So it is about time that I posted on my blog. It is amazing how little time you have when all you are doing is eating, sleeping, feeding, burping, and rocking. All those things take a lot of time, but I am finally learning how to get enough rest and still fit other things in. I thought I would take this post as a opportunity to share my birth story; some of the hardest, most rewarding, and spiritual 24 hours of my life.
Before I share my birth story I have to explain that I prepared quite a bit for the birth of my little girl. I took a 12 week birthing class, I read books, and did research. After my research I chose to have a natural birth. In fact, I really wanted to have a home birth, but as I went to the Lord in prayer about that decision something just did not feel right. We went to tour the hospitals in the area and when I went to Mountain View Hospital and incredible peace came over me and I let go of my plans for a home birth and prepared for a hospital birth. I had learned birthing positions and relaxation techniques, I experimented with essential oils. I planned to labor as long as I could at home. I a medicine ball, hot and cold pads, and an essential oil diffuser on hand. I wanted the birth of my little girl to be a positive experience.
Well, 6 days after my due date, a Monday night at 6pm, I felt my little Lilly push off my ribs with her feet as she ahad got into the habit of doing and POP! I felt my bag of waters burst. I was GBS positive as well so it was important for me to go straight to the hospital and begin the rounds of antibiotics. I was having this baby within twenty-four hours! As we drove to the hospital, eating our half-made dinner, I felt the contractions begin. By the time I arrived they were consistently about 6 minutes apart. I was feeling positive and courageous, ready to meet my little girl and give her the natural birth I had prepared for. Since my water had already broken my contractions needed to get closer together within the next few hours or they would recommend Pitocin, which I wanted to avoid if at all possible. I tried a few things to help my labor progress. I went in the tub and practiced complete relaxation. I loved the tub and recommend it for early labor. However, if you are not giving birth in the tub I would not suggest it during transition. I don't think I would have been able to get myself out when my contractions were that intense. I also went on walks with my sweet husband. He was such a great coach! Walking felt good and energized me, but it was harder for me to relax completely during the contractions. Eventually they needed to do the intermittent monitoring and asked me to return to the bed. The contractions where getting much closer together, perhaps a minute or two apart, and they were at least two minutes long. I struggled to remain standing long enough to get back to the bed. I rejoiced in the intensity that was occurring, my baby was getting closer. I let them do their 20 minutes of monitoring then I wanted to try some of the other positions I had learned about, while I was still feeling somewhat mobile. I tried the birthing ball. It seemed to reduce the pressure some, but I was reminded of my tendency to faint when in pain while trying to remain in the upright position. I then tried hands and knees on a mat which was a position I have LOVED while pregnant. It wasn't bad, but as the contractions continued I began to get shaky and decided the best way for me to relax was to lie on my side. At this point the contractions where becoming longer. They were lasting a good 5-7 minutes and I only had a 30 second break in between.
I began to hear the nurses and midwife talk with Lawrence about transition. I was having a hard time, but I had read that transition can be less than a hour to a few hours long and that I would soon meet my baby and would also have some relief during the pushing stage. I was tired, but excited to be at that point, thinking I was close to meeting my baby (silly me!). This was the challenging, but my favorite, part of my labor. My transition, which lasted NINE hours (now they don't tell you that in the books), was the most spiritual experience I had ever had. I was no longer aware of time. I locked into a rhythm of deep breaths and song like moaning (which I jokingly became known for in the Labor and Delivery Department, I was singing my baby out they said), my eyes were often closed but when I opened them I always saw Lawrence's face right next to mine and I felt an overwhelming love from my sweet spouse. I heard the nurses trying to get him to sit down, or eat something, or take a drink, but he refused to leave my side. The phone was ringing, our families were anxious as the hours wore on, but he ignored it and only left me upon my request for a cool cloth or ice chips as my throat was drying. I loved my sweet Lawrence when we were friends in Jerusalem, I loved him more on our wedding day, I loved him even more as we had moved through our first year of marriage, but I loved him more during those hours than I ever knew it was possible to love. I also felt another relationship strengthen during these nine hours of transition. My prayers were constant during those nine hours (now I can better relate with Enos in the Book of Mormon). I realized I needed my Father in Heaven and my Saviors grace, this was not something I had strength to do on my own. You read stories about the pioneers feeling angels pull their handcarts when they fear they can't take another step, I felt like those pioneers. It was as though some of the pain was carried by someone else. It was was there, but it didn't feel like it was me doing it. Looking back it still doesn't feel like something I did, but something we did. I was blessed with incredible nurses, a marvelous midwife, and a dedicated husband and among all that support, I felt angels in the room, the love of my daughter as she moved inside me, the atonement of my Savior as His grace lighted my load, and compassion of my Heavenly Father. I know that motherhood is a calling from God. That He desires for us to have children and it is part of His plan, because He was very aware of me as I was working to follow that plan. 1 Nephi 3:7 comes to mind, "...for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them." I was doing His will and He strengthened me to meet the challenge.
Finally I was dilated to a 9 1/2. I had a cervical lip which the midwife pushed out of the way and I felt the urge to push. Unfortunately I don't think the contractions got further apart. I was still having rather long contractions with only 30 seconds in between. Pushing brought relief from the pain, but it was difficult to push that long, usually they recommend only three, 10 second pushes in a row, but my contractions were still going strong long after that, and all I wanted to do was push. After pushing for awhile the midwife felt my little ones head and discovered that she was posterior. They helped me change positions to hands and knees on the bed and I pushed in that position, squatting with each push. This position can help posterior babies rotate, but we didn't have any luck. I continued to push. After two hours of pushing. My midwife said that we had to get her to rotate. Lilly was so close that at times Lawrence could see her head, but she wasn't descending through my pelvis. My midwife trying to avoid a c-section recommended I get an epidural, rest and let my body continue to move my daughter down the birth canal and then they would try manually turning her. I began to cry. I had worked so hard to avoid this and yet after 19 hours of natural labor it looked like I wasn't going to have my wish. Lawrence asked the nurses an midwife to leave the room so we could talk as husband and wife. We cried together, but in the end decided that it was worth it if we could avoid a c-section. The anesthesiologist came in to give me the epidural. Once again I was blessed with an incredible professional who was full of compassion. They tried to give me the epidural in between contractions, but they only had a 30 second window, so I was having intense contractions throughout the procedure trying as hard as I could to relax - singing my way through it. The relief of the epidural was incredible. I had forgotten what it felt like not to be in pain. I fell asleep in seconds! They let me sleep for 2 hours and when I awoke she had moved down further, but was still butting against my pelvis. I pushed for another hour with all my might and my midwife worked to turn her. At one point she almost turned all the way around and then quickly flipped again. It was so discouraging to be so close...After the hour my midwife said Lilly's head was hitting into my pelvis with each push, it had almost been 24 hours since my water broke, and she wasn't turning. She said, "Honey, I am sorry, but I have to recommend a c-section. I can't get her through while posterior." Lawrence cried and so did I.
They administered more anesthesia and wheeled me in to the OR. I held Lawrence's hand knowing all the while that they were cutting into me and pushing and pulling to get my little one out and then she was there, my little girl. Pink and healthy, already sucking and ready for her first meal. I could see the bruises on her little head from where her head pushed against my pelvis. I was grateful she was healthy, grateful she was here. The birth of my little girl did not go at all how I planned, but I am grateful that we were inspired to go to the hospital we wen to, and with the midwife we chose. I am grateful to have experienced natural childbirth, what and incredible experience, and for modern medicine when her positioning prevented me from giving birth that way. I am grateful for a wonderful husband who coached me through the whole thing, and for a Father in Heaven who gave me the strength needed in those hours. I love my little Lilly!
p.s. Sorry I am not good with technology and don't know how to get these pictures to turn.