I can tell things are changing in my body as the end of this trimester has come to an end. For one, my skin is breaking out like it did when I first became pregnant and was adjusting to being pregnant, but now I am adjusting to NOT being pregnant. My brain is a bit more clear, I can focus on more things (but not much more) other than when my daughter ate last, when I pumped last and how many times she pooped in a 24 hour period.
Even though I haven’t slept a 3 or 4 hour stretch in three months, except for once when she was 5 weeks old and she slept for 6 hours and I woke up like a whole new person, I am less tired than I was in the early days. I must just be getting used to the lack of sleep. I read once that a new mom gulps sleep like a fish out of water gulps for air. It is exactly how I feel. Most days, all I can think about is when I get to lay down next.
Penelope arrived on 11.11.09 at 2:46a. I started labor at 7:30p on the 10th, so a 7 hour labor total. Not bad right? Well, if you count the three previous stints of labor that lasted about 6 hours each, its a grand total 25 hours.
When it finally started on the 10th, it STARTED.
There was no early labor for me, no walking around the house and baking cookies. The first contraction came right after I had settled into the couch with dinner on my lap (or rather my huge belly) to watch a movie with Peter. After a couple of them, I started to have a conversation with my body. It went like this: “ok, body, no more messing around. If you are gonna give me painful contractions again, you better mean business. I am not doing another 6 hours of contractions only to have them go away again. I am sick of this shit.”
Another 20 minutes go by and I decide to go take a bath. Previously, when I had contractions, as soon as I would lay down to go to sleep or take a bath they would go away. So I thought might as well get them to go away now, so I can finish my movie. I get into the bath and get nice and relaxed, but they are not going away, they are getting stronger. I stay in the bath about 45 minutes and then I need to get out, I need to move, I need to change positions because they really hurt. So I go to the toilet and sit there for awhile.
Then it gets nuts.
I feel as if I am having an out of body experience. It was kinda scary. So I yell to Peter and say I think its time to call the midwife!!! He comes running in and gives her a page. Twenty minutes go by and she still doesn’t call. Now I tell Peter that I feel like I am dying. Obviously, I wasn’t dying but everything was so intense and overwhelming it was the only word I could think of to accurately describe how I felt. He calls again and finally gets a hold of her. She said she would be over soon. Then I felt the urge to move again. I stand and start walking, but oh man, it hurts SO bad. I make it to the end of the bed and hold on tight.
That contraction rocked my world.
I manage to yell to Peter, who is off filling up the birth tub, that I am going to puke before the next one hits. He was able to get the trashcan in place just as I explode. At the exact same moment that I am puking up my dinner, my water breaks. Inside I was so excited! There was no going back now. I was so happy it broke on its own. Somehow I am able to calmly say, “oh, look there’s my water” and ask Peter to get a towel. What does he bring back? Several clean sweaters that were on our dresser that I hadn’t gotten to putting away yet.
So now I am screaming, “NO!!! I! Said! A! TOWEL!!” So now what does he bring back? My FAVORITE towel, the one that was my grandmother’s, of course. Now I am really screaming, “NOT THAT TOWEL!!” He finally brings back an appropriate towel to have my water leak onto.
The towel was kinda white, so I am able to see very clearly that my water is kinda green.
I think, “Shit, shit, shit. I hope everything’s ok.”
Then I needed to go back to the toilet. Sitting on the toilet, I look at my sorta green amniotic fluid and I think of all the births I have seen where the water was a bit green but everything was just fine and I calm my self down. Peter finally notices it too and asks if it’s normal. And I am able to respond that its fine. Even in that fearful moment, I always had an overwhelming feeling that everything was going to be just fine. Even so, in the next moment when Missy, the midwife’s assistant arrives, the first thing I ask her is if the color is ok.
Layla, our midwife, finally arrives and I want to be checked. I am thinking I must be 8 centimeters. Layla checks me and I am 5 and half, then 6 by the time the exam is over. I holler, “6!?! I am only 6?!? Uuugggghhhh!!!” Missy calms me a bit saying “Uh, we JUST got here!”
By this time the birth tub is ready and I needed to get in asap. I didn’t want anyone touching me or talking to me I just wanted to get in the water. I don’t know how long I was in the water, but it really got me relaxed and I was able to rest in between the contractions. It got to a point where I felt like I was too relaxed, coping too well, and things were slowing down, so I thought to myself, “I can stay in here where I am coping just fine and be here for several more hours or I can get out, get up and make the contractions more painful and get this show on the road.”
So I hurl myself out the of tub and get to the bathroom. Just from walking from the tub to the toilet and sitting down makes me feel like pushing. It was a sensation I couldn’t ignore.
I wasn’t actively pushing, it was like my body had completely taken over and had a mind of its own. I was pushing whether I wanted to or not.
Missy hollers from the couch at that point and says, “That sounds like a push, are you pushing?” So I ask to be checked again. After Layla checked me, she announces that I am 8 centimeters. I reply the same, “8!?!…I am only 8!?! Aahhhhhhh.” I walk around for a bit. I want this baby out of me!
I get back in the tub at some point and it’s getting close. I can feel Penelope moving down my pelvis. I keep telling Missy that I have to poo. I am still liking being in the warm water, but I feel like I can’t get grounded enough to really bear down so I stand up during several contractions and get into a deep squat then submerge back into the warm water after the contraction. I finally get into a hands and knees sort of position that works.
At this point, Penelope’s heart rate has dropped a bit, nothing to be alarmed about, but combined with the slightly green amniotic fluid, Layla thinks its best to put the oxygen mask on. It’s super annoying and I want to rip it off my face, but I focus on breathing for Penelope. Her heart rate stays good for awhile and I am able to take it off.
At this point, Missy tells me to see if I can feel my baby. I put my hand down and my fingers in a bit and there she was! I think to myself, “Holy crap! pushing is working! She is coming out”
She is going to be here soon!
I look Peter in the eye and smile for the first time. I ask him if he wants to get in and catch her like we talked about. He shakes his head and smiles. I am actually relieved because I really wanted to catch her myself. Later he told me it was because he didn’t want to get in the water. The water was bloody and poopy and he was not about to get in it!!
Now I am really pushing. I tell Layla, “I feel like I am tearing!!” She said “GOOD! Go with it!” I am like, “No really, I think I am tearing!!” She said, “That is what you want!” I don’t really believe her, but in my head, and I felt like she was dismissing me, but I am like, “Ok, here we go, even if I tear, here we go.” It burned SO bad. Ring of fire is no joke. But then her sweet head was out! I kept feeling her head and feeling her squishy skin and wet hair. I could not wait to hold her.
Not sure how many more pushes it took, but out came the rest of her. I caught her with my own two hands and pulled her out! At the same time I sat back on bottom and leaned against the side of the birth tub. From here on out its like I am in a dream. At first it was hard to get her in a good position to hold her on my chest because her cord was wrapped around her neck once. Layla helped me unwrap it. Then I held her close and looked her straight in her eyes. I could not believe she was here and that I managed to push her out. She was so perfectly alert and peaceful and oh so beautiful. I kept looking up at Peter to look at him and make eye contact but he was entrained on her. She fussed for a moment and I sang the song to her that I sang to her every day while taking my nightly bath when I was pregnant.
Then the contractions start coming again and I wanted the placenta OUT!! It wasn’t very long but I wanted to be done and get out of the water. I pushed for a little bit and then decided to stand up and out it came with a PLOP! At this point Peter has Penelope and we walk to the bedroom so I can lay down and nurse her or as it turned out, attempt to nurse her.
From the very first moment, breastfeeding, or lack there of, has been difficult. She sort of latched on, but not really since my nipples are flat and she was having a hard time. She passed out a few moments later anyway. At that time I didn’t think anything of it, I thought I am not going to stress about it, I will just let her lay here skin to skin and let her smell me for now.
I thought flat nipples were our only problem and I knew that was easily overcome with enough support and guidance from IBCLC. She ended up pretty much sleeping for the next 12 hours. And I just stared at her in absolute amazement. I couldn’t believe that I MADE her and that I PUSHED her out myself.
Finally the lactation consultant came over and helped us get her latched on. It was quite a production. Peter had to actually squeeze my nipple and then between the both of us, with all four hands, we could get her on. Little did we know then that even though she was on, she wasn’t transferring anything. Only when she stopped pooping and we went to see the LC again later that week did we realize she wasn’t transferring any milk and had to start pumping and finger feeding, but that leads us to a whole other story, one that is not yet complete and ready to be told.
In the end it was a perfect and beautiful birth, just like I always hoped and dreamed. However, I would give it all up to be able to breastfeed. I would have rather have had a cesarean and been completely under than to have breastfeeding taken from us. But Penelope is healthy and beautiful and I love her more than anything else in this world.