First, let me say this: Pushing sucked. SUCKED for me. I had read and been told that pushing brought some relief to the pain and pressure. LIES. At least it didn't for me. When I finally got to 10 cm, I was feeling a lot of pressure in my butt. The pressure doesn't come in your lady bits, it literally comes in your "bottom," as the PC nurses and doctors say. The pressure isn't painful, but it sure is annoying and uncomfortable.
Second: Epidurals are great because they take away the pain. That is until your Nurse and Doctor decide to TURN IT DOWN. Yeah, they don't tell you that in the birth classes. Many doctors like to turn down or turn OFF the epidural to create more urgency for the mother to push. NOT COOL. At one point, DES looked at me and literally said, "Since it's you, I'm being nice and I haven't turned it off yet." So not cool. With the epidural almost turned off, things started to hurt, even the pressure.
By the time I started to push, I was exhausted. I hadn't eaten anything since the afternoon before. I don't know about you, but I'm that person that gets light-headed and weak after four or five hours without food. So I was hurting for some sugar/calories. I pushed in an inclined position on my back. When I started to feel the pressure/pain of each contraction, DES wanted me to lift my head and shoulders off the bed, put my chin to my chest, pull my legs back with my hands, and push. Husband was holding the right leg and Awesome Nurse Pam was on the left. I pushed three times for 10 seconds during contraction, taking one deep breath in between each push. With my second, I will refuse to pull-back on my legs on my own. I was pulling back so hard that my arms would start to shake. I feel like all of my energy and concentration was wasted on the wrong action. Next time, I'll use the Nurse and Husband ONLY to bear-down against.
For whatever reason, I couldn't focus on pushing in the correct area. In short, I wasn't a very good pusher. I was a quiet, focused laborer, but a terrible pusher. Well, maybe terrible is a strong word. I wasn't very skilled. I only had a handful of pushes that were REALLY concentrated in the right area. Also in hindsight, I don't know if pushing on my back was the best position for me. Maybe laying on my side or squatting would have been better. With the epidural, however, I was limited to my back.
Pushing was also hard because Liam was big. He weighed over 8 pounds, and he had a big head (at 37 weeks, his head was measuring 42 weeks. YEAH. Feel sorry for me). And I'm not the biggest/widest person in the world. DES kept saying that I only needed to get him 1 cm further to get him past my pelvic bone and then he'd be free! I just couldn't do it. At one point, ANP told me to reach down and feel his head. She kept saying, "It's right there, it's right there. Come on Betsy!" I had zero interest. She wanted me to be motivated by the fact that he was so close. After I continued to refuse, Liam continued to be stuck, and Liam's heart rate continued to drop with each contraction, she finally grabbed my hand and put it on his head. It felt wet and mushy. Feeling his head didn't do anything for my motivation. I was exhausted, I was in pain, and I wanted him OUT.
And then he his my perineum. HOLY CRAP. It hurt. It hurt so badly. I can't even explain the pain. This is when I started screaming. Literally. I'd been SO quiet and focused through the entire experience, until the last five minutes of pushing. I remember DES tell ANP to get the vacuum. I'm pushing and screaming and making all sorts of animal noises. I kept repeating, "GET HIM OUT. GET HIM OUT NOW." I was done. I was exhausted, frustrated, in pain, and now I was scared. Things were getting serious, fast. DES told me that during the next contraction he wanted me to take the oxygen mask off and push until he told me to stop. He was going to use the vacuum to get Liam out. I wasn't getting the job done, and his heart rate was getting really low. At this point, I shut my eyes, and I shut them TIGHT. I knew I didn't want to see what was about to happen. It would scare/traumatize me. I didn't see any of it, but I sure felt it.
It all happened so fast. The contraction came, and I bared-down. I felt DES get the vacuum in place, and I felt him pull. The feeling of Liam coming out is hard to explain. I swear I felt gushing fluid, but I'm not sure because my eyes were closed. It hurt. It hurts bunches. It felt like it took forever for him to get out. And all the while I'm screaming (I swear it was like something from a movie. I just couldn't control it. I wouldn't be a very good Scientologist). When he was out, I opened my eyes. DES was holding him upside down and suctioning his mouth and nose. Husband got really emotional, but I was really out of it. My brain and heart couldn't connect with what had just happened (read: my son was just born!). Liam wasn't crying, and he looked purple. I kept saying, "He needs to cry. He's not crying. He just needs to cry." The nurses (more nurses came to investigate when they heard my screaming. I wish I was joking, but I'm being totally serious) whisked him away to the warming station to work their magic, and he finally cried after what felt like an eternity. Really it was just 10 to 15 seconds. It took me a while to bond with Liam and the fact that I'd just given birth because I didn't get to hold him right away. I had dreamt of Liam being born and put on my chest immediately. Of Husband cutting the cord. Of him taking his first big breath right there in front of me. But it didn't matter in the end because he was healthy.
I remember asking DES why it still hurt. Oh yeah, the placenta. It didn't take long for me to deliver the placenta, Liam had cleared a path for it. Husband said it was the funniest thing seeing DES holding/tugging on the cord that was hanging out of my lady bits.
After the placenta was out, it STILL hurt. Why!?!?! Oh yeah, I'd just given birth. I guess I expected all of the pain to just go away. Also, the vacuum snagged my right labia and tore it. Yeah, chew on that one, Ladies. It wasn't something that could really be stitched-up either. Thankfully I didn't tear, and I have DES to thank for that. He spent the entire hour+ of pushing stretching my perineum. Husband said at one point he looked down and saw both of DES's hands in my lady bits and he was PULLING down. I was sore for WEEKS from the stretching (I'll detail my recovery in another post), but I am so thankful that I didn't tear.
Eventually, I got to hold Liam and my entire world changed in a millisecond. I will never forget how he looked up at me and just stared when he heard my voice. I was a mom, and I was my son. It doesn't get much better than that.