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Graciela Rose was born almost a week ago on February 2nd at 5:09AM after 26 hours of labor and 2 hours of pushing. She was 7lbs 12oz and 20.5 inches long. Labor was without a doubt the most challenging and exhausting thing I have ever done.

My water broke at 1AM. I had been having small contractions on and off throughout the day starting around 4PM but without much regularity and suuper spaced out. I headed back to bed but I only slept for maybe an hour and a half before the contractions woke me up again. I started tracking them and then woke DH up at 3AM and we charted the contractions until 4:30, at which point they were every 2-3 minutes for 45-60 seconds. To the hospital we went!

We were admitted at 5AM at I was at 3-4 cm. I walked around the room for a bit and then I went into the shower to ease the pain a bit. Poor DH had to hold the shower nozzle so that it sprayed on my back because it was kind of broken, so he stood on the outside of the curtain to keep dry(ish, he still got all wet) and I was either standing up leaning against the wall or on my hands and knees bent over a shower stool that they had in there. I think I was in the shower for a few hours before the nurses had to doppler the heartbeat and take my blood pressure, at which point I labored in bed on my side for a bit because I was feeling really tired. Looking back I find it sort of laughable that I was feeling tired then, but at the time I had no idea what I was in for.

I labored all over the place, switching from sitting on my exercise ball, to pacing the room, to lying in bed on my side with about a million pillows between my legs, to the shower. I wish I had been better rested because the best and most comfortable thing for me was pacing the room and then bending over a counter or the bed during contractions. When I had these contractions standing up my mom and DH would stand behind me and press in on my pelvic bones which provided incredible relief for the stronger contractions. Unfortunately I'd been having weird sleeping/insomnia issues a few days before my labor started and then labor started in the middle of the night, so I wasn't well prepared to deal with the long-haul that I was in for.

At first things went really well. I tried to remember the stories I'd read in Ina May's Guide to Childbirth and reminded myself to keep my facial muscles slack and moaned mantras like "relax" and "open" through the contractions in order to encourage the opening of the cervix. The first time they checked me I was at 6cm and then they checked me again around 2PM and I was at 7-8. But then I stagnated and stayed at 8cm for 8 friggin hours. That was more than a little bit discouraging. I was exhausted. Looking back I think I was psychologically blocking myself from progressing because I had some unexamined fears regarding the pain and intensity of transition. During those 8 hours the midwife mentioned that my contractions had slowed down and were coming more near 5-7 minutes apart instead of the 2-3 they had been. Instead of trying some of the natural methods I'd read about for increasing contraction intensity, I kind of secretly savored the decrease in intensity and increased recovery time.

Near the end of the 8 hours I was getting a mild urge to push sometimes which I resisted because it wasn't an overwhelming urge and I knew I wasn't at 10cm yet, and apparently my cervix was swelling a bit. So that's when they decided to put me on pitocin. I really wanted to aviod pitocin augmentation, but I was so exhausted and dissappointed in my body's inability to do what it was supposed to, so we agreed to the pit. And OMG it was INTENSE. Also at that point I had to labor in bed because of the IV and some other monitoring that they had to do. The bed was my least favorite place because I couldn't really effectively move around through the contractions which made them feel worse. If I hadn't been tired when we got to the hospital I never would have spent any time in the bed before the pitocin, and I certainly didn't enjoy it with the pit. The contractions came every 1-2 minutes which wasn't so bad--only a few were right on top of one another--but they were much longer and stronger than my natural contractions. The pit also caused me to vomit between contractions which made the 1-2 minute break less than restful. DH sat behind me with a vibrating massager that we brought along and my mom sat in front of me and helped me through the contractions. At that point I think I was moaning "Maaa Maaaa" in a really low register through the contractions, I remember feeling like a little girl who was sick and in pain and crying for mama to fix it. Labor is certainly a humbling experience!

So I labored in bed on pitocin for about 2-3 hours and they checked me again and I was at a 9 but I still had a swollen lip and the baby's head was still somewhat high in the canal. By this point I was feeling REALLY overwhelmed and just utterly beat and I was nearly ready to give up and ask for an epidural so I could try to get some badly needed rest. I ran the idea past my mom and she was really encouraging me to stick it out because I was so close, but at the time the thought of laboring on pitocin for a few MORE hours was unbearable. I honestly wanted to cry or flip out and panic and scream at the thought of continuing the pit in bed for much longer, but I kept it under control because I knew that panicking and raising my vocalizations to a higher register would only lead to an increase in muscle tension and pain. The next time the midwife came in I brought up the idea of an epidural with her and she reminded me that it isn't the simple fix that I was longing for at the time. Really I just desperately needed some rest, but the midwife reminded me that I would then be stuck in bed with a catheter and constant monitoring and that the nurses would have to come in and check my blood pressure on a regular basis and possibly roll me from side to side if the medication didn't spread the right way and that all of these things could interfere with my ability to get any rest. Honestly I really really didn't want to go for the epidural and I didn't want to have to finish laboring and pushing without the full sensation, but at that point I was so tired that I had absolutely no confidence in my ability to read my own body's signals. The midwife kept asking me if I was having the urge to push and/or rectal pressure and I thought I was but at the same time I thought that maybe I just really WANTED to be feeling those things because that would mean I was finally near the end.

After talking to the midwife and my mom about my options we decided to try pushing, so the midwife waited for a contraction and then had me push while she tried to get the cervical lip behind her head, which took a few tries. I was still feeling a bit overwhelmed because I was having trouble pushing when the midwife fixed the cervical lip issue, and I still wasn't sure if my urges to push were strong enough to be productive. It just didn't feel right and I felt like I couldn't be sure of or trust my body's cues. We decided to get me back up on my feet because I felt the pressure and urge to push most distinctly that way, and I worked through a few contractions that way without pushing, but I DEFINITELY felt the pressure return, so I climbed back in bed and it was go time!

Pushing took a while because I was dead beat and couldn't sustain adequate force throughout each contraction to really bring Graciela down and keep her there, and then I was practically hyperventilating after each pushing session so it probably took much longer than it would have if I'd been better rested or if I'd eaten within the previous 30 hours. Besides the exhaustion, pushing felt GREAT after so many hours of breathing and moaning through contractions. Graciela was born after 2 hours of pushing and she has a bit of a conehead due to the fact that my water had broken before the whole ordeal started and so each contraction put direct pressure on her head. She also had some jaundice issues for a day or two after birth, but that has resolved itself. I expected to be more dewey eyed and in awe after her birth, but I was kind of in a surreal sleep-deprived state of wtf.

I couldn't be happier with the support and encouragement from DH and my mom--they were amazing. DH was exhaused because by the time we got to the hospital he had already been awake for 18 hours, but he was right there with me every step of the way--using the massager on my back and thighs and flaring my hips during standing contractions and holding the shower nozzle on my back every time I went to labor in there . My mom really surprised me too, she was definitely a vital part of the laboring. I don't think I could have done it without her support, especially during the pitocin part. Even the nurses were commenting on how great she was and asking if she'd ever considered doing doula work.

Now we're all just settling into our new life together and getting to know each other. We've had a few rough nights but we're learning from them and improving our ability to understand our little girl's messages. Thankfully breastfeeding is going really really well and we're all so in love with little Ela.
 

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Congratulations mama!! What a birth story you had too
Enjoy your babymoon!
 
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