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Being Born: Julia's Birth Story

4/14/04, 42 weeks:

6:15 a.m:  Good morning, love!  Boy was I grumpy in that last entry, huh?  I'm sorry about that.  It's just been so hard waiting for you to come.  The phone has rung every day with someone on the other end saying, "No baby YET?!"  I've realy felt like being rude to them, but I've sort of grinned and beared it...and been grouchy ;)
Anyway, the wait is finally over.  You're still being stubborn about coming on your own.  So this morning Daddy and I are heading to the hospital where labor will be induced today.  I'm so excited to know that, hopefully, you will arrive in the next 12-18 hours!!  I've been a little emotional the last couple of days thinking about it.  It's going to be SO great! :) ...

9:16 a.m.:   Well, we arrived here at The Mom's Place an hour or so ago.  They have a full house today so we are stuck in triage to get started.  They hope to have us in a room by 11a.m.-12 p.m.  Our nurse is Cyndi, and she seems very nice.  She used to work at Elliot too on L&D.  She just finished getting me all settled in and hooked up to the Pitocin -- let the games begin!
Oh, and Mammy [my mother] is here.  She arrived at 8:30, 1/2 hour earlier than we had planned on.  I guess she is excited too!

1:55p.m.:  The contractions are getting stronger and stronger all the time now, for the last hour and a half or so.  Kerri, our midwife, came in a little while ago and checked me -- no change yet, but she was able to strip my membranes, and now I'm having a fair amount of bloody discharge.  I've been walking the halls with Daddy, Mammy, and Auntie Ann.  But just now I'm going to rest for a while.
4:40 p.m.:  We got into our room, finally, at 3 p.m.!  The patient who was in here before us kept delaying and delaying!  It's so much more comfortable in here.
Kerri checked me and found that I'm now 3cm and 100% effaced (from 2cm and 80%).  The contractions were definitely noticeable, but the intensity seemed to depend entirely on my position.  We discussed increasing the pitocin more or breaking my water.  You had come down to a -1 station so I felt that releasing my natural oxytocin by breaking my water was the better option.  Kerri broke my water, which was nice and clear, and with the very next contraction I noticed a huge difference in the strengthy and intensity.  We had made a good decision!
6:00 p.m: (I'm writing the rest of this a few days later, based on brief notes my mother kept for me at my request).  I definitely had to start focusing to get through each contraction.  I closed my eyes and practiced deep rhythmic breathing which made it tolerable.  We decided to take a walk on the unit.  I was definitely moving much more slowly than earlier in the day and needed to stop with each contraction.  Still, I was coping pretty well, and found it so awesome that this process was happening.  After our walk we went back to our room and I went to the rocking chair, which was wonderful.  We put on some quiet music – Nora Jones and later Josh Groban, and dimmed the lights.  Things really started moving.
During this time my doula spent some time talking to me as I sat with my eyes closed through each contraction.  She assured me that the strength of all the women in all the generations of my family who had ever birthed was there with me.  That I was about to embark on the amazing journey of motherhood, and that they were all there to welcome me and support me.  Daddy was taking a nap at this time, and so it was a circle of women, Nina our doula to my right, Mammy to my left, and Auntie across from me, creating a beautiful circle of womanhood.  It had us all very emotional.  It was incredible.  It was one of my favorite moments of your birth.
7:30 p.m.:  The rocking chair didn’t seem to be working any more for me, so I decided to try the tub.  Getting from the chair to the bathroom proved very challenging and I was feeling a lot of rectal pressure.  Kerri became concerned that I was progressing a lot more quickly and possibly almost complete so shehad to chec me before I got into the tub.  The only place to do that was on the toilet.  It was excruciating – both being checked during contractions and being unable to get comfortable there.  It was a relief to finally get in the tub.
8:15 p.m.:   It was all very different all of a sudden.  The contractions were less than aminute apart and I wasn’t getting any break at all.  Nothing was working to help me cope, and I was losing control.  Knowing I was only at 6cm when Kerri checked me at 7:30 scared me too – I knew it could still be a few hours before I could begin to push.  I started to become incoherent at times and can’t now remember all of what happened.  I begged for some Nubain and to have the anesthesiologist paged for an epidural.  Nina did her job to remind me of my desire to have an unmedicated birth.  But I just couldn’t do it any longer.  Which was so disappointing.  But the pain was much worse than I imagined it would be.  I needed some relief…
9:15 p.m.:  Ahh… relief.  I finally got my epidural.  It took about 3-4 contractions before it took effect but once it did I felt so much better.  I felt embarrassed about how I was during the worst of the pain, but everyone assured me that it was fine, and I had nothing to be sorry for or ashamed of.  As the epidural made me feel better I was able to relax and try to rest for the remainder of this experience.
10:30 p.m.:  My nurse came in to check my status.  To my amazement I had gone from 6 to 9 cm in just over an hour!  And aside from feeling pressure I hadn’t felt it at all.  In fact, I was sleeping pretty solidly for all of that time.  The nurse – Rebecca --  told me to let her know when I started to feel the urge to push.  I could hardly believe it, but you were almost here!!
11:30 p.m.:  I had been feeling the urge to push a little bit here and there over the last hour.  It was growing in intensity now and so Rebecca checked me again.  I was fully dilated and you had moved way down in the birth canal.  It was time to start pushing!!  It took a little while to gather the troops (everyone had gone to nap) and the room was suddenly flooded with activity – bringing in a delivery table and baby warmer.  Getting that epidural, while something I had truly wished to avoid, had been a good move after all.  It had allowed my body to relax enouh to progress quickly and get to this point.  I don’t know whether she was just saying this to be supportive, but Nina told Mammy that she had never attended a pitocin-induced birth in which and epidural had been avoided. 
4/15/04, 12:15 a.m.:  I started pushing.  I was told I was a very good pusher which I was happy to hear.  I started off by pushing in the bed like you see on tv.  While I felt progress – your head was coming down – it was an exhausting way to push.  At te suggestion of Nina, we switched to pushing on the birthing stool.  I was seated on it on the floor, not unlike how you are positioned on the toilet.  Daddy was seated behind me on the end of the bed, and with each contraction I would lean back into him to push.  It felt like we were doing this together – it felt very loving.  Mammy was seated on the floor to my left and Auntie Ann to my right.
I had hoped to view your birth with a mirror, and used a small hand mirror Nina had to chec our progress periodically.  It was a slow, exhausting process.  At times I wondered if you would ever get here.  And while the epidural quelled the pain of the contractions, I could feel your every move as you descended through the birth canal.  It was rather painful, and so I was at times afraid to push.  But at the same time I knew the only way to end the pain was to push through it and push you out.  “Is it possible that pain in labor is necessary as the only thing that can make tolerable the otherwise intolerable separation of a woman from her baby?” (David Bakan, pain researcher).

12:15 a.m. Pushing...
"It felt like we were doing this together - it felt very loving."

2:36 a.m.:  I pushed for a total of 2.5 hours.  WHEW!  But finally I found the strength and determination to make your head be born.  What a sight!!  And with the very next contraction you were born as I reached in between my legs and pulled you to my chest.  It was the most incredible moment of my life.  The room was full of joyful noises as we all celebrated your arrival into this world.  Then, tears of joy as I announced “IT’S A GIRL!!”  We wer all SO happy, elated, and full of wonder.  Our own little miracle was finally born!

2:36 a.m.: She's here!!
"It was the most incredible moment of my life."

You were – are – SO beautiful.  You cried for a couple of minutes and then lay peacefully on my chest, so very alert, taking it all in.  Dady and I – and Mammy and Auntie – could do little more than stare at you.  You stayed with me for a very long time while they got us both cleaned up.  When at last I put you to breast, you nursed like a pro, a perfect latch and strong suck on your very first try.  Phone calls were made to waiting family members, and Mimi and Papa [Shane’s parents] even came right away to see you, even though it was the middle of the night.  Everone was so thrilled that, at long last, you were here, and both of us had endured this long and beautiful journey in good health.

"Daddy and I could do little more than stare at you."

"You were - are - SO beautiful."

5:15 a.m.: At last we were alone.  Our families were gone, our nurse was gone, our midwife and doula were gone.  Just the three of us now.  A perfect little family, all in awe of each other.  Daddy, amazed at the power of my body and my ability to birth you.  Me, amazed at Daddy’s strength and supportiveness through it all.  You, amazed at both of us, finally seeing the people you had been hearing all of these months.  And both of us utterly in awe of you – the most beautiful being we’ve ever laid eyes on.

Welcome, Miss Julia.  A very very very happy birthday to you.  We’re so glad you’re here.  And we love you more than we could ever begin to tell you <3