Tuesday, January 17, 2012
Elise's Journey Into the World
So, for starters, time gets a little hazy when you're in labor, so I'm going to do my best to be accurate. Miriam was our communications manager and assistant throughout the entire process so she was helpful in keeping up with some of the details. I'm going to try to keep the gross details out of this story, but to my friends expecting soon, I'll be happy to share everything!
Wednesday evening I started having light contractions and some cramping. Rebekah, Dane's sister came over and had some butternut squash lasagna that I made. I was in a cooking mood that day. I made bread earlier in the day also. After supper Rebekah and I went to her house to pick up her yoga ball to use during labor. When I got home Dane was watching an engineering video he was considering using for his classes if he had to miss any teaching days for the delivery (he didn't end up missing any days. Friday was called off due to weather and Monday was MLK Jr Day. 4 days in a row ended up being perfect). The contractions were coming about every 15 minutes, but didn't feel very serious.
Wednesday night the contractions were making sleeping hard, so I called Miriam at 2:30 am who was working the night shift as a nurse. I asked her to come sleep at my house Thursday while Dane was at work, just in case anything started to happen. During the day we went grocery shopping and then went to the community center for a vigorous 30 minute walk, hoping to speed things up if this truly was the beginning of labor. I still wasn't sure if this was real labor, although after supper that night we timed the contractions and they were 3-5 minutes apart and I was having to pause and breath through them. I was still telling myself that it could still be a few days before the actual birth and it helped me not be so anxious for things to hurry up. Joe came by and ate supper with us that night.
Needless to say, Thursday night's sleep was a bit fitful. The contractions would wake me up about every 15 minutes and I had to get up at least once an hour to pee. I usually pee in the dark at night, so when it was finally light outside I was excited to see some mucous and bloody show when I went to the bathroom. I called Miriam and Dane into the bathroom to take a look. The actual mucous plug came out at about 10am.
2pm: Miriam and I timed contractions again and they were 2 minutes apart lasting anywhere from 30-60 seconds. How God designed labor was good. The contractions are bad, but there is always that reprieve in between them to allow you to rest and gear up for the next one. After we timed them, Dane called the midwives and they showed up about 1 hour later.
3pm: I was 4 centimeters dilated, which I was delighted with. Almost halfway there! Everything seemed fine and calm, so the midwives left for a couple of hours to get something to eat while we relaxed at the house. I was all over the place in order to relax. My ideal spots were: pacing the house leaning up against a door frame or the fridge and breathing through the contractions, lying on the couch in an almost upright position and breathing through the contractions, or sitting on a yoga ball and leaning into a huge pile of pillows and breathing through the contractions. ALWAYS breathing through the contractions, in through the nose, out through the mouth. It's amazing how much just breathing helped.
5pm: I woke up from a "nap" on the couch and the contractions were quite a bit worse. I took a hot shower (one of 3 during labor) that really felt good. After the shower I just paced or yoga balled or laid down.
The next four hours or so seemed to go by pretty fast for me. Dane, Miriam and the midwives were a great support. I didn't end up being one of the laboring women who just wants to be alone with no one touching me, but I was quite oblivious to everything except my body and the contractions. Dane or Miri would rub my back or put pressure on both hips or hold my hand to help me through the contractions. Meanwhile I'm just closing my eyes and breathing through them.
Miriam was keeping family members updated on my progress and keeping the blog updated the whole time. At some point in time we shut off the ringers on the phones.
Here is when time gets quite hazy. The midwives checked my dilation two other times. The next time I was 8cm and the midwives went into set up mode. Our bedroom was the "delivery room", so we had things set up on the dressers, brought the piano bench in and set things up on it, and got everything covered in plastic and pads.
During this time I went through transition (reaching 10cm and transitioning to the pushing stage). It wasn't as bad as I had imagined or heard. The contractions did get extremely painful for a bit to the point that I was making some anguished noises as well as breathing through them. Then came the pushing contractions (I only realize this in hindsight). I wasn't sure what was going on, but knew that the contractions were shorter and that I felt more restful between them.
Then I had the urge to go to the bathroom and that's when I realized that I needed to push. All of a sudden during the contraction my body started to push involuntarily. The midwives made me breath through them until they got me to the bed and when they checked my dilation, I was fully dilated...woohoo! But I wasn't sure I had the stamina to go through pushing a baby out!
I think the entire pushing time was around 2 hours. During this time there was a sad and ironic event also taking place. There was a murder in a house right across the street from us. The cops came by during my pushing stage to ask some questions and Dane had to leave me for a bit. When they found out what was going on in our house they apologized for interrupting and didn't stay long. After Elise arrived one of the midwives went and gave them the good news. To me it was quite a juxtaposition of life and death and how life begins and how life ends.
My water broke during one of my pushes. The midwives were coaching me on how to push and eventually I just had to buckle down (regardless of my fear or fatigue) and do it. I think I may have been a bit wimpy during this time because I was so tired and I still just couldn't comprehend the fact that I COULD actually push a baby out. When I finally decided to just do it everything seemed to happen pretty quickly. Dane was right there beside me helping me push. He was literally making noises when I would push trying to help me feel uninhibited just in case I needed to make some noises of my own, which I definitely was. I finally squatted down with my feet flat on the floor and my hands hanging onto the foot board of our bed for support. After pushing a couple of times I reached down and was pretty sure I felt the head. I told the midwives and they were trying to check, but the room was dim and pretty crowded so they moved me over to my final position. Dane was sitting on the plastic covered chair and I was squatting down in front of him as he supported my under my arms. When they finally got a good look, sure enough the head was crowning.
I felt the head descending and then I felt the infamous "ring of fire", one of the midwives even sang a stanza for us during that time. I don't think I realized that she actually sang until afterwards when I watched the video! A few more pushes, maybe 5-10 minutes worth and out came Elise's head. There was a little bit of meconium staining (Elise had pooped on her way out). Miriam was right down on the floor trying to capture every moment with her camera when she was asked if she wanted to catch Elise as she came out. Of course she did! Miriam's camera was immediately thrown to the floor as she reached to catch Elise when her shoulders and the rest of her body slid out. I think that will be something special for Miriam and Elise for the rest of their lives.
12:17 pm: I can't describe the emotions at that time. I reached down and touched her and looked between her legs to determine her gender and reported it back up to Dane who was still holding me up. I was waiting to here her little cry and begging her to "start up". She did almost immediately and they laid her up on my chest with a warm towel over her. Dane could do nothing but laugh. We were overjoyed. After her cord stopped pulsing, Dane reached around and cut the cord and then got to hold his daughter as the placenta was being delivered. Then my body started shaking uncontrollably. They covered me with our heating blanket until I stopped shaking and then our new little family made our way to our bed and got to hang out for about an hour to bond and marvel at this new creation before some family showed up who couldn't wait until morning to see Elise. During our bonding time we officially settled on her name. Elise Christiana.
4:30 am: The midwives got me patched up, cleaned everything up, did a checkup on baby Elise, did their charting and when they were satisfied that all was well they went home.
We are so thankful