How It All Began…

Our pregnancy was not planned.

We had just opened our restaurant in October.

I don’t think I’ll ever forget that morning. It was sometime early November, my 30th birthday right around the corner. Standing at the kitchen counter in our old house, staring at the positive pregnancy test on the paper towel. Matt coming downstairs…

Me: “I just took a pregnancy test. It’s positive.”
Matt: “…how did that happen?”

He was tired.

Belief in “everything happens for a reason”, I viewed my pregnancy as a sign that the restaurant was going to be a success.

It’s been over seven years and we are still plugging away so…

Anyway. Fast forward 8 months give or take. It’s June 15, 2006 about 3am and I wake out of a sound sleep with what feels an awful lot like a contraction. I lay there for a little bit, change position and doze off.  Maybe 10, 20 minutes later I wake up again with a contraction.

Now, I’m “technically” not due for another week, I haven’t really had much Braxton Hicks to speak of so I have no idea if this is the real deal or not. What I do know is that I have been nesting like crazy for the last week which can be a sure sign of things to come.

I get up and read the checklist that came with my Hypnobabies home study course to help gauge your stage of labor. It suggested to move around to see if the contractions (they call them pressure waves) would subside. If they did, it was Braxton Hicks. If not, baby time!

So, I cleaned the bathroom. And the contractions kept coming. They were mild and nothing I couldn’t handle so I tried to lay down and rest.  If this wasn’t a false alarm I was in for a long day.

I couldn’t sleep. So I put on my headphones and listened to one of the Hypnobabies CD’s.

Matt woke up around 6:30 to pee and when he came back I told him “I think this is it. Go back to sleep. It’s gonna be a long day and I’ll need you later”.  I was feeling good. Excited. Focused. The hypnobirthing training was paying off.

Around 7:30 I called Susan, my doula, and told her what I was feeling. She said it sounded like this was it and would be over soon.

8:30 Susan arrives and times my contractions to determine my phase of labor.

I call my midwife, who I happen to have a 11:30 appointment with that day, and tell her it’s go time.

I no sooner hang up the phone, head to the bathroom to pee and Hello! TMI ALERT! I have some “bloody show”. The contractions kick up a notch just like that.

I find comfort in leaning on the kitchen counter and Susan is putting pressure on my hips to help me cope with the contractions when my water breaks.

Mommy Note:  This feels amazing when done right. If you can’t afford a doula or your midwife doesn’t do this kind of thing…coach someone (husband, mom, sister) on how to do this for you. This works when leaning on your forearms on a high surface or if you’re kneeling on the floor and resting your torso on a couch or bed. You will want them to place their hands on the “top” of your hips. Wrist and heel of their hand closest to your spine (but not on your spine, a few inches to the outside) and fingers wrapping around your hips and waist. Apply a gentle yet firm pressure downward and let hands slide off and down. Repeat.

This is where the wheels start to fall off.

Matt had to head into the restaurant for a bit to make sure things were covered for him to be gone for the next day or two, so my focus was split between managing my contractions and anxiously waiting for him to get back. The hypno mind over matter thing was losing out and the contractions were winning.

I called my folks, who live an hour and a half away, and told them to get ready and plan on being at the hospital by noon or so.

Matt comes home and puts my things in the car.

I lose all focus in the hub bub of getting in the car and the 30+ minute ride to the hospital, which felt like an eternity!

I can laugh about it now but Matt must have picked the bumpiest roads in the north country between our house and the hospital. Sure, it was the most direct route but I could feel every groove and pothole along the way. This was are only typical husband/wife having a baby moment with me yelling at him and him doing his best not to yell back.

Between the parking lot and the OB/GYN office I had several contractions. At this point they were coming every couple of minutes and lasting a solid minute or so. At one point we are standing on a median in the parking lot, I’m leaning on Matt and moaning trying to keep it together, when I hear a nice lady ask “Is she in labor?”. I feel Matt nod. A short time passes and next thing I know I am being seated in a wheelchair.

At this point I am late for my 11:30 appointment (shocking) but Karen, my midwife, is waiting with bells on and rushes me right into an exam room. “You are about 2-3cm and your cervix is mush, let’s go!”

So they wheel me around and through, (the OB/GYN office is in a wing off the main hospital) honestly I couldn’t tell you how I got to the birthing suite. I do remember seeing Susan and my Mom by the reception desk as they wheeled me in.

I change into one of those awful gowns and have to get into bed for them to do the initial monitoring which they promised would only be for 15-20 minutes. This turns into more like 30 minutes, but in their defense, the wing was full with birthing women.

I was extremely fortunate to get a fabulous nurse (Tara Schiraldi, will never forget you) and attribute this to my birth plan.

They finally remove me from the monitors and I head right for the tub.  But after a short while I need to get out, I just can’t not get comfortable. I tried my birth ball, the rocking chair, kneeling in bed on all fours but the contractions are coming every 3 minutes and lasting about a minute and a half so I had little time in between to rest.

In hindsight (which is always 20/20 right?) I should have stayed on my feet leaning on someone and letting gravity help Evalee move down.

Mommy Note: Gravity is your friend ladies! Stay vertical as much as possible when in labor. This is what makes epidurals so dicey. You need to be able to move to get your baby down and out. Do your best to stay out of bed and off your back. Trust me. Read Jeremiah’s birth story, it’s night and day. 22 hours vs 6 hours and he was a much bigger baby.

This went on for quite a while, I couldn’t tell you how long. All I could use to tell the passing of time was the changing light through the large window.

Eventually, Karen suggests I try the tub again so I did and she gave me a bit more instruction as to how to get comfortable. She wasn’t around when I first tried the tub. This second go round in the tub helped me open from a stubborn 6 cm to a full 8cm.

Matt and were alone and he sat there holding my hand and helping me relax. Karen showed him a pressure point between my thumb and index finger to help ease the pain.

I was very determined to do this without any drugs but we’re now into the 17th hour of labor and I was exhausted, really starting to lose faith in myself.

While in the tub Matt gently suggested (he was amazing, truly) that it was okay to admit I need help and to ask Karen what our options were.

When I got out, Karen talked to me about using novacaine shot throughout my cervix which would give “a one hour window of complete relief and would allow me to get some rest.”

She needed a mom strong enough to push.

I said “Let’s do it!”.

Mommy Note: Ladies, for any of you out there who want to have a natural birth and get to this point and need some help, this is AWESOME.

I was snoring in a matter of minutes. It was just enough for me to get some rest, relax and get to 10cm.

By 9:30 (or so) I was ready to start pushing. It took me a little while to get the pushing thing down. My right leg was still feeling the effects of the novacaine shot so it was hard to bare down for the first half an hour or so. But, eventually, I got the hang of it and at 11:34pm on June 15, 2006 our little Evalee Blue was born.

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