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Wednesday April 16, 2014
6 lbs, 14 oz
We had been ready for Maggie's birth for a little while and were impatiently waiting her arrival. To help prepare, I had been taking Evening Primrose Oil, drinking Red Raspberry Leaf Tea, and trying other non-invasive measures to encourage her to come on out - exercise, walking, eating pineapple, listening to my Come OUT Baby hypnobabies track. I started noticing some subtle signs that things were changing in the several days prior to her birth but nothing that convinced me completely that the time was imminent. I was crossing my fingers for an April 12 birthday but it came and went. Maggie wanted to be a little more punctual - but knew that we were really ready to meet her and chose the 16th for her birthday. That was my next best guess after the 12th because I knew there was a full moon on the 15th - and 16 is an even number, very close to the due date (but not past it!).
The day before her birth, Jason took off work and stayed home and forced me to rest and relax as much as possible. I think we both were really starting to have a hard time with the emotional part of the waiting and anticipation. That night after Vincent went to bed we went out for ice cream (I had the bourbon ball in a waffle cone from Graeter's) as a little pick-me-up. I'm glad we did. It helped. I thought as I got out of the car that night that it was possible the next time I got in I would be in labor.
I woke up with my usual pregnancy insomnia around 1:30 AM. I couldn't get comfortable and started just feeling off and ill. I just generally felt bad. I got up to go to the couch, watch TV, distract myself, etc. and while I was in the living room I had a little bit of a hormonal crying spell. I never did go back to sleep and my contractions started around 4 AM, amazingly the same time of day that they did with Vincent's labor. They felt exactly how I remembered them too, more like low menstrual cramps. I immediately knew they were different from the strong BH contractions I had been having for many weeks already and started timing them on my phone. They started out anywhere from 10-20 minutes but actually quickly got to 5-10 minutes apart, but still very bearable and low-intesity for quite a while. I was glad that I had already had my last prenatal visit scheduled for that morning and that Jason had already planned to take off work and come with me. I timed them for about an hour and a half before waking up Jason and letting him know that I thought today would be the day.
He woke up energized around 5:30 and we went about preparing for the day and possible labor. I turned on the Psychedelic Furs channel on Pandora and the music was the perfect soundtrack for that special time - all the songs played were spot on too. We listened to music, finished packing and gathering our things for the hospital, got dressed and ready, and then I went upstairs to make us eggs for breakfast and get Vincent dressed and ready for school. I filled my mom in on the situation and made sure we had arrangements for Vincent for the next few days. All the while I was timing my contractions when I could, but I was able to go about my business and talk through most of them. Every once in a while one would be a little on the stronger side and I'd stop and wait through it.
Jason went to lay back down for a quick nap around 8 before we had to leave. Vincent went off to school and we packed up all our stuff for the hospital and left for the doctor around 9 AM. We were seen for our weekly scheduled ultrasound around 10 and Maggie looked fantastic and passed her BPP test quickly with flying colors just like the previous 3 weeks. I had 3 contractions during the ultrasound. Then we saw Dr. Petruska and filled her in on the situation. The appointment was quick. She checked my cervix, said I was 5 cm, still a little length on the cervix but very stretchy and we should go ahead and head over to the hospital.
So we did. After we left the office, I texted my doulas so they would know that we were heading over. I figured we would have time after our appointment to eat lunch, maybe run by Jason's office so he could do his time sheet, etc. before going to the hospital, but it looked like things might be progressing more quickly than that. I knew I really should eat something since I wouldn't be able to eat once they admitted me, so we thought we would go down to the cafeteria and grab something light. When we got ot of the car at the hospital, I noticed the contractions getting a little stronger and I thought it might be better to skip the cafeteria and go straight to labor and delivery. I was nervous about not getting food because I was already hungry but I didn't know how quickly things would progress.
When we got up to the 3rd floor they started us out in a triage room but as soon as I got on the bed to be monitored someone called in and told the nurse to take us straight to a labor and delivery room. It was probably about 11:30 when we got settled into our room. They went over my birth plan, hooked me up to the monitor for a little bit, took my vitals, gave me intake/consent forms to sign, etc. It was probably around noon when our student doula, Hannah, arrived and our other doula, Emily, showed up shortly after that. The whole time I kept having contractions that were already increasing in frequency and intensity and I would stop and try to relax into them and breathe through them and was still doing a pretty good job. I had the Psychedelic Furs channel turned on on my phone and had that going in the background for a while, which was nice.
Once they got us settled in and going, the nursing staff seemed to leave us alone with the doulas for quite a while while I labored. We just spent this time talking with the doulas and moving around into different positions. My contractions really started to pick up quickly and we could tell things were going to go pretty fast and that I was heading into transition soon. I labored on the birthing ball for a while, then moved to a standing position, leaning over the bed. While in that position, an anesthesiologist came into the room and asked what was wrong and why I wasn't in the bed. I was having contractions the whole time she was in the room. Emily informed her that I was having a baby. The anesthesiologist was confused and kind of snarky - saying, "So you do not want any pain medication?" and then had to ask me a battery of questions in case of an emergency c-section. I answered all of her questions in the middle of a contraction. When she left she said "good luck", somewhat condescendingly. I was extremely irritated by her presence and was thrilled with how my doula responded to her since I didn't have any spare energy or attention to devote to her.
The rest of the hospital staff was very helpful and they were pretty hands-off the whole time, respecting our birth preferences and allowing me to labor however I needed. I was really moaning and vocalizing through my contractions, and following Emily's suggestions and reminders to help me relax my body and get through each one. I remember laughing at something through one of the contractions and noticed that that actually really helped with the pain. Jason was constantly there for physical support in whatever way I needed at the time. When things really started to get hard towards the end, they checked me and I think I was still 8 CM which was pretty discouraging to me at the time. I started to really have some doubts and soon entered a sort of state of panic because I knew it was still going to get worse but there was nothing I could really do about it. I knew things were going so quickly that I wouldn't have time for an epidural even if I really wanted one. I felt extremely helpless, but the words of support from Jason and Emil y and Hannah kept me going. Being on the bed to be checked and monitored at that point was excruciating. It was suggested that I try to move to the shower so I was undressed and helped into the bathroom. I know at that point there were more people in the room because I think they knew I was very close to pushing. I probably only spent a few minutes in the shower, sitting on the chair with water being sprayed on my stomach, but it really helped a lot and gave me a tiny bit of relief but I still felt completely out of control by that point. I think in the shower I mentioned something about maybe feeling like pushing so they quickly got me back to the bed. I told them I wanted to kneel on the bed and lean against the raised head so that's what I did. They checked me and said I was 9 cm and I feel like I really was not going to make it. I think in my head I thought that last CM would take forever and I wanted to give up but had no choice but to keep going. They asked if they could break my water and before I could even frame a response it broke on it's own. It was a huge gush and I remember feeling really relieved. I think I knew it was almost over. It felt like immediately after my water broke I just started pushing. Pushing was crazy intense and I was screaming and pushing with everything I had. I think I only pushed for a couple of minutes, just a few hard and fast pushes and she came right out! I was immediately so relieved that the hardest parts were over. Since I was kneeling and leaning against the back of the bed, I was in a good position for them to let the umbilical cord stop pulsing before Jason was allowed to cut it. At that point they finally turned me over and put Maggie on my chest while they stitched me up from my 2nd degree tears, which was very unpleasant and seemed like it took forever.
During that time I was sort of able to regroup and realize that my baby was actually here in my arms. We talked to the doulas a little bit and I was a little eager to get Maggie latched on and nursing and Emily helped me with that. My baby girl knew exactly what to do right from the start and she nursed on both sides off and on for probably almost an hour. Then they took her over to be weighed and measured while I finished getting cleaned up and went to the bathroom and then Jason got to hold her for the first time.
At some point during the delivery I realized that there had been quite a few people in the room. I remember them coming in towards the end of labor and asking if it was okay if some medical students watched the delivery, which I had been okay with. I think there were about 3 students and the doctors and nurses in the room. At least for the medical students it was probably the first natural birth they had seen, which I think is pretty cool. And it was the first birth that our doula, Hannah, had attended and she said she will always remember it. I think Maggie's birth was pretty special and I'm glad so many people got to witness it and hopefully learn from it.
I am still so grateful for how this birth experience went. I had the best support from my husband and doulas and they really kept me going when I thought I couldn't. The hospital staff and on-call doctor were very supportive of my birth and newborn care preferences and the ONLY interventions I had while in labor were a saline/hep lock and 2 short sessions of electronic fetal monitoring. I did get IV pitocin to help deliver the placenta and prevent hemorrhage after she was born. I feel like I finally had a natural hospital birth as close as possible to the way nature intended it. She and I were both in great health. I was recovering well and Maggie was eating really well. I think not having any interventions or complications really made a difference for us. We just weren't getting much rest in the hospital with people coming in and out all the time, so I asked the following morning if we could go home that day instead of waiting until Friday. They made it happen and we were discharged before 4 PM on Thursday and were able to beat the rush hour traffic going home that day. Right before we were discharged, our priest from church, Fr. Jim, came to our hospital room to say a blessing for Maggie.
Even though I had gotten pretty impatient as my due date got close, I feel like Maggie chose the perfect date and time to be born. From first contraction to delivery, my labor was less than 11 hours, and the hardest part was only about 3 hours. We didn't have to decide the right time to go to the hospital because the timing of our doctor's appointment that morning was perfect and we weren't admitted too early or late. And Maggie's birthday is 4/16/14 - all even numbers, which I like. And of course it was the coldest day in April this year. I remember walking into the hospital and the wind was freezing that morning! I don't have any pictures or videos of this birth experience, but I do have lots of amazing memories that will stay with me forever. We are so very happy and blessed and in love with our baby girl, Magdalena.