Welcome Sweet Evelyn!

Well good gracious, I’ve fallen off the face of the blog-o-sphere again! I had high hopes of actually documenting the end of my second pregnancy, but right at 34 weeks (33 and 6, actually), this spunky little lady tried to make her grand entrance and I spent a weekend in the hospital (I should really write about that experience! I’ll sum it up though: Ben is an amazing partner and I am so glad he is the father of my children and, also, I’m SO THANKFUL I did not have a 34 week baby. So thankful!) and after that, I spent the next few weeks laying low and enjoying as much time with my big girl as possible.

The last few weeks of growing this baby were so sweet. I was so painfully aware that this beautiful season of just Lydia and mommy were ending. We had playdates, went for coffee, watched movies and spent many afternoons snuggling together with a much-needed mommy-daughter nap. I tried my very best to revel in our one-on-one time and I loved every second.

Eventually, however, I was ready to be not pregnant anymore. We had two things we wanted to check off before sister came, Frozen on Ice and Halloween, but after that, I was READY. Ben started his FMLA on November 1st and his parents were coming the 10th, so I needed to get this baby out! Plus, it’s really painful to be more pregnant with your second baby than you ever were with your first! I started the last 5 days with “I’ve never been this pregnant before!” (Um…dramatic much??)

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The day of my 39 week appointment (at 39 & 4) I spent the morning yelling “GET OUT” to my belly and feeling about 1,000 months pregnant. When my Midwife asked if I wanted to schedule an induction, I said “Yes!” as quickly as possible and we scheduled one for Sunday (40 & 1). When I left the hospital after my pre-term labor, I was 2 cm and 90% effaced, when my MW checked me at this appointment, I was 2.5 cm and 90%. I had been having no contractions and didn’t feel like anything was going to happen anytime soon. The MW “lightly” stripped my membranes and I took myself on a date for a “I’m-still-so-freaking-pregnant” milkshake.

On the way home from my appointment (about 4 pm), I noticed a bit of cramping, but it was not painful and it was pretty far apart. I was encouraged though, that during the 45 minute drive home the cramps continued. I arrived home to a sleeping family at home, so I decided to pump for a bit to see if it would encourage these cramps to progress to something good. I didn’t necessarily have much luck with just pumping, but when Ben woke up, he suggested we skip our small group and opt for a long walk instead (I think my crazy pregnant lady eyes were freaking him out!). About 6:30 pm Lydia, Ben and I bundled up and took a few mile walk. We grabbed dinner and ice cream, where I had my second frozen treat of the day, because: so freaking pregnant.

The cramping had continued on our walk, and they were coming a bit more consistently and by 10 pm I was encouraged that maybe these cramps would progress to actual contractions and not just putter out like I thought they would. Suddenly, I had this weight on me that I needed to hold Lydia. I haven’t held and rocked her to sleep in forever, but tonight, I needed to. So, Ben played video games and I savored my sweet girl as she fell asleep on my lap for the last time as my only little love. I put her into her bed at 11 pm and spent an hour on the exercise ball. At midnight, I noticed I was having to stop what I was doing because my cramps were turning into painful contractions. They were about 30 seconds long and 5 minutes apart. Ben started to take notice at this time, and he decided it was time to pack his bag (mine had been packed for weeks). By 1 am we were both totally packed and all of our stuff was by the door and we were going to try and go to bed.

I was having trouble focusing on much anything other than how uncomfortable the contractions were and found only a little bit of relief if I was rocking on the exercise ball. My sleeping was out of the question. By 2 am, my contractions were averaging just over 3 minutes apart and they were painful. Ben was getting nervous because prior to this point, I didn’t feel super rushed, nor did I seem to think getting Hannah here to watch Lydia was urgent. But, he recognized my more guttural grunts and groans and knew our time was close (his eyes were as wide as saucers when he said “I remember these noises. This is how you sounded last time!”). We made the decision to call Hannah and ask her to come because it did seem as though I was indeed in labor and our girl was coming (in hindsight it’s so crazy that I am so unaware how close I am to actually meeting my babies!). Considering our 45 minute drive to the hospital, my Midwife had instructed us to head to the hospital when my contractions were 3 minutes apart, or definitely by the time I started throwing up.

Ben went to get gas in the truck and I had the super strong urge to call my mama because I knew only she would get what I was going through at that moment. Suddenly, I felt so sad that I was leaving Lydia. Not the actual fact that I was leaving Lydia at our house, but that I was effectively changing her life forever. She went to bed as my only baby, and she had no clue that she’d wake up with another person stealing my attention and my heart. My poor girl! It was nearly 3 am and I woke my mom from sleep, but she encouraged me, in the way only a mom can, and we chatted between contractions until Ben got home. I vaguely remember her being a bit squealy and excited every time I groaned in pain…I was not echoing her exuberance 😉

Right after 3 am Hannah walked in the door, and as I heard her enter, I ran to the bathroom to lose my stomach. I proceeded to throw up three times and I think my husband was as white as a sheet as he practically threw me in the car!

Things were starting to get really intense and I was feeling all the pressure of the baby’s little body in my lower back. I couldn’t position myself in a way to offer relief, especially in the truck! I had 9+ contractions on the ride to the hospital, and my sweet husband made the 45 minute drive in just under 30 minutes. How he was able to safely drive, I don’t know, but I’m so glad he did. He dropped me off at the entrance to the ER as he parked the truck, and as I walked in, a contraction hit and I couldn’t help but cry out during the whole thing. Talk about making an entrance! I think I said something like “I’m here!” and tried to play it off like I was totally in control, but I most certainly was not! The receptionist called L&D and a few minutes after Ben arrived, the nurse came down to get us settled in a labor room. I bellowed down the hallway as my contractions hit, and they were coming more and more frequently.

As luck would have it, my Midwife was on call that night and when I saw her I gave her stripping skills props for starting this whole process! I got settled into my room and when the MW checked me, I was 6 cm and 90%. I felt like I was doing a whole lot of work for only 6 cm! “We’ll have a baby soon!” my Midwife said and I clung onto the phrase: “Second babies just fly out!” but I felt like I was doing a lot of work for a baby that was supposed to be flying.

The nurse could not get an IV in me, nor could the other 2 that tried (well, one nurse did get one, but then she proceeded to forget to tape the darn thing to my skin and then when I told her it wasn’t secure, she pulled it out as she was assessing it. I wanted to cry!). I was sitting on the exercise ball with Ben in a chair behind me applying pressure to my lower back as they were poking. The contractions were over a minute long and coming with only 30 second breaks in between and I felt like I was being ripped open along my spine. It was absolutely awful! After about an hour (right around 5 am), they checked me and I was only 6.5 cm! I started to get so frustrated! I was in so much pain and that 0.5 cm was such discouraging progress! They decided to bring the on-call anesthesiologist in to try for an IV and I was just hoping for a little relief in the form of a little dose of Fentanyl.

The anesthesiologist got the IV on the first try and while she was working, I asked how long it would take for me to get an epidural and feel relief. She promised me relief in 45 minutes, and when I realized the little dose of Fentanyl I was finally able to get did nothing except make my eyes dizzy, I decided I needed a break from the pain and asked for the epidural.

My midwife entered the room a few minutes later and asked me to get in the bed so she could check me before we proceeded with the epidural. “I just can’t do this anymore” I said to Susan (the MW) as she helped me in the bed and she smiled and said something along the lines of “I know, that’s what I wanted to hear!”(It’s probably so much easier to recognize transition when you’re not actually in transition!)

The doctor wheeled her drug cart into the room as Susan was checking me, but Susan quickly waved her out and said “You can take that away, we don’t need it. You’re 8.5 and complete, let’s have a baby!”

I was in shock! I didn’t feel any different or like I had any progress, but I was just ready to be done! During my appointment earlier, Susan and I had discussed how I wanted to labor and what positions would help me avoid tearing. She was strongly advocating for birthing while on all 4’s on the bed and other positions that would offer less pressure on the perineum. However, at this moment, when I was ready to start pushing, she changed a bit and her business became about getting this baby out. I don’t know why she asked me to push this way, but I can only trust that it was to allow me to safely birth my baby without damage to either of us.

I was having such bad back labor because the baby was posterior. I don’t know for sure, but I THINK I was able to start pushing and subsequently not deliver posteriorly because Susan helped finish off my cervix and helped turn the baby. Her and I never discussed the details of it, but I do know that I would not have had a natural birth without her help!

I was lying on my back in the bed and Susan instructed me to pull my knees up to the sides of my chest and bear down as hard as I could. I felt the baby engage and so much pain took over! I screamed, but Susan’s voice “Don’t yell! You can’t breathe when you yell!” broke through the deafening burning and as another contraction hit, with Ben and the nurse holding my legs, I took a breath and pushed with all of my might. With Lydia, I felt this intense, overwhelming need to push. I didn’t feel that this time. I was pushing with my own strength, without any help from my body. It was very different.

With the next contraction (#3), I had so much pressure and burning on my vagina I was sure I was about to rip in two! I reached down to put counter pressure on my labia when I felt something huge and squishy. In the chaos of my mind, I was horrified that my vagina had exploded or something! “What is that??” I panicked and asked Ben. Just like he was able to with Lydia, his words somehow made their way through my completely overwhelmed brain and he said “Babe, that’s her hair!” Until this point, I didn’t know I was close to delivering. That terrible feeling in my vagina? The ring of fire. What a fitting description!

With the next contraction, Susan told me to do a half push, and then, with a scream I could’t hold in, I heard “reach down and pull up your baby!” and I lifted my perfect little baby to my chest. OMG. Hallelujah! She was here! Her wails filled the room and I struggled to comprehend what had just happened. 15 minutes earlier I was going to get an epidural, and here, 4 contractions later, I was holding my baby!

Her cord was short so I couldn’t lift her higher than my belly, and as the chaos started to still, things were still sinking in with me. Everyone in the room was quietly working and I still had her on my belly. “What are we doing?” I asked Susan, because I really was totally unaware of what was going on, to which she told me they were letting the cord stop pulsing like I had wanted. It had been about 2 minutes, she said, so I said “Let’s cut it! I want to hold my baby!” and quick as anything, Ben had scissors in his hand and I was able to bring my sweet second daughter to my chest.

She gave us some beautifully strong cries, and then quietly settled onto my chest and began to nurse. She had a shallow latch, but seemed to know exactly what she was doing, and as the Midwife and her assistant stitched me up (I had another 2nd degree tear, which seems to have been a bit bigger than the first) I let myself soak in the beauty of that moment. I JUST HAD MY BABY!

There is truly nothing more awe-inspiring than that fact settling in. Both of my experiences of birth were so incredible, but during the actual birth, I am so unaware of any semblance of detail and fact. I’m just trapped in this whirlwind of chaos and pain and there is no establishing order. And then, with my baby on my chest, I can finally catch my breath and finally process the beautiful, incredible, amazing thing that just happened! It’s like the adrenaline settles and find myself in exhausted bliss. What an amazing experience!

 

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BabyBigTime #2 Born November 3rd, 2016 at 5:55 am, 7 lbs (even) & 19 3/4 inches

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13 Hours Difference!

13 Hours Difference!

 

After about an hour in the delivery room, they weighed and cleaned Evelyn and loaded us up and moved us to our room on Mother-Baby. After changing into my tank top and robe, I wrapped Evelyn (who was not yet named!) in a swaddle and laid down for a nap. I wasn’t sure how I felt about this baby yet…I think I was just too exhausted to really process any real emotions or comprehend the fact that this tiny human was indeed mine, just the same way her sister was. I really just needed a bit of sleep. Despite that, I wasn’t ready to stop touching this baby, so I swaddled her up and laid her in my bed and finally fell asleep with my head on her still little body.

After a short while, the pediatrician came in to do his assessment of my new baby. He politely asked if he could examine her, and as I handed my sweet babe to him and her placed her in the bassinet (that was RIGHT NEXT TO my bed), I had this overwhelming feeling of love! All of a sudden, I knew that I NEEDED her and that she was so completely mine!! I felt like I couldn’t breathe and it took all of my mind to remain composed as he did his quick assessment. The second he shut the door after leaving, I scooped her back up into my arms and the enormity of love and gratitude filled me up and I savored her sweet body against mine.

Ben slept for a bit longer and I texted family and friends. Ben eventually woke up and we began the process of narrowing our 12 (yes 12!!) names down to 3. Lydia was coming shortly to meet her sister and we knew she needed to know her name!

As much as Lydia had been a part of experiencing my pregnancy with me, I really didn’t how she’d act when she met her baby sister for the first time. When Hannah texted saying she had arrived, I put Evelyn in the bassinet and made sure the photo we had brought of Lydia was taped against the side so Lydia would see it when she arrived. Ben met the girls in the hallway and waiting for them to get to the room was the longest moments of my life! I was anxious and excited and nervous! I did think Lydia would want to see me right away, but no, my tutu-clad girl pushed the door open and said “Where is the baby?” as her eyes began frantically darting around the room. She spotted the bassinet and ran over to look at the baby. She didn’t want to hold or touch her, and she really didn’t want anything to do with me, either. I proceeded to scoop her up anyways, but she quickly retreated to the couch in the room with her iPad and cookie I had saved for her. Ben and I visited with Hannah as Lydia took a little time to observe and process in her own way.

We were able to engage her a bit when we started talking names and she enjoyed being a part of the process. Although she wasn’t crazy about our choices (and she was less than impressed that we weren’t going to choose Anna – and change her to Elsa…a request she made multiple times!), she did eventually concede when we decided on Evelyn Margaret. We didn’t tell her that Margaret was after Ben’s grandmother and NOT Daniel Tiger’s little sister 😉

Evelyn means “wished for child” and she most certainly was. Oh, how I wish and prayed for her, and as He always does, God was so faithful! Our perfect and precious Evelyn was such an answer to so many prayers.

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The girls visited for a while, and then Ben took them to dinner at Chik-fil-A in order to spend a little fun time with Lydia and to get me a milkshake (I was on a roll!). I ordered my own dinner and cleaned myself up a bit and then just sat on the bed and enjoyed the stillness with my newest baby. My sweet, perfect, completely wanted and absolutely prayed for, Evelyn Margaret.

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A Beautiful Beginning: Lydia’s Birth Story

This is the (very long) story of how my sweet girl entered the world:

I was scheduled to be induced Sunday, December 16th. We were to call the hospital at 6 am and see what time they wanted us to arrive. Michelle, our Midwife, instructed us to pack all of our comfort items and prepare for a long stay. The plan was to begin with a cervical ripener and then eventually start Pitocin. However, the best laid plans…

…Saturday Ben and I spent the entire day cleaning the house and preparing for our world to completely change. We cleaned, organized, grocery shopped, cleaned some more and put up our little Christmas tree before finally taking our nightly walk, the one we knew would be our last before we met our daughter. We got home, tucked Bridger into bed (in the garage because our carpets were freshly cleaned), crossed the final things off our hospital packing list and headed up to bed. We planned to wake in the morning, enjoy a nice breakfast, take Bridger for one last walk around the lake and then pack the car and head to our future.

I knew sleeping would be difficult, because I was so excited (I mean how do you sleep knowing you’re going to become a mom the next day??), so I took some Benadryl to help me sleep. While we both respectively read and sipped tea in bed, I decided to pump for nipple stimulation one last time, because, really, why not? A few minutes in, I felt a contraction. “I just had a contraction!” I told Ben and then got back to my book. I finished up, Ben turned his light off and began to drift into dreamland as I started to do the same. As I was closed my eyes, I noticed another contraction. I didn’t think anything of it, even though I had not had any contractions prior to this evening, and tried again to go to sleep. Another contraction, and this one was not comfortable. I thought to myself “these are coming pretty regularly, I should start timing them.” So, I quickly downloaded an app onto my iPhone and waited.

Sure enough, another contraction. I looked at the clock, 12:25 am. It was nearly a minute long. Then, about six minutes later, another contraction. I was excited now! I timed a few more, then decided to get up out of bed and see if anything came of these contractions. I went to the restroom and noticed blood, I supposed this was my “bloody show” though I had been losing my mucous plug for about two weeks. Then I went downstairs, sterilized my pump and did some dishes, stopping every 5 or so minutes to brace the counter and breathe through the pain, which was becoming more severe with every rush. After I finished up in the kitchen, I realized I was really tired, but the contractions were coming closer together. They were only about 3o seconds long, but coming every minute or two. I decided to try to take a bath and maybe that would allow me to relax. As they were getting worse, I noticed my body reacting in it’s own way…and I would bend over the counter and then whistle as I exhaled. I normally cannot whistle at all, so why I started whistling with every contraction, I have no idea, but it was helping me with the pain, so I ran with it.

Sure enough, the bath helped me relax, and for about 8 minutes I didn’t have any more contractions. I was a bit bummed, because I was really starting to hope I was actually in labor. I closed my eyes and started to drift off when the worst contraction yet hit. This one lasted nearly two minutes and was very painful. Then, they started to come frequently again, and the nausea started. I knew I was going to throw up, but I couldn’t move to get the trash can because the pain was preventing me from feeling steady enough to get out. Between heaves, I yelled for my sleeping husband, who at this point, had no idea what I had been doing for the last three hours. Ben stumbled into the bathroom, his eyes still closed. “What is going on?” he asked as I frantically pointed to the trash can. “I think I’m in labor” I panted. “Oh, are you OK?” he asked. I told him I was fine and he could go back to bed. Poor guy, talk about rude awakening! I continued to labor in the tub for a few more minutes but then got out and whistled through a few more contractions. Bending over the counter and rocking my hips back and forth felt the best at this point.

I got out of bed to find my sleepy husband asking me if I thought this was the real thing, but he quickly realized it was when he saw my first contraction. I stood beside my bed, buried my head in my pillows and braced. Ben then helped me up onto the bed and I made a nest with pillows and made myself comfortable. I knelt onto my pillows, my bottom in the air and tried to sleep between contractions (they were now about 5 minutes apart again). Suddenly, my urge to vomit became intense and I did my best to run to the bathroom but only partially made it to the toilet. This is when Ben kicked into gear. Seriously, he was amazing! He doesn’t typically do too well when I am feeling off. If I am sick for too long he starts to get nervous and cranky so I was a bit nervous (just a bit!) about how he’d handle watching me go through labor, especially what I hoped to be a medication free labor. However, my nervousness was for naught: from the moment he gracefully helped me back into bed and then went to clean the vomit up off the wall around our loo, he was my rock.

I started to throw up more frequently, and was unable to keep anything down. I started to get a little nervous. I was tired (exacerbated by the Benadryl), starting to become dehydrated and I knew my diabetes pill would soon be kicking in, thus dropping my blood sugar. So, I called the Midwife on call. She was encouraged by how my symptoms were progressing and instructed me to not worry about calling to check in at 6 am, but to just plan to come in in labor. She also told me to labor at home for a while longer and to call her around “8 or 10” and we’d go from there. I think it was about 3:30 am at this time.

I labored for about another hour, but things were getting more and more intense, so about 5 am I told Ben I would be wanting to go in sooner rather than later. He decided to go make breakfast and pack the car while I stayed upstairs. As he got ready, I tried the birthing ball, but it wasn’t super helpful. Really, any of the comfort items I thought would be nice were not. I just wanted to curl up into a ball and sleep. When I did have a contraction, bending all the way forward and burying my head into the bed was most effective. Naively, I had wanted to do my hair and make up before heading into the hospital, but I was not really comfortable enough to do either, so I settled with blow drying my hair between contractions. I was hoping to be a cute laboring mama, but when shit hit the fan, I threw my beauty out the window!

I called the Midwife again at 5:30 to give her an update. I told her I was throwing up a lot and was concerned about my blood sugar dropping. I had two or three contractions while we were on the phone. I remember her asking “Are you having one now?” to which I moaned in agreement and then she said “Oh good, you can still talk through them.” I sure didn’t feel like talking, but I’m not rude 🙂

Finally, around 6:30 we loaded ourselves into the car, me clutching my mixing bowl/throw up bucket. The drive was relatively smooth, though I did have five or six contractions in the car. I just closed my eyes and whistled through them the best I could. We didn’t say much, but the air was heavy with anticipation and peace. Really, I felt such peace and a strong sense of silence. I don’t even know if that makes sense, but whatev, that’s what I felt.

We had to park a million miles away from the birthing center, but thankfully there was a wheelchair in the parking lot. I remember the chair being freezing, which didn’t help the shaking that started a few minutes earlier. Ben pushed me into the hospital and I started to feel excited. We arrived to L&D and it was silent (my MW had mentioned they only had three other patients that day). We checked in at the nurses station one of them said something about me having a bowl of treats (I was still holding my throw up bowl) and I told her she didn’t want anything to do with this bowl!

We were set up in the very last room down the hall and as soon as I got into bed the nurse (who was lovely and wonderful but I can’t remember her name) asked me about my pain, to which I replied “I’d like some Fentanyl, please.” I told her I wasn’t ready to talk about an epidural or other pain relief, but if I did ask for it, I wanted it. We talked a little more about the quality of my contractions to which she said “Yep, it sounds like early labor to me!”

My lovely Midwife came in around 8 am, and she was orienting a new MW that day, Laura. Laura was going to take charge, but Michelle would be there the whole time as well. Laura checked me and I was hoping to be three centimeters. I don’t know why I wanted to be 3, except that in my mind it meant I was really in labor (as if the previous 8 hours didn’t justify that in my mind). I may have said something out loud about wanting to be 3, and I may have mentioned my severe shaking, I don’t really remember, but I was absolutely shocked when Laura said “Stephanie, you’re 7! You’re in transition!”

Oh my gosh! I looked at Michelle and said “Oh my gosh! I’m doing it! Can you believe it! I didn’t need Pitocin!” and I loved that she looked truly excited for me. She was so supportive of me during my whole pregnancy and I know that it was a bit of a challenge for her to let go of the more “natural” course of labor and delivery in favor of the PNP’s suggestions, and she knew the struggles I felt with doing the same. She fought for me to stay with her despite the GD, and I thing God perfectly orchestrated her being on call the very day I was supposed to be induced, yet ended up going into labor on my own. He’s a sneaky guy, that God. He works out all things for the glory of those who trust Him. This entire experience is truly one of the most amazing, God-blessed, perfect experience of my life. Seriously, God took every wish and hope of mine and gave me this beautiful gift. The sweet gift of life, as the way God intended it to be, which happened to be exactly how I hoped it would be. Such a blessing!

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Ok, so somewhere after I was checked, things started to get intense. I got my IV. The nurse started fluids and my antibiotics (I was GBS + so I was supposed to get two doses of penicillin) and she gave me the first dose of Fentanyl (I asked to just have half the dose to start with). The Fentanyl didn’t necessarily dull the pain, but it did give me a half hour where I felt fuzzy enough to close my eyes between contractions and actually rest. And really, more than anything I wanted rest.

My contractions began to get worse and I found myself on my back/side, clutching the side rail of the bed. That felt good for some reason. Laura watched me have a contraction and started instructing me to “Open my eyes and focus on something specific.” I didn’t like that advice, but she was the “boss” so I tried it. My eyes kept closing and she kept reminding me to open them. A few minutes later, on her third suggestion of the same thing, I said “No, closing my eyes is working for me” and then I apologized a minute later. Ben later said it took me being in the worst pain in my life to finally stick up for myself – ha!

Ok, everyone was encouraging me to get off my back, and after arguing for a while, I ventured to the toilet to labor per the suggestion of my nurse. It didn’t feel good, but I stayed there for a while because the thought of walking back to the bed and finding a different position was too daunting. Most unfortunate though, was being on the toilet, having to pee so, so badly, but not being able to! Between my full bladder, my bag of waters and my descending baby, I felt like I had to go so badly but I just couldn’t!

Somewhere along the way, my nurse put the fetal monitors on me. They were simply annoying in the beginning, but as the pressure in my lower area became worse, they became extremely uncomfortable. Every time the Midwives would come into the room, I’d ask if I could take the monitor off and they’d let me, but when the nurse came back, she’d put them on again.

I was just hanging on through every contraction now. I could feel it coming and I’d begin to brace for it. I hung onto Ben, clinging to his waist or grasping his hands. He was awesome, so supportive and strong. He kept telling me I was doing good or just stroking my hair or rubbing my back. I’m so thankful for him!

The Midwife checked me while I was in the bathroom, I suppose it was about 11 am now. I was 9 cm and 100% effaced. I was close – but really, this had no meaning to me. In my mind, I had all day to go before I would meet my baby. I was losing steam. Like I said, I was already barely hanging on, and the thought of doing this for what was sure to be hours longer was overwhelming. I made my way back to the bed and about 20 minutes later, as they saw I was losing my strength, she suggested I start pushing.

I didn’t want to get off the bed, despite their suggestions, so I tried a push or two in bed. That didn’t work, everyone was trying to get me to squat, and at one point someone suggested the birthing stool, so Michelle went to get it. As she was gone, Laura and Ben helped me to the edge of the bed to squat, but during that time, the nurse was fiddling with the fetal monitors and lost the baby. She was pressing hard trying to find her, but to no avail. Suddenly, someones voice, either the nurses or Lauras, became very strong and clear: “Stephanie, you have to move now.” I don’t think there was really any danger, but I heard the seriousness in her voice and I had new motivation. I needed to get out of the bed! For my baby! I climbed out as best I could and sure enough, they found the baby and she was just fine. I tried the stool, but quickly realized that was not going to work!

Then, someone suggested I try squatting against the bed. I sure didn’t have any ideas about what would feel “good” so I gave it a shot. I will just say that I still had no clue where I was along the timeline of actually birthing my daughter. As far as I knew, I had all day to go and it was so daunting to think that I would be in pain for so much longer. As I fretted about how many more hours of this I had. I should have known that pushing leads to a baby, but I was not clear enough to go there. We got into position, the bed was about chest level and I was standing against it. One the other side of the bed was Ben, holding hands and counter bracing me. He literally held me up through every contraction and push!

It’s a strange thing, giving birth. You can prepare and prepare, but until your are in the midst, you have no idea what your body is going to do. Truly, your body completely takes over. I don’t remember when I started to feel like I had to push, my body just started doing it and I couldn’t help but go with it. From somewhere inside me I felt every muscle contract to expel this baby. Deep, guttural sounds began to come from my mouth (these noises are why my voice was hoarse for 24 hours after birth). I had no control, my body was doing everything. It was amazing.

After every push I would look at Ben. I felt like I had nothing left. I just catch my breath and then I’d need to push again. I remember thinking: “Just cut her out! I don’t care if I have a c-section, get the vacuum, pull her out!” but I didn’t allow myself to say anything out loud. I knew, despite my pain and pleading mind, I was going to deliver my daughter on my own. I continued. They told me they could see her head and I’d push, but then they told me to stop pushing. That is a cruel trick! Between contractions and during they were putting hot compresses and counter pressure on my perineum. I looked at Ben and told him “I can’t do this anymore honey. I just can’t.” “You’ve got to babe. You’re doing it!” he sweetly responded. With that I put my head down and pushed again. A short while later, they told me to reach down and feel her head. “Oh my gosh, oh my gosh!” I said. I still didn’t realize how close I was. In fact, it wasn’t until my nurse used her Vocera to call in the second nurse did I realize that I was almost done.

I would like to pause a moment here and say that when they tell you pushing is the same as you do to have a bowel movement, they are telling the truth. It is just like that, only with more force than you’d ever need to get a poo out! At one point I was sure I was doing damage to my back side, and said “I think I’m pushing my butt hole out!” and everyone laughed. I didn’t appreciate their laughter, and I was serious “No, really, I think I am!” I said with a bit more force. It was then that Michelle somehow got through my panic and said “Stephanie, calm down, trust me, everything looks fine.” Ok. Ok. Their faces are near my bum, and this woman I trust told me my butt was just fine…ok. I will just say that I wouldn’t have been surprised if damage was done. Thankfully, none was 😉

Soon, I heard my nurse ask for the baby nurse and I got a second wind. I tried to stop pushing to prevent tearing, but I couldn’t. I knew she was coming and I was so done. I pushed and pushed and moments later, with a very high pitched “Ow ow ow ow ow!!” her head was out. The air in the room changed from anxious excitement to joyful excitement. They told me not to push and I felt still – so still. A moment later, with the next contraction came the best feeling – her slimy body exiting mine! Oh my gosh! I’m not sure how far out she was, but I blocked out the rest of the room and reached down between my legs and firmly grabbed under the arms of my daughter. I pulled my baby up to my chest and took in that moment. Everything blurred and the room spun around me, I lost focus on everything except the wet body on my chest, but nothing else mattered, I had my baby. I HAD MY BABY!!

12:22 pm, Lydia Clara was born. 11 hours and 57 minutes after my first timed contraction.

I lost the rest of my water (second best feeling!), which originally broke a small bit when I first started pushing. I instantly had so much less pressure! Oh, I felt so much better! Everyone helped me to bed and I just laid in shock, grasping onto my daughter. I asked someone to be sure she was a she, to which Ben replied, “Yep, she is!”

“Oh my gosh, oh my gosh!” kept coming out of my mouth, and I remember lifting my head multiple times to look around at all that was happening, but then being overwhelmed and dropping it back to the bed. I was absolutely spent and my mind couldn’t wrap itself around what just happened. All I knew was that my beautiful, precious baby was here on my chest and nothing was more perfect than that!

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We let the cord finish pulsing before Ben cut it, then I delivered the placenta. That didn’t hurt, I was more consumed with Lydia, so I didn’t really care. The second nurse was helping me breastfeed (really, she was doing everything except providing the actual boob) as Laura stitched my tear. I don’t know when I tore exactly, but probably at the end (I also don’t know how my tiny peanut cut me so bad I needed 9 stitches, but whatev!). Ben texted our family, who were surprised to hear of baby girl’s arrival, I’m sure, because we hadn’t even told anyone we were in labor!

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They let her stay on my chest for a long time before taking her to weigh and measure her across the room. While we were taking bets on how big she was (no one guessed correctly, btw), the Midwives cleaned me up a bit, since I was sitting in a puddle of my water and covered with blood and meconium – sweet girl christened mama by pooping on me twice. Ben then got to hold his daughter for the first time. Right around this time I called my own mama and said “I did it mama!” and we cried a little together. Oh man, I feel like the room was just flooding with joy and thankfulness!

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The nurse then told me it was time to move to the post partum unit, but first she’d help me to the bathroom. I wanted to tell her to call the f-ing lift team and to get a chucks because there was no way I was walking anywhere, let alone to go pee over my brand new stitches, but I didn’t. I got out of bed, used the restroom (which was absolutely painful but glorious as well) and then loaded into the wheelchair with my baby and we headed to our new room.

Upon our arrival to the Mother Baby unit, we were bombarded with the first of many medical personal (nurses, doctors, phlebotomists, lactation nurses, CNA’s, etc.) and Auntie Hannah arrived shortly after. She held her niece while my sweet husband helped me to the bathroom. I would like to take this opportunity, again, to say what a rock my husband was. He is not a medical person and hospitals and sickness make him very uncomfortable. However, during my labor and recovery, you would have never known it. He rolled with every gross punch and was the epitome of support and encouragement. He didn’t even bat an eye when my used post partum pad fell dirty-side down right on top of his bare foot. He simply helped me finish up and then took care of his foot. I love that man.

We all visited for a while, but then, finally, we found ourselves alone with our baby for the first time. We sat together, marveled at this beautiful thing we created, how perfectly her birth was orchestrated, and how instantly our world changed for the better. We were overwhelmed in the most wonderful way. Together, we held our daughter as Ben prayed over our family for the first time. As he thanked our Father for safely bringing our baby girl to us and we both began to cry. So much love, so much joy – our family was truly that, a family, united together by our Heavenly Father and perfectly placed together forever. We felt so blessed and so thankful for this precious gift. It was a beautiful moment, one I hope to remember as long as I live.

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Considering how prepared I was to give up my desire for a completely natural and intervention free birth, I could not be more pleased with how my daughter came to be. I feel like the most blessed woman and I truly had a birth experience that is absolutely beautiful to me! Really though, the most important and beautiful part of the whole thing, was the perfect little 5 lb 11 oz nugget that is now mine.

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My sweet, beautiful, perfect daughter. My heart can’t contain my joy!

xoxo