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A Birth Story

 I started having cramps and mild contractions on the evening of Good Friday. at first i thought it was just some serious indigestion, but it lasted partway through the night, waking me up about every hour or so. my midwife had instructed me to call her when my contraction were 3-5 minutes apart and a minute long so i held off friday night, expecting i would be calling her sometime on saturday. i tried not to get too excited, but all week i’d been thinking of nothing but meeting my little girl.

saturday came and the contractions stopped. i spent the morning running errands, trying to enjoy some alone time before baby arrived.  i picked up a few things i needed for my hospital bag and tried not to lament the fact that i still wasn’t in active labor. the contractions began again, mid morning, but weren’t increasing in frequency or intensity for most of the day. i was tired from not getting any sleep the night before, but was grateful it was the weekend and alex was home to help with cohen.

saturday night brought more contractions, this time more painful and more frequent.  however they still weren’t 3-5 minutes apart so i waited. i slept very little that night and again thought sunday morning would bring a new baby. around 3 am the contractions stopped and i tried to not get discouraged, but see it as another chance to get some rest.

These photos were taken on Easter Sunday, March 31st.

by Easter Sunday morning i was exhausted and discouraged. instead of going to our home church for the easter service, we decided to attend my parents’ church. all through the service i was getting up to go to the bathroom and brace myself for another contraction. at this point they were coming about every 10-15 minutes and were pretty painful. these lasted through the afternoon and all through our family easter dinner, which we decided to attend.  at one point i had to get up from the dinner table to have a contraction bent over one of the living room chairs.  eventually i went into the basement to deal with the discomfort in peace. apparently being surrounded by 23 family members while having contractions isn’t the best idea.

after seeing me buckled over in pain, my family was all but convinced this baby would be born later that night. i tried hard not to get my hopes up.

the contractions continued after we left our family gathering, and increased in intensity and frequency. at about 2am i’d been having one minute long contractions every 3-5 minutes and decided to call the midwife. after i caught her up on the situation she asked me if i felt like i needed to go to the hospital. i said no and she recommended i go back to bed and wait until i couldn’t handle the pain at home anymore. shortly after hanging up, i went back to bed and my contractions stopped – again!

by monday morning i was done. all through the pregnancy i’d be praying and planning for a vbac, but now a c-section was starting to look pretty good.  three sleepless nights had taken their toll on my emotions and more than anything i just wanted my baby in my arms. i called the midwife and broke down in tears, expressing my frustration. she suggested we meet at the hospital that afternoon to do a fetal assessment and see how things were progressing.

my contractions had re-started, but were still inconsistent. oma came over to play with cohen and around 3:30pm alex and i headed to the hospital. we met the midwife around 4 and she checked on baby (who was great!) and then checked me.  lo and behold, i was 5cm dialated!!! i was shocked, thrilled, beyond happy. alex asked if we should go home and come back later and the midwife  responded with a laugh, “no, now it’s time to have this baby!”

we headed over to the high risk ward and as we went, talked about how surprised and happy we were to be staying at the hospital. we honestly thought we’d have to go back home and endure another sleepless night, and now we were getting ready to meet our little girl. the midwife reminded us that it might still be a long night and that i’d likely have to push for 1-3 hours. i told alex to go get some supper and called my parents to let them know they’d need to pick up cohen. i got into my hospital gown and had the iv put in. by the time alex came back around 6pm the midwife checked me again and i was 7cm! again, i was completely shocked. the process had been going on for three days already and my expectations were that it’d be at least 10 or 12 more hours. but after a about another hour or two of fairly intense contractions, she checked me again and i was 8-9cm.

i mentioned to alex that i was surprised i hadn’t even thought about getting any drugs yet.  i guess the three days of contractions had toughened me up. the midwife then told us my water hadn’t broke and let us know she thought she should break it.  we agreed, excited to get on with things. she broke my water shortly after 8pm and then the contractions got intense. each time i grabbed alex’s hand so hard and tried hard to keep breathing. after about 15 minutes i felt ready to push. the midwife checked me and said i was fully dialated. it was time.

this is when i started asking for the laughing gas but the nurse and midwife said no, it was time to push. up until then i’d felt calm and relaxed, but now the panic was setting in.  how on earth was i going to push this baby out?!? i expressed this and other things in a very loud voice, but the nurse coached me and i focused in on her every word. at one point the midwife said something about the baby’s heart rate.  i looked at her between contractions and asked if my baby was okay. then the nurse looked me in the eye and said “it’s time to get angry”. my baby needed to come out now. the mama bear instinct kicked in, and four pushes later (14 minutes after i began pushing!), our sweet Claire Elizabeth Rose was born.

i cried as she was put on my chest and kept saying over and over “i can’t believe she’s really here.” alex bent over to kiss me and our daughter and i looked at her in awe. she stayed like that, in my arms for the next hour or more and we shared some of the sweetest moments of my life. after all that time, our precious girl was here, and it was worth every single minute.

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