Finding out we were going to have a baby shortly after my 30th birthday came as quite a surprise – but a pleasant one. After spending the past ten years together we were excited and scared to enter this next chapter in our lives. My pregnancy was a great experience and for that I am truly grateful. I never had morning sickness once (the only time I got sick at all was heartburn and reflux that we now know was likely from all the hair this baby was born with). However, we did hit some hurdles along the way. Of course the first of them were my pregnancy hormones and the fact that I had quit smoking the moment we found out. Needless to say my emotions were everywhere those first couple weeks.
Because I had a LEEP procedure years ago to freeze some precancerous cells, the doctors said that my cervix may be weak so we would have to have routine (bi-weekly) ultrasounds during my second trimester to keep an eye on it. The one positive to this was that I got to see her quite a bit – most people only get a chance to have an ultrasound a couple times during pregnancy. We had nearly a dozen. Thankfully there were no signs that there would be any problem with my cervix so we were very thankful.
When we found out on August 6th that we were having a little girl I was stunned. I had boy on the brain (as did a few others). It didn’t take long to jump on board the girly wagon though – how could your heart not melt with all the cutesy girly stuff? I got right to work on the list of names. It was huge and I was inundated by all the possibilities and what each name meant. Until we could decide on a name we referred to her as Tulip. As the weeks carried on and I started to feel her moving I told myself that if it could be like this every time, I’d get pregnant twenty times. Those little nudges were amazing and symbolized such a bond between her and I that I teared up and stopped what I was doing to enjoy them every time they happened. The downside to pregnancy was that the human body does strange things. In addition to the linea negra (that dark line that some women get down their bellies) I also got hyper pigmentation – a common thing for dark complected people where your skin pigment darkens in places (the nipples are common for everyone but I got darker marks under my eyes and my armpits and apparently my lower regions – lol… I didn’t find that out until after the delivery).
We then got overwhelmed by all the different birthing classes out there. I have always said I wanted no part of an epidural so we knew a natural birthing class was in our future. What we didn’t know was how many methods there were for this type of birth. We poured over articles and read about the various methods and ultimately landed on the Bradley Method which was one that was highly recommended by my physical therapist. I spoke with a local instructor about their course and it sounded perfect for us. The Bradley Method integrates the husband into the role of the coach and brings the birthing experience back to nature’s intent of a low-risk pregnancy and unmedicated birth. The focus of the Bradley Method is in eating a proper diet and getting the proper nutrients at the proper stages of pregnancy in addition to relaxation and birthing exercises designed to make a natural birth as pain free as possible. It also informs parents of all the common medical interventions out there so that they are more informed when the time comes and know all of their options. This type of birthing experience gave my husband a more important role in the delivery process and made him part of my pain management process as opposed to methods like Hypnobirthing which are designed to teach you how to focus away from your pain yourself and places no real essential role on your partner. I worried about those methods because in the pain of the moment I realized it would be totally possible for me to lose my focus and then I’d be miserable and there’d be nothing I could do about it and nothing my husband could do to get me back into my trance. With the Bradley Method he had to learn a lot right along with me so that together we could make sure we kept my focus and pain managed and become a team when dealing with our labor and delivery situation.
All of my second trimester ultrasounds came back fine so my third trimester progressed normally with no more ultrasounds. My appointments were all midday and I would go from the office to them and back to work after. I had a couple appointments where my blood pressure was elevated but thankfully none that stayed high after a few minutes of lying on my left side and breathing. Missing seeing her, I scheduled an appointment at Becoming Mom and had a 4D ultrasound performed at 29 weeks. We had to go three times because during the first two they couldn’t get a clear picture of the baby. She kept her hands in front of her face all snuggled up (which she still does now). At the third appointment though we were able to see her face and even one where she was sucking her thumb and had her eyes open. It was amazing to say the least and we came home and watched the DVD of it again and again that night.
I had an amazing shower that was thrown by my two sisters in law and my mothers in law. It was darling with pink champagne and doilies and flowers and so many gifts. I was amazed at everything we got and my husband and I reopened all the presents when I got home that night so he could enjoy them too. We got our nursery put together – sanding and staining the floors, painting the walls, changing wood trim to white trim, and getting her furniture set up.
During my last month the appointments moved to weekly. Unfortunately I started to find that my normal OB was booked solid too and so my next few appointments were with her other colleagues. Part of our birthing class was learning about putting together a good birthing plan with our OB. So naturally my fears turned into “what if she’s not the one there to deliver when I go into labor”. Asking the nurse about this at one of my appointments she said it was highly likely that would be the case – especially since we weren’t a “scheduled” birth. The practice is made up of a dozen OB’s all of which are on call at different times. The OB I had been seeing is the same one that delivered our nieces and nephews and I had spent all the months before developing a good relationship with her and going over our plans for an unmedicated birth, allowing me to breastfeed before they cut the cord (to allow the blood to return from the placenta to the baby first), and avoiding an episiotomy. She was totally on board and had me feeling good about the delivery so when her availability started getting slim, worry set in.
I managed to avoid any sickness up until 36-37 weeks when my husband got a flu bug and passed it along to me. I coughed and sneezed so much that my ribs hurt. At my 36 week check up I mentioned some leaking to the OB. After testing to be sure it was not amniotic fluid, the doctor suggested it was probably just my bladder getting pinched as Tulip was in my pelvis with her head down now and the fact that I had been sick and coughing could cause it as well. They also did the GBS (Group B Strep) test that day. My 37 week appointment was horrible. The OB I saw that day was rude and really negative toward our hopes of delivering without an epidural. He also told me that my GBS test was positive which meant that I would be one of the 30% of woman who required an IV with antibiotics when we got to the hospital. So my hope of not being hooked up to anything during delivery was not an option at this point but it still wasn’t the end of the world. My real worry was getting into a situation where they would need to “pit” me (administer pitocin) and then give me an epidural to manage the harsh pains of being pitted which would also slow the effects of the pitocin and require them to keep upping that. This scenario is pretty common and alot of times results in a c-section when the body just can’t keep up with all the effects of both drugs or the mom is just too exhausted by the time she is dilated enough to push. Keeping me healthy and low risk was a main focus of avoiding having to be induced and going down this road and I was still healthy enough to do that so I just had to deal with the GBS protocol being part of our birthing plan now.
On 1/4/13 I went to a book club / medium reading party. It was pretty emotional because the medium told me that all the family and grandparents (from both sides) were there and they were all so very excited about this baby. My grandfather (“Opa”) was very present and had alot to say – including that he was so touched to have the baby named after him (an idea we had discussed among the list of names). So that sealed the deal for us as to what her name would be. They also all assured me that the baby would not be a large baby but a normal size of 7 to 8 pounds. This was a joke amongst everyone considering mine and my husband’s sizes but also a fear of mine considering our natural child birth plans. lol – Apparently our families knew that was a concern of mine. I didn’t even consider though that having a normal sized baby would involve having her early though.
During week 38 when I started experiencing more leaking issues I didn’t think anything of it – other than embarrassment about the fact that apparently I was doomed to peeing my pants (and at our birthing class no less). I was mortified and cried the whole way home. Through the evening it kept happening. Every time I would stand and take a few steps I would leak. I must have sat on the toilet a million times trying to empty my bladder completely when I noticed around midnight the pink stained mucous and knew that my mucous plug must have been detaching. I called the OB the following day to go over this and also express some dissatisfaction about my prior appointment and that rude OB. They were able to bump my appointment up so that I could see my normal OB who had a cancellation that afternoon luckily. After the fern test she verified that the leaking was not my bladder this time but was in fact my water breaking. Further, I was only 2 cm dilated and because the leaking had started the night before and my body had not started contractions on its own, she said we needed to go to the hospital and that I was going to need to be induced because of the risk of infection once the water breaks.
That car ride home couldn’t have been worse for me. I called my husband in full blown panic mode. The OB had agreed that as long as we went to the hospital to start the IV and be monitored to make sure that me or the baby didn’t get an infection, that she would be open to letting us try some natural options to get my labor going first. That offered a little relief but she didn’t sound very optimistic it would work and more than likely that we would need Pitocin to get my labor going. This would then mean that I would have to be hooked up to the fetal monitoring machine the whole time too but, more of a concern to me, may mean that I couldn’t do this naturally if I had to have Pitocin. Pitocin is a drug that is administered to act like our body’s natural oxytocin but is usually done at such high doses that it brings on violent and unnatural contractions (which are usually controlled by epidurals). I was worried that my body just wasn’t ready and that’s why it hadn’t acted. Perhaps the baby wasn’t ready. Needless to say my mind raced with worry. To top that off, we didn’t have everything finished yet. I had just ordered more of our necessities from our registry that hadn’t arrived yet, my bag wasn’t done being packed, we didn’t have all the baby clothes washed and the baby’s room wasn’t finished entirely yet. Plus my OB advised that the doctor on call that evening was the one I had just expressed some dissatisfaction with. Go figure. But she said if we could hold off on delivery until 7:00 the next morning though, she’d be in then. I sent up a prayer amidst my tears.
Arriving home my grandmother and uncle helped us to get things together so we could go. I showered and we left for the hospital with our bags. We were admitted at 8:30. My mother-in-law met us there and two of my three sisters-in-law arrived a while later. The first nurse we had was not great. She was a bit hard nosed and was sporting a not-so-attractive cold to boot. She got the Heploc and IV started. At 10:30 the OB we didn’t care for called and began to scare us about not starting the PItocin and the dangers if I did get an infection and that if we didn’t get this show on the road he’d be giving me a c-section by morning because they couldn’t let the waters be broken that long. We had been warned about these types of scare tactics in our birthing class but also had been advised of some of the necessary interventions. One thing I did know was that the waters could be broken for 24 hours with no real danger but it was the 36 and 48 hour area that I knew was more of a cause of concern. So we gave in and agreed to let them go ahead and administer the Pitocin at 11:00. He at least agreed to start me at the lowest dosage and increase it one level at a time in hopes that it would kick my own labor into gear and avoid the need for the higher doses. I was checked but at midnight had only dilated to 3 cm throughout the whole afternoon and night. My contractions were mild at first and did increase as the Pitocin doses increased.
I got a new nurse who was great but then got replaced by another nurse when the shift changed happened. I was worried about who we’d get next but she ended up being the most fantastic nurse we could have gotten. We found out after the fact that she’s also a midwife. By 3:00 in the morning my contractions were growing closer together and more painful. Between the nurse and my husband I was able to push ahead. She checked me again but I was only 5 cm. I began to get frustrated. I was worried that if things didn’t start moving that I was going to get “pitted” or they were going to start trying to talk me into a c-section.
My worries didn’t have a chance to excel much more though. My contractions started coming every couple minutes and within the hour I was pushing uncontrollably and without much grace. I have never felt an uncontrollable urge like that before. We had learned about the urge to push in birthing class and I worried, like I do for most things, whether it would be evident for me. I had worried during my last trimester that I hadn’t felt any Braxton Hicks contractions that perhaps I was having them and not knowing it. Well, there was definitely no mistaking this. I was bearing down and pushing with every single contraction. Ahh, the beauty (or lack thereof) of nature. This was the same time that my will to go on was beginning to get defeated. I couldn’t find a position that allowed me to work through these types of contractions without pain and I began to worry that I couldn’t do it. If I was only 5 cm and it was this bad, what the hell was going to happen at 10? My husband stayed strong and kept motivating me and encouraging me and rubbing me and doing everything he was taught. His strength was carrying me at this point. If it hadn’t been for him, I don’t know what would have happened. Every time a contraction ripped through me he held on to me and told me I was doing a great job and I somehow pushed forward.
I was checked again and surprisingly had reached 7 cm within an hour. The nursing staff started to get our room ready at that point. This was happening. I was freaking out. Our families (my grandma and uncle and mother-in-law, sisters-in-lawVickie and sister Sara) were all still in the room with us. Things began moving so fast that when my husband asked if I wanted everyone out I didn’t even put up a fight. My modesty was totally gone at this point and I just wanted to get this over with and see my baby. Before I knew it I was positioned and had nurses and the resident doctor in the room. Vickie grabbed the digital camera and Sara grabbed the video camera and together they captured the play-by-play of the delivery. They had paged the OB from my practice but he wasn’t going to get there in time (which actually made me happy). I had my husband on one side holding my hand and doing everything he could and staff and our families all around. My urge to push increased and it was time to assume the position. The first contraction after that hurt but was nothing compared to the next ones to come. They mean what they say when they call it the ring of fire. Every one felt like she was coming out and the group in the room would yell out things about her head so I got really sad when I found out that it was only a small portion of the top of her head that was visible. It sure felt like more than that. The next contraction I pushed with all my might but she didn’t progress far enough to come out before the contraction faded. The burn was more intense than anything I’ve ever felt though. This was it. If I could keep pushing through the next contraction she’d be out. So I beared down and did it. The contraction started to ease and she was so close to coming out that I didn’t let go and pushed again anyway with a horrible sound and then felt the greatest relief in the world. A second later she let out a cry and was laying on my chest staring at me. Everyone in the room was yelling praises. We did it.
The staff left her with me just as I’d hoped and waited before cutting the cord. We sat and bonded for a while and my heart broke a million times in that moment for this little angel on my chest that was ours, that we had made, that I would love beyond anything measurable in this world. The doctor said my tearing was minimal but either way, I had done it without an episiotomy and was happy. The beginning hadn’t gone as we’d hoped and we got caught off guard by delivering two weeks early but everything else couldn’t have gone better. After a while they allowed daddy to cut the cord. The OB arrived right afterward and I birthed the placenta. He performed the stitching of my tears (which he disputed were worse than the first doctor said. Personally I think he was just a jerk and felt the need to show how important he was). The baby was taken over for cleaning and footprints and measurements and then returned to me.
We gave birth to a very healthy baby girl at 5:41 am on January 9, 2013 who weighed 7 lbs 11.8 oz and was 19.5″ long and we named her Adriana Vonne. She is perfect.
Getting up to recovery I was able to go through the pictures and even watch the video that my sisters in law had taken. I bawled my eyes out watching it all. It was truly an act of God. A complete and utter miracle. I was surrounded by a terrific support team and family that I love so much. I hadn’t cared about being so exposed in front of them – both literally and figuratively. The flourish of calls, messages, flowers and visitors we received while in recovery melted my heart. This little baby was so loved. I slept that first night with her in my arms and have done so, despite my initial plans, every night since she was born. She has grasped breastfeeding well and we are figuring out our new schedules together. I am completely in awe of everything she is. Every movement and face and sound she makes make my heart skip a beat. I’ve never known such a love before in my whole life. This is as good as it gets. I am so thankful that my husband is who he is and was able to be everything I needed him to be through it. It’s no surprise that since her delivery he’s been an amazing daddy too. I couldn’t ask for more in life or feel more blessed than now. Thank you God for this miracle.