At just after five in the morning, just when I thought I would break down, I felt an enormous pressure in my bottom. I instinctively got onto the bed on my hands and knees. I told my team that I had to push. Someone -- Sara? the nurse? -- told me to breathe through the contractions. Dr. Barrell checked me and said, “You’re nine and a half with a lip.” She also said she could feel the baby turning and making her way down the birth canal. I was given the go-ahead to try a few practice pushes, but I told them that I had to push for real. I arched my back in a cat pose and then bore down with a strength I didn’t know I had. I made a growling noise and pushed our baby further down. I was promptly told to slow down so things could stretch. But I didn’t really have control at that point. My body was acting on its own, and at its mercy. Another growling push, and I felt our baby’s head crown (ring of fire!) and slip out. Another short push and I felt the rest of her slippery body slip out. The doctor placed her on the bed between my knees, and waited for the cord to stop pulsating before offering the scissors to John.
After just a minute or two, the doctors had me flip over onto my back so they could deliver the placenta and stitch up a second-degree tear. Baby Ruby was on my chest the entire time, skin-to-skin. I was amazed by how tiny and peacefully alert she was. She was absolutely perfect.
I felt great after Ruby’s birth, and I was hopeful that we’d get to go home possibly later that day. Because of what happened next, those hopes went out the window.
I had been having pretty intense after-pains, but I had been warned that they would be bad with a second baby, so I was prepared. They were as long or longer than my labor contractions, and just as painful. It sucked, but I didn’t really say anything to the nurses because I thought that it was supposed to be like that. At about noon, my mom helped me get up to use the bathroom. When I pulled down my underwear to use the toilet, a huge clot came out of me. It was about the size of a Nerf football. I thought it was another baby or a placenta. I asked my mom, “Is that supposed to happen?” She kept her cool and called for the nurse. Another clot passed, and another. They got me back into bed and massaged my uterus, each time causing either a gush of blood or another clot to pass.
Before I really knew what was happening, the room began filling with medical staff. Someone gave me a shot of methergine - a drug used to control excessive bleeding - someone else was trying to start an IV. The doctor-on-call (Dr. Johnson) came in to talk to us about what was happening (severe post-partum hemorrhage) and what would happen next (surgery - D&C). The whole thing was very frightening, and I was starting to feel loopy from the blood loss, so a lot of it is a blur to me. I’ve talked to Sara and my mom about it to get their perspectives because I just really remember feeling sleepy. From their accounts, I gather that the situation was life-threatening and very serious. John still isn’t really ready to talk about it -- the whole thing really shook him. I’m just so thankful that we were in the hospital when it happened.
After the surgery and two units of blood, I recovered really quickly. The doctor didn’t find any retained placenta or other obvious reasons for the bleed, but he did say that it shouldn’t affect any future pregnancies (although, after putting John through all that scary stuff, I’m pretty sure he’s already scheduled his vasectomy!). We are home now, and all of us are healthy. Ruby’s cheeks are already starting to plump up -- she’s a champion nurser. Jack alternates between totally loving on his little sister, and completely denying her existence -- just as it should be, I suppose.
I am so thankful for our natural hospital birth, and for the life-saving medical care I received afterward. And I’m so glad we’re on the other side with a sweet little babe in our arms.