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This post has been a long time in the making and may explain the radio silence around here.

Our little W is almost five months and it’s only been in the last month or so that I’ve really connected with her, liked her, wanted to be with her.

Postpartum this time was h.a.r.d. After her most amazing birth, I was shocked that I could not connect with her. That her cries made me so angry that I often fed her and then passed her off to A, who thankfully was home for three months with us. I am certain I would not have made it here, without having her home in my dark postpartum days.

So many times I wondered what we’d done, why we had her?  And even wished we didn’t. I wondered why Mr. E’s infancy seemed to joyous when I was so miserable this round? All the while I was coping – getting out of bed, taking care of my kids. I had incidents of crying, well beyond the “baby blues.” I’d cry and cry and I knew it was the damn hormones. And that made me even angrier. I was enraged that hormones could cloud this time precious time with my new baby. Moments I would never get back.

A was patient. She let me sleep in every single day over the summer – getting up by 6am everyday with one or both of the kids. She’d take her turns at night when my efforts only reduced me to tears.

By almost three months W’s sleep was amazing and she and I were connecting. This was about the time A went back to work (I am not sure if I ever followed up from the laid off post, but she was rehired). I am not sure if it was life forcing me to finally be the full-time provider of two children or if her return to work coincided with my hormonal shift but ever since we resumed our fall routine, things have just gotten better. I am no longer overwhelmed by the thought of spending my days with two, instead of one. The crying fits have passed, and most days are really great.

I wanted so much to write in the dark days after W’s birth and I think I even did but nothing I wrote was fit for publishing. I hope that now that I am on the other side, and that “it’s” out there, that I will want to resume more regular posting here.

Now every day is such a joy with W. She is the happiest baby I’ve ever known and most people tell me so. She loves her family, is thrilled with her big brother, and so easily goes with the flow. Make me want a third…but I worry I could be pressing my luck!

4 months, and we're in love

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My estimated due date was May 30th. The pregnancy was hard but as the end approached I experienced a reprieve, began feeling great- almost not even pregnant and was moving about with an ease last felt in the first trimester. I focused on enjoying the last days of E as an only child and soaking up our time together.

The early evening of May 24th we thought things were starting. I was having contractions but they were not painful. We ate dinner and carried on our nightly routine with E. We took a walk outside and chatted with some neighbors, put E to bed and continued to wait for the contractions to kick up; they were about eight minutes apart. Eventually we went to bed knowing things were far from starting. I had a rough night’s sleep and woke exhausted. A stayed home from work, as we believed things were happening. But the contractions fizzled out and I was officially experiencing prodromal labor.

Two nights later the contractions returned. This time they felt more intense and regular- coming three minutes apart. With the increased intensity, I was certain this was it. I called our doula, R to let her know. After about five hours of contractions, I also called our midwife, L. I had learned from the previous night of false labor that it would be best to rest instead of waiting for labor to kick up. So I went to bed, and when I lay down they stopped! I was so frustrated!

The next day, May 28th A, E, and I headed to the beach and spent the afternoon playing in the sand and soaking up the sun. I felt off that day, my body ached everywhere – I guess I was finally feeling like I should at full term! Earlier in the day I noticed I was starting to lose my mucus plug.

A & I were really tired and went to bed early that night. I woke at midnight feeling achy and hot. I moved to the couch to try to get some sleep; I spent the next several hours trying to sleep and when I couldn’t I’d play around on the computer. Somewhere in there I went to the bathroom and noticed I was losing more of my mucus plug and now there was also a bit of blood. The progress excited me, but I also knew this could go on for weeks. I decided to go back to our bed and try to sleep. A asked me what was going on and I told her I was achy and crampy and she rubbed my back for several minutes. Within ten minutes of crawling back into bed my water broke! It was about 3:30am.

With the gush of water I jumped out of bed and ran to the bathroom, leaving a trail of water behind. It’s hard to describe the this is it feeling. There’s no questioning the start when the amniotic fluid ruptures. I took a shower to clean myself up and then got comfortable to call L. A was scurrying around, showering, changing the sheets, and preparing to leave. Around 4:30 E woke up (as he often does in the night). When he saw A all dressed he asked “why are you all ready, Mama?” She assured him the clothes she was wearing were her pajamas and got him back to sleep. I ended the call told her “L said we should get some rest”, to which she laughed.

Contractions had started but they were mild to say the least. Around 5:30 I decided I needed some rest so I lay down in bed. But my waters kept gushing so it was hard to get comfortable and sleep was impossible. I lay there and rested for a little while. Before too long I got back up and bounced on the birth ball for a while. Again, my leaking fluids prevented me from being too mobile, which was frustrating.

As the morning waned on, A went about our daily routine, feeding and dressing E, playing with him. It was a beautiful Saturday morning and I watched them play in the back yard from my window. I was still very much excited and happy my contractions were starting.

There seemed to have been a misunderstanding about my parent’s role when I went into labor and they thought they were not needed until we left for the hospital.  I wanted to labor at home for as long as possible; in my mind this meant they would take E as soon as I went into labor so that A was with me.  There came a point where I needed A to be with me and she was just not able to do that while watching E, so even though I was not in serious labor we decided to head to the hospital so that we could labor together in peace. We left around Noon.

The drive to the hospital was challenging. It took 50 minutes and my contraction kicked up. I decided to call our doula and request she also head to the hospital. Upon arrival I was checked in and had the initial battery of questions and paperwork to complete. L checked me and I was two centimeters. Not too bad, given that I never dilated on my own with E. But we knew there was still a long way to go. A and I decided to take a walk outside; it was a beautiful day and we spent some time walking through the surrounding neighborhoods and downtown.

In the back of my head I could hear the clock ticking. The “you have to get the baby out within 24 hours of rupture” clock. I did my best to ignore it. We ate dinner, chatted with R, and I tried to rest. Sometime around 6:00pm R said she was going to prepare a hot bath with lavender so that when I was ready for it, I could just get in. Minutes later L came in and suggested I get in the tub and use the water for nipple stimulation to try to ramp up my contractions. A and I spent at least a half hour doing this, to no avail. L returned to check on us. She checked me again. Still two centimeters.  Frustration set in.

I knew the clock-talk was coming and it did. L told me the pediatricians like to start antibiotics 18 hours post rupture but she’d hold it off till 24 hours. She talked about my options, which in addition to medications, included doing nothing and waiting it out. I knew one thing, I did not want an IV. Antibiotics are given intravenously. I also knew from E’s birth that my body isn’t all that handy at dilating. Cervadil was my option; a vaginal suppository that softens the cervix. It was the lowest level of intervention available to me in a hospital setting. The down side was that once inserted I would have to have fetal heart monitoring for two hours, which meant I had to lay in bed for two hours. And already laying on my back was the least comfortable position with my mild contractions.

The Cervadil was inserted at 7:21pm. A, R, & I chit chatted while music played in the background. I did my best to submit to each contraction, to remain focused and lose, and to breathe. By 8:45pm the contraction were full on, intense, and this is when I consider labor starting. Having to remain hooked up to monitors and in bed was brutal. I asked R, what if I have to use the bathroom? And this became my focus. My way out.

It was clear to all of us that I was in hard labor, and all had been fine with the baby, so I wanted to be unhooked and to labor as I wished. I called for a nurse and expressed my need to use the bathroom. She said she had to talk to L. She returned about 9pm and said she couldn’t talk to L, but it would probably be okay to take me off the monitors 20 minutes early, and she did.

I used the toilet and had one contraction and then I got back into the tub. Instead of the relief I’d felt in the water just a few hours early, it now felt horribly constricting. I tried laying back and it hurt. I think I stayed that way for three or so contractions. Then I got into a frog position. One contraction like that and I knew I had to get out of the water. When it was over I maneuvered my body out and had one more contraction on the toilet. While there I felt a little nauseous. Meanwhile, R and L were preparing the bed in a raised position for me to lean on to. I tried it, and that didn’t work for me either. But while I was there I felt the urge to vomit. Someone brought me a bucket and I emptied my stomach; I was still standing up leaning on the raised bed and the force of my vomiting pushed the Cervadil out of me, and I was so thankful that it remained out. I remember thinking, I am in transition? I am in transition?! FUCK! How can I already be in transition? It was probably 9:45pm.

R suggested I may like to get on my hands and knees. I did this on the floor while they lowered the bed. Once lowered, I kneeled on the bed and held on to the headboard.  My contractions were seriously intense at this point. I was in full on labor. L checked me. “Five” she announced, “no, moving to six.” Holy crap.

A and R were to my right, L was on my left and there were two nurses. Mark Erelli was playing on the iPod.. L began rubbing my back as I rode each contraction like a wave. I did my best to keep my vocalizations low. L attended to our birthplan and lowered the lights. I remember hearing A ask R to change the music, and suggested something a little mellower, Norah Jones, Come Away With Me.

“You sound like you’re feeling the urge to push” L said; I confirmed that I was. She checked me and I was nine.  L suggested I lay on my left side, crunch up my knees, and hold my right knee open to push. She gently massaged me with some sort of liquid as I began to push. The baby’s head was coming out and I heard someone say she had a lot of hair. I was out of control, the pain was overcoming me, I was pushing with no method, I just wanted the baby out and I finally understood what women mean when they say they felt like they were splitting in two. I was sure I’d be broken when it was over. I yelled out “this is way more intense than last time.”

I knew that this was going to happen really fast, that I would not push for two hours like I had with E. I centered myself, and got in the moment. I wanted her entry to be something I remembered. I could feel she was close and that she’d be here soon. I’d been pushing with contractions, and then L instructed me that I could push in their absences and I did. Not ten minutes passed before sweet Willow entered the world at 10:29pm on May 29, 2010.

As soon as she was born she was placed on my lower abdomen while we waited for her cord to stop pulsing. I held onto her in amazement. It didn’t take long for me to feel the urge to push her placenta. R later told me that the cord stopped pulsing and I immediately said I needed to push. The placenta came out easily, the cord was cut, and W was moved to my breasts, where she immediately latched on and began sucking. R said she’d never seen anything like it. She was still covered in a good amount of vernix and I loved feeling it- so think and protective. I’d incurred a very slight tear and had one stitch.

W remained on my breasts for a while. My vitals were taken, and A and I shared a PB&J sandwich that I’d ordered earlier and saved. R and L said their goodbyes, and we were left with the nurse to have W weighed, measured, and cleaned up. She weighed six pounds 14 ounces and was 19 ½ inches long. She was born with a massive amount of wavy blond hair and blue eyes.

W turned eight weeks this past weekend and it’s hard to remember a time she wasn’t with us. The transition to family of four has gone ever so smoothly; E loves her and has been amazing with her. He’s shown a little jealousy, mostly when A has W, but over all he’s stepped into his role of big brother with grace. We feel ever so blessed with our family of four. It’s been quite a journey to this place. And not a day goes by that I don’t reflect and recognize just how blessed we are.

Love at first sight

First day at home

I love her and I think we'll keep her!

The pitocin kicked into gear and contractions rushed over me beating down like a wave crashing ashore. I can’t describe what it’s like to go from 17 hours of waiting to contractions every three minutes over and over again. I tried to work with it, moved as I could, showered, moaned, requested the tub – but was not dilated enough.

Eventually I needed some rest. I was 24 hours in and only 2 cm dilated. I asked the nurses for some Nubain and spent the next four hours resting between contractions. I was surrounded by my labor support the whole time: A, my mother, and our two doulas. They offered healing touch and massage to help me work through the pain all night long.  When the relaxing meds wore off I whispered to my doula I need the tub or I need an epidural. The midwife had to check my dilation. My doula told me to relax and make a decision after we knew my dilation. We were all shocked and ecstatic that I was 9 cm. We made our way to the tub room – having a contraction along the way.

A and I made our way into the tub where she held me as I worked through some of my most intense contractions. A was incredibly uncomfortable in the tub, but she never let on and I was able to stay there until I was ready to get out – had I wanted too I could have delivered in the tub but I was too exhausted after 32 hours, that I decided I needed to get out.

I spent my last two pregnant hours pushing. My midwife helped me try every position possible, but in the end we were all surprised to find I was most comfortable and successful on my back — something that I had never expected, but then again I was so tired I just could not kneel or squat or lay on my side. It took all my might just to push. I remember the pushing part was my favorite because it felt so productive.

As I was coming upon two hours of pushing the baby was entering distress. And my midwife told me I had to get the baby out with the next push. I locked eyes with my doula, announced I felt a contraction –  as I had every time, curled inward, and pushed…and pushed as hard and as long as I could. And then I felt my squishy little baby exit my body and enter my world. A announced “It’s a boy.” I cried. My son was placed on my chest and he almost instantly began suckling.

We were at the hospital by 6am. I am pretty sure I was floating or something because I was just so damn excited to meet my baby – and so much sooner than I ever imagined! We were laughing and talking with the nurses and midwives and all was well. But three hours after my water broke I had nary a contraction…

It was an unusual January day. The sun was bright and the temperature was in the mid 60s. This is not normal in January in New England. We walked the hospital grounds over and over and over. We ate, we walked, we checked in with the nurses, we walked.

The words: induction, pitocin, ruptured waters – get baby out within 24 hours, were mentioned with increasing frequency as the time dawdled on. The nurses would ask if I felt anything – any cramps? Nada.

I stalled on the induction. We kept walking. By now the sun was getting ready to set and my mother had arrived – fully expecting to see her new grand-baby. But instead we were getting ready to take a break from the walking to eat dinner. Over a not so tasty hospital dinner decided I’d take the induction at 8pm if I was still not contracting.

The thinking behind taking the induction was simple, I had been trying to get things going since 3am, and I was tired, and hadn’t really even started working yet. I knew I had a long haul ahead and needed to conserve energy. I also wanted to make the choice – had I waited too much longer the medical folks would have pushed it as I was not too far from the 24 hours mark that they wanted the baby out by.

I ate my dinner and then a couple hours later I was hooked up. It was amazing how quickly the contractions started.

more later, my boy just woke up.

I can’t believe how much bigger my heart feels since having Mr. E. He seriously has created more love than I can handle at times.

I love love love when he sleeps on my chest. In the wee hours of the morning, this is often the only way to soothe him back to sleep. And we both sleep, peacefully, and it’s the most beautiful thing ever.

The love and support my family has shown us is overwhelming, and sometimes brings me to tears. My Dad in particular, who hasn’t always been the most touchy-feely kind of guy, has done some pretty amazing things for us and his love for Mr. E is so great.

I tear up every time I replay the moment in my head just after I birthed Mr. E, and A announced, boy. That moment is the highlight of my life.

It’s hard to believe: this guy is ours, he loves us so much already, being his mother feels completely natural.

Way back when I was in graduate school I took a feminist research methodologies course. It was an elective course so I took the opportunity to study something other than my graduate focus. I had an interest in pregnancy and childbirth, and particularly the medicalization we’ve come to see so often in US culture. I reviewed oodles of research about the topic and also read many women’s stories about their birth experiences. Many women reported disappointment with how their birth experience played out compared to what they expected or wanted.

The topic fascinated me and even though I was years away from thinking about even trying to get pregnant, I knew it was important for me to educate myself on the subject. And by educate, I mean empower myself through knowledge and to really believe in my body. While pregnant, there were times I feared childbirth, who doesn’t, but I would remind myself, my body was built to do this.

For me, empowering myself meant collecting as much information as possible, having an idea of what I wanted, and being open to the fact that things may turn out drastically different that how I want. In an effort to do all this, A and I were sure to select a child birth class based on reviews. We wanted to know everything – from med free to C-Section. Because we just did not know what could happen. There was never a question about whether or not we’d have a doula. And I can honestly say, second to the costs of getting pregnant, the money we shelled out to pay our doula was the best spent money through out our entire journey.

We began monthly meetings with our Doula last September. She came to our home and the meetings lasted about two hours. She’d check in to see if we had questions and would also come prepared to talk about different aspects of pregnancy and childbirth. We talked extensively about what I wanted in my birth experience. She was accessible to us outside of our meetings (and still is after the birth) via phone and email. (She’s even called just to check in after our pedi visits, as Mr. E’s been battling Jaundice and needed 24 hour light therapy until two days ago.) She also visited us at home after the birth. This was helpful and gave us a chance to check in about breast feeding and also have her answer some questions about the birth.

On the morning of the big event, our Doula was the first phone call I made. Speaking to her calmed me down and helped us focus and put our plans into action. We remained in constant phone communication and it was for us to decide when we wanted her to arrive at the hospital – which was nice, because A and I wanted to spend a good amount of time alone early on. But as mentioned in Mr. E’s birth story, I decided I wanted her there, to help us navigate the medical system when the midwife started pushing induction.

As much as A and I had educated ourselves, I know that it was our doula’s presence that helped us tease out the overly medical approaches which in turn helped us find our comfort level when accepting medical help. Our doula also played a key role in taking care of both A and I while I was laboring. She helped me by suggesting position, helping me to focus my breathing and noise making, and by applying healing touches as needed. She checked in with A to assure her I was okay, and provided her with necessary support. Above all she kept us calm and focused and in the moment. We took each contraction as it came, and made decisions as needed with all the appropriate information.

I can’t say that I wouldn’t have had a similarly amazing birth experience with out a doula. Because, maybe I would have. I sure surprised myself with how well I coped with such a long labor. But I do think it would have been more stressful – for both A and I, and I am not sure I would have known how to most effectively use my breathing and sounds to help move the baby down. After my experience, I would not even consider giving birth again with out a doula.

I can hardly believe it’s been a week since Mr. E was born. It’s been the most amazing week. Moms and boy are are doing well as we settle into our new life and get acquainted with each other. So here’s the story of how he came into our world…This is a long one, but so was the labor…

Tuesday, January 8th

3:00 am – I woke feeling a text book version of my water breaking. I had been to the bathroom three times since going to bed, so I was pretty sure I didn’t “just pee myself.” I rolled out of bed and headed to the bathroom. Once there, my soaking wet pajama pants and twinge of blood confirmed my water had broken. I was 37w5d. I tried my best to clean myself up and yelled for A. When she came into the bathroom, and I told her what was going on, I felt we’d come full circle from the wee hours of the morning on May 15th when we stood in the bathroom, bleary eyed, staring at our first ever +hpt. We knew we’d be meeting our child soon.

Once over the initial shock that Moon was coming two weeks early, A went down stairs and got online – to see what we were supposed to do. I went downstairs and called our doula. We chatted for a few minutes and then I called the midwife. We’ll call her Midwife T (we went through three midwives over the course of the next 32 hours). Midwife T advised me to see how quickly I was soaking through a pad and to call back in an hour. A and I took showers, ate, and packed our bags. An hour passed and I had soaked more than one pad, so Midwife T advised us to head to the hospital. We took at least another hour to get out of the house – we had to prepare the cat’s food and water, I needed to go to my office to tie up some loose ends, and so on. As prepared as we were, we were not fully ready to do this two weeks early.

6:00 am We arrived at the hospital, giddy with excitement and the nurses welcomed us and showed us to our room. We had an end room. It was huge, had many windows, and was very comfortable. At times I felt like I was staying in a hotel. Our first nurse, Nurse Big Personality (NBP), began the initial routine check. I was hooked up to a fetal monitor so to check Moon’s heart rate. Moon must have been very excited to come early because his heart rate was extra fast. NBP expressed great concern but Midwife T told her to give it a few minutes. I laid there, thinking this will pass, the baby will calm down and I took some deep breaths hoping to help calm Moon. The next time Midwife T checked in, she agreed with NBP that his continued high heart rate was troublesome and that I needed to have an IV fluid drip.

Up until this point, I’d already let go of my wishes to labor at home for as long as possible. And now within minutes of arriving to the hospital I was about to be hooked up to an IV. My mobility would be severely impacted, I’d be on an IV and monitors. NBP left the room to get the IV; I began to softly cry while letting go of some of my birth hopes while guzzling water and wished my mother were sitting next to me. This was the first of several times that I worried they’d have to rush me into a C-Section. But Moon pulled through. By the time NBP returned, Moon’s little heart had stabilized and I had avoided the IV. Note to self, drink lots of water before arriving at the hospital.

8:30 am – With the shift change came a new midwife, Medical Midwife. NBP was still our nurse as she was required to work over time because there were so many women in labor; she was replaced by Mellow Nurse some time mid morning and then Peppy Nurse to finish out the mid afternoon. Medical Midwife inquired about contractions, which at this point, I was still not having. I was only feeling slight cramps. She discussed ways to try to bring on labor and also advised I could elect induction at any time but that by 3:00pm she would begin to advise induction. 3:00pm being the twelve hour mark since my water broke. Apparently the medical community thinks women should give birth within 24 hours of rupture. We told her, we wanted to try to start the contractions on our own and made clear that induction was not something we wanted. A and I spent a good deal of time that morning trying our best to get my contractions started. Throughout this time we were on the phone with our doula. We made a plan that she would arrive by 2:30 so that we’d have enough time to talk before Medical Midwife came back at 3:00pm to push Pitocin.

2:30 pm – Our doula, we’ll call her Soothing Doula (SD) arrived (although she deserves a post all about her). SD advised us about my options – we talked about the pros and cons of using Pitocin versus an oral cervix ripener. She came prepared with research for us to read in the event that I had to be induced. She assured us that we did not need to rush into induction and we all agreed to continue trying to get my contractions started on their own.

3:00 pm – Medical Midwife visits us to check in and discuss induction. I told her I wanted some more time and that if I ended up being induced I wanted Pitocin not the oral cervix ripener – reason being that Pitocin is controlled through an IV and can be lowered or stopped as needed. Once I took an oral med, there was no going back. She agreed to give me more time. I was lucky that the Birthing Center was so busy that they were able to give me what NBP termed, benign neglect, which bought me time in trying to bring on contractions.

It was a beautiful sunny day with temperatures in the 60s. Medical Midwife permitted me to leave the Birthing Center floor for half an hour at a time, so we went outside and walked the hospital grounds. We walked and walked and walked.

With this shift change came the most amazing nurse (AN). She entered a little hyper, but was fun and, well you’ll hear more about her at the end..

4:00 pm – My mother arrives and we were heading out side for yet another walk. No signs of contractions. All four of us walked the hospital grounds. After walking a bit we went back in and ate dinner. Still, no contractions! After dinner A and I conferenced with SD about induction. It was hard to admit that I needed to be induced. This is not what I envisioned. I didn’t want an IV and knew it would limit my mobility and I knew with Pitocin, more interventions often follow. My greatest fear was that it would tip the scale to an Epidural. I was beginning to lose hope that I would go into labor on my own and if it seemed like I needed to be induced, I didn’t want to put it off too much longer – we’d been up since 3:00am and I knew I had a ton of work ahead of me. For these reasons I decided that if I did not go into labor on my own by 8:00pm, I would take Pitocin.

6:30 pm – Medical Midwife returned to check in and advised I start pitocin. I told her if I had not gone into labor by 8:00pm I’d take it then. We kept trying to get things going. My very antsy mother did a pretty good job of keeping her opinions to herself. I think she would have been happy if I’d taken the induction when I arrived at 6:00am! She was relived to hear me finalize my plan and to finally get things going.

Around this time our Doula’s apprentice arrived. She’d been to all our visits and it was our plan to have her at the birth.

8:00 pm – Drip drip drip. You guessed it, the IV went in, first a fluid drip and then pitocin. With the introduction of Pitocin, I was hooked up to a fetal heart monitor and contraction monitor. I had access to wireless monitors, but in the beginning there were problems with the batteries. Once that was worked out, it seemed the positions that worked best for me, wouldn’t allow the monitors to pick up Moon’s heart rate. And hearing the heart was of the utmost importance to my nurses.

I was so very nervous that now my nurse was in control of my labor. I feared the Pitocin would kick in too quickly or bring about hard contractions. I’ve never heard anything good about Pitocin. Luckily I was in the care of AN (amazing nurse as mentioned above). She casually chatted with us and I felt at ease with her, she felt more like a labor coach than a nurse and she was on my wave length. I think she said something about being a doula before she became a nurse.

Slight contractions began within the half hour. I was talking through them we were still all just hanging out. At some point my mother let me know if at any time I wanted her to leave, to just say the word. We had not planned on her attending the birth. But when she showed up and I was still not in labor, it felt very natural to have her there and honestly, I felt a little more secure knowing she was there.

Where time becomes blurry…

Contractions became harder and harder. I asked to be on the portable monitors and tried lots of different positions. All I remember is that the one that worked best, on the birthing ball, was not compatible with the fetal heart monitor. We kept working at easing my comfort and all those in attendance would help me by rubbing my legs when they’d tremble, or applying pressure on my back through a contraction. I don’t think I was with out a hand to hold and squeeze for the duration on the labor.

Wednesday, January 9th

Around 3:30AM – The 11:00pm shift change brought NBP back to us. A later told me that was one of the hardest points for her – when my first nurse came back on. I’d been laboring mostly out of the bed at this point (at least I think I was). And she expressed concern that my stamina was wearing thin. And we all knew I still had a long way to go. She suggested I take something to help me get some rest. Stubbornly, I declined and asked to get in the tub. At this point I had not been checked for dilation. Before I could get in the tub Medical Midwife needed to check me. Soothing Doula calmly advised A and I that Medical Midwife would give me a number, whatever the number was, don’t let it get us down. I had been seriously laboring for eight hours and awake for twenty four hours. TWO freaking centimeters dilated. How could I not let that get me down?! Still, I declined the drugs and opted for a shower.

I stood in the shower holding the bars, breathing through contractions as A held the shower head and moved it up and down my body. This was the first time I said to her, I don’t think I can do this anymore. A helped me out of the shower and dried me off between contractions. As she did this, I asked her what she thought NBP meant by give me something to help me rest? Surely I thought the nurse was crazy. How could I rest while my body was going through the most intense pain I’d ever expereinced?

When I left the bathroom I saw a gym mat set up on the floor. Think, elementary school gym class. I am not sure who brought it but the idea of getting on it with my birthing ball was appealing. I managed to get down on my knees and then began to vomit. From the gym mat I looked up at SD and said I wanted the drugs to help me rest. I think NBP was relieved. They all helped me into bed and I remember NBP telling me she was adding a Nubain drip to my IV as well as a shot in my leg. Then she said soon it’d be like I was at a party. And almost instantly, I was nodding off. I’d wake every three minutes and work through my contractions, making the most primal of noises as my support team rubbed the areas of my body that seemed to hurt most. There were at least three people with me at all times – one on both side and one at my feet.

8:30 am – My Nubain was starting to wear off and I was experiencing more and more awake time in between contractions. I told SD that I wanted to be checked again and that I really wanted to get into the tub. I started to think if I didn’t get in the tub soon, I’d need an Epidural. She calmed me and advised we take it one step at a time – get checked and then make the next decision. This coincided with the midwife shift change, we were onto our third and final midwife, Delivery Midwife.

By some alignment of the stars, Amazing Nurse had changed her schedule and was back that morning instead of her usual afternoon shift that I’d had her on the day before. She was assigned to me. I remember seeing her come into the room and I was so excited to see a face I recognized. I remember asking her to tell me her name again. AN called for Delivery Midwife in order to have me checked to see if I was dilated enough to get in the tub. There was much excitement when she declared me NINE centimeters! With all the excitement, they seemed to have forgotten that I wanted the tub. I looked to SD and said, I want the tub! She halted everyone and their efforts were redirected to getting me to the tub room – all the way at the other end of the hall. SD warned me I’d have contractions on the way to the tub, and that when I felt them coming on, I should hold the railing on the wall. I wanted that tub so bad, I was almost running there, and managed to only have one contraction on the way.

9:00 am – A and I were in the tub. I was hurting. But the warmth and the water really helped me to move my body with the contractions. And to really engage in moving the baby into the final position. SD advised me on noises to make and where to focus my energy. My mom continuously placed ice cold cloths on my forehead and held my juice up to mine and A’s mouths to sip from a straw. We were drinking cranberry juice and I was going through it fast. Every time I finished another bottle, someone would have to leave and get another one. I became so frustrated that at some point I asked, can’t someone just get a pitcher of juice for me? I think that was the extent of my labor bitchiness.

Amazing Nurse and Soothing Doula were my greatest coaches through this last labor period. At one point SD asked if it was okay for her to step out for two minutes. I agreed and then had a really hard contraction. AN overheard me say to her, I don’t want you to leave, not even for two minutes. And she stepped in and said she’d hold my hand and help me if I was comfortable with her so SD could get two mintues. She was the only other person I would have at that moment. I said something like, yes that’s okay, I feel as comfortable with you as with SD. We had some unexplainable bond. Around this time AN also started singing and encouraged everyone to sing the baby out. It didn’t last long, but it was a nice distraction.

Delivery Midwife picked up from some of the noises I was making that I was starting to feel the urge to push. She checked me and there was some sort of lip still on my cervix. She advised me to keep working through contractions. We’d been in the tub about two hours when we decided it would be best for me to get out as the tub was relaxing me and stalling things a bit.

11:00 am – I got into the bed and Delivery Midwife did all she could to help me use my contractions to break the lip. She became worried enough at one point to call in the Ob/GYN (who happened to be the doctor who did my HSG last spring). She checked me and gave me clearance to start pushing. Delivery Midwife advised me to try a variety of positions, much to my surprise, I liked laying down the best. Perhaps I was just too tired to do much of anything else?!

I found pushing to be the best part of the whole labor process. I finally felt like my contractions were moving us somewhere. I know each contraction contributed to getting Moon into position, but the pushing contractions got him out.

I went deep within myself and tunned out all the people around me. Through out the entire labor, when ever I needed to focus I’d look at Soothing Doula, and without words, I’d focus. This was true while pushing as well. As I felt each contraction approaching I would talk myself through what I needed to do. I’d verbalize to everyone I was starting feel it, then pull up my legs, tuck my head to my chest, focused all my energy, breathed in deeply, and then pushed – low and hard. I averaged two long pushes with each contraction, sometimes three. Everyone cheered me on.

Time passed quickly. Before I knew it, I was feeling his head low in the birth canal. My support team beamed with excitement when they saw his head for the first time and exclaimed he had a ton of hair. Amazing Nurse took my hand at one point and place it on his head. I continued with my pushing and inward focusing. I did however tune into the fact that the medical professionals in the room were getting anxious. The Ob/GYN was called back in and Amazing Nurse began to give me oxygen. I knew I was so close, and yet I knew they were really worried. Delivery Midwife advised me, Moon’s heart rate was climbing and I needed to try to get the baby out with the next contraction. I’ve never tried so hard to do anything in my entire life. I knew I needed to use the next contraction to get the baby out, no matter what it took. I prepared myself and produced three or four long pushes. I waited to feel the, so called ring of fire, the burning many women experience as the head passes. If it was there, I did not feel it, perhaps because I was so focused on getting my baby out, my baby who’s heart was again in distress. With that push, I felt the head come out and then his floppy body followed. I was dazed as I heard A announce, BOY! And he was immediately placed on my chest. I wrapped my arms around him, and fell in love.

There is so much more to say about our hospital stay and his first week…but that will all come later. Thank you to everyone for all you comments and emails. It’s been so wonderful to feel so showered with love as we entered motherhood. And to know there are so many people out there who care. Moon’s new blog name will be Mr. E. I’ve started calling him that in real life, so it seemed natural to use it here.

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