On November 13th, 2012 at 1:10pm in the afternoon my life changed forever.
A little girl came into this world that brought with her more joy than I ever knew was possible. Life couldn't be any sweeter.
This is her story....
My whole pregnancy I craved birth stories more than any desire for ice-cream or pickles. I spent hours devouring stories of birth and the multitude of ways little angels were brought into this world. I cried along with the moms who labored long and hard to bring these little miracles into the world and rejoiced with them the moment they laid eyes on the little person they had waited so long to meet. It was that moment, of meeting my daughter, that I wanted more than anything, and it is in the end the only thing that drove me through my labor with her. It was one of the most powerful forces I have ever felt.
My labor began on Sunday slow and steady with contractions about 10-15 minutes apart and very manageable. I tried not to get too excited in case this wasn't the real thing. Aaron and I went to Red Lobster for dinner, and I sat through dinner just breathing through the contractions and enjoying the last few moments we had together before parenthood. When we got home from dinner they seemed to start to pick up pace. I labored through the night by getting in and out of our tub, rocking on my medicine ball, and walking the house. By 3:00 AM the contractions were averaging about 4 minutes apart and lasting a minute long. They were getting more intense, but keeping relaxed and trying to focus on all the breathing I practiced really seemed to help me work through the pain. I knew I wanted to labor at home as long as possible, so I held off calling our midwife until 6:00 AM. By this point the contractions were speeding up in time and intensity and coming as frequent as 2 minutes apart. She told us to start making our way to the birth center and I paced the house while Aaron packed the remaining things into the car. There was a calmness between us that morning that I remember distinctly. We were ready.
When we got to the birth center the midwife checked my progress and found me only at 3cm. I was so disappointed because I felt like I had to be so much farther along after being up with contractions all night. Aaron took a nap and I tried to keep moving and relaxing, hoping to speed up the progress. A few hours later she checked me again, and no progress. I felt irritated and defeated. All this excitement to meet my little girl, and nothing seemed to happen to get me closer to that moment. The midwife became worried when my blood pressure seemed elevated and after calling our back-up OB decided it was probably a good idea for us to transfer over to the hospital.
When we got to the hospital they monitored my blood pressure for a while, and everything seemed to be fine, but at the recommendation of the doctor they decided we should stay and be admitted. I could feel my hopes for a natural birth slowly slipping through my fingers, but I was just so ready to meet my little girl that I no longer seemed to care. They moved us into a labor and delivery room, and from this point on is when my sense of time becomes very foggy. I had heard from so many women that labor sends you through a time warp and that any sense of time is nonexistent. They couldn't have been more right. The almost three days of labor seemed like one very long day.
I labored the rest of the day (Monday) and into the night at the hospital. My contractions were about 2 minutes apart and very intense, and I remember being so exhausted that I had just enough energy to get through one contraction and then fall back to sleep, deep enough to start snoring according to my mother. In all honesty, I am not really sure how long this went on. The hardest part of my labor was Monday night. My water broke on its own around midnight and shortly after that I was started on Pitocin and an epidural. The epidural was an incredible relief in the beginning. It gave me enough pain relief to even feel like putting on makeup while my sister did my hair. All the contractions prior to the Pitocin were painful, but in my mind very manageable as long as I focused on breathing. My mom was an incredible support person through the entire labor. She was by my side the whole time reminding me to breath and try and relax through the pain. I honestly don't know how I would have managed to get through the entire process if it weren't for her.
My water broke right before they started the Pitocin, and the nurse noticed that it was tinted, meaning there was meconium in the fluid. I don't remember much of this, but I was told later that this is when things began to shift and the nurses and my midwife became much more proactive about moving my labor along. I started getting a fever and my midwife decided it was a good idea to go ahead and start me on some antibiotics because it was looking like I had an infection, which would explain the elevated BP I had in the beginning. I continued to labor through the night and was really struggling through the contractions since they were right on top of each other and incredibly painful. I kept pressing the epidural drip button over and over and kept wondering to myself why I wasn't getting any relief. I had been so pro-active against any pain medication during my pregnancy, but now that I had given in to it, I wanted the relief dammit! I couldn't understand why women all over the world swore by epidurals. It was doing nothing for me.
A visit from the anesthesiologist the day after Laura's birth led me to find out that there had been a problem with the IV drip, and that in fact my epidural had stopped working shortly after it was put in. Looking back now I am so glad I didn't find this out during labor. Had I know what I would have to go through without pain medication, I would have never had the courage to keep going.
By 8:00 AM on Tuesday morning I woke up from a brief nap with the undeniable need to push. I could feel every muscle inside of me pushing without any of my conscious doing and I knew without a doubt that it was time. My mom called in the nurse to check me and sure enough I was completely dilated and effaced! FINALLY! I pushed in just about every position imaginable, and I can honestly say it was one of the most enjoyable parts of labor. It was a challenge, finally something I could control! Laboring through contractions I felt helpless to the pain with no choice but to just lay there and take it, but with pushing I felt powerful and was able to work towards meeting my daughter. The pressure I felt was unbelievably strong but I can't say it was actually painful. Looking back now, knowing I pushed without any of the pain medication, it makes me confident that should I get the opportunity again, I could manage without an epidural for our next child. I took every contraction as an opportunity to get one step closer to bringing my child into this world. I have never felt stronger as a woman.
After almost four very long hours of pushing the midwife told me the babies head was turned to the side, and that the time had come to get the baby out. Our OB came in and very quickly gave me my options, C-section, vaccuum extraction, or forceps. I was terrified. I looked at my husband for answers, for strength. At this point I was too terrified and overwhelmed to rationally make a decision and I left that responsibility up to him. He knew how badly I did not want a c-section and we decided the vacuum extraction was our best option. Believe me when I tell you that the vacuum extraction is about as fun as it sounds. This is the part I was talking about when I said I was glad I didn't know I was doing this without an epidural. I will spare all the gory details, because honestly I don't really want to relive them.
I remember looking up and seeing about 20 medical staff in the room ready to go. That scared the living daylights out of me. Up until this point I still felt like this birth was 'normal' but once I saw the amount of people in the room, and the felt the sense of urgency in the air, I knew it was time and was ready to get my daughter out as fast as possible. The next 10 minutes went by in a flash and as my daughter was both physicaly and metaphoricaly ripped out of me I felt something new take over, motherhood. Our daughter was born.
As the doctor held our bright red and screaming little one up in the air I could feel an unbelievable amount of love wash over me. In that moment, I became a mom.
It's been two weeks since she was born and I already am having trouble remembering what life was like before her, before motherhood. I have never felt more fit or destined for a role in my life. Before Laura I felt like a wanderer, never really sure which career path to follow, or how I wanted to live my life, but now I know it was because I was always meant to be mom. This is the person I was meant to be.
My long labor resulted in my getting a chorioamnionitis infection, which resulted in us having to stay in the hospital for an entire week so Laura could get antibiotics to ward off any chance of her having the infection as well. That week was trying to say the least as I dealt with caring for a newborn and healing from a pretty rough labor and a 3rd degree tear, all while having to be subjected to the torment that comes with watching your helpless baby girl be poke and prodded with needles on a constant basis. I am so thankful for my husband and my wonderful family who brought us food, washed our clothes, and sat with us watching crappy hospital television while we waited day after day to go home. The emotional support I received during that time period can never be repaid and for that I am forever grateful.
The two weeks since her birth have been the best two weeks of my life. Sure there have been sleepless nights and moments of self-doubt, but I wouldn't trade the bags under my eyes for anything. I love her more than anything in the entire world, and with her in my arms life is whole.