As I sit here, watching the Rangers in the World Series with a little girl sleeping quietly beside me, I can only think that one week ago today, and right about this very time (9:45 p.m.) I started pushing and had one hour left to go...but I'm getting ahead of myself.
At 3:30 in the morning last Sunday, I woke up - my water had begun leaking. I wasn't sure what was going on, but I was pretty sure that's what had happened. I didn't wake up Cason, but just kind of took things in/googled "water breaking/leak" and read other descriptions just to make sure this is really what was happening. I also texted our birthing class teacher, Sharon. She is typically up late at night, so she texted me back to call her. I explained everything and she reassured me this was probably it, but since I wasn't having contractions, I should probably go back to bed for awhile. I woke Cason up to tell him, but told him no contractions yet. I went back to bed and drifted in and out of sleep. Minor contractions started an hour later, but again, nothing too significant. At 6:30 a.m. we called our moms and also the midwife on call. It was Debbie - we like all the midwives, but there is something so especially reassuring about her demeanor. She said to call her back at 9:30 - she was hoping that by then my contractions would strengthen. 3 hours later...not much more. She told us to go take a walk and for me to take a warm bath. We would check back in at 11:30, but either way we were going to be going to the hospital at noon.
We did all those things, called her back at 11:30 and said we were on our way in. I think we were kind of in shock and not quite sure if this was all going to happen (despite the fact that my water had broken!)
We got to the hospital and got all situated. Our first nurse, Hope, was fantastic. Debbie went ahead and manipulated my water more so I finally got that huge gush out. The hope was that my contractions would then kick in at a higher intensity. While we waited, they had us walk the halls. We did that for about an hour. While on our walk, my cute husband said "You know, if Madeleine is born today, her birthday will be the 24th. That's my birthday (the 11th) plus your birthday (the 13th!)" Thankfully my contractions did start to intensify, but at the time I thought they were way more intense than they really were (ha.) My parents and sisters got to the hospital, and Cason's parents weren't far behind. They took turns in and out and we chatted in my L&D room for awhile. Linnet was also there at the beginning of the labor and then right after the delivery.
The next time Debbie checked me, I hadn't made much more progress, so we started talking about pitocin. As much as I would've rather not had it, we had a deadline. My water had been broken for just about 12 hours, so we only had about 12 hours left before more intensive intervention would be needed, and I would probably be facing some imminent exhaustion. I agreed with Debbie's suggestion that we get on a slow drip, just to speed things up a bit. The true labor that was actually doing something probably began about 3:30 or 4:00 p.m.
Okay NOW we're talking. Things began to really progress. Looking back, so much of the intense hours are a bit foggy now. I had my ipod playlist of about 50 songs - tons of reassuring and calming praise and worship music to focus on as I labored. I knew I would need that to pray through and meditate on as I faced the toughest job I'd ever encountered. Amy Grant's "Carry You," Jars of Clay's "The Comforter Has Come," Shane Barnard's "Psalm 143 (Revive Me)" Watermark's "You are My Stronghold" are just a few of the songs I picked. There were so many that reminded me of the sovereignty and deliverance of the Lord. I also hung up my scripture poster on the wall in front of the bed (see previous post for photo.)
I labored in several positions with Cason right there with me through every contraction. The position that was probably the best for me was on the exercise ball with my head draped on the bed. I could rest easily between contractions and Cason supported me from behind. That man was so strong. He coached me and breathed with me and the Lord used him to get me through this. See my feet curled on his feet? I'm telling you - I needed him!
The positions that probably got the most work done (but were the most painful!) were when I would lay on either my right or left side while my mom held my top leg up a bit to open my pelvis. Yikes, that one HURT. My mom, Cason's mom Trish and Cason were in there with me the entire time. They were so fantastic every single step of the way, praying for me, massaging my legs, holding my hand, giving me cold rags and ice chips, etc. My sisters, Cason's sister Heather and our dads were in and out as I labored, praying for me and taking turns coming in. I had not a clue as I told Cason everyone had to be quiet, and my eyes were closed through many contractions and rest periods.
I got a little snippy sometimes, but I think I stayed pretty calm. Once Cason was right in my face getting me to focus, and he was doing such a good job breathing with me, but I told him he needed some gum. Once Cason had to go to the bathroom, so my mom tried to breathe through a contraction with me. "Do it like Cason does, MOM!" At one point Cason and my mom were massaging my legs. "Cason, do it like mom - 4 fingers together!" Later on "No I said 2 ice chips, not 3!" Ah well, I've heard there are worse things to say/do in labor. After some of these I actually apologized. Ha. I had a few hours of labor where I really moaned through my exhales. I felt like a weirdo, but it definitely helped me to breathe. As things picked up, Cason and I got on this really deep breathing pattern of just inhaling and exhaling with everything we had. No real rhythm or "hee hee hoo" business, just...deep breath after deep breath.
Labor is so weird. I mean, I really took things one contraction at a time, so in that sense, it seemed really slow, but at the same time, it seemed to really fly by. We got to the point, the second time on the ball, where I started feeling my body involuntarily push. I thought surely we were close (ha, again!) Got on my side again...man that position works but it about killed me. I started pushing some from there. I tried not to yell as I pushed, I knew it was a waste of energy, but man, there were some gutteral noises coming out of me. I was holding on to Cason's hands sooooo tightly, despite his encouragement to relax. Finally I heard Debbie tell me it was time to turn on my back to push. It was about 9:45. I looked at the big red numbers on the clock on the wall and though "this baby could be here by 10!" Not so much. Anyway, I got in position to push, and had mom and Cason on my left, and Trish and Debbie on my right. Pushing itself didn't seem to be as painful as the contractions, but of course it was much more exhausting. With each contraction, she had me push about three times. I can still hear her "Okay deep breath in....hold it, and PUUUSHHH!!! Okay again, HARDER!!! Okay...one more....PUSH. Good job" So basically we did that about every other minute for an hour. I thought that it was taking such a long time, and with each contraction, I thought..."I don't know if I can do that again." I pushed so hard I popped some blood vessels in my eyes, and Cason said I was so red.
The interesting thing about my pushing time is that the verses I wrote on my poster in orange are the ones that really were meaningful in this time. I didn't plan it or anything...those were just the ones that I kept meditating on.
"...he who began a good work in you will carry it on to COMPLETION until the day of Christ Jesus." Philippians 1:6
"You hear, O Lord, the desire of the afflicted. You ENCOURAGE them and you listen to their cry." Psalm 10:17
"Now what I am commanding you today is NOT TOO DIFFICULT FOR YOU or beyond your reach." Deuteronomy 30:11
"Be STRONG and COURAGEOUS, do not be terrified, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:9
On and on we went. It got to be so frustrating cause I could feel her head coming out while I was pushing, then she would go back in when the contraction and pushing was over. Then I would push again and make a little more progress, then I would relax and it would seem to go away. I got to feel the top of her head at one point, and that was so encouraging. She was almost here!! Well we finally got her head out, and I thought the rest of her would just wriggle on out of there, but unfortunately her shoulders got stuck. It was pretty scary, especially when I heard Debbie say "we need to page the attending." Oh no...I really didn't want any drastic interventions. More prayer and harder pushing. I HAD to get this baby out. I kept pushing even in between the contractions. Finally at 10:48 p.m., out she came! It was instant relief. They dried her off real quick, put her in a blanket and put her on my chest. It was the most amazing thing. They let us sit there for just a minute, and then Cason cut the cord and they took her over to the table to take care of her/clean her off. Oh I was just elated. I heard the different nurses saying "Oh she's got the shoulders of a linebacker, no wonder she got stuck!" "Oh my goodness, she is more than 9 pounds! That is a big baby to come out of a little person!" I got cleaned up/stitched up, and then they brought her back to me. What a feeling.
A perfect, chubby baby girl!
Bonding with Dad.
3 generations - her Granna has worked so hard this week!
The family came in to see her and take more pictures. I love these.
Then we nursed for the first time. I can't believe she knew what to do. By the time we got everything done in L&D and we got wheeled up to our room on the 25th floor and got all checked out up there, we weren't really alone with her until about 2:30 a.m. What an exhausting first night!
How are we doing now?
Some parts of this week have been really hard. The first couple days of healing for me were really difficult, but now, a week out, I feel fantastic. I've been trying to rest and take really good care of myself, while letting Cason and our moms take care of everything. Nursing has been hard too. That has taken some work, but now, a week later, I think she's finally gotten it down - not without a few majorly frustrating nights. I also felt like she had short-term memory loss. She would latch great one night, but the next act like she'd never done it before! I think we are definitely improving though, and I think that being able to breastfeed has been worth the few frustrating days. She is a really calm baby - very alert and very intent on what is going on around her. We are so blessed to have her, and can't believe she is finally here!
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