Hello friends! I know it has been a while since I've written here. The third trimester kicked my butt and I was in survival mode with moving and getting more and more uncomfortable while balancing a full time job. I still want to share my amazing baby shower, and I will, but while it is still fresh in my mind, I want to make sure to get my birth story written down. While it was an incredibly personal experience, reading and listening to other women's birth stories was a big part of how I got through my pregnancy and how I got excited for labor. So here it is, in all its glory!
Ever since I got pregnant, I felt a new sort of intensity in my spirit. I wasn’t quite sure where it came from but it helped me accomplish things I never thought I would be able to in a million years. I just figured I was a mama bear who was driven to do anything for my baby. Now that I’ve met my child and lived through her birth, I know exactly where that intensity came from — it was all Keira.
Keira decided to wait until 40 weeks and 6 days to make her entrance into the world. Having gained over 55 pounds and with the stress of really wanting to start maternity leave, I was at the end of my rope. I had already had a membrane sweep that resulted in days of false labor. Everyday these light contractions would start and increase in intensity and frequency and then completely stop at 10pm, right as I was trying to decide whether or not to catch the ferry to Seattle before it stopped running. Every morning I woke up at 4 am in tears because I was still pregnant. The day before I hit 41 weeks, I had an ultrasound scheduled to make sure I had enough water and to see how the little bug was looking size-wise. Damir took the day off of work and my mom joined us. The ultrasound looked good — plenty of water and she was perfectly average in size (my midwives had been a bit concerned as Damir was almost 12 pounds when he was born).
We spent the rest of the day enjoying Seattle while we waited for a midwife appointment that afternoon. Damir got his haircut, finally, and I joked that our baby would probably come now that he looked so much better. We went to lunch and Damir bought her a really cute onesie that says “future athlete” on it. Once again, I commented on how it would be the perfect day for her to come as it had been so fun to be together. We got to the clinic and my midwife checked me. Still 3cm dilated and 50% effaced — the same as the week before. I felt defeated. She assured me that those crappy contractions were doing some work because the baby had certainly moved down. She offered me another membrane sweep and we talked about scheduling an induction the following week. I gladly accepted her offer (anything to get this baby out) and she gave me what I can only describe as the membrane sweep from hell. “That’s how you do it!” she exclaimed after she was done destroying me. I felt totally exhausted afterwards and immediately started cramping up.
We headed back to the island and I took off for a quick acupuncture session. My acupuncturist offered me a free mini-session to get things going because she knew how much I wanted to avoid induction. I had those crappy light contractions the whole way through. Damir and I decided to grab a pizza on the way home and snuggle on the couch for the night. Once we got home, I put my sweatpants on and plopped on the couch under my favorite blanket next to my favorite dog. I had another mini contraction and I leaned over to give him a kiss and a whole bunch of fluid poured out of me. I genuinely thought I was peeing at first and Damir told me to get off the couch. For some reason I said “I can’t!” and I just sat there for a minute longer. Finally I stood up and pulled my pants down, and sure enough clear fluid was just gushing out of me. I ran to the bathroom while Damir cleaned up and called my parents. I called my midwife who answered the phone by saying “you’re welcome!” (love her!). She told me to get something to eat and think about what ferry to take. I was planning on laboring at my best friend’s house and then heading to the hospital when it got real. So I got in the shower and suddenly the contractions hit hard. I barely could wash my hair. Three minutes apart and super intense. So I called my midwife again who heard the change in my voice. She told me to hop on the next ferry and head to the hospital. We packed up the car, my dad picked up Odin, and my mom hopped in the backseat. I was afraid to tell the ferry people that I was progressing so quickly so I held it together as we paid for our tickets. Once we got on the ferry the contractions were 2 minutes apart and even more intense. The possibility of delivering on the ferry became a little too real. We called the captain of the ferry who sent down a sweet EMT to be there in case we needed it. My midwife was prepared to meet me at the ferry. I felt a lot of pressure as the baby moved down. We were let off the ferry first and in between contractions I had to direct Damir to the hospital (he was nervous). When we finally got there, I couldn’t walk, so my mom had to wheel me up to labor and delivery. I was basically screaming through contractions in front of waiting rooms full of people — it was out of a movie. Finally I got to my room where my midwife and a team of nurses was waiting for me. The labor was so intense and was concentrated in my back and the pressure Damir was applying wasn’t helping. I started to beg for the epidural. My midwife suggested I spend some time in the tub and I was so happy to hear her say that. I got in the water and started to decompress a little bit. It had all been so scary and intense that I needed a bit of a break. I slept between contractions for a little over an hour and developed what I thought was a genius technique of floating during contractions to alleviate some pressure in my back. I held Damir’s hand, told everybody that not to monitor the baby, because the feeling of those things on me was too much (they agreed to intermittent monitoring). I begged for the epidural the entire time, but my family knew how much I wanted to deliver naturally, so they rallied together to help me through it (aka they tricked me). My midwife checked me and saw that I had progressed from 4cm to 9.5cm in the time I was in the tub. She stretched me the rest of the way during the next contraction and then suggested we start practicing pushing a bit. I had already been pushing the last few contractions in the tub. There was nothing I could do to hold that back. My body just took over and I made some noises that were truly primitive.
I got back to the bed after a humiliating bathroom trip where I asked Damir to leave to preserve my modesty (ha! What a concept!). I pushed through my first contraction (Nurse Joan taught me how to NOT push with my legs. I almost knocked my midwife and my mom over who were holding my legs. I’ve got strong legs. After 30 minutes of pushing, my sister walked into the room just as the baby was crowning, which was one of the funniest parts of the experience. I felt like the pushing was taking forever and I begged for a break, an hour nap was all I needed and I would be set. Joan told me I had 4 more contractions and she would be out if I pushed correctly and that’s all I needed to hear. Even though I literally felt like my back was going to break, I kept pushing somehow. I saw her head come out and I’ll never forget the look on her face as long as I live. I also will never forget the hysterical laughter I heard from my sweet husband over my shoulder as she came out. They plopped her on my chest and I was in disbelief. The hormones really took over. I was blissed out as I delivered the placenta and they stitched me up (very, very minor tear). Finally after a few hours and our first attempt at breastfeeding – I have so many thoughts on breastfeeding – we went down to our room. Nurse Joan fought for us to have a big room, with a bed for Damir and a view of Seattle. It felt like our little safe place as I adjusted and began the healing process. We had lots of sweet visitors, ordered yummy food, and after a little over 24 hours, we were discharged. We packed up our baby, put her in her car seat, hugged the nurses, and headed out. As soon as we stepped out of the hospital, we both said to each other how crazy it felt. We rushed to catch the ferry and headed back to our little family with our newest member.
From the time my water broke to the time I had her in my arms, my labor lasted 4 hours and 45 minutes. It was very fast, very painful, and scary at times. But as hard as natural back labor is, it was just the beginning. The past 3 weeks have been the hardest and most intense of my life. There have been many tears from both of us, a surprising amount of pain, and a lot of learning. My fierce baby girl has already challenged me in ways I never thought possible. One thing is for sure, I have so much respect for mothers and I can only hope that I am doing right by this little one!