Lydia Renee was born St. Patrick’s Day in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Her time of birth was 7:29pm and she weighed 6lbs. 13 oz. and measured at 19 ½ inches. Upon gracing us with her presence she gave a little cry and immediately began sucking her little fingers; Lydia was then passed to her mama where she was held closely onto my chest.
|my last day being pregnant!|
Before this joyous moment, Michael and I endured a long labor that began Monday morning at around 2am. I was just two days shy of my due date and I was awakened to what felt like menstrual cramps, I felt a surge of excitement believing that my body was in the beginning of going into labor. Just to be certain and to gain a little reassurance, I called the midwives’ office and left one of the receptionists a message explaining my symptoms. Not too long after that, I got a phone call from one of the midwives and was told I was in early labor, to rest up and to give them a call when the contractions are five minutes apart. Michael decided it would be best to take the day off and I began adding last minute toiletries to our hospital bags. To distract ourselves we went to Walmart, Costco and an old time-y candy store in our town that I've wanted to check out since we moved here. We ended up buying lots of chocolates! During these errands, I would feel cramping every fifteen minutes or so, and they would last around 30 seconds. I was elated and hopeful our daughter Lydia would be here sooner than later!
The cramps had not progressed until much later when Michael and I went to sleep at around midnight. I started to struggle to find comfort and needed to get out of bed. I walked around the house a few laps, went to the bathroom, bounced on my exercise ball and eventually took a shower. Let me tell you, the shower provided the most relief; though, I knew I couldn't stand in there forever. I continued to bounce on the ball which also provided great relief. The cramping began coming closer to together and I began timing them. They were five minutes apart and lasted 1 minute. I woke up Michael and he said we should just go to the hospital, the worst thing they can do is send us home. So we packed our bags, the car seat and got gas, hopeful that we’d return home with Lydia.
The drive to the hospital had been pretty uncomfortable… Michael tried his best by distracting me and bringing up irrelevant conversation. I of course, did not say much in the moment of a contraction! Once we arrived at the hospital, I filled out some paperwork and went into triage where a nurse lectured us that we should have called before coming in. After a few minutes of being lectured, we waited for one of the midwives to check me and determine whether I would be admitted or not. We learned that I was 4 1/2cm and that I would be admitted. Upon waiting for our room, I began feeling overwhelmed by a swirl of emotions making my whole body tremble and enough to stall my labor… I learned during our birthing classes and Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth that sometimes going to the hospital can often build up nervous feelings which can potentially slow down labor; looking back, I believe that’s what happened to me!
After getting admitted into the Labor & Delivery room, I was hooked up onto an IV filled with penicillin (I tested positive for Group B strep). Michael and I spent a good course of the morning watching TV. Every 45 minutes for 15 minutes a nurse would come in to check the baby and my heart beat. Michael was able to nap, eat breakfast and I tried to sleep in between what became irregular contractions. At around 11am, another midwife started a shift and told me that she would check me in about an hour to see if things were progressing, if not she would give me the option of breaking my waters in effort to help speed things up. An hour passed and she told me that I was only 5cm; so I let her break my waters and she said I was now 6cm.
A couple hours passed and after having my water broken, I was leaking but not at all experiencing the intense contractions I had imagined. One of the nurses let me know that I was not in active labor and I would need Pitocin and probably an epidural. I didn't want either! The midwife came back to see how I was feeling, and said I should go walking for 45 minutes and if things don’t pick up at that point, I would need a small dose Pitocin to get things moving. I remember feeling scared and doubting my ability to get through this without compromising my birth plan. But Michael and I spent the next 45 minutes walking around the ward and by the time we came back I still didn’t feel much change in the contractions.
It came down to me needing the small dose of Pitocin and as hard as that was for me to accept, I am glad I finally was making progress. Within the next hour at around 5pm, I was in active labor and prayed for strength during each contraction; I decided from that point on, I would brave it out and let my body feel each wave of contractions. I told Michael to play some worship music which eased the tension in the room. By the next hour I wasn't talking much and bouncing heavily on the birthing ball. Michael kept reassuring me that I was doing so well and to squeeze his hand if I needed to. One thing I remember being bothersome but necessary was the continuous fetal monitoring that comes with Pitocin; fortunately the nurses were kind enough to let me bounce on the ball while they checked my belly for Lydia’s heart rate.
A new midwife came in while I was bouncing on the ball and told me to call her when I felt the sensation of needing to go to the bathroom; that should be a clear sign that I am ready to push. One of the nurses encouraged me to pee before that time came and I remember needing help walking over to the bathroom but nothing would come out. They then walked me back to the ball and I started to feel that sensation at around 6:25pm. I asked if the midwife could check me and see if I was ready to push. I wasn't. But I was close, she could feel Lydia’s head more now and I was 8cm but my cervix wasn't completely thinned out. She said she’d check back at 7:30pm. I’ll admit I felt a little defeated and didn't think I could hold off that long so I prayed that I could get through the intense urge to push. I managed to hold off a little bit but by 6:50pm or so I couldn't bear the sensations, I needed this child out of me!
I told the nurse I was ready and she said she would let the midwife know. I remember saying to Michael “where is she? How I hope she comes soon… ah, I can’t stand this any longer!” Finally the midwife came into the room and I was told to go on the bed. She checked me and said my cervix was completely thinned out. Hallelujah! I thought to myself with a smile (everyone was shocked I was still smiling at this point) as I battled the contractions that were now overlapping. She gave me a few options of pushing: squatting, lying on my side or on hands and knees. I opted for lying on my side which required me to hold onto my left knee and Michael holding onto my right knee. They turned on bright lights and she told me to inhale through the contraction and to exhale to push. She allowed me to push when I felt necessary and to take a break if I needed it.
I started pushing at 6:59pm. They began to feel Lydia’s head and I was able to feel her too, which motivated me to continue pushing with all my might. It was the most amazing feeling, knowing how close I was to meeting Lydia. This is the part of my labor where I let go and made noises as I pushed. The midwife surprised by how fast things were happening quickly put on her gown and told me that I was going to feel the ring of fire as I pushed her head out of me. AND boy, did it burn like a ring of fire! Instead of fearing the pain much like I thought I would, I just pushed and pushed through the burning sensation; looking back I thought of it as finishing the last rep of a heavy set at the gym, it was all about mind over matter. Once her head was out, I was instructed to slow down so they prepare to catch her and suctioning her mouth. And after her little shoulders were out, she slipped right out! She was born at 7:29pm. I was in awe as I looked at her and then saw how stunned and overwhelmingly joyful Michael’s face had been at that moment. He got to cut her umbilical cord and Lydia was then placed onto my chest where I closely cuddled with her and stared at her amazement, with a huge sense of relief and a good dose of euphoria too. I quickly delivered the afterbirth and they told me that I had a “nice” 2 degree tear and would require stitches; thankfully I was too distracted by Lydia to be afraid of them sewing me up. I allowed Michael to hold her and they weighed her and checked her measurements. I got to breastfeed her for the first time which actually felt more natural than I thought, not unusual at all and while I initially needed assistance from the nurses, I knew at that moment I wanted to be Lydia’s source of food and of course overall comfort.
The stitching procedure took a little over an hour and by the time they were finished repairing me, I was starving! I ate some granola that I brought from home and really wanted something more substantial; I did give birth a couple hours ago after all… So Michael suggested Jimmy John’s which I had never had before and was excited to try since I hadn't had a sandwich with cold cuts since getting pregnant. I told him to get me whatever he was getting and he brought us roast beef with tomato, a little mayo and lettuce; I may had been famished but man it was possibly the best sandwich I've ever eaten!
Overall my birth story stuck to the heart of my plan. Aside from having my waters broken, getting Pitocin and having continuous monitoring, I feel blessed to have experienced such a life changing event! In more ways than one labor drew me closer to God because it required me to be patient, still and trust in the birthing process He designed my body to go through. I also knew I was in good hands with the midwife and hospital staff, they did an amazing job taking care of me and baby Lydia.
As far as my recovery goes, I am now three weeks postpartum and I’m starting to finally feel myself. The first week was the toughest, as I was uncomfortable and a little overwhelmed. Caring for a newborn and dealing with physical discomfort could have been harder but I am SO thankful Michael had the first two weeks off! He is back at work and last week I had my first day with Lydia all by myself; I managed to prepare Michael and I's dinner, clean the kitchen and bathroom and shower all while she took a nap! It’s the little things that keep us going, am I right? My parents just came on Saturday and are going to be helping us out for the next week and a half; they've been getting much needed family time with us and their first granddaughter Lydia! That's all I have for right now but I'll be posting more Lydia updates and a postpartum update as well. :)