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