Wow! I honestly can't even believe I'm writing this.....I've decided that now, with mere moments left until my baby girl turns one, I will share with you her birth story. I'm baffled by the idea that there are literally only moments left to share with Elliott before she's not a baby anymore!! In a way, I am so so sad. But in other ways, I am so so happy! What an amazing year this has been for me and my family! And what an amazing little girl Elliott is growing up to be.....that's all worth celebrating!! Well, the celebrating will officially commence tomorrow, but for today I'm doing a lot of reflecting and reminiscing (and trying not to cry too much).
my our story of labor and delivery. There may or may not be some gory details, so consider yourself warned!! I just need to get this out before I forget any more details. It's already been a year, but I still remember it like it was yesterday, and I want to be able to look back and read this story when maybe some of the special pieces of this puzzle are missing. So, here goes nothing......
My due date (January 10th) had come and gone. I was patient, because I was certain that I didn't want to be induced. I wanted to at least try to have as natural of a labor as possible, but I also am a firm believer that babies will come when they're good and ready.....no need to rush them if everything seems fine, and labor seems more likely to progress better if the baby isn't being forced out. So, I had my reasons, and I waited. However, doctors (and midwives, in my case) have to follow some basic practices for keeping mom and baby safe, and one of those includes setting a limit on how long a pregnancy can continue. So as I passed the 41 week mark, we went to appointments to check on the baby, the fluid in my belly, etc. Everything checked out well....but still, no sign of progress. My midwife scheduled an induction for Thursday, January 21st. As soon as we left her office, I burst into tears!! Scott asked why, and he couldn't understand how I could be so upset. Wasn't I relieved to have an end in sight?! Well, frankly? No. I just didn't want to be induced! I didn't want to have cords and monitors and drugs......I wanted to let this baby come when her and my body were ready.
Wednesday, January 20th, I said goodbye to my coworkers and tidied up my desk that I would be leaving for a few months. Scott and I had one last "date" as a married couple with no kids. We were both excited, nervous, anxious......I had left my feelings of disappointment and let myself get excited. We went to the Verizon store to take care of some billing error that took foreverrrrr to get fixed. I remember sitting in the lobby while Scott argued with the customer service people. The lady sitting next to me asked (in a polite, but very curious "you look so stinkin' huge and uncomfortable" way) when my due date was. "Ten days ago", I replied. As much as I loved getting attention for my baby bump for the past
9 10 months, I was soooo over it! Next we made our way to my favorite dining spot, Red Robin. We ate the same meals we always eat, and Scott texted his sisters to ask them to buy Elliott some pink Uggs. (it sounds random, but this is just day to day life with my husband, people!) I had been having some strong, but very sporadic, contractions all day, and I remember sitting at dinner and thinking that they were getting more intense and more frequent. Our waitress could see me stopping to hold my belly every once in a while, and she joked about sanitizing the table and she could just deliver the baby right there! She made me laugh, but I was still certain that we would be setting our alarms and walking into our scheduled induction the next morning.
Scott and I called it an early night and headed home to pack our bag(s) for the hospital. I honestly don't remember how I got to sleep that night.....I know that I was so anxious, but I don't remember what I thought before I fell asleep or what Scott and I talked about. I do remember waking at 2:30 with very intense pain though! The contractions were very strong, but I thought that would be ridiculous for me to be in labor......we had an appointment with Pitocin at 8:00 am, for Pete's sake!! I laid awake and breathed through the contractions until 3:30 when I woke Scott. I made him call the hospital, and they said it sounded like good news to them! They had us wait another hour and then call back to check in. 4:30 rolls around and my contractions are still strong and coming every 5 minutes. The nurse told us that we could come in any time we felt ready, but to rush if my water broke or if the contractions got to 3 minutes apart.
I wanted to stay at home for as long as possible, but I also didn't want to go in any later than our induction was set for (I think I was afraid they would give my bed away or think of us as a "no show" if we didn't get there on time). I took a long hot shower, and then bounced on our exercise ball while eating a granola bar. Scott packed things into the car while I bounced, and I asked him to put a towel over my seat in the car "just in case". We dropped Rosco off at my parent's house (my mom was half asleep and utterly confused; I don't think she actually understood that I was in labor yet.....she wasn't expecting us for a couple more hours) and drove the 15 minutes to the hospital.
We checked in around 6:00 am on the 21st, just 2 hours before I was scheduled to be induced anyways. They didn't make me go to triage, they just took me up to my room. I remember feeling relieved. They were expecting us, and even if this was false labor (which I knew it was not), they couldn't send us away!! I got changed into a gown, and let the nurse know that I didn't want to be hooked up to any unnecessary wires or tubes. The midwife came and checked my cervix, and I was excited to find out that I was 3 cm dilated. However, baby still had not dropped and I wasn't efaced hardly at all. The midwife recommended walking, and I was all for it! I was much too anxious to just sit around, so Scott and I walked. And walked. And walked. And walked. I think we did it out of boredom. We did it because we were excited this was actually happening (I secretly liked walking past the nurse's station because they would tell me I was doing so good!)! We did it because we wanted labor to progress. When I got tired of walking or needed a break, we alternated between the birthing ball and the tub (which was not a birthing tub. This was quite possibly the smallest tub I've ever seen). One nurse stayed with us almost the entire day, and my mom took on the role of supporter and coach. She sat right next to me and would talk and laugh with me through contractions. Scott gave us a little space, but still interacted with us. It was just the support system that I needed right then.
Around 1:00 pm the midwife came and checked me again. This time I was at a 7, and she asked if I wanted her to break my water. At first I said no, and I wish I would have stuck to my guns!! She assured me that it wouldn't hurt at all, and that it would speed up the process. Well, #1) it hurt like crazy!!! and #2) as I've said before, I think labor should progress naturally.....your water will break on it's own when it's good and ready!!! I let her talk me into it though, and like I said, it hurt SO bad!!! And it was disgusting! I kept apologizing to her and to my mom, and that would make them laugh. I went back to alternating between the ball and the tub, but I definitely didn't feel like walking at this point. I would talk between contractions, and during contractions I would moan or squeal, and my mom would rub my back and remind me to breathe. The nurse and my mom also coached me on the "correct" way to vocalize during a contractions.....this kind of annoyed me, but they were right! Don't let yourself scream or let out high-pitched noises, because that means you're tensing up. Let the rest of your body relax, and let out deeper, lower-pitched sounds. I tried. I also tried to breathe, but ended up holding my breath every time! Man, I got so tired of people telling me to breathe!!
Around 7:00 pm I was definitely succumbing to the pain. I was in the tub, and the midwife could tell that I was pushing with each contraction, just by the sounds I was making. She made me get out of the tub so that she could check my cervix again. I was only at a 9, so she instructed me to NOT PUSH! I was frustrated that I wasn't completely dilated yet, but I knew it was getting close. And yet, as hard as I tried to stop it, my body was just pushing all on it's own! There was nothing that I could to to stop myself from pushing. The midwife knew that I didn't want an epidural or other interventions, but she suggested that I try an IV drug, just to take the edge off so that I would stop pushing. I agreed, and they set me up with some sort of pain killer and an oxygen mask. This was exactly what I did NOT want.....strapped to machines, and feeling like I wasn't free to move about. I understood why I was being held hostage by wires and tubes, but I hated it at the same time. The IV drug did nothing for me, and my body continued pushing. I was angry and yelled at people because I couldn't do anything about it! I felt so helpless and defeated. I knew that I needed to accept the help that was being offered, but I just didn't want to give up! With tears streaming down my face after being threatened with a C-Section if I didn't stop pushing, I finally agreed to an epidural. I cried (and pushed) from the time I signed the consent form until the time the epidural was pumping pain relief into my body. I even flinched and pulled away from the anesthesiologist a couple times, making him very angry.
Once the pain was gone, my body stopped pushing. The midwife seemed happy with the results and wanted me to get some rest. I believe it was around 8:00 or 9:00 pm at this point. People lowered the lights in the room, Scott dozed off I think, and the nurses dispersed. I know my mom stayed close by and a few visitors popped in and out, but I really don't remember much other than being miserable. I hate to say that, but it's true! I was so upset that I had to get the epidural.....I just wanted to do things naturally. But even beyond my disappointment, I felt like giving up. The epidural was supposed to help me relax, and the midwife had expected me to be fully dilated in a very short amount of time. I didn't sleep, I just layed there wondering when I would be ready to push and get things over with, and would I even know when it was time to push? As the minutes turned to hours, I lost hope and motivation. I felt like I had come so far without drugs, and the minute I got the epidural, everything came to a halt. I wallowed in self pity for a couple hours, until it was finally time to push. I don't think I even knew it was time or felt pressure "down there" like you're supposed to. I'm pretty sure the midwife checked my cervix around 11:00 pm, and told me that I was 10cm and 100% effaced. We were ready!!
I had warned the midwife that, since they had broken me down and I took the epidural, then I wanted it pumping until the end. Now that I had pain releif, I surely didn't want to go back to that pain while I was pushing. She allowed me to used the epidural the entire time, which turned out to be a very good thing since I pushed for a loooong time!
Like I said, it was 11:00 pm on January 21st when I started pushing. Discussion began buzzing between the nurses, my family members, and myself as to what Elliott's birthday would be. You see, my brother in law Patrick was at the hospital this entire time. Him and his family waited down the hall ALL day long, patiently awaiting their turn at holding newborn Ellie. Patrick's birthday just happens to be January 22nd. At some point he must have talked with one of the nurses, because she told me that I should ask for a present from my brother in law if Ellie was, in fact, born on his birthday. And I was thinking, "yeah, if pushing takes longer than an hour, I better get something good for delivering her on Pat's birthday"!! So we agreed that if Elliott waited until after midnight to be born, Patrick would buy me a Slurpee.
After an hour of pushing, I swear that Slurpee was the only thing keeping me going! That, and my mom, who held my head forward with every push (her arms were sore the next day, and so was my neck). And the nurses who counted for me with every push. And Scott, who made me laugh through the whole thing by standing next to the midwife and being ready to "catch" (seriously, she left the room one time, and he sat on her chair.....right in front of the "action"). When I tell you that I pushed for not one, and not two, but THREE hours, I don't want you to worry about me. No, after it was all said and done, those three hours were nothing. I had the epidural that kept me from feeling my baby moving down and then back up the birth canal, or the massive tears "down there". I didn't feel a thing, and in fact, I was looking up at my mom when Elliott was actually born, and my mom pointed to Ellie and said "look"!! After my 24+ ordeal, I feel like I deserved to not feel any pain. And after 3 hours of pushing, I didn't need the pain because I was exhausted enough as it was.
Elliott Erin was born on January 22, 2010 at 2:06 am. 7 lbs 6 oz, 19 inches.
Seeing Scott holding Ellie for the first time was one of the best moments of my life! They cleaned her up before I could see her, and they handed her off to Scott so he got to hold her first. I remember staring in amazement that Scott had become a dad. And then I looked at her. I remember thinking "so that's what you look like"! It's like I had known her face all along, but then again, it was all new and I had waited nine months to meet this little person. I held her for just a few seconds before they took her away again. Elliott had swallowed some meconium (probably during her extra 12 days in utero) and they needed to take her to the NICU to be evaluated further. Scott went with her, and I felt a little better knowing that she had him.
Meanwhile, the midwife finished stitching me up (another thing that she said wouldn't hurt, and it did), congratulated me, and left the room. My mom, my poor, poor mom.....she had stayed with me literally ALL day long, was my coach and supporter, and she didn't even really get to meet her granddaughter. It was 3:00 am and she was exhausted, so she said goodbye and promised to come back first thing in the morning. I was glad she could go and get some rest, but there I was alone in my room....no husband, no baby, no mom. The nurse came in to unhook all the wires from my arms and my back, and to rip the medical tape off, too. Honestly, that hurt worse than the very worst contractions that I had. She helped me walk and go to the bathroom, and then helped me back to bed. I laid there and drank my Slurpee and waited to hold my baby.
When they finally brought her to me, Scott promptly fell asleep on the couch next to us, and I held her. I can't even put this into words.....but I just held her, and looked at her. I got to know all her features. I remember thinking that I didn't deserve such a perfect baby, and that she was worth all that I had gone through to get here. I studied her face. I unwrapped the blankets and I played with her long, skinny fingers. I held her, skin to skin, on my chest, and fell asleep.
The next morning (er, that morning I suppose) we had a steady stream of visitors, all eager to meet Elliott. They all commented on how perfect she was, and I couldn't have agreed more. There's too many emotions and feelings to perfectly portray here, but I will say one thing: having a child has taught me what pride is. I honestly don't think that I had ever felt true pride before I had Elliott. But the moment she entered this world, I felt it. Looking at her, I felt proud.....not of me or anything I did, but proud of her. I was proud of my daughter and the little person that she was. I was proud, and now, a year later, I am still proud.