Tick tock, tick tock. It’s been on my mind for a long time to sit down and write out Alice’s birth story. I wanted to do it sooner rather than later and eventually her birth became so long ago it was easy to put it off. And yet, it’s still there, in the back of my mind as something I want to capture. I occasionally go back and read my post about the birth of Graham and Miles so I knew I’d enjoy having Alice’s story written down as well. And then another month goes by.
I’m on my laptop every night but usually by the time the kids are asleep and I’m on the couch we get sucked into some Netflix show and I’m browsing Facebook or working on my latest Amazon research. And do you even know how hard it is to type while eating chips and salsa? Perhaps the only reason I’m typing this right now is because I have a bowl of goldfish crackers to snack on instead of chips and salsa.
This weekend we’ll be having a “low key” birthday party for Alice and on Tuesday she officially enters toddlerhood and will no longer be a baby. And so, it is time. Time to dig back into my fuzzy memory and get it down in writing.
The Day Alice Was Born
The Back Story
After a c-section and rough recovery with the boys’ birth I knew that if we ever had another baby I wanted to go for a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarian-section). They are much more common now but when I was doing my research I heard about doctors that automatically put you in for a c-section once you’ve had one before. How you were limited in your choices of doctors that would even try for a vbac and how rare it was to actually vbac. Fortunately in my area I had no trouble finding a doctor who would vbac. I had my first appointment and held my breath until the topic came up, expecting to have to state my case. Instead she was glad to hear that I wanted to vbac and was very open to it. Although the hospital I delivered at does have a standing policy on vbac with strict guidelines as to how long they would let a pregnancy go before mandating a c-section. I had to sign a bunch of forms stating I understood the policies, how they would not induce labor, the risks associated with vbacs and that I would sign off on having a c-section if the time came.
Pretty early in the process we had a c-section booked with the hospital. It was our stop date that if I didn’t go into labor by then, that I would be checked in for a scheduled c-section. Of course, I could always not show up and just wait it out. Any hospital will help you if you show up in labor. But I really didn’t want to get to that point. I wanted to work with my doctor, have a good relationship with her and have a successful vbac. But it was weird knowing we had a date that we would definitely meet our baby girl on, if not sooner.
And so, we went on our merry way.
I had a wonderful pregnancy with no complications. Just the usual morning sickness that lasted a few weeks longer than I wanted (though it did eventually ease up). I had to shut the bathroom door in the face of my boys on more than one occasion as they came footie-pj padding into the room asking “Why is Mommy coughing into the toilet?” And they watched WAAAAY too much tv in those early weeks when I was just sooo exhausted I could not possibly make it through the day without resting on the couch. The boys didn’t seem to notice much, it probably felt like a sudden improvement to them.
We readied the house, readied our family and readied the boys as best we could.
I brushed up on a few of my favorite books from being pregnant with the boys. Especially Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth M.D. although I wasn’t reading the twins version this time around. It felt kind of weird to “only be having one baby”.
All of my doctor visits were going well, although I started to get a sense that my doctor was hedging the bets on a vbac. She’d say things like “we’ll see how it goes” or leave me with a feeling that I should prepare myself to have a c-section. At the time I just smiled and brushed it off. I did really like my doctor and had a good relationship with the staff so I just nodded along when they talked about prepping for a c-section or what things I could do on my own to encourage labor. I ended up in a zen place where whatever happened would happen and there wasn’t much I could do to control it. I wanted to vbac but I’d just have to wait and see.
We took a vbac specific, one day birth class and it was wonderful. With a room full of women who had been through birth once before we were able to skip all the elementary stuff and get down to the heart of it. How to have a birth you want, how to prepare for all the bumps along the way and how to deal with things if they don’t turn out the way you envisioned. There was a very helpful section on different pain management techniques for dealing with early contractions and it helped us really think about what I would want and not want when in labor. If you’re in my area and situation I highly recommend attending one of her VBAC Your Way classes. We left the class feeling like it was more “real” that we really were doing this whole birth thing again and soon we’d be a family of five.
My one regret with Graham and Miles’s birth was that we hadn’t hired a doula. I used to wonder a lot how my labor would have gone differently if I had a doula. So, I learned from my regrets and through a wonderful recommendation of a high school friend, Katie, I found a perfect fit for us. Enter, Megan Miles. She is an independent doula but works with two other doulas as “back up” so if something were to happen to Megan (like attending another birth at the same moment) I’d have two other women who could be on call to come be of aide. I love the entire set up and philosophy of the three women who make up the North Sound Birth Collective. Their website home page says it all “There’s a secret in our culture and it’s not that birth is painful. It’s that women are strong.” I love that. Our bodies are made to carry the baby we’re supposed to be able to support and give birth to. Birth is painful, my goal wasn’t to avoid pain, but to believe I could face the unknown and get to the other side. I wanted a doula to help support us in the labor process. To remind us what our goals were when we got into the thick of it. To be a back up support for Joel, giving him relief, guidance and reassurance on how to coach me. To be an emotional coach for me and to push me to keep labor progressing, to not give up.
I met with two women from the North Sound Birth Collective and had wonderful initial meetings with both of them. I really liked that Megan had so much experience with VBACs and she had such a wonderful tone about her. She asked me far more questions about myself than I asked of her. She has years of knowledge but didn’t have a hint of bossy-ness or know-it-all attitude about her. She listened to my long winded story about the boys’ birth and really reassured me that what happened to me happens to many many women. It was just a wonderful meeting and to this day (a full year later) I can still gush about her.
After hiring Megan I didn’t have a whole lot of contact. She was always a phone call or email away but since it wasn’t my first time being pregnant I was just much more confident in how things were going. As my due date got closer I reviewed some of my techniques from the VBAC class and in digging through the website from the instructor realized that the Miles Circuit we had practiced in class was created by THE MILES I had just hired as my doula. I couldn’t even believe it. I had no idea the two women knew each other. It was meant to be.
Getting Closer to Baby Time
We continued on our doctor appointments, planned special outings with the boys and had more in person meetings with Megan to discuss our pain management plan and day of labor game plan. The calendar was getting closer and closer to my due date and still in the back of my mind I was worried that I would end up with a c-section. In my doctor appointments baby was still really high and I wasn’t dialating so the talks of coming in for the c-section ramped up.
Then on one sunny Monday afternoon, after sending Nana home from a morning playing with the boys at our house, I was upstairs organizing the linen closet with Graham while Miles played in the play room a few steps away. I felt it. A gush of water and a sensation like when you first start peeing after holding it for a really long time. My water broke! Sitting there in our hallway just outside our laundry room, my water broke.
I took one huge scoot back into the linoleum-floored laundry room and had this silent cheer to myself. I was three days before my due date. I wouldn’t have to go in for a scheduled c-section. This was really happening. I WAS IN LABOR! The water started to pool out from under me and I needed an action plan fast. It was like a movie when you see someone look around in night vision and assess the situation. Graham had his back to me, Miles was in the playroom, I wasn’t in pain, but there was all this water. I quickly grabbed dirty towels out of the hamper (thank goodness I’m never caught up on laundry) and pushed them in around me as I shifted my weight. More water gushed out. It was at this moment that Graham noticed I wasn’t right next to him and he turned around…
“Mommy!!!! You’re supposed to stop what you’re doing and pee on the potty!” Graham stood in the doorway while I crammed towels under me and mumbled something like “I know, I know. I should stop and go when I feel I need to go.” I had such a stupid smile on my face. Graham tried to reassure me that “It’s okay Mommy, accidents happen.” Can you tell we were in the midst of potty training? It definitely sealed the moment in time forever.
So now I was sitting in the laundry room not wanting to move because every time I did the baby shifted and more water leaked out. But I couldn’t sit in the laundry room forever. I also didn’t want to panic the boys. I played it off like I had wet myself and tried to act natural. I had made a habit of always having my cell phone with me so I could call Joel when I went into labor. But. I had set it on top of the tv in the play room. Now seeming miles away and not wanting to move I enlisted the trust of my three year old.
“Graham. I need my phone. It’s on top of the tv in the playroom. Can you go get it and bring it to me?”
Graham got a big smile on his face and disappeared into the playroom. I couldn’t see him and he wasn’t saying anything. Never in my life before had I hoped he would do exactly what I wanted him to do. He didn’t pop back into sight and I started to think about putting a towel between my legs to go fetch my phone myself when there he came into the hallway. Cell phone in one hand and my buba jug full of ice water teetering in the other hand. He was so proud of himself. “Mommy I brought you your cell phone and your water incase you need a drink!”
Good job Graham!
By then Miles realized something was up and he came over and stood in the hallway too. I turned sideways into the laundry room still sitting on the floor and started making phone calls. First to Nana who I think had been back at her house for about 30 seconds when my call came through “Hi there. Can you come back? (pause) My water just broke.” She laughed and said she’d be back right away. We had the game plan that if I went into labor while Joel was at work that his parents would come over and be the ones to take care of the boys. Then my second phone call. I had an out of body experience trying to imagine Joel sitting at his desk when he answered the phone. We were close enough to the due date that we had a standing rule I’d only call him if it was REALLY important, otherwise I’d text if I needed to get in touch with him. I said something like “Hey, don’t panic, don’t run to the door but my water just broke and it’s time to come home from work.” We joked for a second about it being a Jerry Maguire moment and after we talked Joel got to leave the office announcing “Time to go have a baby!”
The timing was great. It was around 1:30 in the afternoon so traffic wasn’t bad and we didn’t have to wake anyone up to come help us. Everything was perfect, except, I was still sitting there on the laundry room floor.
I have no idea how long I was there but it was definitely time to move. I moved to my knees and more water trickled out. I decided I was just going to have to go for it. If I could at least make it to my bathroom I’d be off the carpet and next to a fresh change of clothes. I stood up and more water went down my leg. I decided since I was already soaked I would push the towels around to mop up the floor. I threw all the towels into the washing machine and waddled as fast as I could down the hall. Fortunately I saved a towel for in between my legs because again, another gush came out. Some time in the middle of all of it the boys were distracted in the play room so I didn’t have an audience while I stripped down my bottom half, pushed everything to the side of the bathroom, grabbed a dry towel and sat on the toilet. I thought once I was moving the water flow would stop or that baby girl’s head would make a cork to keep any more from coming out. But still, another trickle down my leg.
I was kind of stuck. I didn’t really know what to do with myself since I was all alone with two toddlers who would be coming around the corner at any moment. I wasn’t feeling any pain so I decided I’d just wait it out on the toilet until either Nana or Joel got to the house. I put the towel across my “lap” and took some deep breaths.
Miles came into the bathroom first asking what I was doing. I said that I needed to sit on the toilet for a little while and did he want to bring a book for me to read to him. He was so put out! “Whyyyyyy?!??!” he sat at my feet and demanded to know “What’s taking sooooo long????” I chuckled and told him to go get a book. He stomped out of the bathroom and brushed shoulders with Graham who came in holding a notebook and crayon. Looking like a little reporter, he didn’t ask me anything he just sat on the bathroom floor and started writing one crooked letter at a time starting at “A”. He’d smile at me and show me his “D” and then go back to his work. Miles came back into the bathroom with a book and was practically sitting under my legs as he whined again about how I was still just sitting there. I took the book from him and reassured him that I wouldn’t be sitting there forever. I opened the book and started to read. I don’t recall what the book was but I do remember that sight. Graham sitting on the floor, legs straight out in front of him, hunching over his alphabet work and Miles laying on the bathroom floor complaining that it wasn’t a very comfortable place to be reading.
And then I heard the front door open. Nana’s voice called out “Hello???” and I shouted back “I’m up in the master bathroom!” I don’t recall if I had told the boys Nana was on her way back but they were excited she was there and Miles was happy that he could get away from boring mommy. As I was telling Nana I had called Joel and he was on his way home from work, there he walked, into the bathroom. My husband. My labor buddy. The guy I was having another kid with. The man I was going to share the rest of my life with. The adrenaline kicked up.
So there we were. Me half naked sitting on the toilet with Joel, Nana, Graham and Miles all in the bathroom. Joel asked if I had called Megan yet and I said I hadn’t. “I didn’t know what to do with myself.”
Nana ushered the boys out of the bathroom and since it was the middle of the day and close to their nap time we decided she’d stay at the house with them and keep them on their routine and get them ready for nap.
With our audience gone I asked Joel if he could take care of the pile of “wet” clothes and towels in the corner. I wasn’t embarrassed by it but wanted to save someone else the job of taking care of it. So Joel left the room and I could hear him start the washing machine. Nana said something to Joel about how he didn’t need to worry about the laundry. It was funny to me.
Joel returned to my side and helped me get the courage to actually move. I used the towel to get cleaned up and put on fresh clothes with the largest pad I could find in my trove of woman gear. It seemed as though the water had settled down. I felt a few contractions here and there but nothing I wasn’t managing without trouble. I tried to get in the mindset that things were going to get very painful very quickly and that I was going to be able to handle it.
We moved to the bedroom and Joel called Megan on speaker phone. We ran down the last hour for her and she asked if we wanted her to come over right then or wait. She said your water can break and it’ll take hours for you to go into labor or your water could break and you’d have a baby very quickly. Since I was feeling just fine we decided to wait. We hung up with the plan that we’d call her back when things changed. She advised us to get me comfortable, have Joel finish the hospital bag and to have a meal if I felt like it. Something high in protein. And to keep drinking water. Drink water after every contraction.
Joel went off on his tasks, checked in with Nana and I tried to mellow out on our bed. I could hear bits and pieces of conversation and it felt like I had this heightened alertness to all the sounds around me. I wanted to get in the zone but I also wanted to know everything that everyone was saying. I moved to the floor and kneeled hanging with my arms up on the bed which felt good on my lower back and belly. Joel returned with a toasted tunafish sandwich for me and a snack for him which included a kit kat bar. I think I ate that entire thing myself. I remember not really feeling hungry, the sandwich wasn’t appetizing to me (even though I requested it), but I made myself eat it. I knew I’d want the energy later.
The Labor Progresses
Joel started timing contractions and I remember feeling like the contractions weren’t that strong or consistent. I told him I would just let him know every time I felt anything and he could decide what to time. We did a checkin call with Megan and she talked to me and listened while I had a contraction. I had always heard that when things got serious that you wouldn’t be able to talk through a contraction so it felt like I had a long way to go. We made the plan that she’d head her way to our house. She had one stop to make that could wait or if we felt like there was time she would make it. We said go ahead and we’d call her if things were changing.
I decided to get serious about the labor and moved to a position on the floor similar to a child or caterpillar yoga pose. I piled all the pillows Joel could retrieve up under and around me to take the pressure off my knees and help support my shoulders and arms. Joel and I talked here or there but mostly we were quiet. Nana came and checked on us to let us know the boys were down for nap and Joel showed her where all their bedtime stuff was. I recall overhearing bits of Nana and Joel talking about how I was doing. Had we called the hospital? Were we going to the hospital yet? Don’t wait too much longer, she looks like it’s time to go.
I had also planned to not alert Twitter or our family in the early stages of labor incase things took longer than we anticipated. But this was definitely it so I called my mom. Or had Joel call her. I don’t remember but I doubt I was holding any phones at this point. I kind of matter-of-factly told my mom that I was in labor, that my water had broken, Joel was with me, Nana was here at the house with the boys and that we were headed to the hospital. It was exciting but I was also having contractions so Joel did a lot of the talking. My parents planned to get off the phone and make the hour drive down to our house and spend the night.
After half an hour or so of laboring on the floor Joel helped us make the decision that it was time to head out. Contractions were feeling more regular by then and I was past the point of uncomfortable. Joel called Megan back to change the plans to meet at the hospital and then it was time to move.
I sat up and waited to see how I’d feel. I told Joel I’d want a pillow and a towel in the car and he helped me get down the stairs to the couch so I could have a resting spot while he set up the car. Nana was kitting in the living room when we came down and she sat with me while Joel threw a towel across the seat. After a deep breath and one more contraction we waved goodbye to Nana and slowly got into the car.
To The Hospital
As we drove away and got on the freeway we noted it was getting close to five o’clock, prime rush hour time. I grabbed the ceiling handle in the car and breathed through a couple more contractions and decided to call the hospital to give them the heads up that we were in route. I had already filed my labor paper work with them but we were advised to call when we were coming in so they could do some of the prep work ahead of our arrival. It was a funny conversation. Joel was driving in traffic, trying to concentrate and tune out his laboring wife, I was having painful contractions and the receptionist was trying to assess what was going on. Had I called my doctor yet? How far along was I? The doctor is supposed to call them not me? Had I filled out labor paperwork? I felt another contraction coming so I just quickly blurted something like “well we’re on our way I just wanted you to know” and hung up on her. I probably shared an eye roll with the receptionist over that conversation.
I tried to warn Joel that I was going to make noise to help me cope with the contractions and to just ignore me and “AAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH” That was a big one! Joel got off the freeway and pulled up to the hospital maternity center. There was Megan, standing at the door with a big smile on her face, waiting for us. A wave of relief went over both of us as Joel came around and helped me out of the car. Megan took my arm and started asking questions about how I was feeling. We made it to the checkin desk and I didn’t want to sit down. So, I stood there, in labor, in the hospital entry way, in labor, having contractions. I’d say things like “Here comes one.” “Oh man it hurts” and I had a good ‘ol hang on to the edge of the desk contraction before our bracelets and admit nurse arrived. We walked behind the nurse towards our room and it felt like Joel and the nurse were walking so fast. Megan reassured me to take my time and her and I trailed behind walking at a snails pace before Joel turned around and realized I wasn’t moving so quickly. I finally got to make use of the wall hand rails that I had walked past so many times before.
We got to the room and Joel went about putting our bag down and settling us in. I changed into a hospital gown and was hooked up to the monitors and chatted with the nurses about us. After that I don’t remember the sequence of events clearly. I was checked out by a nurse. I didn’t even make an effort to hear how far dilated I was. I tried to remember my birth class and how it’s not the stats that matter (how long you’ve been labor, how far dilated you are) what matters is that you’re progressing.
I think Joel texted a few people to tell them that we were in labor. That part is a blur too. There was definitely a lot less down time compared to Graham and Miles’s birth. My goal was never to have a natural birth, my goal was to go as long as I could before having an epidural. I knew once I had that epidural in I wouldn’t be able to move around and moving around was going to be my key to keeping labor progressing. I had a goal to just make it one more contraction. Take it one contraction at a time, then do one more contraction.
I think I tried out every possible birthing spot I could. In the bed, on the side of the bed, on a birth ball, on the toilet, using a labor bar for support. The two places I spent the most time were in the bathtub with warm water and on a birth stool which was more like a u-shaped bench than typical stool. In our meetings ahead of time I told Megan that I wanted her to nudge me when it was time to move to a different position and push me to get going when I was hanging on to one spot too long. I told her I’d probably say stuff like “I can’t do it” but she should just respond “That’s silly, yes you can”.
And that’s pretty much how it went.
I’d say “I don’t want to do this any more” and she’d say “But you are, you’re doing it.” And we’d make it through another ten minutes. It was exactly what I needed.
Some point early in our laboring at the hospital I figured out that it felt really good if Joel supported my weight so I could relax as many of my muscles as possible. I had my eyes closed and imagined myself in a really saggy hammock where my arms and legs were weightless but my body was supported.
I’d be sitting and hang my head in the elbow of Joel’s bent arm and I’d sit there making it through a couple of contractions. Keeping all my muscles as relaxed as possible. I tried to let the pain wave over me and do it’s work of opening things up so baby could move down.
Then I’d hear a gentle reminder from Megan that it was time to move. Time to get to a new spot so baby could move and get ready to come out.
The nurses hung out in the background for the most part. They either realized that we had a routine down or maybe Joel or Megan said something to them but I really only talked to them when it was time to make a big transition across the room or if they were ready to do another exam.
At some point of being in the bathtub, maybe it was when I first got in, I couldn’t sit up and have my legs touch the end of the tub which was annoying because I couldn’t support my weight. So, there goes Joel, rolling up his jeans and standing in the tub of water so I could put my feet on his calfs. The nurses helped us get in a position and comfortable so Joel could get out of the tub and sit on the edge (which I’m sure wasn’t much more comfortable for him) and I remember one moment having a big breath of air fill my entire body and I went from having my eyes closed to being wide open and taking in all my surroundings. Like waking up suddenly from a power nap. Megan reminded me how I said I wanted to labor in the tub but not stay too long so I wouldn’t stall. Did I feel like it was time to get out? Was I ready to keep things moving?
Time For Baby To Come Out aka Things Get Graphic
Hoisting myself out of the tub was a clumsy chore and I made it to the toilet before I had to pause for more contractions. Then standing towards the wall. More contractions. Then to the edge of the bed. More contractions. While the nurses brought out a labor stool. More contractions. I plunked myself down on the stool and felt like things were taking too long. I never felt the baby moving “down”. I felt all the tightening of the contractions but I didn’t feel the baby’s body like I thought I would. I think I started saying some things like I was getting frustrated. It’s taking too long. I’m not progressing. And as the words came out of my mouth I felt the energy in the room “You’re doing it Judy.” “You’re having a baby.” “You’ll have your baby really soon.” The nurse. Megan. Joel. They each had something encouraging to say. The lights were dim in the room and I was basically naked but I felt all this warmth around me.
Megan told me I needed to be more in the moment. She asked Joel if I brought any hair ties. My hair was shoulder length so with all my sweating and looking down I had hair over my eyes. Megan pulled out one of her hair ties and reached over and swooped up the top part of my hair into a pony tail. She told me to open my eyes. To be present. She told me it wasn’t going to get any harder than it already had been. I smirked. I didn’t believe her. I thought it had to get more painful. I was in labor. I had no pain killers. It was going to get worse. But she was right. The panicky overwhelming pain of the contractions was easing off ever so slightly.
She told me it was time to push. I was kind of shocked. “I can push?” I didn’t want to push until I was fully dialated. I didn’t want to push if it wasn’t time yet. Megan said “Judy, it’s time to get mad.” “Do you want to get your baby out?” “You’ve got to let her come out.” “You’ve got to push her out.” It was an exchange that went back and forth for a few minutes. Joel sat behind me rubbing my back and supporting my hips while I sat on that stool. I looked up at the nurse and she nodded. I had another contraction. I thought about how it was going to get more painful. How it had to feel worse before it would get better. I pushed with a couple of the contractions. I sat there. In labor. Megan looked at me and said “Judy, why don’t you reach down and feel your baby.” WHAT? There was no way the baby was close enough that I could feel her. She said to reach down like I was putting in a tampon and to see what I could feel. “Okay” (yeah right) I reached down, and there she was! If I pushed my muscles I felt a round hard spot (the baby’s head) not too far inside. I was shocked. The contraction went away, I relaxed and the head retreated. If I hadn’t felt it for myself there was no way I could have been convinced. I knew about a baby moving down, two steps forward and one step back. But it was so weird to feel it actually happening.
A wave of calmness washed over me. Megan said “When you feel like pushing it’s time to push.” I held on to my thighs and pushed a bit. The nurse called another in and said it was time to prep the bed for the birth. There was some movement around me but I had it in my head that I needed to push, get the baby out, don’t let labor stall.
Then someone, Megan or a nurse said to stop pushing and that I needed to get up onto the bed so the doctor could be there. I kind of abruptly looked around trying to figure out what to do with myself. How far away was the bed. How was I going to get there. I leaned forward to stand up expecting it to just feel like standing, but wait, there was now what felt like a large softball between my legs. The baby’s head wasn’t out at all yet but I was suddenly realizing how far down she was.
With help I hobbled over to the edge of the bed. The lights all came on in the room, equipment was pulled out behind cupboards and the labor bar was pulled from the bed. I heard in the back ground “Bright red blood. Bright red blood” as the nurses quietly alerted each other to my status. I looked down and I was dripping. I thought that was encouraging and I did another half push while I was standing there. At that point it was more urges than me controlling anything. “Wait, let’s get you on the bed” a nurse said.
Then I was up on the bed, feet in stirrups and my doctor was there ready to catch. “Okay Judy, this is it, do one big push for your baby” There was no counting, no screaming or holding my breath I remember asking “Now?” because it felt like things weren’t ready yet. “Push Judy, Push your baby out” I paused and felt the urge to push and pushed as hard as I could. Joel was standing at my right holding my shoulder. The doctor asked for permission to do an episiotomy. I was surprised by the question because she and I had discussed it in our appointments and she said she doesn’t do them routinely, only if necessary. She asked again and I said yes if she thought it needed to be done. She told me to push again.
“Okay stop. Her head is out.”
“Take a breath and push again.”
I pushed another big push, the baby was all the way out and they put her on my stomach.
It was a blur of looking down at the baby and looking up at Joel and seeing the nurses beaming and realizing that I was in a LOT of pain. I tried to focus on the baby. The nurses were wiping her down and rubbing her back. And she was starting to peep and was so round and beautiful. But the pain.
I don’t remember the exact order of things but I was aware of the nurses counting the time to my doctor as they waited for the placenta to come out. It seemed like it was taking too long. The doctor told Joel to cut the cord and as soon as he did they whisked baby away to the bassinet to get her to get those lungs working. I was starting to complain more of the pain and the doctor gave the nurses some orders for tools and drugs.
I heard our baby start to cry and they brought her back over to us. They started to put her back on my chest but I didn’t want her on me because the pain was too much. I didn’t want to worry about trying to hold her when I was so squirmy from the pain. Joel held our baby and we started to talk about our final name choice to help distract me from everything going on below. We got everyone in the room involved and I kept interrupting the conversations with “ow OW owwww oww ow ow! OW!”
The nurses kept tabs on the time and the doctor started pushing on my stomach to encourage the placenta to detach and deliver. I said it hurt and the doctor apologized as she pushed harder. There was an air of worry in the room.
I really liked the name Cora and we had long conversations about the name. The one hang up is my nieces name is Nora. Would the family think it was weird? Would they not like it? I argued that twins were named similar names all the time and that’s siblings in the same family so what did it matter if cousins had similar names. But something in my head said it wasn’t sitting right. “I want to talk to Jeanie!” (my sister) Joel looked at me like I was crazy but he got out his cell phone and called my sister while the doctors were still pushing away on me trying to get the placenta to come out. I think I knew I had to create a reason to give myself something to focus on. Some voice outside this room to talk to.
So, here’s my sister, getting a call from me at 10:30pm on speaker phone with all this hospital noise going on asking if she thought it would be weird if we named our daughter Cora.
Big. Long. Pause. In that instant I knew it couldn’t be Cora. Jeanie tried to be nice about it. “Well I’m not going to tell you want you can or can’t name your baby” But I could hear her relief when we said we’d go with our other choice then. It was such a weird hectic moment. I was crying and starting to shake from the adrenaline. We finished our call with Jeanie and said we’d tell her more soon. We said our “I love you”s and said good bye.
The nurses probably thought I was crazy. Babbling on about the name of our baby when I wasn’t even stitched up yet. The placenta FINALLY came out. The delivery of it wasn’t painful, like pushing a big cushy pillow out. It was all the doctor pushing on my stomach and then the stitching up afterwards that was sooooo painful. I had heard you’d be so distracted and in love with your baby that you wouldn’t notice what was going on “down there” after the baby comes out. Well. With my birth, and probably because I hadn’t had an epidural. That was NOT the case. The doctor kept telling the nurses to bring her more pain killer (they shot something with a needle into my skin so they could stitch me up) and I think they did three applications before I started calming down and realizing that we were finally through it all.
We explained the whole name thing to Megan and any of the nurses who cared to tune in. Was our choice a good one? Everyone agreed.
And there we were, holding our baby girl.
Miss Alice Ann.
Because we had told the nurses we wanted to delay as much of the measuring and cleaning as possible we didn’t even know her “stats” until later on after the birth. One of the nurses asked if it would be okay if they had a janitor come in to do a quick clean up and that’s when I looked down and laughed. It looked like a made up haunted house floor in my room. When I was standing and pushing I had ripped and was dripping blood as I walked to the bed. Then the doctor and nurses were all walking through it so there were bloody footprints all over the place.
Yes, yes it would be okay if a janitor came in.
I guess you can deliver too fast. I was so focused on not letting the labor stall and ending up with a c-section that someone needed to shake my shoulders and tell me to slow down. Alice hardly had a cone head at all the delivery went so fast.
I called Joel at work at 1:30pm and by 10:30pm she was in our arms.
She weighed 8 pounds 3 ounces, 22 inches long and came onto the scene with a bang!
Now for Some Pictures
A week before the birth we took in a baseball game with friends. It was a good distraction from watching the calendar.
I went with my mom up to Bellingham two days before Alice’s birth to attend a baby shower (three of us Jobie gals were pregnant) but we didn’t know it at the time that I’d give birth just days later!
Joel and I went to eat at Red Robin the night before Alice was born. Our last date night before the birth. I posted this picture to my Instagram account. The picture right after it was of Alice. Surprise! I gave birth!
Megan snapped several pictures during the labor which I’m grateful to have but most won’t see the light of day. This one made us all laugh. I think she said I was the first client who wanted this specific technique for coping with labor pains. For some bizarre reason if Joel held my elbow up off the bed ever so slightly it felt perfect to help me relax.
Laboring in the bed with back massaging.
More elbow holding. Too high, too low, just right. Now hold that for half an hour. Don’t move and don’t talk.
Our reward for all the hard work. Freshly fed and washed.
The boys came and visited the next afternoon with Grandma and Grandpa and they had fun checking out all the perks of the hospital room. Plus they got presents from Alice!
My Mom and Dad came down from Bellingham and took care of the boys along with Nana and Papa. She knew we didn’t want anyone in the delivery with us but my mom came to the hospital and set up camp in the waiting room with her laptop and kept everyone up to date. Joel sent her text messages about the progress of labor and when I started pushing and when baby was out safely and all was well. Once again there was all this communication going on that I wasn’t aware of. It was fun hearing the stories later on about how everyone experienced our birth in their own way.
I was the benefactor of all our family being ready and willing to drop everything and dote on us. We had visits from all four grandparents and Joel’s brother and wife came in with dinner for us the next day.
Joel saved their text conversation arranging our meet up and it just makes me smile. Not only the conversation between two brothers but remembering how delicious that meal was.
4:12 PM Joel: If you don’t have better plans, Judy is in the mood for breakfast for dinner.
4:12 PM Matthew: Perfect
4:19 PM Joel: Judy’s not into fancy stuff. Scrambled eggs are better than omelets.
4:20 PM Matthew: Gotcha
4:46 PM Matthew: We’re thinking of ordering to go at the Denny’s down the street. Sound good? Any requests?
4:47 PM Joel: Judy: scrambled eggs & bacon or sausage. Joel: Super bird.
4:48 PM Matthew: Excellent
6:04 PM Matthew: Food in hand
6:04 PM Matthew: In route where to once we’re there?
6:05 PM Matthew: Where do we go?
6:07 PM Joel: Evergreen hosp. Family maternity center.
6:07 PM Matthew: We’re 5 min away
6:07 PM Joel: Blue entrance
6:07 PM Matthew: Bringing food!
6:09 PM Joel: Call when you get here.
Because I gave birth so late in the day (and because I was still in a bit of pain) we were able to spend two nights at the hospital (which was a relief for me). We left without a big parade on our exit day. Just Joel, myself and baby girl and arrived back home in time for lunch.
Joel quickly reclaimed his swaddle champ title and we were a little giddy that first night in the hospital about “how easy” just one baby was. There were certainly bumps ahead but just having one sleeping creature next to you was so different than two.
I took time to take pictures and text with friends while Joel changed diapers and nursing was a breeze the second time around.
Here I am showing off how exhausted I was.
Alice slept beautifully (too well) and ate wonderfully. It was perfect.
We did it!