I've written this over the last few days and it's long, but it has a beautiful ending =) When I started writing it out, I had my sleeping beauty laying on my chest and my sleeping prince laying in the bed next to me. As I'm finishing it, my little beauty sleeps on her daddy's chest and our little prince watches Toy Story from the couch, ever observant and watchful of his baby sister.
I'll start at the beginning. I'd been having some irregular, but strong contractions for two days. We had our 39 week appointment and my midwife stripped my membranes. I was already at 3 cms and 60% effaced. We did some last-minute shopping then went home to relax for a bit because we knew it'd probably be soon. I was hoping it would happen that night but I was doubtful because it never happens that easily.
Ry let the dogs out to use the bathroom, Franky ran around and played and I got out the vacuum because I was hoping it might trigger more contractions and because I'm obsessed with the smell, haha. I literally turned the vacuum on, pushed it forward once and felt a little POP and then a small trickle. I thought it was more of my plug coming out since I'd been losing it for days. But as I walked toward the bathroom I felt a gush that soaked me down to my ankles. It was just after 8 pm.
Right after my water broke.
I got a giddy rush of adrenaline through my body and yelled out to Ryan, "Ry I think my water just broke!!!" The excitement in his voice was undeniable."Are you serious?" he said. I assured him I was even though I was in complete disbelief. I ran to the bathroom, changed into dry pants and put on a thick pad. We dashed around the apartment getting things situated and throwing last minute stuff in the hospital bag. I must have changed my pad no less than five times in the five minutes it took us to get out of the door. To be honest, I wanted to stay home and labor a bit but when i called L&D they told me I better come in because of my previous cesarean.
We loaded up into the car, made phone calls to my mom, sister and MIL and drove to the hospital. I continued having contractions, about five minutes apart, but none that I had to breathe through. When we got to the hospital, I got out of the car and had a huge gush of water and then continued to have big gushes like that all throughout the rest of my labor.
I was happy to learn that the midwife on call was the same midwife who took care of me when I ended up in triage for losing my plug around 27weeks. I felt comfortable with her back then and had no fears or concerns about my primary not being there now.
They hooked me up to monitors to listen to Marija and after a little while, my midwife checked me and said I was 100% effaced and 3-4 cms dilated, but that my cervix was really soft and very flexible. My contractions were about four minutes apart. She decided to sweep whatever remained of my membranes and see if she could stretch my cervix a tiny bit. She said it was like butter and after a minute or two said I was now at a 5-6 and that Marija was at a -1 station. I was chatting and laughing with Ryan, my MIL and my sister, who had gotten there not too long before. I wouldn't have known I was in labor if my water hadn't broken.
I was fully prepared to continue to labor for hours and hours. I got up to pee and was hit with a contraction that stopped me in my tracks, took my breath away and brought tears to my eyes. I literally grasped onto Ryan to get through it. I had another one, just as strong less than a minute later. They decided it was time to get me into a room.
They got us situated and while they filled up the tub I kneeled down over the bed and rested my forehead on my arms to breathe through contractions. I was still having nice gaps in between to laugh and joke and be giddy. They brought me a birthing ball to rock my hips on and it was incredible. It took the pressure off my back and pelvis and it really helped me to rock sideways on it during contractions. I was having to breathe through every contraction now but was still able to talk like normal in between. My sister and MIL entertained Franky and he loved every minute of being the center of their attention. They had lots of toys and treats to occupy him with.
I had ALL back labor so the only thing, besides staying completely focused on my breathing, was for Ryan to grind his fists really hard into my lower back. I guess I kept telling him to push harder because it felt like he wasn't pressing hard enough. My sister told me that at one point she looked over and Ryan was pushing so hard on my back his arms were shaking. My husband amazes me. He was right by my side the whole time, encouraging me, telling me we were doing it, we were almost there and how proud he was of me. Just barely 48 hours after delivering, my back is very sore and feels bruised, like someone beat the hell out of me with a baseball bat. Ryan's arms are like jelly, but man did the pressure help in the moment. He spent hours in one position, pushing into my lower back non-stop. The only time he rested was when it was time for me to push.
I rocked on the birthing ball breathing through contractions while Ryan put pressure on my back and a nurse set up a table with everything my midwife would need for the delivery. She also got ready to put in the Saline Lock. I guess it's the same as a HepLock but it's Saline instead of Heparin. She was wonderful and let me breathe through contractions before getting started. She tried once on my left hand but it went right through (apparently I'm a hard poke and have really squiggly veins). She moved to the other side, tried again and got it. I'm glad she got it on the second try or I might have refused it altogether.
After a little while they told me I could get in the tub and I was thrilled. My sister said I kept apologizing to the nurses for making a mess because my water gushed like crazy with every movement. The tub was heavenly. The temperature was perfect and the jets applied the right amount of pressure to my back. Poor Ryan stood up and leaned over the tub to apply pressure to my lower back with every contraction so I could lean over the front of the tub. He stayed in that awkward position the whole time. The contractions came pretty quick but I did have a nice, albeit short, resting period in between to refuel. I was surprised that I didn't want the ipod in after two songs. It was distracting and all I wanted to focus on was my breathing and the noise around me. Franky was in and out of the room the whole time and mainly stayed with my sister from this point on. She took him out right before I delivered and brought him back right after. She said every so often he'd look over at me curiously but that he was never scared.
Everyone in the room told me what a great laborer I was and how I had obviously done my research because I was staying really focused. I never screamed or made crazy noises. I always thought I'd be a screamer, but I was oddly very quiet. I started moaning a bit as the contractions got stronger and closer. I'd breathe in through my nose and kind of hum out through my mouth. And rather than focus on the pain of the contraction, I focused completely on the sound of my voice as the low moan came out. It may sound strange, but it really worked for me to channel my energy and attention on something other than the pain. I kept my eyes closed the whole time because it really helped me focus. Any time I opened my eyes I got distracted.
Laboring without pain meds is not easy, I'll be honest. It took all of my strength, commitment, dedication and energy, but I never reached a point where I wanted an epidural. Looking back, I can understand the "point" in labor when the epidural would get asked for, but that's when I turned into myself, tuned everyone out and kind of left my body to hear the sound of my voice as the moans came out. I don't really know how to explain it but there were points when I'd give in to the pain and wanted to whimper like a dog. After two contractions like that I stopped giving in to the pain and went off into a different space in my head. There were a few contractions the last hour that I literally never felt because I was so much in tune with my breathing. I know they hurt but rather than feel pain I only felt the pressure. It's hard to explain.
Every so often a nurse would come into the bathroom, ask me to lift my belly a bit and listen to Marija's heartbeat with the Doppler. She registered well until my contractions got closer and I couldn't stay out of the water. I started feeling pressure in my bottom so I let her know. My midwife was in and out all throughout, but at this point she never left the room. She checked me and I was at a 7. They told me I had to get out of the tub just for a minute or two so they could listen on the Doppler. I walked over and sat straight on the ball again. Marija's heartbeat sounded good every time they checked and I kept rocking side to side through each contraction while Ryan pushed on my back. I stuck with my low, quiet moans and kept thinking to myself that this couldn't be real. Am I really laboring on my own? Am I really doing this my way? It didn't seem real that I was going to push my baby out. Around this point is when it got really intense and my body started pushing on its own. My midwife was holding my hand and I told her I couldn't stop. She told me to go with it, so I did and it felt like Marija moved down. The next contraction it happened again and I swear I thought I was gonna deliver right on the ball because I felt her move down. My midwife asked me to get on the bed just for a second so she could check me. When I climbed up on all fours, she put her hand on my bottom and said Marija was a knuckle away from crowning. She told me to turn around and lay down so she could check me. She said I was a 10 and a wave of excitement went through the room. My MIL and I started crying cuz we were so excited. She told me she wanted me to do a practice push when my body felt the urge. When the next contraction hit my body started pushing on its own so I went with it and pushed along. That's when Marija crowned and I got to reach down and feel her head. There was no counting down from ten or anyone telling me to push, it was calm, peaceful and beautiful. I got to rest in between and push when I felt the urge. After about three good pushes I felt a lot of pressure. My midwife had me grabbing my knees while pushing but at one point I asked Ry to hold my leg for me and my MIL grabbed my hand. I never felt the "ring of fire" but I did feel pressure. I always thought the pushing would be the most painful part, but it was the least. Being able to "do" something with the pain of the contractions brought relief. All throughout pushing and pausing, my midwife put warm towels and oil along my perineum to avoid tearing. The next push and Marija's head came out. They told me to stop pushing. I heard her beautiful little cry and my world was complete. I felt one with God. It was amazing. They suctioned her and told me to push gently. She slid right out and they placed her right on my chest. I had only been pushing for 18 minutes. I held my arms out for her and she looked right at me. We locked eyes and I swear I felt like my chest was literally pounding with a second heart full of love for this tiny little person. Ry ran out into the hallway to bring Franky in right after Marija was placed on my chest. He came over and met his sister. He had a smile from one cheek to the other and seemed in awe of what was happening around him. I'm so glad we made the decision to have him there and to keep him with us overnight as well. The transition has been incredible. About five or ten minutes after I delivered Marija my placenta came out and Ryan cut the cord. They waited until the cord stopped pulsing before he cut it. They then took Marija over to be weighed and I got a stitch put in. I had a "surface tear" which is the same as a first degree tear. My midwife said it probably didn't need a stitch but she put one in anyway to make healing easier. Marija was born on Oct 28, 2010 at 12:42 am, weighing 8 lbs 1 oz and measuring 20 inches. Her apgar was 8 and 9 and she was absolutely perfect. I GAVE BIRTH TO MY DAUGHTER!!!!
My midwife kept pressure on my belly and said that my uterus was staying soft but it should have started contracting and firming up a bit. Because I bled a lot with Franky and had a similar issue, they gave me a tiny dose of pitocin to get my uterus contracting. It worked like a charm.
My husband, sister and MIL took turns bonding with Marija while I got stitched up and waited for the Pit to work its magic. After about an hour or so I got to nurse my girl and she got it on the first try. She latched with ease and made it so easy for me. She latches perfectly, nurses well and has had a dirty diaper once every hour or two, which lets me know she's getting enough. Last night she spit up a bit of colostrum. My milk is already coming in and she's getting a lot more. I've felt a letdown every time I nurse her. It amazes me because she's only two days old and my milk is in and she's a pro nurser. It's almost been too easy. She is such a good baby, I can't stop thanking God for this incredible blessing. She sleeps well, eats well, is mellow. I can't help but think that it has everything to do with her delivery. She came into this world in a peaceful, calm and happy environment, completely naturally. There were no meds pumping through my veins or hers to alter anything.
After I nursed her, the pit was about done, so they took the Saline Lock out and I got up and took a shower. I felt amazing. If not for the soreness on my bottom, I would never have known I had just given birth. (I GAVE BIRTH!!!) I'm still on cloud nine. I can't believe that I pushed my baby girl out and that I did it without any kind of medication whatsoever. I did it. (I DID IT!) I still can't believe I did it.
It was very intense and it hurt but it was manageable. It hurt a lot less than I played it out in my mind to hurt. It was more intense than anything but I would do it over and over again in a heartbeat. I would and I will do it again. I will go med-free with all of my future deliveries, no doubt. I am healing well, I feel great and I credit going all-natural for my success. I had nothing speeding me up or slowing me down or standing in my way. I listened to my body and followed its instructions.
I am incredibly lucky in that my labor was short. It was very intense, but it was very short. My water broke at around 8 pm, we got to the hospital around 9, the contractions and active labor started around 10:30 and she was here by 12:42 am. Less than five hours. I think I'd prefer to have a very intense, but quick labor than a drawn out, but slower one. My experience was better than I could ever have imagined it to be. My birth plan literally unfolded in the delivery room but it was so much better than I even "planned" it to be. It was perfect, like a dream. It was like a fairy tale, like if you had asked me what my ideal birth would be and then turned it into a Hollywood movie with a "happily ever after" ending, it was even better than that. My labor was hard, fast and intense but it was incredible. My midwife was amazing and the hospital staff were a dream. They were all drinking some kind of happy juice or something because every nurse was wonderful, haha. They were cheerful and friendly and helpful. My entire hospital experience was like a dream. I felt more like I was in a five star hotel, or in a resort than in a hospital. And the food...the food was SO good. I loved that both Ry and Franky got to stay with me too. The bed and couch converted into a king bed so the three of us slept comfortably.
Delivering my daughter was like having an out-of-body experience. I know I did it but I still can't believe I did. Did I really push my daughter out? Did I really have the strength to do it without so much as an asprin? Even postpartum, my pain is less than a 1 and I declined all meds besides stool softener and an Ibuprophen after I got my MMR and DTAP shots. Marija got her Hep B, eye gel and Vitamin K shot. Franky got all of that at birth and after researching, I felt that for us, the benefits outweigh the risks, so we did it. She got tested for jaundice and doesn't have it, so I like that we'll be able to wait an extra day or two before taking her in to our pediatrician. With Franky we had to take him the day or so after getting discharged and it was awful having to take him to his appointment when I could barely stand up straight from the c-section.
I'm healing really well. I've already used the bathroom and it was really easy, thank goodness cuz it was 6 days later after Franky and it was horrific. Extremely painful. I do have some soreness and tenderness in my perineum, but nothing I can't handle with some witch hazel pads and ice packs. I thought I might have a hemorrhoid but then I looked closer and it's just swelling near the stitch. I guess I kind of expected it to look...ummm...rough down there from the delivery, but it looks the same with the exception of some perineal swelling. That surprised me a lot. I have a bit of nipple tenderness from nursing, but I'm sure that'll go away soon too. And my bleeding isn't nearly as bad as I thought it'd be. It was really, really heavy with Franky for a very long time, like a few weeks before it slowed down and then stopped around 5 or 6 weeks. This time it was heavy the first day and has gradually gotten less and less heavy. I guess I expected the bleeding to be a lot heavier after a vaginal delivery than a cesarean but it's been the opposite for me. The swelling in my belly has gone down really well too. It's half as swollen every morning as it was the day before. I'm down 12 lbs, so I'm 10 lbs lighter than my prepregnancy weight and only 10 lbs away from my prepregnancy weight with Franky. I plan to take the mini pill in around 5 or 6 weeks once my milk supply is established and I'll continue with that until Marija is weaned, sometime around her first birthday. I'm loving how good of a nurser she is. She even takes a paci, for the most part, with no problem and no nipple confusion. She also likes to be swaddled when she sleeps. And she's as much a momma's girl as she is a daddy's girl. She'll be crying and I'll walk into the room and as soon as she hears my voice she turns her head in my direction and stops crying. How my heart turns into puddles for this beautiful little creature. I can't believe Ry and I made her. I can't believe she belongs to us.
P.S. Did I mention I got my VBAC?!?! Hahaha, I can't believe it! Ladies, I did it! I'm still in complete awe and amazement of what my body did. I gave birth to my baby girl and I did it without medication. Holy cow. I'm not bragging here, I swear, I'm just reflecting. I still can't believe I did it. I got my dream birth scenario. I'm never that lucky, so how did that happen with this? I keep pinching myself. How did I just have that birth? And will I ever experience anything like it again? Will I be lucky enough to have vaginal births with future babies? Will my labors be quick? I know if I'm doing vaginal deliveries then I'm definitely doing them unmedicated. Marija's birth was so perfect I don't know how any future vbacs could compare. After going through something like that med-free I feel like I could do anything. Like go to the dentist and not be scared...haha yeah right, I might still need to be sedated for that.
Franky is an awesome big brother. Initially he wasn't sure what to think about her or what to do with her. He's seen me with her and knows that I can't rough house with him right now. I've had moments to cuddle and love on him and let him know he's still and always will be my number one little man. He's warming up to his sister. Today he gave her toys and kisses and brought her paci to her when she cried. He even patted her head and tried to soothe her. So freakin' cute!
And let me also just say that an Italian sub, an ice cold corona, and a piece of pumpkin cheesecake NEVER tasted so good! I am soSOsoSOso in love with my little beauty. I can't get enough of kissing her soft pink skin or breathing in her intoxicatingly sweet newborn smell. Or of the way my boy comes up to me and asks for kisses or hugs or just snuggles with me like nothing has changed. And I have never been more in love or felt closer to my husband than I do now. I can never thank him enough for what he did for me that day. I know I pushed her out but we did it. I had an amazing support system in him, my MIL and my sister and an incredible birth team in my midwife and her staff.