Our lives have forever changed. And we couldn't be any more ecstatic about it! Little Lilly Aurora entered the world & our hearts on Saturday, March 26, 2011 at 426pm. Here is the story:
Lilly was "due" March 19. We know babies come when they feel like it, so we patiently waited. On the edges of our seats. We planned on having a Birth Center birth. However, if the pregnancy made it to week 41, then we would automatically be transferred to the hospital. We really didn't want to go to the hospital & were crossing our fingers and toes that she would grace us with her presence before this deadline. We wanted to be at the Birth Center--it's what we planned on since before we even became pregnant. Mother nature had another plan.
On the 21st (Monday), I had an appointment with the midwife to see how things were going. My cervix was softened but that was about it. So that night, I started some homeopathic treatments of Caulophyllum and Cimicifuga (blue and black cohosh) in hopes of progressing things along. I started getting more contractions but still nothing with a pattern or that stopped me in my tracks. We also continued taking daily walks, sex & nipple stimulation--all the things that are supposed to help get things moving along.
On the 24th (Thursday), I went to the midwife again and this time was at 2cm. She swept my membranes, which is just taking a finger, sweeping along the cervix and hopefully kick-starting labor. Again, my contractions never became too intense to where I couldn't walk or talk through them.
So, on the 25th (Friday), I went to the Birth Center again to see if I had progressed any. All morning I was having what I deemed "real" contractions. Finally! They were more intense than I had felt all week, yet I was still able to walk & talk through them. Our appointment was at 330pm. I was at 3cm, 80-90% effaced so we didn't need to do a membrane sweep again. Our baby would be here soon!! =)
Almost as soon as we left the Birth Center, my contractions intensified. I found myself having to actually concentrate through them. It was a very familiar feeling to me, akin to the strong menstrual cramps I always have, only stronger. Fast forward to 3am on Saturday, the 26th (and the mark of my 41st week)...I had been laboring at home all night. I rocked back & forth on an exercise ball. Jeff occasionally rubbed my lower back, which had been KILLING me! I took 4 hot showers, letting the water pummel my back & relax me. But by 3am I was tired of being at home and needed a change of scenery so we called the midwife and headed out to the Birth Center.
We arrived at the center a little after 4am, accompanied by my mom:) At 6am I was at 8cm but the baby wasn't descending. Jeff & I entered the birthing tub twice. It was such a calming experience. We had the musical stylings of Jack Johnson and Bob Marley playing in the background the whole time we were at the center. The last time we were in the birthing tub, Jeff was laying behind me and humming in my ear. The ambiance the whole time we were there was calm, quiet and warm--both physically and emotionally. When we weren't in the tub, we wandered the hallways of the center, did hip circles on the birthing ball, did lunges. I rarely laid on the bed because it hurt too much to lay down and be still. Jeff, my mom and the midwife all took turns rubbing my lower back, pushing on my sacrum during contractions--all of which helped with the pain. Somehow, in between contractions, I found the energy to joke around once in a while which really helped keep the tone of the experience calm.
Sometime around 9am (I think), while I was on all fours on the bed, one of the midwives checked my cervix and my water broke. Picture this--opening a fire hydrant! At least, that's what it felt like. Jeff confirmed that it indeed was very similar to that. We couldn't help but laugh.
At noon, 6 hours after being checked and being at 8cm, my cervix hadn't changed and the baby still wasn't descending. So, it was decided that I should be transferred to the hospital so I could receive Pitocin to strengthen & increase my contractions. I was very disheartened by this decision as it wasn't a part of our plan. We wanted either a water birth or just a relaxed birth in the bed that was big enough for Jeff and I in a calm, cozy environment as opposed to a sterile looking hospital room. I understood why the midwife wanted us to transfer and I realized it was for the best. We hopped in the car and drove down the road to Tucson Medical Center. As we were checking in, I had a contraction in the lobby and had to hold onto the wall. At least I was calm and didn't potentially scare anyone;)
Once I got hooked up to the Pitocin, it did what it was supposed to and increased/strengthened my contractions. I opted against getting an epidural and stuck with our plan of a natural birth. I've had people ask what it felt like. It hurt. Of course. But it didn't feel any different at 20 hours than it did at 2 hours in. Pain is pain. The pain never got stronger. It just got longer and closer together. So I knew if I could handle it earlier in the labor that I would continue to be fine with it. And I was right. I was surrounded by loving, caring people and that helped immensely. I kept my eyes closed through each contraction. It helped me to focus. I opened them only when Jeff asked me to. He constantly requested that I smile and ran his fingers across my furrowed brow, reminding me to relax. Apparently I never got louder than a deep moan. It felt like the whole experience, down to the last minute when the baby was born, that everything and everyone was calm and quiet for the most part. There was no screaming, no cursing, no negativity--just soothing voices and loving words. Jeff & my mom, everyone for that matter, were very supportive--my own little cheer team! Jeff kept telling me "you're a fucking rockstar!" Jeff was glued to my side the whole time--saying encouraging things, holding my hand, rubbing my back and giving me gentle kisses, keeping me calm. My mom gave me hugs, kisses, cooled my face & neck with a cold washcloth and took turns rubbing my back too. I couldn't have done it without them! The midwife and nurses were very nurturing and supportive too. I'm so happy that even though we ended up at the hospital, that they accompanied us and were still the ones to welcome Lilly into the world!
About 24 hours of "real" labor, 8 of which were spent at the Birth Center. We were at the hospital for about 4 1/2 hours before Lilly was born; about 1 1/2 of that was spent pushing.
Pushing. Before I felt the urge to push, I had an internal monologue that went something like "if this baby doesn't come out soon, someone better cut me open and remove it". I fought with this evil internal monologuer because even though I was nearing a full day of labor, I knew deep down inside that an epidural was NOT what I wanted and a C-section was definitely NOT on my wish list. It's just that I was sooooo exhausted by then from lack of food and sleep I just didn't know if I had the energy to go another 4 hours. So once I felt the urge to push I was elated! I knew the end (or the beginning--depends on which chapter you're looking at) was drawing near. For anyone that has never felt the urge to push, it feels like you have to poop. Seriously. It felt great to be able to push, because instead of breathing and moaning through the contractions, you get to focus all of your energy into pushing through a contraction. Once I was pushing, I no longer felt the pain of the contractions. It was a wonderful thing! I pushed while laying on my side. I pushed while on my knees, hugging the back of the bed. I pushed while laying on my back with my knees drawn toward my chest. All with the help of Jeff and the midwife and nurse. They cheered me on the whole time. And held and pushed my legs. Once the baby was further down and out, it no longer felt like a poop, but more like a baby. Duh--who would've thought;) When I heard everyone Ooohing and Aaaahing because they could see the baby's head and there was a full head of hair (!!!) it gave me more strength to push even harder and stronger because I knew I would soon be holding my baby!
When her head was crowning, the sensation was, for lack of better terms, pretty intense! I paused for a bit, with a human's head partially out of my vagina, to allow the skin to stretch and after a couple more pushes I heard gasps, felt the baby come completely out of my body, I opened my eyes, they announced the baby was a girl and they placed her on my bare chest. Apparently Jeff cut the umbilical cord, but I missed that because I was in such awe of our baby girl. She stared calmly at me with her perfect glasslike eyes. She was absolutely breathtaking and she was my baby! I couldn't believe it.
The nurses never took Lilly off my body, except for a second to weigh & measure her. They did everything they needed to--the eye ointment, footprints, etc--while she laid on my chest. I ended up with a tiny tear, couple stitches. I attribute not being ripped a new A-hole to the fact that we did Perineal massage while I was pregnant and maybe because we allowed the skin to stretch during her birth. Jeff jokes that my body must have really loved being pregnant because not only did it not want the baby to come out easily, but my placenta didn't come out until a little over an hour. We had to stay in the hospital a couple nights. Though it wasn't the ideal setting, Jeff, Lilly and I spent those 2 nights together in the room. Our new little family. All of the nurses at the hospital were exceptionally nice and helpful.
We learned quickly that, as life goes, you can't always plan. Sometimes you just have to go with the flow. Having our baby in the hospital wasn't our plan, but the way everything turned out, we have no regrets. The outcome was what we always dreamt. Little Lilly <3