Baby E will be turning four this January. I wrote the birth story for her little brother, but not for her. I really want to remember it, so before I forget...
We slowly gathered up the hospital bag and as far as I remember, we were at the local hospital around 7 or 8 am. I remember the tour we took just a few month prior. I remember how odd it felt for a birth to occur in such a medicated, stark, uninviting place bustling with doctors and nurses. It didn't feel right. At that time I didn't know I had many more choices, so we went with it.
We learned we had to fight for what we want within the medical system, it wasn't easy - but we did it! I was admitted and hooked up to a monitor for about 20 minutes, yes, looks like I was in actual labor (there was no way around that initial monitor hook up). It took every ounce of me to lay there without being able to move - which again, felt so wrong. I just wanted to walk and bounce on a ball, to dance.
When we got our room a few minutes later we took up residence, not knowing how long we will be there. We were looking at each other with disbelief. Where these really our last moments as a couple? It will now officially be the three of us, a family. We unpacked our laptop with our favorite music picked out, it was perfect for the background all throughout labor and delivery. It was a very spacious room that was newly remodeled, with a new bathroom. Snow was falling outside.
I spent about an hour in a jacuzzi tub where I went from 3 cm to 8 cm. That was the best part! I soooo didn't want to get out. Being in the warm water just felt right to me and the moment they told me I needed to get out I promised myself that the next one would be a water birth! It was a shock to my body when I got out, I literally couldn't stop shivering after that for hours until birth.
Then I spent more time on the birthing ball. Annoyed by the constant interruptions from staff, at the same time thankful they were there to take care of everything. Though instinctively we didn't really need them.
Around 3 pm came the time to push. Wow, did I have no idea what I was in for! For me labor was easy, even relaxing to some extent. It was bearable. I did it.
Transition and pushing? Not so much. But don't let it scare you (if you've never given birth yet). It was the hardest, most painful thing in my life. Ever. The first baby was certainly more painful than the second, by an ounce. Pushing lasted 2.5 hours. Baby E decided to put her hand next to her cheek, so she was slipping in and out and we had trouble getting through to the end.
My labor nurse was an angel, she really helped me through this toughest part. She was extremely encouraging, and best of all - she was on the same page with us for a natural birth. God sent me that nurse, I know. Not everyone there was like her. When she learned that we are not getting any meds and we do not want any interventions for baby she practically cheered us on. She shared that she is apalled that most parents that come through their doors do not even question all the routine procedures and have no idea how bad all these interventions are for mom and baby's health.
So labor and delivery lasted all of 12 hours. My OB was there for about the last 4 hours and was getting really antsy. I know he wanted to be in and out. He knew my choices and he knew that if he was to utter the C word in my presence, I would probably kick him or push that baby right out.
Eventually Baby E made her way through and those last few pushes for me were really taken somewhere from the divine. Not of this earth. I was gone, I had no strength left. It's almost as though I was looking at myself from the outside. I was that high on the pain!
Through all this my husband was my rock, he practically held me for the last 2 hours. He ran the marathon with me. He had bruises on him from me hanging onto him! I certainly wouldn't be able to do this without him next to me. Seeing him so exhausted and worried really turned that 'water birth dream' into a must for the future. Moreover, I tore badly and I wasn't a fan of that happening again. Stitches are no fun.
Baby was born at 5:35 pm that evening in January. The snow was still falling outside. A healthy 6 pounds 12 ounces. Eager to nurse.
We spent the next 48 hours practically peacefully fighting with the staff over everything. Thankfully, for the most part they read our birth plan and respected our wishes. We didn't get the delayed cord clamping we wanted since the cord was wrapped around her neck twice (although that worked with baby #2 with midwives). The baby didn't leave our side for a second and when they went for the PKU, my husband went with the baby. We opted out of everything else. We were very glad to have been armed with some excerpts of Massachusetts law about our rights, they were handy. By the last day the nurses and doctors knew to just let us be and to stop asking us about all the meds they are so eager to administer. They knew that we were well informed, not making choices based on fears.
I have to say that even though I appreciated being taken care of, I wanted peace and quiet, I wanted healthy homemade food, I wanted my bed. So that thought of another hospital birth didn't appeal to me at all.
Nursing was a lot harder than I thought it would be. At 2 weeks old we ended up at the Children's Hospital in Boston because she would have blood tinted spit up and blood in her stool. A few gray hairs and 3 days later we learned she was just allergic to cow's milk protein in my breast milk I had to pump and dump my liquid gold for 5 days while she was on Similac Alimentum (which she hated!). Stopped eating all dairy, changed our family diet completely. She went back to nursing and now she has outgrown her intolerance and can eat dairy.
It took two months to really get the hang of breastfeeding, then we fought with thrush on top of it. It wasn't an easy road. It was an awesome experience, becoming a mother for the first time. Now that I look back, it was a good challenge for us. Through the trials we became closer as a family. I also have experiences that enable me to share some wisdom with other moms, which may have not been all the same if it was an easy birth and easy everything else.
Photo 1: About an hour after birth, snuggling with baby.
Photo 2: Close-up of adorable Baby E day after she was born.
Photo 3: Mama and baby day after birth (can't stand that hospital gown!)