors until someone decided to let us in.
They wheeled me into a delivery room and had me hop up on the delivery table. Hopping is relative when you’re getting ready to push a baby out…there wasn’t really any hopping involved.
Once they had me on the table, they took off the foot of the bed and assembled the stirrups. They helped my legs into the stirrups and then…and then?! Then they strapped my legs in!
“Don’t strap me in!” I shrieked.
This was not, in my opinion, ideal and at the time shrieking was the way I had taken to expressing my opinions.
Andrew did his best to stop the nurses but he was overpowered and I was successfully strapped down to the table. Then they brought out these huge sock-things and put them over my legs, stirrups and all. Then they draped me in a sheet.
And then I was declared modest enough to be seen by a doctor.
Goodness, gracious! Labour is no time for modesty! I think the only skin I had showing was my face, neck, arms, and…well…there might have been a bit of skin showing somewhere beneath a sheet if you looked carefully.
I asked Andrew what the other women being wheeled around were dressed like—because he saw some. He said they were wearing the same thing as me—dark blue paper gown, light blue hair net—only they were all lying down flat on their backs with a blanket covering them up to their necks. I’m sure they all had epidurals. How else would you be transferred from your room to the delivery table while in active labour? The nurses really didn’t have bedside manners to deal with me because they were used to women who would just lie still, flat on their backs, like good little girls. I’m a rebel, I guess.
Once I had finished transitioning, the pushing stage was fabulous. At least in comparison. My contractions were still strong, but I had long rest periods between contractions.
I thought this was great. Dr. Tarek wasn’t satisfied that things were moving along fast enough. I don’t think I will ever understand why since we were only in the hospital for two hours before Miriam was born…and labour from start to finish was less than four hours…that’s pretty fast, right?
First he broke my water to help get things moving along faster. It’s the strangest feeling. I don’t know how it is to have your water break before pushing, but it feels so funny while pushing. It gushes out forcefully and splashes whoever happens to be in the way. I find it both scary and hilarious. It feels like peeing your pants, only with the force of Niagra falls instead of a little trickle. Dr. Tarek got soaked.
Then he insisted I get an IV line put in so that he could start pitocin if he needed to. I shrieked something or other about not wanting it and he explained it would only be used if necessary but that we should put the IV line in just in case.
But I ended up doing just fine without it.
It certainly wasn’t an ideal natural birth. Dr. Tarek coached too fast, I think. I really wanted to take the head slowly to avoid ripping; alas I ended up raw meat for a second time. Oh, and they strapped me to the table (I think I’m scarred for life over that one). But at least she’s here!
She came quickly after her head was out and the placenta followed like 2 minutes later.
I got to hold her for a minute after she was breathing and pink instead of not-breathing and blue and then Andrew took her to the nursery for her measurements and I started getting stitched up.
When Dr. Tarek was finished he left the room and everyone followed him, leaving me strapped to the chair. Thanks, guys! At least they turned on the massager the minute Miriam was delivered, so the chair ended up being not quite so evil. Still…unstrapping myself was a trick, but a totally necessary one since I swear no one came to check on me for a full fifteen minutes and my legs were starting to go a little numb.
The nurses who were sent in to clean up were absolutely obnoxious.
“Mabrouk!” one kept saying, “Mabrouk!”
Then she’d stand there with her hand out. She wanted a tip.
Oh! A tip? I think I left a ten pound note in my uterus, let me just reach on up and get that for you….or not…
Could she seriously not see that I a) was completely nude except for my paper clothes and b) had just delivered a baby? Give me a break.
I was so happy when some different nurses brought yet another trolley bed for me to climb into, not because bed-hopping during labour and post-partum makes me happy but because it meant that I was leaving that awful, awful birthing chair (with the wonderful massagers).
The nurse who wanted a tip tsked at me because I spilled blood all over her freshly mopped floor while I was switching beds. I just shrugged my shoulders at her. Some things can’t be helped. It’s not like I spitefully bled on the floor; it’s just that bleeding is something you do after you have a baby.
I was even more happy to be wheeled down the hall past the same people, this time not moaning like a lunatic. I was also happy to not be dumped down the stairs that are perilously close to the elevator doors. I was happiest to make it to the recovery room only to find that Andrew and Miriam had beat me there.
Andrew helped me get Miriam latched on and “nursing.” It was so much easier this time around than it was with Rachel! Hopefully it continues to go well once I get my milk in…
While we three were bonding, four nurses burst through the door and demanded that I shower and take off my delivery gown. And now! Andrew told them to go away, that we were nursing and needed some quiet and privacy, and that I would shower when I was good and ready to. He’s wonderful like that.
Later, after I had showered, I was doing some skin-to-skin time with Miriam. I think it was right when Grandma, Rachel, and Sister Cannon stopped by. Miriam was naked and resting on my tummy, so I just pulled down my shirt and put her on top, still cuddling and covered with a blanket.
A nurse came in to finally take out my IV feed and noticed that Miriam wasn’t wearing any clothes.
“This isn’t true!” she gasped, “This isn’t true for the baby!”
She was horrified that Miriam was naked. Warm…but naked. I assured her that I could take care of my baby. She gave me that “you’re a bad mother” look. Whatever.
The nurses are getting to me. I so did not want to be here right now. I wanted to be home in my own bed, but hospital policy is a 24-hour stay. Ugh.
Every time I try to sleep I’m interrupted by someone bursting through the door to take my blood pressure, push on my stomach, or try to tell me how to take care of my baby.
“Change her diaper,” one nurse told me at 11:15 PM last night.
“I changed her an hour ago,” I said.
“When she last feeding?” she asked.
“About an hour ago,” I said.
She marched over to the bassinet, unwrapped (and woke up) Miriam, and checked her diaper. It was dry.
“Feed her now!” the nurse said.
“I just fed her,” I said.
“Feed her now!” she demanded again, “She is hungry.”
She handed Miriam to me. I didn’t know what else to do so I put Miriam down on my lap while I got ready to feed her. The minute I laid Miriam down, she fell asleep.
“She’s not hungry,” I said, “She’s sleeping.”
“Feed her NOW!” the nurse said.
I started talking loudly and angrily and Andrew woke up and told the nurse to back off, that we could take care of our baby, and that the baby had indeed just eaten an hour previously. I started to swaddle Miriam and the nurse yanked her away from me and wrapped her up herself in a messy wad of blankets.
Then she stormed out. And I rewrapped Miriam.
Ten minutes later another nurse came in to give me my medicine. Andrew explained that we had taken the medicine and hour ago and were planning on sleeping. She also stormed out.
We haven’t been bothered since. And I’m happy about that, even though I still haven’t been able to sleep due to the noise of the traffic outside and the chit-chat in the hallway and the clinking of dishes (are we right next to the kitchen or something?) and the hardness of the mattress. I really, really, really just want to go home.
But Miriam is beautiful and such a peaceful child. She has squawked only once or twice since her initial crying at birth. Mostly she’s content to sleep or look around. When she starts to get a little fussy she calms down the minute she notices that we’re trying to fill her wants (which is quite different from how her older sister was when she was a newborn).
It’s strange to think that we have “kids” now. I don’t know what we’re going to do now that we have two! What were we thinking?!
We’ll handle it, I’m sure. Kids basically raise themselves—they grow up whether you want them to or not.
Hopefully the next time I write I won’t be so grumpy. I haven’t slept for more than fifteen minutes in who knows how long AND I was strapped to a bed today. That’s bound to make anyone cranky.