note: as a mom i love reading and hearing birth stories – this is why i’m sharing mine. i’ve tried to be discreet in my wording, but in no way is this a light read. – if you are uneasy about birth, or are currently pregnant, i would recommend waiting to read this story. =)
2 weeks before Vivian made her grand appearance, I thought I had come to terms with the not-so-beautiful side of pregnancy…. But I definitely wasn’t thinking ahead!
I had seen firsthand several of my mom’s births… long, hard and painful. But somehow always strangely beautiful. And that’s what stuck with me up until this point. Childbirth is painful, but beautiful… I still believe that. I look back on Vivian’s birth with such immense emotion. It’s overwhelming really.
Leading up to D-Day, I scoured the internet reading birth stories and looking at picture perfect photographs of stunning women giving birth to stunning babies… (seriously! click the link!) and yes, as a photographer I am aware that photos can give a wonderfully surreal painting of very real events, but it is true what they say… Nothing can quite prepare you for childbirth!
I wasn’t ready.
The entire labor and delivery process was long. And so incredibly difficult.
Vivian was born turned sideways and a whopping 9 1/2 lbs., after a week of hard pre-labor and constant hoping that ‘This might just be the day!’.
Also, I never would have imagined us ending up at the hospital by choice. We had planned a home waterbirth under the sweet care of Beverly, the same midwife that helped my Mom deliver all of her biological children – including me. But God seems to have had other plans. . .
My contractions started up on Sunday – at least, that was when they became regular and I called Beverly and our families to let them know… and for the next 4 days they would start up around 3 pm, increase in intensity and go to about 2-3 minutes apart and 1-2 minutes long, and then around 2 am I would fall asleep from exhaustion and they would stop completely until the next afternoon… then I would do it all over again. We tried everything to try and dilate further – we even went to the mall and walked as much as my swollen feet would allow!…. people were looking at us as though to say “Are you crazy? can’t you tell this woman is in labor?!?!” But the contractions still went away that night leaving me stuck at 3cm for 3 very long days….
Finally on Thursday afternoon, things took a turn and became even more intense. We had turned on some worship music to help us refocus and the contractions immediately started increasing in frequency and intensity.
Around 11pm, Beverly decided it was time to come… and even though I was still stuck at 3 cm, I was finally allowed in the water to relieve my back labor. The contractions continued but the pain became bearable.
After 3 hours of laboring in the warm tub, and continuing in prayer, my back labor was still too miserable for get out of the water for more than a few minutes, and I was too exhausted to keep laboring at this pace on my own… so at Beverly’s recommendation we opted for the hospital.
The plan was to get an epidural so that I could possibly sleep for a couple of hours before trying again, but because I had never been to the Doctor that was on call at 3:30 am, the hospital refused to admit me for the next 2 hours. They said I wasn’t far enough along to admit me, and gave me a curtained section of the waiting room to labor in until there was a “substantial change”.
The next 2 hours were ones I would like to forget. I was uncomfortable and in incredible pain. I shuffled around the waiting area stopping every few minutes for another contraction, just waiting for my time to be up.
But I had been stuck for 3 days, what was 2 hours going to do? We were frustrated and tired, but somehow thank the Lord when the nurse came back to check me, I had progressed to 6 cm! We decided to postpone the epidural.
I labored in the hospital labor tub for a few hours, progressing easily to 8 cm by 7:30am. The warm water was soothing and I was optimistic about continuing without medication. . . Then the nurses asked me get out of the water so they could monitor the baby’s heart rate for an extended period of time… This was a requirement for their records. No reason for concern.
Enter excruciating back labor that I never want to experience again! Ever!:
At 9:30 I was introduced to the doctor that would be catching Vivian, and I asked the nurses to manually break my water to help dilation as I had spent 3 hours out of the water and had stopped progressing. I was tired and shaking from hunger.
The warmth of my water breaking was soothing and I fell asleep for 10 minutes before the pain was back. It was stronger this time.
By noon I was trying desperately to fight the urge to push, and was still only on the verge of being fully dilated. We requested an epidural at this point, but by the time the anesthesiologist made his way into our room and explained that I would have to sit still for at least 40 minutes while the medication took effect – anything but pushing was impossible. We sent him away and had the nurse check me one last time. I was fully dilated…
I was so exhausted that quite honestly I don’t remember much after that moment… I was passing out between pushes, and screaming from the pain.
Vivian was born at 1:04 pm … and wow….
The wave of love that hits you when you see your newborn baby….. it’s so powerful.
She was so beautiful….
My favorite moment was seeing Brad’s face light up when he saw her for the very first time. He was laughing and crying and telling me how beautiful she was….
And I knew right then that if I had to, I would do it all over again.