Thankfully even though the overwhelming presence of the culture around me had seeped in over the years, I had someone in my life that was always trying to combat those thoughts and feelings. Having birthed six children unmedicated, my mother has always talked about her birthing experiences in such a positive light. She would share how amazing they were, spiritual even. She never hesitated to share her experiences with us, and let us know how amazing carrying and delivering a child is.
The week of my due date I had a doctor's appointment. I was anxious to find out if I had progressed in any way towards having this baby! After my cervical check the doctor informed me that I was dilated to a one. This was music to my ears simply because I hate cervical checks and had received a few at this point with no news to report. While I was only a one, I was just happy I hadn't gone through with the check in vain. I mean, something was at least happening down there! My doctor asked me if I had been having any contractions and I informed her I hadn't. However I had been experiencing something at nights occasionally that I thought I would mention. From about the chest up I would get really flushed and hot and have a hard time breathing. This would happen a few times, pretty quickly, usually a few every night or the occasional few in the afternoon. My doctor asked if my stomach was tightening when this happened. Well, to be honest, my stomach at this point was always tight and rock hard so I hadn't really noticed. She told me she was pretty sure I was having contractions when I experienced this. Go figure! After learning this I really started paying attention and my stomach was indeed tightening when I had them. Again, encouraging to know there was something going on with my body that was at least hinting to wanting to have a baby in the near future. We went ahead and scheduled one more doctors appointment for the next week, just in case I hadn't had the baby by then.
My doctor had told me based on how baby girl was growing, she didn't want me to deliver past August 31st. I know from everything that I have read that once you get past 41 weeks new risks start developing, so I was comfortable with that time frame. The earliest you can induce for a first time mom at my hospital is a week past your due date, and while I wanted to avoid being induced, we decided based on a number of factors to go ahead and plan for the 29th if she hadn't come by then. Based on the state of my cervix, I was told to plan on coming to the hospital the night of the 28th for what they call a "cervical ripening." However, we had to wait for a call from the hospital to come in, just to make sure they actually would have enough room that night for women who might be coming in. Trevor and I decided to take advantage of the night, and made a date of it. We went to dinner, and while we were enjoying some ice cream outside we got a call from the hospital telling us we could head on over. I don't think I have ever seen Trevor or I move so fast. We rushed home and quickly grabbed our bags and headed to the hospital. It was pretty surreal showing up knowing that when we left we would be leaving with our daughter! We followed the nurse to our room. It was almost nine o'clock at this point and the hospital was pretty empty. I looked up and saw that I was going to give birth in room 14. Now without getting into all the details, 14 is my lucky number. I was pretty thrilled to see that! Not that I am superstitious (it was also a full moon that night) or anything, but it made me smile. We put our stuff away, and I changed into my hospital gown. A few minutes later the nurse came back to get me hooked up to the monitors for the baby, and to do a quick check up. While my nurse was nice enough, she was pretty rough with me. She gave me a cervical check before putting up the first dosage to soften my cervix and she was NOT gentle. I was still dilated to only a one, in fact, she said I was probably a little less then a one. I really think that was probably my body just tensing up because she was so dang rough and abrasive. After that we talked a bit about my birth plan and what I wanted. I expressed my desire to have an unmedictaed birth, in which she sort of responded with, "Well don't feel bad if you can't do it this first time around, first time mom's tend to have longer labors." While I didn't appreciate her confidence, I was sort of used to this response by now when I told people I wanted to have a birth without an epidural. She predicted the baby would come late Saturday night based on where my body was and with how inductions typically work. I was to receive two separate pills (synthetic prostaglandins) that would go up in my cervix, then based on how dilated I was, that would follow with a mechanical dialotor, a small balloon-tipped catheter. (I really didn't want to have that!) haha All of this was to get my cervix in a great place before they would give me Pitocin in the morning. The nurse put the first pill up in my cervix, and told me to get a good nights sleep.
We turned off the lights. It was a little after 10:00 pm at this point and Trevor and I decided to watch some Netflix to unwind before tying to get some sleep. Throughout the show I started to have some cramping. I looked at the monitor and could tell I was having small contractions. I noted that these felt different then the kinds I was having before, and that they were more like period cramps. I knew they had to be real deal contractions, and I got a little excited. I was really hoping my body would go into labor on its own and that I wouldn't have to get Pitocin. After the show we went to bed. It wasn't much longer that Trevor and I both woke up because we couldn't sleep. I was uncomfortable because of the contractions, they seemed to be picking up. We both watched a few more episodes of a show and tried to go back to bed again. It wasn't long after that the nurse showed up to insert the second pill for the cervical ripening. Again, she wasn't very gentle, and she had barley left the room when I felt a very strong contraction. I looked at the monitor and I was having pretty strong contractions at this point, and they were only 4 minutes apart. I was a little taken back. I was wondering if the machine was working correctly because I knew that contractions 4 minutes apart was considered pretty close. The contractions were strong but they weren't anything I couldn't handle. I thought about the "rule" that when your contractions are about 5 minutes apart and you can't take the contractions anymore you should come to the hospital. Here I was at 4 minutes apart with pretty strong contractions, yet I dismissed it because the nurse had just checked me and I was hardly dilated. I had heard that cervical rippenings were enough sometimes to put a women into labor on their own, and I was really excited that this could be the start of that.
We were going to attempt to go back to bed and actually get some sleep, but after about half an hour of the stronger contractions I told Trevor that I didn't think we would be getting much sleep tonight... right then my mom walked into the room. I was surprised because I hadn't told her to come over yet. I had texted her saying I felt like I was having some contractions, but women typically have contractions for hours and hours and I figured I wouldn't be needing to call her until the morning. She explained she just couldn't shake the feeling she should come over now. Well call it inspiration or what have you but it wasn't even five minutes that she was there that I realized these contractions were only getting stronger, and stronger. The nurse came in and told me that I wasn't scheduled for her to check me for a few hours, and that at 4:00 a.m. she would see where I was. At this point I was already using my mom and Trevor to get me through contractions. I was absolutely alarmed at how strong they were. I consider myself a pretty strong person, and I was confused because with how strong these contractions were it didn't make any sense that I could only be at the beginning stage of labor. I started to question my ability to do it. I kept telling my mom, "This doesn't make any sense, they shouldn't hurt like this yet, this doesn't make any sense!" I was petrified that I would be experiencing this level of pain for 12 plus hours? I mean, 12 hours is a fast labor for a first time mom, so what was I in for? What had I got myself into?
In all my classes we learned techniques to relax the body; massage, positioning, etc. But with how strong my contractions already were, the idea of someone touching me made me cringe. I was not handling labor gracefully, I will just say that. I was short, rude, and mean! haha I didn't want anyone to touch me. The only kind of touch I could handle were holding my mom or Trevor's hands while I stood. I would just squeeze them. Another was draping my arms around Trevor's neck and just burring my face into him though a contraction. I did these two things for about an hour and a half. The whole time I was just in shock with how close together the contractions were, how strong they were. They were back to back and there was no relief in between them at all. At this point I felt incredibly sick to my stomach, and I threw up a few times. Seeing that I hand eaten dinner and dessert only an hour or two before hand I guess this should have been no surprise! haha Eventually my mom suggested I get into the tub. Using the tub to labor had been apart of my birth plan the whole time. I knew that when I had horrible period cramping (the women in my family suffer from endometriosis), warm compression was very relieving to me, and the idea of sitting in a jetted tub sounded amazing when I put together my birth plan. I had specifically requested a room that had one at my hospital. However, I was in so much pain the idea of getting into the tub was almost enough to keep me out completely. Plus, so far sitting at all had been so uncomfortable that I had been laboring standing up this whole time. She finally talked me into trying it. Oh and thank heavens I did! I laid down in the warm water, with the jets blasting, and it was just enough to take some of the edge off, some, haha. Trevor sat at the edge of the tub and held my hand. Both him and my mother were so encouraging, yet apart of me didn't want to believe them. By now the contractions were literally on top of each other with no breaks at all. I knew I had only been in a labor a few hours, but it felt like I was in hard labor... which I couldn't be? Could I? I had convinced myself in that moment that there was no way I was going to be able to withstand this pain for 12 or more hours... just no way! I started saying things like, "I can't do this!" "I thought I was strong enough to handle this, but I can't, not if it is going to last for an entire day at this rate!" Trevor had taken the shower head and was blasting it on my lower stomach where my contractions were. Him, the warm water, the jets and that shower head were everything to me in that moment. The nurse was starting to get worried because the monitor on my stomach was not picking up the baby. She kept wanting to turn the jets off and re-position it. (We would later find out they couldn't get a read on her heart rate because baby girl was already deep down in my birth canal). I can't even tell you how painful and annoying that was to me. They couldn't find the heart beat on her and were getting worried and I honestly remember not caring at all what she was saying, I just needed her to get the he** out of my tub and let me turn those jets back on! haha I didn't know this at the time but I guess my mom asked her to let me have until my 4:00 am cervical check to stay in the tub. Thank goodness! Trevor put the shower head back on my stomach, turned those jets on, and I asked for the hottest water possible. I didn't get to enjoy the very little relief I was getting for much longer, because the nurse wanted to check me and the baby. I did NOT want to get out of the tub, but I did want to see what progression had been made.
I figured I would be dilated to a 4 or something, considering it had only been 2 1/2 hours, but when the nurse said out loud to the other nurse that I was at a 7 the whole room was shocked. At my last check I was barley a 1 and now I was at a 7. The demeanor of my nurse completely changed. This whole time she had sort of been acting like I was being pretty dramatic in how I was reacting to my pain, even I had convinced myself I was a wimp with how I was handling this all... while all the while I had actually been in hard labor the entire time! Everything started to make sense now. All of a sudden tons of people started coming into the room. Everything was being prepped for delivery. That is when I knew I was at the finish line in this whole thing. The last two hours I had been wondering how on earth the contractions could be so intense when my labor had just started, all to realize I was almost done with the whole thing! I sat on the edge of the bed and something came over me. A whole different kind of pain. This was different, and I knew what it was. I was transitioning. I had learned about this, and recognized it instantly. Transitioning is so hard to describe. It is so intense, and feels like a contraction but in an almost out of body experience kind of way. I just held my mom's hands and shook. My whole body was shaking and I kept saying something was happening, something was changing. Transition didn't last long (surprise, surprise with how fast everything was going right?) and that is when I felt pressure down on my cervix. This was the only time I got a little panicked, for whatever reason knowing she was right there kind of scared me in the moment. I said, "I feel her... I don't know what to do, I don't know what to do!" Then I knew exactly what I needed to do, I could tell my body wanted to push. I let the whole room know I had to start pushing. The nurse came over and had me lay back on the bed. She went to check me and I felt her hand just totally slide right on up. She announced to the room that I was at a 10 and that we were ready to go!
My labor had happened so fast they had to call in the on call resident doctor, they weren't sure the doctor would actually be able to get there on time to deliver the baby. In fact, I had actually set up to have someone come take pictures during the delivery and that idea was long gone by now too. It was a good thing I had planned and prepared for an unmedicated birth, because there wouldn't have been time for me to get an epidural by the time they realized how fast everything was moving. In fact everything was so intense from the get go I don't know how I would have been able to sit still for anything like that anyways! I had just got on my back and started pushing when the doctor came in. Pushing was the hardest part for me. However there was one perk to pushing, when the contraction and urge to push stopped, I got a quick moment of relief. My contractions before were literally on top of each other I hadn't had a break the entire time, and so the moment of nothingness was just enough for me to pull it together to push again. Pushing felt like it took forever, but I was told I only pushed for about 10-15 minutes (she came out so fast she actually bruised her face and swallowed a lot of amniotic fluid). Pushing was a challenge for me. I felt like I was giving it my everything and getting so close to have just missed it. One of my pushes I was so close, all to lose steam right at the end. I could feel her moving out and then retract a bit. I didn't know this at the time, but apparently I had pushed her head out and then I stopped. The cord was wrapped around her neck (nothing scary) but the fact that I had left her like that with just her head out, I had to get her out on the next one. The doctor of course didn't tell me any of this, but I could tell in her voice that I HAD to get her out on the next one. She was very stern with me, looked at me and said it had to happen on the next push and to not stop pushing. Like I said, there was something in her voice that made me go somewhere else to get this done. I can't explain how hard that push was. I gave it everything and when I wanted to quit, I pushed even more, and then even more. I refused to let myself stop pushing when all I wanted to do was stop, I dug deep into who knows where to get the will power to do that, and then... I don't know how to adequately describe this next part. I felt myself tear open (which didn't really hurt actually) and she slipped right on out! It was so surreal. The body is a pretty incredible thing. They laid her on my stomach and I just wrapped my arms around her in total shock that I had just given birth! I didn't cry like I thought I would, you see, I am a crier! I cry all the time when babies are born, or when people get married. I think my body had already exerted so much energy, and there was so much adrenaline pumping, I was just in total shock. This was my baby! Trevor had a huge grin on his face and I just wanted to hold her and never let go. Which I did. I just held her on my chest for over an hour while they finished delivering the placenta and sewing me up. I could have cared less to what else was going on, I was just enamored with her.
|My Mom got these on her cell phone, so not the best quality, but I LOVE that this moment was captured :)|
Eventually I gave her to the nurses and Trevor for them to weigh and measure her. 7 pounds 4 ounces, and 20 inches long! I watched from the bed while they recorded everything. Once they were done with me I got up, sat in a wheel chair, and they handed me my bundled up adorable little girl. At this point we still didn't have a name picked out for her. I just kept calling her baby girl :) haha (I will share that story later) Everyone couldn't believe how fast my labor was, especially as a first time mom, I mean, 3 1/2 hours total! They joked that for my next baby the second I go into labor I need to head to the hospital. They took us to our new room and we got settled in. At this point Trevor hadn't really held her that much, so as I sat in bed to get some much needed rest, Trevor held her. It was the sweetest thing I think I have ever seen. I was able to snatch a quick picture on my phone. Trevor, a Dad, holding his little girl. My heart exploded into a million pieces with the way he was looking at her. Here we were, all three of us, together as a brand new little family. The next few days spent in that hospital are some of my most cherished memories. Who would think that being sleep deprived with a body recovering from giving birth would be some of the best days of my life? But they were. Trevor and I talked about it later and he felt the same way. There was something very special about that weekend and the time we spent together as a brand new family. I will have to put together another post with all the rest of the pictures from our stay and some great stories about those first few days!
We feel incredibly blessed to have been sent this sweet little spirit. She has already brought so much joy into our home and the journey of parenthood hand and hand with Trevor is going to be such a fulfilling life, I can already attest to that.