Finally, We Meet
We found out on St. Patrick’s Day, 2011 that we were pregnant. It was a surreal moment. I wanted to get pregnant and was very excited about the experiences that I would have as a mother, however when I saw the positive pregnancy test, I just could not believe it! I had a wonderful pregnancy with mild morning sickness that lasted for the first trimester, and no other problems. I was able to maintain my work schedule and my normal activity levels and felt excited about meeting my baby!
Initially, my doctor estimated that I would be due on November the 17th, and then moved the due date to November 13th after one of my ultrasounds. Well, November 13th came and went, and then November 17th came and went. I was really worried that I had started my maternity leave too early! Then, on Friday the 18th, being very pregnant, I went to a local bar with my husband and some friends; that’s right, I said a bar (no need to contact child protective services. It was a low key, smoke free, piano bar, and I drank a Sprite). I was watching everyone enjoy their alcoholic beverages and took note that I was frequently going to the bathroom and it seemed like I was leaking! I called our Doula, Liz, who informed me that I may have a “hind tear” and could be leaking amniotic fluid! Oh crap…it’s finally happening! Liz told me to monitor the fluid and check my temperature from time to time to make sure I wasn’t getting a fever. I went to bed that night knowing that I would soon get to meet my daughter!
I awoke early Saturday morning to very mild contractions. By lunch time on Saturday I noticed that the mild contractions were much more consistent than the Braxton Hicks contractions I had experienced previously. I got very excited at the prospect of the beginnings of labor! I was scared that if I didn’t keep moving, contractions would slow and labor would stall. So, Jeff and I decided to go out to lunch at my favorite Thai restaurant. Then, we went grocery shopping to stock up our refrigerator and pantry like a natural disaster was about to occur and we would never be able to buy food again! We didn’t know when we would have another opportunity to get groceries, so really stocked up! It was the late afternoon and I began timing my contractions which were still mild. At this point they were about fifteen to twenty minutes apart. Again, being concerned about stalled labor, I decided I would clean my house! Since I didn’t know when I would have the opportunity to clean again, and knowing that we would have plenty of houseguests once the baby arrived, I decided to go to town! By this point I was getting fatigued and would take occasional breaks by laying sideways on the couch while watching my favorite trashy television on my favorite trashy channel (Bravo, of course)! Cleaning was complete and I was still having mild contractions. I wanted to keep busy so I decided to start baking. I was incredibly nervous about going to the hospital and pessimistic about the labor and delivery nurses (I would be proven wrong). So, in an attempt to diffuse any crabby nurses, I planned to bring cookies with me in hopes that this bribe would buy me favorable treatment (turned out I didn’t need any bribes. The nurses were so amazing!).
Throughout the day I kept in touch with Liz to let her know how things were progressing. Later that night Liz called and said that she would like to come over because labor would probably begin to progress soon. She encouraged me to get some rest. At about ten o’clock I laid down for a nap and I later heard Liz come in. I got out of bed to greet her when I noticed that the contractions had become a little more intense. They were still totally manageable, however I was now definitely taking notice of them. Liz suggested that I get some more rest. At about two o’clock I awoke to very noticeable contractions. It was becoming uncomfortable and I no longer wanted to lie down; I felt the urge to walk around and be active. Jeff and Liz were still asleep as I began walking laps around my living room and began fueling up on chicken, rice, and coconut water. After about an hour, I woke Jeff up and told him that the contractions were intensifying. He was encouraging and went to get Liz. The five of us (Liz, Jeff, two dogs, and myself) spent the next several hours in our living room. Our plan was to labor at home as long as possible. Contractions were still manageable, but definitely intensifying. I walked countless laps around my living room and stopped to lean over the couch during contractions. Liz encouraged me to visualize my cervix opening with each contraction, and although I felt like a new-age hippie, I turned inward, imagined my cervix opening, my baby dropping, and chanted “ooooppppennnn” with each breath during contractions. I felt really at peace and comfortable in my surroundings and was able to maintain my relaxed state. Liz showed Jeff some helpful touches and massage during contractions that felt wonderful! And, when I wasn’t walking laps I sat on a pilate ball trying to encourage my pelvis to make room for our baby. By this point I had no idea how far apart my contractions were as Liz had taken over timing duties. At one point I asked Liz if I was really in active labor. Don’t get me wrong, I was definitely having intense contractions that I had to work through, but I thought I would be screaming bloody murder at this point…I guess I watched too many episodes of A Baby Story on TV! Liz and Jeff helped me with each contraction and I was able to maintain relaxation and inner peace.
By this point, everyone, even the dogs, were getting sleepy. All of us decided to take a nap. This was VERY uncomfortable. The idea of napping sounded fabulous, but laying down was extremely uncomfortable and felt very un-natural. However, I was super tired and knew that I needed to rest. I would wake up during contractions, and sleep for a few minutes in between. I must have gotten noisier during contractions because Jeff and Liz woke up and Liz told me it sounded as if I was nearing the transition phase and that we should get ready to leave for the hospital. This is where panic set in! I was very scared to go to the hospital. I was afraid that if we went too early, I wouldn’t be dilated enough and would be put on a Pitocin drip with a cascade of medical interventions to follow. As we were getting ready to leave for the hospital I kind of tried to stall. I was really scared and the pressure in my pelvis was increasing. As Jeff was rushing around getting the car packed and tending to our dogs, my head was spinning and I was feeling as though I was about to have an anxiety attack. In all of her calmness, Liz encouraged me and supported me. We eventually got ready to go and headed to the hospital at around 7am on Sunday the 20th.
The ride to the hospital was very uncomfortable! Throughout the entire labor I had this impulse to get up and move around and now I was strapped into a seat unable to get up and walk around. I was relieved when we finished the short drive so that I could stand up and move around freely…that is until the hospital staff insisted I sit in a wheel chair even though I protested and asked to walk. When we made it to the labor and delivery floor I was greeted by a young nurse, Sandra. Sandra was AWESOME! Although she had to go through the routine triage where I had to lay in bed (reminder: I hated laying down during labor!) and strap uncomfortable monitors to me, Sandra was calm and very sweet. I anxiously awaited the staff to allow Jeff and Liz to join me as my contractions were intensifying. The on-call doctor came by and informed me that I had two hours to progress, otherwise they would start a Pitocin drip. Yikes! That was the last thing that I wanted! Contractions were very intense at this point and I maintained my anti-laying down campaign and worked through contractions while standing beside my hospital bed.
At this point in the story, the details begin to get foggy for me. I can’t explain it or find words to describe it. It was very surreal and I turned inward. I had been an athlete growing up and I was always able to mentally shut things out to focus through the physical challenge. I relied on these skills with the support of my husband and Liz. I remember the contractions becoming so consuming and taking over every ounce of my being. Throughout these powerful contractions I stayed in my “zone” and before I knew it, I had a very powerful urge to push! Push!?!?! I had no idea how I was going to push. It was a new sensation, but it felt relieving to push. The doctor came in and I think Liz spoke with her about pushing positions….again, details are kind of fuzzy around this point. I began pushing in a squatting position. Squatting felt wonderful, however it was a lot of strain on my upper body. Then Liz recommended I get on all fours and push. I consider myself a very modest person, and at this point I’m naked, with my behind in the air on all fours and I didn’t care. Child birth is a very liberating experience! Then we tried a side lying position. When side lying was recommended I was hesitant because I didn’t want to lie down. But, being very tired, I reasoned that I could lie sideways for a few pushes, then resume one of the upright pushing positions. I was surprised at how good side lying felt. Liz was supporting me from behind, Jeff was holding my leg up, and I pushed and pushed! During this fuzziness I recall Liz being emotionally and mentally supportive, Jeff was cracking jokes, and Sandra was feeding me ice chips. Looking back, I get teary eyed thinking about how supportive and wonderful everyone was!
It certainly didn’t feel like it, but I was later told that I pushed for almost two hours…it felt like ten minutes! At 11:05 am, my beautiful daughter was born. Finally, we meet! Claire Elise was no longer the baby that I carried for nine months. She was now a tangible, tiny human being! By far, the best moment of my life! Again, details are fuzzy and the experience was very surreal. At some point I held my daughter, and although she was cheesey and gooey, she was the loveliest thing I have ever laid eyes on! After all of the commotion of weighing and measuring (seriously, can’t that stuff wait?) I breastfed my baby. It took a little bit of effort on both of our parts, but with Liz’s gentle guidance, and Jeff’s support, Claire finally latched, intensifying our bond. I don’t really remember many more details. At this point I had my baby in my arms, and I could care less about what was going on around me.
I feel incredibly grateful for the wonderful pregnancy, labor, and delivery that I had. I feel even more grateful for the healthy and happy daughter that I have! I have no idea how I would have been able to manage without Jeff and Liz. Both of them have my undying appreciation. They saw me through the most challenging event in my life, and never did they show fear or worry. They were steady as a rock. They were amazing. The experience was amazing. Life with my new baby is amazing.