Your due date was February 20, 2012 and you arrived on February 22, 2012. My pregnancy had been normal and uneventful with the exception of some normal pregnancy ailments (1st trimester nausea, sore breasts, heartburn, hemorrhoids, and sciatic nerve pain which the Chiropractor was able to fix). My belly grew straight out and everyone said I was carrying a boy. We didn’t know if we were having a boy or girl until you were born. I gained almost 50 lbs and you and I remained healthy throughout. Your heartbeat stayed around 140 bpm and always very strong. Dad would put his ear up to my belly to listen to your heartbeat every night. He would also sing and read to you every night. I felt pretty comfortable until week 38. After that I was ready for you to come out because I could tell you were so big and strong.
On the morning of your due date, Feb. 20, we had our 40 week appointment with our midwife. I had been up all night with an achy back and legs and period-like cramps. The midwife said I was 1-2cm dilated and 80% effaced, but also said I could easily be a week or more away from labor. I was exhausted and new you would be coming soon. I got home and called our doula, Betsy. We had hired doulas Betsy (midwife/doula) and Erin (doula/masseuse) to help us have a natural birth. Betsy advised I have a big lunch with a glass of wine and go to sleep. I took her advice and ate leftover homemade burgers and a glass of white wine. It tasted awesome. I woke up around 2 PM and shortly after that the contractions started coming. When Dad came home from work the contractions were about every 5 minutes. I sat on the ball as we watched TV. We went to bed and the contractions continued. They weren’t any worse than strong period cramps but they were strong enough that I couldn’t sleep through them. As our doulas advised, just try to sleep, even if for a few minutes at a time. I did that until ~1AM when my water broke. I jumped out of bed and ran to the bathroom to let the water flow out. Now the contractions started coming every 2 mins apart and lasting 30 seconds to a minute, so I woke up your dad. I could still talk through the contractions. We called our midwife and they said to come into the birth center. We called Erin and she said she would meet us there.
Since your Nana, Monika, had such short labors (8 hrs and 6 hrs) I just knew my labor would be fast and wanted to get to the center asap. Around 3AM on the morning of Feb. 21 we arrived at Burrdett in Troy, NY. This birthing center was considered very progressive. While not a hospital it had surgery rooms if needed with OBs on call. Once I got to Burdett my labor slowed back down (contractions every 5-10 mins). I still couldn’t sleep through them and by 9AM our midwife said we could go home if we wanted. After she left I cried. I was so tired from the lack of sleep. Plus our stuff was everywhere and I didn’t want to pack it all up. We decided to stay. Breakfast had arrived and we ate a lot. Then we took a walk. It was a warm day for February and we took advantage of the outdoor air. We came back to our room for lunch, and I ate a lot again. We also played many rounds of Gin. Our tactics were working and contractions were picking up again throughout the day. I found that when I talked to strangers they would slow again. Your dad and I took the morning and afternoon to remain in private. I took a nap after lunch despite awaking every 5 mins for contractions. Dad put some nice classical music on.
By 3PM I was awake and crying because I was so tired and the contractions were stronger but not progressing very fast. Dad called Betsy (who was surprised she hadn’t heard from us sooner) and said she was on her way. She also asked why we hadn’t gotten in the tub yet? Oh right, the tub with jets! I got into the tub and it felt amazing. My whole body relaxed and my uterus was allowed to do its thing without my muscles getting in the way. I could no longer talk through the contractions and sort of moaned through them to keep my focus low and deep. Betsy arrived around 5PM and the contractions started getting more intense and closer together. Possibly because Betsy was there? We called her the rainmaker. Betsy put some lavender oil near my head and told me I was doing great and that labor would not be slowing down again. She also said I got dealt an unlucky hand, which made me feel better.
Around 6PM dinner arrived but I didn’t even realize it nor was I hungry. Dad and Betsy made sure I took sips of water and juice between contractions, especially since the warm water could be dehydrating (in addition to the panting and heavy breathing). I moved into the big tub around this time, which was set up in the middle of the room. There was room for Dad and for me to get in pretty much any position. I labored hard in the tub for hours. I noticed that it got dark outside. I noticed the nurse shift change. I commented on both of these because I had thought it would have been over by now. Betsy covered the clock in the room. Dad got out of the tub and Betsy ordered him to eat the dinner. Other than that Dad never left my side. He was amazing. I couldn’t have done it without him. I labored hard against him, both in and out of the tub. Betsy was worried about his back but Dad never complained. At some point the midwife checked me and I was maybe 7 cm, 100% effaced and the baby (you!) was very, very low. However, you had swung out of position. Instead of having your back out you were now 90 degrees off and your back was on my right side. Betsy had me lay in the bed on my left side with my right leg draped over. After a few contractions in that very uncomfortable and painful position, you swung back around a bit. I got back in the tub and got to about 8cm.
I was beyond exhausted. I think my eyes had been closed for hours. I heard that I needed antibiotics because I had been in labor 18 hrs since my water broke. Ugh! Somehow I came to enough to ask for an anesthesiologist since I had Vasovagal Syncope (brief loss of consciousness due to things like IVs). After the antibiotics I got back into the tub. I couldn’t believe how long it was taking. Later I learned it was due to your position. Coming in a bit posterior was causing your head to drag the cervix along instead of pushing through it, which was making labor longer and more painful. I kept saying the pain was so low. Later I called it “butt labor” which was apparently a new term for the doulas and midwife. Luckily you were so low that I wasn’t having back labor, but the butt labor produced a very sharp pain. The breaks between contractions weren’t really breaks because I would still have low levels of contractions. Plus I would have to mentally prepare for the next one. Getting caught off guard by one of these butt contractions would make them even more painful and unmanageable. All of this I later learned was due to the posterior position.
I am so grateful Dad never doubted me and no one even mentioned drugs for the pain. It would have made me doubt myself. While I was out of my mind with the pain both of our heartbeats remained strong, so I just focused on staying in the moment and “Moo-ing”. Moooo turned to Moooove! I also said “Power” which helped a lot. The midwife tells me I’m around 9cm now and I am deflated. I remember Dad saying how great that was. I couldn’t imagine how I could continue much longer. I guess the midwife and Betsy chatted because they offered me an option to help get me to 10 cm but it would be more painful and I had to get into the bed. I jumped out of that tub so fast! Then gravity hit and I had a huge contraction with my arms draped around your dad. Dad looked down and my feet were off the ground, so he was supporting 175 lbs with his neck.
In the bed the midwife, Margaret, stretched the cervix around your head while I pushed. About 3-5 contractions/pushes later your head popped through the cervix. Now I could begin pushing! I gave it all I had and let out this huge push/cry/scream. They instructed me to bear down and stay low. Pushing was not coming naturally to me. For some reason I missed the part in birth class that you push with the contractions and that you have to wait for the contraction to build. Ugh! I thought I would like this part but I didn’t. Your dad looked at me and said it is like you are pooping and to make that sound. It was a huge help. The posterior position can make it harder for women to feel that urge to push, so I had to go by instruction. As the pushing continued and my form improved, my whole body was working.
Pushing is the complete opposite of dilating. When working to 10 cm you want to keep all your muscles relaxed but with pushing you use every muscle in your body. For the first time I felt like I wanted to vomit but nothing came out. As your head moved down further I felt the stretching begin. I tore in two places but didn’t need stitches. Both of my legs were up in the air with Betsy holding one and Erin holding the other. Dad was up by my head cheering me along. The midwife was there to catch you. They saw your head and had me feel it. It felt wrinkly and not very far out. I thought this would go on forever. In the end I think I pushed for 1.5 hrs? No one really knew. As your head started to emerge the midwife called your dad down to use his hand to keep it warm. Many pushes later I gave a big push and your head came out. Now Margaret had Dad catch the rest of you with the next push. They told me you were out and to reach down and grab you. I didn’t believe them and kept my eyes closed, completely exhausted. Dad brought you up to me and I opened my eyes. He said, “Kim, it’s a girl!”
As you nestled in my arms you gave us a smile. It had been a long, hard journey for all three of us. You started nursing within minutes. We kept you against my skin for about an hour and then they wiped you off. No bath, no shots! They weighed you (8 lbs, 12 oz) and measured you (19″). You were born just after midnight at 12:39 AM on Feb. 22. Suddenly I was very alert, talking to everyone. Happy. Blissful. Now they offered me pain meds which I found ironic. I gladly took the Advil. I healed fast but the first week was sore. I learned later that posterior babies often result in c-section. I am certain that without the epidural I was able to feel you and move with you to get you out. I wouldn’t have been able to do that without feeling you and you could have gotten “stuck” or labor could have “stalled.”
In the end it was all worth it and I am so grateful for the amazing support team because without them we couldn’t have done it on our own.