Guest Post from Jessica C.
She was only two days late but I remember feeling like she was never going to come. I realize the impossibility of that statement and I realized it then but still.
I went into labor around 4:30am on Friday January 17th. I downloaded an app to track my contractions and they were getting progressively stronger so I knew Mae was on her way. I let Dave sleep as long as he could before telling him what was happening since I knew he was in for a long day!
I was already scheduled for my weekly exam that morning so I called, told them I was having contractions so they said to come on in. We grabbed our hospital bag (just in case) and the yoga ball and away we went.
When they checked me at 9am, I was about 3.5cm dilated and my contractions were about five minutes apart. The doc said I could choose to go home or go to the hospital. Home was about twenty minutes away and the hospital was about two so I picked the hospital. Our original plan was to labor at home as long as possible but twenty minutes home to labor more then need to drive twenty back didn’t sound like a good plan.
Within the 15 minutes it took us to get to the hospital, get hooked up to a monitor and get checked I went from 3.5 to 5cm and the contractions were beginning to pick up steam. At the time, I was glad because I’d heard stories of people being sent home if they weren’t in active labor. Again, home and back was not something I wanted to do. I was also relieved that they had a room open as it was a full moon the night before and their 12 rooms have been known to fill up fast!
Since leaving the dr’s office I’d been keeping my doula, Bonnie, posted on how things were going. Thankfully she arrived just as the contractions became more painful.
Around noon, I was admitted to Room 5. Bonnie, Dave and I got to work. Since I had chosen not to receive any interventions (pitocin, pain meds, epidural etc…) it was actually very quiet and peaceful in our room. I did have a short visit from my mom and dad but I was quick to kick them out because I needed to stay focused and visitors made that difficult.
I spent the next couple of hours on the yoga ball with Bonnie and Dave massaging, coaching and just providing the encouragement I needed. As things progressed, I moved into the hospital bed where I just rocked back and forth for what seemed like an eternity. I do not know how I would have ever made it through that day without Dave’s support and Bonnie’s gentle affirmations. I remember watching the sky outside change colors as the contractions became more intense. I could tell by the light that it must have been around 5:30.
At about 6pm and 7cm, things were getting very uncomfortable so when the doctor stopped in I asked him how much longer he thought we had left. His guess was five hours. After laboring 13 hours, I knew I did not have 5 left in me. Thankfully he was wrong and I was right. I started feeling very nauseous (in addition to the labor pains) and truly felt like I couldn’t do it anymore. I told Bonnie and Dave that if I wasn’t ready to push soon I wanted the epidural. I think they probably laughed. I was 8.5cm dilated by that point. So the epidural was out of the question.
It wasn’t long after that when the nurses changed shifts and things started moving pretty fast. I had an incredible nurse named Jade who I will never forget. She got there around 7pm and I told her I had to start pushing or else (not sure what my alternate plan was). She informed me I was at 9.5cm, did a little magic, called it 10 and we started pushing.
The rest is unfortunately really fuzzy but I do remember the dr showing up about half way through, the nurses telling me to reach down and feel Mae’s head, holding my breath, pushing with everything I had in me and feeling her wiggle out.
It was 8:11pm and Mae arrived weighing 7 pounds and eleven ounces and measuring 19 inches long.
I must’ve gone into some sort of shock after that because the next thing I can remember is seeing her dressed, somewhat cleaned up and glossy eyed from the ointment they used. Thankfully, Dave was by my side the entire time so he was able to cut the cord, get some video and have full recollection of those first few moments.
My initial plan was to hold off on family visiting until after Mae’s first feeding but we didn’t manage to do that right away so we let them come on in. My dear friend Kat was there to document those first moments. In hindsight, I wish I’d had her there sooner for Mae’s birth since I don’t have any memory of my first 15 minutes with her. I’ll probably regret that forever.
On the topic of regret, another huge one I have is having so many visitors the next day. I think 16 people came and some stayed most of the day. This is in addition to the doctors, nurses, the hearing test lady, social security rep, pediatrician, lactation consultant, hospital photographer and lab tech. It was very overwhelming and I don’t think I got to spend any time with Mae in my arms until almost 3pm. I still get pretty emotional every time I think about it. If I had it to do all over again, I would only allow two visitors at a time in short blocks. It was just too much.
The next morning we made sure it was just the three of us. It was sweet but short as they discharged us fairly early. I remember holding her and crying heavy tears as we left Room 5. I was forever changed in that room. I have never been more grateful and humbled by anything in my life and I’ve continued to feel the weight of that every day since.