Labor and delivery

Ahh! Last post I told you to “come back Monday to hear about our delivery.” What I should have said was “come back next week or maybe the week after that, because nothing gets done now that I live with a baby.” Sorry to all of you who have been chomping at the bit to know all about my labor. Now you may enjoy.

Let me preface this tale by stating that I am not a hippy; I wasn’t one of those women looking to have a “birth experience.” (No offense to those of you who are… just not my bag.) When it came to reading the birth books, I skimmed, preferring a more “ignorance is bliss” approach to child-birth. I was anticipating a delivery much like you see on TV, complete with screaming and gnashing of teeth. Which is why I was so blown away by what can only be described as a really wonderful birth experience. Weird, right?

It was 2 am on Sunday and I was laying in bed reading Sabrina Soto’s design book. I heard what sounded like a rubber band snap followed by a warm gush of water. I jumped out of bed and ran to the bathroom (not a drop on the carpet, in case you care). Sean woke up and asked if everything was ok. I told him I peed my pants and to go back to sleep. One more awesome pregnancy symptom, I thought, as I changed my PJs and got back into bed. About 15 minutes later, another warm gush had me sprinting back to the bathroom (still no carpet damage – my pg feet run fast when white carpet in on the line). This time Sean came into the bathroom to make sure I was okay. “I think my water just broke. What did the birth class tell us to do in this situation? Go to sleep, right?” (Not right…)

So I did what anyone would do; I took a Tylenol PM and went to bed. I woke up around 9 am and called my midwife. She was pretty upset that we waited 7 hours to call and reminded us that you only relax at home if you begin having contractions. If your water breaks, you come to the hospital right away because you have to deliver within 24 hours to prevent infection. Sean and I must not have been paying attention during that birthing class.

Again, I did what anyone would do. I showered, shaved my legs, and put on make up. If we were going to have a baby, I may as well look nice. We arrived at French hospital around noon and after a quick test, they determined I was leaking amniotic fluid and had dilated to 2 cm, so they checked me into the hospital. At this point, I’d been having contractions for several days. They weren’t regular or painful, so I didn’t think much of them. In an effort to speed things along, Sean and I went on a walk and ate a delicious Chipotle burrito bowl. After that, I was hooked up to the monitors to begin timing my contractions and told to rest. So I took a nap while Sean ran home to pack a hospital bag (my theory worked)!

My parents arrived around 5:30pm and I was still feeling good and very calm. Almost too calm. I started to think that labor was easy, and maybe I would be one of those women who had a painless delivery. But all that changed around 6:30 pm. I was now 4 cm and having to concentrate during each contraction. I had planned on having an epidural, but I wanted to wait until I was at least 5 cm so I could “feel” what labor was like. Silly Amber. I’ll tell you what labor is like. It’s like Freddy Krueger trying to rip apart your uterus. I was clearly not one of those women who was going to have a painless delivery.

I did the exercise ball thing and the massage thing and the slow breathing thing. I even did the “please kill me now” thing! And at 10:30pm, I did the epidural thing. And it was BLISS! I was very afraid of the side effects of the epidural, but when you’re experiencing pain so horrible you think you’re going to pass out, the pros outweigh the cons.

After the medicine, I felt like a new woman! I was no longer fighting my body, and I was able to focus my energy on staying calm. Sean and I settled in for some sleep before the big delivery.

Around 2 am, the nurse woke me up to administer pitocin. At this point, my water had been broken for 24 hours and the risk of infection is great. I did not want any induction drugs, which is why I waited as long as possible to get the pitocin. After she hooked up the IV, she realized that I was contracting fine on my own and that I didn’t even need the drugs. So back to sleep I went.

At 4 am, I was complete – fully dilated and ready to deliver! My awesome midwife, Helen, suggested I sit up and labor down for an hour or 2. That way the epidural could migrate down to my pushing area and the baby could work his way down the birth canal. We called our parents and told them to come down if they wanted to watch the delivery. This is a testament to how relaxed I was feeling. Originally, I didn’t want anyone except Sean in the room, but I was so calm that I was happy to let both grandmas watch the delivery. At 5:30 am, I began to push. I could feel the pressure of each contraction, but not the pain. It was a very surreal feeling. I was focused and determined to make each push count. Sean was adamant about staying by my head and not looking “down there” but I really wanted pictures. So he handed me my camera, the nurse rolled over the dreaded mirror, and I took pictures of the delivery. Oh yes. The whole thing.

After 45 minutes of pushing (it felt like 5 minutes!), his head was out! My midwife told me to hand the camera to Sean and come get my baby. So I sat up and pulled little Luke out of my body. Just like that; like the most natural thing in the world is to sit up and pull your baby out of you.

I’ll never forget the feeling of his warm and wet body wiggling around on my chest. I’ll never forget how he stopped crying the second we were skin to skin. And I’ll never forget the look on Sean’s face as we held our son for the first time.

I am so thankful for the team of nurses and my wonderful midwife.I’m thankful for friends and family who encouraged and prayed for me. And I’m thankful for my awesome coach and husband. Each of you played an important role in making child-birth a positive experience. I am ready to do it again!

Most importantly, glory to God! For creating my body to do this, for protection, and for our strong and healthy baby boy! I am in awe of His goodness and beyond thankful for our perfect babe!

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