This is my diary recounting the events during the days that led up to the birth of my beautiful daughter, Liana Ruby. It's long, it's detailed, and yes, it includes those "tmi" moments.
Friday April 18th, 2014. 39 weeks, 3 days pregnant.12:00PM- Noon
Today started out like any other ordinary day. Ashton left for work early this morning and for me, I finally get a day off after working seven days in a row. Despite feeling a bit exhausted from the past week, I still managed to get up decently early and I've made it my mission to finish the nursery today. I have planned to finish making and hang up Liana's name decoration for above her crib, hang up the Studio Ghibli prints I picked up at Anime Boston, sort through the boxes and boxes of clothes that were given to us from friends, do a few loads of baby laundry, reorganize her closet a bit with bigger clothes in back and newborn bits up front, and do some cleaning around the apartment.
As I was getting busy in the nursery, I stepped out for a quick snack and bathroom break and to my surprise, I lost part of my mucus plug! I had been questioning whether I would know what it's supposed to look like or if I would see it at all (I know some women don't since it might just fall in the toilet), but when I saw it there was no doubt it my mind what it was! Yay! Of course, I know this doesn't mean much in terms of when my little one will arrive, but I am excited because it means that things are moving along and getting ready for the big day!
I had been working steadily in the nursery for about 3 hours, so when Ashton called from work I decided to take a short break and relax in my glider. After we hung up, I couldn't bring myself to get up right away, and decided it was alright to do some social networking from my phone before working up the energy to continue. Now that it has been an hour, I know I should get up, at least to eat soon. I just started getting some mild cramps in my lower abdomen and Braxton Hicks are starting up again. Ugh.
My cramps and contractions have picked up slightly over the past 4 hours, but are nothing that I wasn't able to continue working through (I made it through most of my to do list!). Ashton just arrived home early and I am super happy to see him. He is usually out late with friends on Friday nights, so I'm surprised to see him home so early. It's comforting having him home and now I get to show him Liana's name decoration. :)
Saturday April 19th, 2014. 39 weeks, 4 days pregnant.2:00AM
I got up a little while ago to use the bathroom--something I have done in the middle of the night only a handful of times since I've been pregnant. I still have cramps and the contractions haven't lightened up at all, so it's harder to sleep tonight.
Ashton and I are leaving in a few minutes to go pick up Desiree and Aaron since they've decided to spend a few nights with us. Desiree says she wants to be here when I go into labor (who knows when that will be though?!). I'm trying to ignore the menstrual-like cramping in my abdomen as well as the continuing Braxton Hicks contractions, especially since I'm about to embark on a three hour car ride to New Hampshire and then three hours back! Yikes!
We got home a few hours ago and now I'm sitting in my glider watching I Love You Man with Desiree and Aaron. Ashton went to visit his dad so he could go ride the bike while it was still light out. Around 4:30pm, I lost the rest of my mucus plug and now the cramps and contractions are starting to intensify and I believe they are becoming more regular. I just came to a sudden realization: I've been in early labor! Contractions have continued for over twenty-four hours now, so I'm convinced they will continue until I go into active labor. I'm going to start timing them. Little one could be coming soon! :)
A few hours ago around 6pm, Ashton called to invite us to his Dad's house for dinner. I was ready to put the discomfort aside and head over, but Desiree and Aaron were both really tired and Desiree was had a bad cough and sinus symptoms from allergies. I told Ashton the contractions were getting worse and he decided to head home. Then between 6:30-7pm, Desiree, Aaron and Ashton went out to go get dinner and I decided to stay behind and lay down to rest. When they returned, my contractions were at the same intensity as my heavy menstrual cramps, which I often had to sleep through or they would otherwise have me in tears. I timed contractions for two hours and noticed they were three and a half to five minutes a part and lasting forty seconds to one minute long. I now realize I have been in active labor since I started timing my contractions at 5:30pm. Ashton and I just called the midwife on call at the hospital because it's becoming hard for me to speak through the contractions. The midwife advised me to try a different laboring technique and to call back in an hour or two. She said I probably have a lot of time since this is my first baby and first labors are usually the longest. Ashton is running the bath for me right now and I'm hoping that will ease the contractions, while still allowing them to progress.
We are heading to the hospital! I labored in the bathtub for over an hour (right after I took one last photo of my pregnant belly!). While the warm water made the cramps more bearable, I can feel them becoming more intense. I called the midwife back around 9:30pm to let her know we would be on our way, even though she thought I would still be in labor for a while and that I should stay home for a bit longer. I'm glad sitting down hasn't become uncomfortable yet because I'm in for a forty-five minute to one hour car ride to the hospital!
Sunday April 20th, 2014. 39 weeks, 5 days pregnant.12:00AM- Midnight
I'd never been more excited to pull up to a hospital in my life! We pulled up to the valet area just after 11pm, but there wasn't anyone available so we made the quick decision to park in the garage across the street. I'll admit I was a bit unsure about this decision since I wasn't completely confident that I could even walk across the street at that point, but I was sure going to try. It turned out not to be that bad at all, I just felt out of breath. I waddled across the street and we went in to fill out some paperwork before I could be checked and admitted. I tried really hard to focus on the paperwork and just signed where I was told. We were then led around the corner, down the hall, and up to the fifth floor to the labor and delivery hall of the Connors Center for Women and Newborns. We were in a waiting area for maybe ten minutes, but to me it felt like an eternity. Two night shift nurses were sitting at the desk complaining about the day shift nurses and all I could think about was the discomfort I was in while trying to focus on my breathing and wondering why no one was coming out for me. Finally a nurse came out to get me, but didn't let Ashton come with me. I was a little uneasy about that but realized she had to ask a lot of questions that he couldn't be around for (whether I was being abused in our relationship, etc). He got to come in after all the initial questions were out of the way, just in time for the nurse to put two bands around my belly that would monitor my contractions as well as the baby's heartbeat for a few minutes. A cervical check indicated that I was dilated to five centimeters; I was so relieved! I don't know how I would have reacted if I wasn't dilated enough to be admitted when I was so uncomfortable already. After voicing my desire for a natural childbirth with no medication and requesting a room with a birthing tub, Ashton and I were led to the room I was to labor and deliver in, and now the nurse is filling the tub. I can't wait to get in!
I've been laboring in this tub for about two hours and I can barely keep my head up. I am literally falling asleep between contractions. Ashton is sitting on a stool to my left and I feel bad because I know sitting like that for hours can't be comfortable either. He has been so supportive though, making sure I stay hydrated with water and periodically offering me ice chips and telling me I'm doing great. I experienced sudden nausea about an hour ago and vomited within seconds. Up until this point I've been managing contractions with meditation and visualization techniques. Every time I feel a contraction coming on, I close my eyes and imagine I'm laying on the beach in Hawaii. I can practically feel the sun warming my skin. I listen to the waves of the ocean rolling in as the pain intensifies. I then focus on taking long deep breaths and counting backwards from ten with each exhale. The contraction usually subsides before I get to zero, and I get to relax again. It's getting harder and harder to relax in my little paradise, and it's even more annoying that there is a clock directly across the room from me. Each time I look up I notice that barely a minute has passed. I just want to make it to 2:30am.
I'm not sure how much longer I can take this. In the past ten minutes my pain level has progressed from a seven to a nine, borderline ten. With my visualization I was experiencing contractions merely as waves of pressure that came and went, but now they are almost constant pain. I am doing everything I can to keep from wriggling around and crying out in pain. Another episode of nausea and more vomit. I need to push this baby out now!!!
The nurse knew my body was ready to start pushing and she called the midwife as the tub was emptying. My body instinctively began pushing while I was still in the tub, even though the nurse said not to, and I could feel my baby moving lower. The tub seemed to take forever to empty enough for me to get out, and then I had to wait for the next contraction to make it to the bed. The midwife rushed in and checked to make sure I was dilated to ten centimeters and gave the okay to push. My water hasn't even broken yet! Although I'm in a lot of pain, I still find it amusing that I literally feel like I have to take a giant poop....
My body feels so relieved to be pushing; it's actually nice to feel a different kind of discomfort. It feels really good to push, but I'm terrified of tearing down there and can barely bring myself to put all of my effort into it. I'm trying to relax my lower body as much as possible, to prevent any tension or tightening that might stall the progression from pushing. It seemed like no time had passed at all when the midwife said she could see my baby's head. She asked if I wanted to feel it and I really did, but got so flustered I couldn't even answer her and just wanted to push more. I felt the exact moment when my little girl's head was crowning and I was torn with fear and anticipation. I took a short break from pushing and the midwife guided my breathing to just ease her head out with quick gentle breaths. My baby's head was born en caul (still in the amniotic sac). The midwife asked if it was okay to break my waters now, since it would make the rest of the delivery faster. I don't remember replying, but I didn't say no either. She punctured the sac and now there is a gush of liquid spreading over the bed linens beneath me. The midwife and nurse both keep telling me how well I am doing, and the encouragement is really helping. I know my baby is almost out, I just need to relax and get in a few more good pushes.
By "a few more good pushes", apparently I meant two. I had the bedsheets clenched in my left hand and Ashton's hand in my right, and I pushed with all I had in me through the next contraction. Too quickly for me to process what was happening, my little girl slid out of me and now she is on my chest. "She's a girl, right?!" Ashton says that she is. She is too close to my chin for me to look down and see her, but I can feel how tiny she is on me. I love her. She was born very calmly and the nurse has to bother her a bit to get her to cry. The midwife pushes on my stomach to move my placenta down and says I need to push one more time to deliver it. "Thank you", I say to my little peanut and "thank you", I say to Ashton. I am beyond relieved for her to finally be out. I feel the placenta slide out with the next push and I ask to see it. The midwife shows Ashton and I the placenta and amniotic sac, where my baby lived for the past nine months. I see her check the umbilical cord to see if it is done pulsating and she has Ashton cut it. She checks for tearing and says that it is so superficial that I barely have a first degree tear. She did a few stitches on the inside and I only needed one stitch on the outside. The nurse and midwife say again and again how well I handled both labor and delivery (especially for a first time mum!). At 2:45am on Easter morning, at the same time my beautiful baby girl was born into this world at five pounds twelve ounces and eighteen and half inches long, I was also reborn, as a mother.
They let me hold onto my baby for skin-to-skin contact for a long time, and I was so glad to not have to give her up right away. They took her briefly to clean her up a little since she pooped and got it on herself and my arm. I remember being surprised that she pooped and I didn't! Within forty-five minutes of birth, my baby girl found her way to my breast for nursing. I fed her for a while and just stared at her in amazement. I was offered postpartum pain medication (a little Motrin or ibuprofen), but I declined all offers. Now the nurse is wheeling me up to a postpartum room on the tenth floor and Ashton is moving our baby in her bassinet. This is where we will rest and recover for the next forty-eight hours. This is where my baby will become better adjusted to life outside of the womb. This is where I will fall in love all over again.