The author of one of my favorite blogs is a new mom (for the 5th or 6th time!) and has been posting amazing birth stories while she recovers from delivery. I am enjoying reading them and keep thinking I should write down Lydia's story before I forget. If this sounds like TMI stop reading now! Otherwise, here is all that I remember almost 2 years after the fact.
I was so glad that I was due in the late summer. I would be off work for more than a month before my due date and have lots of time to prepare and rest and soak in the pool. My Lamaze class didn't start until I was out of school and that sounded great! I was convinced that Lydia, due at the end of July would be late. I wanted to buy some type of birthstone jewelry in her honor, but wasn't sure if she would be a July or an August stone. I figured I would rather be wrong and be surprised with an early baby than be anxious after my due date passed. I did, however, plan on having my hospital bag and all the small details finished by 36 weeks, the end of June.
By the end of June, we had only been to about half of our Lamaze classes. I brought both PJ (daddy) and Jennifer (aunti) to the classes and I have to say we rocked at Lamaze! We brought snacks and laughed and took turns squirming during the birth videos. I was enjoying it and looking forward to another month of classes.
By the end of June, I was racing to have everything ready by my deadline of 36 weeks. I really planned on taking it easy after that, but the day before Lydia arrived I had a meeting about a project for work, and then I was near the baby store so I wanted to complete my registry, and then there was a store going out of business, and then I was really hungry and I realized I never ate lunch, and it was already 4pm, so I ate an early dinner, and then I was really tired so I went to bed.
Lucky thing, because I was able to get a full night of sleep beginning around 5pm. At 3:45am I woke up, glanced at the alarm clock (the only reason I know exactly when my water broke) and suddenly found myself in the bathroom knowing that my water had just broken. How I knew that was happening when I still wasn't quite awake is a mystery because my water didn't even break until I was already in the bathroom, safely perched on the potty. I woke PJ, I called the midwife, I was 2 days away from being 36 weeks pregnant. If your math skills are any good you know that made me 35 weeks and if you have been through labor and delivery you know that that classified me as being in pre-term labor. I actually tried to argue the finer points of this classification with a very sleepy midwife at 3:45 in the morning. I pointed out the discrepancy between my initial due date and my final due date. She did not see my side of the argument. I was 35 weeks, preterm and therefore, I was going to the big hospital downtown and not to the quaint birth center where I had made a deposit for the room with the birthing tub. This meant that I would have an IV. This meant I would not be allowed to eat during my labor. This meant I would be hooked up to a monitor. This meant I was probably going out of network as far as my insurance company was concerned. Regardless of the changes, I would meet my baby girl one way or the other within the next 24 hours. I was definitely in labor. There would be no false alarms, or wondering if it was time to call my mom in Idaho and tell her to get on a plane.
I was relieved to learn that my midwife would meet me at the hospital and would be responsible for my care. Only the location and lack of birthing tub had changed. In the end, the insurance was not as sticky of a situation as I had feared. I paid $125 total for all my maternity care and for my delivery. You have to LOVE a PPO when it works well!
Jen came to our house and the three of us headed to the hospital. My mom was called and began arranging a flight from Idaho. I was surprised to learn that you continue to gush fluids after your water broke. No one warned me! I arrived at the hospital knowing exactly how far apart my contractions were because I gushed every 5 minutes. Once checked in, I did get an IV and fluids and had to keep the needle in my arm for the entire delivery "just in case". I did have to be hooked up to machines to monitor my contractions, but they found me a portable machine so I could walk around. When I proved that I wasn't going to stop walking, and my labor looked normal on paper after several hours, they eventually let me take off the monitor for a while. I was not allowed to eat so I politely took the popsicles offered by my nurse and then chowed down on granola bars every time she left the room. Jennifer and I walked through early labor. Then I sat on the birthing ball until that became uncomfortable. Then I slow danced with PJ and eventually was clenching his arms during contractions. I know it must have hurt, because I grabbed his arms pretty hard, but I don't remember the pain. (Sadly, he had a bad burn on his arm and no matter how I tried to grab, I always grabbed exactly where he was hurt. He still remembers the pain!) I remember telling Jen that what the contractions felt like in early labor was what the time between contractions felt like in active labor. I never took medications for the pain. I only really got uncomfortable at the very end (transition) and I knew that by then it was too late to take anything anyway. So I asked the midwife to suggest something else to do. PJ and I were ushered into the shower, which felt GREAT! Not as great as I imagine the tub at the birthing center feeling and certainly not as spacious, but hot water is hot water. Poor PJ was not enjoying himself as much as I was as he was now confined to a very small space with a thrashing pregnant woman going through transition. For those of you who aren't familiar with labor and delivery, many women vomit while transitioning. I vomited all over PJ, in a very small shower, with a birthing ball blocking the drain. We laugh about it now, but he was traumatized.
I think after the shower I went on my knees in the bed with the now freshly washed birthing ball under my elbows. I was in full blown labor. I am sure I was in pain, but I can't remember it. I know that I would realize I was thirsty and only have time to ask for water in between contractions and have to wait for the next lull to drink the water. I know that I was holding one of PJ's hands and one of Jennifer's hands. Apparently I grabbed there hands and then crossed my arms, so they spent a good hour or so leaning over me awkwardly so that they wouldn't have to let go! I do remember the weirdest sensation in between contractions, like I was floating or being rocked. I thought I was on a water bed for a few minutes. Apparently I was rocking back and forth on the ball and was just that ecstatic at how good the moments between contractions felt. I remember feeling like I wanted to push and being told to try not to. Like that is possible!
Suddenly my mom (who flew from Idaho to Salt Lake City, to Chicago, to Nashville and then drove 2 more hours to Knoxville) arrived and it also happened to be time to push. What a relief pushing was! I know i don't really remember the pain, even when I know there must have been pain, but I remember the pain stopping once I could push. I was on fire for a second as her head came out, but then she was out. I thought I was done, but I was neglecting to remember the placenta. In movies the mother gives birth to the baby, the doctor delivers the placenta, as in mom doesn't have to do anything! Would it help my case to remind you that I did not make it to the last half of my lamaze classes, so I missed some vital information.
I finally stepped back to reality when the midwife started talking about a surgery consult and taking me to an OR. I did not go through 17 hours of natural childbirth to be sedated over a placenta! I huffed and I puffed and I pushed that thing out. On my behalf, I was later told that it was abnormal (double lobed?) and that probably made it more difficult to deliver. Either way my work was done. Lydia was celebrated with family and friends and pizza and cupcakes. Jen and PJ stayed at the hospital to help me and Lydia stayed in our room the entire time we were there. I felt like super woman after bringing my baby into the world. I was so ecstatic that I was able to do it the way I wanted to. I know that i was fortunate. She was early and a lot could have gone wrong. More than anything I am grateful for the result, but I do enjoy the story and I want Lydia to know it some day as well.