My beautiful baby daughter is finally here!
It’s awesome being a mother, and Daniel is a really great dad. We’re so happy that Allelia is now a part of our lives. I’ve got a few moments of quiet while she’s napping, so I’d like to share my birth story!
I went into labor around midnight on January 30. At first I thought it was either Braxton Hicks contractions, or maybe even indigestion! I tried to sleep through it, but the contractions kept coming about every 5 minutes and would wake me up, so I was sleeping in itty-bitty stretches of 3-4 minutes. By 3:00am I thought it was probably the real thing, so I called my doula Michelle. She said to just keep trying to rest and to check in with her in a few hours as labor continued to progress.
By 5:30am I decided that the labor was sufficiently “real” to call my sister and let her know that she should probably start getting ready to drive up here with my mom instead of going in to work. At that point I was starting to have trouble carrying on a conversation, so I asked her to call my mom for me.
The contractions got stronger, but I was able to deal with them pretty well using the pain management techniques I learned from the book Birthing From Within. I highly recommend this book to anyone wanting to have an unmedicated, natural-as-possible childbirth!! My friend Kristin loaned me her copy and she deserves a prize for recommending it to me!
I spent the next few hours dozing and getting some much-needed sleep, but by about 8:00am the contractions were waking me up too much. I ate crackers and apple juice for breakfast, very slowly because I was starting to feel sick to my stomach. Daniel called Michelle to check in with her, while I hopped in the shower and listened to (don’t laugh) Justin Bieber’s “Baby” slowed down 800% and other slowed-down tracks, which helped distract and relax me through the contractions.
Daniel, meanwhile, had been discreetly timing my contractions, which were coming about every 3-4 minutes and lasting for about 45 seconds. He stayed with me through just about every contraction, getting me juice and water and ice chips and comforting me when I needed it.
Once I was out of the shower, I started to have more trouble dealing with the pain on my own. Daniel called Michelle again and told her we were ready for her to come over. She arrived around 11:00am (times after this point are kind of fuzzy since I wasn’t watching the clock) and immediately helped put some extra pressure on my knees to counter the pain of the contraction. I have no idea why it works, but it was amazing how much easier this made getting through each contractions.
Michelle timed my contractions over the next 30 minutes or so. Once they got to about 3 minutes apart and over 60 seconds, she suggested I eat something with lots of carbs for energy, and then we could head to the hospital. Daniel ran across the street and got some fresh sourdough from the bakery for me. Later I found out he also got a sandwich for himself, too!
The trip downstairs, to the hospital, and into Labor and Delivery was a little slow, since I stopped every 2-3 minutes for a contraction. They admitted me around 12:30pm. At that time I was 7cm dilated and almost fully effaced. I labored for another hour or so in the hospital bed and then in the shower, and Michelle and Daniel were right there with the knee pressure and gentle shoulder massage.
At that point I started feeling the urge to push, so the nurse came in to check me. I think her name was Emily, but I may have remembered it wrong because I was so out of it by that time. I kind of just shut my eyes when I started feeling like I needed to push and all my focus shifted inward, so it was really hard to tell what was going on around me. She made sure that I was fully dilated to 10cm, and then gave me the ok to push. She and Michelle helped me learn how to start pushing, because I was putting more power into my lungs than I was into pushing out the baby!
As I was pushing, my water finally broke. It’s as a lot of people described it – a big gush. You don’t just think your water broke: when it breaks, you definitely know it did!
I pushed for a while, and it was pretty exhausting. It’s a lot of work getting the baby’s head through the pelvis. Emily and Michelle guided me through this part, until Lelly had gotten into position and they were ready to call my doctor, Dr. Raj.
At this point I think it was around 2:30pm. Dr. Raj had to leave at 3:00pm but I’d gotten so far they went ahead and called her instead of the on-call doctor, Dr. Weber. However, I didn’t push the baby out in time, and Dr. Raj had to go, so Olga, a midwife at the practice, came in and attended while we waited for Dr. Weber. At 3:00pm there was also a shift change, so I got a whole new group of nurses and a midwifery intern as well as a different birth attendant!
This was the time that it hurt a LOT. I mean, the contractions hurt, but when the baby’s head started crowning, that was way more painful. Here’s where having Daniel and Michelle there helped – there wasn’t much they could do physically other than hold my hand or stroke my hair, but emotionally they gave me the extra edge I needed to get through that last hour. Also, I reminded myself that soon the pain would be a memory and that the baby would be here! Those were the only things getting me through it.
When I finally got Lelly’s head out, the rest of her came really fast, and they plopped her onto my belly. She was born at 3:34 in the afternoon, after about 15 hours of labor, and about 7 hours of active labor, which is pretty great for a first baby. Daniel tells me that Olga actually “caught” the baby, and that Dr. Weber arrived shortly thereafter. Lelly cried a little bit, but mostly she just looked at me and I looked at her and talked to her, and she was so pretty! It was really amazing how quickly I was able to snap out of that extreme focus of giving birth, to open my eyes and immediately connect with my little baby girl.
A lot happened after that, like Daniel cutting the cord and the nurses collecting the cord blood for donation, but I was too busy looking at Lelly! My mom and Erin arrived about an hour after Lelly was born, and Matt and David maybe an hour after them. There were lots of photos, Lelly got a bath, and they moved me from my room in labor and delivery to a mother-baby unit.
We stayed that night and the following night. We were discharged from the hospital on February 1, Bryan’s 30th birthday. We’d originally planned to go out and get Korean BBQ to celebrate – I fully expected to be at least a week late! But instead Bryan and Tania came over for a bit, held Lelly, and we chatted for a bit while she slept. A much quieter time, but there was a lot to celebrate and be happy for!
I was so happy that I got to have pretty much exactly the birth I wanted. I had a spontaneous labor, and spent as much time as possible at home before heading to the hospital. I had no pain medication or medical interventions, and my water broke on its own. I was aided by doula and attended by a midwife, and Daniel was right there with me the whole time. I feel so fortunate to have had the expertise of nurses who’d worked with midwives a lot and were really comfortable with natural childbirth, and who read my birth plan, respected all my wishes, and never once offered me an epidural or other pain relief. I’m proud that I had a (relatively) short, textbook labor and delivery and glad that I had enough faith in my body to be able to say, “I’m strong, and even though it will hurt, I can do it.” And I did!
Erin and Mom were a huge help in the days after we came home from the hospital, but they left yesterday morning. My aunt Lyn and uncle Walt stopped by for a brief visit yesterday afternoon, and Daniel’s mom will be coming up next weekend, but for now, it’s just the three of us, getting the hang of being a family. I think we’re pretty awesome at it!
I will admit, I have much less free time than I used to, and most of it is currently being spent recuperating from giving birth, making food, feeding and changing Lelly, and trying to catch up on lost sleep! I originally thought I’d make the birth announcement and write this post from the hospital after I’d gotten settled into the mother-baby unit. Ha! I was so tired and out of it, anything beyond taking care of Lelly (including mindless movie-watching) was totally beyond me.
Now that I’m home, I’m a lot more clear-headed, but check this out: before the baby, this birth announcement/blog post would have taken me an afternoon. Now, it took me three days, and I’m surprised that I’ve been able to write so much this afternoon all in one go. I’ve managed to sneak in a quick bite of lunch, too, but Lelly is now awake and demanding sustenance, so I don’t get to proofread this.