The Birth of Maeve Cecilia

 

The Birth of Maeve Cecilia | For Want of WonderI think this may be my briefest birth story yet. Lucy’s was certainly short (shockingly so, for a firstborn), and then Magdalena’s dragged on and on. “Number 3 is a curve-ball!” was what I heard from everyone, and it was. Oh was it, ever.

My due date was February 16th. I had had no real signs of labor up until this day despite feeling so done for several weeks. I had a midwife and chiropractor appointment and everything looked fine. I guess after Lena I just resigned myself to no more early births, and so, this time, I was a lot less anxious to get the baby out. Also, let’s talk about how much easier babies are inside the womb than out. Exactly.

The next weekend rolled around and both Tom and I were just really hoping the baby would come before the start of another week. I was definitely nervous about the possibility of going into labor while he was at work and having to coordinate getting the girls taken care of and all that. Saturday afternoon was really mild, so we went on a nice, uphill walk around our neighborhood, scored some curbside furniture, and observed in passing that there was a full moon.

I woke around 1:30 in the morning on Sunday with what I could finally call a real contraction. It hurt. So that was exciting. I timed contractions on and off for about 3 hours and then fell back asleep for probably another 2 hours. Both girls woke up super early, around 6, and I got them up because I figured we needed to get things together and get going anyway. The contractions were coming regularly, but still at about 9-10 minutes apart and manageable. For some reason, I thought it would be a great idea to eat three eggs “for protein” and…yeah. Never doing that again in labor.

I took a shower while Tom got the girls ready, and we had everything packed and loaded by about 8 when we left for my parents to drop off the girls. Right as we were leaving I called the midwife to let her know I was in labor and that contractions were now about 7-8 minutes apart. She said I probably was worried that this labor would go fast like Lucy, but that it could still take awhile, so she told me to just call her when we got to my parents.

We got there around 8:25 and the girls were excited to be at their favorite place on earth. We switched cars with my parents, leaving them ours with the girls’ car seats. I went upstairs to labor for a bit, thinking I had some time to relax. Afer just a few contractions up there, I realized they were both more intense and suddenly WAY closer together, like 3 minutes max. It was as if, now that the girls were taken care of, my body was all, “It’s GO TIME!!!” and tripled its efforts, in a matter of minutes. We called the midwife and updated her, and she said it would take her an hour to get there from DC, and asked if she had time to shower and eat, or if she should just leave now. I SHOULD have told her, “LEAVE NOW!” because in the back of my mind I knew we didn’t have much time, but in the front of my mind I guess I wanted to appear calm and collected and not freak myself out, so I was all, “Ohhh hahaha, yes, go take your shower and eat! I’ll be fine!” This was now about 8:48 and she said she’d meet us at the birth center at 10 am.

Literally minutes after hanging up with her, contractions started becoming pretty awful, about 2 min apart, and I was basically hanging onto Tom for dear life. I made him call the midwife back and he told her we were actually going to head to the birth center now so I wouldn’t have to be in the car in transition. Well, first of all, I think now I already was in transition (or at least the early stage of it), and secondly, the birth center was locked up because it was Sunday morning, so there wasn’t much waiting for me after the car ride. Again, should have screamed, “LEAVE NOW!” and at the same time just stayed put right where I was in one of my parents’ guest rooms.

But of course, a practically-in-transition laboring woman cannot be expected to think clearly. In fact, I kept wishing that someone else could make all these decisions for me. I hated being asked, “What do you think? What do you want to do?” I wanted to get the baby OUT, and nothing else. All the in-betweens were too stressful for me to dwell on, as the contractions were pretty all-consuming in and of themselves.

We got into my younger brother’s borrowed car and headed to the birth center, which is about 15 minutes from my parents. As I had expected, I was now in full-on transition, with contractions coming one on top of the other, while I was curled in the backseat of a little Toyota Corolla. It was just as miserable as it sounds and just as miserable as the last time I did it. I just kept telling myself that the drive was literally 1/4 as long as it had been with Lucy so I could do it.

Well, we pulled up to the birth center at 9:30 and of course no one was there. Tom asked if I wanted to walk around, and I got out of the car, but my ill-fated breakfast came back to haunt me when I stood up. I was adamant about throwing up in a bag and not directly on the pavement (dignity, people!). Sadly, the bag turned out to have a hole in the bottom and it all ended up there anyway, which I was upset about. I can only say that priorities become a little wacky while in transition.

At that point, I really couldn’t deny to myself any longer that it was time, and I really needed to push this baby out. Yes, we were in an abandoned parking lot, yes, the only place was the backseat of the car, and yes, we only had one ratty bath towel and a God-sent roll of paper towels in the trunk of the Corolla, but by golly, that baby was coming! Tom called the midwife to apprise her of this lovely turn of events, and we put her on speaker phone so she could interpret my various moans and screams (she was scarily accurate!). She also used her other phone to call one of the student midwives who lives a few minutes away from the birth center to come.

So we made do, I, infinitely grateful that the technology park was deserted on a Sunday morning, and Tom, super cool and calm. I mean really, not at all flustered. Don’t know how he managed that, but it was so necessary. I was, well, not the most calm, but that’s par for the course by the time I get to pushing anyway. At some point, probably about 4 or 5 pushes in, the student midwife got there. She didn’t have a key to the birth center, but it’s not like I could have moved anyway at that point. She came over, pulling on some gloves, and announced that the head was there! I think maybe Tom got into the front seat then so he could still talk to me, but I don’t really remember. There was the Ring of Fire, which somehow surprises me with its apt nomenclature every time, and then the head was out. The midwife told me to stop pushing, and said something about the cord. Then another couple pushes and she was out! Baby! In the backseat of my little brother’s car!

The midwife unwrapped the cord, which was wrapped around twice (and I’m really glad she got there and Tom didn’t have to deal with that), and handed the baby up to me as I sat up from hands and knees. I noticed right away that she had the same fuzzy red hair that Lucy had. I should also add here that while it was February 21st, it was unseasonably mild, and we had the car turned off, and obviously the doors were wide open, otherwise there wouldn’t have been any room for Tom and the midwife to stand. So right after the baby was out, the midwife had Tom turn on the car and crank the heat, since even 50-degree weather outdoors isn’t exactly ideal for a freshly born babe.

I think a few minutes later, maybe 5 or 6, the head midwife arrived, right on the heels of one of the birth center office staff, who also lives close and had keys to unlock the center. We got a wheelchair out to the car and a lot of blankets, and somehow I was able to crawl out of the backseat while holding Maeve, who by the way, was still attached to the umbilical cord. Once we got inside, things slowed down a bit. Thankfully! We got more dried off and got the baby’s vitals, and she started rooting around to nurse pretty much as soon as she was on my chest. She was a great little nurser right from the start. Placenta, cord cut, all that jazz. Then, the midwives (bless their hearts) brought us a huge breakfast of eggs (I did not touch those obviously), bacon, bagels, donuts, and fruit. They put the little fake fireplace on and then let us be alone to rest, eat, nurse, snuggle, watch Fr. Scalia’s funeral homily for his dad (so.good.), and generally recover from our car-birth experience. Everything was going great, so we were able to leave the birth center at 3:30 PM and head over to my parents’ so Maeve (in a newborn coma) could meet her big sisters. (Also, those midwives got the backseat of my bro’s car immaculate, and I’m pretty sure he drove his friends around in it the very next day. Not sure he notified them of its alternate use beforehand ;))

IMG_0234

Already a holy little gal

IMG_0227

2016-02-21_215523630_68209_iOS

So excited but so confused. THIS is Maeve? What about that big ol’ belly on Mommy?

2016-02-21_215600572_A3BD9_iOS

Papa and his 3 girls, one of whom isn’t into the precious moment

Obviously, Maeve’s swift, dramatic, entrance and rather unexpected place of birth weren’t what I was imagining in my ideal birth plan. I knew it could be fast (like Lucy) or it could drag on (like Lena’s), but I didn’t think it was going to progress so incredibly fast all of the sudden. Honestly, if Lucy hadn’t been born on a Thursday afternoon, she most likely would have been a car birth as well, since I was in the exact same stage of labor by the time we arrived at the birth center as I was with Maeve. But thankfully this situation happened with the third baby and not the first. I can’t imagine how horrified/terrified I would have been (not to mention my poor husband). As it was, we both knew pretty much exactly what to expect from a normal pushing and birth situation, and we did what we had to do. In hindsight, I immediately saw all the times I should have followed my gut more closely, and if I’d done so, probably could have avoided the car-birth. But all was well, and it was quite the experience. The sweet student midwife also told me a little while after the birth that in her native country (Venezuela), she was a practicing OB-GYN so she had delivered hundreds of babies, AND she said she had also delivered numerous car births! She said it was really common there as well as in Colombia where she worked for awhile. So that definitely helped ease my mind, not that I was really worried. But still, she was the perfect person to come catch my baby in a car!

And yes, I think I can safely say that out of necessity if nothing else, we will probably have home births in the future. If the backseat of a tiny four-door Corolla is big enough, then I think our house will do just fine.

Maeve Cecilia!

I’m just going to admit it now– Maeve will probably never have a physical baby book. A virtual one may be all she ever gets, and so I figured I better start getting on top of the whole recording milestones and memories.

Here we go!

Born:

February 21, 2016 at 40 weeks and 5 days (comfy in there, huh?) at 9:55 ish AM (no, we don’t know the exact time. More on that below).

Weight: 7 lbs. 14 oz

Length: 20 inches

IMG_0229

The whole birth story is very exciting and very short. I’ll do it full justice, soon. Like sometime when the killer combo of spring allergy+newborn night-waking exhaustion aren’t destroying me. Stay tuned!

But really, we are doing well and surviving these first several weeks with our sanity fairly well intact. This is only due to the fact that we’re riding on a gentle sea of very kind people’s prayers, meals delivered, and help given. It’s been a staggeringly generous outpouring of help, some from people who literally do not know us (thanks to a genius ministry at one of our parishes where people sign up to bring meals to new moms). I can’t even begin to describe my gratitude, but it’s profound.

IMG_0233

I made pretty good on my promise to stay in bed for a week. I made it about 4 full days, which was how long the girls stayed at my parents’, and when they came home I was feeling pretty strong and well enough to go downstairs for meals and stuff. The most crucial thing though, was having the older kids completely out of the house those first few days. It allowed both Tom and I to just sleep and then him to take care of just me, so I could really eat and drink and recover well. Plus the girls had a blast and lots of attention before coming home to the new babe…

IMG_0242

And the adjusting to a new sibling has been interesting, between the aggressive “hugs”/body slams from Lena, the licking of her head (again, Lena), the *mostly* gentle and sweet attention from Lucy, and all the lovely behavior regression and acting-out from both girls. But overall they’re both pretty obsessed with “Baby Maeve” and love her to (almost literal) pieces.

IMG_0253

As with every newborn, this stage whizzes by SO quickly, which makes me sad every time. I LOVE the newborn stage, despite the exhaustion and chaos. I love the curled up fists, the little limbs that flail wildly when you change their diapers, the grunts, whinnies, and snorts, the tiny little mouth searching desperately for food. So worth it all!

That’s all we’ve got time for today. I have a dinner that I actually have to make myself and a baby that’s bound to wake up the moment I turn the stove on. 🙂 Promise I’ll be back the next moment I have two hands again!

Thawing Out, Stockpiling, and Getting Organized for Baby! (SQT)

-1-

After an epic trip to BJs on Monday, where we discovered that a plow had dug out a lane and a half and zero parking spaces, and almost two hours and two cart-loads of groceries later, we are more or less ready and stocked up for the next month or so and the arrival of baby. It looks like the weather for the next two weeks is going to be a bit warmer and less dramatic, though the actual due date is the only one calling for the possibility of snow. Go figure. I’m hoping we’ll go just slightly earlier than DD, though. Lucy was born at just shy of 38 weeks, which is tomorrow for me so we’ll see what happens!

-2-

For my birthday, Tom got me this e-course to help us both organize and streamline our mornings, since that time of day seems to be the most intense/chaotic. Neither one of us is a morning person and struggles with the whole waking up process while both offspring have so many needs (all of which seem to be direly urgent) immediately upon waking.

 

IMG_0201

An atypical morning moment!

 

So it’s been a helpful tool for us to figure out what we can do the night before, or just ahead of time, in general, to make it less crazy, and prioritize important tasks. For me, that’s basically get the girls fed (which is always such a long and often tear-filled process), hopefully, get me fed and eventually caffeinated mid-morning, and get the girls changed and dressed. Since our mornings revolve around food, I’ve been attempting to make pre-made breakfasts that take a really short amount of time to actually toss at the ravenous beasts serve in the mornings:

Now we’ll just see what happens when we throw a little newborn nursling into the mix! Either way, getting more intentional and organized can’t hurt.

-3-

Part of getting ourselves more organized and on the same page has been using a handy little list-making app called Todoist. The free version is awesome and allows Tom and me to share chore lists, shopping lists, home projects, and various and sundry little things we need to get done. I like that you can make everyday tasks recurring and it feels really good to be able to swipe away the tasks as you complete them, even if you are doing a variation of the same dang things every day. It also eliminates the need to remind/nag each other to do certain things around the house, since you can assign tasks to each other and the app reminds for you!  Highly recommend if you are list-loving choleric.

-4-

We just finished Poldark and enjoyed it, despite its tendency to the unbelievable and dramatic plot-lines. But the scenery was stunning and the acting and dialogue pretty good. What can we binge on next? I need some ideas for the stuck-on-the-couch/bed and up-at-crazy-hours postpartum phase!

-5-

Experience is the best teacher ever, especially when it comes to birth, breastfeeding, and what stuff I really need postpartum. I still cringe a little inside when I remember how terrible breastfeeding Lucy was and how ill-prepared we were for just everything.  

My plan this time is to stay in bed for a week while Tom is off, so that when he goes back I’ll be as rested and recovered as possible. This will be very, very hard for me as I hate sitting still and letting people take care of me, and will want to “just” throw in a load of laundry or help with “little things” here and there. All I am letting myself do is nurse, drink copious fluids, read/watch Netflix, change diapers, and… at least, I can fold all the clothes sitting in bed! To this end, we’re about to fill all the landfills as we only eat off of paper/plastic, our floors might not get swept or vacuumed, and the clutter might get overwhelming. But, at least, we’re mentally and (mostly) physically prepared this time, so it’s gonna be ok! (This article, while a little off the crunchy deep-end even for me, made some great points and suggestions).

-6-

Links!

“12 Things St. Zelie Martin Taught Me About Sainthood as a Mother”

My sister-in-law/mom-in-the-trenches with me sent me this great article highlighting St. Zelie Martin’s path to sainthood through her motherhood. I guarantee you it will make you breathe a sigh of relief as you realize saints had crazy days and toddlers who threw themselves on the floor and screamed repeatedly.

Farmer Boy and the Value of Handing Down Stories

S0 important for us to hear about the past and how our parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, grew up! My Nonna will tell you stories of her childhood in Italy and her early years as an immigrant mom in the US until she’s blue in the face. It’s so good. We recently read an interview with a woman who’s almost 100, who basically came to our neighborhood when it was first built in the 1940s. My word, it was fascinating to read about how very, very different life was such a short time ago and how the neighborhood has changed immensely! I wish they’d bring back the neighborhood groceries, the milk-man, and the drive-in movie theatre just down the street!! Anyway, the collective memory is important to preserve. I would have known nothing of our local history before reading her interview.

-7-

Photos!

IMG_0202

With her beloved paci, may it rest in peace. She bit the top of the nipple clean off. She’s now borrowing the Wubbanub set aside for the baby until we can get to Target. Her love for paci is a force to be reckoned with.

IMG_1910

Snow day fun with all the cousins (so far!)

 

IMG_0204.JPG

Unintentional Montessori win. She spent a good 25 minutes scrubbing down her little table and chairs to get the stamp-pad ink off, and loved it so much that I had her get all the coffee splatters off the cabinets. Next up, tile grout.

Linking up with Kelly for Seven Quick Takes!

 

The Birth of Magdalena Clare

I realized that I hadn’t written this story out yet, so I figured I should do so before the details become hazier. I’m doing better than with Lucy’s though, which I didn’t write until she was about publish until she was one, so I’m improving. If birth stories aren’t your thing, then you can leave now, no hard feelings!

Magdalena's Birth Story

Unlike Lucy’s birth, Magdalena was neither fast, nor early, nor surprising. Add to that the fact that we didn’t have a truly accurate due date, so by the time I hit 37 weeks (according to the sonogram), I thought we were closing in on go time. 37 weeks rolled by, 38, and then 39. I was incredulous. Aren’t all subsequent births supposed to be earlier and faster and easier? Wait, doesn’t the stork just drop them off at that point?

Anyway, I was a little peeved and had to assume that a) my due date was off  and b) this baby was going to be full term plus some and/or c) I would be pregnant forever. I did all the things pregnant ladies are advised to when they want to bring on labor and…nothing. I did have lots of “false” labor, though. That was a lovely experience that entailed being awoken at 3 or 4 AM with contractions that felt more intense than Braxton-Hicks, and timing them up to 7 minutes apart for about 2 hours, only to have them die away the moment I bit into a cracker or sipped some water. So frustrating. So sleep depriving.

image

Oh hey there, full term belly!

I had basically resigned myself when we hit 40 weeks. The midwives weren’t worried at all; everything was normal and great (except my attitude). I’d had two sonograms at 38ish weeks because I was still only measuring 34 weeks, but the baby was fine and the sonographer estimated she was a bit over 7 lbs.

40 weeks and 3 days! Taken 3 days before Lena was born.

40 weeks and 3 days! Taken 3 days before Lena was born.

On Sunday morning, July 13th, I woke up barely thinking, “Maybe today will be the day!” since I’d thought that too many mornings in a row to count. It was the World Cup final and we had plans to watch it at a friends’ house. Tom was also gearing up for his last week directing a computer summer camp at school. We went to 10:30 Mass as usual, and I was struck by the second reading:

“We know that all creation is groaning in labor pains even until now.” (Romans 8:22)

Oh! Labor pains. Groaning. I can take a hint. Sure enough, as Mass progressed, I made a mental note that I was having mild contractions every 12 minutes or so. Nothing crazy, but they were enough to notice, and they were definitely coming regularly. We took it easy throughout the afternoon, and gradually the contractions were about 9 or so minutes apart, but still just moderate at best, and short. We didn’t go to our friends’ since we weren’t really sure what would happen; for all I knew, I could suddenly go into hard labor and progress in the space of an hour (which was what I fully expected given my history). We watched the Cup from home, ate dinner, put Lucy to bed, and went on my last waddly walk around the neighborhood.

At this point, probably around 8:30 PM, the contractions were finally getting moderately intense and spaced more like 7 minutes apart, so we decided to relax for a bit and watch something. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 was on, which was perfect. In the middle of watching, though, we suddenly remembered that we needed to clean and readjust the infant car seat, so we took a little break from HP and got that done. I ate almost an entire sleeve of Nutella filled cookies, milking every last minute out of the “pregnancy craving” excuse.

Finally around 11, we decided that things weren’t moving super quickly and we had better try to sleep. I was just flummoxed– why wasn’t this labor rushing at light-speed, as Lucy’s had? Why was it so normal? Should we call the midwives? Wait? What if it all the sudden speeded up? I tried to sleep, but kept getting up to go to the bathroom, check our birth center bags, work through a contraction, etc.. An hour later, I realized that the contractions were more intense, and about 4-5 minutes apart. I texted Kim, the midwife, and let her know what was happening. She said to try and sleep but keep her posted, since her drive to the birth center was an hour. Around 1:15 AM, I told her that they were continuing in intensity so she said she was leaving for the birth center, and we could leave within an hour or so, since my parents were only about 12-15 minutes away.

Poor Tom had just gotten into a deep sleep, and I had to rouse him and start getting our things in the car. We drove the blessedly empty and quiet streets and arrived at the birth center about 12 minutes later. It was so strange getting there in the middle of the night. It was also amazing to drive there while not in transition; I think I only had to breathe through a total of two or three contractions the whole ride. It was a million times better than the drive there for Lucy.

The birth center was dark and quiet when we arrived around 2:20 AM, but smelled like some lovely essential oil they had going in the waiting room. The birth assistant was in the office waiting for us, and she brought us back to our room since Kim was sleeping. Kim came out a few minutes later and asked if I wanted to be checked. I did, and she asked me to guess how dilated I was. I said 6, based on how long I’d been having contractions and all the millions of Braxtons I’d had. Shockingly, I was only a 3! She asked if I wanted my membranes stripped (which sounds really horrid, but honestly feels like nothing when you’re already contracting). Then everyone left us to rest in the large bed. Tom immediately fell asleep, and I was able to get a few 10 minute stretches in, working through the contractions every 3 minutes or so.

They came in and checked on me a few times, and by 3:45 AM, I really needed a change of pace. The bed was not working anymore. I asked to get into the tub, so they filled it up and I got in. Tom was sitting on the ball by the tub to try and help, but the poor guy kept nodding off so I made him get more sleep, since he really didn’t need to do much at that point. I was just sort of floating, half-sleeping/half-resting, between the every-intensifying contractions. I could tell at this point that things were moving right along, because a) I was wondering why on earth I needed to be going through this and b) was vocalizing pretty loudly during contractions. For some reason, that seems to be the best way for me to deal with the pain– it obviously doesn’t numb or lessen it like meds, but it definitely gives some release. Tom had come back to help me at this point, since he probably couldn’t sleep through my noisy coping mechanisms, and I told him he needed to get the midwives in because I wanted to push. My back was killing, so I figured it was time.

So I started pushing at 4:40 AM, staying on my hands and knees in the tub. I practically pulled Tom’s arm out of the socket as I was using his hand for support/leverage. But it was effective! The baby came out at 5:01 exactly, after about 20 minutes of pushing. Tom thought the pushing was harder or more painful for me than with Lucy, but I don’t really think so, and I was definitely more efficient the second time around. Being on hands and knees was also far easier for me. They helped me sit up, and handed up the baby, who wasn’t crying or anything, just kind of blinking in utter confusion. She was fat and squishy and had no vernix at all, since she was so well cooked. Tom finally got to cut the cord, since everything with this birth was so much slower and calmer.

We got out of the tub and dried off little Magdalena, who had finally squawked a few times. We took guesses on her weight, and I think I guessed something like 7 lb. 6 oz, but she was a whopping 7-14! I could not believe I’d pushed out a baby who was an entire pound heavier than her sister and yet it felt so much easier, and I didn’t tear at all (my biggest fear going into the second birth). Based on her size and the placenta, the midwives estimated that she was actually probably exactly 40 weeks, not the almost-41 weeks were given based on our first sono.

The baby kinda sorta nursed a little, but essentially passed out, and then so did Tom and I for about 3 hours straight (though we had thought to text/email family to let them know and Tom sent a few emails to his camp counselors to run things in his absence). We were pretty exhausted since we hadn’t really slept in 48 hours, and we couldn’t wait to get home. Magdalena got all her vitals/measurements, we got zero pictures except that grainy one below (bad second-timers!), she tried to nurse again, and then we packed up and went home around 11.

Getting measured!

Getting measured!

20140717-124436-45876136.jpg

Right after we got home.

  20140717-124927-46167909.jpg

Lucy had just woken up from her morning nap when we got home, and was really confused about the baby in the car seat. We tried to get her to look at her and say something but she mostly stared blankly and stood still until we kind of pushed her forward to inspect the baby. She warmed up a few hours later, and of course by the next day, “BAY-by!” had been in her life forever and she showered her with “mahs,” by lovingly head-banging her every time she saw her.20140717-124929-46169044.jpg

And that was that. A textbook labor and birth that was actually more like a first than a second, which just went to show me that I should have no expectations, ever. I definitely have more compassion for women that go post-term and have long, drawn-out labors. And once again, I was so, so grateful for my midwives and our birth center. It was an ideal birth, so calm and quiet and dark in the room, and everyone’s presence was peaceful and non-intrusive. Tom was a real hero, helping and encouraging me even though we would both rather be sleeping.

Happy Birthday, Magdalena Clare! Can’t believe this was almost SEVEN months ago!!

Happy Birthday, Magdalena Clare!

I’m so happy to finally announce her arrival!

Magdalena Clare Cox.

20140717-124135-45695763.jpgEntered the world on July 14th, at 5:01 AM.

7 lbs. 14 oz.

20 inches

20140717-124252-45772844.jpg

Very, very loved, especially by Lucy. She chants “BAY-bee, BAY-bee” whenever she’s around, repeatedly asks to give her “mahs” (kisses, which are actually the force of her large and heavy head pummeling towards her tiny sister), and is generally unruffled by her sudden permanent residence in our household.

20140717-124929-46169044.jpg

We had a great birth at our birth center again, and I will definitely write out the birth story later. Despite all my rantings, she was most likely born at 40 weeks on the dot, according to the midwives. She has been a very, very good baby over the past four days. I know she will probably enter the fussy newborn stage soon, but for now, we are relishing in a newborn who actually sleeps and eats well. It’s a whole new(born) world after Lucy!

Thanks for all your prayers and congratulations! More to come, but for now, here are some pictures to tide you over!

20140717-124436-45876136.jpg

6 hours old

20140717-124858-46138766.jpg

Hands frozen in mid-air…we have no idea how she sustained that position as long as she did…

20140717-124911-46151786.jpg

With Bis-Nonna (great grandma)

20140717-124912-46152909.jpg

20140717-124927-46167909.jpg

Magdalena, doing what we both wish we could be doing…

Dolly, her other name for Magdalena

Dolly, her other name for Magdalena

20140717-125504-46504543.jpg

20140717-124942-46182204.jpg

Lucy Agnes’ Birth Story

Tomorrow Lucy turns ONE! I’m still in disbelief. But I thought I would post her birth story, since I’ve had it written out since shortly after she was born but before the blog was. If you don’t like hearing about things involved in labor and birth or are squeamish then skip away! I know I love birth stories, and many do, which is why approx 260 women have posted their stories in Grace’s link-up (so go there if you want more!). 

Lucy’s Birth

or

The Fastest First Labor, ever.

Lucy's Birth Story

It’s hard to say when labor “began.” I had been having Braxton-Hicks contractions for about two weeks, but they were random and not painful, so I didn’t pay too much attention to them. At 36 weeks, I had started taking an herbal supplement to help prepare my body and ripen the cervix, so that, in my midwife’s words, it would make my cervix “less of an unripe banana, and easier to peel.” Right. Well, apparently, those little supplements did their job! At 37 weeks and 6 days, on the morning of April 11th, I began to experience my first “real” feeling contractions. The night before, we had walked around our cute local main street, gotten ice cream, and stopped in at adoration at our parish. I hadn’t really felt anything that night other than the tiredness and severely swollen feet that had been my constant companions, a la Mrs. Bennett, for the past couple weeks.

I woke a few times between 4:30 and 5:30 and noticed maybe two or three cramp like contractions. They were definitely different than all my previous Braxton-Hicks, so I knew something was afoot. They were also more uncomfortable but not truly painful. I was sort of incredulous in that early morning waking– was this it? Was it real? Would she come today?

I told Tom around 6:15 that I’d been up for awhile with a few contractions, and that I would text my co-teacher. I knew I couldn’t teach through these contractions (which really should’ve clued me in to what was happening) but I told her it might be a false alarm, so I’d let her know if I would come in later (hah). Meanwhile, my poor substitute had only had two days of shadowing me and figuring out what the heck was going on with my classes. I was supposed to work up until April 19 and slowly let her take over my teaching over ten days. This baby had other plans and Tamara was thrown into the fire, but did beautifully and relieved my many worries on that front.

I went to the bathroom shortly after texting my co-teacher, and there was some bloody show. I knew that was another sign that labor was truly beginning. But, still, I just couldn’t believe it was happening, particularly since we’d been told over and over at our birth classes that first time labor was often very, very long, and usually occurred after the due date. I went back to the bedroom to tell Tom and felt a little gush of water; nothing crazy, just a little bit, but I knew it was amniotic fluid and told Tom that “some of my water had broken.”

We decided that since the contractions weren’t too intense, Tom would go to school and wait to hear from me. He didn’t have afternoon classes, so he could come home at 1 if labor was progressing, and we could take a walk, watch a movie, and relax (hah, again!). My contractions were very bearable, but I noticed them. They were probably about 7-8 minutes apart, but didn’t last long. Maybe 30 seconds. I sent Tom off at about 7:20, and made plans to go to Whole Foods and buy coconut water and baby wipes/diapers, make home-made Labor-Ade to sip in labor, and clean up the apartment a bit.

Well, about an hour after Tom left, and I had finished emailing the day’s lesson plans to my sub and alerting the school that I was maybe in labor, the contractions started really picking up. I needed to breathe through them consciously and stop what I was doing to focus. I knew I should eat, though i had very little appetite, so I had a bowl of plain yogurt. I texted Tom to update and let him know the contractions were getting more painful and closer together. I was sort of loosely timing them and they were probably now about 5-6 minutes and lasting 30-40 seconds. I found an app online and tried to use it to time them, but found it extremely cumbersome to try and lug the Macbook around whilst trying to relax during each contraction, and sometimes I’d be too far from the computer and totally miss timing one or two, so I didn’t have a great picture of the progression of the contractions.

I decided that now going out anywhere was impossible; the contractions were not slowing down during my activity, and stopping to breathe and relax every few minutes wouldn’t have worked in the car and the store. So, next I tried making my Labor-Ade. This required juicing 5 lemons and measuring out some honey and a few other ingredients to boil on the stove. Lets just say it took me a very long time to get that recipe made, since I had to continually stop, bend over and get through a contraction. It was probably about 9:30 or 10 at this point.

I used the birth ball a little to rock and drape myself over during contractions, as well as leaning into the wall and swaying. These things helped a little. I decided a shower would be nice, and maybe slow things down. The water did feel good, but I had several more contractions in the shower, so I knew my plan was pointless. I dressed in the stretchiest, comfiest clothes I could find, and let Tom know via text that I was getting more uncomfortable quickly. I put on Pride and Prejudice with the idea of distracting myself, but the movie quickly became background noise; I couldn’t focus on it whatsoever. I tried the heating pad to relieve some pain, as well as different positions on the bed. I knew at this point that labor would not slow down, but continue to progress, and I was getting a little panicky at being alone and being approximately 50 minutes away from the birth center. I threw a few more last minute things in the diaper bag and the birth center bag. I discovered the camera battery was dead, and failed in my attempt to charge it.

Around 11:00 I decided I couldn’t do it anymore, and my feeble attempts to time contractions showed that they were about 4 minutes apart and lasting almost 50 seconds. They were becoming much more intense, and required a lot of moaning and moving around for me to calmly endure them. At around 11:30 I had had it, and sent an all caps text to Tom saying I needed help, come home now. I had realized an hour previously I should probably call the midwives at the birth center, but every time I tried to dial I would get a contraction and give up.

Tom finished the class he was in the middle of teaching and left the school around 12:30. I was definitely in transition and becoming much less able to endure the contractions. They were very strong at this point, and I thought of women who had Pitocin-induced contractions, which are way more intense, and couldn’t fathom how they survived. Tom called me on his way home, probably after I texted him again in panic, and he stayed on the phone with me as I went through a few more contractions. He finally walked in the door at about 1:15, and tried to make me a smoothie which I refused. Poor guy. He was trying to call the birth center, get changed out of his suit, make a smoothie, and put pressure on my hips all at the same time. He realized I was in, or almost past, transition and that we needed to get to the birth center quickly. We left around 1:30, praying there’d be no traffic on the several major highways we had to use to get there.

That car ride was the worst of my life. I was in the front seat, so I couldn’t really stretch out, and it was torture. I wonder what people in nearby cars thought– I must have been a sight! Gripping the hook above the door and curling over my huge belly, while moaning and sometimes screaming. Tom was awesome– he drove as fast as he could and used his right hand to apply pressure on my back/hips, while reminding me to relax between contractions and drink water. He also reminded me through each contraction that it would come to a peak and then die down…that was really helpful, since in the moment it feels everlasting. He also told me it was ok to scream and that actually helped a lot too.

When we were about 10 minutes away, we hit the only traffic of the drive, due to construction. It was so incredibly frustrating, especially since there was absolutely no shoulder because of the jersey barriers, and everyone was at a dead stop, waiting to inch forward. I thought I would surely give birth right there on the road. There was incredible pressure on my pelvis, because the baby had already descended all the way down to the cervix. The pressure of holding her head in made it feel like my lower back was going to break. Contractions were about 1.5-2 minutes apart, and lasted a minute. We were also so close to the birth center, it probably would’ve been faster to get out and walk.

After about 20 minutes of this, we finally made it past the construction and into the parking lot of the birth center. As I walked in, I remember thinking I was one of “those” women, who goes into labor In the middle of the day and has to walk into the birth center waiting room filled with moms waiting for their afternoon appointment. At each of my own appointments I had wondered if I would ever see a laboring mom walk in, but never had, and now I was that mom. However, at this point, I didn’t care; I was just so glad we had made it in time. The midwives and staff were expecting me and immediately walked me back to the Lotus Room, which I had chosen a few months earlier to birth in. All 4 of the room in the birth center were absolutely gorgeous, with huge beds, fireplaces, lovely furniture, and a huge birthing tub. I had chosen the Lotus Room because it had soft  pink colors in the decorating scheme, and a beautiful round birthing tub in the middle of the room, not too deep for my petite self.

The midwives were immediately soothing and solicitous; not once did we feel pressured or put-upon. Kelly, the head midwife that day, asked if I wanted to be checked. It was the moment of truth! I had a slight fear that I would only be 5 or 6 cm. dilated, but as soon as she checked me, Kelly announced that she could see the head! I think I asked if I was 10 cm, to which she laughed and said, “Honey, you’re complete!” Wow. I was still in shock. It was happening!

I didn’t have long to mull over my shock, though, as the pounding pressure on my pelvis took over. I asked if I could sit on the toilet, as that position felt the best. They said I could, but told me not to bear down. I came out a few minutes later, and the assistant were filling the birthing tub. They asked if I wanted to et in, and that water sounded great to me. I got in, and almost immediately announced that I needed to push. My body wanted nothing else but to push that baby out, now! Kelly said, “Yes, you do!” And yelled out the door to Kim, the other midwife, and the two assistants to come quickly.

It was probably about 2:45 when I got in the tub. I began to push with the contractions on all fours in the tub, but found it more comfortable to sit/squat while leaning back on the tub. Tom was behind me to hold up my arms and encourage me. One of the assistants listened to Lucy’s heart every so often, and they monitored my heart rate and temperature too. Another assistant kept giving me water, which was awesome, and wiped my forehead with a cool washcloth. The whole team was amazing. The best thing was that between each contraction, everyone was so quiet, allowing me to lean back and almost sleep in the painless interludes. This was very refreshing, since pushing was much harder work than I’d anticipated. I mean, you can’t really practice pushing a baby out, not until you’re actually doing it. It did feel better to push through each contraction. The midwives said I could reach down and feel the baby’s head, which I did, and it felt so strange! Squishy and wrinkly. They tried holding a mirror for me to see what was happening, but I wasn’t wearing contacts so I could mostly just see a blob. Kim traded places with Tom so he could watch and encourage me from the other side of the tub.

After about 30 or 40 minutes of pushing, the baby’s head was getting closer to coming out. I knew this because of the notorious “ring of fire” feeling. That was particularly horrendous, and the midwives said, “Push through the burn!” Ungh! Worst words I ever heard! All I wanted to do was make it stop, t making it stop required pushing the head all he way out. The head was taking its time, coming out and receding, over and over for about 20 minutes. Tom said this was the most frustrating part to watch. Finally, the burning and pressure was too much, and I was motivated enough to push through it as hard as I could. Kelly told Tom to get closer so he could catch the baby, but as I pushed her head out, her entire body came shooting out like a rocket! No time for Tom to catch, Kelly swooped in and caught the baby in the water and brought her up to my chest. She was screaming (I don’t blame her!) and her huge, deep blue eyes were wide open. Her chubby body was covered in vernix, a sign she was a little early, and I laughed because Tom had such an aversion to the idea of vernix all through the pregnancy. My first thought was that she looked exactly like her father, and that she seemed big!

In the next few minutes, as we wrapped a blanket around squalling Lucy, the midwives asked if Tom wanted to cut the cord after it finished pulsing. It was crazy to see her umbilical cord with blood still pumping through it! At that point, they helped me try to stand, and as I did the placenta started to come out. So, once again, Kelly had to intervene and cut the cord herself, so they could get the placenta out safely. I then was helped out of the tub, and onto the bed to look at newborn Lucy.

She had stopped crying and was looking around intensely. She was very pink and had lots of fat around her face. We also noticed she had very pretty reddish blonde hair. We all took bets on her weight, and I thought she was about 7. She turned out to be 6 lbs. 14 oz., so I was close! I immediately decided all future babies must come two weeks early, because pushing out 6-14 was good enough. I was SO glad she didn’t go full term and get any heavier!!

Weighing Lucy in the cool midwife weighing thingy

Weighing Lucy in the cool midwife weighing thingy

image_6

image_7

I actually felt pretty good, all things considered. The midwives kept telling us how impressed they were with my pain tolerance, and wished all their moms could be like me. I hadn’t eaten anything since my 8:00 AM yogurt, so I wolfed down the rest of our forgotten smoothie, and Tom ordered burgers and fries to be delivered (appropriate, since those were my biggest preggo craving). Then the assistants helped us get Lucy latched on to nurse, and she did so… Great on the left side, not so great on the right. She fell asleep shortly after being diapered and swaddled by Dad.

We realized we hadn’t had a minute to let anyone in our families know we were heading to the birth center, so Tom quickly sent out a few emails and texts to our family and close friends. The midwives were meanwhile discussing what to do about the tears I had I incurred while pushing the little chunker out. They weren’t sure they could stitch it up there, so they called in Peggy, the head midwife, who inspected them and said they were second-degree tears and she felt confident stitching me up. So we all walked down the hall to the little room with an operating chair and better lights. Tom held sleeping Lucy and the other midwives chatted with us while Peggy stitched away. She was very thorough and careful, and took her time. The surgery took about an hour, and Peggy kept warning me it would hurt, but they used a lot of Lidocaine to numb it, and it honestly didn’t hurt much, not compared to what I’d just done.

Our food had arrived, so we ate that and Lucy woke up to nurse again, and then screamed for no apparent reason. The assistant expertly checked her diaper and had guessed correctly- she had pooped her first meconium. Lovely. The midwives gave us a rundown on what to do and expect the next three days, we dressed Lucy and me, took a few family photos, and they told us we could go! We arranged with my parents to stop by and let them meet Lucy, and they kindly went to the grocery store and bought us a ton of necessities, since we weren’t 100% ready for her arrival.

First Family Photo

First Family Photo

We left the birth center around 9 PM, so all in all we were there for about 6 hours. I was so glad on so many levels that we had birthed at the birth center with midwives. They do home births also, but we went with the birth center because it was more covered by insurance (correction: so we thought), and because it was much bigger and better equipped for birth than was our apartment. Plus, all the mess was contained and cleaned up there, and we returned home to a (mostly) clean apartment.

I can’t praise the midwives enough. They were so supportive and respectful, from my first meeting with them, through the birth, through the last postpartum checkup. They never did anything without asking permission first, and respected and trusted a woman’s body to perform the task God had created it to do.

I can’t say the birth was painless, but it wasn’t ever so overwhelming that I couldn’t get through it, even sans pain meds. It was empowering and reassuring to do it, and know I could. I felt very blessed to have experienced such a rapid labor with my first, since that’s definitely not the norm. I was also so relieved she came two weeks early; I was so uncomfortable and ready to be done teaching on my feet all day.

image_9

image_8

Ah, that was fun. It was also good for me to re-read all of it, since I’ll be doing it again in approximately 12 weeks, or 10, if we follow the same pattern (and the correct one, I’d like to throw out to Baby #2). At least I learned several things:

1. Listen to the body in labor. It knows what it’s doing.

2. When contractions start, we better be ready to mobilize within two hours or less this time. I want to go through the crazy part and transition AT the birth center, not the car.

3. Relax. 🙂