from our impromptu photo shoot today. gorgeous girl.
I've given birth three times and have had 3 very different experiences, in 3 different states no less. PSP was a natural birth in a hospital based birthing center in midtown Manhattan. Lamp was a scheduled c-section in Cincinnati and our current baby was a V-BAC with an epidural in San Antonio. I'd like to write each of my birth stories (finally!) and include some details of the pro's and con's I had with each experience. I'm going to start with our most current little lass who I have yet to figure out a great internet name for.
The Sunday evening before Christmas I had a strong desire to throw the kids in the car and drive an hour away to see some Christmas lights from the Hill Country light trail. This is a little out of character for me in that we were leaving already close to bedtime and the fact that I was feeling very, very pregnant. But I wanted to get as much Christmasing in as possible before the baby bomb dropped. Feeling spontaneous and craving some Christmas nostalgia we threw the kids in the car and started driving. Being the wise parents we are we made sure to have a DVD to watch in the car on the way up to keep 2 tired and cranky girls occupied. But somehow our parental wisdom didn't extend far enough to consider the fact that it was a cold December evening and our children were in t-shirts and shorts... one of them barefoot. Nary an extra blanket or sweater in the car could be found. C'mon we're in Texas! We shouldn't need to bundle our kids up, this is ridiculous. Nevertheless, they froze. In the end it was still worth it. Living in the moment and soaking up the season for the last time with only 2 daughters. We got home, put the kids to bed and eventually went to bed ourselves.
Right before bed we discover that Lamp was running a temperature. This should have been our first clue something was a brewing... it seems that the night before childbirth our other child(ren) must be sick. (PSP was throwing up the entire night before my c-section with Lamp.) And as per our pre-birth tradition B tended to her while I slept. He's a good dad that one.
About 3 in the morning I started feeling contractions. Nothing too strong, but I lay in bed for about an hour before I finally got up to use the bathroom. I then felt a sudden drop in my belly. I don't know how to describe it better than that... but the baby suddenly dropped an inch or so and I instantly became very alert. That's when I realized my water broke as I saw a puddle trickling on the bathroom floor around my feet.
It was rather exciting. I mean, my water broke. An experience I had actually been hoping to have. Contrary to the typical Hollywood portrayal this doesn't happen that often. I cleaned things up, and went to go find my husband assuming he was asleep in Lamp's room. However, they weren't in Lamp's room. Super confused I went out to the living room where I found my husband passed out on the couch and my 3 year old watching TV. At 4 in the morning.
Hells bells what is going on here?
B groggily explained that Lamp had been up and down all night with a high fever and he was exhausted. In a slightly panicked voice I say, She needs to get to bed, now. And he's sorta like, Be my guest... and that's when I say, B. My water broke.
His eyes widen and he jumps into action. We get Lamp back in bed ASAP and as we head to our bedroom it's clear that we have two very different ideas of how we should proceed. I'm gathering the last few things for the hospital and getting ready to call our family friend to come over when B lays down on the bed.
I don't think we have to rush right to the hospital just because your water broke. I've been up with Lamp all night and I need some sleep.
I don't think we have enough time for you to sleep.
We kinda go back and forth for a few minutes until I realize I hadn't mentioned anything about contractions and the fact that they were getting stronger and closer together. The light bulb goes off and B realizes that yet again, sleep is going to have to wait.
The next few items are details we can skip quickly through: I call my friend, she comes over to watch the girls, B and I drive to the hospital and I time my contractions at 1 minute 30 seconds. We get to the hospital, get checked in and are taken back pretty quickly. They check me and see that yes indeed my water broke, I'm fully effaced and dilated about 5 cm. I decide that I want an epidural this time and so we start that process. In the meantime I get 2 IV's, monitors and even oxygen--I feel like I'm covered in cords. This is new territory for me.
Here is the part of the experience that was the most foreign and the reason I can understand why many women choose to forgo the traditional hospital experience all together, and frankly why I decided to do a birthing center my first time (being in the military we didn't have a choice). Before they do the epidural they bring over a stack of papers and go through item by item all the various things that can go wrong. Apparently I need to understand all these risks and sign on the dotted line before proceeding. I'm laying there on the bed, covered in cords, managing contractions and listening to a woman explain all the things that can go wrong today--anything from using forceps and a vacuum to serious and life-threatening complications. It was honestly horrifying. I just kept thinking that this was the absolute WORST thing you could say and do to a woman in labor. Was this really necessary and do we really have to do this now? Not to mention the fact that there are so many people coming in and out of the room. This was not conducive to the very spiritual and life changing moment about to happen. But with no other options we rolled with it.
I finally get the epidural and I'm thankful. I was happy to have some relief, and to feel my body relax. The contractions kept coming and it seemed that things were happening. My eyes were closed almost the entire time. This is something I did with PSP as well, which I always attributed to being so tired and trying to deal with the contractions. However, it seems that even with the relief the epidural provided, this is how I focus and deal with the task of labor. Being in the military you have no control over who will be at your birth and you most likely have never met them before. This was true for me as well, but I was lucky enough to have a midwife come in and deliver the baby. That put me at ease.
I tell them it's time to push. They could see her head and told me she had a lot of hair. This was the first time I reached down to feel the baby's head. It was surreal. I pushed through about 4 rounds of contractions and then I finally feel her warm, slippery body come out. I look down and see her perfect little body, thick hair and I am elated and exuberant. I'm choking on my words and emotions. It is miraculous and unbelievable. This is the first time I remember sort of gasping and saying things like Oh my gosh, she's here. Look at her... that's my baby. I looked at her daddy and he was smiling with tears in his eyes. I really can't get over how amazing birth is.
Since there was some concern about meconium she wasn't put straight on my chest (although that would have been the plan). She was beautiful, pink and at 8 pounds 5 oz the chunkiest of my babies. And that gorgeous head full of dark hair... dreamy. She was calm, just looking around. In fact when they pricked her heel she didn't even cry. I sat there watching from afar muttering over and over to just bring her to me already. They finally did and I held her in my arms and watched as she continued to calmly and sweetly take in this new world around her. I put her to my breast and she latched on easily.
It was a good day.
And it's been a pretty good month.
Huzzah baby girl. We're so glad you're here.