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Lilly’s Birth Day

July 16, 2011

AKA one of the most incredible days of my life thusfar.

I debated writing this post — because talk of dilation & water breaking and whatnot feels a little like over-sharing to yours truly.  But, inasmuch as this blog is a family journal, it’s really important to record such a significant day before too much time passes and my memory of such an amazing day fades.  Not to mention, for obvious reasons, I’ve recently been fascinated by other women’s childbirth stories.  So maybe this will be interesting and/or encouraging to someone?  I hope.  (and, if childbirth stories aren’t your thing, you can feel free to just stop reading this post!)

Warning:  This post has turned into somewhat of a novel.  I’ve spared no detail for you!  I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad one…

I’d been dreading my 41-week OB appointment because I knew that we were going to have to discuss the possibility of induction, something I really was hoping to avoid.  In fact, I was so stressed about it that I woke up at 3am the morning of the appointment and couldn’t go back to sleep.  I noticed some strange cramp-like things going on in my abdomen, but they seemed to subside as quickly as they came on.  So, not wanting to get my hopes up, I ignored them & listened to my hypnobabies CD instead.  When that didn’t put me back to sleep, I came downstairs to watch tv.  I finally fell back asleep around 5, only to get up again at 6:30, when Jason got up for work.

I played on the internet and got ready for my appointment.  I felt a few more crampy cramps, but they were short-lasting and very irregular.  I ignored them, mostly, but as the morning went on, I became hopeful that maybe the OB would announce that I was a few cm dilated and ready to head to the hospital.  I decided that I’d throw my hospital bag in the car as I went to my appointment *justincase*, even though I suspected that such luck was a long shot.  At the appointment, we learned that baby’s heart tones were good, she was still responsive, and that I was, in fact, having contractions (4 in the 20 min I was on the monitor!).  But, I was only 1 cm dilated and obviously not in active labor, and we had to have the dreaded induction discussion (I had no contractions during the 45 min that we spent discussing the induction with the OB and assumed this meant I was not in labor).  We agreed to an induction 2 days later, and our name was added to the list of people the hospital should expect to see that day.  I was majorly bummed about the possibility of not letting my body go into labor on it’s own, but it was also good to have some news about when our baby would finally be here.

Jason and I decided to walk the 5 blocks from the OB’s office to the local brewpub for lunch.  Between my large belly, the heat, and the reappearance of contractions, it was a slow walk, and, truthfully, I spent much of our lunch date distracted by the very short & very irregular crampies I was having.

After lunch, I headed home and JT headed back to work.  I tried to take a little nap once I got home, since I hadn’t slept much the night before, but ended up talking to my mom & MIL instead.  By the time Jason got home, I had become optimistic that maybe, just maybe, we could get this party started.  J suggested walking the dogs — if I was actually going to go into labor soon, the dogs would be kenneled during most of our hospital time, so tiring them out in advance would be a good idea.  So we took the dogs on a mile-long walk.

When we got back to the house, I pulled out the handouts from our natural birth class and read them while kneeling and leaning over our giant balance ball.  At this point, leaning over something or walking felt best.  Jason threw a few items into the hospital bag, and suggested we grab dinner.  I thought dinner out sounded like a good idea, but wasn’t sure I wanted to be out in public in case the contractions got worse or my water broke.  The contractions were still relatively short (~30 sec) and irregular, but were becoming more intense.  Our original plan, based on what we learned in our birth class was that Jason would call the shots and I would just listen to whatever he thought would be best.  So we went to dinner.

(To turn over control to someone else is so unlike me!  But I really trust Jason, and he was guided by a chart that we got in our birth class that told him which signs to look for during which stage of labor, so he’d know when things really started happening.  And apparently, I followed the chart to a T.)

I called my BFF Elizabeth on the way to the restaurant.  I still wasn’t 100% sure that this was it, and was trying to distract myself from getting too excited in case contractions stopped.  Also, everyone says, “you’ll KNOW when this is it” and I wasn’t sure, so didn’t want to sound the alarm too soon.

I managed to eat about half of my pesto pasta with spicy chicken dinner before deciding that sitting down was entirely too uncomfortable — I had to get up and move around.  So I left Jason to finish up and got up and walked circles in the parking lot.  Yep, I was definitely that awkward pregnant lady walking laps in the parking lot, but it felt so much better than just sitting!

The drive home was not great (more sitting + bumpy roads = boo!), but we broke it up by stopping at our friends’ house.  We hung out and chit chatted for a while, and the contractions went away again.  At this point, I was super-confused, and frankly, a bit emotional… was this it?  or not?

{Andrea& I pose for what turned out to be my last pregnant photo!}

We all went for a walk through their neighborhood.  At one point, we were talking about how pretty all the blooming lillies were, and our friend, Andrea, goes, “Lilly… that’s such a pretty name.”  Jason and I just looked at each other before agreeing… knowing that if we had a baby girl, we’d name her Lilly in honor of her great-grandmother (her middle name is in honor of her other great-grandmothers who both have the same name… while June isn’t their exact name, I was informed that neither of them actually liked their full name.  So June is a close sound-a-like name, and maybe it’ll also remind us how we spent all sorts of extra time waiting for her!)

As we walked, I felt a few more contractions and just breathed through them.  By the end of the walk, I was desperately trying to ignore them.  If this wasn’t going to be our baby’s birth day, I didn’t want to get my hopes up.  And between the lack of sleep the night before, the induction discussion, and the starting and stopping of contractions, I was just frustrated and annoyed that I didn’t know for sure whether this was it.

It was probably about 10:30pm by the time we got home, and we hopped in bed and tried to get some rest.  Easier said than done.  I put the heating pad on my lower back and laid on my side.  I was able to sleep a little, but at some point in the night, the contractions intensified and woke me in a complete panic.   Jason put on the hypnobabies CD and we listened to it in an attempt to try to relax me.  I remember asking what time it was — 2 a.m. — and repeatedly asking Jason to confirm that this was really it.  I was able to relax between contractions, and I could keep my upper body relaxed during contractions, but not my thighs.  So I made Jason rub them to help me relax.  At some point, we switched from hypnobabies to Yo La Tengo, and Jason started to remind me to relax through contractions, saying things like, “relax”, “let your body do what it needs to”, “you’re doing it!”, “use your yoga breath”, and other cheesy things that were incredibly helpful to this laboring mama.

I think it was around 3-4 a.m. that I would have really liked to go to the hospital.  I didn’t say anything though, knowing that Jason was in charge, he was taking care of me, and he would tell me when it was time to go.  I started to question whether I could do this — I was so incredibly tired – and in the back of my mind, I thought that maybe if we just went to the hospital, they’d be able to give me something to help me sleep?  I don’t think I vocalized this, instead, I told myself that I could hang in there until the sun started to rise, and then I’d get up and do something.  So I laid in bed, listening to Yo La Tengo, breathing/moaning/sighing through contractions and trying to relax.  (Once we had listened to the only Yo La Tengo album on my ipod, Jason put on Sigur Ros.  Which lasted a good 30 seconds before I freaked out and told him that I needed Yo La Tengo back on…)

I had borrowed a TENS machine from one of Jason’s coworkers and tried to use that for a little bit.  The TENS machine electrically stimulates the muscles in your back and is supposed to be incredibly helpful for back labor.  Since my back was tight and never really relaxed between contractions, I thought this would help.  It did feel really great during contractions, but I found that I wanted it off between contractions.  I finally got frustrated messing around with the TENS machine as the sun began to come up, so I decided that I’d hop in the tub.

Jason filled the tub for me, and I hopped in.  The hot water really helped me relax, and I laid on my side, falling asleep between contractions for about an hour and a half.  Luckily, my midwife dog, Jezebel, had followed me into the bathroom & slept on the bath mat.  I think the dogs knew something was up.

Jason also sat in the bathroom with me for a long time, but then noticed that things were intensifying and decided that he’d better take care of himself while I was relatively calm so that he’d have the energy to continue to take care of me.  So he ate breakfast, pulled the car out of the garage & packed it, and fed & let the dogs out.  (I was so out of it that I had no clue that he had done all of this until he told me about it after Lilly’s birth.)

I got out of the tub after about an hour and a half, and at this point, nothing felt good.  I told Jason that I needed to know the plan for the next hour(s) so that I could just concentrate on following it.  He suggested that we both shower, that I eat some oatmeal for breakfast, and then we’d walk around the yard a little before calling the OB’s office when they opened.

Jason prepared my oatmeal and brought it to me in bed, where I laid on the bed with a heating pad on my back.  The last thing I wanted to do was eat, but I tried to choke down a few spoonfuls, knowing that I’d need energy for what was ahead.  Jason hopped in the shower — or, actually, he shaved first and I was annoyed that he was dilly-dallying when I needed him to get things together, but I needed to just continue focusing on relaxing during my contractions, so my annoyance was short-lived (lucky for Jason… I mean, I’d assume nobody wants the wrath of the laboring woman).

Once Jason was done with his shower, I hopped in the shower, giving Jason strict instructions to CALL MY MOM.  I think here is where I actually KNEW this was really it.  (Perhaps I was just in denial earlier in the night?  All I knew was that this was intense, and if this wasn’t labor, I was not going to be able to handle actual labor.)  I had promised my mom that we’d call when we knew I was in labor, but I thought I was going to be calling for her — because she needed to be there.  Instead, though, I found that at this point in labor I really needed her to be there, needed to know that she was on her way.

In the shower, my contractions intensified even more.  Up until now, I was getting a break between contractions, but suddenly they were coming one after another and I had no time to recover.  That was insane.  It was all I could do to shampoo & condition my hair, and I ended up on my hands and knees, the water streaming over my back.  Oh yikes.  I’m still not sure how I managed to get dressed…  I kept recalling stories of women who had done their hair & make up prior to heading to the hospital.  That was NOT me.  I barely managed to run a comb through my hair on the way to the hospital!  (Don’t worry, though, I did manage to throw hair gel in my purse.  Jason thought it was hilarious that through everything that was going on, I somehow had the presence of mind to grab hair gel.  In retrospect, I wish I also had the presence of mind to take one last photo with the belly and measure the final distance around the belly, but that just didn’t happen.)

Jason called the OB’s office to see whether he should bring me to the hospital or their office, and the OB insisted on talking to me (I have no recollection of what was said) before deciding we should meet her at the hospital.  We got in the car, and I did my best to channel my inner mama horse and just relax.  (Later Jason asked why I’d choose a mama horse over another animal… I figured they only have one baby at a time, and that baby is BIG – bigger than mine – and they somehow remain calm through all of it).

Something changed during the car ride over — suddenly I was feeling all sorts of pressure in my pelvis, and it’s possible that I was even lightly pushing.  Not that I was trying to push, my body was just doing it.  Once we got to the hospital, around 9 a.m., the triage nurse announced that I was 5-6 cm and that pressure was likely the amniotic sac, which she described as “bulging”.  (eww.)  I was hooked up to a monitor to listen to the baby’s heart, and almost ended up being THAT NAKED LADY — you know, the one that I begged Jason not to let me become – because they handed me this hospital gown with approximately 42 snaps and 14 ties and it was all too much to figure out at that point.  Luckily, Jason was smarter than the hospital gown & was able to dress me before I was moved to a room in the actual labor and delivery unit.

Once in the room, monitors were once again strapped to my belly, but they were awesome wireless monitors that allowed me to get in the tub & labor there for a while.  While the nurse was drawing the bath for me, Jason helped me breathe through a few contractions while I was bent over the couch.  He tried to offer counterpressure on my lower back and I definitely yelled at him to STOP TOUCHING ME – which was somewhat expected given that I had the same attitude about touching during the relaxation portion of our birth classes… so funny.

The tub was amazing and really helped calm me.  Jason continued with his verbal “relax” cues, and I was able to catch a break and talk clearly with him, the doctor, and the nurse between contractions.  (We discovered later that both of us thought that maybe I had actually gone backwards upon arrival at the hospital because I was able to hold a conversation again — but neither one of us wanted to say it at the time.)  At some point, I was given an i.v. line — usually, in our area, they’ll give women an oral dose of Cytotec during 3rd stage labor to manage the bleeding, but after reading the medical literature, I had asked to be given Pitocin (which is typically delivered i.v.) instead (based on my readings, Cytotec is slightly less effective & has a few more side effects than Pitocin).  The i.v. was installed while I was in the tub, and shortly after, I was asked to get out to be checked again.  Around 10 a.m., I was 8 cm and they were still waiting for the amniotic sac to rupture.  I told Jason that I could feel my body pushing lightly during contractions, but thought I was holding back since I was in the tub (I mean, the sensation was not too different from having a bowel movement, and who wants to do that in a bathtub?).  So I sat on the toilet through the next contraction, and my water broke.

There was meconium in the fluid (not a huge surprise, given our girl’s decision to hang out in there almost 2 extra weeks!), so I was told that the baby would need to be continuously monitored as I pushed, and that we’d have a NICU team in the delivery room that would whisk baby away if she didn’t come out screaming.

I got back in the tub, and things intensified.  I’m not sure that I actually ever felt pain up until this point — what I really felt was a lot of pressure and cramping.  I began moaning more through each contraction, Jason held my hand, keeping the i.v. line out of the tub, and continued to say all of the “relax” and “you’re doing it!” cues that I needed to hear.  I kept my eyes closed now, and conversations between contractions were not an option.  I could hear Jason’s voice getting shaky, and I remember feeling bad that I was upsetting him, but there wasn’t much I could do about it.

My body began pushing.  The nurse came in to get me out of the tub.  I didn’t want to, so I grumbled and said a lot of “I can’t” but in the end, Jason and the nurse got me out of the tub and on to the bed.  This must have been about 11:40ish.  (Note that by this point, I have absolutely no concept of time and only little flashes of memory).  I kneeled on the bed, and my body pushed with every contraction.  It was really weird – not like what I imagined it would be.  You know how you always see the people in movies laying on their back, with nurses around them counting out each push?  That did not happen.  My body pushed, totally independently of my brain, in a sensation that I can only describe as vomiting out my bottom.  (Jason likes to joke that college did a good job of preparing me for childbirth.)

I was totally unaware of what was going on in the room – my back was toward the room, and my eyes were closed anyways, except for the few times that I opened them to look at Jason’s face.  This was maybe a good thing since there was a crowd involved (a bunch of labor & deliver peeps + the NICU staff), and an unfamiliar male doctor who had been nabbed from the hall when it became clear that the baby was crowning and my doctor was in the middle of a C-section.  My doctor eventually made it, and I heard her say something about heart surgery to the nurse, but Jason said that once she realized that baby was coming, everyone got down to business.

She suggested that I flip to my side and continue pushing that way, and somehow I managed to do so.  I hugged Jason around the neck, and just held him as tightly as I could while pushing (my arms were actually sore the following morning – guess I almost broke his glasses with my kung fu grip!).  After two contractions, baby was almost out, and then, I had what seemed like the longest. break. ever.  I really thought another contraction would never come, and all I wanted to do was push to get this show over with.  Instead, I caught my breath, Jason wisely removed his glasses, and we waited.  Finally, another contraction came, and then our little Lilly was born — screaming!  I remember looking down as they placed her little body on my abdomen, and thinking, “oh, a baby.”  All in all, it was reported that I pushed for 40 min.  In laboring Jen time, it seemed like only about 5.  Jason also reports that I wasn’t screaming that loud, but he might just be too nice to tell me, since I felt like an amazon woman screaming and grunting through most of the pushing.

Once Lilly was out, Jason, teary-eyed, noted that it was a girl.  Surprisingly, I didn’t cry, but I think I was still in shock that an actual baby had emerged from my belly, that SHE was ours.  The OB let the cord blood drain to the baby, and then let me cut the cord.  They placed my sweet little girl up on my chest and wiped her slimy little body down before covering both of us in a blanket.  Third stage labor and the cleanup that followed was a complete and total blur — I have little memory of what physically happened, other than Jason and I staring down at the tiny little baby on my chest.

{proud dad holding baby girl for the first time}

The OB & nurses left us, and Jason and I spent the next hour or so mesmerized by our daughter.  It’s incredible how much we fell in love with her in those first few moments together, and we were (and are!) so thankful that she came out screaming so that she wouldn’t have to be whisked away to the NICU.  To be honest, I didn’t expect to immediately love her – I thought it would take time.  But this little one stole our hearts much faster than we anticipated.  I even asked Jason if he expected to feel this strongly about our baby, and I think his exact words were, “I thought I would love her, but I didn’t think I would be this enamored by her.” (Someone already has daddy wrapped around her little fingers…)

{crazy-haired mom wishes a little that she had actually put hair gel in after that morning’s shower, but is happy to have cute new accessory to distract you from her tired/disheveled looks!}

We ordered sandwiches to the delivery room and someone came to weigh and measure Lilly.  (That was when I discovered that she pooped on me!  Lilly: 1, Mom: 0).  My mom arrived at the hospital and held her first little granddaughter, and we made all of the important phone calls to family to announce Lilly’s arrival.  We were moved to a more permanent recovery room, and spent the rest of the day cuddling our little girl.  All in all, Lilly’s birth was a much more amazing experience than I had anticipated (and, forgive me if this sounds crazy, but it wasn’t quite as painful as I anticipated either…).  Jason and I can’t get over how blessed we are not only to have Lilly, but that her birthday went as smoothly as it did, and that we were granted the most important things from our birth plan (healthy baby, healthy mom), as well as many of the other items that we thought would support our main goals (like the mom-baby snuggles immediately after birth).  We felt really supported by our OB & the staff at the hospital, and I felt (and continue to feel) so loved and supported by Jason.  Even the nurses at the hospital commented on what a great partnership we have, and they are right, I think.  We are a lucky, lucky little family of three.

13 Comments leave one →
  1. Mom permalink
    July 16, 2011 9:28 pm

    Ok, now you brought tears to my eyes…..beautiful recap and sorry I wasn’t there sooner but it sounds like you guys had it well under control!

  2. July 16, 2011 11:01 pm

    You sure are lucky. Congratulations on baby Lilly. So happy you shared your story. Enjoy evry second of her!

  3. Debbie permalink
    July 17, 2011 8:19 am

    A beautiful ( and tearful ) way to start my day! That was a day you will never forget; you will ALWAYS remember all the details. We have been patiently waiting to meet Lilly. Be prepared for me to scoop her up every chance I get!
    You ARE a lucky family!

  4. July 17, 2011 9:11 am

    Oh girl, you’ve got me sitting here crying like a fool!

    Thank you for sharing your story – brings so many things back – you are a strong & beautiful person and your little one is a very lucky girl indeed.

  5. July 17, 2011 1:20 pm

    What an amazing story, Jen! I am so happy for you and Jason (who sounds like the most amazing husband ever, BTW). You so deserve that beautiful baby girl!! I’m blown away by your strength!

  6. July 17, 2011 1:53 pm

    Jen, you had a great delivery! I’m so happy everything went so well for you. She’s adorable and you can tell she already has a slave in Daddy! 🙂 🙂 🙂

  7. July 17, 2011 3:17 pm

    Wonderful, amazing, brilliant, ……adorable, gorgeous……..

    May I be the first from Ireland, via France, to welcome Lily into the world 🙂

    So delighted for you ALL – you new wee family

    Huge hugs, very impressed by your blogging skills – my brain was mush at this stage!

    Wishing you happy days and sleepy nights,


  8. July 17, 2011 11:14 pm

    What a beautiful birth story! So you didn’t have an epidural at all?! I like the tub idea at the hospital too, didn’t know those existed! And I disagree, I think you look fantastic in the photo with Lilly even if you don’t have hair gel in your curls–from one curly haired woman to another you hair looks great! What a gorgeous little girl you have and your husband sounds like a gem with all the support and how well he did. 🙂 Congrats!

  9. July 18, 2011 12:52 pm

    I’m so glad you decided to share! I love birth stories, especially med-free! There are so many things I can relate to, but especially the vomitting out your bottom and “Don;t touch me!”


  10. Jan permalink
    July 19, 2011 3:27 am

    What a great birth story Jen, so glad you decided to share. You both did an amazing job.

  11. July 20, 2011 1:54 pm

    Great story! You made me cry and I’m at work! Shame on you 😉

    • July 20, 2011 1:56 pm

      Oh, and my next door neighbor’s just had their baby on Friday, July 15 and they named her Liliana.

  12. July 20, 2011 3:36 pm

    1) THAT NAKED LADY and the 42 snaps and 14 ties on the gown…totally made me giggle cause it’s so freaking true. Damn those gowns with their peek-a-boo backs. Mine even had an opening right by my nipple, apparently ideal for heart monitors which I of course didn’t need. 2) vomiting out your bottom…again, totally cracked me up, and 3) those first few baby poops are gnarly, I can’t imagine how fun it was to discover she unloaded ON you! Love it all!

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