(Typically I would edit this story extensively making it more entertaining/easier to read/etc, however I’m currently still deep in the throes of newborn fog where simply completing a sentence is, in itself, a major accomplishment! And being that time is of the essence and I have an absolutely amazing post written by my husband next up, please forgive my lack of finesse this post. These are essentially the facts plain and simple, along with a few photos, of course!)
Wednesday, March 13th, 2012 ~ 40 weeks, 6 days pregnant
9:00 pm- Feeling beyond exhausted I told Josh we had to go to bed. Though we’re usually up a bit later, having been on two super long walks, to the chiropractor for an adjustment and acupuncture session to help naturally induce labor, and of course distracting myself the day long with all sorts of to do's... I was crashing hard and fast. At around 9:30 we actually crawled into bed for the evening.
11:20 pm- woke up needing to pee, per usual. I was thankful I’d actually managed to sleep for almost two hours before having to get up. Rolling onto my side to sit, I felt something like a pop low in my pelvis, almost like a kick had that been the proper area for baby’s feet rather than her head. There was a small gush of fluid, and of course my immediate thought was that I’d accidentally wet myself. Making my way to the bathroom I realized that no, in fact my water had broken.
It was such a surreal feeling realizing, okay here we go. I felt entirely calm. Back in the bedroom I attempted to rouse a very hard-sleeping Josh, shaking him gently, “Babe... Babe... Babe... Josh!” He opened his eyes and squinted at me. “I think my water just broke.” “Huh?!” “I think my water just broke…” “Huh??” “JOSH, my water broke!” “What?!? Seriously?? Are you sure?!” “Yeah, I’m pretty sure.” In an instant he turned into some sort of super human, wide-eyed and giddy. Blankets and pillows flew across the room as he bolted upright and busied himself throwing on clothes, packing the cooler and the car, calling our midwife, making a run to the drug store to get castor oil just in case my contractions didn’t kick into high gear … I think he even washed a few dishes. I, on the other hand, remained surprisingly clear headed and calm. I can’t say that I felt any specific emotion other than that, simple peace.
The midwife had said to try and sleep and call her at 5 am if my contractions hadn’t hit the 5-1-1 mark (5 minutes apart, lasting 1 minute each, for at least 1 hour), and to drink the castor oil at that point, as well. I had a very certain feeling none of that would be necessary, and I was right. Within 20 minutes of talking to her contractions started coming on fast, consistently 4-6 minutes apart. There would be no sleeping thru them or waiting until 5 to head to the birth center. We labored at home for about the next 4 hours. For the most part I kept myself busy, and when I felt one coming I’d rush to the bed and hit all fours and Josh would squeeze my hips. The squeezing, surprisingly, helped more than I can say.
3:30 am- I was eager to get to the birth center. Josh called the midwife back and she instructed us to meet her there in about an hour. (side note: Contractions in the car for half an hour weren’t fun. I did not wear my seatbelt. And I might have put the seat back down and remained on all fours most of the way…maybe…)
5:00 am- We arrived in the darkness and I immediately headed inside while Josh unloaded our bags. I found Carol, the midwife, sitting quietly playing ‘Words with Friends’. ;-) She checked me right away and announced I was 100% effaced and 4 cm dilated. Time to head upstairs.
The amazing thing about a birth center is the sense of intimacy and peace. No machines, no bright lights, no noise, no people rushing about. It feels a lot like a bed & breakfast. There are two birth rooms, both essentially large master bedrooms. Four poster bed, fire place, glider, private bath, warm rugs, furniture and décor, dimly lit with candles. It was also well equipped with a huge birth tub and laboring necessities like birthing balls, etc.
Carol began filling the tub per my request and then excused herself to the adjoining room where she’d remain for the next few hours, popping in only to check the baby’s heart rate every half hour or so and see how I was doing.
At some point over the next couple hours our amazing doula, Kali, arrived. I was just crawling into the birth tub and she immediately began comforting and encouraging me. I can’t say how long I was in the water, but I can say I loved it! It made such a difference in the intensity of the contractions. After awhile I’d gotten too hot so Carol suggested I get out to cool off. She also suggested we take a walk to speed up dilation.
7:40 am-We set out determined to hike a few blocks, at least. It was cool and overcast, almost chilly. A lot of people say they can’t walk thru contractions, but it felt great to me. I joked that it gave me the illusion that I was running away from them ;-) Just after 8 am we passed the birth center as Carol was heading home, Leslie taking her place. (There are 3 midwives. We worked with all of them throughout the pregnancy so we’d be comfortable and familiar with whomever was on call when finally going into labor.) She waved and encouraged us one last time as we rounded the block again.
At some point we headed back inside and Leslie checked in on me, encouraging me to try and lie down for awhile and actually sleep. I could NOT imagine sleeping or even more so lying down. Let me squat, walk, bounce, hit all fours… but please don’t make me lie down. Far too painful. Somehow they convinced me and I actually DID manage to sleep on and off for about an hour, however when I woke up Josh told me my contractions had slowed to about 8 minutes apart. They assured me all was well, just my body’s way of letting me rest, but the news catapulted me back to my feet and it was only minutes before the contractions started closing in again. (I should note that the birth center’s on staff doula, as well as a midwife in training had also joined the party at this point.)
The next several hours are a total blur. I remember very little besides labor, midwives and doulas coming and going, being encouraged to eat and drink as much as possible, and Josh staring at me intently. What I do remember is when things got really intense: Transition.
1:00 pm-Because I was squatting, walking, or leaning over the bed for each contraction my legs had gotten incredibly shaky. Leslie encouraged me to lie down again simply to give them a break, so I ended up back on the bed. That’s about when transition hit. Eyes glued shut, lost somewhere in ‘labor land’, all I could do was moan my way thru each contraction. There was violent, uncontrollable shaking, there was vomiting, and there was lots of assurance that all these things were good. I do remember opening my eyes once and looking at Josh, then making the mental note NOT to do it again. He looked shocked and horrified. Despite endless reading, preparation and Bradley classes, neither of us was prepared for just how intense this was actually going to be.
I’m not sure how long transition lasted and I’m not even certain when I got up, but I do remember grabbing the bedpost and asking, “Can I push?” Leslie quickly responded, “You can do whatever you feel you need to.”
I honestly wasn’t sure it was time to push yet but I was ready to move this thing along. I pushed thru each contraction for what seemed like forever. Nothing seemed to be happening. Finally, about an hour in, Leslie announced she wanted to check me. Back on the bed I went, flat on my back. Sure enough, I had only dilated to 9 ½ centimeters and that tiny lip of my cervix was prohibiting the baby from making her entrance. Leslie explained that with the next push she would manually push the cervix back. Oh my word. There aren’t words for that kind of pain. I vaguely remember screaming and multiple arms holding me down so I didn’t come out of my skin. At that point Josh said he was so upset everyone began encouraging and calming him. But as soon as that cervix was out of the way we started making progress…
Back at the bedpost in a full squat, I pushed for about another half hour. I vividly remember refusing to open my eyes even when she crowned, thinking I desperately wanted to go to the hospital at this point but knowing full well that wasn’t an option, resolving I would never ever do this again, that this baby would likely be an only child unless of course we decided to adopt, realizing I would never have an ounce of judgment for another woman having an epidural, thinking I was definitely going to tear, and finally, that if I didn’t push hard she wasn’t coming out and we’d both be stuck like this forever!
There was lots of encouragement and cheering me on, but it was the obvious excitement in my husband’s voice that rose above the others. I could clearly hear the giddiness as she came closer and closer, inch by inch. Finally Leslie told him to get ready to catch, and within moments she was out! I think the entire room breathed a sigh of joy and relief. Josh yelled out “It’s 3:59!” and everyone laughed. I was standing, leaned over the bed as they passed her to me. Dark hair, dark eyes, gorgeous in every way… I was stunned. I stood there mouth agape until someone finally ushered me onto the bed. Josh crawled up next to me and they placed our tiny Everyn Saige on my chest. I just stared. Josh laughed and cried and laughed some more, enamored from the moment he laid eyes on her. I was absolutely dumb struck by the entire ordeal. Speechless.
We waited for the cord to stop pulsing before Josh cut it, and shortly thereafter the placenta was delivered. (I appreciated that everyone marveled about how healthy it was, evidence of ‘excellent nutrition’ they chirped! A proud moment. ;-) All the more reason to have it encapsulated as well, a service my doula offers. So yes, of course I had her pack up my placenta to be dehydrated and ground into powder, packed into pills and added to my daily supplementation regimen. Of course. Why wouldn’t I?? I hear some people actually put it straight into smoothies and whatnot… now that's a bit much! Oh and btw, it seems to be working wonders in the ‘baby blues’ department! But I’ll have to tell you more about that later.) Back to the birth story…
After all the initial checking me out, checking her out, a super short visit with my parents and sister and chowing down on gluten free pizza, I was ready to go home. By 8 pm we were climbing in the car and saying our goodbyes.
Of course none of this covers the spiritual or the emotions of it all, but that’s another story entirely ;-) Like I said, these are the simple facts. For the moment suffice it to say it was beautiful, it was overwhelming, it was nothing I could have fully expected, and though I wanted to hit eject more times than I could count, given the opportunity I wouldn’t do anything differently. Everyn was so alert and present, bonding with Josh and I both immediately and nursing like a pro. I had absolutely no tearing or any kind of complications, and less than 4 hours after giving birth I literally walked out and headed home (and would have earlier if they’d have let me). I took with me the confidence that if I could do this, I could do just about anything… and most importantly, I took with me the most beautiful, perfect, miraculous baby girl.
I couldn’t be more proud. I couldn’t be more grateful. And I certainly couldn't be more head-over-heels for this tiny little beauty. Life itself makes more sense now than ever...
As I mentioned earlier Josh has a story of his own to tell, one I won’t even try to prep you for. What I will say is when reading it for the first time I wept uncontrollably, as did he. We sat together and cried, and laughed a bit, and cried some more, marveling at all that God has done. And I’ll be posting THAT little story for you soon ;-) Promise.