Once I got to 7cm, things moved pretty rapidly. The next part of my birth story only covers a few hours.
I had planned to use nitrous oxide (laughing gas) during my labor ever since I learned about it. The hospital I delivered at was the only hospital in the area to offer nitrous oxide. You can read more about the benefits and risks of using nitrous oxide during labor here.
So anyway, I was at 7 cm and had been in labor for almost 24 hours when I said I was ready for the nitrous oxide.
I was told that some people nauseous from the nitrous oxide. Pretty much everything makes me nauseous, so I was very prepared for this to not work at all.
The nurses hooked up the nitrous oxide and I started feeling better about 10 minutes later. No nausea! If you cannot hold the mask up to your face yourself, you cannot use it. I think this is to prevent you from getting too loopy. I had a death grip on the nitrous oxide and didn’t let go the entire time. If you take the mask off, the effects wear off within minutes, which is another benefit to using it. You can get up and walk around, and it doesn’t cross into the baby.
For me, the benefit to nitrous oxide are more mental than physical. It made me feel disconnected from what was happening, and loopy. I guess it took some of the edge off of the pain, but it mostly affected my mentally. A friend had told me that nitrous oxide wouldn’t take the pain away, but would make me care less. I distinctly remember thinking, “It hurts and I still care!
Still, the nitrous oxide was like a little break. I still felt the contractions and I was still in pain, but I also felt a little bit removed from it. Nitrous oxide won’t get rid of the pain, but it definitely helps. I think at that point what I really needed was a mental break because I panicked a lot during my labor.
From 7 cm until it was time to push, I used the nitrous oxide. I really wanted to just lay on my side through the contractions, but my doula kept helping me get into other positions to help move my labor along.
Once it was time to push, I panicked. I would push 2, 3, or 4 times, and the midwife would say, “Oh, that last one was a good push!”
I had a few sets of pushes that didn’t do anything productive, which was very frustrating.
I felt like I was pushing so hard and I wasn’t getting it right. I finally learned that you have to push like you are pooping, not like you are trying to push something out of your vagina.
I kept saying things like, “I can’t do this!” Nick said all of the right things but it was my doula who brought me back to reality by telling me to get it together in a serious way. I needed that serious push that I don’t think Nick could have given me.
I was also trying to use the nitrous oxide while I was pushing. That was not working because I was more focused on holding the nitrous oxide than pushing. So I decided to stop using it.
I don’t remember feeling any more pain when I stopped using the nitrous oxide (which is why I think that it was more of a mental break than a physical one). At that point, the nitrous oxide wasn’t doing anything for me anyway.
Eventually, the midwife said she could see her head and hair! I wanted to ask what color her hair was, but I decided to let it be a surprise. I kept picturing her with dark hair and that was really motivating for me.
I knew I was at the hardest part of my labor and I felt like I had no energy left for it. A nurse, my doula, and Nick all would help me get into the right position whenever it was time to push so all I had to do was push. I was laying down and they would help me crunch up and push.
After I had been pushing for a while, my doula asked me if I wanted a mirror. It was not part of my birth plan and I said no. She asked me again and I thought about it, but I thought that a mirror would be too distracting and upsetting for me.
I didn’t think I could handle focusing on a mirror and pushing. One of my friends said that using the mirror helped her see which pushes were working and which didn’t work. I hadn’t thought about that so I would consider using it next time, but I know for me it would have just made me more upset delivering M.
Finally, they said M’s head was coming out! My doula asked me if I wanted to reach down and touch her hair. And I did! I was the first person to touch her. It was an incredible feeling.
Next were her shoulders, which were harder in a sense because my midwife was telling me when to push, and when NOT to push.
After her shoulders were out, my midwife asked me if I wanted to reach down and pull her the rest of the way out. So I did!! (With my midwife’s help). It was the most incredible feeling and something I didn’t even know you could do. My baby.
And then she was here. On me. Screaming and bloody and beautiful and warm. It was beautiful.
I had absolutely no idea what time it was or how long I had been pushing, but I later learned that my labor was about 26 hours total, with 90 minutes of pushing. It felt like forever and I cannot imagine pushing 4 or 5 hours like some of my friends.
My doula took a ton of photos as soon as M was born. Actually, she grabbed Nick’s phone out of his pocket and started snapping away. Most of them are gory and inappropriate for anyone else to see but they make me so happy. They are so special to me.
Soon on my blog, I want to talk about what happened next. The golden hour was not at all what I thought it would be. That is also when I learned that I broke my tailbone pushing M out. But I think I need a bit of a break from writing about this so I’ll put in some non-baby related posts next.