Our sweet Jane is here at last. I can scarcely believe that just two weeks ago, I was very pregnant and did not yet know this person who is now my daughter. She has already changed our world and transformed us into new people: parents. And this is how she entered our world.
On the morning of June 21, I awoke at 6 AM to use the restroom, and when I looked in the toilet I saw my mucous plug. I was totally unprepared to see it! I thought that I had previously lost my plug, but it was really only small fragments. What I saw in the toilet bowl that morning was huge!! So, I got excited but headed back to bed, because I didn’t know if it would be hours or days before labor started. It took 23 minutes. My water broke at 6:23 while I was lying in bed, and that was another sensation for which I was unprepared. For a split second, I thought that I’d had an accident, but then I realized what was really going on. The fluid felt thicker than I imagined, which is kind of funny since I see water breaking all of the time at work and have even been splashed by it. After I cleaned myself up, I told Andrew what happened and then there was no more sleeping for either of us.
We got up, got dressed, and texted Jennie, my midwife, who told me to take it easy and eat high protein foods. And in true Erin fashion, I only halfway took it easy. I wasn’t really contracting very much, so after breakfast Andrew and I took a short walk to try to get things moving. We then came home and cleaned, played board and card games, and just enjoyed each other’s company. We also took a picture of my ginormous belly for posterity.
After playing a few rounds of Spit and starting Monopoly while I was bouncing on the ball, my contractions were about 4 minutes apart and lasted 30-45 seconds and that’s where they stayed for several hours. So after a while, I started to get tired and decided to lay down on the couch. At that point my contractions really started to intensify. Almost immediately after lying down, they were less than 5 minutes apart and 1 minute in length. Jennie called me around 3 to check on me and when I told her I was confused as to why my contractions would intensify while lying down, she just suggested that I stay down and “try” to rest. She reminded me that I needed to come to the birth center around 6:30 pm to get antibiotics, since my water would have been broken for 12 hours at that point, and I told her we would text her when we were on the way.
Almost as soon as I hung up the phone, I told Andrew that we needed to start getting ready to leave. I don’t know what the change was inside of me, but I suddenly felt an urgency to get the birth center. So Andrew starting packing up food, and I packed a last minute bag (in addition to the 2 that were already in the car) and puttered around until we left. We called Andrew’s sister to let her know that we were leaving and to give her instructions on Harrison, and then we were off!
The car ride was heinous. As we drove, it felt like we were only hitting pot holes and bumps during contractions and it was absolute torture. But we arrived at the birthing center around 6 and when I told Jennie how awful the car ride was, she was pleased and said that’s exactly what she wanted to hear… that means progress is being made! So then she checked me and asked me to guess how dilated I was. I was thinking that 7 cm would be great, but told her I had no idea. And do you know what she said… “You’re 7 cm!” Yay! We were getting really excited now! In addition, she said that I had a bulging bag, and it must have been the hind water that broke, so I didn’t need antibiotics since I hadn’t had any exams until that point and my risk of infection was really low. More exciting news!
Once Jennie checked me, I asked about getting in the tub, so Zul (birth assistant) and Jennie started to fill it. When I got into the water, my contractions were still very manageable and I was chatting in between and really in a good mood, but it still felt sooooo good! My friend Brianna had arrived by this point; she was my designated NICU nurse (because even though I was very comfortable with our decision to deliver at the birth center, I still wanted a co-worker there, just in case) and ended up taking pictures for us, too.
I stayed in the pool for a while, letting my contractions intensify, and even started pushing in the water. Jennie checked me as I started to push, though, and found that I had a cervical lip, and in order to try to move it out of the way I had to get out of the water; I think this was around 10:00. That, unfortunately, stunk. Because as soon as I got out of the water and in the bed a contraction hit that just shocked my system. I started crying because the pain was just unbearable. From this point on, the pain was beyond words and I pushed in just about every position imaginable. When she could see Jane’s head, Jennie exclaimed that Jane had a lot of hair and asked if I wanted the mirror. At that point I said no, but I was so shocked that she had a head full of hair! Eventually they grabbed the mirror for me anyway, because my energy was fading (by the time I was done, I had pushed for 4 hours) and I was having trouble focusing. Jennie kept saying that Jane was almost here and I just needed a few more good pushes, but I felt as though she had been saying that for ages and I was having a hard time believing that this baby was ever coming out.
During the last few minutes of pushing, they checked Jane’s heart rate by Doppler in between every contraction. Her heart rate was slower than it had been, which really freaked me out. I kept asking if she was okay, and Jennie reassured me that she was, but that just like me, Jane was tired and needed to come, so give just a few more really good pushes. I tried with everything that I had, but I ended up needing a double episiotomy, which I felt (ouch!!!!!!!). Soon after the incision, I felt that “ring of fire” (how aptly named) and all of a sudden at 11:34 pm, there was a splash as the rest of my water broke and Jane entered the world. Andrew was baptized into fatherhood by some lovely amniotic fluid and some meconium (she stooled as she was being born).
After some quick suction with the bulb syringe, they laid her on my chest.
My whole world changed.
Although I started crying, I didn’t get the immediate rush of motherly feelings that I thought I would. Instead, I was in shock. Could this really be my child? She didn’t look anything like me! But she was so beautiful and so alert. Although she was grunting, she immediately started pushing off of my chest and rooting, trying to breastfeed.
I looked through the photos of the birth yesterday for the first time and just tried to process through and remember everything that happened. The further I get out from the birth, the more amazed I am at what I did; I pushed out an 8.5 pound baby without any medication. By God’s grace and with the help of my wonderful husband, fantastic midwife and labor team, I became a mom.
After being sewn up and about two hours of breastfeeding and resting, I decided that I was tired of being covered in all kinds of bodily fluids and needed a shower, so Andrew held Jane for the first time while I got cleaned up. Soon after, we received our discharge instructions and headed home to our own bed. We arrived home at 5 AM, 23 hours after labor began the previous day.