I went to sleep Sunday night thinking the full moon brought no due date magic. I woke up in the middle of the night feeling restless and crampy, which is strange since I'd been sleeping so well. I laid awake for an hour and around 3 a.m. realized these achy cramps were coming in waves. Oh! In a rare embrace of technology I bought an iphone app to time them and they were anywhere from 7 to 10 minutes apart. I tried to nap in between and around 7 a.m. got out of bed - it was our baby's birthday! (Well, maybe.) I called the birth center to give them a heads up and they advised lots of rest. They said most first time moms have 24 hour labors so I would probably be pushing her out that night.
I kept my chiropractor and massage appt. and was able to relax during contractions. I sent Gabe off to finish up some work for the afternoon, and I just took it easy and listened to lots of Hypnobabies. By the time he got back things were getting more intense and I wasn't sure if I should keep resting or start to walk and bounce and try to move her into a good position and get the show on the road. Gabe got home around 5:30, I think, and helped me get through contractions. The night is sort of a blur, though I do remember clearly puking violently into our trashcan and nearly passing out when Gabe tried to help me do a belly lift during a contraction. I knew, though, that some women throw up at transition, so I held out some hope that when we arrived at the birth center at 5 a.m. that I would be checked and they would say 'oh wow, get ready to push!'. I had three contractions getting from the car door to the birth center door. They checked and said I was still in early labor and needed to rest in order to prepare for active labor. So far I'd been feeling very active. Apparently the baby was still posterior so they thought most of the work of the contractions were trying to rotate her. Ugh.
I took something to sleep in between contractions and during each one I'd come out of sleep and punch Gabe awake so that he could rub my back (I was having back labor too). He'd fall asleep halfway through and I'd tell him to wake up and help me. I felt bad waking him up but really I was having trouble going it alone by this point. Eventually I got into the tub and tried to get her to rotate by sort of squatting and leaning forward. More blurs. I know I was checked twice and made very little progress. I was about 36 hours into labor and seemingly stalled at 5 cm. Exhaustion was a real worry at this point as I had had very little food and not enough water and some of my contractions were right on top of each other without a break. (Turns out after seeing hospital monitors I was having up to three contractions in a row - they guess it's because my body was trying everything it had to get her into a good position.) I decided at this point to transfer to the hospital to get pitocin and an epidural for some relief. I cried and felt disappointed but I also was happy that there was to be some change.
I arrived at the hospital around 4:30 or 5 and got tied up to a bizillion things and into a hospital gown. The epidural part was hard since I had to curl my back and relax despite contractions which was next to impossible but somehow I managed. I will say here that even though Hypnobabies didn't make me have a pain-free labor, there were some tools I used that allowed me not to lose control or calm at any point, so I'm really glad I did it. The pain of contraction + epidural needle while keeping muscles relaxed was one of those times. So anyway, not much changed with the epidural, so they upped the medication. I mentioned I was feeling kind of hot and nauseous and could I get a washrag, and next thing I know there are people in my face, and then an oxygen mask. The medication had made my blood pressure plummet, and the baby's heart dropped in response. Everything was good within 30 seconds but that was pretty frickin scary. It was also the point where I got frustrated at myself for being in the hospital and subjecting the baby to all this, but honestly I didn't dwell on it. I had made an informed decision and had to go with it.
The next couple hours I was able to rest up. It wasn't some lovely epi heaven that I have heard but it made things so much better. I started having to breathe through contractions again but didn't want any changes.. I wanted to be able to feel as much as possible in order to push. I had a minimal dose of pitocin (less than a teaspoon total and things were progressing great). Around 11 I let them know I was feeling a bit pushy. I asked my midwife how long it would take and she said it really depends. She said a woman could push a baby out in 45 minutes but that is rare with first time moms and with epidurals. I tried to relax and rest up for the energy needed soon. Then all of a sudden I sent Gabe out for help because I knew I was pushing involuntarily. They came in and baby was descending. This next part was so amazing. The contractions spaced out and I could talk in between. It was go time! I pushed a few times and wasn't sure I was doing it right. The midwife then had me feel her head for motivation. What?! Crazy amazing. After all the nine months, and after the couple days of labor we were actually going to have a baby! The unavoidable reality that said baby was about to arrive out of my vagina was a bit daunting, too. But really at that point what can you do? I pushed with everything I had, mainly because it was really tough work and I knew I wasn't going to want to be doing it a few hours from then. My memory of her being born is not very visual because I had my eyes closed and was very focused. But I remember Gabe watching everything and giving me the play by play, punctuated by many 'oh my god's and 'that's amazing'. Apparently baby girl came out spinning with her arm by her head, a pause where the midwife told me to just breathe, and then she came slipping out with one last push. She had a short cord so I couldn't really pull her up and see her face. But I heard her cry and saw her shiny body and when she looked up she had a gorgeous tiny face and beautiful open eyes. I couldn't even believe this creature had been inside me this whole time. She arrived just after midnight, after 45 minutes of pushing.
Annabel Eden is named after our mothers (Anne & Edie) and we love how feminine and slightly southern the name sounds. There are so many nickname possibilities too. While pregnant we called her Bananabel or Bananabelly. We left the hospital the next day and she is doing great. She is super beautiful, and it's not just our new parents' bias...
I'm recovering well, though I have to admit that was a pretty intense 46 hour ride. Nothing like what I had expected or hoped for, but perfect in its own way. The birth center staff told me it looks like the long labor was due to her position and that if I have a second I really should not delay getting to the birth center because that baby will probably come quickly. In my book anything under 30 hours would feel quick :)
The best part of having Annabel so far is watching Gabe be a daddy. He changes her and dresses her and sings her made up songs. He is a champion burper, great at swaddling and the way she looks at him is amazing. He has told her he loves her a thousand times already and is absolutely smitten. We both are so in love with her - swooning over each little noise and expression and cute little body part. (How could a fingernail be so tiny?)
We're taking lots of pictures and I think I'll share the Picasa link on here rather than post on the blog all the time. I need to find the link but will post it by tomorrow. Here are a few early moments...