Saturday, March 06, 2010

The birth story

There were 3 in the bed and the little one said…
Ok. So we don’t all share a bed. But we are sharing a room.
It’s a large room. And the three of us are living in it, and loving in it, so comfortably. Brian, Vivian and me. It’s big enough for: our bed, the large desk with computer and chair, a treadmill, a bassinet, a side table, a comfy-comfy glider chair & ottoman, and a changing table.
I’ve had my eye on this crazy rug for our room. Black and white. A little edgy. They say to think on a big purchase for some time. Is it a week? Or a month? And if, at the end of the time, you still think you should buy it, then….buy it. Isn’t that what ‘they’ say?
I’ve been thinking about this rug for 2 months. Tonight, Mom and I went to the store and asked if I could borrow it. Take it home, and let my husband see it. I told the man at the store that I would call in 30 minutes and let him know whether to charge my credit card or not. Instead, once I got it home, I called back and asked if I could sleep on it and call him in the morning with a decision… I LOVE this rug. I talked him down on the price, like the crazy girl I become when I’m shopping in Chinatown in New York City. I’m getting it for a STEAL. It completes the room. Our shared room. Part our room and part Vivian’s.
I’m losing a pound or 2 everyday. It’s completely weird, but true…It’s especially crazy since, for the first week, we received dinner every night. Yummy ones. This week we are receiving meals every other day. And, Brian and I have been out to eat twice in the last 3 days.
I sit in my awesome glider chair feeding this baby and across the room, pictures randomly pop up on the computer screen. Us. Our family. The past 10 years. Thousands of pictures. Brian, me, the girls, our trips, the beach…All the fun. And I keep seeing newborn pictures of Carlisle and Evelyn. Then I look down at my newborn Vivian. She looks exactly like the pictures that keep flashing up on the screen. I feel like I’ve had the same exact baby three times.
Delivery Day!
February 19th
5:30am-ish
This is intended to be THE super duper honest post about Vivian Mercy’s birth.
If you tend to be judgmental, just skip to the pictures.
If you get woozy with thoughts of natural childbirth, just skip to the pictures.
If you are male, just skip to the pictures.
Really I wrote this for myself. (And for the women in my family who want to know every detail since, for the first time, they weren’t in the room)
Also, so those hormones that are released after birth…you know the ones. The hormones that make you forget everything…so that they won’t lie to me and tell me it was easy. It wasn’t.
So I WILL remember.
This is also for those that love a good story.
For those that love to hear about natural birth.
For those that love a good ending.
For those that love a baby story.
For those that believe the ‘easy’ road is not always the best road.
So here I go.
FIRST OF ALL, I HAVE TO SAY: I’m not a nurse. I get queasy over the sight of too much blood. I’m ridiculously clueless when it comes to anything medical. I don’t know what I am talking about. What I do know, is what I’ve experienced.
I’ve birthed 4 girls.
Each a different way.
Each situation extremely unique.
I’ve never taken a birthing class. And, I can’t read the birthing books, the worst case scenarios scare me too much.
Here’s what I’ve figured out as I’ve gone along.
The day Carlisle was born I started to see some of the procedures that the hospitals in SC do when a woman is in labor. (Maybe this is true in all states ,but I’ve had a baby in Charleston, Dillon, and 2 in Florence) The laboring woman is given a hospital gown and politely asked to put it on and lie down in the bed. Nurses start an IV. Soon pitocin is administered. Maybe to hurry things along, maybe to get things going, maybe so those attending the woman are more in control of the labor. Probably a mixture. Once the woman’s labor is intensified with the pitocin, the contractions are strong, furious, constant. Its nuts. She begs for an epidural, and if her timing is right, she gets one. With each of my previous births, I also realized, the doctor doesn’t ‘deliver’ the baby. I deliver the baby. I push. I do the work. The doctor is there to ‘catch’ the baby once the baby is on the outside of my body. It kind of started to make me wonder. Question a few procedures.
I started to think, this time, I want to have a less clinical, more authentic birth experience.
I will start by saying…Vivian’s birth IS the best, hardest, most intense, challenging, rewarding, magical, mind-numbingly hard, gratifying, wonderful, painful, supernatural, spiritual, loving experience of my life.
Friday, February 19th4:58am – We arrive at the hospital.
As we were pulling into the parking space, Brian casually asks, ‘So, are you thinking you are going to do this naturally?’
And I said, ‘I’m going to try.’
6:00am – Nurses check us in. I ask for a ‘heplock’. No kidding, I don’t even know what that stands for, but know that it will enable me to just have a catheter in my vein, instead of IV and tubes hanging off of my arm. I tell them no pitocin please. The nurses leaving for the night definitely think I’m a weird-o. The new nurses come on. I tell them that I would like to do it naturally. They are supportive. One of my nurses takes my aerobics classes. She’s beautiful, smiling and supportive. They ask if I want to go ahead and put a fetal heart rate monitor and contraction monitor on. I say yes, that it will give the doctor a good baseline for the baby’s heart rate. Both of my nurses seem to already be rooting for me to do it naturally.
7:15am – The Doctor arrives. I ask, if instead of being confined to the bed, could I just stand beside the bed/sit in the rocking chair during the first part of labor. Doctor says yes if I keep the fetal heart rate and contraction monitors ON. The Doctor breaks my water. It’s a 2 second procedure, and he’s gone.
8:00am – Contractions begin. No big deal. Everything starts slowly.
8:30am – 3.5 cm 80%. Kara stops by. She’s an aerobics instructor, massage therapist and a really good friend. She is SO incredibly cute, supportive, encouraging. The three of us are standing beside the bed catching up, talking. When the contractions come, she and Brian take turns reminding me to breathe and relax through the contractions. For some reason I start swaying through the contractions. Think middle school dance. For hours. And I love it, because somehow it helps. She reads the scripture cards that my friends made and gave to me at the last baby shower. The nurses offer pitocin to speed things along. ‘Just a few drips’. I say, ‘No let’s give my body a chance to do it on it’s own’.
10:00ish – Contractions are intensifying in a huge way. My senses peak. They are so far OFF THE RADAR that I grow feathers & fur and become part bloodhound/part owl. Brian’s chewing gum smells like he is chewing it inside my nostril. The food across the room is so strong I am gagging. As Brian opens it, my friend tells me later that she thinks to herself, ‘Oh-No-He-just DIDN’T’. I quickly and quietly ask him if he doesn’t mind eating it outside. I think I said it sweetly….I tried to say it sweetly…I hope I said it sweetly…but it probably comes out in the form of a saber-toothed lion snarl. The IPod that was playing the best Christian music, after a few hours, starts pounding in my ears. Oh, and I become part bat…The light streaming in the window is killing me. Brian closes the blinds.
11:00am – Kara has to leave and from the time she leaves until the time the baby is born, I don’t say more than 10 words. I am full on focused on the contractions and living through them. The contractions step themselves up in a huge way. Not sure how else to say that. I find a strangely comfortable spot on an old-fashioned, straight-backed, wooden, rocking chair. Somehow it feels like heaven. I have been having contractions for HOURS. They have gotten steadier, closer, stronger, and crazier. The contractions come, I rock in my rocking chair, breathing through it and the contraction passes. I am using every ounce of energy to simply live from one contraction to the next. Then, my body does something I still can’t believe. I am in the rocking chair having contractions. In-between contractions, I FALL ASLEEP. My body, wanting to find the purest form of true rest… literally makes me falls asleep. It happens for at least an hour, maybe more. In-between every contraction! Brian pulls up a chair beside me. I don’t think he’s saying much to me at this point, just encouraging words. I ask him, ‘I’m I really falling asleep in-between these contractions?’ He smiles and says, ‘It’s amazing. Yes.’
11:50am – 5cm 100%. The doctor looks me in the eyes and very seriously asks me if I want an epidural. I say No. Inside I am thinking ‘Bro. GO. I am dying here. If you linger around asking, I’m going to take you up on it and then regret it.’ Thankfully, he didn’t linger. He left. 2 seconds later his nurse asks if I want an epidural. ‘No’. She leaves. The contractions are the most terrible pain I have ever felt. And it’s about to get even WORSE.
1:00pm – 7 cm. Maybe it’s now that I have the start of the whammy contractions. I move from the rocking chair to the bed. And for the first and only time that day, one of the contractions bring tears to my eyes. Not that all the other contractions weren’t worthy of tears, every single solitary one totally was. Out of nowhere and all of a sudden, I wonder…can I do this all day? How many more hours will this go on? I quickly put that out of my mind. To get through the contractions so far, I have just counted down from 10 to 1. Every number, I take a huge, deep breath and exhale slowly. 10 breaths. That’s all I have to do. 10 breaths! No more tears. I decide that I have come this far. I KNOW that I can do it. At this point, one of the nurses says, ‘Jennie, when you feel pressure, you tell us.’ The nurses set up the birthing bar on my bed.
1:20pm – Brian watches as one of the nurses types ‘Active Labor’ into the computer. They start to bring in more of the birthing gear.
Brian says now that when he sees them spring into action, he thinks: ‘its show time!’
He whispers to a nurse, ‘Is this going to be soon?’ She nods and whispers back, ‘Within the hour.’
Brian says it literally takes his breath away and begins to ease some of his anxiety. He gets to meet Vivian SOON!
(As I am writing this, I am braking out in a sweat.) And yet, the hardest part is still to come.
Maybe it’s now that I ask Brian to shut the blinds. (Can’t remember) So now the room is not only silent, it’s dark and silent. It’s just Brian and me for a while.
After one of the contractions ends, I say, ‘Bri, go tell them, I feel pressure.’ He says, ‘Did they tell you to let them know that?’ I nod. And he leaves.
Brian goes out in the hall and asks LaTonya, ‘Did y’all tell Jennie earlier to get you if she feels pressure?’ LaTonya says, ‘Yes, is she feeling pressure?’ Brian says, ‘Yes.’
1:25pm – 8 cm. People start piling in the room. Brian laughs later and says he thinks the nurses were out in the hall, at the nurses’ station, taking bets on whether or not I could do it. I told him that girls don’t bet. He says then they are sitting at the nurses’ station waiting to ‘watch this girl get humbled’. So because of this, for the last 15 or 20 minutes before Vivian arrives, there were 6 nurses, the doctor, Brian and me in the room.
1:35pm –The contractions are so close now. Sometimes one ends, I have one or two seconds to catch my breath and another one starts. I cannot begin to explain how hard they are, how much they hurt and how intense the pain is. INSANE. They ask me to put my feet up and get in the birthing position. I am literally expending so much energy getting through the contractions, I ask them if they can lift my legs. They do. Now they tell me that it is time to push. I seriously don’t know how they expect me to push. I have been breathing through the contractions for 5 hours and now they want me to do something during the contraction??? If I wasn’t being WWF body slammed by these contractions, I would have protested. Instead, I did what they said, but really lamely. They wanted me to push with the contractions. I stunk at it. I was too scared. It was sooo painful. This happened once. I was holding onto the bed for dear life and not doing a good job of pushing. I was paralized with pain. The nurse looks me in the eye, calls my name and says, ‘Jennie! You are strong. You are capable. You can do this. Take all that strength in your arms, chest and your abs and PUSH this baby OUT!’ I think to myself, Dang. She’s awesome. I CAN do this. THANK YOU. That’s what I needed to hear!
I asked Brian 'Can you see her head?'
Brian says, 'When you push, YES!'
At this point the pain is so extreme. I just kind of wanted some coaching...so I say outloud, to this room full of people. LETS DO THIS AS A TEAM EVERYBODY.’ Everyone started encouraging me... then, I pushed like my life depended on it. With everything I had. My eyes that had been shut for 4 or 5 maybe 6 hours fly open because I can’t believe the pain I am feeling as she enters the world. The room erupts with joy and happiness…and then life changes forever. she. is. here. I am dizzy with relief. I am saying in my head over and over. You did it. You did it. You did it. You did it. It’s over. She’s here. She’s a gift from heaven. The wonder of it all was magical. If I could sell that feeling that I had just then…to the highest bidder…Brian and the girls and I would be living on a yacht somewhere. It was pure EUPHORIA.
1:44pm - Dr. Chandler says, ‘Look! She’s a big girl! And she’s nice and pink.’ He holds her up for me to see. Relief. Immediately, you can just tell that she’s healthy. Perfect. Praise God.
Brian looks down into my eyes and smiles. He rubs my sweaty forehead. Dr. Chandler uses the nose bulb a couple of times to clean out her nose and mouth. And Brian walks over to cut the cord. Dr. Chandler, with the baby in his hands, begins walking toward the bassinet and waiting nurses. Brian tells me later, he thinks, ‘That’s the longest cord I’ve ever seen.’ It was only after he noticed the Doctor had already cut the cord and it was dangling beneath her. Brian is hilarious.
I am crying. Brian is crying. The baby is crying. She’s healthy. She’s so incredibly cute. The nurses check her. She’s perfect. God has answered my prayers. She’s just as darling and perfect as she can be.
1:47pm – Brian, the overjoyed Papa, is HIGH on life. THRILLED with the baby and the birth. Amazed that I did it naturally. He walks over to me. I ask him to tell me again that she’s perfect. He says, ‘Jennie she is PERFECT’. He looks down into my eyes and quietly says…’I’m ready to do this again. Let’s have ONE more baby.’ And for the FIRST time in my life, I don’t JUMP at the chance. I say, ‘Uh…Bri, could we talk about this in a few days?’ He laughs and goes back across the room to the bassinet. And stands in sheer amazement at the gift that God has given us.
I am done. The hardest day of my life is done. The energy that surrounded me all day is gone. It now surrounds this sweet, little, pink baby girl. I take a minute and look around. I look at the faces of my two nurses. The ones who rooted for me all day. They are giddy. Smiling. Eyes dancing. I can’t believe that God sent angel nurses for me. They are bustling around…smiling! They say the sweetest things to me. And they tell me how beautiful Vivian is. I kind-of chuckle that this nurse has seen more of her aerobics instructor than she ever wanted to. But then, who cares.
They clean up Vivian, wrap her up like a tiny burrito and lay her in my arms. Brian is so thrilled, taking pictures, literally about to burst with joy and pride. No words can describe how happy, relieved, astounded, profoundly changed he seems. He immediately raves about the day. The birth. The baby. I close my eyes and tell the Lord how I feel. I quietly pray out loud a praise to our heavenly father. Who knit this angel baby together in my womb. Who was so gracious in giving us another baby girl. And who loves us enough to entrust her to us.
So FOR now, it’s just us and Vivian. And we couldn’t be more content.
OUR WEEK of FIRSTS!
Vivian's first Doctors appointment
2 weeks - 8lbs 2 ounces
Carlisle writes her name ALL BY HERSELF.


Vivian's First Bath

8 comments:

Amanda said...

Wow. What an incredible birth story. So happy for you guys!!

Julie and Luke said...

The sepia picture hurts my feelings it is so sweet. It makes me want to cry.

Megan Walkup Mathers said...

One of the most beautiful stories I have ever read!!!

Aron said...

LOVE the birth story!!!

Laing pics said...

You allowed me to be with you through this amazing experience. Thanks sweet Jennie.

PrincessandthePea said...

What an amazing story, Jennie! There's nothing like it! :)

The Severances said...

Beautiful!

hsarmiento said...

Thanks for sharing your story! I LOVE birth stories! Vivian is beautiful!