We called the midwives and our doula back into the room and told them of our decision to transfer. I wasn’t even upset. Transferring to the hospital was my greatest fear as I studied my Hypnobabies and I did a lot of Fear Clearing about it by listening to the Fear Clearing Hypnobabies track. I had found peace at the thought of transferring a couple of months prior to your birth because I knew that if it ever came down to that, it would be a choice I was making based on the health and safety of you and myself. I knew it was never something I’d be forced into doing. Our midwives confirmed that they too thought it was the safest choice and with that, we packed up our cars, faxed over my records, and began our journey to the hospital.
Interestingly enough, the moment we decided to transfer, my labor completely stopped. It was if you and my body knew what was going on and decided to finally give me a break. As we drove along the darkened freeway, following our doula and midwives, the pressure waves came back with a vengeance. Again, they tore through my body and all I could do was hold onto the handle above my head and vocalize through them. We pulled into the hospital parking lot and walked inside at the lead of one of our midwives. We went to St. Alphonsus which is where the midwives always go in the case of transfers. They’re the most natural-friendly/baby-friendly hospital in our area and I felt really safe with that choice. Upon walking into the hospital, I was so afraid of the judgement I might receive. I was scared to see those “so you thought you could do it all on your own” faces. But that’s not what I saw at all. Instead, I saw sympathetic and welcoming smiles. I immediately felt at ease.
Breann and Kim, our two nurses got me set up in a room right away. As I laid in bed, the pressure waves started coming stronger than ever. Our nurses were so kind and started asking me about my birth plan. I couldn’t believe it! Here I was, a transfer from the birth center, and they still cared about my plan. I almost cried. I had brought two copies of my backup plan (written especially for the hospital, just in case) and we went through it together. I was very specific about how I wanted to go about receiving any drugs and I was even more specific about how I wanted you, my sweet baby, to be treated after the birth. I wanted immediate skin-to-skin, no pacifiers or formula, I wanted to wait to cut and clamp the cord, no vaccinations or heel sticks, no eye ointment, and I wanted to use our own blankets and towels to dry you. They told us they could comply with everything. I was so happy! Shortly after, our doctor walked in to introduce himself. His name was Dr. Thomson, and if I believed in angels, I would say he was one. If I could have taken every natural-friendly doctor in the world, lined them up, and picked just one, I would have picked him. As he introduced himself and told us his philosophy of letting mother nature take the lead, I saw the midwives’ eyes get huge as they glanced at each other in disbelief. They had never seen a doctor quite like this before. He was so incredible to us and again, I knew we had made the right choice.
We decided our best plan of action would be to let me rest. So we ordered an epidural. Amy, the anesthesiologist came in and she was as sweet and as friendly as could be. She told me she’d be talking me through the whole procedure as she went. I nicely asked her not to do that and asked if I could just hang onto daddy instead, which she very sweetly agreed to. To my surprise, the epidural didn’t hurt at all. Within a few minutes, my pressure waves became exactly that–waves of pressure. The pain was gone, I was relaxed, and for the first time in three days, I drifted off into a deep sleep.
An hour later, Breann and Kim came back to the room to check on my progress. My pressure waves were about 5-6 minutes apart and I was still dilated to a 7. I couldn’t believe my ears! Still a 7 after all that rest? After going back and forth with myself and discussing it with daddy and Kendra, I agreed to the lowest dose of pitocin possible, only turning it up every 30 minutes as needed. My sweet girl, I tried so hard not to do that to you…I didn’t want you to have any drugs at all. But it was what we needed. I’m so sorry it couldn’t have been different.
Every 30 minutes, the nurses came and checked me. And every 30 minutes, I was still a 7. We went from a 1 to a 12 on the pitocin drip and over the course of the next NINE HOURS I finally dilated to a 10. Again, our choice to transfer was confirmed. If it took that much pitocin and that much time to get me to a 10, who knows how many more days I would have been in the birth center trying to dilate on my own.
Friday, June 24th
By 9:00 am, I was ready to push. Dr. Thomson came in and told us again of his desire to let things happen as naturally as possible. He told me to just relax in bed, push with each wave, and find a position I was comfortable with. He said he’d be back in a little while. By then, the nurses had changed shifts and Candy was our new nurse. She was awesome. She suggested I sit in bed, bottoms of my feet pressed together in front of me, and push when I felt like it. I could feel you sliding down my birth canal, but after a few pushes, that sensation went away. I decided I needed a new position. So Candy got out a big bar that hooked over the bed. Kendra and daddy helped me on to my knees and I leaned over a pillow that was folded over the bar. It was then I decided that the epidural needed to be turned down. I couldn’t feel enough of what I was doing. We turned it half-way down which was really helpful. I could finally feel what was going on. After pushing for a little while on my knees, I decided to lay back down. We tied a sheet to the bar and I propped my feet up, pushing against the bar and pulling on the sheet as I tried to push you out. But it was all too much to remember–push with my feet, pull with my arms, lean into the bed, and push you out. Finally, I decided to push in the original way, except I held my feet up in the air while daddy and Kendra supported my knees. And surprisingly, pushing to counts of 10 was also very helpful to me.
After about an hour of pushing, I began to wonder if I was going to be able to do this. I felt like it was taking too long. I’m not sure how it happened, but we started talking with Dr. Thomson about assisted delivery, through vacuum or forceps. Cesarian section was mentioned once too. The risks of using the vacuum or forceps sounded almost as scary as a c-section to me. But it was then that things really shifted. As I was pushing right after that conversation, daddy announced, “Honey, I know what color hair she has!” I think I looked at him and said, “YOU DO?!? TELL ME!” I started crying when he said he thought it looked brunette. Knowing you were just inches away from the outside world made my whole brain and body shift into high-gear. I was going to get you out and I was going to do it now.
I started pushing like crazy with every pressure wave. We would do 3 counts of 10 and then I’d rest. Candy set up a great big mirror at the end of my bed so I could see what was going on. I never thought I’d be the type of person who would want to see that, but watching your little head come out further and further was the most motivating thing in the world to me. With every amount of energy I put forth, you came out a little more and a little more. Daddy was so excited! Every time I’d push, his voice would become more and more encouraging…I knew we were finally getting somewhere. The more excited he got, the harder I pushed. He’d praise me after every push, telling me how good I was doing, kissing me, and stroking my hair. Finally, people started coming in, setting things up, and Dr. Thomson positioned himself at the end of the bed. I knew this was it–you were coming out any minute! I couldn’t wait to see you, hold you, kiss you, and finally meet you after all this time together. As you got closer to coming out, I found more and more strength. After the 3rd push to the count of 10, I’d dig way down deep and do a 4th and sometimes a 5th push. You started coming so fast! At one point, I pushed and didn’t stop. Dr. Thomson was so wonderful. He knew I wanted to avoid tearing as much as possible so he used olive oil and a warm compress on me. Daddy put gloves on to help catch you and suddenly, at 11:34 am, I could feel your whole body sliding out of me. You were so warm and wet and slippery and you just slid right out! I could feel every little inch of you. The next thing I knew, you were on my chest. You were hot to the touch, sticky, and so so sweet.
I’ve heard women describe these experiences…the warm wetness sliding out and the sticky baby on their chests. It never sounded very appealing to me. Until you, that is. Now I understand. Those were the most wonderful sensations in the entire world. I held you close to my body, kissed your head, stroked your body, and panted through every word I spoke. It suddenly dawned on me that no one said what your gender was so I said, “Is it a girl?” as I lifted up one of your legs. Yes, you were indeed a girl! Our girl.
As daddy and I cried and kissed over your fragile little body, I glanced down at Dr. Thomson. He was crying too. Just picturing his red eyes in my mind makes me want to cry all over again. Those were some of the most precious moments of my life. We dried you off with our own blankets from home and tried to stimulate your breathing while we waited for the cord to stop pulsating. You were having a hard time getting any air. I think you swallowed a lot of fluid on your way out. The NICU nurses came in and took you over to a little warmer on the other side of the room. Daddy stayed with you the entire time. They put a little tube in your mouth to help suck out all the fluid. They weighed and measured you too. You were 6 lbs and 18.5 inches long. Such a tiny little thing! About 15 minutes later, you were back on my chest, trying to nurse.
Dr. Thomson sat patiently at the end of the bed while he waited for my placenta to detach. About 30 minutes after you were born, he told me to give a little push and out it came along with everything else that had been nourishing you for all that time in my belly. I couldn’t believe how much stuff came out! What an amazing thing my body did for us. Dr. Thomson gave us a guided tour of the placenta which was really neat. I ended up with a 2nd degree tear which he stitched up quickly while daddy and I held you and kissed you. As things quieted down and people left the room, the awesomeness of everything that had happened started to settle in. Eighty hours after you decided to begin your journey to us, you had finally arrived.
The Hospital Stay
Our original plan was to go home the same day you were born. But since our plans deviated, we decided to stay the night at the hospital. We got a room with a double bed for the three of us and no one ever mentioned the word “nursery”. You stayed in our room the entire time where we could keep you close to us. We decided to take advantage of the fact that we could easily order food, but every time we did, you would need something. Despite being waited on hand and foot at the hospital, daddy and I never ate a hot meal. That makes me laugh. You always needed to be fed, changed, held, or the nurses would want to check on you.
That evening, your Grammie, Papa, and Aunt Blair all came to see you. Oddly enough, I wasn’t very tired at all! Despite the fact that we had a medicated birth, I could still feel all those birth hormones and adrenaline running through me. I had so much energy! I was so so happy to finally have you with us. That night as we settled into bed for our first night together as a family, daddy and I decided to see what was on TV. You’ll be happy to know that “Anchorman” was your very first movie.
Our stay at the hospital couldn’t have been better. Everyone was so nice! They knew everything we had gone through and couldn’t believe we lasted three whole days before finally changing our plans. There was no judgement, only praise and support. People loved hearing our story. I got to spend some time alone in the jacuzzi tub on Saturday afternoon while you and your daddy spent some time together in our room. I know the moments you two shared together while I was gone were very special to him. Right before we left the hospital, daddy and I sat in our sun-filled room and talked about your birth and what it was like from each of our perspectives. We cried together that afternoon, knowing how lucky we were to have you there, happy and healthy.
We finally went home on Saturday at 7:00 pm. Daddy took some video of your first moments in our home and of course, I cried. Chloe met you and she wasn’t impressed at all, but she’s been warming up to you. Having you in our lives has been a bigger adjustment than I ever could have imagined. Every moment of every day is consumed by you. But we love you so much and are in awe of your perfection. We can’t believe we made you and that we get to keep you! Every morning we wake up and think you are cuter than the day before. You make the funniest, cutest sounds and faces and you become more and more alert every day. We’ve had some challenges with breastfeeding and I truly believe it’s because we had a medicated birth. I also think it’s because we sort of missed our window when you were taken away by the NICU team so they could make sure you were breathing properly. But we have made huge progress and are now breastfeeding without any problems at all. In fact, it’s pretty much your favorite thing to do.
As I think back on our birth experience and process what happened, I’m surrounded by an array of emotions. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t sad that your birth didn’t go as planned. I spent years preparing myself for a natural birth, and even though it started that way, it didn’t end that way. But we did accomplish our goal: we had the safest, healthiest birth possible. There is a big part of me that is damn proud of how long I lasted. Three whole days of completely natural labor! There’s no way I would’ve made it that long without all the Hypnobabies work I did and without all the education I gave myself. Our midwives and doula were also hugely important in the whole process. They kept me so motivated. And I definitely wouldn’t have made it that long without your daddy. He was so amazing the whole time. He stayed up with me, timed pressure waves, made sure I ate and drank, and took care of my every physical and emotional need, as he always has.
Even though you were born at the hospital, I’m so thankful we chose to go the birth center route. Had all of this begun in a hospital, I would have absolutely ended up in a c-section. There’s no way they would have let me go as long as I did. So for that, I am very thankful. In a weird way, I became the poster child for everything I’ve ever talked about: I was informed enough to make the best decisions for the both of us. I assembled an incredible birth team who helped me along every step of the way. Our doula and midwives were wonderful and helped your daddy and me so much. I had a birth plan and even though we had to deviate, we were still able to get a lot of what we wanted. I was able to advocate for myself, say no to the things I didn’t want, and ask questions about the things I was unsure about. At no point was anything ever forced upon us. I made all the choices about our care, along with your daddy, and felt completely in charge the entire time.
Do I still believe natural childbirth is best? Absolutely. Do I wish things would have gone differently for us? Of course. But I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that we had the birth we needed for the situation we found ourselves in. I’m so proud of myself for sticking it out as long as I did, and for recognizing when it was time to change our plans. I never once put the experience before our health and safety. And even though to some people, it may look like I failed, to me, our birth was a wonderful success and one of the most profound, moving, and incredible experiences of my life. Because it brought us YOU.