Friday, August 9, 2013

Our Birth Story

Throughout my entire pregnancy I was positive I'd have this baby early. My reasoning partially stemmed from the fact that she was so active, but also partially because I couldn't really imagine being pregnant for 40 weeks! So, when my husband started asking people to guess our daughter's birthdate I put my guess down for July 15, one of my best friend's birthdays and almost two weeks before my due date of July 30. However, the closer we go to the 15th, the less likely I felt like she would be coming early.

Last pregnant photo.
On July 13 I had Braxton Hicks contractions all day. I had BH contractions throughout a good portion of my pregnancy, but never all day long. I kept saying how I thought the BH contractions were a sign that labor would start soon, but my husband wasn't so sure. The next day I didn't have any BH contractions. I was so disappointed and told myself to expect to go the full 40 ... if not longer. I was just dying to meet this little girl, but knew she'd come when she was ready.

Sunday night I picked out my clothes for work the next morning, set my alarm, and fell asleep only to dream I was in labor. The dream was so real I woke up and kept feeling the pain. It took me several minutes and another few contractions before I realized I wasn't dreaming. These were the real thing!

It was about 2 am and I decided to get up and walk around to see if they'd go away. At 2:30 I woke up Ben because they were getting stronger rather than weaker. He watched me have a contraction and started packing the hospital bag. I tried to help, but mostly I held onto the bathroom counter and swayed through each contraction, which were coming about two to three minutes apart.

At 4:30 Ben said we needed to start our drive to the hospital, which was 30 minutes away. I was in complete denial that I was actually having a baby. I kept telling him there was no way this was the real thing. Everything I had read said false labor was common, that you should labor at home for several hours, that women are in labor for hours and hours, and it was the day I had picked for her birthdate (and since I had picked that day I was positive it wouldn't in fact be her birthday). But I couldn't deny how strong and frequent the contractions were, so we left.

I don't really remember the ride there. Each contraction required my full attention, and the small resting period in between was just enough time to prepare for the next. I do remember the walk from the car to the hospital. It was warm, but not hot and only slightly humid. The stars were still out but starting to fade as the dawn was approaching. It was so quiet. I also had a contraction halfway to the door, and Ben held me and whispered, "We're going to have a baby today" in my ear.

When we made it inside and to the registration table, the nurses asked us how long I had been having contractions. Three hours. They gave each other sideways glances that read, "Looks like we'll be sending this lady home." I didn't blame them because I kept thinking the same thing. They sent me to an observation room and said if I didn't progress they'd send me home. I was only at three centimeters. I was positive they would send me home and that made me want to cry because I couldn't imagine the contractions getting much stronger. Five minutes later my water broke. We were having a baby!

In the observation room for about 10 minutes.
One of the things I was most excited about at my hospital was all the options they had to help with pain management in labor that were drug free. I had done a bit of research during my pregnancy and, even though I'm a total wimp when it comes to pain, had hoped I could make it through labor and delivery drug free using the Bradley Method. Most people told me I was crazy and assured me that once the contractions started I'd be begging for the epidural. They were almost right. I couldn't get out of the hospital bed let alone use a labor ball or hydrotherapy while having contractions.

At first I lost focus, forgot everything I had learned about the Bradley Method, and began to panic. I must have been on repeat telling Ben, "I don't think I can do this." He kept telling me I could and to focus on relaxing. A few days earlier we had made a pinky promise that he wouldn't let me get an epidural, and for us a pinky promise is unbreakable. I was cursing the pinky promise around 7 am.

At 8 am my doctor showed up and asked if I wanted to be checked. Even though I know dilation doesn't give you an accurate picture of how far along you are in labor I said yes. She asked me to guess how far along I was. I prayed for at least 5 cm. The nurses and the other resident doctor agreed with me. 8! I was 8 cm, and I was refocused on my goal of a drug-free birth.

The Bradley Method is also referred to as Husband-Coached Childbirth. My husband deserves an award for the amazing job he did coaching me. He held my hand and talked me through the whole thing. He watched the monitors, told me what was happening around me, and constantly encouraged me. He was amazing, and I could not have done it without him. My mom also came in a few times and talked me through a few contractions. I didn't realize how important that talking and encouragement would be, but both were entirely necessary.

By 10:30 am I had reached the "I can't do this" phase that the Bradley Method identifies as "the end." I had told Ben that I was excited for when I said, "I can't do this" because it would mean I'd be meeting my daughter soon. However, by the time I said "I can't do this" I meant it. The pushing contractions felt impossible. But Ben kept saying, "This is the end. Just a little longer. This is the part you've been waiting for." At 10:45 the nurse said I could start pushing once the doctor arrived. If I have one suggestion for other pregnant women, it's to find an awesome doctor like mine. She gave me specific, clear instructions on what I needed to do. She talked me through the whole thing and never once was I unsure or unaware of what was happening.

At 11:08, after 16 minutes of pushing, I heard my husband say, "There she is!" Cordelia Renée was lifted straight to my arms where I held her while she cried for the first time and I finally cried as well. My husband got to cut the cord and then he joined us, crying as well.

We're complete.
Cordie getting checked by the doctor while a very happy daddy watches.
It was extremely difficult and so fast. Definitely one of the hardest things I've ever done even though my family said that it looked like I was sleeping while I was having contractions. Glad I made it look easy ha! It was so worth it and I thank God that I was given the ability and the option to do so. But in the end I was just happy Cordie was born healthy and that she's in my arms, regardless of how she got there.
A family.
Mother and daughter.
Father and daughter.
Cordelia (jewel of the sea) Renée (reborn), 6 lbs 4 oz 19 inches and 15 days early.
One day old.
Three weeks.

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