It's been almost a week since V was born, and we have been busy babymooning (and just BUSY...wow is it a transition to go from 3 to 4...at least with a newborn!). I did end up giving birth the night my water broke (right after acupuncture). This is our last baby, so I poured out the birth story in pretty minute detail. I want to be sure I can look back and remember everything. I'm not sure if anyone wants to read that much, but I'll post it below just in case.
The short version of it? The labor was intense and short, but only after we got to the hospital. My body seemed to wait until we put the kids to bed to really get serious with labor. I went from 4cm to baby in just over an hour. An unexpected perk? I got to try out a labor tub! (well...for about 15 minutes...but they were the transition/crowning minutes! ). The birth was smooth, all-natural, and in the end we were blessed with the most amazing little miracle of a daughter.
The (very long!) (Sorry! ) birth story...
(born Thursday, September 16th, 11:11/11:12pm, 8 pounds 12 ounces, 22 inches)
My due date was September 9th, but since ds3 had been born early I assumed this baby would be early, too. All through the pregnancy, when people asked us when she was due, we'd say "early September, but probably August." I probably should have remembered that her oldest brothers, Ds1 and Ds2, were twins that arrived post-40 weeks. Late August came and went and no baby. Early September came and went (along with all the busy-ness of the start of the school year), and no baby. Due date came, and no baby. My doctor had started to talk about induction...especially if we approached 42 weeks.
Once we had the induction talk, and Dr. L and I agreed that we were both comfortable waiting to 41 weeks and 4 days (a Monday, September 20th induction), I got very serious about encouraging this baby to arrive. I had ten days, and I planned to fill them will all manner of natural "c'mon baby" techniques. I also, mentally, tried not to stress out too much about her being late. I felt that she was safe, that this was normal and healthy, and I tried to trust that she'd arrive on a day of her own choosing, before the induction. (I've never been induced into labor, and given my fear of pitocin/epidurals, I had no desire to start now.) The one lingering fear in the back of my mind was that I'd messed up my usual labor pattern...in an effort not to have a too-early baby (my Mom's pattern of births going earlier and earlier was on my mind), I'd supplemented with vitamin C throughout the pregnancy. A study had shown that extra vitamin C strengthened the amniotic sac, reducing the number of preemies born because of premature rupture of the amniotic sac. Mom's labors had both started with her water breaking, and so had mine. Her labors had gone earlier and earlier each time, and I thought mine would, too. Vitamin C seemed like a safe bet.
Problem. I got to term, then past my due date, and all I could think was "oh great...now I've created an amniotic sac that will NEVER rupture, and that's the only way my body knows how to start labor!" I tried to trust my body, I read Ina May's Childbirth stories over and over again, and I tried to stay patient...but in the back of my head my fear was "can I go into labor without my water breaking?" DH of course, talked through all of this with me multiple times, and was sure that I could do it. (He is so incredibly good at this birth partner stuff.)
So, trying to stay confident, I arranged this plan:
Walk. Walk often, and walk for miles. Every day.
Sex? Every day.
Red raspberry leaf tea. At least a couple of quarts a day, strongly brewed.
Tuesday evening (40+5days), acupuncture with Carol
Wednesday afternoon (40+6days), membrane stripping with Dr. L
Thursday afternoon (41 weeks), more acupuncture with Carol
Saturday afternoon (41+2days), castor oil
Tuesday evening I drove out to A------- for my first acupuncture treatment. I hadn't seen Carol since I was newly pregnant with ds3 (back then I had acupuncture for help with fertility), and it was great to catch up with her. On the way to the treatment, then for a few hours after, I had contractions. Four hours of them. I got hopeful, but suspected this wasn't the real deal. Still, it was progress. When I went to sleep that night, the contractions went away.
Wednesday I woke up determined. Once the boys were off to school, I started looking around for things to do. Physical things that normally I would have left to DH at this stage of pregnancy. The privet hedge running along our driveway was in need of a serious trim...hmmmm. I got out the clippers and went to work. An hour (and many scratches) later, it was a manageable six feet rather than seven-plus feet tall. I raked up, cleaned up, then decided to mow the lawn. By the end of all that, I was red-faced and huffing. My neighbors, I'm sure, thought I was nuts.
Later that day I went into have my membranes stripped by my OB. He said I was a centimeter more dilated (3) than I had been on Friday, and thought this would do the trick. He was so positive and reassuring. The membrane stripping didn't hurt at all, so on the way home I picked up some very spicy panang curry, figuring I might as well throw it all out there and see what happens (I wasn't against trying old wives' tales...earlier in the day I'd also eaten most of a pineapple).
Wednesday night, nothing. Hardly any contractions, even after the kids were asleep. I felt a little discouraged, especially since Dr. L had been so positive and hopeful something would start.
Thursday morning I woke up, got the kids ready for school, and noticed that I had a few contractions in the morning. Nothing worse than a menstrual cramp, but definitely a contraction here and there. That was a first. I had intended on going for a long walk with dd1 (3 years) in the stroller, but it was raining off and on, and friends kept calling with their encouragements, so I only got in a mile-long walk on the treadmill downstairs. Contractions here and there, very spaced out...nothing out of the ordinary, except that they were going on while I was busy with the day (before this, my pattern had been to only have them when I was away from the kids or after they were in bed). We went to pick up ds3, then came home to meet the computer repair person scheduled for 11:30. The day was a typical busy one, filled with kids coming home, lots of phone calls, therapists arriving and leaving, and Ds1's busy hourly schedule of needs, bathroom breaks, and therapy breaks. Ds3 spent a long time playing with his automoblox, and in the cars he built we went on extended under-the-sea spelunking expeditions...in Connecticut (under our futon couch) of all places. Dd1 went down for her nap.
After the computer repair person left, I started paying attention to the contractions. They still didn't have a pattern, and I still didn't consider it labor, but I was getting a few of them every hour for several hours. I'd had some bloody show, probably from the membrane stripping, and around three I lost my mucous plug. Shortly after that I took some time to take my last pregnancy shots by the bedroom window...I figured, if this wasn't the day, at least I'd be marking getting to the end of 41 weeks.
By the time Dh was due home, around four, I had been getting contractions every 15ish minutes for about an hour. When DH got home from work I called him from upstairs, and we met on the stairs. I told him I wouldn't be surprised if today was the day. I was nervous about actually saying it out loud and getting our hopes up, but it felt true. Something was happening, and building, and I was just starting to believe it. We talked about what to do in the afternoon. Should I still go to my acupuncture appointment? DH said definitely yes...if this is labor, encourage it! Should DH still take the kids to Ds1's horseback riding therapy (40+ minutes from our house)? I said definitely yes...Ds1 had just started talking at the sessions last week, and I didn't want him to miss it. Surely there was enough time! (...but keep that cell phone close...)
I left for acupuncture, and DH and the kids left for horseback riding. By the time I arrived at Carol's studio, I'd had an hours' worth of contractions that were roughly 10 minutes apart, including one rather uncomfortable stretch driving down R---- Avenue. I told Carol I thought I might be in early labor, and we both laughed. There was a lot of happy excitement, and Carol made sure to hit every possible spot that would help with labor or a smooth delivery. She even went back and tweaked each needle, which gave me lots of little tickly jolts. Carol put on some soothing music and left me in the room to relax for a half hour.
I had my cell phone in my hand so I could time contractions. As soon as the needles were in, they went down to seven minutes apart. I drifted off into dreams and sleep between them (acupuncture is so incredibly relaxing!). Carol came back about a half hour later, took the needles out, and told me to take my time getting up. I looked at my phone, and thought "I should get up before the next contraction hits." Well, just as I was sitting up, it hit. It was a big one. It started low, then pulled and pulled and ached into a strong bowl-like feeling of pressure and tension. I scrambled to get into a more comfortable position, tried standing and leaning against the wall, then the bed, and when the contraction was over I felt a little pop, then a small gush of fluid that wet my pants. Not too bad, but enough that I suspected my water had just broken.
I got my shoes back on (thank goodness there was an exercise ball in the room...I wouldn't have wanted to sit on any of their beautiful upholstery!), then went outside to tell Carol what had happened. In the bathroom I checked, and even though there weren't the big gushes I'd had in previous labors, it definitely seemed like my water had broken. Exciting! I was all smiles. As I got ready to leave, Carol wanted to know if I needed help, or if she could drive me to the hospital, but I said I wanted to go home and have some dinner first. She looked at me like I was crazy, but I assured her my other labors had been like this. Plenty of time. We joked that I had the world's best reason for missing ds3's school's parent orientation that night, and also that I should write a testimonial for Carol's acupuncture practice. No kidding!
Back down at the car, I called DH and let him know my water had broken around 5:20. He was only halfway through Ds1's therapy appointment, and I encouraged him to stay but not stay too long. I drove home, having contractions (but none of them too bad) the whole way. At home I felt more small gushes, and knew for certain this was the day. There was even a little bit of vernix in the fluid, and it's goofy but I kissed it...this was from OUR baby! Our baby that we'd be meeting so soon!
At home that evening, everything seemed so perfectly timed. DH got home not long after I did...I was picking up the house, washing sheets, writing notes for people, calling a friend and our neighbors to warn them we might need their help tonight. I walked around with a washcloth stuffed in my underwear, and a towel to sit on every time I sat down, but I was able to keep wearing the same pants. I called Dad and Sandy to let them know they should start the long trip from the cabin up north. DH got home and we all had turkey and cheese sandwiches, then put the little ones to bed. I had to get up and lean through contractions during ds3's story, and felt a conflicted because I desperately wanted them asleep, but also wanted this last evening of their normal routine to be as calm and loving as possible. Around 8:00, DH called labor and delivery, requesting a nurse who liked natural labors and inquiring if they had a laboring tub. They did! It was in use now, but would be empty soon and the nurses said they'd save it for us. We called Dr. L, who called back a while later and asked how things were going...
...Contractions were going well. Around 7 and 8pm they were about seven or eight minutes apart, with the occasional one that would be five minutes apart. Usually the closer ones would be weak, followed by a longer break (eight or nine minutes) and a much more intense contraction. I was amazed at how intense some of them were. Was my memory of past labors wrong, or were these more intense than other labors? Honestly, the intensity of them worried me a little...if this was early labor, would I handle the rest of it well enough? Part of the problem was, unlike previous labors, I never really found a rhythm or a thing to fix my sight on. The only thing that helped was to feel it coming on, stand up quickly from sitting before it started, and lean heavily on my arms. "Contraction" said to DH, then silence. I liked leaning into the small bookshelf in our study, liked feeling the pressure of the wood against the force of my arms, and I'd stare down at the pattern of the wood grain on the oak floor. One board had peculiar markings that looked a little like letters, and I'd morph them around to spell words. That was only after the peak of the contraction, though. Up to the peak, I'd just breathe through my mouth and try to stay mentally in control. They were so intense for early contractions. Short to the peak, but long after that and still very strong. As soon as the peak hit, I'd ask DH "how long" and he'd tell me seven minutes apart, or five, or eight. Usually seven.
...DH talked with Dr. L, and Dr. L said everything was fine as long as I had felt the baby move (I had) and the fluid was clear (it was, though strangely it smelled very salty, like sea water or shrimp). We told Dr. L my water had broken at 7 so he wouldn't put a lot of pressure on me to come in right away for antibiotics, but he was relaxed about it all. The only thing he said that worried us was about cord compression during contractions, but if baby was moving then that wasn't really a concern.
Around 8:30 the contractions started getting closer together. 6 or 5 minutes apart, with a few that were under that. DH called our neighbors to ask them to come over. I was still conversing and joking between contractions, though, and thought we might be leaving for the hospital too soon. Stephanie, our neighbor, could only laugh at us (though I could see she was worried)...she said she would have preferred we left a lot earlier! DH helped me slip on some shoes and socks (socks I'd been carrying around for about an hour and half for some reason), and we got out to car. 8:59 pm.
The ride to the hospital was fine...contractions about four minutes apart, with one enormous one just as we left the freeway and drove into downtown. Baby started moving around a little, which was comforting since I'd been worried about cord compression. Going to the hospital at this stage was far, far better than going in just before transition (in ds3's labor). When we got to the hospital, there was a lot of confusion about where to park. We went and parked up the parking ramp, and I was getting to a stage where every time I moved or walked, a contraction hit. Contraction getting out of the car. Contraction walking across the parking aisle. Contractions as we tried to figure out where to go. I was cranky.
Finally, on our way to a possible elevator, as I was leaning up against a big white van through a contraction, a couple in a little car pulled over. DH asked how to get to the emergency room, and it's a good thing...the route we were about to take would have wound us around the entire hospital. The driver offered to give us a ride, so I got in and DH piled in on the other side with our bags. I sat on the side of my hip so I wouldn't get their seat wet. The driver and his wife had a baby just five days ago, a preemie it sounded like. He dropped us off right at the emergency room entrance, and I asked their names. Richard and Ashley. "Richard and Ashley, thank you. You've just done your good deed for the month!"
We walked into the emergency room, and I had to lean through a contraction when the nurse asked me to fill out the short admit form. DH filled it out instead, then the nurse guided us over to where the labor and delivery nurses come to pick up patients. I remember the admit nurse was so kind. She had an accent of some kind, and called me "dear," and when she led me over to the waiting area she very clearly pointed out a wall I could lean against. Very thoughtful. There were women in the ER waiting and watching the news, and they got all excited when they saw me "awwww! She's going to have a baby!"
A funny thing from the ER waiting room...I asked DH earlier in the day to help me remember times, names, and details from labor. I reminded him in the waiting room, and asked him to help me remember Richard and Ashley's names. He paused for a moment and said "easy. Richard and Ashley are like Rick Astley." I cursed him and laughed. "Never Gonna Give You Up" was immediately playing in my head.
That all went away when the our labor nurse appeared. So friendly! Lindsey introduced herself and we started walking to the elevator. I'm not sure if it was because labor was moving ahead or if it was all the walking, but contractions were getting closer together. We had to stop several times. I asked if we'd be able to have the labor tub room, and we could! How fun and exciting! We checked in upstairs at the L&D desk, I leaned through a contraction, made some complaint about my ugly outfit, then we started off for the tub room. Room #4.
Lindsey helped us get settled, and I found my favorite spot for leaning through contractions. The bedside table with the contraction/heart rate monitor was the perfect height. As I got changed into a gown, Lindsey talked me through what we needed to get done (a monitoring strip) and she already had our birth plan and was reading it. She was the perfect labor nurse. Kind, friendly, quiet, and really good at reading when to be supportive, when to leave me alone, and when to joke. The atmosphere of the room was light and happy. When she checked me, she said I was 4cm, but easily stretched to 6. That was at about 9:45, maybe 10.
I didn't mind doing the monitoring strip. I knew the baby had been moving, and was probably fine, but it's always good to hear that heartbeat and know she's doing well. At the first thump-thump-thump-thump-thump I breathed a big sigh of relief and whispered "that's my girl." I stood there, watching the heart rate (in the 140s, mostly) and the contractions (about 2 minutes apart), and felt very centered. Strangely enough, I liked watching the monitors and the numbers, and they gave me something to focus on that made the contractions feel less intense. DH, Lindsey and I talked, joked, and started to work out our plan for the evening.
DH and I both wondered when would be the best time to get in the tub. Do it too early, and it can stall labor. Do it too late (knowing my fast labors), and we might not get to use it at all. DH, probably thinking of the 4cm, thought I should wait a while and walk around. I wasn't sure, but the 2-minute-apart contractions made me think that things were going to move quickly. With ds3, he arrived about 45 minutes after the 2-minute contractions started. I asked Lindsey to start filling the tub.
Problem. The cold water wasn't working, so the tub could only be filled with undiluted hot water. Lindsey called in another nurse, a very loud-spoken nurse, to help figure out the tub, and for a long time (15 minutes? more?) Lindsey, DH, and the loud nurse tried to fix the tub. There was a lot of talking, a lot of paging (the voice-activated hospital pagers), and a lot of commotion. I was just standing there, getting my penicillin IV (GBS+), thinking "this is too loud" and trying to stare at the floor through each contraction. No matter where I looked, I couldn't seem to find a pattern or a patch of floor I liked. It was so hard to concentrate, but at the same time I appreciated that everyone was hustling to get the tub fixed and filled. Every contraction, I'd try to find a soothing visual focal point. This strip of wood floor? Not bad, but no. That strip? No. The pattern on the privacy curtain? No. The nubby pink monitoring strip on the table? Hm. Not bad. But nothing stuck. Every contraction I'd have to start looking again. More than anything, breathing helped. I'd breathe deep and breathe in and out through my mouth, lips in a loose "oo" shape, head down, left arm stiff and pressing against the table. Concentrating on the sound of my breath, the faster but calm pace of it, was helpful.
Finally they gave up on the cold water, and just started hauling in buckets of cold water from the sink. The loud nurse, still loud but still trying, made sure to get it to a nice temperature and asked me to check it. Just walking the eight feet over to the tub, I had two contractions and needed to lean through them. The baby had hiccups, and concentrating on those helped me through each contraction. There was no doubt I wanted in that tub NOW. Forget walking. I think everyone sensed a change, because soon the loud nurse left and another nurse came in and started prepping the table of birthing instruments. She, thankfully, was silent.
My penicillin IV was done and capped, and I asked Lindsey to check me again before I got in the tub. I wanted to be sure I wasn't getting in too early. She and I waited until just after a contraction to do the check. 7 cm. 10:45.
I got into the tub after the next contraction. It was still pretty shallow, only up to my lower back when I kneeled and sat on my feet, but the warmth was wonderful and so was being off my feet. The way the tub was set up, you had to enter it while the water was fairly shallow, seal the step-in door, then continue filling the tub. The tub had a big area in back for leaning back and relaxing, like a jacuzzi, but that didn't look comfortable at all. I preferred to be in the foot area of the tub, kneeling and sitting on my feet between contractions, then rising up and leaning over the edge of the tub during a contraction.
The contractions were getting very intense. I couldn't really talk anymore, and I didn't want to answer questions. DH asked if I wanted photos, and I managed to mumble a yes between contractions, but it took much more mental energy, as the contraction started, just to tell him "stop." DH calls this being in the zone, and he's seen it three times now, but for me it's more like hard work of staying in the moment. There isn't much mental space for inward conversations, questions, or even a few words you might want to string together in your own thoughts. Mostly it's just getting your mind out of the way, or not freaking out that you don't have a mind to go home to, and letting some wordless, more animal-like process take over. Birth is intense.
Only a few contractions after I got in the tub, it did intensify. At this stage with ds3 I was standing and shaking throughout my body, and I had the brief thought that this, laboring in a tub, was better. It wasn't really a rational comparison...more like "warmth. water. good. thank you." in my head. I was glad not to be standing. Glad to be more compact, and to have that water around me. At the same time, the contractions were really starting to hurt. I started saying "this hurts" or "ow ow ow ow ow" at the start of each contraction, but then I'd be overwhelmed by the tightening, the building wave of it, and I'd go silent again. For a couple of contractions I tried searching out a pattern on the floor, but no real luck there. I shut my eyes for the next ones, and concentrated on tightly gripping the black rubber rim of the tub door.
About five minutes into the tub, maybe 5 or 6 contractions in (they must have been every minute at this point, with only a brief break between them), I felt a pop and a rush of something. I'm still not sure what that was. Was it my hips? My cervix getting pulled back? I'm starting to think it must have been the amniotic sac, the inner one, since when my water broke the first time there was so little fluid (a half cup, maybe a little more? With occasional small gushes? That's a lot less then with my previous births). At the time I didn't know or really think about it, I just felt it.
After that pop, everything happened. Involuntarily, I started moaning low during contractions. My one cohesive thought through the whole tub experience happened when I heard myself moaning. I had the thought "I'm moaning. I bet the nurses are thinking I'm getting close." Thank you Ina May, and all the birth stories I'd been reading for months! After that one little sentence, my mind shut back down. I knew DH was sitting very near me, and I heard Lindsey say "good work" a few times, but otherwise I could have been in outer space (in a warm tub) for all I knew. The next couple of contractions were so intense. I didn't want to have to feel them.
I'm not sure how many there were between the pop and the movement, but once while I was leaning forward during a contraction, I felt her head move down toward crowning. It moved fast, and it hurt. I had completely forgotten how uncomfortable, and how alarming (on every level..physically, mentally, even emotionally, because I was trying to keep calm) all of this was. The ache of it, the inward fright of it, the overwhelming trapped pressure of it. My body was shaking. There were no longer breaks between contractions, at least not long enough to re-center myself or feel a breath of normal. It was just pressure, and stretching, stinging, and trembling. I could feel her head filling me up, and there was so much pressure up above my vagina that mentally I had a picture of tearing up and tearing down. Did it feel this way because I was leaning forward? I shifted back. No. The feeling stayed. "Pressure," I managed to say, and I heard DH say "she says she's feeling pressure."
The nurses were over at the tub almost right away. I think I said "I think she's coming. She's right there." and Lindsey did a visual check of me and briefly felt me. She didn't seem alarmed, but she did start draining the tub. I kept moaning, and whined a little to Lindsey "it feels better in here. I wish I could stay. I want to stay." Lindsey comforted - "I know, I know."
While the tub drained (slowly!) and they waited to be able to open the door, I felt her move slightly lower and lower. I was sure she was crowning, but I didn't say so. I just leaned forward on the tub edge (hard enough now that I was making it leak) and tried to keep my breathing calm. I couldn't help it; I pushed a little. I felt her move and crown a little more, but it wasn't what I was hoping. I was hoping she'd just be born, right there in the tub. Still, I knew I wanted Dr. L there, and so I didn't really give the enormous pushes I knew would be necessary to birth a baby. I managed to whisper "is Dr. L coming?" and the nurses said he'd be there any minute. I went back to breathing and pushing, and hoping she'd just miraculously slip out of me, without having to leave the tub or work any harder than I was already working.
Blast it all, the tub drained low enough for me to get out. Two nurses helped me, and I left my laboring gown in the tub. I only opened my eyes enough to look down and see where my feet were going. The contractions were incredibly hard once I started moving. I whispered "she's right there" when I stepped off the tub stool, and one of the nurses felt me. She panicked a little. "Okay. We gotta get you to the bed." and she called for Lindsey to help quickly. I knew the baby wouldn't fall out...I'd been pushing in the tub, and I knew a little pushing or contractions weren't going to do it. I didn't rush to the bed (even though it was only five feet away, I felt like I moved toward it at a turtle's pace). Once I was at the bed, all I could do was put one knee up on it and kneel. The worried nurse wasn't happy with that. She kept wanting me to get fully on the bed and roll over into a sitting position. She kept her hand on the baby's head, and I waited for a contraction to pass.
Dr. L entered the room just then. I heard his voice, had a millisecond of embarrassment (here I am, naked, probably bright red from the hot water, and kneeling with my butt out to everyone in the room), then flashed back into labor mode. (That's what it's like...flashing forward into involvement with the real world and with people, but then getting yanked back after only a few seconds to spend about 99% of your time and mental space in some other, only-in-labor space where you can only cope, not communicate.) After the contraction, I rolled over to my right side, then to sitting. It was time to push. I opened my eyes to see Dr. L sitting below me, a few nurses in the room, and DH on my right. Dr. L was wearing a red and beige plaid shirt and khakis. I glanced at the clock. 11:00.
I don't remember a lot of clear details from the pushing phase. I pushed, and pushed hard, for a couple of contractions. At one point I said "it's hot," meaning the ring of fire, but a nurse thought I meant I felt warm so she put a cool washcloth on my forehead. That felt good, until I sat up to push and it fell on my face! I got irritated with that and asked someone to take it off. DH did. I would push three or four times with each contraction, then rest between. Dr. L always encouraged one more push, but no one demanded them or cheered them. I liked that I was able to push when I felt like it.
Dr. L asked me if I'd torn with the previous births. I told him yes, both times. He said there was a lot of scar tissue, that it wasn't stretching, and that I would have to tear again. I took that information in and had a little inner debate about it all (if you can have an inner debate without being able to form clear inner thoughts.) Part of me thought, "Really? You can't help in some way?" Part of me thought about positions...if maybe I could move somehow and get out of having to tear. But most of me was thinking, and fearing, and facing the idea that he was right, that I wasn't stretching enough, and that I would have to push her through.
For the next couple of contractions I pushed hard but wasn't brave enough to push into the pain of tearing. Lindsey held the monitor up to the baby's heart, which was wonderful, and I knew I had a little time. I could hear she was doing well. I didn't want to tear, and had a hard time with the thought of pushing a baby through my own flesh and skin. I knew I'd have to push her out, and that it would be really hard to do, and it took me some time to build up the courage to do it. After two or three contractions I started pushing as hard as I could. Teeth-gritting, eyes tightly shut, arms pushing me up to near-sitting in bed (my knees were bent with my feet on the bed below me), I was loud and I PUSHED. Everyone said she was close. DH said she had a full head of dark hair, and I quickly reached down to feel it. I could feel most of the top of her head. I didn't really care about tearing anymore.
The next pushing contraction I pushed with everything I had. Honestly, it was not painful....just incredibly hard work, like lifting something that is far too heavy to lift, but you know you have to do it anyway. You grit your teeth, you take a deep breath, you roar, and you try until it happens. After one or two pushes, she was out. I love that feeling. Her head, which you can't really feel because of the numbness, then the wet, slippery, jointed bigness of a baby leaving your body. It it such a relief, and such a high, and the next moment I was sitting up to see her there, bright pink-purple there on the bed between my legs, and Dr. L helped me reach out and bring her to my chest. I laid back and there she was..screaming at us! The nurse said 11:12, but when I glanced at the room clock it looked more like 11:11. No matter - a baby! our baby! was here.
She cried and cried and cried. I held her in my right arm (and wow...for a 41-weeker, her back and legs were covered in vernix!) and tried to comfort her. In all her crying, she pooped on me. The cord stopped pulsing quickly, so DH cut it. I couldn't do much while Dr. L checked out my tear and helped deliver the placenta, but I could hold her little right hand and soothe her. She grabbed on and seemed a little comforted. Soon enough, I asked the nurses to help me clean up the poop. She didn't like the blankets being removed, so I put my finger in her mouth and she immediately started sucking, doing that nuzzling and grunting noise that's so familiar about a baby wanting to nurse. DH heard her noises, recognized them, and said "you should try to nurse her," so I did. She latched on immediately and started nursing incredibly vigorously. I've never seen a baby nurse so well so quickly.
It was such a busy, happy few minutes. Dr. L was working on fixing the tear, the nurses were helping me get comfortable, pushing on my uterus (to get it to contract), and all the time DH and I only had eyes for the baby. She looked nothing like the ultrasound. Nothing like we expected. She seemed to be such a mix of ds3...his round face and coloring...and ds1 and ds2 with their wide-set eyes and little nose. She was so alert and strong. DH made everyone laugh when he asked Dr. L how long he'd had the shirt he was wearing (the red plaid)...was it at least four years? Dr. L said yes, and DH shared that he was sure Dr. L had worn the exact same shirt at ds3's birth.
After I was sewn up (another 2nd degree tear, worse than with ds3, plus a couple small ones that went upward) and given an ice pack, plus anything else the nurses could do to keep us comfortable, they left us alone in the room. We'd requested an hour of bonding time in our birth plan. I had an automated blood pressure cuff, and they came in three times to check my bleeding and whether or not my uterus was contracting, but they left us with her for over two hours. She never left me, and she never stopped nursing. They didn't even bother to clamp or shorten her cord...when I went to change sides for her to nurse, the long umbilical cord was still there, a stainless steel clamp at the end. DH and I took pictures of her, video, remarked on her long fingers, all the vernix, her hair, her intense expressions as she nursed. We both had that feeling again of meeting a stranger, a very precious stranger. I laughed every time she kicked under the baby blanket, because it felt like her little kicks had when I was pregnant. Around midnight we called the grandparents, then my sister Laura, with the happy news. We talked and watched her every movement until one o'clock, two...and at sometime after two we asked if she could be weighed and measured. I was still on my little baby high, but DH was exhausted.
Eight pounds, twelve ounces. She measured 20 inches that night, but Lindsey didn't really stretch her out...a few days later, she was 22 inches. We got her footprints, on the hospital records as well as in our baby journal, and then DH finally got to hold her. He didn't want to hold her too much or too long, because he'd had a cold...and besides, every time she stopped nursing, she'd cry.
Lindsey helped me use the bathroom, helped me get dressed, and helped me into a wheelchair. DH packed. I held the baby and we wheeled out of the labor and delivery down to the mother and baby rooms. The baby stopped nursing, maybe to look at the lights going by as I held her, and it was the first time I really got to study her face. She has such beautiful features, such intense eyes.
It was well after three in the morning by the time we got settled in our room. Baby was nursing, again, almost from the moment I sat down in the bed. I think she nursed for three hours total before falling asleep. When I was pregnant with her, a few times I'd felt this strange pulse of movement that was kind of like hiccups, but more to the beat of my own heart. I didn't know what it was, because I'd never felt that before in any of my other pregnancies. Now that the baby was here, I knew exactly what she was doing. She'd managed to get her thumb in her mouth, and she was sucking on it. That was the bump-bump-bump pulse that I felt while pregnant. This girl! You wouldn't believe how much she wants to nurse! (Effectively, too...she nursed so much and so often, my milk came in well before 48 hours.)
We stayed at the hospital for another night and a day. There was some concern about me not getting two doses of antibiotic, but in the end they decided my oral penicillin (from getting my membranes stripped) would be an acceptable substitute for a second IV dose. They never did need her blood cultures, thank goodness. Most of our time in the hospital was spent in taking turns napping, in nursing (!), in DH running out for good food from local restaurants (miso soup and organic salads...yum!), and with visitors. Lots of friends called. Dad and S, with ds3 and dd1, visited Friday morning. DH's parents visited Friday afternoon.
Dd1 (3 years) was so excited to touch and hold the baby, she could hardly contain herself. She held her once, then held her again, and wanted nothing more than to see and touch everything about the baby. D3 (4.5 years) was more reserved. Curious, but watchful. In a quiet moment, he snuck up to Gramma S holding the baby and whispered "I love you, baby" into the baby's ear.
After the first few hours of vitals checks and nurse visits, we were mostly left alone. It was a peaceful stay. We spent a lot of time, those first couple days, talking about her name. As I'd been wheeled out of the delivery room and looked at her features, I'd thought "V." DH woke up on Saturday and thought Adeline. We studied the name books, re-read our story behind V, considered other names, but always came back to Adeline or V. We sent the state record keeper away with a promise that we'd know by Monday. At one point we were sitting and talking about it, and I said I wished we could fast forward twenty years to ask her what she'd prefer. DH came to pick her up shortly after that, and asked if I'd noticed her face....she'd scratched a perfect V into her left cheek. "That decides it, doesn't it," DH joked. That was Friday, but it wasn't until Saturday, and when we started experimenting with "V" and "V" that it started to feel right. By the time we came home on Saturday afternoon, we knew her name was .
Her homecoming was easy and joyful. She didn't cry in the car. Ds1 (8 years, with special needs), who hadn't met her yet, studied her for a moment, then gave her a curious (and gentle) flick to the eye as he studied her for a few moments longer. That seemed to be his welcome, and he hasn't minded her since. Dd1 and ds3 are still the curious, helpful older siblings. Dd1 always wants to hold and touch her, or help with anything baby-related. Ds3 has had the hardest adjustment, though not too bad. He's just a little more emotional than usual, and is struggling with why his parents are always so busy recently. He does love that I'm no longer pregnant, though...much better for cuddling at book- and bedtime.
V is the most easy-going baby I've ever known. She wants to be held, and she wants to be nursed (often!), but then she gives us these brilliantly alert periods mixed with long, deep naps. Six days in, she's taken every one of those long naps in my arms or DH's. We could probably put her down, but neither of us want to. We both love holding her, gazing at her. She is so incredibly dear and beautiful. As a family we're doing well, too, mostly because Vseems to be a champion co-sleeper. That first night home? 10 hours. The second? 8. Every night since then, the same. She is wonderful. She is perfect. We are so deeply in love.
XM,: mama to ds (5/08), dd (9/10) and ds (6/12) ! :C.H.S & M.
omg this is the most wonderful, perfect, baby-envy inducing birth story ever! I loved all the details, the way you described your physical and emotional states..Reading this made me just COMPLETELY impatient for my own baby, like really I cant take it any freaking more!
SO HAPPY for you and your family ROM!!!! Welcome sweet little old soul Vivian!
Congrats on your little girl!
I too labored leaning over stuff a lot. Most of my labor, actually. Rather than studying the floor, I pressed my head onto things. Weird coping stuff for sure
I love, love, love Vivian. So glad she told you what her name was
(6), (4.5), (2) and IT'S A !!!! ~9/24/12~
That is not just a newborn baby- that is an absolute angel!!! just look at her, I cannot believe how beautiful she is. She's incredible.
|In a quiet moment, he snuck up to Gramma S holding the baby and whispered "I love you, baby" into the baby's ear.|
I read a lot of Ina May birth stories, too, in the weeks leading up to and even during labor. Really helped. Congrats!
|There was even a little bit of vernix in the fluid, and it's goofy but I kissed it...this was from OUR baby! Our baby that we'd be meeting so soon!|
|Mostly it's just getting your mind out of the way, or not freaking out that you don't have a mind to go home to, and letting some wordless, more animal-like process take over. Birth is intense.|
And this! Gigantic baby lust!!
Your birth story had me contracting every few minutes right along with you!
|(and just BUSY...wow is it a transition to go from 3 to 4...at least with a newborn!)|
It's funny how other people's birth stories let you remember glimpses of the pain of your previous labors that you otherwise block from your mind.
Lovely birth story, mama & congrats again - she's beautiful!
I had always heard that the transition from 3 to 4 wasn't bad... something about being already outnumbered (or maybe it was the transistion from 4 to 5). But I will take your word for it... we aren't planning on more than these 2!
DD 12/07 DS 9/10
What a great story and wonderful pics! Congrats!!
I had always heard that the transition from 3 to 4 wasn't bad... something about being already outnumbered (or maybe it was the transistion from 4 to 5). But I will take your word for it... we aren't planning on more than these 2!
Mom to Reya (13) and Little baby Lila 9/22
Congratulations mama and thank you for the wonderful birth story!
I have an induction scheduled for 10/3 and am trying to avoid it.. I tried acupuncture for the first time on Saturday and had a second session yesterday.. Hopefully it works for me too!
We're Tiffani , Mark , Lucy (9/99) , Dexter (8/01) ,and Zachary Marvin (3/07) and Naomi Rose (6/09), home 11/10, by way of Ugandan adoption.