Aelah Grace was born on Sunday, October 19th at 11:27 a.m. She was 7 lbs 13 oz and 22.5 inches long.
Saturday, the morning of the 18th, I started the day as usual with the addition of eating a half of a fresh pineapple with my breakfast (apparently it contains an enzyme called bromelain that softens the cervix and causes muscles to contract...since we were trying to avoid induction, it sounded like a good idea. Plus, it worked for a friend of ours so it was worth a shot). The other half of the pineapple, I began to snack on throughout the day. Just a note - eating a whole pineapple in one day makes for a very sore mouth. haha. But by 5:30 that evening my contractions were consistently 10 minutes apart. By 11 that night they were only 5 minutes apart. I told hubby I was going to jump in the shower to see if things would continue. After I got out contractions slowed to almost 15 minutes apart. I was a little disheartened. I thought for sure we were about to have a baby.
But then....I woke around 2 a.m. to intense contractions that were only two and a half minutes apart. Before we rushed off to the hospital I decided to walk around, rock in the rocking chair, etc. - just to be sure. By 3 contractions were still consistently 2-3 minutes apart and getting stronger. We grabbed our stuff and out the door we went.
After my initial exam, I was only 2 cm dilated. And they were charting contractions at 2-4 minutes apart. The on call doctor suggested walking for an hour and then returning for another exam. So off to Walmart we went at about 4:30 in the morning....
This worked out well because I was able to eat a small snack! I had intended to grab something when we left the house but in the excitement (and nervousness) I completely forgot. And Hubby was able to get in a good breakfast. We got a few odd looks as we walked around Walmart, especially when I would stop, slump against Hubby for the worst of the contraction and then bend in half so he could rub my back. I'm sure we were quite the sight! As we headed back to the hospital I was sure they would send us home. Contractions were back to 5 minutes apart. Maybe this wasn't it after all....
But I had dilated another centimeter! Yay! Officially admitted around 6 a.m. I was a bit worried that we weren't further along since I had wanted to labor at home for as long as possible to avoid intervention. All I could see was 12 hours of laboring at the hospital and them wanting to induce just because things weren't progressing "fast enough." But we were here. And it was happening.
And then they took us to one of the "nice" rooms. We would labor, deliver, recover, AND stay in one room! I had been hoping and praying for one of only two of these rooms since we had taken the hospital tour. It may have been a little thing - but I was SUPER excited about this! Especially because it helped me relax and find comfort when I would have been a bit disappointed otherwise.
Labor was relatively smooth. I did have a lot of back labor but Hubby was right there to rub whenever I asked. The Bradley methods we had studied were extremely helpful. When I remembered to breath the right way and to completely relax I really noticed a difference. And I mean really. I noticed at one point that I kept clenching my butt muscles and my upper thighs because of my back pain. When I could consciously avoid that it hurt much less. But it was extremely difficult to focus on not tensing.
By 9 there hadn't been any more change. Because of this, when the doctor came just a little while later, he first respectfully recognized the fact that I wanted an intervention free delivery. Since he was the only doctor at the hospital that doesn't work at the practice I go to, it was refreshing to hear him respect my wishes. At this point, because of no progress, he mentioned that we could add pitocin but also gave me the option of going back home.
I was a little broken. I couldn't fathom the idea of going home. My contractions weren't super close together but they were very strong. I was losing heart. The idea of getting in a car was unbearable, I could barely get through the pain as it was. And the drive to the hospital when my contractions were probably half as bad was pretty miserable. As my brain went 1 million directions I was able to stay calm enough to reiterate my desire to avoid drugs and asked if they could, instead, break my water.
Apparently my cervix was a bit posterior which would make the procedure extremely difficult if not impossible. But the doctor agreed to check and see before we made any final decisions. Thankfully, he did, because my cervix, though not dilated any further, was now in line with where it needed to be. So he broke my water.
That was an experience that was nothing like I imagined. Talk about a gush! And I felt like it was never going to stop. But things were happening!
By the time the doctor was done 'doing his thing' down there...which was only a matter of minutes, we had gone from 3 cm to 7 cm! Things were going fast now! I was also shaking unbearably and couldn't control it. Apparently I had entered the transition phase of labor - which was also a good sign!
Since my contractions were mostly in my back, they assumed Baby Girl was lying posterior - sunny side up. ;) Because of this they suggested laboring on my hands and knees. This wasn't in our original plan - but, it helped take the pressure off of my back AND it helped me focus on my breathing. Which progressively got worse....I was having such a hard time focusing on everything at once. So, unfortunately, my breathing was struggling.
My mom and Hubby both swear that according to the monitors my contractions weren't as strong after they broke my water. But for me they felt worse. I think it was because they were coming much closer together and I didn't have enough time to refocus between. The few things that kept me going:
1. The knowledge that it was too late for meds. ;)
2. My awesome coaches (Hubby and Mom) - they never let me down and were always there to help me through whatever I needed.
3. My mom kept praying. And I kept chanting Philippians 4:13 in my head - "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength."
Before long, I knew I had to push. I had thought so previously but when the nurse checked I wasn't quite there. So it took her awhile to come check the second time. But she did. And she told us we were ready to have a baby!!
The next 20 minutes were the hardest part of the whole process. My body was telling me PUSH! And everyone else kept telling me to wait for the doctor. It...was...agonizing. Probably the worst pain I have ever experienced. Contractions are bad enough but when you are literally fighting everything your body is trying to do, it magnifies that pain...apparently times 1000. This entire time, Hubby and Mom kept having to remind me to breath properly - slowly - in through my nose, out through my mouth. I was taking quick, shallow breaths instead.
After what felt like eternity, the doctor and his "sterile field" were finally ready. At 11 a.m. on Sunday the 19th, it was time to push. I had lost a lot of energy and the first couple of pushing contractions were not very productive. It was also during this time that I agreed to an episiotomy. This is the one thing I truly regret...but we'll get to that later. Two more pushing contractions and the episiotomy was complete. Somewhere along the way they had to give me oxygen. I couldn't get my breathing under control and apparently started hyperventilating. The only thing I was aware of was that I couldn't feel my hands. Yikes! The oxygen definitely helped...almost immediately and I was able to focus a lot better.
It was then I realized the nurse telling me to push through the burn. I had no idea what she was talking about. There was no burn! But then it clicked - "Oh my word, she must be crowning! The nurse is talking about the infamous 'ring of fire.'" So, with my next push I gave it everything I had. I was ready to see my Baby Girl. And apparently, she was ready to see me because she came all at once - head, shoulders, knees, and toes! I was done! 27 minutes from the time I started pushing, she was here!! Not too bad for a first time mom! ;)
As I took her in my arms I could hardly believe it. I was reveling in the skin-to-skin I had so desperately wanted. She was beautiful. I was trying to get her to nurse but she was so slippy and so not happy...it just wasn't going to happen. hehe. I eventually let the nurses take her to clean her off and weigh, measure, etc. Her little cries broke my heart...
It was then I was able to take everything else in - apparently because of her abrupt appearance, I ended up with a 3rd degree tear. Ouch! It took almost a half an hour for the doc to stitch me up - the whole time Hubby still had to remind me to keep breathing the right way. I remembered at this point why I hadn't wanted an episiotomy - it could mean a worse tear then if I tore naturally. In fact, it is really rare for 3rd or 4th degree tears to happen without episitomies. However, it could have been much worse and I am so very thankful it wasn't. But the 'what if' bothers me. What if I hadn't gotten the episiotomy? Would it have been as bad? In reality, this is a small 'what if.' I will heal. And I will forget the pain of those stitches. No big deal.
Over all, I am beyond happy with our birth experience. True, it wasn't exactly what I had envisioned. I would have preferred to remember to breath, to not have back labor, and to not have any interventions whatsoever. But it was an experience that is uniquely ours. And the most important part, the safety and health of our Baby Girl, was successful!!
I will always treasure the memories of my Hubby as my coach. He rocked it! Even when I wanted to punch him in the face for saying "in through the nose, out through the mouth" for the hundredth time. He was calm and collected and never left my side for a minute.
And the moment I saw Aelah's precious little face and heard her tiny little cry will forever and always be one of my very favorite moments. In an instant, all of the pain was forgotten. I can still hardly believe she is here. It is still so very unreal. :)
|Look at those chunky little cheeks...they have already shrunk a little. :(|
|This may be my favorite picture - she is just so snuggly!|
|Snuggling with Daddy!|
|Our trip home.|