Three years ago on Monday, we welcomed a little princess into our world. We celebrated with some new doll clothes, a pink and orange pennant banner, a trip to the zoo, and something chocolatey. And today on the blog, in honor of her birthday, I bring you her birth story, as recorded in my journal 4 days after she was born…
|Claire mixing the crust for her birthday pie|
Thanksgiving Day I woke up just about as soon as you could call it Thursday – shortly after 1 am. The contractions I’d been having off and on for several weeks now had started up again. They always began at night and were just hard enough to keep me awake, but far enough apart that I knew it wasn’t labor beginning.
“Well, here we go again” I thought, “Another sleepless night”. I got up after a while, knowing I would be able to get a nap that day, it being a holiday. I headed out to the living room to find something to do – hoping that by moving around the contractions would stop and I could get back to sleep before dawn.
The house was already so clean, all I could find were a couple dirty dishes. After washing these, I sat down at the computer. Contractions had not stopped – only coming lighter when I was standing up. Wandering through Bloggyland, I came across a few mommy blogs that refreshed my perspective once again for this season of waiting. One mother had lots of pre-labor contractions and ended up with a very short labor. “That’s me!” I thought hopefully.
Finally at 4am I headed back to bed, still not able to sleep with contractions every 15 minutes. I got out my Bible and journal. I was still really struggling with choices we had made for our birth team – certain individuals were out of town, and as much as I wanted to just have this baby, I also wished to wait till everyone I had hoped to be at the birth were back in the area. Hopeful anticipation had been replaced with anxiety and resentment each time I felt a labor pain. I knew this was not a healthy attitude, so I read and prayed until this message came — I was to trust the Lord’s timing. It had been a complete lack of trust on my part — that God had a perfect plan for this birth and who was supposed to be there. Seeing my problem for what it was, I repented and asked for grace to trust. For the first time I felt a pervasive peace about the whole situation, and I praised the Lord.
But I didn’t’ get back to sleep.
Sunrise came, the Boy woke up, we at breakfast, and the contractions continued. Finally around 10am they slowed enough that I thought I could catch a nap. At this point I felt it was very important to get whatever rest I could, in case I would be up all night laboring or something. Again, sleep evaded me. (seeing a theme, here, people?)
At lunch we headed to the town fire hall for the first course of our big, Italian-Style family Thanksgiving Feast. (No, we are not Italian, but we often celebrate with close friends who are, which gives the day a decided Italian flair) This year we had 22 people, including 7 children under 5. The food was as awesome as always, a menu worth of tradition — Caesar Salad, egg bread, lasagna, and Oreo cookie salad.. I couldn’t help it — I stuffed myself, all the while wondering if this would be the meal I’d throw up in transition?
Thankfully, naps were scheduled after lunch for those would would need them. Jeremy took Jesse and me home an tucked us in bed and went back to participate in the games. Once again, I was unable to sleep, but glad for a rest.
Around the time we sad down for turkey dinner, I began noticing the contractions again. Once again I threw caution to the wind and stuffed myself, while keeping a casual eye to the clock. By dessert I noticed the contractions (which were not painful, just ‘there’) were 10 min. apart. We continued to feast and visit and finally headed home around 8:30pm.
Bed sounded so good to me by this time, but once again I was unable to sleep. By this time I was almost positive I would be having this baby sooner than later — yet the peace about the timing of things remained. Before falling asleep Jeremy recommended I take a hot bath if I couldn’t settle down. The contractions were slowing down to 15 then almost 20 min. apart, but they were so hard I had to breath through them. Around 11:30 I decided on that bath, if just for some relief. 30 min. later, I called Jeremy until he shuffled into the bathroom, rubbing his eyes.
“Honey, they’re less than 5 min. apart now — shall I call the midwife?”
His response was something along the lines of “I gotta have some coffee” and he stumbled out again. I heard the beans spilling int to the grinder and then the motor whirring. Several moments later he was back with my phone dialed for the midwife. The contractions were shorter and less uncomfortable in the tub, but they were definitely coming faster, and she had said to call when they were at 5 in. My little sheet of paper on which I had been jotting down times showed 3, 4, 5, or 7 min. intervals. I hit the send button.
The Midwife answered promptly and agreed that it sounded like we were in business. She said that she had thought I would have my baby tonight and had prayed that direction when she’d gone to bed. She said she would collect her things and be on her way.
With reality setting in that it was actually happening now, I got out of the tub to make sure all was ready. Jeremy was fixing his first cup of coffee, and Jesse was sleeping soundly. The tub was already in the living room and all Jeremy had to do was run the hose down the hallway to hook up to the hot water faucet behind the washing machine. Contractions slowed down when I had got out of the tub, but were still there.
The Midwife arrived around 1:30 with her bright smile and a hug for me. soon after her assistant came and together they began setting up. I was pretty decided I would labor in the tub, but they made up a bed on the couch for afterward.
I had gotten in the tub as soon as it was full, embracing the relaxing effect it had on the contractions. But now, when I got in the water, the contractions would slow, and when I was up and around, they were more frequent and stronger. Considering I had not slept in over 24 hours. I discussed it with the Midwife and decided I’d rather get this done. So I got out of the tube and began pacing. The RN that assisted my midwife had arrived by this time, and all three of the ladies were settled comfortable in the living room. The Midwife told Assistant #1 it was her watch, and The Midwife and Assistant #2 curled up for naps. Jeremy kept monitoring the tub temperature, and I kept pacing. I had tried to lay down to rest fora while, but found the contractions were most uncomfortable when I was horizontal. I found I really preferred laboring on my feet, leaning on the counter during the hard ones. It seemed easier to relax while standing. With Jesse’s labor I remembered laying on the bed working so hard on keeping my whole body relaxed. But this time around I felt a little more free and confident in my ability to explore various birthing positions on my own, and I found that when I was standing, there were some muscles being used purposefully, and it wasn’t so hard to relax the others.
Every once in a while I got back in the tub for a few contractions just for the break it gave me. This system seemed to work really well. Every 1/2 hour Assistant #1 checked my blood pressure and listened to the baby with the doppler. The Midwife didn’t check dilation routinely like my previous midwife. She said, “It’s just numbers – you will have this baby when you are ready!” (Such a midwife-ish response!:)) But around 4am I found myself really wishing to have a little indication of how far I had come, or how much I had to go. 7cm was the answer. “Wow!” I thought – “just 3 to go, and it hasn’t been too bad so far!”
At 4:30 I was in the tub again for a breather and ti was time to call the rest of our birth team, Cheerleader. She said she wasn’t surprised to get the call, and had not been able to sleep at all, thinking of me. She told me later that usually, when she couldn’t sleep, she would use her insomnia as an opportunity to pray for good rest for me – but that night she had the distinct impression she was not supposed to pray for sleep for me! Cheerleader arrived 10 min. after we called. I was delighted to have her as I knew she’d be great labor support.
At 5 I was sitting on the couch, having had my blood pressure taken, and Assistant #1 was listening to the baby’s heart beat when loud “pop!” came through the speaker. I heart it and felt it – it was so jarring, it felt like a chiropractor’s adjustment in my abdomen. “What was that!?” I cried, at the same time realizing it was my water breaking. Hooray! Now That meant progress! Now The Midwife said I could get in the tub and stay in the tub, for there would be nothing that could slow things down from here. I happily climbed into the tub and relaxed just in time fora good, hard contraction. Yep, things were moving now! In between contractions I was chatting cheerfully with the Birth Team, leaning my arms over the top of the tub. Jeremy took a picture of me, smiling wide before another contraction They were several minutes apart still, but strong enough that I had to focus during them, and I was starting to moan a little But the was a nice time to recover after each one and the hot water helped so much.
“Not much longer now, huh?” I asked the Midwife hopefully.
Oh, maybe 20 more minutes – maybe more, maybe less.” was her non-committal answer.
Twenty minutes later our baby was born.
Somewhere around this time, I think as I was getting back in teh tob, I hit transition. I did get the urge to vomit, but I guess all my Thanksgiving Day feasting was far enough down my digestive tract that it couldn’t’ reverse directions. Someone held out a bowl for me, and someone else wiped my forehead with a cold cloth – ahh, the perfect sensation for that moment.
Around 5:15 I shifted int eh tube to have my back against the wall and my legs and pelvis floating free. near the end of the next contraction I began to feel the urge to push! I could feel the burning stretch as the baby moved down the birth canal. Despite the pressure right there at the end, I was soooo excited to be aware of what was going on, to be feeling the sensation that meant I was nearing the end of this race. I had no idea, though, just how close I was to the finish line!
When it was time to push, I remembered my lesson from the assistant at my first labor (“Push like you’re ANGRY!”) and put every bit of force I had into an angry sounding grunt and pushed for all I was worth. I was amazed to feel the little body sliding right down the birth canal and heard everyone say they could suddenly see the head! Really? I felt for myself — sure enough — I had crowned already! At this point they told me just to breath and let everything else catch up! And that’s how the baby’s head was born – without me even pushing! The Midwife said her eyes were open as she came out — Claire was bright-eyed from the start. With the next contraction I again gave it all I had, and whoosh — my baby was born — after only 2 contractions and 7 min. of pushing. Astounding. They lifted the baby out of the water up on to my tummy, but the chord was short, and they couldn’t get her higher than my navel. I was so anxious to hold her to me and at this point I checked to see that – yes! – I had got my girl. Now I was practically crying – the combination of relief and joy and excitement was just as wonderful as I remembered it from Jesse’s birth. It was over! I had a girl!
Jeremy was taking pictures, Cheerleader was at my head, giving me sips of chlorophyll water, and the midwives were supporting baby Claire above the water while they made sure everything was ok. Claire gave her first cry and I was talking to her – “Oh, honey, if you only new how much I loved you – you wouldn’t cry, sweet girl!”
As soon as possible they carefully got me out of the tub and onto the couch. The chord stopped beating very quickly so they were able to clamp it an cut it so I could at last hold my baby to my breast (the chord was only 14 inches long!)
Birthing the placenta, learning I had a small tear, after birth cramps — all of this was insignificant next to the fact that I was holding my baby girl and it was all over. In fact, I was in shock for several hours that I was, indeed, through with labor! I kept asking the Birthing Team – “Am I done? Is it all over? Is that it?”
Jeremy got Jesse up within minutes of the birth – I was surprised, but then delighted that he was here and able to participate in bonding with little Claire form the start. He was sleepy eyed, but aware and pleased with what he saw. He cuddled with Daddy and baby on the couch and then helped with the newborn exam, holding the end of the tape while they measured her.
181/2 in. long. 7 Lbs. 7 oz.
She was 20% smaller than Jess and such a perfect little head, no wonder I got her out in two pushes! Soon Daddy put The Boy back in bed, but an hour later he called to get up, and then he was wide awake, and so excited about the baby. he just kept reaching out a single finger to tightly touch her face or her blankets as if to make sure she was real, and not a dream. So gentle, so careful, so in love already.
By 7 am I was settled in my bed, encouraged to take a good long nap. Jesse went down to Grandma’s house, The Midwife and Assistant #1 left, and finally, after getting the last load of laundry in the washing machine and making sure mom and baby were well, Assistant #2 was on her way by 8:30. Jeremy, baby, and I all comfy in bed, and they slept, but I didn’t feel tired, too excited to sleep, despite having been awake for over 30 hours at this point!
The rest of the day is rather a blur now. I know Jeremy made me a delicious omelet for breakfast when we got up at 11am. We made phone calls to friends and family gradually through the day. One of the best phone calls was to my Grandfather, to tell him his first great-grandaughter had been born on his birthday!
It was after midnight when I finally got to sleep, as Claire had some mucus to work up and was a bit restless her first night. So, after being awake for 48 hours, I finally lost consciousness, the best day of my life complete, and the first day of my daughter’s life a sweet memory.