I get asked a lot about Lily's birth story...probably because I was so vocal about wanting to have a natural birth. It's so weird, people just love when you "fail" at having a natural birth. I'm constantly just "smiling and nodding" when people rub it in that I ended up getting an epidural because I couldn't "hang". It's beyond disappointing because despite their intentions, the comments are rude and borderline hateful. Although those smug comments do still sting a bit, I no longer consider how Lily arrived to be a disappointment or failure...and here is why: she was a healthy, beautiful newborn! As hectic and emotional as her delivery was...it was such an amazing experience that I truly look forward to doing again.
So, as we type out our birth plan for Harrison, we were compelled to visit my old blog and read Lily's Birth Story that I wrote a week or so after her arrival. To "throw it back" this Thursday, we wanted to share! Enjoy!
At 4:29am on Tuesday, May 10th, I woke up with mild cramping. I remember looking at the clock and seeing the time...thank goodness I did because I knew the next set of cramping was about 30 minutes later. I wasn't too alarmed because the cramps weren't "like the book said they would be". So, I shrugged it off and went back to sleep. Chris and I woke up for work around 7:00am and I was still experiencing the cramps. Just in case, we both called-in to work. I downloaded the "contractions timer" app on my iPhone and started timing. I still wasn't sure this was the real deal...but I knew it was something.
As the day progressed, so did the cramps. Despite the fact that they were getting more intense they were also getting closer together. I still wasn't 100% sure I was actually "in labor". So, we kept powering through them. I did a lot of walking, a lot of leaning over onto counter tops, a lot of side lying and even more hip swaying to deal with the pain. Chris called our doula to fill her in and get suggestions. She advised us to rest as much as we could, eat something light but substantial, and to keep her updated. So, we ordered Jimmy John's and I continued to manage the contractions that were now 4-5 minutes apart.
Come 11:00pm, I had had enough. So, we finished packing our bags, said goodbye to our adorable animals and headed to the hospital. Upon arrival, I was anxious, scared, and just plain ready to know how close I was to seeing our little girl. I was convinced I was at least 4-5 cms. I mean, I had been laboring for over 18 hours! Plus, how embarrassing if I was wrong and this wasn't labor at all? Well, after being assessed by the nurses...I was somewhere in the middle. I was definitely in labor but only the very early stage of it. I had only dilated 1 cm and was about 70% effaced. WHAT!?! I was so disappointed!
After being monitored for an hour, Chris and I decided to go back home to progress further before being admitted to the hospital. They gave me something to help me sleep and off we went. We got home close to 2am. Unfortunately, their pills weren't as magic as we hoped as I barely slept! When we "woke up", the contractions were still 4-5 minutes apart but WOW, they were intense. I tried the same techniques (lots of movement) from the day before with little comfort. I tried to eat a bit of toast but couldn't quite stomach it. I jumped in the shower and that was actually the best help. The hot water on my back was wonderful! Once I got out, I was done. With tears in my eyes, we packed up and headed back to the hospital.
We were admitted around noon and headed to Labor and Delivery Suite 11 approximately 3-4 cms along. Not ideal, but better than the night before. I was given an IV and was hooked up the the wireless monitors, which kept tabs on the baby's heart rate and my contractions. I also put on my adorable hospital gown! Yes, I'm vain and brought my own! The excitement of it all helped me power through the first few contractions with a bit of ease. Chris set up his computer to play zen-like music and we turned the lights down to create a more relaxing environment. As much as that helped, I needed a bit more assistance getting comfortable. So, my doula and the nursing staff set up the birthing tub.
The birthing tub was amazing! The water was kept at 98 degrees and was large enough to keep me covered with water from the shoulders down. I was able to almost float and kick my legs during each contraction. The weightlessness really helped relax me...enough that Chris caught me snoring in between contractions! Being able to rest was invaluable and before I knew it...I had been in that thing for an hour and a half. Unfortunately, the exhaustion caught back up with me and I had reached a breaking point...I asked for the epidural.
I wanted a natural childbirth so badly and this was not how I had pictured everything happening. I was so full of mixed emotions at this point. I later realized that I had been in labor for around 36 hours without any medical interventions...I can be proud of that!
After the epidural, things progressed a little more quickly...but not much. After getting out of the tub, I was approximately 6-7 cms with a long way to go. The epidural really helped me relax and I caught a few more minutes of sleep. Chris had not rested or even eaten at this point and it was about 5pm. So, he made a quick trip to the cafeteria downstairs to refuel. Being the smartie that he is, he brought back some Mr. Pibb...only my favorite guilty pleasure EVER. I'll admit it, I took a little swig when everyone had their backs turned! At this point, I had only had water, ice chips, and a little apple juice...I deserved it!
I have to brag on the nursing staff at Woman's Hospital...they were incredible. They were very in tune with our expectations and desires and did everything in their power to make sure we were supported and comfortable. It helped that we had our doula with us and she has such a great relationship with the hospital. When most people have to say goodbye to their support system during the epidural being administered, my doula was able to stay and talk me though that intervention. This was especially helpful for me, seeing how I was quite emotional that I was getting it anyway.
Now, I had heard that one medical intervention can quickly lead to another...and I can say that is really true. Just a few hours after the epidural was given, I had my membranes artificially broken (aka my water was broken by the doctor). Although things didn't just domino immediately after this, we did progress a little stronger and faster. I was now 7-8 cms dilated...and incredibly sick to my stomach.
My legs felt the tingling of falling asleep, my back was knotted and sore, I was being twisted and turned every few minutes for various reasons, and I was now throwing up like a champion. YAY! Chris could not have been more supportive through this nasty time. He held my hair back, kept a cold rag on my face to help me fight the nausea, and kept whispering words of encouragement. There is not a doubt in my mind...I couldn't have made it without him!
Come a little after 9pm, I was told that my doctor was heading to the hospital to deliver our little one. So, everyone started preparing for the final stages. At 10pm, we were told that he would be arriving in about 30 minutes. I had my eyes fixed on the clock. Sure enough, he arrived at 10:30pm and the party really got started! I barely had the energy to keep my eyes open but the end was near. I pushed through four contractions and little Lily made her appearance at 10:46pm. She was a healthy and beautiful 7 lbs 8.6 oz, 20 inch long baby girl!
Every cliche' about childbirth is completely true. The minute I saw Lily, I was hooked and every bit of the last 42 hours was well worth it. Chris and I fell in love with her immediately!
Although not everything went as we had hoped when preparing our birth plan, I couldn't be more happy with the results! We were blessed with a happy and healthy little baby girl...nothing could be better!