I had 3 nights of intermittent labor, with erratic contractions keeping me awake for hours on end. I was exhausted and irritated and desperately wanted to start the process, simply to get things past early labor. But every morning would roll around, and things would disappear. I was really frustrated.
I had a midwife appointment, and asked to be checked. I was dilated to 3 cm, so I asked to have my membranes stripped so I could encourage labor. (I was SUPER hesitant to do this, since I don't like induction methods, but I got really desperate.) This happened at 10:30 am. I was already dealing with bloody show, and chose to stay close to the hospital in case anything happened. Hubby came and had lunch with me, and we went for a walk. Unfortunately, nothing happened! So I went home, and Adam went back to work. That night I had irregular contractions, but nothing was even or solid.
By Leif's bedtime, I was anxious. I still hadn't had very regular contractions, although they were getting stronger and more intense. We put Leif to bed, and I decided to try nipple stimulation to boost things. Well, that did it, for sure. I went from having intermittent ones to having them 4 min....3 min....2 1/2 min apart. Then then were coming at 2 min, 15 sec apart, consistently. By then, it was 9-ish. I got Adam roused, put the last few things in a bag, and let my sister (who was over to watch Leif) know we were leaving. We jumped in the car and took off.
The drive to the hospital takes about 55 minutes through very dark roads through the mountains. I think the cold and the nervousness made my contractions slow for about 15 minutes, but then they were back with the same 2 1/2 min consistency. We both were lighthearted during the drive, though, laughing and joking around, which was nice. I wanted to get to the hospital before they got too difficult to manage. I was still doing nipple stimulation to keep things going, which really seemed to be working well.
We got to the hospital, and got a nice nurse to install us in a room. I was checked and was still at 3 cm. I agreed to intermittent monitoring, so I got a gown on and wore the band with the monitors for 20 min. Everything looked great, including my contractions, which were still at 2 min. The nurse went to call the midwife to tell her, and came back to say that she would come recheck in an hour and a half to see how I was progressing. That next hour went slowly, but steadily. When I was rechecked, my contractions had almost doubled in strength, and I was dilated to 5 cm. The nurse went to call the midwife, and we were told that she was on her way in. At this point, I was really starting to hurt. Since sitting down did nothing good for me, I was standing the whole time. I was holding onto Adam for dear life, rocking back and forth. I was really cold, so I was wrapped in a blanket, pacing back and forth. I tried being on all fours on the bed for a while, when sciatic pain got the best of me. (This was a reoccurring theme in this labor, sciatica that radiated down to my ankles in both legs.) The nurse asked me if I wanted to get in the tub to relieve some pain, and I jumped on that idea immediately. I was getting worn out standing. When my legs hit that hot water, it was instant relief. I still had powerful contractions, still coming every 2-5 min, but they were easier to manage.
The midwife arrived, and I got out of the tub to have her check my progress. By then, we were at 7 cm. I went through a period after being checked that I was sobbing. Part of my hated that I was crying so hard, another part of me knew I needed to let it out. I was still standing a lot, but using the bed for support during a contraction. I finally decided after an hour or so that I needed relief again, and asked for the tub to be refilled. I stripped down and got in and realized that I had come to the point where there was no real relief anymore, that I was in transition. My poor husband was hitting his exhaustion wall, too, and just collapsed in a chair next to the tub. He has an ear drum that rings from elevation damage, and the noise I was generating (screaming and hollering, as I am NOT a quiet person in labor) was really hurting his ear, so he was plugging one ear for every contraction.
The midwife kept peeking in on us every once in a while. I was semi-reclined in the tub, and I came to the realization that I was stalling my progress, trying to find comfort. I knew in my heart that if I ever wanted this to end, I had to change positions, and let gravity do its job. I will admit to being in a world of pain, and I was screaming that my body was tearing in half, due to the rapidly increasing pressure I was feeling in each pelvic joint. I knew baby was moving down and pushing my pelvis apart. I knew it wasn't going to get EASIER: it was going to get worse, but maybe I could get it over FASTER. So I got on my knees and propped myself up on the tub edge with my hands. Within two contractions, I felt a mild urge to push. Within two more, I suddenly really, really wanted to push. All of a sudden, the nurses descended on me, telling me that I couldn't labor in the tub it was too small, that I had to get up. I WAS PISSED. Are you kidding me?? So I was dragged up by my arms by two nurses and my husband, protesting loudly. I was wrapped in a huge warmed blanket, and moved to the bed, which had been altered into a throne-like chair. I felt a little awkward sitting there, and was using my arms to hold myself up, while sitting on the edge. I got through several contractions like this when suddenly, my arms were jello. I fell backwards, and latched onto the bed arms above my head.
At this point, I was actively pushing. According to Adam, it was about 20-25 minutes, start to finish. It felt like hours. I am very, very loud. I'm sure the whole hospital heard me. (I really don't care, though.) Adam and my midwife really helped me find that push point. Its not when the contraction starts. That was the painful part. Then there is the beginning part of the push, the ineffective part, when they tell you to put your scream into the push. That's when I go silence, turn purple, and find a place deep within me that contains an insanely deep push, as well as a deep, guttural roar. I remember thinking about how I was pouring sweat. I could feel rivers running down my back, my neck, my arms, my face. I had pushed off the blanket, so I was naked as a jaybird, with two nurses, a midwife and a nursery nurse in the room with me, as well as my husband. Meh.
Adam kept getting me eye to eye, and telling me to dig deep, find that push. His eyes were so intense. I was beyond the ability to speak now, so I just nodded. (Although, at some point, I did scream, "Get this baby out of me!" according to my sisters outside in the hallway.) All of a sudden, baby was crowning and through. God, the burn!! And then her one shoulder was out, and I felt my pelvis crackle and stretch, and then with one mighty push, she was here.
Margaret "Maggie" Wren Rowan, born at 5:05 am on Oct 29 (also her great-great grandmother's birthday) weighing 6lb, 13 oz and 18 1/4'' long, with dark brown hair and deep blue eyes. She was immediately placed on my chest, and when the cord stopped pulsing, her very excited and weeping dada cut her cord. She was briefly weighed, and then came right back to my chest, and latched on to nurse within 10 min of being born. She stayed with me, never leaving. I pushed again to have out the placenta, which was a huge relief. I did have 3 stitches to help a 1st degree tear, but it was very easy to mend. Adam held her while they patched me up, sobbing the entire time. He kept saying, "Hello, Maggie! I get to be your dad! You're my girl! I love you!" all the while looking down at me, telling me what a great job I did, how beautiful she is, how happy he was...he's very emotional at the birth of his babies. I love that.
I was cleaned up a bit, and reclined in the bed. I was suddenly myself again. I went from being mute to being completely aware of everything, talking and alert and excited. It felt so good! I was on a mama high. Maggie was in my arms, nursing, and my husband was glowing and in love with everything next to me. I desperately wanted to shower, so within an hour, I was up. I didn't realize I had been soaking a pad underneath me, so it was a little shocking to see all the blood when I stood up. I went to the bathroom and immediately jumped in the hot water, which felt so incredible! The nurse came in while I was showering, exclaiming that she couldn't believe I was up, worried that I was going to pass out with all the blood everywhere. It didn't phase me at all. Yes, I was a little shaky. But I needed to be clean. I asked them to get the bed remade with clean pads, and then went back to scrubbing. I was glowing when I hopped back into a clean bed, with lots of pads under me. Baby back in my arms, I went right back to nursing.
My two sisters and brother in law came to visit, and they held the baby while I drank my body weight in water. I did take some Tylenol for the stitch pain. I talked to the midwife about going home as soon as possible, and she said that she had no problem with it, but that I had to have the pediatrician sign off before I could be discharged. I opted to walk my tiny peanut to the nursery myself, and watch as they did her PKU testing and her hearing evaluation. The pediatrician was there, and did her evaluation, and agreed that since she was a very healthy baby, and I was happy, healthy and raring to go, that he was fine with it. Maggie had her testing done, and then we filled out her birth certificate. The we headed back to our room, where a sleeping dada was catching up on his beauty sleep. I wolfed down a bit of breakfast, and then nursed baby for a while. Then I checked with the nurses. They said that since my midwife had forgotten to sign the discharge paperwork, I would have to wait for the next midwife to come up to be discharged. AHHH! So it was another hour wait. Hubby woke up, and we packed up all of our stuff, got the car seat ready, and waited. We were so tired. We just wanted to go home and climb into bed.
By 10:30, we were finally discharged. We climbed into our car, and headed home. It was an hour drive, so we chatted about our whole experience on the way. It was good for us to hash out the details, and it was kinda fun to hear about my husband's perspective. He got to see the little details that I didn't, so it was nice to hear about how Maggie's tiny shoulder came out with her head, and then with a huge gush, the rest of her came out. I think we both needed the time to talk together on the way home. I will admit I felt every single bump in the road through my sore bits, but we made it without any issue.
At home, my entire family was waiting in the yard, including my aunt, who was visiting from Florida, and was due to leave for her flight within an hour of us getting home. My dad was also only an hour from leaving for work (he works 8 day shifts away from home). Talk about timing! My 4 siblings were there, as well as our sweet boy. Leif was so excited to see us! We all went inside and everyone loved on the baby for a while, then left so we could get some rest.
My thoughts on the birth of my daughter:
I spent my entire pregnancy in fear. I will admit to crippling myself in a way that caused my mind and heart to hurt, as well as make my body feel more pain than it should have. Yes, I had lots of pelvic pain. Yes, I was very tired from a lack of sleep. But I didn't do myself any favors by letting my fears reign. I do know that in that last week, I suddenly lost that fear. I cant explain what did it, but I knew that my time had come, and I was going to experience birth, no matter what. I put aside the horrifying fear of losing my baby. I let go of the fear of not being able to perform well, without drugs. I just did it. When it came down to the minutes before deciding to go to the hospital, I realized that it was time, and I chose to do it. I probably could have postponed and waited, but I chose to have my baby. Sure, everyone tells you that babies choose when to come into the world. Well, in this case, I chose when to bring my baby into this world: exactly when my heart was ready.
I don't regret a single thing about this birth. I could compare both of my children's births, and say how one was better than the other, but they were unique. My son tore into the world with his unique features, and my daughter quietly slid into the world with hers. They both bring such beauty and wonder to my life that despite challenges and changes that come with their arrival, they make the world glow for me. That is so very, very wonderful.
My beautiful daughter is perfect in my eyes. She has super fine dark brown hair. Her eyes are a cloudy grey-blue. She has the tiniest, most sculpted and flattest little ears I have ever seen. They hug her skull, and have soft little down on them. She has dainty fluff on her shoulders. She has minuscule eyelashes, carrying promises to get full and lush. She is a small, wonderful universe, all in the body of a baby. I am the one lucky enough to be given the job to watch that universe grow. I get to see the stars dance in her eyes. I am blessed beyond my wildest dreams.
“One must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star.” -Nietzsche