1 week old
Willa was born on August 27th--11 days past due!
1 hour old
Our little one turned out to not be so little. She was 9lbs, 2oz and 22" long! She had the chubbiest cheeks we had ever seen and we were instantly in love.
As I've mentioned previously, we took The Bradley Method classes to prepare for a natural birth at a birth center with midwives. Well, it shouldn't have surprised us that our little one had other plans. Here is our birth story for those of you who like birth stories.
On Thursday, August 25th I was 9 days overdue and went to see the midwives for my 41 week checkup. I was told during this visit that I had until Tuesday to go into labor, otherwise I would have to be induced at the hospital. I asked what my options were to get labor started and the midwife offered to stretch my cervix (also called stripping or sweeping the membranes). I was already dilated to 2 cm and 50% effaced (and had been since week 39) so she felt there was a good chance this would get things started for me. If not, I was to call the on-call midwife over the weekend to have it stretched again and to take castor oil Sunday morning if I still wasn't in labor. I felt good with the plan after the appointment and had high hopes of going into labor over the weekend.
That night, I went to bed with mild cramping and a back ache. After a long, sleepless night (which had been the case for a while--it's so hard to get comfortable this late in pregnancy), I was awake when Bryan was getting ready for work. My back was still hurting and I asked for a back rub before he left. During the massage, I realized that I was having a stronger back pain and thought possibly they were contractions. I asked Bryan to stay home from work until we knew if I was in labor or not. I got out of bed and took a walk with Bryan and Bindi to see if the contractions would continue and lo and behold, they did! Truly excited at this point, I decided to do what our Bradley training taught us and ignored the labor. The early stage of labor is the easiest and the longest and to keep from tiring out too soon, it's best to ignore it until you need to work hard. I ate breakfast, took a shower, put on makeup and did my hair (haha--why I thought that would last through labor, I don't know). It was about 11am at this point and the contractions were getting closer together. We decided to time them and they were about 5 minutes apart and 30 seconds long. By 1pm, they were 4 minutes apart and still about 30 seconds long. I decided to call the midwife on call and she said to call back when the contractions were 1 minute long and I was having trouble walking and talking through them.
5pm rolled around and we were getting tired. We ignored the labor as long as possible but with the contractions only happening in my back, the only relief I got was from Bryan applying counter pressure. My contractions still weren't one minute long but they were getting closer together--3 to 4 minutes apart. This time the midwife offered to check my progress. Unfortunately, I was still only 2 cm dilated and 50% effaced. Absolutely 0 progress. She explained that early labor generally is back labor and when the contractions wrapped around the front and lasted a minute then I would know I was making progress.
We went home and did more of the same. I tried to get comfortable and relax and finally decided to give the bathtub a try. I quickly realized that was not comfortable and got out and decided to eat some dinner. After dinner, the contractions were really hard. I tried my best to relax through them but decided the best thing was for me to call the midwife because I wanted to get into their tub (their tub for water births is a large, jacuzzi-type tub and that was our plan for pain relief). We got to the birth center about 9pm and I was a wreck. Still only having back labor, I was so afraid that I wasn't making progress. I was greeted at the door by a nurse who told us that we were the third to check in that night (they only have three rooms and average one birth per day so this was completely unusual) and the tub room was already occupied. I think this is where I really lost it. I started to ugly cry as Oprah calls it. Thinking I was still in early labor and was having trouble with managing the pain (how on Earth was I going to get through the hard part of labor?!) and being told my water birth plan was no longer an option, I seriously started doubting I was going to manage a natural labor.
The midwife checked me and I was dilated to 7cm! Only three more to go! I was so shocked and relieved. My contractions still weren't lasting a full minute and at this point we should have realized that nothing about this labor was going to be text book (the average time for a first time labor is 12-14 hours, I was already into my 14th hour at this point). Once you hit 7cm, you enter the "transitional" phase which is the shortest but most intense part of labor. In a text book labor this phase lasts about one to one and a half hours. At this point, things get a bit intense. I get to my room and in between contractions, Bryan is running to the car to bring in our bags. My contractions were about 2 minutes apart and he had to apply some serious counter pressure to my back. The midwife was also having to insert my hep lock for some antibiotics I had to be given (I was GBS+ which meant I needed to get 2 doses of antibiotics, 4 hours apart in order to not pass it along to my newborn). Unfortunately, needles and me do not get along and it took four tries and two people for my veins to cooperate. I officially got the dose at 10pm and the next dose would be given at 2am. During all this, my midwife was checking the baby's heartbeat and was getting concerned that it was accelerated every time she checked it. After calling their OB, he recommended an IV of fluids thinking I might be dehydrated. At 11pm, her heartbeat was still reading high so the decision was made that I would need to go to the hospital.
We got to the hospital just shy of midnight. Once hooked up to the external fetal monitoring belt, our little one's heart rate was reading perfectly normal. Thank heavens nothing was wrong (and I do appreciate having midwives who err on the side of caution). Our nurse checked my progress and I was only 8cm with a bulging bag. Should have been no surprise that my labor was progressing slowly. Finally, 2am came and I received my second dose of antibiotics. Immediately after, the OB came in and broke my water to help labor progress. At 3:30am, I was finally (!!) fully dilated and ready to push. One hour later, our baby was born. My "short" transition phase lasted over 6 hours and in full disclosure, I was thisclose in asking for an epidural (it was stated in our birth plan that I would ask for pain relief if I wanted it and our nurse told me up front I would have to tell her, she would not ask me). Thankfully, the hospital, nurse and OB were used to natural births and were great at supporting me. Our nurse was fantastic and continually told me how great I was doing working through the contractions (when I felt like I was anything but doing great) and Bryan never let up on applying counter pressure. He felt like he was ran over by a truck the next day. I, on the other hand felt great after the delivery. My endorphins had kicked in and I was on cloud nine! Also, Willa was so alert and ready to nurse upon arrival (which is the main reason we chose a natural birth). While I don't know if I'll forget the pain of labor, I do know that I'll never forget the feeling afterward. Definitely the happiest day of my life.
About 5 hours after giving birth--22 hour long labor
She loves her Daddy
Our happy baby ready to go home!
And please forgive me for not proof reading the above. I'm a happily, sleep deprived Mama who has some snuggling to do.