This is an excerpt from a book I wrote to Anja about my pregnancy and her birth. I’ve been inspired by Jenni sharing her eleven birth stories (yes, 11, and she has #12 on the way any day now) the past few weeks, and thought I would post mine. Again, it is written TO Anja, which explains the strange voice.
My dear Anja,
Here is the amazing story of your BIRTH! It all started Sunday, August 26At Bible study that evening, Marianne prayed that my labor would start on the way home. While it didn’t, I had my first contraction within minutes of arriving home, about 9:30 p.m., while I was on the phone with Uncle. I had my second about 7 minutes later while on the phone with Grandma.
Daddy and I went for a 20-minute walk and returned home, the contractions still coming about 7-10 minutes apart. This continued until about 2:30 a.m., when they started getting closer and closer together. (Side note: your daddy, ever computer-wise, made an Excel spreadsheet for me to time contractions so I just had to press a “start” button and a “stop” button.)
The next morning I was having them about a minute long and every 3-4 minutes, so we went to my midwife appointment a little early. Called Grandma and told her to come, and she was upset with me, saying she probably wouldn’t make it in time. Linda (my midwife) checked my cervix, which had FINALLY effaced and was dilated to between 3 and 4 cm. She said I’d probably be more comfortable laboring at home, so Daddy and I drove back, where the contractions continued to become more intense as the day rolled on.
Grandma arrived mid-afternoon, and by 6:00 the contractions were almost on top of one another, and Daddy was worn out from pushing on my back (you were turned a bit sideways, so I had back labor). So after waiting and waiting for a call back from the hospital to “see if they had room” (Mom was pretty ticked and said, “They BETTER have room! I am having this baby!”), we just packed up and left. Again.
I was admitted and shown to a room. The nurse checked my cervix again and I was only at 5 cm. I was pretty depressed about all that work for one centimeter, but the nurse reassured me that it’s often the hardest and longest work to get to 5 cm. So…Daddy and I worked together for a few more hours to get to 8 cm. I labored in the tub off and on. The position that seemed to help the best were me standing bent over with Daddy either pressing down on my lower back or squeezing my hips together.
Once I was dilated to an 8, they moved me to the waterbirth suite. Being in that big tub sure helped me relax. In fact, I relaxed a bit too much! My contractions were farther apart, and even though I had the urge to push, it was pretty weak. Also, being in the warm water (even though it was only about 98 or 99 degrees) made me feel a bit woozy and weak.
After pushing a while in the water, we decided to forgo the waterbirth we had planned and do the rest of the pushing in a bed. Daddy and Grandma each held one of my legs while I worked with my weak contractions to push you out. I ended up doing quite a bit of pushing without any contractions for help. It was the HARDEST thing I’ve ever endured physically. With each push I felt weaker and weaker. Eventually I started blacking out and they had to put me on oxygen. I started getting scared for you when I could hear the nurses muttering things like, “Her heart rate is dropping…” I remember getting teary (not wanting an episiotomy) and asking, “You’re not going to cut me, are you?” They assured me they wouldn’t do anything without my permission. Soon afterward (at 1:30 a.m.), you came out.
Daddy said he could see about an inch of the top of your head, then there was this big squishing noise and you came out all at once. You were on my chest crying and being rubbed by nurses before anyone could even look what gender you were. So I held you up for Daddy and he said, “It’s a girl!”
I started crying with excitement and relief (that I didn’t have to have any emergency procedures). You laid on me for awhile, then they wrapped you in blankets and gave you to Daddy. They gave you a checkup later and things looked good: no jaundice, not much head molding, good muscle tone. Unfortunately, because of your like for having your arms up by your face, one of your arms came out with your head and made me tear. I waited quite awhile for the surgeon to get there, and then he stitched me up for an hour and 45 minutes. It hurt quite a bit sitting on my tailbone for that long, and my blood pressure was quite low, as well.
They brought us all back to the room around 4:00. I didn’t sleep and didn’t sleep, even though you and Daddy dropped off right away. I had the nurse go get Grandma and she came as the midwife was talking to me about my low blood pressure (51/30 at one point). Grandma got woozy thinking that HER baby (me) was in trouble and had to climb in bed with me. Ha! She stroked my head for a bit (I still didn’t sleep, though) to help me calm down. They had to catheterize me later that morning because I was too weak to get to the bathroom. But around 9 or 10 a.m. I was able to make it to the tub for a soak. They gave me ice packs and drugs and witch hazel pads for all the pain. You had just a few visitors while we were in the hospital (thankfully—Mom didn’t feel or look her best), and we took you home on Thursday, August 30.