While gchating with a friend this morning I realized I had not posted the promised birth story. Well here it is. Just a warning it is very long so make sure you have plenty of time to read it.
When thinking and planning for the birth, Matt and I really hoped Arianna would come early. For both of us, school was scheduled to start on August 22nd , him with vet school and me at my Genetics TA position. While we wanted her to come when she was ready, I was really praying that I would be like my mom’s experience and have her early to have time to transition into parenthood. So, in an attempt to “help her decide,” on Monday of the 39th week (August 8) Matt and I went on a long walk with the dogs, drank some herbal tea, bounced on a yoga ball and tried a few other natural induction methods we had read might help the process along. Up until that point I still wasn’t sure what a contraction actually felt like. While a lot of people said it was really obvious and that I would know, I found out later that I had been having Braxton Hock contractions for a while, thinking they were Ari’s weird movements. It wasn’t until later that I realized my mistake, as those same movements started happening regularly.
I don’t know if any of those methods worked or just that my body was ready for a little nudge in the right direction. Either way, at about 10 AM on that Monday morning I started feeling contractions around 5 minutes apart. Though annoying, the contractions weren’t very painful and I was able to stay busy cleaning the house. (I wasn’t for sure it was real labor but I wanted the house to be clean when I got back) I also downloaded an iPhone application that would keep track of contractions – both their length and the time between them. All of that day, they stayed steady at 5 minutes apart and 30-45 seconds in length, but their intensity didn’t really increase. After deciding nothing was going to happen for a while, we went out to eat with Matt’s sister and brother-in-law, returning home with no changes in the contractions. That night we readied for bed and told several people not to get too excited but to possibly be ready for a call.
Throughout the night, my contractions stayed five minutes apart, but started increasing in intensity, which of course meant that I found myself unable to sleep. After attempting a bath and tossing around in different positions, the only thing that allowed me to get some relief was sitting on a yoga ball with my head resting on the bed. At this point, I started getting a little mad at Matt, jealous of the fact that he was sleeping blissfully unaware of my state. I was really hoping that the sleepless night would not be in vain! However, as the sun came up my contractions started slowing down. While still regular, they only came every 10 minutes and were less painful. My friend Aimee came over later that morning, hoping that we would be going to the hospital soon, but as the day wore on there wasn’t much change. After taking a nap for an hour, the contractions even stretched to 15 or 20 minutes apart. At this point, I decided that this wasn’t real labor and tried to stop stressing about it, though Matt was still convinced it was real. I quit tracking the contractions and we went to the mall where Matt got his wedding ring resized and I got a cinnamon pretzel. We then went back home and watched a movie, in the meantime telling my parents not to leave for Missouri yet .
Finally, when I thought the contractions were just about to stop, around 7 they started picking up again. This time every contraction seemed to get more intense and I had to stop what I was doing just to endure the pain. I decided to take another bath to relax and still the contractions continued. Amazingly enough, as I was getting out of the bath I noticed some blood! Only then was I completely sure it was the real thing. Still, I decided to try and relax a little bit before we called in the cavalry and got everyone too excited. However, I was resting on the bed in the recommended Bradley method position, and began to really feel stronger and stronger contractions pushing her down, at a faster rate. So just an hour after telling people to not get too excited, Matt began packing up the car for the trip to the hospital. Now, the contractions were 3-4 minutes apart and forced me to stop everything I was doing or saying to endure. Thus, around 10:05 PM on Tuesday night we arrived at the hospital. The nurse put us in triage for ten minutes where they confirmed I was 100 percent effaced and five cm dilated, after which they promptly moved us into labor and delivery. Sadly, we then found out that our doctor would probably not be there for the delivery, because she was just coming back from vacation and wouldn’t be in until Wednesday morning.
My best friend Aimee arrived by the time we got into our new room. Around 11:30 pm, my water started to leak and after checking, the nurse decided I was 7cm dilated. Labor seemed to be moving a little too fast as Breezy, a friend who was going to photograph the birth for us, was still an hour away and my parents were four hours away. It seemed like we would see Arianna early on August 10th.
Here, I need to say that the Boone Hospital nurses were pretty awesome to us! Not once did they ask me if I wanted an epidural and followed our birth plan to the letter. They respected my wishes to keep the birth as natural as possible, which was a relief as I really didn’t want to discuss anything at this point in labor. Well, contrary to what we thought at midnight, labor started slowing a bit, giving my parents and Breezy time to get to the hospital. At 3:00 am I hit 9 cm and puked two times. The pain was pretty bad but I was able to manage it with deep relaxed breathing (thanks to Matt reminding me not to tense up). Then an hour later I hit 10cm and the pain really multiplied! Contractions started hitting me one after another with hardly any break, but yet I still wasn’t feeling any urge to push. For the next 1 ½ hours, I was stalled at 10cm and at some point started wishing I could just stop labor all-together and go home and sleep!
Finally my nurse figured out the reason that I was stalled – I had a second bag of waters that had not broken! She decided to have me start pushing to see if the pressure would cause it to break. So for an hour I pushed, yet still the water did not break. Eventually, the on-call doctor came in to do it manually (it seriously sprayed all over her!) and I was finally able to start making progress in pushing Arianna out! (A silver lining to this is that my doctor came in from vacation right after the on-call doctor broke my water) And I really loved my doctor! She not only coached me through how to effectively push, she calmed me down and joked with me. Also, maybe best of all, she let Matt help deliver our baby.
So at 8:04 am on Wednesday morning, after an hour of pushing and straining (with a lot of encouragement from Breezy, Aimee, and Matt), Matt and my doctor pulled Arianna out into the world in about two seconds. It happened so fast I could hardly believe it when they put her on my chest. That part was nothing at all like I had expected. I was still in pain, but shock was my main emotion as I held her. The baby I had been carrying for 9 months and had been in labor for 46 hours with was in my arms! It was surreal but so amazing! After the shock, my first thought was that she was not ugly as per expected, seeing that most newborns look like aliens immediately after delivery. In fact, she was beautiful and so precious as she was crying there on my chest that I couldn’t help tearing up too (I learned later that Aimee and Breezy were crying too and even Matt teared up). Since this is an absurdly long story and I need to end, I just want to say that three weeks after the fact, I can honestly say that I would go through the whole process again willingly. During labor I was mad at Eve for eating the forbidden fruit, and told Matt that we were adopting the rest of our kids but the whole thing was worth it. Giving birth to my baby girl was an truly amazing experience that neither Matt nor I would have missed for the world!