Friday, May 10, 2013

Lucy's Birth Story

I wanted to write everything down while it is still fresh in my memory. I will try not to go into too much detail, but just be warned that the following may contain some material that may fall into the TMI category. Read at your own risk :)

Saturday, April 27, the weather was beautiful. The snow had melted, and the temperatures were in the 70's. My mom was in town, and we were all anxiously holding our breath, waiting for something to happen. At this point, I had tried everything I could possibly think of to encourage labor. I was receiving constant advice from everyone I know, and even from strangers. Try eating eggplant. Do some power squats. Take castor oil. I appreciated the suggestions, but nothing I tried worked. Finally, on Saturday, I just gave up. I realized that my body was tired, and I was beginning to feel emotionally drained. 

That day, M was doing yard work, so my mom and I decided to take a walk to Old Town and back, about 3 miles. I had been walking every day of my pregnancy, so I was not expecting anything to happen as a result. And nothing did happen. We got back to the house, and my mom fixed me a cup of hot tea. We sat at the kitchen table, talking about things unrelated to babies and labor and childbirth. I finally started to relax. That evening, M grilled some salmon for dinner, and we all lingered around the dinner table long after we had finished eating. I had begun to feel some mild cramping in my lower abdomen, but I didn't think anything of it at first.

Later that night, M and I were laying in bed talking when the cramps began to get worse. They didn't feel at all like contractions to me, or what I expected contractions to feel like. I told M about the pain I was feeling, and we started to time the cramps to see if there was any definite pattern. They were about ten minutes apart and lasted only about 30 seconds each. It was around midnight.

Once we realized that the "cramps" had an actual pattern, we decided that maybe I was actually experiencing contractions. My doctor had told us to call her when my contractions were five minutes apart. Since I had tested positive for group-B strep, I needed to get to the hospital with enough time to have antibiotics administered through an IV. My contractions were progressing very quickly. In under an hour, they went from ten minutes apart to four minutes apart. I started getting our things together while M called my doctor. She told us to call her back in one hour to let her know if I was still contracting.

In under one hour, my contractions were less than three minutes apart. I had a feeling I needed to get to the hospital, so we called my doctor again. She told us to get to the hospital right away. By this time, my contractions were growing more and more intense, to the point that I couldn't talk. I had to concentrate hard on working through the contractions, and whenever there was a break in between contractions, I had to concentrate on preparing myself for the next one.

When we got to the hospital, it was about 2 a.m. We had to go in through the emergency entrance, and I made everyone wait in the lobby while I breathed through an intense contraction. One of the nurses asked me if I wanted a wheelchair, and I looked at her like she was crazy. The last thing I wanted to do was sit down.

Finally, after stopping for several more contractions, we made it up to the maternity ward, to our birthing suite. The nurse immediately checked to see how much I was dilated. I was 4 cm, 2 more than I had been at my last doctor's appointment. I had to remain lying down while the nurses attempted to find a vein for my IV. It took three different nurses and several attempts before they were able to get the IV in. Meanwhile, I was strapped up to the monitors, trying to be patient and work through my contractions while lying still. By this time, the contractions were growing stronger with shorter periods of rest in between. I wanted desperately to get up and move around, to get into the tub - anything but lay still in the bed with needles pricking my arms.

Once they were finally able to get the IV in, I had to lay still for another hour or so while the antibiotics were administered. The pain of the contractions was getting so strong that I began to feel like I might be sick. I told M that I was going to throw up, and the nurse immediately handed me a bag. The salmon from earlier that evening made another appearance. It was not as good this time around.

Everything begins to blur a little after this. I remember the nurses trying to talk to me, ask me questions, but I couldn't respond. I was too focused on my contractions. M had to answer their questions for me. He stayed by the bed the entire time and forced me to keep drinking water. When I was finally allowed to get up and walk around, I decided to try getting into the jetted tub. I had terrible back labor, and the nurses thought that the hot water might help.

I had no concept of how much time was passing, but it all seemed to be going by so quickly. I could tell the contractions were growing stronger, and I went from breathing through them silently to making audible groaning sounds. Surprisingly, I wasn't self-conscious about the noises I was making. I could feel my body doing the work, and pretty suddenly, I felt the urge to push. I can't be ready to push, I thought. It was too soon. M told the nurse that I felt like I had to push, and she checked my cervix to see if I had dilated any more.

"You're 8 cm," she said, sounding surprised. "You're close, but you're not ready yet."

I was disappointed, but I decided to get back into the tub. The water was the only thing that seemed to help with the pain in my lower back. With every contraction, I had the strongest urge to push. I tried to tell myself that I wasn't ready, but my body was pushing anyway. M called the nurse back in, and I insisted that I had to push immediately. It had only been about an hour since they had last checked me, and the nurse seemed a little skeptical, but she agreed to check me again. Sure enough, I was fully dilated and completely effaced.

The nurse called my doctor in. I was already in the bed, my body pushing involuntarily with each contraction. My doctor checked me again and confirmed that I was indeed ready to start pushing. Obviously!

Pushing was almost a relief. At this point, I felt exhausted and weak, but somehow, pushing gave me a burst of energy. With each contraction, I could feel Lucy moving further and further down. It was the hardest, most physically-demanding work I have ever done in my life. During contractions, I was completely focused, mentally and physically, pushing with all my strength. In between contractions, I felt as if I was in a daze. I could barely keep my eyes open. I remember M hovering beside me, giving me water and telling me what a great job I was doing.

After several contractions of hard pushing, my energy felt completely spent. I was starting to lose my focus and determination. Then my doctor said to the nurse, "Just a couple more contractions, and this baby will be out."

That was all that I needed to hear! With my next contraction, I began to push as hard as I possibly could. I felt a gush of something slippery, almost like I had just laid an egg, and my doctor told me that my bag of waters had broken. She also told me that Lucy had ingested some meconium. I'd read that this was fairly common, but knowing this only increased my determination to push. I began to push harder, making the craziest, primal sounds that I have ever heard. M told me later that it scared him to hear me like that. Ha. Pretty soon, I heard my doctor say, "Oh my, she has a head full of hair!"

One more hard push and she was out. She slipped out so fast, and because of the meconium, the nurses took her away before I even had a chance to see her. I was sobbing with relief, partly because I  knew that it was over, but mostly because I heard Lucy's first little cries. It was the greatest sound in the world.

{Lucy's first few minutes of life}

{M cutting the umbilical chord}

When they finally placed Lucy on my chest, I was so in awe of her. She looked exactly the way I had pictured her, and yet she was so much more beautiful than I could ever have imagined. I immediately started talking to her, as if we had known one another for ages. The nurse suggested that I try to breastfeed, and I was amazed to find that Lucy already seemed to know how. It was the most precious moment, and I didn't even care that I was still in labor, my doctor pressing on my uterus to expel the placenta. We stayed in the birthing suite while the nurse checked our vitals one last time. Everything looked good, and we were cleared to move to recovery.

It was early Sunday morning, about 7:30. After being up for 24 hours and experiencing the most physically grueling work of my life, I should have been exhausted. But I couldn't stop staring at Lucy long enough to rest my eyes. I was in love!

{Lucy's first bath in the hospital}

{Lucy and I... she definitely doesn't mind telling us when she's hungry!}

{Lucy and my mom, her Lynnie}

We were finally released from the hospital Monday evening, after dinnertime. Since then, we have been learning all about our sweet Lucy girl. Every moment is like a little miracle. I can't even begin to describe the joy in my heart every time I see her face. 

M and I feel so grateful and blessed by our incredible family and community. We have been loved so well, and I can't thank you all enough for celebrating Lucy's arrival with us! We love you all. 

1 comment:

  1. Ahhhh! What a beautiful,fantastic journey! It's great that you wrote it all down. You will cherish this always...and someday, so will Lucy. May God shower you all with his richest blessings and greatest joys always! Anne