And now finally, for Lucy's birth story...
On Sunday, October 9, 2011 we went to church as usual in the morning. Afterwards, we went to Jay's parents house as we often do to have lunch. We had already eaten and were watching TV when I suddenly felt like I *really* wanted to be home. I just wanted to be in my own home, in my own bed, resting. The next morning, on my due date, I had my 40 week appointment with Britte. Jay offered to keep Oliver at home but I really wanted him to go with me. I knew it could possibly be my last appointment, although I still felt like I had some time left. (For some reason, I definitely had it in my head that I would go to 41 weeks.) At the appointment Britte asked if she could check me (I had not had any dilation checks yet) to see where I was at since I had reached my due date. I was going to ask to be checked anyway, so that was fine. She checked and discovered I was 3 cm with a bulging water sack. I was very surprised. I had been having contractions off and on for weeks, and was thrilled to realize they were actually doing something. But I also knew that dilation did not indicate when labor would start, so I didn't get my hopes up. She had me schedule an appointment for that Friday, but said she thought she would see me much sooner. I hoped she was right, but felt like I was probably still going to be pregnant for that Friday appointment.
After my appointment, Oliver and I went through the drive-thru at Wendy's and got some lunch. I couldn't eat much of mine; my stomach hadn't felt right all morning. (I had told Britte that, and she said that could be a sign of labor coming on. Again, I was in denial.) :) Oliver and I then went to Buckner Park in Fort Wayne, and I followed him all over the playground. Then I made him walk around the big walking path. Poor boy, he kept sitting down and saying, "Oliver tired, Mommy." haha! We finally headed home and I put Oliver down for a nap and laid down myself. I hadn't slept much the night before and was pretty tired after our playground fun.
I woke up around 4:30 p.m. to a painful contraction. I had been having contractions around that time for a couple of weeks, but this one hurt. I turned over and tried to go back to sleep and had another contraction. I turned over again, and had another one. That caught my attention because normally I would only have one contraction and then it would be a long time before another one, and changing positions often stopped them. I got up and began moving around and the contractions kept coming. I was sort of timing them at this point, but not very closely. I was still in denial that I could possibly be in labor on my due date. I told Jay to go ahead and go to his parents' house with Oliver for dinner as planned and to just keep his phone close. I sent a text to Amber to give her a heads up what was going on and that Oliver might be there that night, but that I still wasnt sure.
Around 5:45 I text Kristin, my doula and ate some peanut butter toast, fruit, and drank some red raspberry leaf tea. I called Jay and said he needed to come home to help me time the contractions. I asked him to stop at the store and get more fruit, some Gatorade, and some peanuts. I also talked to my mom and had her on alert as I wanted her to come up for the birth. The contractions were still coming every 6-8 minutes, lasting anywhere from 30 to 60 seconds. I still wasnt sure that this was "it" and was worried that if Kristin came and my parents drove up that things would fizzle out. This continued to be my fear until we got to the hospital! After Jay got home I double-checked that everything was in the hospital bag and contractions became more painful. I continued to walk around the house, stopping during contractions, and doing some random cleaning. (I decided that our microwave *had* to be cleaned. haha!)
Around 8:00 p.m. Kristin headed our way. I felt it was time for her to come and help me, and that this was probably real labor. My contractions were still about 6 minutes apart, but I was having to stop during them and deal with them instead of being able to easily talk through them like I had been earlier. My parents were also on their way up at this point. When Kristin arrived around 9:00, I was leaning on Jay and swaying through the contractions. I felt very calm and in control. Around 9:20 my parents got there and I was glad to see them. I sat on my birth ball for awhile and snacked and drank as I felt like it. From 9:40-9:55 my mom, Kristin, and I took a walk around the neighborhood. It was a beautiful night out. My contractions were coming about every 3-4 minutes, lasting 30-45 seconds. They werent as intense while we were on our walk, but I still had to stop during them.
When we got back to the house, I sat on my birth ball, ate some peanuts and drank some Gatorade. I quickly got tired of sitting and was worried about contractions dying down, so I walked into the kitchen and stayed in there for awhile, and my contractions got stronger. I began to walk up and down the stairs, determined to keep the contractions up. Looking back, I probably really wore myself out, but I didnt care at the time. I also spent some time in Lucy's room, and thought of how soon our little girl would be there. Kristin suggested I hold onto the side of the crib and squat during one of my contractions and wow! that made it intense. I was starting to get tired, though, and unless I was active the contractions weren't as intense. It was around 11:00 and I still wasnt totally ready to go to the hospital, even though my contractions had been 4 minutes apart lasting about a minute for about 45 minutes. I was running out of things to do when Kristin suggested I lay down on my left side in bed with Jay for awhile. I was hesitant to do so because I didn't want the contractions to stop. Kristin gently encouraged me to just try it. So Jay and I laid down for about 15 minutes and surprisingly, laying down made my contractions very strong. I remember telling Jay, "Ok, time one more and then I need to call Britte."
I called and talked to Britte (I love that I was able to speak directly to her) and told her how my contractions were and that we were heading to the hospital. She asked if I wanted her to meet me there, and I said yes, definitely. We headed out around 11:30 or so. I sat in the backseat while Jay drove. I text some friends and my brother to let them know we were headed to the hospital. I received a text from Kristin saying she had heard the song "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" on the radio. How perfect!
I was able to talk to Jay between my contractions but the ride was less than pleasant. I continued to eat a little bit but was quickly losing my appetite. We arrived at the hospital around 12:25 a.m. It was dark and quiet. The girl at the desk when we walked in asked if I could walk or if I wanted a wheelchair. By this point, my contractions were much more intense and all I could think was that I wanted to have as few of them in the hallway as possible. I asked for a wheelchair with the thinking that someone could push me faster than I could walk. Bad idea! I lasted about 2 minutes in that stupid chair before every little bump on the ground was more than I could handle. We finally got upstairs and into the OB department. When we walked in I saw Britte right away- how wonderful and reassuring it was to see her. It seemed to take forever for me to get to my room because I kept having to stop for contractions. I was surprised by how intense they had gotten since I had gotten out of the car.
I got into my room, and it was quiet, the lights were dimmed, and the Jacuzzi tub was filled. It was incredibly peaceful- something I did not expect for a hospital room. I had to be on the fetal monitor for about 15 minutes, which wasnt the most pleasant because I couldn't move around much, but it went by fairly quickly. Britte said I did not have to have an internal exam unless I wanted one, so I declined. I felt very nauseous and vomitted twice. I remember thinking that I was having signs of transition and hoped I wasnt going to be in labor for a whole lot longer. I got ready to get in the tub, and my dad headed for the waiting room. Its so true when they say you lose your modesty during labor- I didnt know that my dad was gone but I didnt care. I wanted in that tub!
I got in the tub around 1:000 and labored there with the support of Jay, Kristin, my mom, Britte, and Pam, the nurse. It felt amazing. I had on worship music and remember thinking how perfect the song, "The Anthem", was. "Wake up, child, its your time to shine. You were born for such a time as this." I prayed during my contractions, asking Jesus to take my pain. I tried so hard not to tense up during the contractions but I know I did. It just hurt so much, each contraction seemed to last forever and totally consume me. I dreaded each upcoming one. I so badly wanted to escape. At one point I kept saying, "it hurts, it hurts, I can't do this. I can't." Then I would say "I can. I can. I can." Kristin also reminded me, "The pain is temporary." That helped a lot. I couldn't get comfortable in the tub, though, and kept trying to shift positions. The contractions were so painful I could barely keep my head above the water. I just wanted to sink down in and disappear. I kept shaking and feeling dizzy. I felt like I needed something to hold onto, and would lay my head on the side of the tub and grip Jay's hands.
I was really surprised that although the tub was helping (somewhat!) with the pain, it just didn't feel right. And things didnt seem to be progressing. I was feeling a little pushy, but not much. Britte asked me if I was feeling that way, and I told her yes but not strongly. We were worried the tub may be slowing down my progress, so around 2:45 I got out. I was exhausted and tired. The hospital bed looked so good at that point. I was discouraged and feeling like it was never going to end. I have so much trust in birth, and the process, but in the middle of it, I wanted to quit. I never wanted an epidural, surprisingly, but I wanted it to be over.
At 3:00 I wanted to be checked and see how far along I was. Britte checked and discovered I was 8 cm (I was happy to hear that, yet a bit disappointed I wasn't further), 90%, and at a +2 station. I was frustrated that the baby hadn't descended any more than that. I started to wonder what I was doing wrong that was causing my labor to stall like it had. I really doubted myself.
I continued to labor in various positions and nothing seemed to feel right. I was laboring on the toilet, facing the wall with Jay behind me, when Britte came in and suggested trying the tub one more time with my sports bra pulled up to see if the jets in the tub would help my contractions along. So I tried that, and it still didn't feel right. I was very comfortable with being able to say, "this isn't right. I need to change" and I felt a lot of support anytime I said that. I felt in control, yet out of control at the same time. Its a very hard feeling to describe.
At 4:25 I wanted to be checked again, and I was still at 8 cm, 90% effaced (but at 0 station). I wanted to cry and scream that I hadnt made much progress at all. I felt so badly that I was keeping everyone awake through the night and nothing was happening (in my mind, nothing was happening). I felt guilty that I couldn't "make" my body progress. I decided to have my bag of waters broken. I was upset to be at that point because I had not wanted to have to have my water broken, but I was exhausted and things were just not moving along like I wanted. And the fact that it was MY choice to have the water broken, no one else's, made it an empowering decision. I was scared to break my water because I was already in SO MUCH pain, and I knew it would get worse. After my water was broken, I started to feel much more pushy. Around 4:50 I tried the birthing stool (purple and sparkly!) and I was annoyed to find that it too didnt feel right and my contractions didnt seem very effective. All along I had planned to either be in the tub the entire time or on the birth stool, and neither one of those was working. From 5:00-6:00 I labored in various positions around the room: standing, leaning on Jay, sitting on the toilet. I was pushing through every contraction and yet nothing seemed to be working. I was so, so tired.
At 6:00 Britte checked me and found an anterior cervical lip (basically my cervix was swollen). She began to hold it back during contractions while I laid in the bed as I pushed over that lip. Oh my goodness was that painful. I can't even describe. I was able to push when I felt the urge without any ridiculous counting. I knew when I needed to push and everyone was very encouraging. I switched from laying on one side, then the other, then my back while others held my legs back so that my pelvis was open like in a squat. Laying down like that was the only position that felt right and kept my contractions intense. That was a bit frustrating for me because I didn't want to be on that darn bed! But that's ok. I was able to see everything with a mirror which was so cool. I was very excited when I saw Lucy begin to crown because I knew that most of the time after you have had one baby, the subsequent babies crown and then are born. (Whereas your first one will crown, go back in, crown again, etc.) Well, apparently Lucy thought she was a first time baby because she continued to crown, go back in, crown again. I could not believe it! Every time I could feel her go back in I wanted to curse and scream. I needed constant reassurance at this point and felt very out of control, although I was told later I seemed in control. I just wanted to cry when I would feel her go back in. I was also frustrated because there was no relief between pushing contractions. I believe she must have been positioned oddly because I could feel constant pain and pressure between every contraction that made it hard to cope. I just wanted my baby!
Finally, Lucy crowned during a contraction and I felt that dreaded ring of fire. I felt my body immediately start to back away from the pain but I knew I had to keep going. Britte reminded me to slow down pushing and told me I was stretching beautifully. After tearing with Oliver, I was glad to hear that. I had been grunting a lot and moaning during pushing, so she reminded me to do quick short breaths. Suddenly in one contraction,(and after 2 hours of pushing!) Lucy was born! Head, shoulders, and body came out in one contraction, surprising everyone at how quickly it happened. I will always remember the look of shock on Britte's face as she caught Lucy! I was planning on catching her but after crowning so many times no one expected her to be born SO quickly like that. And because she came out so quickly, I ended up with a second degree tear again. Darn it! Oh well, I didn't care at all at that point. I had my baby! She was beautiful and perfect. She immediately started to cry and everyone laughed because her cry sounded SO "girly". I wish we had gotten it on video.
Lucy was immediately put onto my chest, and a blanket was draped over us for some wonderful skin-to-skin time. I couldnt stop smiling and was so happy. I asked if she was still a girl and if her feet were ok. I couldn't believe how pretty she was. There is nothing more amazing than the first time you see your child. I couldn't believe this tiny little person had been inside of me and was now out. She was beautiful and perfect. She started nursing right away. After her cord stopped pulsating Britte clamped it and Jay cut it. Lucy stayed on my chest and nursed while my tear was repaired, and stayed there for nearly an hour. She pooped all over me and herself, but that's ok. :) The nurses bagged up my placenta for Kristin to take home to encapsulate for me, and one nurse asks if we are going to eat it. LOL! Nope, but the look on my mom's face when she saw we were going to take it was priceless.
About an hour later Lucys grandparents got to come in and meet her. Britte and Kristin head home, and soon after we move next door to another room. We had Lucy weighed and discovered she was 8 lbs 1 oz and 21 inches long with her head being 14 inches. The nurse said she measured a bit big for her gestational age (40 weeks 1 day). I was so happy she was a healthy baby. And I loved that all the weighing and measurements were delayed until we were ready. The only time I was away from Lucy at all was when they took her to do her hearing screening. Jay went with her for that and I decided to lay down for a bit. The room we moved to had a "real" bed, not a hospital bed, and it was big enough for me, Jay, and Lucy to take a nap in. I was worried the nurses might frown upon our co-sleeping, but one nurse actually came in and commented on how comfy Lucy looked right next to her mommy. It was awesome. :) Jay was exhausted and quickly fell asleep, but I was on such a "birth high" that I was wide awake for awhile and ended up only napping for a short time. Physically, I felt extremely sore all over but mentally and emotionally I felt fantastic. They knew we wanted to go home the same day, so they got Dr. Rexroth, one of the doctors, to come in and look at Lucy and give us the ok. Jay and I were able to give her her first bath later on. That afternoon, my parents came back to visit, and Jay's dad brought Oliver to meet his sister for the first time. For months I had envisioned him meeting Lucy, and all the adorable pictures we would take of the two of them. Oliver had other plans- he wanted to eat the fruit I had and wanted nothing to do with Lucy! He saw her and didnt care at all! Jays brother Rusty and his girlfriend April also came to visit. That evening we were able to go home, about 13 hours or so after Lucy was born. It felt perfect to be headed home as a family of 4. On the way home we met up with Kristin so I could get my placenta pills, and my parents helped get us into the house and settled.