So for those who are not familiar with my birthing history, Lila’s birth story really has to start with her older brothers’ births. Kaden was a c-section for a failed induction. He had fetal distress and I was listed as “failure to progress” and we went to get cut open. So with Jackson, I educated myself about birth and prepared for a VBAC. I went well over my due date with him and ultimately reluctantly agreed to be induced at 41 + 4 weeks. Jackson’s labor was 17 hours and I ended up getting an epidural at 7 centimeters because Pitocin contractions were just too unbearable and I’d been in the hospital all day. I finally got to ten centimeters but then pushed for 3 and a half hours before my Occipital Transverse baby was born with a tight nuchal cord around his neck and body.
So this time around I decided early on that I would NOT be getting induced if there was any way I could help it and I wanted to labor at home as long as I could. I had been having contractions for literally weeks and I was pretty sure I would be pregnant for weeks more. On Saturday the 17th we spent the whole day getting the house in order for the baby’s arrival. I just had this nagging feeling that if we didn’t get it done soon, we never would and since we didn’t have much else going on, it was as good a day as any. Kaden was hanging out with Marcia and Deven, so Stu and I took Jackson out to dinner at Red Lobster for all-you-can-eat shrimp, which was awesome. We came home and had a relaxing night and then went to bed.
Contractions woke me up a few times in the middle of night, but it didn’t seem like much was new because it had been happening so often up until that point. I do remember two of them making me feel frustrated because they weren’t very comfortable, but I ignored them and went back to sleep.
We woke up at about 8:30 in the morning and Stu asked if I was going to go back to sleep, or if we could bring the boys into our bed and watch Madagascar. I was having contractions so I just knew I wouldn’t easily fall back asleep anyway, so I agreed and we had a great morning with them in the bed. I realized about half-way through the movie, though, that I was definitely having consistent contractions and they were making it uncomfortable for me to sit on my butt, so I had the first “this might be it” moment.
After the movie we headed downstairs because I told Stu I would make Belgian Waffles for breakfast and by that point I just knew I was in labor. I think Stu was definitely skeptical, but I decided I should call Mimi, who was supposed to be at the birth, and at least get her looking into getting on a plane, though I doubted she would make it in time. I think in between contractions, when I was needing to lean on the counter and focus my attention, Stu realized this might actually be it. We finished breakfast and decided we might want to consider things like letting Marcia know I was in labor and that she would need to come get the boys, pack a hospital bag, etc.
This is where time begins to mean little to me. Basically, for the next 7 hours, Stu followed me around the house while I tried different positions, I took a shower, and later a bath, we went for a couple walks around the neighborhood, hung out in the backyard, all to make labor easier and get through one contraction at a time. At 1 I took my Criminal Evidence exam which had to be comical. Every 3 minutes I would stop reading the test and focus on breathing and getting through contractions, then jump right back into the mindset of the test. I was actually surprised how well I did on the multiple choice, but I know my coherence was lacking on the essay portion, so hopefully that isn’t hurt too bad in the end. (Edited to add: I got an A on this test :))
On the last walk we went on, I started to feel like they were getting out of hand. Stu suggested another bath and he went upstairs to draw it for me. This is where I lost my concentration and started to panic a little bit. I was all alone downstairs and no one was reminding me to breathe or touching me, etc, so I started to question my resolve of going drug-free (which wasn’t hugely resolved anyway… I was just determined to have her vaginally, I wasn’t as worried about whether or not I ended up with an epidural).
I finally went back upstairs and I told Stu we needed to call the doctor and head in soon. I was feeling more out of control with contractions and in my head, I just wanted to opportunity to have pain relief if I decided to get it, and I wasn’t going to be getting an epidural at home. The bath was really hot and I realized if I got in and got wet, I would have to also get out and dry off before I could leave for the hospital and I didn’t think I was up to that much work (luckily, too, because we probably would have had the baby in the tub). Stu was on the phone with the after hours folks at my doctor’s office because my doctor was out of town and the guy wouldn’t page the doctor who was covering until Dr. Shappard himself first called back and ok’ed it. So again I was without support and I told him he needed to call Marcia to come over to help. When she was on her way, I decided we really needed to go in. I was feeling pretty out of control and I just had my mind set on pain relief.
Marcia got to the house and I remember how frustrated I felt because our house had been super quiet and relaxed all day and when she got there she was cheery and laughing and I felt like she wasn’t taking it seriously, so I just wanted to leave right then. I kept telling them we needed to go and she laughed it off and said I probably had hours to go.
In the truck I hit a wall. I was in the backseat, leaning across Kaden’s carseat and I felt like I had a bowling ball in my butt. Stu got us there and because it was the weekend, he had to drop me off at the maternity center and then park the truck. I intended to wait in the waiting area right there for him, but I had one really strong contraction over the back of one of the seats in the waiting room and I just felt like I needed to get my butt (and the bowling ball in it) to labor and delivery, so I slowly started walking. I had two contractions in the hallway of what has to be the longest walk to labor and delivery, and one when Stu finally caught up to me and then we got to the door. I told them I was in labor (duh) and they nonchalantly brought me back to a room to “ask you some questions”. Here’s where things get hectic. I had a couple contractions while we were waiting (as soon as we walked in the door I told the nurse I wanted an epidural “yesterday”) and then two different nurses came in because they didn’t find me in the system (even though I had pre-registered) and I remember feeling like they were all such stupid questions and why couldn’t they just ask me after the anesthesiologist left.
They got me on the bed and the nurse said she was going to check me real quick. She goes, “… yep, you’re complete with a bulging bag…. Oop, and here comes your water.” I couldn’t believe I was complete (fully dilated to 10 centimeters) but then she told me that because my water had been coming through my cervix, it was possible that if she checked again I wouldn’t be as dilated because essentially the bag had been holding my cervix open. She rechecked and declared that I was at an 8. All I heard was, “You have 6 more hours to go,” because that’s how long it took me to go from an 8 to a ten with Jackson and I just had my eye on the drugs prize. I asked again about getting an epidural and the nurse said, “I don’t think you’re going to have time for that.” I panicked. Another contraction started and I remember thinking that I could definitely NOT do this for a few more hours (or minutes for that matter). Dr. Kapplinger, the hospitalist on staff, came in to see what was going on and around the same time they realized I was a VBAC and the typical panic of VBAC labors ensued. They were having trouble getting the baby’s heartbeat to pick up on the monitor and they told me more than once that baby was having decels with the contractions (so of course, all I hear is, “you’re getting a c-section again”.
About this time I realize that I am bearing down with contractions and I told no one in particular, “I think I am pushing.” The doctor told me that was fine and to go ahead and push if I felt like it. She checked me right after that, with me still hanging over the top of the bed, and the poor nurse trying in vain to place an IV in my hand, and she says, “We need to get you turned around and this bed broken down for delivery.” I panic further. I did not have drugs. There was no way the bowling ball that was in my butt, that I could feel EVERY part of, was ever escaping without drugs. I told them that was impossible because it hurt too bad and I just couldn’t do it. They basically told me, in no uncertain terms, I didn’t have a choice and I needed to get the thought of drugs out of my head because this baby was coming out anyway.
I rolled over and Stu asked the doctor if that was the baby and she said, “Yep, she’s crowning.”
I screamed. A lot. And I panicked more. But I was pushing with all of my might. The doctor told me that with the next contraction the baby would be born if I pushed as hard as I just had. She told me to reach down and touch my baby’s head and it was so weird feeling. All squishy and weird. At that moment the doctor on call arrived in time to fly into her scrubs and catch the baby. It was the WEIRDEST feeling on earth. I felt her head come out (ring of fire, be damned) and if felt like her body was at least 4 feet long as she slid all the way out. Her shoulders were actually harder to get out than I anticipated but then when they were free she just popped out so fast the doctor almost dropped her.
I kept saying “he” throughout the labor and delivery process, so when she came out and the doctor held her up and said, “Ok Daddy, what is it?” And he said, “IT’S A GIRL!” I was like, “WHAT??? Shut up!” I literally could not even fathom having a girl and still, three days later, I can’t believe that I have a daughter of my very own. I got to hold her immediately and no one even tried to take her from me. I had to check myself to make sure she was, in fact, a girl and she was. The repair was at least half as bad as the pain of pushing, but with no drugs, there was no hiding that I could feel EVERYTHING. I was just so shocked and excited to get to meet my baby girl and exclaim with Stu over and over that we, our family, had a baby girl!
A few hours later, after she was a champ at nursing and got her first bath, we finally finished the check-in process in recovery, so they said we could go ahead and have a baby there now. We also got the whole thing on video and the entire video is 14 minutes long. It was a completely insane and whirlwind experience, and it was absolutely perfect. I wouldn’t change it for the world.
They asked us after she was born what her name was and I said, “I don’t know!” We hadn’t really settled on a girl’s name because we were both so sure that she was a boy, so we finalized it quickly and got to share that we picked Lila Grace. She was 8 pounds, 11 ounces, and 20 inches long with a 13.75 inch head circumference. It was awesome because we got to call our parents and share that they had a granddaughter! She is absolutely perfect and I am loving every second with her!
See a compilation of her "birth" day here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Wn0wmAXNAk