After almost a month of prodromal labor, I am thrilled to announce that the real thing has finally happened and we now have a little tiny baby girl!!!
On Tuesday my usual contractions (type #3) were a little stronger than usual starting around 4, and by late evening they were hard to ignore. We went to bed around 10:30 and I figured they would go away as usual, but they woke me up just before 2am. I timed them for a bit and my tossing and turning woke Luke up. The contractions weren’t consistent in time between or time per contraction, but they seemed to be getting stronger and closer together. I filled the bathtub while Luke called our doula Teresa and our midwife Judy. Luke had Teresa come and while she was on her way, he ran around packing and I labored in the tub. When she arrived we headed to the hospital for a labor check (so they could confirm I was actually in labor).
When we got there the resident checked me and I was 9cm dilated! Thank goodness, because the contractions were actually painful at that point. Teresa called Judy right away and started filling the birthing tub in our delivery room. I had to wear a fetal monitor and toco for 20 minutes and I was so uncomfortable that all I wanted to do was get in the tub… it was so hard to keep still to give them the readings they needed to make sure I could have a water birth!
Soon enough I was in the tub, Judy was there, lots of nurses (who all happened to be clients of Luke) were in and out, and everything became a blur. Because I was in the hospital the birth was overseen by my midwife’s back-up doctor. I labored in the tub for a while and I was still 9cm, so they had me get up and move around, then get on the bed where they decided (and I allowed them) to pop my water bag. I got back in the tub and it was time to start pushing. I tried a bunch of positions and pushed for about an hour and a half, but just was not making enough progress so Judy had me move to the bed.
I never thought I’d be flat on my back with my feet in stirrups, but it ended up being the only way to get the baby out with how she was positioned in the birth canal! I ended up pushing for a couple more hours on the bed, popping capillaries all over my face (I looked like I had horrible razor burn for days!) and blood vessels in both of my eyeballs (still red, but I think they are just starting to heal). Luke was by my side and Teresa was keeping cold cloths coming for my forehead. There were nurses around me counting as I pushed- we were trying to get three good pushes per contraction at ten seconds each push. When the nurse was counting, I was thinking about Crossfit… those AMRAP workouts where you do as much work as possible in a set amount of time and then relax completely in between rounds. Knowing when my work was done for the time being gave me a goal and focus.
The pushing had been going on so long that they were getting worried I would get worn out before she was born. It was suggested that I hold back and not push for a couple contractions, but I felt strong and simply couldn’t not push. I couldn’t see what was going on of course, but eventually the baby’s head started peeking out. Judy and Doc could see from the way I was stretching that I was sure to be ripped to shreds as she crowned, so they encouraged me to allow an episiotomy. I consented so in between contractions Doc injected a local anesthetic and made a snip- on a scale from 1-4, it was a 2. After that it seemed to happen really fast- I think she crowned during the next contraction (Luke got to touch the head!), and soon after the head started coming all the way out.
I heard, “You’re going to want to see this!” I felt the head come out and although I had already pushed my three times for the contraction, everyone was excited around me so I kept my eyes open as I pushed one more time and felt the whole slippery body slide right out! “It’s a girl!” Audrey Cecilia came out sunny-side-up, facing the world. That was the reason for the start and stop labor over the past month, and for the exceptionally difficult delivery.
She started crying right away, and they placed our little baby girl covered in blood and goo right on my chest. She immediately pooped out meconium all over me! She was cleaned up on top of me while I delivered the placenta and afterbirth. Luke cut the cord which stopped pulsing almost right away, and Doc worked on stitching me up (2 stitches for the episiotomy and one stitch for a tear on the right side). There was also some tearing inside my vagina- it ended up being a very good thing I was in the hospital for the birth. Audrey was so awake and aware, and was able to latch on to my breast almost right away!
I didn’t know this at the time, of course, but Judy filled me in on a few more things when we met on Saturday. She and Doc have an understanding where no interventions will be made unless they are both in agreement that it is necessary. They both agreed I needed to get out of the tub and later that I needed to be snipped- Judy said she almost never performs episiotomies, but in my case even if I had a home birth, she would have given me one. There was something they did not agree on though… I had been pushing at the upside-down baby for hours and Doc just didn’t think there was room for her to fit. He and Judy discussed the C-section, but she didn’t agree that it had to be done. I didn’t know why at the time, but she spent some time checking me out- feeling the passageway and the baby’s head, and she thought the baby could fit. She believed in my body’s ability to birth my baby, when if the birth had been managed only medically, they would have given me a Caesarean much sooner citing that the baby was posterior and would never have fit.
I am so thankful for my staff who believed in me enough to allow me to have a natural, drug-free birth of my baby girl. Labor lasted almost a month, active labor (that I was awake for, anyway!) lasted about 7.5 hours, and I pushed for about 4.5 hours. Judy said that on a scale of 1-10 for level of difficulty, this birth was an 8 or 9. No wonder I felt like I got run over by a truck, and looked like I had taken a beating! Judy told me not to look in the mirror for three days… of course I did, and all I can say is thank goodness I’m not too vain!
Audrey Cecilia made her entrance on Wednesday, January 9 at 9:18am. She weighed 7lbs 3oz and was 20 inches long with a major cone head (the bruise is finally almost gone now!) Luke and I are thrilled and just fall more in love with this eating, sleeping, pooping bundle of joy every day!