Saturday, December 19, 2009
Lily's Birth Story...On Her Third Birthday
NOTE: Originally written Thursday, February 22, 2007
Lily Ann was born Tuesday morning, December 19th, 2006, at 9:28 a.m. with our midwife, Allison. Lily was 8 lb 7 oz and 21 inches long, and 8 days late. She had daddy's long body, and we couldn't have prayed for a more perfect, beautiful little girl.
So here's all the details...
Labor was 31.5 hours long. Yikes. Didn't get a wink of sleep Saturday night because I was scratching so bad from the PUPPPs rash. It's still going away - I have bruises from scratching myself so bad...
(* From the night before labor started: It's 1:37 a.m. and I can't sleep. I'm tired, that's for sure, but I know by now that sleep will not come. Every 5 minutes, a different part of my body is itching, and I can't relax. My rash has spread considerably. It is no longer just on my belly, filling in my stretch marks. It has spread to the top of my legs (where my belly hits when I am sitting), the insides of my calves, the tops of my hands, around my fingers, between my toes, and on the top of my torso. I see signs of it starting on my inner arms, my lower back, and it has already become a nuisance around my armpits. It seems every time I look somewhere new, there are bumps forming there. *)
I took castor oil 5 p.m. Sunday night because I knew delivering the baby would make the itching recede and, by then, stopping the itching was all I could think about.
Hands down the grossest thing I've ever done. I can still taste it just talking about it.
Contractions started at 1 a.m. on Monday morning. Ryan woke up and started timing at 2:30 a.m. when they were about 3 minutes apart but only 20-30 seconds long. We waited it out through the night and by 6 a.m, they were 40-50 seconds long, but farther apart. Called Allison at 8 a.m., who listened to me over the phone and said she'd call back in an hour. Nothing new to report by then - contractions were a little farther apart - and so she called back again at noon. STILL not progressing. She said to just come in for my previously scheduled appt (non-stress test and amniotic fluid check) at 3:30 p.m.. Came in, baby's heartbeat was great, lots of fluid, everything was fine. But I was STILL only 3 cm dialated, as I had been at the previous week's non-stress test. She stripped by membranes without me realizing it, and at 6 p.m., my contractions got a lot harder.
Around 8 p.m., I took the half of the Ambien Allison gave me. She said if anything, it would help me sleep through the night (since it seemed as if my labor was stalling and might stop until the morning) and I obviously needed rest, having missed the past TWO nights of sleep (my contractions started the previous night, and the night before tha,t I was awake all night scratching with the PUPPPs). But during contractions, the Ambien made me halucinate! I remember asking Ryan who all the people in the room were, and contractions were awful because I didn't know what was going on or why I was in so much pain - I kept wondering whose baby I was carrying, or why I was trying to deliver a coffee table or a steak. VERY wild stuff. So eventually at 2 a.m. I forced myself to snap out of it because I realized I was not right in the head, and I told Ryan - after 25 hours of labor - I couldn't take it anymore and wanted to go to the hospital.
Allison met us there at 2:30 a.m. By then, I was 7 cm dialated. I finally felt like I was getting somewhere. After all, I had only been in labor for one full day!
But then I didn't seem to progress anymore and my contractions started spacing out farther again (this was probably around 4 a.m.). Ryan and I took a walk around Labor & Delivery, peaking in on the newborns whose Mamas had already gone through labor, visiting my parents in the waiting room, and stopping to lean on the closest wall during each contraction.
Allison broke my water sometime after I got to the hospital, but since that didn't seem to do anything, their next course of action was to put me on a low drip of Pitocin to get things moving along. Obviously, I wasn't too excited about this, but by that point I was so exhausted from lack of sleep that I was ready to do anything she told me to speed this process along. So the Pitocin helped and within a few hours Allison heard me bearing down in one of my contractions (I had no idea that's what I was doing - it just felt good at the time). I was 9 cm by then (and on a much higher Pitocin drip) and she said that was good enough for her - I could start pushing.
Pushing itself took 3 hours and there was still much doubt about whether or not this baby was going to come out. Eventually, Tina (the other midwife) showed up, and she gave the room the boost it needed. She got right in there and started yelling at me ("No, you're not doing it right! Yes, do it this way!") and she confirmed that, yes, this baby WAS going to come out and that, yes, I COULD do it amid my exhaustion, which was just what I needed to hear.
After lots and lots (and lots) of pushes, the head finally started to come out. Feeling it with my fingers (after initially refusing - eww) was a great encouragement and at this point, I was so desperate to be done that it was hard to only push when I had the urge. When Lily's head was halfway out, the contraction stopped, and I was laying there in "ring of fire" for about 3-4 minutes, just waiting for another one. I must have been feeling pretty good at being that close to being done, because I remember making a joke while we were all waiting - humming "la la la la la la..." or something silly. And finally when I got that last contraction, I pushed and pushed and pushed until she came all the way out. Head first, then a hand, then the rest of her body. I had a 1st degree tear in one direction and a 2nd degree tear in another, not helped by all my crazy "I'm just gonna keep pushing!" at the end when I was not having a contraction and just wanted to be DONE.
But she was finally out! They placed this little wriggling, slippery, red person on my chest immediately after delivery (so immediate she was still attached to me), and I stared at her in wonder. Who was she? My daughter? Did she really just come out of me and am I supposed to know what to do with her? Only then did I really remember what all the pushing and exhaustion was all about. Might have been good to be reminded along the way ;) I guess, I never really envisioned her finally coming out and that there would really be a baby!
(Cameraphone pic Ryan took in the delivery room)
She had light peach fuzz for hair, and a cone head from my three hours of pushing. She had Apgar scores of 9 and 9. If she were a doctor's daughter, she would have scored perfect 10's, but 9's were just fine by me.
Ryan cut the cord and followed her out of the room to be weighed & measured, and to have her face wiped off, never leaving her side. She got the vitamin K shot on Allison's advice (she had a lot of bruising and scratching on her head from being stuck down there so long and I guess from her fingernails), but no eye drops or bath. While she was gone, Allison gave me the local anesthetic and had me push out the placenta, since it was right there. Easiest push of my life. Then she stitched me up and Lily came back all bundled up and warm and cuddly. She breastfed for at least half an hour and I couldn't believe how normal and 2nd nature that felt to me, once we got her on right. She was a very eager baby and for that I was very grateful.
(Click on the pic to enlarge and see the bruises/scratches on her face)
My dad brought me a chocolate milkshake post-delivery (that was his one assignment), which Ryan fetched for me from the waiting room, and it was the best moment ever - little nursing baby cradled on one arm, chocolate milkshake in the other.
It was a struggle to get out of the delivery bed and on my feet. The nurse encouraged me to visit the restroom, and - after the complete openness of labor - it never once occured to me that it was abnormal to do so with the door open and with the nurse standing by.
Ryan was an excellent coach. He was down at the end watching everything that was happening the entire time, and reporting all the details back to me. Hearing the excitement in his voice every time a push made some progress was way more motivating than having him stand by my head randomly telling me how great I was doing. I still can't believe that he went from "boy who almost passed out giving blood" to "boy who couldn't take his eyes off his wife's labor." It's good we saw soooo many labor videos in our Bradley classes because he knew exactly what was happening every step of the way, and I think that knowledge took the scariness out of labor and the "mess" associated with it.
Once in my post-partum room, my parents (Lily's Oma and Opa), were the first to visit. They had been in the hospital for about 11 hours waiting for Lily to come out (I heard later that the nursing staff repeatedly checked on them and brought them snacks and coffee in the night - much appreciated yet definitely unexpected in a crazy-busy metropolitan hospital). My mom didn't know who to kiss and hug first - the exhausted new Mama or the tiny, sleeping baby.
(Proud new Oma)
(New Opa is used to displaying fish, not babies)
Later that morning, when Allison came to check on me, she mentioned mid-sentence that Lily was posterior. I stopped her. "Um, what?" She said that yes, Lily was posterior, and I asked her, "Why didn't you tell me that yesterday in the delivery?!" She said, "Well, what would have been the use in that?" At the moment, her sentiment made sense. But after thinking about it, I really wish I would have known during labor. Knowing would have made me feel less: "My body isn't working!" and more: "There's a REASON she isn't coming out! She needs time to TURN!" It would have been a motivation when I was feeling so defeated. I would have known to try pushing on my hands and knees more often. I would have known WHY my pushes weren't moving her down at all. But I guess if I HAD known, I might have been more inclined to agree to more intervention - which we were so happy to avoid. Who knows what the best thing would have been. Hindsight is always 20-20.
I didn't know beforehand how I would feel afterwards. I did not expect to be unable to sit, get out of bed easily, or lie comfortably in any position. I did not know my whole upper body would ache, and that I would have trouble standing up straight or taking deep breaths when out of bed. I was frightened to go to the bathroom, though I had to frequently. (Wasn't that supposed to stop once the baby was out?) The hot shower in the hospital bathroom washed what felt like years of grime and dirt off my body. It was energizing and renewing, mentally marking the end of my pregnancy and the start of motherhood.
I stared at this baby in her bassinet and didn't know what to think. I knew she was mine. I knew that hours before, she had been inside of me. But that didn't mean I knew who she was. I didn't know it would take time to get to know her, to fall in love with her. I felt guilty for the first few weeks of her life when I realized I was not immediately overwhelmed with feelings for her. I didn't realize that, just as it took time for me to fall in love with her daddy as I got to know him, it would take time to fall in love with her. I worried that a part of me was missing - the nurturing, mothering, instinctive side that immediately protects and coddles the new baby. I didn't feel any of that. I loved her, yes, but I was just as happy to hand her off to someone else and stare at this little stranger from afar than to hold her or hug her myself.
At 3 1/2 weeks, she smiled, and everything changed. She was lying on her bed and her daddy was making funny faces at her, and she smiled. We wondered if we were seeing things - was that for real? Perhaps she just had gas or moved her mouth in a position that resembled a smile without realizing it? He made more faces, and she smiled again. My heart melted.
It was then I realized that I was in love with her, and I discovered a whole new part of my guarded heart that I never knew could exist.
(Proud new parents)