Monday, March 7, 2011

...and baby makes three

It is now nearly two months from the day my daughter was born. Part of me feels bad that i've waited this long to write about it, but most of me still wants to put it off. Mainly, i think, because there are simply no words to truly, adequately describe such an experience. But even now, certain details (not the important ones, thankfully) remain a little hazy, and i want there always to be a record of what took place so that Abigail will know under what amazing circumstances she was born, and how very much we loved her.

On Tuesday, January 18 2011, at 2:00pm, we walked into the maternity center at Tobey Hospital for a scheduled non-stress test - the third one since Abby's due date passed! She was now 12 days late, and i was still showing no signs of imminent labor. Jeremy had driven over every pothole in Buzzards Bay on the way down in one final attempt to speed things along, but as was evident during the test, Abby simply was not ready.

A very nice nurse helped me get comfortable on the bed, and then began strapping the belts to my bourgoining belly that would monitor all fetal and uterine activity for the next 20-30 minutes. I recalled our first non-stress test, which Abby slept entirely through, and the second, where she moved whenever i poked her or coughed or Jeremy spoke to her, but then went right back to sleep. This final test went much the same way. Our nurse was very friendly and encouraging, telling us all about her own labor experiences, which were all with Louise as well. She told us that both of her children were very late, and that one only came after she scheduled an induction. We asked if Louise would want to see us at her office after the test, and to our surprise she said that Louise was actually in the maternity ward and that she would ask her about seeing us when we were done. This was very good news for me, as talking to Louise always made me feel excited and hopeful.

When Louise entered the room, my chest fluttered - there was my midwife, standing in my hospital room, with me on the bed. The feeling of being pregnant and about to deliver suddenly rose to an entirely new level.

"Nothing yet?" She joked, then asked how i was feeling with a grin that said she already knew. Then, "Would you like me to check your cervix?"

I emphatically said Yes PLEASE! This was the moment that i had been waiting for. Now 12 days past my due date, i felt sure that Louise would tell me i was at least a few centimeters dilated.

Wouldn't you know, my cervix was completely closed. Not only that, but Abby had somehow wriggled her way back out of the pelvic cavity and wasn't even in position to be born! Good GRIEF, baby Brown!

We were stunned. How could this be?? Louise, as usual, just smiled and said it was normal. But just before i felt my heart completely drop, she provided a light at the end of the tunnel.

"Well, you'll be 42 weeks tomorrow. If you want, we can go ahead and schedule an induction..."


"Does Thursday sound good? We could wait til Friday, but then she might not be born until Saturday."

We said Thursday was good. The sooner the better! That meant we only had to wait one more day to meet our daughter.

Jeremy and i were elated, and drove home with grins that could probably have been seen from space. This is when i started to feel a little...weird. I'm not sure how else to describe it except to say that it resembled nausea. I told Jeremy, but we decided it was likely due to feeling anxious in anticipation of the biggest event of our lives.

About an hour or so after returning home, i started having contractions - real ones, although i didn't know for sure at the time. They were very much like the braxton hicks contractions i'd been having on and off for the last couple weeks, but kind of painful and definitely uncomfortable. In fact, i assumed that's exactly what they were and tried to eat dinner while waiting for them to dissipate.

They did not. They got stronger and more painful, and very quickly seemed to start happening closer together. I tried my best to wait it out - even made cookies - but the cookies made me nauseous and everything just felt wrong.

At 7:00, we called Louise. I told her i was having pretty intense contractions, to which she replied that they were "probably not intense," and that i should erase that word from my vocabulary. This is the only time in our history with her that i remember feeling irritated. Who was she to tell me how i was feeling? Granted, she was a midwife, and i trusted that she knew what she was talking about. But good God, if these contractions weren't intense, then what on earth was true labor like? Then she told me exactly what she said she'd tell me a long time ago when this moment came: Eat a good meal (done), take a bath (um, okay...) and go to bed (yeah, right!). "Try to pretend they're not even there."

I hung up with a sinking heart, now distraught as well as in pain. There was no way i was going to sleep through all this (and, in fact, i did not). I did, however, take a bath. Baths had done me a lot of good in the last couple weeks of pregnancy, so i had a little faith that maybe one would help me now. Oh, if only that were true.

Time began to drag. I was sweating; we cracked a window. I lay on the couch (with a towel underneath me, as i'd been doing for the last week out of fear that my water would break). Jeremy lay on the other couch, and i tried to just sit there and watch basketball with him to take my mind off the pain. I began to moan each time a contraction came, changing positions to see if that would help; it didn't. Another hour passed. Jeremy came and sat next to me, holding my hand and rubbing my back. He asked if there was anything he could do to help, but unfortunately there wasn't. I started feeling ultra-focused, thinking of everything and nothing at the same time, zeroing in on the pain and then trying to ignore it. I attempted another bath, but got out quickly.

I can't remember when exactly this happened, but eventually i started pushing. Jeremy had been suggesting we call Louise for a couple hours, but i refused. She would just tell me to try to sleep it off, and i wasn't about to feel like a big baby calling her all night long. Obviously, i should have called her, especially when i started pushing. I don't even know what compelled me to endure this kind of torture at home, and for weeks afterward i felt so heavy with guilt for not having realized i was in active labor and ready to deliver my child. But we'll get back to that...

Now i can remember that the reason i thought i was pushing was to combat the pain of my contractions (either that or i was constipated, because i did feel the need to go, but sat on the toilet a hundred times with no results). Every time one would come, i would push several times with all my strength, and the pain would disappear. The contraction would end, and for a few seconds i could breathe and let my body cool down. Another contraction would come, i would push, the pain went away, the contraction would end, and so on. I was in tears at this point, but i cried silently. This is how i was dealing with the situation at hand, and i thought i was doing a pretty good job.

But even i had my limits. In the early morning hours, i started to suggest that maybe we should in fact give Louise a call. The pain was unbearable, and i really did think there was something wrong with the fact that i was pushing. It may have made my pain temporarily manageable, but i kept thinking about the baby and how me holding my breath and pushing hard was affecting her. Then i started having what i thought was incontinence when i pushed (thank God for that towel!), and leaking clear liquids is one thing, but the blood had me a little scared.

I'm not sure how i made it to the bedroom floor, but i remember crouching there on all fours as Jeremy received a call back from Louise. The pain was so severe that i couldn't stand up. My face was hot and wet from crying. Jeremy kept saying she wanted to talk to me, but it was all i could do just to speak coherently to him, nevermind Louise. Not only that, but in order to get phone reception in our apartment you have to be standing by the nursery window, and i was in the bedroom. I begged Jeremy to tell her i couldn't get to the phone, that i couldn't move, that i wouldn't even be able to talk without moaning like a dog. Louise somehow convinced him to hand me the phone anyway, but by the time i managed to utter something about pushing, our connection was broken.

The decision was made to just head to the hospital. I told Jeremy to turn on the shower - i felt like a PIG, and hadn't left the house without showering in probably 10 years - and he hurried outside to try getting back in touch with Louise. It took forever, and every ounce of strength i had left, to crawl to the bathroom and drag my body into the tub. The water raining down on me felt so good, but i could hardly enjoy it as i sat there on my hands and knees shaking, water dripping from my hair to the floor, struggling just to get enough breaths in between contractions. More blood. Jeremy returned to say that Louise thought i was "having trouble coping" and that he should bring me into the office.

I'm sure i don't need to tell you how that made me feel. I was completely immobile, freezing, bleeding, and dripping, my head resting on my hands at the back of the clawfoot tub, now crying some more. I felt like an animal. All my body wanted to do was rest, but i wanted to claw at everything and pull at my hair. I was exhausted. Jeremy kept asking if i was ready to come out, but i kept saying no. I knew i had to, but my body literally couldn't move. I felt panicked; how was i going to get dressed and get into the car?

Even after Jeremy turned off the shower, i remained on hands and knees, waiting for just a few seconds where i felt capable of getting up. It didn't happen. With Jeremy's help, i somehow miraculously wound up back in my bedroom (i don't remember drying off at all, and i don't remember how we got there). As he ran back outside to start the car and make sure we had everything we needed, i moved at a snail's pace with every ounce of willpower to pull on some clothes, my head still dripping wet and looking like a rat's nest. No makeup, no nothing. I was shivering badly, and didn't care in the least what i looked like (although i absolutely forced myself to brush my teeth).

All of this took a couple of hours, and even getting into the car was an ordeal. The contractions were right on top of one another, and i remember not being able to sit directly on my butt during the entire ride, still pushing and trying to breathe.

It was now about 10:50am.

Jeremy ran into the office and then came back out to help me inside and we headed straight for Louise's room. The waiting room was full of women, and i can only imagine what they were thinking when they saw my disheveled, full-term figure being ushered down the other hallway in haste.

Louise helped remove my coat and tried to help me onto the table, but i had to lean against it immediately as i was having another contraction. She rubbed my back and said i was doing a good job, and despite everything i felt a little better just being in her presence. As soon as the contraction ended, she helped me up and checked my cervix right away.

"Looks like we're going to have a baby," she said with a smile.

"Really?" My face, if possible, lit up. Even after the night i'd had, i couldn't believe it was happening.

"Yep. You're 10 centimeters dilated," Louise said.

Jeremy and i looked at each other in shock. 10 centimeters?! She meant we were going to have a baby RIGHT NOW. The world suddenly seemed incredibly small, like everything was shrinking down to this moment, to us, to our baby. It was happening now, and very quickly.

"But we have to get to the hospital," said Louise, with a discomforting amount of urgency in her voice. "The baby's heart beat is a little low."

The next few minutes were a blur, and not very pleasant, as my body still had trouble moving but everyone around me began moving at lightspeed. Even Louise, who was ALWAYS calm and serene and confident, seemed a little flustered, which kind of made me nervous. She told us to hurry, almost literally shoving us out of the room, and said she'd be right behind us. Again, we passed the waiting room full of curious onlookers. They all stared as Louise, nearly in a panic, as she simply told the receptionist that she had to get to the hospital and barely waited for acknowledgment as she flew out the door.

Thankfully, the hospital was maybe one minute up the road. Jeremy pulled up to the front door and, seeing him struggle to help me out of the car, a women standing there ran inside to get help. A man came rushing out with a wheelchair and i honestly don't even remember if it was he or Jeremy that pushed me through to the maternity center like we were in a race (although i guess we were, in a race against time!).

Louise was seconds behind us as we entered the delivery room. It was already full of nurses, racing around like chickens with their heads cut off. I could barely think. They began to help me undress, and i remember saying "Wait! Wait!" as i was having another contraction and my body froze up. "I'm sorry, we can't wait," one nurse said, and she whipped off my underwear. This is insane! was the only thought my brain managed to let escape.

Somehow, i made it to the bed. Louise sat at the end and instructed the nurses and Jeremy to lift my legs and pull my knees back (which, by the way, is a LOT harder to do while having contractions than it looks on tv). I only pushed a couple of times before hearing several people say "the baby's right there" - to which i remained in disbelief, as i did NOT feel open enough for a body to fit through. The pain was absolutely horrendous, and while i wasn't screaming, the grunts and groans coming from my mouth were anything but peaceful. To think there are women out there who managed to do this silently is beyond what i can fathom.

Louise said she was going to perform an episiotomy and asked if that was alright with me, although the scissors were already in her hand. Later, she explained that i may have only needed to push a couple more times to get the baby out, but the heartbeat was too low and she didn't want to risk waiting (and it was either cut me or have a c-section, which we didn't have time for and i wouldn't have wanted anyway). I told her it was fine, despite the fact that i was freaking out on the inside. I couldn't believe that those scissors were coming at me, and without any drugs! I remember being so incredibly thankful that i was ignorant as to how my delivery would go down, because there in the moment there was nothing i could do to change my situation and i just had to accept everything and get to the next moment.

Within seconds, Abigail Grace was born. If it were possible for a body to collapse while lying down, mine did. I think someone asked what time it was, and one of the nurses announced that it was 11:07am.

Unfortunately, they weren't able to place Abby directly on my chest as we had planned, as they first wanted to make sure her heart rate returned to normal. A male doctor had arrived and with the help of the nurses was able to assure she was breathing correctly. He came over to my bed and congratulated me, said that everything was fine, and that i had a beautiful baby girl.

Abby never cried. As soon as they placed her on my chest, i felt it swell and my eyes filled with tears. Joy. I was so proud, of myself and of this amazing little person who was in my belly just seconds ago and now bravely faced the world, deep blue eyes wide open and ready to eat. It took a few tries for her to latch on, but as soon as she did i felt overwhelmed by how connected we already were. She seemed to know without a doubt that i was her mother, and drank my milk fiercely as though she'd been doing it for years.


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My name is Audrey. I'm just a twentysomething learning how to master the arts of cooking, cleaning, working and being in a relationship, same as you.In between all that, I like to collect sea glass and salvaged furniture. Occasionally, I cut and paste scraps of paper together. In the end, I am hoping that all of these things together will somehow amount to something good. This blog is a journal of my efforts to get there.


thesalvagedbride at gmail dot com