Miss Wynter has finally made her arrival. She's the most beautiful thing I've ever seen, and I fell so in love with her so fast. She's . . . amazing.
We didn't think she would ever make it! I know, I know, that due dates are just an educated guess, and that some babies need more time to cook, and all. However - I knew precisely the day I conceived, and everything pointed to January sixth.
Early on I had so many scares and hard times - we moved several times, I got into a car accident, I had an early labor scare that panicked me and put me into bed, we had to switch from a birth center to the only other midwife in town during my sixth month, and on and on. Surely, we thought, with all this happening now, the birth itself has to go like a dream! We planned a quiet home birth with a birth tub.
A little while before my due date, right around christmas, I started having what I felt were contractions - starting in my back, moving to the front, painful feeling in my cervix, etc. My midwife brushed it off - "You do know it'll hurt a lot worse being in labor, right?" she joked. "It's just discomfort, you'll be fine." Prodormal labor, or false labor, was what she said it was. It didn't feel false to me, but she was the midwife. I spent a lot of time in the birth tub at home, trying to ease the pain, not being able to do a whole lot of anything. I spent innumerable hours in the shower.
My due date came and went. We started trying cohosh, taking really long walks, sex, squats, anything to help her come out. A week out and we were nervously making jokes about Groundhog Day and six more weeks of Wynter, and two weeks out we were panicking. The midwife suggested castor oil, and I took it, thirteen days past my due date.
My water broke exactly fourteen days after Wynter was scheduled to arrive. I was still feeling the same contractions that I had been for weeks. They were only about twenty minutes apart, however. The midwife sent her apprentice over to check me - still high and tight cervix, not dilated. She palpated my stomach - and then we found out why. Miss Wynter was posterior. She wasn't putting any pressure on my cervix, so it wasn't opening. Somehow, my midwife had missed this detail in all her exams. What could have been fixed two weeks ago with some chiropractic or some work from the midwife and her apprentice was now too late to fix - and my water had already broken. If I couldn't get her to flip and settle down so that I could start progressing by midnight, I had to go to the hospital to have my daughter, instead of the blissful birth tub experience we'd planned.
Husband held me and rocked me while I cried, helped me onto all fours while I desperately attempted to get her to roll over. I made panicked calls to a doula friend of mine, sobbing hysterically into the phone, and she set up a consultation for me online with a midwife she knew. "Grieve for it, make your peace, then go to the hospital", was her advice, and I did.
We called the midwife (who hadn't even come over) and informed her of our decision to go in. We got a "Good luck, let me know how it turns out!" and we packed our bags. We had to go two hours away to the Cherokee hospital, since I have tribal care. We walked in, told the nervous triage lady that I was in labor, and filled out paperwork. She nervously kept asking if I was going to have her in the ER.
We finally got to a room. It was the twentieth of January. The nurses, midwives, and doctors there were for the most part amazing. I labored most of the day, but didn't make any progress, no surprise. The back labor was excruciating. Husband was a champ, my hero, talking to everyone on my behalf, communicating all of the things I'd been over that I wanted (no epidural, no pitocin, no c section, etc), giving counter pressure on my tailbone and just being a rock for me.
Unfortunately, the inductions had to begin. My water had broken and the risk of infection was mounting. I agreed to cervadil. After that, there were two rounds of cyotec, then more cervadil. The pain of back labor plus the intensity of the contractions caused by the induction methods floored me. I lost the ability to communicate in full sentences. The quiet, gentle birth mantras I had pictured gave way to low moans into a pillow, while Husband's ESP helped him take care of me the best he could - which was amazingly.
Finally I consented to phenergen and nubain, for pain relief and sleep between contractions, which were still very far apart. Somewhere in there they took me off pain meds and gave me an ambien, which didn't work. Of course, I couldn't have pain meds AND ambien, so I labored all night sober. I bullied my way into a few showers, which they grudgingly allowed. They wouldn't take me off monitoring equipment. Belly bands, IV's, the works. Going to the bathroom was monumentous.
The next day I still hadn't progressed - two centimeters, even though the contractions were coming every few minutes. Everyone was starting to get very worried, and we consented to pitocin. The worst pain of my life began then. After hours of not progressing on pitocin I agreed to the epidural. My husband held me while I cried and got the shot in the back. I was convinced now that I wouldn't be in my right mind or able to have her naturally.
The epidural lasted two hours.
It was a great two hours - I got some rest and so did Husband, I wasn't in pain. My hip dislocated and I barely noticed. Then it wore off. The nurse sent out for the anesthesiologist. I had gotten an epidural that took immediate effect but wore off quickly. The one she was giving me now, she said, would last a LONG time, and get me through til I had her.
That one lasted an hour.
The nurses thought I was lying when I said that the epidural wore off. "You can't stand, your legs are numb", they said when I demanded to go to the bathroom. "We'll catheter you."
"The fuck they are", I replied, and hopped out of bed, trailing monitors. I no sooner went and got back, got hooked up again, than I needed to go again. My poor husband kept trying to slow me down, to juggle the monitors and unplug me, but I was so out of it I didn't even care.
I got checked, and was still at three. A few minutes later I decided I needed to push. I told the nurse, who didn't beleive me. I was at eight. Three minutes later I begged her to check me again. I have to push, I told her. I was complete. "Go ahead," she told me. A doctor rotated in and forced me onto my back. She grabbed one of my legs, made Husband grab the other, and forced me into purple pushing. I tore the entire length of my perineum. Sometime in there I got fetal monitoring, and a catheter. I don't really remember when.
I began bargaining, which seemed reasonable in my altered state. "I'll push," I said, "If you'll untape this monitor here." They were not amused. This was my fourth set of nurses (shift had changed many times, it was now the 22nd) and they were not my favorites. Finally I pushed the nurse out of the way. I'm getting on my hands and knees, I declared, and I'm having this baby. An older midwife walked in about that time and interceded - she made them lower the bed so I could get on all fours. I dove off the bed and onto my hands and knees, barely hearing everyone shouting to catch me, catch me. I didn't care if I faceplanted, I just wanted to get the baby out. Also they were still under the impression I couldn't stand and had an epidural. Hah. Nope, I was completely sober, just in the otherworld that happens when you are birthing a baby.
I gave a few experimental pushes while the lady who insisted on purple pushing watched disinterestedly. "We'll be here all day if you keep pushing like that", she told me. I gave a hard push and everyone noted that I was bulging. I felt her hair with my fingers. Unfortunately when my contraction ended she slid back up so far I couldn't feel her anymore when I reached down to try and touch her head.
"We'll be here a while, first baby, etc" was the general consensus among the ladies in the room who wandered slowly about, talking and taking their time. The fuck we would be, I decided, the next contraction I would have this baby. My hip slid back into socket. I screamed, and a contraction started immediately. Everyone turned to look and the room broke out into a flurry of panic. "Head, head, head!" I heard. My contraction ended, but I kept pushing. "Head, oh, shoulder, shoulder, oh, baby, baby!" They barely got the chux pads down. They took the baby immediately, and I didn't know why, just that something was terribly wrong. They had promised to delay the cord cutting unless it was an emergency. I couldn't hear her and because I was on all fours I couldn't see her. I couldn't bring myself to ask if she was okay, so I asked a nurse inanely if it was morning or night. 9:20 AM, she told me. It was the 22nd. Husband was with the baby in the corner of the room, by the warmer. He'd followed her immediately and was filming her first few minutes of life.
Finally I heard her cry. I broke into tears. She was okay. They brought her to me, and she breastfed for the first time. She was the most perfect thing I'd ever seen. Words can't describe how much I was in love with her, with my Husband, and how beautiful everything was at that moment. I closed my eyes and held her to my chest, and everything in my whole life changed, became complete, became perfect. All the pain was worth it. My Husband held us both, and we cried happy tears together for the first time of many dozen over the next few days.
The nurses pulled out my catheter and started unhooking my monitors. My placenta wouldn't come out; the nurse pulled it out by the cord (ouch!) and I started to get cleaned up as best I could. I declined stitches, to the chagrin of my nurse. We roomed in with the baby, and despite a few setbacks (like not having and hot water at the hospital) things were wonderful. I was anemic, bruised, and my tailbone was cracked, and my tear was awful, but that paled to how amazing I felt when I held my daughter.
Husband spent most of his time looking after us; feeding me, helping me around, and getting up every time she cried to either change her, soothe her, or give her to me because I couldn't stand steadily enough yet to get her out of her bassinet.
I bonded deeply with her, and with my Husband. No one ever told me how much closer it would bring he and I together, and no one could truly explain how attached to my Little Girl I would be. I remember sobbing quietly, happily, telling her I would protect her and love her and keep her safe, that I was so happy that we were a little family of three now, that everything was perfect. Husband and I teared up happily a lot, over and over again, the next few days, and we've never been happier.
I feel so blessed to have had his support through the whole ordeal; I know it's a blessing many don't have, and he truly did everything possible for me. I love him so much. I couldn't have picked a better father for my child.
We spent two long days at the hospital. My doula friend became a super sleuth and located me and I got to share my amazing news, my friends sent flowers, my Grandma and mother in law called a half dozen times each. I had so much support and I truly needed it and am thankful for it.
When we finally got to go home, to a shower, and our comfy bed and quiet times, we were so relieved. Life started again, in a new way, but somehow perfect. I can't imagine not having her now that she's here. She fills the tiny empty space in my heart perfectly, and it's full to bursting with love and happiness and joy now. She's completed our family, and I love her more than words can say.
Wynter Elizabeth was 7 pounds, four onces, 19.5 inches long, with a 13 inch head when she made her arrival, 16 days late, on January 22, 2010, at 9:20 AM.