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So much has changed in my life since the birth of my first child. When I became pregnant with my son I had just started my freshman year of college. At the end of that year I gave birth to him and raised him as a single mom while remaining a full time college student. It wasn’t always easy. I had to find time to pump milk between classes and sometimes I would be up until 2am studying or writing lab reports. And there were even a couple times he would be up all night sick when I had a big exam the next day. In the end it made earning my biology degree even more meaningful…I didn’t work so hard to get it just for myself, it was also for my son.
During my senior year in college I joined the official message board of my favorite hockey team: the Colorado Avalanche. On that message board I became friends with one guy in particular. From reading each other’s posts on the board and eventually exchanging private messages, emails, and talking on the phone we got to know each other well. What started as a friendship began to grow to something deeper. We both wanted something more but it didn’t seem possible at first. I was busy with college here in Connecticut, he was busy working in California. Being so far away we just didn’t see how it could work out. But then we reached a point where we said, “To heck with it, let’s meet and see if there is really something there.” So on December 26th, 2006 Arick flew to Connecticut to spend a few days. I’ll never forget that moment at the airport when I first saw him…we walked towards each other and hugged, he picked me up and swung me around kissing me. We had already known each other for about a year so it was like reuniting with an old friend. Finally meeting only confirmed what we had been feeling for each other…that we were in love and wanted to spend our lives together.
Since I was still in college Arick moved to Connecticut so we could be together. And on July 7th, 2007 we were married. Finding out I was pregnant was wonderful. For what could be better than expecting a baby with your best friend and the love of your life? And I was blessed to have another completely healthy pregnancy, just as I did with my son. My husband and I really cherished those 40 weeks watching my belly grow.
Our baby 13 weeks, 2 days gestation
Our baby 20 weeks gestation
My belly at 20 weeks
My belly at 39 weeks, 6 days pregnant. This photo was taken when I was in labor and right before we left to go to the hospital.
I went to bed late (around 11:30pm) on March 1st. By 1:30am I woke up feeling contractions. My husband was still awake downstairs having just finished watching an Avalanche hockey game.
I spent some time walking back and forth between the kitchen and living room to see if the contractions were definitely labor. They were regular enough that I knew it was time. When I had gone into to my last midwife appointment 6 days earlier I was already dilated to 3cm and stretchy to 4cm. With my son my labor only lasted about 6 ½ hours so I expected to have another quick and intense labor. I didn’t want to wait too long to go to the hospital this time around. We packed the rest of what we wanted to bring and I took a quick shower. My mother had come to stay with us for a month to help out with the baby so she stayed home with our son. We called our midwife and left for the hospital around 3am.
Upon arrival I was sent to the early labor area to have my contractions monitored for awhile. The midwife from our practice that was on call was with another patient in labor so she didn’t visit me right away. By the time she came in to see me I had been having more contractions and started to feel amniotic fluid leaking out of me every so often. I was also having a fair amount of blood tinged mucus coming out. The midwife looked at the printout of my contractions and said they seemed irregular and not too intense. I tried explaining to her that with my son my contractions never developed into a definite pattern and I doubted that would change with this labor. She checked me and found me still at 4cm and declared that I wasn’t leaking amniotic fluid, that it was just mucus. I knew it definitely was amniotic fluid. She then tried to tell me that I wasn’t in labor. She suggested that she break my bag of waters to get stronger contractions going. I told her that I would rather they break more fully on their own. She and my husband argued on this point for awhile. Basically she wanted to break them or have me sent home. I told her I was staying at the hospital. It was so annoying to lay on a bed between her and my husband arguing over the matter while I tried to shut them out during a couple of tough contractions. All I wanted was to be allowed to go to my hospital room where I could walk around and labor in peace. I didn’t need the midwife trying to go against my wishes or tell me I wasn’t in labor when I knew I was. It was starting to ruin my birth experience.
Finally I was allowed to go to my room. They wanted to continue to monitor my contractions for awhile, but I was able to have it done “wirelessly” and could walk around. I walked through a lot of my contractions but soon discovered the rocking chair in my room was really helpful. Sometime after 5:30 am I went to the bathroom to pee and while sitting on the toilet started to feel like I had to push. I told the nurse who ran out to get the midwife. Ever since I got up to my room and started leaking a lot more fluid she decided I must indeed be in labor and became a lot nicer to deal with. I hopped back on the bed and when she checked me I was indeed at 10 cm. I had them (finally!) unhook the fetal monitoring equipment.
After only getting a couple hours of restless sleep I had gone into labor feeling exhausted. But knowing I was complete and it was time to push my daughter out I felt a renewed sense of energy and purpose. I felt ready to go, like a warrior heading out to the battlefield. My husband stood on my left side and supported my leg and foot. My nurse stood on my right side and supported that leg and foot. Once the midwife had everything set up I felt a contraction come on but didn’t feel any need to push so I waited that one out just as a surfer lets a wave go by waiting to “catch” the right one. On the next contraction I felt the urge to push. The midwife made a comment about the baby having a lot of hair. When I looked down I could see the head starting to come out. It felt so good to hear everyone cheering me on telling me what an awesome job I was doing. When the third contraction came I began to push again, even as the contraction ended I still felt like pushing. Pushing felt so intense, although not as painful as my son’s birth. I paced myself and didn’t push too quickly and was able to avoid any tears. My daughter did leave a “skid mark” when her shoulder came out, but other than that I suffered no bruises.
Aricka Ruth Lauren was born at 6:04am weighing 6 lbs 10oz and came out screaming. She was placed on my tummy and I held her there and gave her kisses while my husband cried a little and cut the cord. I then brought her to my breast to nurse a bit. I started to bleed a bit excessively and received a shot in my thigh to stem the flow some. The placenta came out about 10 minutes later. It was nice to have an hour or so just holding my daughter before she went off to the nursery. When she did go my husband went with her. During our hospital stay one of us always stayed with her. I had hoped to go home within a couple hours after the birth but the hospital wanted to keep her to do a couple standard tests which are done 24 hours after the birth. I didn’t like having to stay a night in the hospital but we were able to check out around 11am the following day.
I feel blessed to have had two healthy pregnancies and natural births. Being able to go through both labors and births with no pain medications has been very empowering and a wonderful reminder of just how strong my body is. I can't wait to share my children's birth stories with them when they are older. I really look forward to telling them how special and miraculous their births were to me.
I found that with this labor a rocking chair was really helpful. The rocking motion was very soothing during contractions.
Me and DH.
Rocking through a contraction while in the transition phase.
Your entire story made me cry, starting with you and Arick. I feel the same way about my DH. Congrats to you all. You have a gorgeous baby girl and despite the irritating midwife in the beginning it's sounds as though you got the birth you wanted. I hope my labors are as quick. Sounds wonderful!
That's such a beautiful and empowering birth story! I am so happy for you! The story of how you met your DH is so sweet and now you have a beautiful little girl to show for all the love between you. I too loved the rocking chair when I was in labor. It was an unexpected help and I refused to get out of it much of the time, lol.