And just like that, I’m a mommy.
This evening at 6:52 pm, my baby girl will be 5 days old. Time is already flying by, and I’m not even sure that the adrenaline from the birthing and new mommy duties has worn off yet. ** it’s August 18th now and this blog is still in draft, I keep updating it and trying to finish but today is the first day I took over some control of my schedule (baby responded beautifully) and I’m determined to hit post in the next 20 minutes before we nurse again! she is 12 days old now **
I am in awe of my daughter. She is beautiful, strong, stubborn, and peaceful. She and I had an extremely intense last few hours of labor and she came into this world happy and alert and the pain, unbelievable pain I had been through slowly began to melt away.
At 40 weeks and 6 days my labor began around 1:15 am on Saturday, August 6.
Interestingly enough, earlier the day before, I had asked my doula for any “tricks” to get labor going and she sent me two recipes. One for Eggplant Parmesan and another for a smoothie containing pineapple, parsley, and bok choy. Curious to give my labor any assistance, I readily drank a whole batch of smoothies and my mom prepared the eggplant parm for dinner. Whether or not it was the reason my labor started a few hours later, both were certainly delicious!
I was with my ex [let’s call him my partner, since he’s very involved now as we figure out our future] and we had just gone to bed around 11:30.
I woke up with contractions that were very different that my earlier contractions and immediately knew this was it. I didn’t wake my partner or call my doula yet because I knew I was just getting started. The next hour and a half was spent in the restroom as my bowels decided they needed to fully empty before the show really got started- which was awsesome! Sorry if that’s TMI.
The contractions progressed and I timed them at lasting a minute every 4-5 minutes. Around 3 am I called my doula and told her this was it. She said to keep timing and keep her updated. The plan was to do the early labor at my mom’s house so I told the doula my partner and I would head there now and keep her updated.
He drove me to my mom’s and I immediately got into the shower. My back had been hurting mildly from the beginning but the pain kept increasing. I was caught off guard by the sensation and distracted by it, but kept my focus on my breathing.
My sister applied counter pressure during contractions and I stayed in the shower. My partner coached me through the contractions and kept me focused. The doula arrived around 6 am and told me I was definitely in active labor. She switched off with my sister and helped with my back pain as my partner continued talking me through each contraction. Around 7:30 am we called the midwife and told her I was ready to come in and my labor was active.
Lemme just say, a car ride in labor is not very fun. By this point my back pain had really started to ramp up and I had to be on hands and knees in the back seat of the car with the doula applying pressure to my back, because the pain was too intense to stay seated and there way no way to access my back to apply pressure from that position.
I’m sure it was a crazy scene.. Each contraction I would roll down the window and stick my head out and let the wind blow through my hair and focus on getting through the pain. …Good thing the interstate wasn’t crowded at 7:45 on a Saturday morning…
Once at the birth center around 8 am, I was checked and was about between 5-6 cm dilated and baby’s head was engaged. My first labor spot became the shower, leaning over a small exercise ball with my partner holding the shower nozzle over my low back. The back pain was so distracting and horrible. However at this point, it was still fairly manageable, only as long as someone had something on my back – it was a full time job for my partner or the doula.
By 11 am, I was 8 cm and the midwife and doula and I all were expecting my labor to transition and start pushing within the next hour or so. I had spent the past 3 hours between the birthing tub and sitting backwards on the toilet (this really is nice, I promise) and even with the back pain, things were going really, really well and smoothly. I was able to maintain complete calm and focus, get up, walk around, eat and drink.
Around noon, things started to amp up, but unfortunately, only in the pain department. From noon until 5 pm I was working on getting complete. The back pain was really unbearable and finally the midwife offered up the suggestion that I could go to the hospital for an epidural for some rest and relief from the pain. I did not want to go that route so we pressed on.
At 5 pm the midwife said there was one thing they could try to ease the back pain, a saline nerve block. I said GIVE IT TO MEEEEE. I had to go lay on the bed on my back, turn to my side, and what felt like fire shots were given to me in several spots. It burned really badly then all of the sudden I felt relief for the first time since my labor started so many hours before.
I reached completion not long after and they told me I could start pushing. It took a while for her head to get into the right position to complete, and then again to crown. We ended up using a “tug of rope” technique because my pushing wasn’t advancing things and her head was right there for so long. We tied up a bedsheet and I took one end and my doula took the other…during my contractions she would pull and I would sit up, curled up in a crunch, and pull back as hard as I could while pushing. We would fit about 3-4 of these for 10 seconds during each contraction. It was brutal….but it got things going. My partner had to take over because we had the midwife keeping tabs on the baby, a nurse holding up one of my legs and the doula holding the other. It was a really bonding experience, with my partner and I doing the tug of rope to get the baby out…it was intense to say the least. 12 days later, my fingers are still sore from holding and pulling the rope so tightly.
The picture was exactly opposite of what I had “wanted” for my delivery.
It was me on my back
in a bed
with people holding my legs up
and pushing them back.
It wasn’t the calm, quiet, water birth experience I had prepped for, at all. Granted, I had spent hours laboring in the tub, and it was an invaluable tool in my labor. I tried so hard to push in the tub, but my back labor made it impossible. My hypnobirthing meditations helped me get through the pain and adapt to the changes of my labor with ease. Even though it didn’t look like the birth I had planned, it was perfect for me and I was prepared mentally to handle it. Had I been in a hospital, I would’ve definitely been recommended a c-section simply because of the time it took me to get to complete ( 11 am – 5 pm I hung out at 8 cm, slowly got to 9). My midwife reminded me, it’s determined women like me, who stay focused on delivering their babies, who reduce c-section rates.
The tug of rope advanced things enough that I was able to get her to crown. Once she crowned, I got her head out in about 10 minutes, then everyone said.. you’ve got to get her out, now, like, right now. I pushed with what I had left, and there she was about 3 pushes later.
2 hours of pushing and 16 total hours of labor later, I had my baby girl. She was blue and they placed her on my chest immediately, I held her while they rubbed her but never once made me feel like there was anything wrong..they took her from me briefly and I heard her cry, and they placed her back on my chest.
I was so exhausted, my body was totally limp as I held her up close and just kissed her head over and over. Not long after, she latched on to my left breast and stayed there for over and hour, quietly suckling. The wait time at the birthing center was 6 hours after delivery, so we were discharged at 1 am.
The hard truth: I wanted to die during the final hours of labor. I wanted it to be over. I also refused to give up and be transferred to a hospital. I told myself: you can’t stop being in labor, you can’t get out of this situation except for finishing.
I knew there was only one way to end the pain, and that was to keep my focus. It was pain like I’d never experienced. I totally had a grip on the contractions. In fact, I handled them so well the midwife & doula wouldn’t stop complimenting the control I had. I enjoyed the labor process immensely and so wish that I didn’t have the back pain. It was so distracting. I have back issues, so I was a bit worried ahead of time about back labor. But her spine wasn’t on my spine so it didn’t really occur to me it may be something I’d deal with.
However, her head took a long time to get in the correct position, as is typical with first time mothers, and the pressure of her head against my low back (since she was already so so so low when my labor started) was there the entire time and only stopped when she was born.
Another note…My partner never left my side the entire labor. He really showed up when he needed to, even after almost 9 months of total dismissal of the pregnancy and the reality of our situation. He stepped up to the plate and I couldn’t have made it through the labor without him.
This post is very sporadic, I apologize. I’ll hopefully get my thoughts together more.
Her name is Ella Jane. She weighed 7 lbs 3 oz and was 20 inches long.
She has been an absolute joy the last 12 days and is already over 8 lbs and growing quickly. Breastfeeding has been going very well.
So so so so so in love.