Inspired by my friend, Allison Husmann, I wanted to take some time to recount the birth of my beautiful daughter, Evie Colette. Allison's story helped me to mentally prepare for the task at hand and hopefully my story can help someone else. Also, I wanted my little Evie to know her story as well, with all the details still fresh in my mind. I still can't believe she's finally here.
WARNING: Details in this excerpt may be too much information for some.
The weeks leading up to this were long and boring. I've had a bum hip for most my adult life, and in that last month of pregnancy, that hip was basically debilitating. I was limited to how much I could get around and spent most my time being bored at home. I was miserable company. My bag was packed with all sorts of preparatory items: heat packs, aromatherapy oils and sprays, extra socks, hyptnobirth flashcards, and more. I come from a family of scouts and emergency preparedness packers, so I made sure to pack all sorts of things for the birth.
Saturday morning, approximately 4 am: I shot up from my bed (as fast as pregnant ladies can, that is) and was furious with Peabe and looking for Toaster. I was in a dream where Peabe was letting in random large dogs in the house that terrorized Toast and was chewing up the sofa cushions. After realizing that I wasn't dreaming anymore, I felt a long and painful contraction.
The day went on with contractions, anywhere from 8-20 minutes apart, and varied in strength. I kept looking at my timer waiting for the contractions to be 5 minutes apart to go to the hospital. I would get closer to 5 minutes, then all the sudden I'm back at 17 minutes. Frustration started to get to me. To break from watching the clock, I decided to sit in a hot bath. The warm water helped the contractions. Soon I had both Peabe sitting there timing them for me, and Toaster next to the tub, creepily licking the water off my arm. We started making arrangements for if we go to the hospital. My sister, Jessica, was flying in from Chicago at 5 pm. Luckily Kathy was able to assist. Peabe then took Toaster on a walk so he would be okay if we left. We were ready.
By early afternoon, I was out of the tub and nothing was comfortable. Contractions are now 6-15 minutes apart, but getting stronger. I start trying to practice all the different positions they taught us in the hospital's birthing class. Also, I'm starting to use my breathing techniques that I learned from hyptnobirthing class. My living room was getting messier with each contraction. I need the yoga ball.... next, I need the gliding ottoman... next, I need a heating pad... next, I need a pillow fort... I was trying new things with every cramp as Peabe was still there timing and Toaster was by my side. My cousin Kathy came by after work right into the chaos of labor. Poor Kathy brought fruit smoothies and food and was bombarded with contraction after contraction. Still timing, 7 minutes apart... 6 minutes apart... breathe... 8 minutes apart! DOH!
At this point I am melting into the floor no matter what position and with whatever prop when the contraction hits. Peabe is by my side reminding me to breathe and helping me re-focus back to the task at hand. Between contractions he is giving me water and massages as the fatigue from being up at 4 am sets in. I can't take it anymore and I have him call the doctor so we can go to the hospital. "But your contractions aren't 5 minutes yet", he starts to say. I remember yelling something back to him about just telling the doctor that we are so we could get going already. I just wanted to get there; the contractions were harder to bear.
Now I know it's a cliché to talk about how panicked the car ride to the hospital was, but this seriously was the most intense car trip ever. As I was getting into the car, a big contraction hit. Peabe was rolling half of me into the passenger seat as I was melting into the floor space. I yell at him to just get in the car and start as I am twisting into the seat. Of course this is when I get the text that my sister has landed in San Francisco. "Don't worry, Kathy will take care of it", I tell myself. As soon as we started moving, all the sudden there was another contraction, then another. My contractions have moved from about 6 minutes apart to about 2 minutes! I was screaming at lights, pedestrians, and cars... I needed to get to the hospital AS SOON AS POSSIBLE!! Peabe pulled up in front of the hospital, and we sat in front as another contraction hit. I opened the door as to do a super slick tuck and roll out the car, I imagine what I did wasn't so graceful. Peabe parked and ran to the hospital to meet me on the labor and delivery floor.
Triage time. In a small curtained room where you can hear other women in labor next to you, they examine how close you are to delivering and assign a birthing room. By this time my contractions are 1 minute apart, and after checking, I was fully dilated and ready to push! That was quick! As they move me to a room, I thought about how we got through most the laboring already and it was all done in the comforts of home and not a curtained triage room. This gave me a burst of energy. "I can do this," I'm telling myself. We get to the room, and the nurse says to me, "Now push!"
All the classes and everything I read about birthing did not prepare me for this part. Now, I need to switch gears from calm breathing to holding my breath, getting through a contraction to actively engaging in one. I'm pushing and pushing and nothing is happening. With just Peabe by my side and Diane our nurse by my feet, I hold in a breath and push super hard. I heard "Whoa!" from Diane and a loud crash of water. I look over at Peabe's face and the initial look of shock subsided into a giggle. Diane explained I just broke my water, and it was a lot of water. Peabe laughed about how I almost got Diane in the face with it, and the scene could be compared to a "Slushy facial" from the TV series, Glee.
I tried pushing and pushing with no result. In fact, the pushing was getting harder. Diane the nurse checked the position and noticed the baby was turned, making it harder to push. She tried getting me into a couple new positions to help turn the baby, but my bad hip made it almost impossible to push effectively. After about 2 hours of pushing, I was really feeling the pain. What a difference the bag of water made, contractions got harder once that broke. At this point, I'm exhausted and in a lot of pain, I talk to Peabe and the nurse about an epidural, so we try one more time before calling the anesthesiologist... PUSH! I'm screaming in pain with my legs in the air and I look up between my knees to see the most priceless look of horror on my little sister's face.
Jessica apparently got to the hospital a while ago and was outside the room listening to the screaming and trying to figure out the best way to enter the room. We have a brief moment of greetings before the epidural arrives. It felt like forever to get the epidural as I was still having painful contractions, but once administered... oh wow. Immediately, I felt better, but as expected, we needed to take a break before starting to push again. I tried taking a nap, but couldn't, I was excited that this baby was about to come and that my sister and Peabe were both there to help. Diane goes on her break, and tells us we can start pushing again at 9 pm. We even get a note delivered to us that our friends Jessie and Grizz were downstairs waiting for the baby. In fact, we had cousin Kathy and our friends: Celeste, Boice, Grizz, and Jessie all waiting at the hospital for the little one to arrive. I have 2 hours to relax.
9 pm and I'm ready to go. We start finding the right position again to turn the baby as I push. My hip is super flexible now and I can effectively move into place. All hands on deck as Jessica, Peabe, and Diane are pushing or pulling my body parts for the position. PUSH! Right away pushing seems a lot easier. Next contraction... PUSH! We are pushing for maybe a half hour when Diane starts seeing a problem. She's watching the baby monitors, and it looks like the baby's heart rate is dropping in a contraction. Change of plans: we push for a contraction, and then let a contraction ride out without pushing. The baby's heart rate is still dropping, and the pauses in between pushing are getting longer and longer. I'm exhausted after every push, but as we wait the next time to push, we are basically chilling. We laughed about the doggie dream from that morning, we talked about all the things in my baby bag that we ended up not using, we chatted with Diane about the weather and where she was from. It was like we weren't in the middle of having a baby sometimes... the epidural was wonderful.
11:00 pm. It's been 2 hours of pushing and chatting and looks like we have made enough progress to get some doctor assistance with a suction. Diane gestured about an inch and a half to go until we see the baby and explains that she can already see the head when I push. The baby's heart rate was still a concern, so they wanted to get the doctor in and use a small suction on the head of the baby to pull as I push in contractions. Unfortunately, we had to say goodbye to our nurse, Diane, as we came to the shift change. She was great help and awesome company during the process and we were sad to see her go, especially being so close to the end. She did visit us again the next day in postpartum and got to meet the baby. The doctor arrived with a team of nurses within 15 minutes and explained that at the next contraction I am to push as hard as I could. We got into position; even made sure the music was right for the little one to enter the world. We had Pandora playing our Michael Jackson station and Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get It On" had come onÉ Peabe immediately wanted to skip this song and we were glad to get The Jackson 5's "ABC" next on queue. The next contraction hit and I took in a large breath... PUSH... breathe... PUSH... breathe... PPPUUUUUSSSSHHHH! Then I felt it, it wasn't a "ring of fire" as I've heard it been described, but that could be the epidural talking. It was a warm gush, and the doctor exclaimed, "It's a girl!" Apparently she had her umbilical cord wrapped around her neck and that was why her heart rate kept dropping when I pushed.
11:33pm and I had my beautiful daughter in my arms. She cried aloud for a second to take in her first breath, and then she lay on my chest looking at me with those big eyes. I still can't believe her eyes were so big and bright right after birth. She was calm and curious, and I fell in love right there. I was half ignoring the doctor as she was showing me the "egg" and my placenta and as Peabe cut the cord. She was too pretty and I could not look away. As I look back, Evie's birth was relatively easy: I was able to get through birthing in the comforts of my home with a very supportive Peabe and Kathy, I get to the hospital and things move surprisingly fast, my sister makes it just in time to help out in the process, and I get an epidural to make pushing really easy. I could not ask for more.