July 6, 2013

Our Birth Story

I'll never forget the first time that I rode the Giant Dipper at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. I was tall enough for the ride so that meant that I "should" ride it. I don't recall if it was the first roller coaster that I rode or even how old I was but it is the only one that stands out in my mind. Maybe it is because it was the "Giant Dipper" or perhaps it is because my great grandfather was one of the very first to ride it making it feel like a familiar obligation. I had no fear as I waited in what seemed to be an endless line, anticipating it to be fun and no big deal, tons of people ride it year after year and everyone loves roller coasters. As the roller coaster rode slowly up the first and largest peak the whole Boardwalk/wharf area came into view, my stomach began to tighten as I realized what I had gotten myself into. A fear began to boil in me and I quickly understood there was no turning back, that in this moment I had no other choice but to go forward. As I leaned over the side of our bed fighting my way through a contraction this memory came to mind. After all this waiting we were finally here, and there was definitely no slowing down and certainly no looking back.

My contractions began at 2:33 am, yes 2:33. I was awoken after falling asleep at 12:30 to a rolling rush that I had never experienced before solidifying that this was the real thing. Robert had just begun to get ready for bed when I informed him that it was time, he never did catch any sleep. They began at 30 min apart but a certain excitement and anticipation came over me making it impossible to go back to sleep. They were not necessarily painful at this point but rather shocking as there is no way to describe that feeling. I took a shower which was both soothing and seemed to escalate them as they came closer together after that point. The doctor and our birthing coach told us not to go to the hospital until the contractions reached the 5-1-1 point. Five minutes apart, last a minute long, and had gone on for one hour, so time is what I had. As Robert tried to catch some shut-eye, I messed around on one of my guilty pleasures, Pinterest, until I was too uncomfortable to sit any longer. It was at this point that the Giant Dipper came to mind. That anxiety of "oh my this is really happening and I no longer have any control" came over me and I am not going to lie made me feel nervous. This was the first and only time during this whole pregnancy that I was nervous about giving birth. Thankfully all the chaos made it so my mind was not able to focus on these nerves for very long.

When my contractions reached 8 min apart at 6 am I began to bleed and that scared me, so Robert quickly got on the phone with labor and delivery to make sure everything was okay, which it was. They told us to relax and call back when the contractions were closer together, like 4 min apart. We tried to relax, we ate and put together the last items to pack for the hospital. Around 7 am Robert took Jessie (his working dog) to the kennel to board her while we were away. While he was gone I got dressed and fixed my hair, as my contractions got stronger. They varied between 3-5 min apart but they never lasted a minute long, the longest being 45 sec. When Robert returned he called the hospital again to check in and expressed a nervousness we had about being stuck in commute traffic, the nurse told us to go ahead and come in. The anticipation rose, we were off.

Of course baby had to come on the only rainy day in June at commute time and just after the commute lane to the city had closed. Robert asked me to let him know if he needed to drive on the left hand shoulder as he was fully prepared to do so, thankfully it never came to that. My contractions were much more intense and now very painful, sitting in the car did not make this any easier. I couldn't help but think of what the other people stuck in Tuesdays traffic thought of my grimacing faces and horse lips. In all the excitement and rushes we both had forgotten all the breathing techniques that we had learned in our classes except for the horse lips and squeezing of the hips - which came later. Horse lips is basically when you push air through your lips making a horse noise, you probably have done this for a child or as a child while pretending to be the animal. This act was SO helpful for me to manage the pain. It sounds so silly but the vibration of my lips and face really alleviated some of the pain and stress I was feeling below. Slowly but surely we made it to the hospital, through security, and into the waiting room at about 9:30 am. We waited for what seemed like forever, I began to wonder if they had forgotten about us. My contractions were so intense I began to wonder (not seriously) if I would survive. I sort of had a poor me moment in my head. Robert was doing his best to help by reminding me to breath and pressing hard on my hips through the contractions. Finally our nurse came and escorted us to our room.

I de-robed and was hooked up to monitors to listen to the babies heart beat and track my contractions. I shared my birth plan with the nurse and as she asked me about pain relief I found myself doubting my strength when I uttered "I am going to try" when asked about my desire to do this au naturale; I could see the brief moment of confusion on Robert's face. The thought of bearing those contractions for 36 hours seemed a bit overwhelming. The nurse then checked me and found that I was dilated 4 cm. I was careful not to express it but I was pissed when I heard I was only 4 cm!! I needed to get to 10 and I had been 2.5 at my last doctors appt a week ago. I had heard that it took on average of an hour per cm so you can imagine my disappointment. The nurse informed us that they would check us again in an hour and depending how far along I was I would be given the opportunity to stay or go back home. WHAT??!! Go home? There was no way! I was having this baby. I was not going home, we wouldn't make it home, it was raining and traffic was a mess. I couldn't sit so I continued to stand rocking back and forth, breathing like a horse, with Robert squeezing my hips with all his might through each contraction.

An hour passed, but it felt more like 15 min to me, the doctor came in to check me and I had progressed from 4 to 7 cm. I was so ecstatic! They hooked me up to the IV to begin the process of the antibiotics for the Strep B that I had. I can say confidently that this was more difficult for me to bear than my contractions at this point. I complained many times about the pain in my hand from the IV throughout my labor, I really wish that this did not have to be apart of our special day, but alas it was. Robert requested a birthing ball for me as we had heard that this was a helpful position for many laboring women. I sat on that thing for about a min before it got the reject button. I couldn't sit. I stood and rocked back and forth with Robert squeezing my hips as hard as he could through my contractions all the while breathing like a horse. And then they changed.

Not only did my contractions get even more intense but I began to feel this crazy amount of pressure down under. It was like my body was pushing without me. Robert quickly called the nurse in to check on me. Back on the bed I went, she found that I was 8.5 cm. She knew what she was doing, but I like to think I know my body, and the first thing I thought was she was wrong. Back to standing I went and then had a sudden urge for a bowel movement, Robert helped me quickly roll my equipment close to the door and shut me in. As soon as I sat on the toilet my water broke. They really should describe this as exploding not breaking. I felt like a canon had just shot a water balloon out of me. Luckily I was on the toilet, less mess for everyone. Robert called the nurse in and he helped me out of the bathroom while she tried to determine if the water was normal. At this point the Dr. was in the room with us and was giving kudos on how we had progressed. She said she would return in a 1/2 hour to check on us when I muttered "I feel like it is coming now" Robert made sure she heard me. Back on the bed I went and she took one look and said "you're right". A feeling of relief came over me.

This sounds weird but your body doesn't need you, it starts pushing the baby out without you. It took three contractions, three pushes, and ten minutes to push our baby out. That primate lady you saw a couple of weeks ago was there. My horse breaths were so intense that spit was flying everywhere, and I let out a few screams which helped alleviate the pain tremendously. After the first push the Dr. asked us if we would like to touch the head, Robert and I both declined, I didn't want to dilly dally I wanted this baby out! Two more pushes I could feel the head come out and then the shoulders and then the rest seemed to just slip out painlessly. At 12:47 pm out baby came and as they were placing baby on my tummy I called out "it's a girl!!". It was amazing. Robert and I quickly apologized to Marilyn for calling her a boy all this time. She came out screaming letting us know she was no boy! They wiped her on my belly as I de-robed quickly to take advantage of those first skin to skin moments. It was all so beautiful. I didn't cry then, but I well up in tears thinking about it now.

Labor was hard. It burned just like everyone said it would.  It was by far the most athletic thing I have ever done. I feel now like there is nothing I cannot do. It was quick, intervention free, and uncomplicated, just as we had hoped. (so quick in fact that IV they hooked me up to didn't have time to get into my system, what a waste) Robert accredits this to the fact that I took such good care of myself throughout my pregnancy eating well, exercising often, and educating myself. I agree that this was a major contributor, but I also have to give him credit too. I wouldn't have been able to do all of that without his support. Even though there were times in that delivery room where I could tell he felt helpless, his support and belief in me gave me great confidence through this journey. I read many stories about women who had hidden stresses, communication issues, and insecurities that bogged them down during labor, making it difficult for them to get fully dilated. I am so thankful that I have such a wonderful and supportive husband who is an amazing communicator.

Marilyn Louise arrived on Tuesday June 25th at 12:47 pm. She was 8 lbs 7 oz and 21 inches long. Every ache, pain, lost minute of sleep, swelling, etc has been so worth it. She is a blessing and we could not be happier. We are enjoying our little one tremendously and soaking up every moment.

We are home and settled. If you would like to visit please let us know.

Our first picture and the beginning of our breastfeeding adventure
Proud Dad.

We're a family.

First examination.
Eye treatment time.

Proud Grandparents.

The grandma's and I with the bag of chips I immediately went for after labor, can't remember the last time I ate Lays :)

Grandma Lisa with Marilyn. Probably the best picture my Mom has ever taken.
A nervous future Auntie.

Uncle Patrick and Daddy looking very happy.
The cousins!

Hayley & Marilyn.

Kelly & Marilyn.

Tarah & Marilyn.

Daddy changing his first diaper.

First bath.
Asleep on Daddy's chest.

Having her hearing tested.

Daddy and Marilyn catching a snooze in the hospital.

Our journey home from the hospital. I was so nervous about her head in the carseat we used Robert's shirt to prop it up. She slept the whole drive home :)

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