On Monday morning I had a midwife appointment at 10:30 AM. I put on my neon pink pants, trying to get the most use out of them before my pregnancy was over, did my makeup, (glitter eyes included) and decided after a very rough weekend of feeling pathetically sorry for myself and bawling at the drop of a hat, to seize the day.
There were a few girls in my congregation at church due to have babies around the same time as me. Even though it was their first baby, I knew I would be the last one. The second girl had delivered on Father’s Day. I thought it might help me to visit her in the hospital and see the baby, and I thought she might like a visitor (having had my share of hospital visits, I know I always liked visitors). The plan was to see the midwife and then see the new baby.
When I got to my appointment, my midwife, Barbara was all business. The birthing center was still holding on, still open. There were 2 ladies in 2 out of 3 rooms RIGHT NOW, and so by the afternoon could be done, but even so there was still a 3rd room open. She told me Monday was my last day to give birth in the birthing center (at 41 weeks you HAVE to go upstairs to L & D), so if we could get things moving today, that would be grand.
She checked me: no change since Thursday. She stripped my membranes something fierce and told me if I had ANY contractions (braxton hicks or otherwise) over the next few hours, that we could go to the hospital, check again and try to break my water.
I was skeptical, but I agreed to the plan as long as: 1. Jason didn’t have to come to the hospital until we knew the water was actually broken and 2. If she wasn’t successful at breaking my water, I could go home and continue to hope to go into labor on my own for another week.
I left and had lunch at Potbelly’s (their new Mediterranean sub), hoping the spicy hummus would do something. I then went to Sprinkles and inquired if they had any labor-inducing cupcakes….sadly no, but they wanted me to let them know if the 2 banana with dark chocolate frosting did the trick. By this time I had had a handful of braxton-hicks contractions, but nothing to write home about.
I started walking at 60th & Lex around 12:15. I walked all the way to 101st and 5th Ave. At around 1 I decided to stop counting how many contractions I had had since leaving the midwife, but rather how often they were and how long they were lasting. I was surprised when a pattern started. 5 minutes apart, 45-90 seconds long. Though they were not painful, and easily walked through, I still thought the pattern was interesting and started to have hope.
I saw that 7-pound bundle of joy at the hospital and cried when I saw her. I couldn’t believe how tiny and beautiful she was. I only stayed for about 15 minutes, and then I kept walking. This time I went along part of my old training tracks in Central Park to try to find some half-marathonish muster and motivation and the contractions continued. The weather was PERFECTION.
By the time I crossed to the west side, to the neighborhood of MY hospital (60th & 10th), and had been walking for 3 hours, I called Barbara and told her about the contractions I had been having, so as planned we decided to meet at the hospital to check things out.
I breezed by a lady who I think was ACTUALLY in labor, and realized that I didn’t really look like a woman in labor when I signed in at triage. Whoops.
At around 3:45 I was in triage, ready for my examination. Barbara jammed her fingers in and I feared I was “the same” as earlier that morning…and I pretty much was, but she was determined, and she broke both layers of my water. Suddenly, I was having a baby…and reported to now be 3 cm. She told me to act like I was in labor and I got off the phone (after calling the necessary parties) and tried to breathe.
By 4 pm, the contractions had REALLY begun in earnest. 3 minutes apart, these bad boys were the real deal. There were two rooms available for delivery, one on L &D and one in the birthing center a floor below, but the nurse available was a L & D nurse. Barbara offered me the L & D room, but I wanted the birthing center, so I labored in the hallway for at least an hour, often staring out this window during a contraction.
Jason arrived around 5 and we hung out in the hall together. After checking in with the nurse coordinator several times and arguing: if you have a nurse available on L & D, why can’t she just walk down the flight of stairs and do her job in the birthing center? Barbara just took matters in her own hands and walked me down herself. I changed out of my hospital gown and into my own labor clothes and rocked in the rocking chair for a while, then tried the bed and around 6 got in the tub.
From 6-6:45 I took contractions less than 2 minutes apart in the tub, until I started feeling pruney (a feeling I hate), and then continued my labor on the bed. My goal this time around was to not go completely crazy during transition. As a result, the next hour was extremely painful. As the pain and my vocalizations intensified, I needed a reality check to know that I was making progress.
I was pretty stoked about this, because I knew it only took a little bit to jump to 10. The next hour was difficult to navigate because bearing down helped relieve much of the contraction pain. I soon worked myself into full-out pushing, but it lacked a rhythm and progression that I remember from my other two births, so I was sweating, hot and a bit frustrated. Barbara checked again and explained that I still had a lip of the cervix and so my pushing was not working, I had to resist for the next contraction.
I lay on the bed almost falling asleep between contractions, held so tightly to my labor nurse’s (she finally showed up!) hand and had Jason push with both fists and all his might, into my tailbone. If I had a birdseye view of myself during the next 1-4 contractions, I think I looked like Gollum when he was tied to the torture table in one of the Lord of the Rings films. Seriously, the MOST painful experience of ANY labor experience I have had. By 3 and 4, I was naturally pushing and Barbara knew she needed to investigate one more time. I also did quite a bit of screaming.
Clear! Finally, I could push for realz. I could feel that head moving into position, I could feel her through the “ring of fire” and I could feel her squish out and relieve me of that intense pain and pressure, and after two contractions of pushing there she was in my arms! She had that sour smell, she was warm and wet and pink with a nice blue cord and so much hair! 8:38 PM!
I held her to me and felt so happy that it was over.
This was the most involved Jason had been in helping me deliver, and sadly he got some blood on his nice work clothes, but he did such a great job helping me. Barbara was amazing and calm and so good and my labor nurse had the best voice–counting and saying: we can do this, we’re doing this together–I loved her.
As I caught my breathe Barbara said: That was a rough one. That says a lot coming from her, and so it made me feel a little more validated, because I thought it was pretty rough too.
I delivered my placenta and she examined it and then her face turned grave and she looked at me and said: You are a very lucky lady. I didn’t understand why until the next day when I was reading up on Velamentous Placenta. My little girl had survived a frankly, life-threatening condition and I was blown away that I had dodged that bullet so to speak.
Barbara is super awesome and doesn’t overreact to things. When I was bleeding for 3 weeks at the beginning of my pregnancy and she found out the cause, she said I could go about my business (running, relations etc.), whereas my ob/gyn recommended taking it easy with things like that. She let me fly on the plane very close to my due date and she just doesn’t overreact or over worry about things. The way she reacted when discovering that placenta, I knew that I indeed was very fortunate to be holding my baby-alive and well.
That night I had my first deli sandwich in SO LONG and it tasted SO GOOD. Jason brought it to me and look what came with it–a giant pickle! I didn’t eat one bight of it because my real-life Pickle was way better.
Our first night together was rough…lots of puking up amniotic fluid and burping and crying and trouble latching on (my first time having trouble! She’s a little tongue tied, but she’s a champ now), so I did NOT get much sleep. But, I was so thrilled to have my Pickle I did not care one bit. She is my little blessing…I have prayed so hard for her and having her here truly is nothing short of a miracle.