Due date, with no sign of baby
I was due on August 19th. Despite being 2 cm dilated for a few weeks prior, the 19th came and went with no sign of baby’s imminent arrival. David worked from home that week, in case things started getting moving. We went to my due date doctor’s appointment, and my sweet, wonderful doctor was fine with me going two more weeks before needing to be induced. So the next week was spent doing as much walking as being 40+ weeks pregnant and the middle of August would allow. Mostly, I went walking at the mall – with friends and family, by myself, almost daily, to try to get baby to start moving.
HUGE at six days overdue, with pregnant friends Kristyn and Amy at church
Baby was very stubborn, though, and soon another Monday had rolled around, again, with no more progress being made. When I went in for my post-due date appointment, again my doctor was fine with me not being induced, but sent me over to the testing center so they could check baby’s heartbeat and my amniotic fluid levels. Both were perfect, but the Irish nurse on duty sternly warned me a few times that if I felt any decrease in movement, to come in right away.
What else is a 41+ week pregnant momma to do, but obsess about baby’s movement? All day Tuesday the 27th I thought baby was moving less than normal, and after my daily walk in the mall, this time with my friend Shannon, who was 37 weeks pregnant (and who, by this point, I was convinced was going to go into labor before I did!) , I got home and started fretting to David about baby’s seeming lethargy. We had a few errands to run that night, so after a dinner of homemade chicken pot pie, he suggested we run by the hospital on our way, they’d hook me up to the monitor, we’d hear that baby was fine, and I’d be able to rest that night knowing everything was okay. I called Labor and Delivery to ask if I should come in, and of course they said yes. When I asked if I should bring anything, the nurse on the other end sarcastically replied, “Well if I was 41 weeks pregnant I’d have everything in my car already!” So we packed up most of our stuff and headed out.
On the way there, baby woke up and started moving, of course. After arriving at the hospital, I was hooked up to the monitor, and baby’s heartbeat was steady like usual. However, after a few minutes, while the nurse was in triage with us, the monitor slipped off my (gigantic) belly and the nurse simultaneously heard the baby’s heartbeat decline. It seemed pretty obvious to David and I that it “declined” because the monitor literally fell off, but immediately after, the nurse muttered, “Yeah, you’re not going anywhere.” The midwife on duty came in and explained that any imperfection at all in the heartbeat was grounds for immediate induction. We were very disappointed – this was not how I had envisioned things going, and seemed like a pretty big setback in my plans for a natural delivery. We asked lots of questions, prayed, I cried, we called David’s mom for advice, we asked to talk to the midwife again, and then the OB on duty came in. I wasn’t a fan of him at all after his making remarks like “I would have never let you go past 40 weeks” and “I’d rather induce a live baby today than a dead baby tomorrow.” That, and the fact that we would be leaving against medical advice, meant we were staying. I felt devastated, and wasn’t encouraged when he pulled out a little chart and calculated that my chances for a vaginal (not just natural) deliver were “pretty good” at 60-70%! This upset me even more. In my mind, I might as well have just skipped to a hysterectomy, as I envisioned a terrible labor fraught with complications leading to uterine rupture, Caesarean, and ultimately my inability to ever have children again, not to mention a baby that would never be able to breastfeed because it wouldn’t have had immediate skin-to-skin contact with me. Perhaps I did a little too much research while pregnant! The icing on the cake was the fact that I had taken off my toenail polish earlier that day, but hadn’t had a chance to cut and repaint my nails, and they looked horrible, and I was sure this was going to gross out the staff terribly while I was in labor. I was so embarrassed by this, and went on and on about how I wasn’t ready to have the baby because my nails looked like a homeless person’s. And I had really hoped that my labor would start out slowly and naturally, giving me time to do important things like wash my hair and style it and put on fresh makeup. You know, the things that really matter in life. Overall, I just didn’t feel ready, and knew that within the next day, our lives would change forever. But God had different plans than mine, so eventually we had to surrender to them and get the show on the road!
Getting settled in the delivery room
I was admitted and given penicillin at around 10 pm on the 27th, and they started the pitocin at 1:30 am on the 28th. We settled into my room and finally slept from about 3-6:30. When I awoke at 6:30 I told them I wasn’t feeling very strong contractions, so they upped the pitocin and it quickly kicked in. Before too long, I was having contractions every minute, and so they reduced the pitocin to keep them 2-3 minutes apart.
About the contractions: in our labor classes we learned that there was a break between the contractions, so it’s not a constant pain. BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! I guess there was a “rest” or a “break” between each contraction, but I basically spent every second of the extremely painful “break” repeating the following phrases to David: “I CAN’T DO THIS, I CAN’T DO THIS, I CAN’T DO THIS…I’M NEVER DOING THIS AGAIN, I’M NEVER DOING THIS AGAIN…I CAN’T DO ANOTHER ONE, DON’T MAKE ME HAVE ANOTHER CONTRACTION…IT HURTS IT HURTS IT HURTS…I NEED SOMETHING, GET ME THE DRUGS!” Over. And over. And over. The only break David got from me saying those things was during the actual contraction itself, when it hurt so bad I couldn’t talk at all. I couldn’t focus on relaxing at all – my instinct was, of course, to tense every muscle in my body, and although I knew I wasn’t supposed to, I felt like I had literally nothing left in me to relax at all. The one thing I was consciously able to do was to groan in a deep voice, so groan I did. David was amazing, though, and talked me through literally every single contraction. There is absolutely no way I would have been able to get through it naturally without his support!
The next few hours were spent with me trying to get through the contractions, and although I was supposed to be on constant monitoring, my nurse was awesome and let me get up whenever I wanted, so we would basically repeat the cycle of settling me in the bed in a “comfortable” position, getting through a few contractions, getting up to go to the bathroom, having a few contractions on the toilet and then on the way back to the bed, and then getting back in the bed and hooking everything back up. At 7:30 I was checked and was 4-5 cm! Yay, it was working! Labor continued and at 10 am, I freaked out – I think I was going into transition. Doris arrived to drop off some of the stuff we had left at our apartment, and I basically got hysterical when she walked in. I couldn’t handle the pain, couldn’t catch my breath so started hyperventilating and felt completely out of control, and got really nauseous and ended up throwing up. She got right to work and helped David help me back and forth to the bathroom, cleaned up after me, and tried to make me as comfortable as possible. I was getting pretty edgy by now, and at one point when I caught David texting (my family, to give them an update on my progress), I yelled at him to stop texting. I also told him to shut up at one point, I’m sure it was just adorable :-).
I was checked again at 11ish and was 8-9 cm. This was the encouragement I needed, and finally stopped asking for the drugs. Up to this point I think I asked David to get me some morphine between every contraction, but once I realized I was almost there I felt like I could push through and do it naturally. I was checked again and was almost at 10, but had a little bit of anterior cervix or something in the way, so labored on my hands and knees for a few contractions and that totally worked to get me all the way to 10. (Note to self: try that position more next time, it was so much more comfortable than just laying on the bed!)
All of a sudden, it was time! At around 12:45 they told me I could start pushing. I got really disoriented and confused at this point, as it all felt so surreal. I had anticipated a very long labor, but it had only been a few hours. More nurses and the midwife came in, and they all started getting gloves on and rearranging things and transformed the bed, which I was aware of, but it seemed like such a blur. I kept asking David, “Wait, what’s going on? I don’t understand!” and he’d respond with a big smile on his face, “You’re pushing, sweetie! You’re gonna have a baby!” I understood that on one level, but part of me was still holding back – feeling unprepared, a bit scared, and in denial that this was actually happening. But finally I surrendered to the fact that I am having a baby. Today. Right now! and started pushing. The pushing phase felt confusing almost the entire time, as I didn’t understand the counting and it was different than what we had practiced. I was also confused by the position I was in on the bed, convinced that there was some other position that would be better, but couldn’t remember it at all. I was also confused because although I was pushing, I didn’t feel like anything was happening. Everyone started telling me they could see the baby’s head, and that it had hair, although I didn’t really believe them. Thankfully, Doris asked at one point if I wanted a mirror, and when they brought it in, I could see the progress that was being made.
After pushing for about 50 minutes, baby’s head emerged, hairy and chubby-cheeked. A long arm and a shoulder popped out, and then the other shoulder and arm. At this point the midwife gave me permission to catch the rest of baby myself. I reached down and grabbed those two slimy armpits and pushed and pulled, and then, in a Lion King-like moment, lifted the baby up in the air and declared with a shocked expression, “It’s a GIRL!”
First glimpse at my little girl!
I can’t even explain the shock that seeing my little baby girl was. A real, live, baby GIRL! I pulled her to my chest and loved her and cuddled her and couldn’t take my eyes off her adorable, beautiful, chubby face and long hair. David was ecstatic as well, and we were given plenty of time to get to know our little Abigail Joy for the first time!
Super Coach / Proud Daddy!
Our first family picture
Introducing her to my family, via Skype
We truly got the shock of our lives when Abigail turned out to be a girl. We were fully convinced she was a boy, and nearly every single time I got asked in public what I was having and responded that we didn’t know, the asker would confidently say it was a boy. But the one thing that should have tipped us off was that we didn’t have a boy name nailed down. We had Abigail picked out before we were even expecting her. I was still in shock hours (ok, realistically, DAYS) after I had her, that she was a she and not a he. But I have to say, it was quite a pleasant surprise!
Abigail’s first weigh-in
Precious baby and Daddy
Daddy’s first time changing Abby’s diaper
So happy to have my baby in my arms!
Overall, my birth experience really couldn’t have been any better, other than less painful, haha! But now, several weeks later, I can’t even compare the joy of having Abigail in our lives to the momentary labor pains I experienced. God was so gracious to give me the exact birth that I wanted, to provide the most amazing husband who coached me, loved me, and served me every minute of the labor and beyond, and most of all, to give me such a beautiful, healthy, charming little girl! She is our greatest treasure outside of Jesus, and we feel so privileged to be her parents. August 28, 2013 will forever be one of my most favorite days in my life!