On Friday afternoon I got to witness something really truly amazing -- the birth of my best friend's daughter.
My baby was delivered by c-section so this was in many ways a completely new experience.
When I arrived at the hospital it was 11 a.m. and Nicole was dilated to 5 cms (out of 10 for you newbies). She was having contractions and they were no joke, but she was handling them very well. I b.s.'d with her and her husband in between contractions ("New rule: shut up while I'm having contractions!").
By 11:30 she was pleading for an epidural. There was only one anesthesiologist and he was busy with a c-section so she would have to wait. Every contraction (and they were coming fast) Nicole asked about that epidural and we would keep telling her "Just 20 more min....just 17 more min..."
The nurse (who could do nothing to make the anesthesiologist come faster) hid at the nurses station. I went down to the gift shop and bought Nicole a small stuffed cat that I named "Labor Kitty" for her to squeeze instead of her husband's poor hand.
I should point out here that this was an induced labor -- Nicole was given a drug (Pitocen) that makes contractions come hard and fast. I have heard more than one Lamaze instructor (who are huge supporters of natural and drug free labor) admit that because of the nature of a Pitocen-induced labor an epidural is desirable.
In movies they always make labor scenes comedy. But the truth is that when the end stages are reached there's very little that is funny.
By 12:30 Nicole was begging pitifully for the anesthesiologist and I wanted to cry for her. I kept hoping that drug doctor would show up soon to make it all better, but Nicole already suspected something the rest of us didn't -- it was too late.
The anesthesiologist was finally on his way, but while the nurse readied the room Nicole admitted that she felt like she had to push. A quick check revealed that Nicole was fully dilated and past the point where an epidural could be administered.
Nicole didn't take the news well -- who could blame her?
Soon the doctor came in. "Don't cry," he said, "Have a baby!"
At 12:45 she started pushing, her husband holding her right hand and I holding her left. After just 5 min of pushing the doctor held up her baby girl!
I had no idea what would come next. I'm sure back in my own preggo days I knew...but the data has since been purged.
Nicole still had the placenta to deliver. I don't think I knew that this was nearly as painful as the main show itself. Sighs of relief -- it's all over. But no...here comes the 3rd circle of hell! Nicole needed stitches. Still all natural, no drugs. Imagine pushing a needle through the skin on your hand right now. Now imagine it's not your hand. Ow. Ow ow ow ow ow ow.
And then it was done.
A very lucid Nicole held her sweet gunk-covered little baby on her chest. They would have let them stay that way but after a little while Nicole became worried the baby was cold. They took the baby, cleaned her, weighed, measured and swaddled her before handing her back to mom.
As they cleaned up the room one of the nurses offered to show Nicole the placenta and she said "No thanks -- you've seen one placenta you've seen them all." Back to her good humored smart-ass self.
What an amazing 2 hours.