Well, it's high time I finally got around to writing Grace's birth story. I do feel I really needed to process it first, as my first attempts were all over the place and the way I kept "losing" them to blogger-land finally led me to believe I just needed to wait a bit. And I did. I needed to think it through. Not to mention I've been a little busy :o)
So here it is. Finally.
The actual birth is pretty normal. Labor began, lasted about four hours total with about twenty minutes or so of pushing. She was posterior, she turned right before I began to push. Non-eventful, easy birth. Rather large for two weeks early (nine and a half pounds exactly,) but perfectly healthy. No tearing, easy recovery. All done.
But it didn't feel that way in my head. During the labor, it felt like my hardest one ever. But it was all mental. The actual "birth story" is as above, but in my head it was an entirely different story. So if you want the details, here they are...
Easter Morning. We're all excited to go to my grandparents' farm in Kentucky. Secretly I've been feeling like she would come this weekend, but you know how that is. It's so hard to discern between what one is "feeling" and what one is just really hoping for. So although I was feeling it would be Easter weekend, Haven's two week late birth kept me from setting myself up for disappointment. I knew I was mentally preparing for her to come early though as I finished off my to do list on Saturday.
So everyone is looking forward to Kentucky. I'm hoping the car ride will put me into labor and that things will happen that night after a nice visit to the farm.
Not so. I woke suddenly around 7am thinking I either peed in the bed (which has never happened to me, even during pregnancy) or my water broke a little. I say a little because it was one small spot, not a huge gush. I got up, confirmed that yes! my water had indeed broken. And went back to bed quietly excited with my secret, and waited for something to happen. I was mildly disappointed that it seemed I would be laboring during the day (I really, really like waking up during the night realizing labor has begun, taking a bath, and enjoying the dark, quiet house and watching the sunrise. Strange, I know. But it's actually worked out that way several times.) But the disappointment was largely overshadowed by excitement that she was coming, and almost two weeks early!
So I laid there, and nothing. About an hour later, everyone was up and I was keeping my secret. (Have I mentioned I don't like to tell anyone I'm in labor until I absolutely have to? Not even Glen. For some reason, I just really prefer keeping it to myself as long as possible.) But after awhile I realized I was going to have to tell them as they were beginning to talk about getting ready to go. I told Glen quietly first, his eyes got really big and it actually took me a minute to convince him I wasn't joking. The kids were all very excited to find out the baby was coming and didn't mind missing the trip. Except for Ethan, he was highly irritated the baby couldn't just wait. He kept saying, "Can't we just go? The baby isn't actually coming now. Can't we just go and come back when she's actually being born?" Poor guy. If we had only known.
So I turn into the cleaning dictator. Anything anyone gets out has to be immediately put back, and any mess or crumb must immediately be cleaned up. But still nothing is happening. Not one contraction. Nothing. We take a family picture, run to the video store, come home, eat lunch, and finally lay down for a nap. All this time, my water is leaking enough for me to know that it truly is that, but not enough to keep me from normal activity. So finally I realize this labor is looking to be like Caleb's. With his birth, my water began leaking early on a Sunday morning as well, but I didn't go into labor until the following night. I really am kind of happy that I may indeed get to labor during the night. And it was really kind of fun anticipating it.
When we woke up from our nap Sunday afternoon, my water really broke. As in I was creating puddles every time I stood up, so I spent the rest of the evening sitting in my chair and assuring Glen it was totally normal for labor to have not really started yet. I reminded him of Caleb's birth, but he was still growing nervous that it had been so long and nothing was happening. He kept wanting me to call Susie, but I knew what that would mean and I wanted to just let it happen on its own. I assured him things would probably happen during the night and not to be concerned. We watched a movie and eventually went to bed.
I woke up the next morning after having zero contractions during the night. I don't even think I got up to pee. I'm lying in my bed trying to not be disappointed. At this point, I know we're going to have to have a baby today, one way or another as my water has been broken for so long now. No night laboring, and more than likely we're going to have to induce labor, be it naturally at home or artificially at the hospital. So I'm trying to not be terribly disappointed. You see, I really like to plan things. Whether it be how I'm going to organize my laundry or how my labor is going to go. I have always had a very distinct plan in my mind of how I want it to go, and amazing it has been that way more often than not. And not only do I have a very specific way of how I want things to go, but I also have very specific things that I absolutely hate in labor. And it was beginning to look like not only was it not going to go the way I wanted, but I was going to have to endure the things I absolutely wanted to avoid at any cost.
So I was mad. And then Glen comes in and tells me he's called Susie and she's on her way. So now I'm really frustrated. I can't even sit there and
feel sorry for myself think through things and talk myself out of my pity party. I was slightly irritated with Glen, but he was concerned, and knows how I always put off calling the midwife, so he just took charge. It had to be done, I know it, but I was not happy about it.
So she comes. She tells me about the whole "water broken for 24 hours" thing which I already know, so we decide that "officially" my water didn't really break until I woke up from that nap around 3, so we'll give it until noon to see if labor is progressing. If not, I'll need to go to the hospital. Oh, and by the way, hospitals around here won't even do pitocin once it's been 24 hours. Automatic c-section. No pressure or anything. Ugh.
So she gives me some homeopathic stuff, has me use the br**st pump, and threatens me with castor oil or an enema if nothing happens. She really is quite nice about it, but I'm mad. Outwardly I'm agreeing, but inwardly I'm thinking yeah right. I'd rather just go to the hospital, refuse a c-section, get an epidural and have a nice pain free birth. I mean, by now all my desires are out the window, so why not just go all the way? I seriously spent the next hour thinking about how I was going to tell my midwife I wanted to go the hospital if she told me I needed to try castor oil or an enema. And I was serious.
Well, let me tell you. All that talk about n**ple stimulation (sorry, dad) bringing on contractions? It's true. It works, and it works fast. Within five minutes of using the pump I was having intense "I changed my mind about this whole no drug thing" contractions four to five minutes apart. They gave me some iv antibiotics to be on the safe side since my water had been broken for so long. (Which was so much easier than at the hospital. She slid the little needle in, just held it there for about fifteen minutes, then slid it out. No tape and I didn't have to leave it in during labor. So nice.)
So things are progressing. And then Susie realizes that once again, my baby is posterior. Now I'm really mad. Not only did I not get to gradually go into labor during the night, but I'm not going to get to labor comfortabally. No, I get to lay in all kinds of uncomfortable baby-turning positions while having intense contractions close together. I'm okay with it as I do not want to try and push out a baby turned backwards, but I'm still mad about the whole situation. She does finally let me get into the bath for awhile, but when I get out, I have to try and get the baby to turn still. I couldn't even lay back in the bath, I had to sit up straight. And I had too much tea tree oil in the water so every time I would have a contraction I would lay my head down on the side of the tub, but I couldn't breathe because it was too strong.
And all this time I'm retreating further and further into myself. You moms know how it is. You kind of get locked in your brain. I was obsessing over how miserable I was, how mad I was, trying to figure out if and how I could tell Susie I really just wanted to go to the hospital, and telling myself over and over that next time, I really, really, really AM going to the hospital. And that I'm not going to forget how much I want to just get an epidural next time. Really, I do. Finally, I remembered that I had asked the Lord for a verse or two to remember during labor, but by this time I couldn't really get them straight in my head, so they kept meshing with another. Really, I think this was the Holy Spirit giving me encouragement though as the way they went together was really sweet, and very encouraging when I could manage to remember it.
You know, it only takes a paragraph to write in black and white what was going through my head, but it was really intense and mentally very difficult. I guess it lasted about two and half hours or so of this feeling of contraction after contraction, with these thoughts chasing one another through my brain and my going back and forth between being mad and trying to gather my thoughts and remind myself of Scripture. I was very quiet, I don't make much noise during labor and don't like to talk unless I have to, but inwardly my mind was overwhelmed.
I got out of the tub, Susie checked me and I was almost complete, with a lip. (Does that happen to every mother giving birth naturally? It seems there is always a lip. "Just wait a little longer, you're almost there, just a little lip.") Susie figured this was because she was still backwards so that her head couldn't put proper pressure to finish dilating. So I resume lying on my side in Susie's highly effective baby-turning positions. (They work, they really do.) Finally, I feel this tremendous pulling and turning sensation during about three contractions. Grace is turning into the proper position, and I can certainly feel it. You could literally watch her turning around as my stomach contorted strangely.
As soon as she finished turning, I had the urge to push. I had to push for about twenty minutes, which is longer than with any of my other children, but oddly, it didn't hurt. It felt good to be able to finally push and know the end was near. I was finally going to have my Grace. I didn't even realize her head was out until Susie told me her shoulder was stuck and to push really hard. That took a few more pushes, and then finally, that feeling of immense relief when you feel them slide completely out. She was perfect, and beautiful.
Immediately following the birth, I had the whole violent leg shaking thing which is so odd, but is calmed by warm blankets fresh from the dryer (yay for being at home!) and I was exhausted. Usually I'm actually quite perky after birth for awhile, but this time I was mentally worn out and just wanted everyone to leave. I have had people at my births before, but have learned that I really prefer to just be alone. It doesn't even really matter to me so much if Glen is there which I'm sure most people will think is really strange, especially since we have such a sweet and wonderful relationship, but I just completely withdraw into myself during labor so I don't even really notice anyone except for Susie telling me what to do. This time, Anna and Glen were there, but that was all. I always tell my Aunt (who is like my Mom) and sisters that I'm planning on having them, "but will have to see," but this time I didn't have anyone since it began under weird circumstances, was immediately intense, and I was just plain mad the whole time. Anna, having missed Haven's falling out since she ran to get everyone else, refused to budge from the room the entire time, and she was actually a huge help to not only me while I was pushing, but also to Susie. Even if she did talk her ear off :o) (Me: "Anna, if you can't stop talking, you are going to have to leave!") :o)
I was telling some friends yesterday the whole thing was so surreal. I can see myself lying there pushing, but in my mind, my bed was almost all the way against the wall, it felt like the wall was right in front of my face. In reality, I was a good seven or eight feet away from the wall probably, but in my memory my bed is moved completely over. Very weird. The whole thing is like one long, slow motion memory where I'm going back and forth between the real world and my own thoughts. Very much like something you would see in a movie. It was very strange to experience it in real life.
So that's why it has taken me so long to process it. It actually took me a long time to figure out why I was so frustrated and mad the whole time and why it felt so much harder when it really wasn't. I just couldn't make the mental - emotional connection. I guess it is just another lesson in me not being able to control everything in life and learning to be okay with that. I very much want to have another baby, I very much want to have another home birth (funny how quickly we forget,) and next time, I hope I can remember how huge a part my mental outlook plays in how easy or difficult labor feels and that I can just go with it.
So that's my story. Sorry it took so long ;o)
And for those of you (like me) that love birth stories, my other ones are here.