On Saturday my mom came down to spend the weekend. I was having decent practice contractions already, so we went to the mall to walk around and see if we could move them along. The people there just would not move fast enough. “You know you’re slow when the hugely pregnant woman is blowing past you,” I remember saying irritably. David and my mom just kept quiet and let me walk.
That night I hardly slept. My belly kept growing hard for a minute, then relaxing, then hard, then relaxed, but not with any regularity. My feet were hot. My back ached. I could not get comfortable. I knew the time was getting close.
Sunday morning I had to make a decision about whether to go to church or not. On the one hand, those pews are SO uncomfortable and I was having contractions which were, off and on, about five minutes apart. On the other hand, there wasn’t anything better to do but sit around and hope my labor progressed. So I showered and dressed and off to church we went. I don’t remember a word that was said because I was too busy timing contractions. We left after sacrament meeting.
My mom rubbed my ankles and feet, hitting labor-inducing pressure points in an attempt to speed things up. I honestly don’t remember how we spent the rest of the day, though we probably watched a movie or two. We went to dinner at my in-laws’ house that evening. My contractions were pretty consistent at five minutes apart by now, but it still wasn’t time. So I ate. And I tried unsuccessfully to socialize. I was grumpy and tired of waiting. My mom and mother-in-law exchanged knowing looks and whispered to each other, “She’ll have this baby by tomorrow.”
Around dusk, David and I went for a walk around our neighborhood. “We should probably pin down some first and middle name combinations,” I told him, since we had some ideas but nothing definite. So we discussed some options while I waddled breathlessly along. We didn’t walk far. When we got home, we brushed our teeth, I checked my bag to be sure I had what I needed for the hospital, and we snuggled into bed.
About an hour later I was up again, unable to sleep. I curled up on the couch with my laptop and surfed the internet while timing contractions. Still five minutes apart. Then four. Three. Then, out of nowhere, I felt a POP.
I hurried to the bathroom, afraid that my water had broken and I was going to soak the couch. It wasn’t my water. It was, however, lime green. For the first time since labor had started, I was afraid.
Some searching online did little to reassure me–evidently the jury is still out on lime green mucus plugs and what they might mean–but I still wasn’t sure if I was ready to go to the hospital. My midwives had told me, “You’ll know when it’s time.” Was it time? I didn’t know. I waited another half hour. My contractions were now two minutes apart. It was 3 AM.
Finally, excited and nervous and tired of waiting, I woke David up. “Hey,” I said. “We should probably go.” He rolled out of bed, grabbed the car keys, and within minutes we were on the road.
I was still able to talk through contractions as we drove, but by the time we reached the hospital, I had to stop and really focus on each one. I bent over the counter reception, breathing,
breathing, breathing, done. I stood up to find David and the nurse there
staring at me. I rolled my eyes and said, “Ok. Now what?”
checked my blood pressure, timed some contractions, asked some questions, and sent me into
the triage nurse, confident that I would be admitted. The triage nurse
handed me a gown, which I put on in the bathroom before waddling back to
the bed. The moment I sat down, there was a
gush of fluid. “Um, nurse?” I turned to look for her. “Either I just
peed all over myself or my water just broke.” She laughed, confirmed
that it was the latter, checked to see how far along I was, and decided
that since I’d reached 5 centimeters already, it was time to let the
midwives know that a baby was on the way. She also noted that there was some meconium in the fluid, which made me a little nervous, but she told me, “There isn’t much. I wouldn’t worry.”
Down the hall I could hear a woman moaning and crying. “It hurts! Make it stop! Ooooow! I can’t do it!” I grinned at David. “What a wuss,” I said snarkily. I’d been in labor for a while now and it wasn’t that bad. Oh, how little I knew then.
nurse escorted us to my birthing room–I chose not to be pushed in a
wheelchair, since I was still feeling pretty good, if a little tired. We
walked in the door and I immediately threw up. The nurses nodded and
smiled. “Good!” they told me. “That usually means you’re getting close!” Close, however, meant sitting on the bed for several hours, doing nothing but focusing
on contractions. David turned on some music I’d brought, but after a
while I tuned it out. My mother arrived and joined him in the corner,
At 5, one of my midwives, Ramona, came in to tell
me that she was leaving and that another, Tiffany, would be coming on shift soon.
“Good luck, y’all,” she said, “and I’m sorry I can’t stay.” I smiled and nodded
but secretly hoped the other midwife would be there soon.
At 7 or 8 Tiffany finally arrived, but only to tell me that she wasn’t staying. She
had a C-section to attend at another hospital. Suddenly I was
terrified. Don’t leave me! I screamed in my head, but my mouth
wouldn’t respond and another contraction hit. Fortunately my mom spoke
up. “I had very fast labors with all of my babies. Maybe you should
check her progress before you go,” she suggested. Tiffany, wonderful
woman that she is, took her advice and did a quick exam.
and half centimeters!” she proclaimed. “Call the other hospital and
tell them I’m staying right here. This baby is coming!” I breathed a
sigh of relief and gratitude, then turned my attention back to the task at hand.
The next few hours were mostly a blur interspersed with a few weird moments of clarity. I’m not even sure if all of this happened in the order written here, but this is how I recall it.
knelt against the back of the bed, facing the wall, with a fan blowing
in my face. David was rubbing my shoulders. Tiffany was rubbing my lower
back. Nurse Michelle had reached between my legs to put her hand on my
belly to monitor the baby. I probably should have felt incredibly
uncomfortable with all those hands on me as I crouched down with each new
contraction, but despite the ache in my back and the pressure from
inside, I felt calm. I could hear my baby’s heartbeat on the monitor and
I knew all was well. I found out later that while I thought I was crouching during contractions, I was actually sticking my butt up in the air. That would explain why my labor stalled at that point: baby had to fight gravity and it just wasn’t working.
When Tiffany asked if I wanted to try something new, I declared that I wanted to get in the shower, convinced that it would give my back some relief. I swayed on
all fours between contractions and sank into child’s pose during them,
while David aimed the water at my lower back. I felt like an elephant being hosed down by a zookeeper. When I heard Tiffany preparing a table of tools just outside the bathroom door, and when a particularly hard contraction kept me down for longer than the previous one, something snapped me out of my warm wet elephant haze. I insisted that David help me up. Somehow I knew that if I didn’t get up right that very minute that my baby would be born there on the bathroom floor, and I just couldn’t handle that.
They suggested I lay on my side. A single contraction told me that was a BAD idea. They suggested I sit up and pull on a birthing bar. SO MUCH BETTER. One nurse told me I was pushing with my face and should try holding my breath. I’d been lowing like a water buffalo with every push, so I figured it was worth a shot. I held my breath and pushed. Tiffany looked up at me sternly and said, “Jen. That was pathetic. You keep doing what you were doing before. It was working just fine.”
I was stark naked with all these people bustling around, helping or watching me, and I didn’t even care because I was fixated on how I could feel the baby’s head and shoulders moving, twisting into position. It was one of the strangest, coolest sensations I’ve ever felt.
Everyone kept saying, “She’s almost here! We can see her! She has so much hair!” but she just kept not coming out and I was working so hard and had been pushing for what felt like forever and was so so tired. I knew I had to do something but just couldn’t see how it was possible. I think I cried. My mom was holding one leg, Nurse Michelle had the other, and David was standing by Tiffany telling me, “I can see her head, Jen. She’s so close! You can do this!” (He told me later that he honestly thought her head was almost out, but when she went from just crowning to actually emerging, he was shocked at how much bigger her head was than he’d thought.)
Tiffany finally got very serious and told me, “Jen, I’m seeing more meconium and it’s making me nervous. You need to get this baby out in the next couple pushes or I’m going to do an episiotomy to make it happen faster. She needs to come out now. Give me one really big push. You can do this.” At first I thought, Please just cut me, I don’t even care, just get her out! But I gathered all the strength I had left in me and puuuuuushed once, twice, and then her head was out! Another big push or two and the rest of her slithered out, and just like that the pain and pressure and everything was gone.
Everyone gasped and cheered and cried as Tiffany set her on my chest, rubbed her off a bit, covered us both with a blanket. We looked into each other’s eyes and I recognized her. She was mine and I was hers and it was perfect. She squawked and mewed as I stroked her head and back, saying, “Oh, I know baby. I know. You had a hard day, didn’t you?” As if she was the one who had worked so hard. I didn’t even care. I was tired beyond belief but so blissfully happy because here was my sweet baby who I had waited so long to meet. She was beautiful.
After a few minutes, Nurse Michelle, who I think had started crying, exclaimed, “We didn’t even check to see if it’s a boy or a girl!” She lifted the blanket to see, and what do you know, it was a girl. What’s more, she had pooped EVERYWHERE. I was covered from my neck down in baby goo and poo and all kinds of grossness. We all groaned and laughed and they tried to wipe us down but there just wasn’t much to be done at the moment.
Tiffany finally cut the umbilical cord and David watched as the doctor weighed and measured her. “What’s her name?” I asked him. “How about Amelia?” he replied. “Amelia Charlotte.” I frowned. It wasn’t right. “No…can it be Amelia Blythe?” I countered. “Ok,” he said. (Turns out he’s still a little mad that I vetoed his first choice, but hey. I earned that veto. And I stand by my decision. It fits her so well.) She was 8 pounds, 13 ounces, and 21 1/2 inches long and had a good Apgar score, although I don’t recall the exact numbers. Her time of birth was called at 10:40 AM, about seven hours after we’d checked into the hospital and after two solid hours of pushing.
I still hadn’t delivered the placenta, so Tiffany asked me to try pushing it out. I did. No luck. “Like when you pushed the baby out,” she instructed. So I heaved, just like I had at the end when she finally came out, and this time it worked. It worked a little too well. Out shot the placenta, followed by a deluge of blood. Tiffany sat there in shock, entirely drenched, and said, “Well that was a little more forceful than I meant, but ok.” To this day, that’s the one thing I wish we’d gotten a photo of. The room looked like a murder scene. It was sick. And a little bit hilarious.
Because I lost so much blood, though, they gave me a small dose of Pitocin through my IV (I’d been hooked up to receive antibiotics because I was positive for group B strep, so I still had a port in my arm) to ensure that I wouldn’t hemorrhage. Amelia was bathed and I got a good wipe down (I didn’t shower until much later, which now that I think about it is really disgusting). Nurse Michelle brought me a sandwich, which I shared with David, and some cran-grape juice that was literally the best thing I’d ever tasted in my entire life. I probably drank a gallon of that stuff during my hospital stay. Then we snuggled in to breastfeed. Amelia was a nursing champ right from the start.
We spent the rest of the day getting cleaned up, being visited by family, eating everything we could get our hands on, and learning how to be a family. My mother spent the night with us in the hospital so David could go home and get some rest. Poor dude slept for like 14 hours straight. Amelia took her sweet time waking up from naps, which the nurses didn’t like, but I was grateful that she was such a peaceful baby. Nurse Candy practically yelled at me for not waking her up to feed her every four hours, but for the most part everyone was very kind and helpful. Even the pediatrician to came to check on Amelia the next morning was sympathetic to my desire to go home that day. Because of the group B strep, he had wanted to keep us for 48 hours to make sure all was well, but since we both seemed to be fine he gave us permission to leave early. After filling out all the necessary documents and meeting with everyone we needed to see, we were quite relieved to get home and relax.
I’m so grateful for how everything worked out. Going into labor on Memorial Day weekend meant that my parents could be in town and David’s siblings were able to visit. Had I waited any longer to wake David and head to the hospital, my water would have probably broken in the car, which would’ve been fun to clean up. If my mom hadn’t been there to advocate for me, Tiffany might have left and I would have had to deliver with a stranger. I was worried about having an IV because of the group B strep, but if that port hadn’t been in place I might not have gotten the Pitocin right away, and the bleeding could have gotten out of control. I was very weak for several days, but David was able to take a few days off and my mom stayed for a while, so I was able to rest while they took care of us. Amelia’s conception was a perfectly timed miracle, and her birth was no less perfect.
Next time–assuming, of course, we’re fortunate enough to have a next time–I would definitely get more rest beforehand. If I hadn’t been so exhausted and sleep-deprived, I think I could have saved myself the trouble of pushing for so long, and the whole labor might have gone even more quickly. Other than that, I’m not sure I would change a thing.
It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It was also the most incredible thing I’ve ever done. Turns out that while I may not be great at getting pregnant, once I do, I’m really good at being pregnant and then getting myself un-pregnant when it’s all over. My body is crazy and amazing and wonderful. And for all I put it through, I got such a great prize!
She’s the best.