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On June 17th, 2009, at 05:35am, my little girl came into the world, weighing in at 7lbs, 12 oz, making her my heaviest baby, and 20 inches long.
In hindsight, I realize that I was likely in labor all day on the 16th. I must have just decided it was just more practice. The night of the 16th, my mother, who was in town to share this occasion, took my family out to dinner along with some family friends, Don and Denny, at the Olive Garden. It must have been fairly obvious that I was near birth implosion, because we were sat in the "special labor room" of the restaurant. Apparently, a few women before me had gone into labor shortly after dining there, one of which had her water break right there in the room. My mother found that promising. Her time was ticking, as she had arrived four days prior and this was Tuesday. She had to leave Saturday, regardless of the status of my pregnancy. My mother ordered me a nice, short glass of Reunite Lambrusco (to relax me and throw me into labor) and we dined and enjoyed each others company.
I noticed my contractions becoming slightly more intense after dinner, but I mostly chalked it up to an overly full stomach. I retired early to my room and watched some TV before bed.
At about 02:30am, 4 days past my due date, I woke up from a contraction, but just tried to roll over and go back to sleep. Before I was able to doze off, my slumber was again interrupted by another, and I had thought to myself that about 10 minutes had passed. I started watching the clock a little, trying to establish a pattern, something I had done several times prior to this evening... so I wasn't feeling particularly hopeful. I tried to get a bit of sleep in between my contractions, which seemed to be fairly steady at about 8 minutes apart. I woke my peacefully sleeping husband at about 03:30am, and informed him that I needed his help keeping track of my contractions, as they were starting to require more concentration. He fumbled out of bed and proceeded to his computer to download a contraction timer for his phone. I was irritated by this, and asked him why he was choosing to do this NOW, and not at ANY other moment prior to this one. I think we both knew at that point I was in actual labor. After about 15 minutes, Kiev started timing contractions. We made it through about three; one at about five minutes, then four, then three... Kiev decided to call our doula (my dear friend Erika) and our midwives. It was just past 04:00am. He informed them both that my contractions seemed to be sporadic and started at about 8 minutes apart, so the general consensus (to include myself) was that we were in for a LONG day and that Kiev would NOT be heading into work that day. I was taking my contractions a little more seriously, though... and told Kiev that (again) it irritated me that he downplayed EVERYTHING. We had our bag mostly packed, so after packing a few last minute items and surviving some intense contractions, we headed for the car. Liam was sleeping in our bed, so Kiev woke my mom and asked her to go lay down with him. We left our house at around 04:40am.
It was pouring down rain and thundering when we left, a dream come true for me. At this point, my contractions were on top of each other, double peaking, and, as I immobilized myself in the car, relentless. I had heard so many stories from women in transition in the car, but never realized the power of immobility, nor how long a 20 minute car ride could be. The rain was coming down hard, and Kiev was trying hard to focus on driving while comforting me. The blades of the windshield wipers were skipping across the glass, which was making me crazy. As we were making our way onto the connector, I begged Kiev to turn them off, an impossibility for him. As he attempted to reason with a woman in labor, he realized that he had forgotten a few things. He proceeded to inform me that my pillows, my bag of Sonic ice (a labor must have, or so I thought), and our CAMERA. Panic briefly ensued, as he asked me if I would like to turn around and get these things. I resoundingly declined, assuring him Erika had planned to bring her camera, and I would just deal with the lack of ice and pillows (I knew the birth center had these things, just not MY things). After being stopped at what seemed to be every red light downtown, and my questioning the reasoning behind Kiev even stopping (it was nearly 5am, there wasn't a car in sight), we made it to the birth center.
I got out of the car and managed a contraction in the parking lot while Kiev opened the door to the birth center. I could see my midwife, Paula, framed in the doorway, and I could hear the water running in the tub. Kiev helped me up the stairs and I climbed into the bed, waiting for the tub to be filled. Paula came to check on me, at which point, I begged her to just get me through this. She applied some counter-pressure to my back, which felt so remarkably good, although, I'm not sure I expressed this at the time. My birth became less stoic when I emptied the contents of my stomach over the side of the bed. Thank goodness for my attentive and intuitive midwife, who heard my warning seconds before and had a pan for me in an instant. I decided I needed the relief of the water and didn't want to wait for the tub to fill, so I got in while it was about 1/4 full and let the water fill up around me. Erika arrived a few minutes later, around 05:15am. She began comforting me immediately upon arrival (I cant be sure, but I think that everyone had to shift gears a bit upon first seeing me... once they realized I was actually close to delivery). The water gave me the ability to catch up on what was happening for the first time. I wouldn't say it was relieving, but it did provide some comfort, and allowed me to momentarily catch my breath. I had another intense contraction, which made me sick in the water. There was some talk about draining the tub, but I begged for them not to. I noticed my assistant midwife, Shelly, at that time, I'm not sure how long she had been there. She came to me to get my blood pressure and to listen to the baby. I begged her not to touch me, even shoved her hands away a few times (I'm sorry for that), but she explained she needed to hear the baby through a contraction, and I relented.
I labored for a few moments while everyone scrambled to prepare for what was now obviously a furiously quick delivery. I started feeling an intense need to push. I called out, to what seemed like nobody at the time. Erika and Kiev were there, as were Paula and Shelly, but I just couldn't see them at all for a moment. It was strange. As soon as I said the words, Paula was in front of me. I felt my water break and after one or two pushes and some uncomfortable burning, I delivered her head. I was squatting in the tub, holding the side, and zoned completely into what I was doing. Paula needed me to stand a bit so she could help deliver the rest of my baby, but I didn't really hear her. Later, Kiev told me that everyone was telling me to rise a bit. In the end, I heard Erika tell me to stand up and push my baby out, and so I did. At 05:35am, just over 3 hours after I noticed my labor begin, Madi was born into the water, during a thunderstorm, just the way I wanted. She was handed to me from the water, where I just held on to her. We didn't even look to see what she was for a few minutes. Turns out I didn't need the ice or the pillows after all. And Erika forgot her camera, too... so all our preliminary photos were not so wonderful ones taken on Kiev's cell phone. I would have liked to have had more pictures of my wonderful experience, but I'm happy for what I have.
We rested and celebrated our little girls arrival for the next two hours... and tried to come up with her name. At 08:00am, we left the birth center with our sweet little bundle. We came home to a sleeping house, not a person but my mother had known that we had even left just 4 hours ago. It was a wonderful way to announce her arrival; we came in and woke my mom, who bolted upright out of bed, wanting to know how many days shed been asleep. Then we got Alex... who was ecstatic to meet her sister. My step-dad woke then, and said hi to Kiev in the hallway. Kiev asked if he wanted to meet his new grand-daughter, and he about fell over. He thought we had returned with a false alarm. The looks on everyone's faces were priceless, and I will never forget it.
And, as it turns out, Kiev said never once did I utter a single obscenity. GO ME.