The pain. I remember the pain so clearly.
I pushed the button to give my epidural more medicine. I pushed and pushed and pushed the button.
“What do you mean, you have to go to the bathroom? Do you have to urinate?” the nurse asked.
“No, I have to poop. I have to push.” I said.
“You have to push?!” she repeated, moving toward the foot of my bed. “Let me check you.” Not yet an hour had passed since I was 3 cm dilated.
My sister was holding my right hand, and the nurse yelled at her. “Push the call button! We need the doctor in here right now! She's having this baby!”
I screamed. I cried, moaned, whimpered. My eyes stung with sweat, and I squeezed them shut.
I have never experienced pain so severe. I couldn't breathe. My entire body was wracked with unbearable agony. My feet kicked up in the air, beyond my control.
The nurse tried to coach me. “Push, Tara. Bear down. Come on now, push your baby out. You can do this.”
I pushed, clinging with soaked hands to the hope that the pain would ease once the baby emerged.
Oh, the pain.
The doctor rushed through the door just in time to catch the baby and plop her onto my stomach.
“Here's your baby! Look at your beautiful baby!” someone said.
I couldn't open my eyes. The pain did not ease, not even a little. My eyes were puddles of sweat, burning and stinging, and my body was gripped with pain.
I couldn't look at the baby.
My arms and legs and torso shook uncontrollably. I was hot and soaked with sweat and my toes were freezing.
I couldn't open my eyes and I was in more pain than ever before in my life and I was jerking wildly, my body out of my own control.
“Tara, look at your baby. She's right here! Look,” my sister said, shaking my right hand.
“You did so great, honey. Don't you want to see the baby?” Joe asked, holding my left hand.
I tried to peek at the baby, but all I could see was sweat. It pooled in between my eyelids and stung my eye balls.
I could breathe, so I did. I lied in the darkness of my squeezed shut eyes, relaxed and thankful it was over but still in writhing trembling pain.
Deep breath in. Deep breath out.
I don't remember anything else of my labor. I don't remember the cord being cut. I don't remember delivering the placenta or being examined or cleaned up. I don't remember baby cries or footprints or weight and length.
At some point, the doctor said, “You did great, Tara. No tears or stitches,” and I said, Thank you, Lord, for small favors.
And that was it.
I just breathed and tried to block out the pain. For twenty minutes.
It takes the epidural twenty minutes to kick in.
By the time Allie was cleaned and measured and all wrapped up, someone had dried my face and I was able to open my eyes and see my baby for the first time.
Part 5 tomorrow
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