Friday, July 6, 2018

Cecilia's Birth Story

I haven't written in almost 11 months since I announced the birth of my sweet baby girl. Well, she's quickly coming up on her first birthday so I thought I should probably finally post her birth story which I wrote MONTHS ago but had been waiting to fact check with David. Well, here it is! I may start writing again a bit more (like, maybe once every few months, don't expect much) now that my baby is a bit older and our foster son has left (guess I never shared that whole story...we had a sweet 1 year old foster son with us for a few months). But no promises.

On Saturday, August 12, I was four days past my due date. Since my first two babies had been born eight and ten days past their due dates, I was hopeful that maybe I would go into labor that day but not particularly expectant. My parents came in the morning to pick up Lucia and Davey for a day at the zoo so David and I decided to make the best of our day without kids. We leisurely got ready, then headed to Longmont to go to my favorite thrift store.

After browsing around for a while, we headed to a nice restaurant for lunch where I got a very spicy meal and then we had chocolate fondue for dessert. The place wasn’t busy so the (male) bartender came over to chat with us and mentioned it looked like I was past my due date. I was impressed by his insightful comment, since I’ve never been able to tell the difference in pregnant women close to going into labor, but also encouraged by it because it was similar to comments made by my midwife and her assistant a few days before. She thought I would have the baby by the end of the weekend. The lunch was a perfect date for the two of us, a little last alone time before the new baby.
We headed home after our meal and took a nap, truly soaking in our day alone. When we woke up, I remember commenting how it would be the perfect day to go into labor since I was well fed and well rested.

My parents brought the kids home around 5:00 and I took them to the backyard to play while I cleaned out the chicken coop and pulled weeds in the garden. While I was out there I started to feel a little “off”. No real contractions, but maybe a slight bit of cramping in my lower abdomen. I told David that something might be happening, but continued in the garden until I started feeling actual contractions right around 6:00. They were really light but I decided that since I hadn’t really had any Braxton Hicks this pregnancy this was probably the beginning of labor.

I called my parents right away to tell them to pick up the kids. Since my labor with Davey was less than an hour, I didn’t want to wait even though I expected it to be longer this time. My one real anxiety about this labor was not whether the midwife would arrive in time (that was David’s main concern) but whether my parents would pick up my kids in time because I really worried about them being there. Lucia is a very sensitive little girl who cries anytime I am hurt or upset, and I didn’t want to be distracted by trying to comfort her or feeling like I had to hide my discomfort. My mom arrived shortly afterward for the kids, commenting that as anxious as she had been all week for me to go into labor, this was the one day she would have been ok waiting because she and my dad were so tired from the zoo that day.

While we were waiting for my mom to come, I sent a text to my midwife Lynnette to let her know that I was having mild contractions and most likely in early labor. She immediately asked if we wanted her to come right away, knowing how quick the last labor was and how nervous we were about the quick timing, but I told her we would time the contractions first and let her know. David downloaded a contraction timing app on his phone and after a few contractions noted that they were about 4 minutes apart but still very mild in strength. After the kids left, I sat down and my contractions spaced out considerably, about 12 minutes apart. When I got back up and was walking around, preparing our bed for the birth, getting towels ready, etc., they went back to four minutes apart. They were getting slightly stronger so we decided to ask my midwife to come, since she had a 40 minute drive. I sat and knitted most of the time while we waited for her and my contractions again immediately spaced out but then started to get closer together while we waited for her.

When Lynnette and her assistant, Tatia, arrived, we talked for a few minutes and she listened to the baby’s heart. David and I then took a walk to our parish church just down the street from our house in order to keep contractions coming. I had to stop several times on the way there and back during contractions so they were getting stronger, but still not so bad that I couldn’t talk through them. We had hoped to be able to go into the church to pray, but just as we were getting there, people were leaving and the door locked behind them. If we had only gotten there two minutes earlier, we could have walked in as they were leaving. The perpetual adoration chapel which is opened 24/7 was also closed due to repairs, so we settled for visiting the Marian statue out front. I asked David to take my picture there – my last pregnant picture! – and then we walked back home.

We decided to go into the basement to watch an episode of The Amazing Race. David and I love The Amazing Race. It’s our special show together. We didn’t start watching it until a few years ago so for the past year, we have slowly been working through watching all the seasons from the beginning. We usually watch an episode or two a week together at night after the kids go to bed, although we had been watching much more than during the end of my pregnancy, an episode or two almost every night. So it was my first choice of something to do to distract myself while I was able to. We watched a full episode and during that time the contractions got steadily stronger. We started another episode but stopped only about 10 minutes in because the contractions were so strong that I had to stand and hold onto David to get through them. I could no longer concentrate and said that we should go back upstairs because I thought if we waited much longer, I wouldn’t be able to move.

While we were downstairs, Lynnette and Tatia were preparing by getting the supplies ready and then sitting upstairs talking. I appreciated having the option to be alone for a while. When I came upstairs they talked to me briefly about how/what I was feeling and then David and I went into our bedroom alone. I contracted on the bed a while, moaning a bit through the contractions now. At some point, Lynnette realized by my sounds that I was getting close, so they came in. I mostly contracted on my side and then toward the end on my back. I held on tightly to David’s arms and pulled myself into him through contractions while Tatia put pressure on my back.

This went on for a while until I got the urge to push. I was surprised a bit by how painful it all was. A bearable painful, similar to the pain of Lucia’s childbirth that I had mostly forgotten, but a pain that I didn’t really experience during David’s very fleeting labor. I hadn’t intentionally pushed at all with Davey, but I did push several times this time. The bag of waters was intact until the very end, breaking while I was pushing at 10:35. Baby was born at 10:36. It seemed like it took forever to push, but it was only a few minutes. There was a fist by baby’s face which was harder and more painful to push out than just a head alone, but once the arm was out, the rest followed easily. Lynnette caught her and put her on my chest. After the fact, I was a little disappointed David didn’t catch the baby since he had with both Lucia and Davey, but this time I really needed him up with me during those last few pushes.

David and I noticed immediately that this little baby was a girl! Our Cecilia! She was beautiful and looked so much like her sister as a newborn – David commented on that immediately. She cried right away and looked perfect. I just held my baby tight and told her I was her mama and I loved her and I marveled at how tiny and perfect and beautiful she was. My pregnancy has been healthy and happy and generally free from anxiety but there was a moment of relief holding her in my arms, a relief that only comes after having lost a baby.

I held her for a bit in a towel – she wasn’t very bloody but covered in tons of vernix – and then tried to get her to nurse a bit while we were waiting to deliver the placenta, but she wasn’t interested. She cried quite a bit during her first few hours and wouldn’t nurse, which was unusual and concerned me quite a bit and a midwife more than I think she let on, but after several hours, she finally settled and nursed and is as healthy as can be.

It took a bit to deliver my placenta, but it eventually came quicker and easier than in the past. For the
first time, I didn’t tear and need stitches. I actually felt amazingly well right afterward and was delighted to be in my own house able to walk around and take a shower just an hour after birth. My entire recovery was easy and quick. It was in many ways, a very blessed birth and another beautiful step in healing from the continued pain of pregnancy loss.

In the morning, my parents brought the big brother and sister over to meet the new baby. When they arrived they didn't know she had been born but Lucia wanted to bring the card she made for the baby "just in case". Lucia also had told my parents when she woke up that she had a dream that mommy had a baby girl the previous night. It was so sweet introducing the kids and even little Davey seemed to love his baby sister right away.

I didn't pray during Lucia's birth because it was just too all consuming and Davey's had been too fast to think of pretty much anything but I had planned to pray for many intentions during my birth but when the time came, I was in so much pain that I could only focus on one, a couple in our extended family who were longing for a child but having trouble conceiving. I offered up all the pain and doubt and suffering of the birth for them. They are still waiting for a living child, so if you could join me in praying for them, I’d be very grateful.

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