Friday, July 27, 2012
Graham's Birth Story
I can't promise this will be the most well-written post, but I wanted to get as much down as I could before I forgot.
Since Everett was ten days late, I spent the last weeks of my pregnancy trying to embrace the idea that my due date was just going to be one more day of pregnancy and that I was probably going to be in for the long haul. My goal was to keep working until I went into labor and would have visions of walking down the hall and seeing a gush of water much to the horror of my male coworkers. I just couldn’t make it though and the last week of January I decided to start working part time so I could try and rest up while we still had the luxury of daycare for Everett. I knew soon enough it was going to be just me and the boys all day everyday and I wouldn’t have the ability of calling in to my new “job.” At about 3 o’clock in the morning on January 25th the familiar feeling of a contraction woke me from a deep sleep. It wasn’t painful it was just very obvious, enough to cause me to take notice and look at my phone to start timing them in case another one came. I continued to have somewhat normal contractions up until about 6:30 when I finally felt Cory waking up beside me. “I think I might be in labor.” I said, almost apologetically. I knew that I just COULDN’T be in labor. It was 7 days before my due date and that I was just not that lucky. I felt bad even saying the words out loud because I knew I was just getting him excited for something that probably wasn’t happening.
We decided to have him go into work to finish up a few things in case this was “it” and that he would take Everett to daycare just in case, and if I was in labor one of our parents could pick him up later. Cory left in that frantic panic/excitement that dads have when they think they are about to start the crazy journey of labor that will end in meeting their child. I stayed home and tried to relax as the contractions continued to come. I had yet to feel any pain, just tightening/pressure/cramps that were about 10 minutes apart. As the hours passed they grew farther and farther apart and I found myself getting more and more disappointed. It ended up being a really nice day, however, because Cory came home and we went on a walk around the neighborhood and then took a long walk around Target and then out to dinner at P.F. Chang's in an effort to distract me from the reality that this was not going to happen tonight. At dinner I had a few contractions that stopped me in my tracks but I stopped timing them or trying to anticipate them as i decided that I would know when this was real without having to look at a timer.
At around 3 a.m the next morning I woke up to more contractions that felt a little more intense than the morning before, but still nothing painful, just pressure in my back and a little discomfort. They continued for a few hours and then AGAIN just stopped. At that point I started feeling like I was taking crazy pills. I worried that I would have these stop and go contractions for the next 7 plus days and I was dreading it. At my last midwife appointment I was only a centimeter dilated so I rationalized to myself that maybe all these baby contractions were getting me farther along so I would have less work to do later. Cory and I decided to call our midwife Lynn and let her know what was happening and see what she had to say about what had been going on the last two days. She told me I should just come in and get checked so I would know if something had changed so I wouldn’t feel discouraged. I was more than willing to do that because at that point I was pretty frustrated. Cory and I decided to put my hospital bag in the truck just in case even though there was NO way we were going to use it.
When we got to our appointment Lynn checked me and I will never forget the look of surprise she had on her face when she looked up at me and said, “Sara, you are at a 6 and fully effaced!” Cory and I looked at each other with shock and glee and fear and excitement. I think I didn’t fully understand what that meant because I asked Lynn if it was possible I could stay a 6 until my due date which was still 6 days away. She laughed joyfully and said, “Um Sara, no, you are having this baby today!” Never have sweeter more terrifying words been spoken. I can’t tell you how surreal it is to not be feeling any pain, or even any contractions and to be told you are actually in labor. We didn’t know what to do with ourselves. She told us that it was pretty much up to us. We could either go to the hospital right then and she would call ahead for them to admit us, or we could go home and wait for things to get going and then go when we we ready.
We decided to go out to breakfast and decide what we wanted to do next. As we sat waiting for our food I felt like I was going to faint. I think the reality of what was about to happen was sinking in and I choked down a bagel and some water and tried to steady my nerves. Towards the end of breakfast I started having some more painful contractions, the ones that make you grip the table or the chair next to you. At one point I put my head down on the table and I think our poor waiter must have thought we were in a huge fight because he kept coming over to check on us and I finally told him that I was in labor and apologized for acting strangely. At that point I decided I wanted to go to the hospital. I am one of the few people in the world who actually feels comfortable in the hospital and I like the feeling of security I get there. It helps that I know that being Lynn’s patient means I am given a lot more freedoms than the usual labor patient which I think makes a big difference.
We got to the hospital and got settled in our room. At that point i was definitely having regular contractions but nothing that was particularly painful, just constant. They put the monitor on to check the baby’s heartbeat and that is when things got tricky. My initial plan was to only have intermittent monitoring so I would be able to move around as needed, but during the first hour when they kept me hooked up the Graham’s heart rate was dropping with each contraction and not picking up again the way it is supposed to after each one was finished. This was scary, obviously, because I wanted my baby healthy, but it was also frustrating because I had to let go of my desire to have full movement and accept the fact that I was going to have that thing strapped around my belly for the rest of the day.
About the same time we got all settled in Kelly came. Kelly is my best friend and I knew that I wanted her in the room for my second child’s birth.
I hate to say it, but the rest of the day was kind of...fun. Yes, my contractions were uncomfortable, but not super painful. And it was definitely scary that Graham’s heart rate kept dropping with each contraction. But I trusted Lynn (my midwife) and knew that she was staying on top of things and would keep us both as safe as she was able. So we all chatted with the nurses and waited for Lynn to come back at 5 o”clock to check my progress.
At about 6:30 she came back and checked my dilation. I was still about a 6 or a 7 which meant that the contractions I had throughout the day weren’t painful because they weren’t really doing much. My water still had not broken and we were all kind of at a stand still. Lynn decided to let me have some dinner before she manually broke my water so they brought in a bagel and some yogurt for me to eat. Throughout the day I had tried a million different birthing positions to try and find where I was most comfortable. I had tried on the birthing ball, in a rocking chair, hanging over the back of the bed while up on my knees, and my favorite, the shower! Unfortunately I couldn’t stay in the shower long because they needed to keep the heart monitor on because of Graham’s tricky little heart rate, but it definitely made me realize how awesome water births probably are for pain management. When my dinner came I had found myself on my knees backwards on a chair with my face buried into my Boppy pillow which was sitting on the windowsill, with the air conditioning blowing directly on my face. This was my favorite and most comfortable spot I had discovered all day and I happily ate my bagel in between contractions and chatting with my husband, my best friend, and our very sweet and beautiful nurse who by the end of the night became a friend. She even stayed past her shift so she could be there to help deliver my baby.
After dinner and a few more contractions Lynn came in to break my water. I knew once that happened things would speed up and get more painful so I prepared myself as I felt the familiar gush of water between my legs. It felt like it was about 30 seconds later that a guttural bellow of “pressssurrrrrrrrreeee” escaped from my mouth. Things got real, and really painful, almost immediately. Before I knew it I was in that out of control, in pain, can’t stay on top of things part of labor that I hadn’t yet experienced with this child. Each contraction was more intense and I became much more vocal. Everyone around me kept saying, “you’re almost done,” and “you’re going to meet him soon,” and it was making me really angry because I was only a six or a seven at that point and I didn’t want them giving me false hope that this part was going to be over soon. Before I knew it all of this stuff was coming down from the ceiling and out of the walls and the baby warmer was moved closer to me. “Give me a break,” I remember thinking, convinced everyone was jumping the gun. Lynn checked me and to my surprise and relief I was a ten and was ready to start pushing. Pushing was fast and hectic and painful. Much like my labor with Everett it was hard to figure out when a contraction was happening so I never knew when to push.
Pushing is the hardest part of labor for me. All of the hours of contractions are hard but it is the kind of pain that just happens to you, there is nothing you can really do to avoid the pain but you just have to ride it out. Pushing, however, requires you to actively engage and choose the pain. It’s up to you and no one else to find strength within yourself and push your baby out of you. It is a feeling of pride and joy and pain and fear like nothing else in this life.. I spent most of it picturing Everett’s perfect cute little face, and even found myself chanting his name. I knew that if I kept him in my mind I would remember why all of this was so worth it. At one point Cory laughed and said, “Um, don’t you mean Graham.” I was in my own private moment at that point and didn’t even realize other people could hear me, and tried to explain that I knew who was coming out of me, thankyouverymuch. :)
It only took about half an hour of pushing and Graham was in my arms. I just kept telling him I’m sorry that it was so awful and that I promise we never have to do it again. Him, of course, but me either. I knew in that one moment that our family was complete and he was the perfect period on a beautiful sentence that was waiting for him to be finished. I can’t explain what an amazing feeling it was to look around at the people in the room with us and I laid there with my brand new baby. Lynn, the woman that delivered both of my babies with such grace, kindness, and skill. My husband, who I can not imagine being a better partner to share this life with. Kelly, my best friend who I’ve known since 8th grade, who truly knows me and I her. And my mom, who stood there in shocked silence and admiration at the daughter she created creating life of her own.
I am so grateful that I got to deliver two healthy babies naturally and in such company. I am so grateful that I now get to be their mother for the rest of my life. God has truly blessed me with more in this world than I deserve, and at the end of all of this, that is the utmost gift. Him. Who gave us Himself in order that we might know and be with God. That gift being more than we could ever hope for, He also gives us the blessing of family here in this world along with the promise of eternity with Him in the next.