Flashback Friday (Saturday): Welcome to the World, Lucy

Sunday, April 15, 2012

It occurs to me, as the weekend of celebrating Lucy's first birthday comes to a close,  that I never shared Lucy's actual birth story from one year ago. For some of you, this is not what you'd consider interesting reading... but for my mama friends and curious onlookers, I'm taking my "flashback Friday" spot and dedicating it to reminiscing about that one day in the hospital, the day Joe and I greeted our daughter and welcomed her to the world. (Is anyone else in LOVE with birth stories? I love them!)

Feel free to read along with me, or skip ahead to the images (nothing graphic, I promise!), or move along and wait for something less gritty and personal. I promise cute Lucy One-Year photos soon!

Flashback-- April 12, 2011:

 Our day began at 9:00 am when Joe and I left Noah with my sister Beckie and headed to Missouri Baptist Hospital for an induction, the day after Lucy's due date. We'd been hoping for labor to start on its own, especially since I was trying for a VBAC, but when her due date came and went, we decided it was probably better to induce sooner than later so she'd not grow "too big" , seeing that I was gestationally diabetic. So we headed in on the morning of April 12 and got settled into a lovely corner room. And we waited. Waited. Waited. Finally, at about 11 am, they started my Pitocin drip at the lowest number, promising to only increase it by a point every hour.

 It was a boring morning. Joe and I played on our iTouches, I checked email and chatted online... I tried to stay on my feet, walking and pacing and sometimes bouncing on the birthing ball--- mostly to keep my body positioned to work rather than slack off. I didn't really have painful contractions for most of the morning with the early dosage of Pitocin. I read a little... I did a little hand-sewing since I had Noah's "baby day present" I needed to finish. I talked on the phone with a few people... We marked time. We waited.

2:30pm, I was still not really feeling painful contractions. They were manageable and slow and mostly I was hungry and bored. My nurse talked about breaking my water at 4:30pm if we were still stuck in the same holding pattern, and we geared up for that as the next big step. Right around 4:15 pm, there was a BIG jump in contraction pain. Suddenly I was sitting up and taking notice, and beginning to realize I'd need to start managing the pain. I texted my birth photographer and told her things might finally be picking up. My Pitocin was at a 10-- pretty average middle-point. Meanwhile, the nurse came in and broke my water at about 4:20, and what had already started rolling came rolling faster. My photographer Jodie arrived around 4:40 and I was definitely breathing though the pain at that point. My primary pain management was to listen to a playlist of music made by a friend for HER birth, through my earbuds, and time the contractions and the pauses. By the time Jodie came to the room, my contractions had started coming closer and closer together. They seemed to be about 50-second long waves of pain, then a minute to three minutes of breathing space, then another 50-second wave of pain.

One hugely disheartening setback at this point though, was that when the nurse broke my water, she checked my progress and I'd not progressed at ALL from when I'd come to the hospital (a 3). I was devastated. Surely after a whole morning of pacing, Pitocin, and increasingly strong contractions, I'd made SOME kind of progress? It really shook my confidence and made me feel incredibly disappointed and doubtful that I'd be able to manage any kind of pain once I dilated further. If it hurt this much at a 3, what the heck would a 6 feel like?

But I stuck with it, determined to postpone an epidural as long as possible. On the advice of the nurse and Jodie, I tried different positions, techniques...None of them improved my ability to focus and manage the pain, and in fact I think I lost my center once I stopped listening to the playlist and watching my timer like I'd been doing the first 45 minutes. At about  5:10, only an hour after they had started hurting, I, feeling lame, turned to Jodie and Joe and asked them if I was a coward if I was ready to give in and ask for an epidural. They asked me what I wanted them to tell me... And the thought of enduring only 1.5 minute breaks for every 1-minute wave of pain... and the disheartening news that I wasn't very dilated anyway and would maybe have to feel this pain for HOURS yet--- I caved. I gave in. I said I wanted them to tell me it was okay to ask for the epidural. They were both so sweet about it, telling my I was not GIVING UP--- it was okay... And I needed them to reassure me of that. I felt so bummed. But we paged the nurse and made the call. I expected to have to wait 45 minutes or longer like I did with Noah, but the anesthetist arrived a lot faster than I expected and I was able to get the epidural started by 5:30 or so. It was HARD to sit still for the procedure! Yowza! I was VERY loud at that time, since without being able to move,  vocalizing was the only way I could manage the pain. Finally, about 5:45, the epidural was in and the edge came off the contractions. BUT. I never got 100% comfy. I felt the most uncomfortable tingling and pressure almost immediately. It wasn't the same pain as unmedicated contracting, but it was never total non-feeling like my epidural with Noah. This crazy sensation, terribly unpleasant with every close-together contraction, made me feel like I had to empty my bladder, so at 6:00pm, the nurse came in to administer a catheter and check my progress. It turns out that all that odd sensation was my body deciding to get the show on the road. I went from a 3 to a 6 between the epidural and the catheter, and while she checked me, I jumped to an 8. From 4:00pm-6:00pm, 3cm-8cm. Crazy.

Meanwhile, Lucy wasn't responding well to the epidural, so they moved me around a lot to get her heart rate into a happy zone. I got rolled to one side--- a little better--- then when it dipped again, I got rolled to the other side.  Eventually they got me on my hands and knees, and WOW, that was by far the most comfortable position for me for relief from that tingling awful pressure. And yes, it's nuts that I was able to get on my hands and knees with a full epidural, but I am CONVINCED it was the perfect epidural-- not so strong I was totally paralyzed, so that I was able to feel the pressure of transition and imminent birth, and
also able to move into the position that best helped Lucy drop to her final position in the birth canal.

At this point, about 6:15pm,  the hospital OB said to call my OB... she was watching my contractions and felt that if I had gone from 6-8 in no time, all this moving around probably was getting me ready for delivery. My doc breezed in at around 6:25, and the other doc was already saying she might have to deliver me. They got me on my back, and the discomfort returned full force. My OB checked me and said I was more than a 9, so they got me in position and suddenly the nurse was talking me through how to push.  It all felt really surreal, like a dress rehearsal. In fact, I truly thought we were "practice pushing" the first two contractions, and was feeling good about her coaching me how to do it for when the "real pushing" began. Little did I know, this WAS the real pushing!  And seriously--- that pushing felt WONDERFUL-- so great to finally have relief from the pressure!! (See what I mean? Perfect epidural!)

So after being coached through two or three contractions, about 3 pushes each time, Joe suddenly said, "She's right there!" My doc had been telling me I was a champ at pushing and asked, "Wanna feel her head?" The realization slammed into me that this was really happening. I was NOT "practicing" and had in fact been making actual progress with each of those "practice pushes". I was incredulous. And gingerly tapped what I was told was my baby's crown. CRAZY. But it was HER. And one more set of pushing, this time with the instruction to "push like you mean it this time!"..... and they were suctioning her... and I had a baby. In my arms. Like it was no big deal. Lucy Charlotte Southerland, born at 6:44 pm.

I remember when she was handed to me, and she was floppy and damp and tiny and REAL, and she had BLONDE hair. Shockingly obvious blonde hair. I was being congratulated for the fast pushing, and really, the rest of the delivery process was a blur-- an easy blur-- while I soaked in the truth of this new little person in my arms, so real and so THERE. So different from the 20-minute wait to hold Noah after my C-section.  It was amazing.

And yet, the memory of that awful, immensely weird, uncomfortable tingling pressure was fresh in my mind, and I remember telling anyone who was listening right then, "Well, now that I've gotten my VBAC, I'm never doing THAT again!" And I meant it! (I've since had the lovely bliss of memory loss in that dept. and would be happy with whatever type of delivery I got to have next time.)

Eventually, a little over an hour later, my sister brought Noah to the hospital and we had a first-meeting/reunion that was joyful, surreal, and heartbreaking all at the same time. It was so special to be able to introduce Noah to his baby sister and see him process what had been vague to him before into a new reality. The heartbreaking part was only when he had to leave--- he'd not realized we wouldn't be going home with him that very night, and was devastated he couldn't bring his baby home. To this day, if I think too hard on that moment, I feel like crying my eyes out. It was truly awful; I wish I'd know better to prepare him for that moment.

But enough of that sad part--- his visit was mostly AMAZING and joyful, and I truly hope one day he and Lucy will both cherish the photos Jodie caught of their first moments together.

And that is that.... The story of Lucy's birth day.

 I still cannot believe how simple it seemed, once we were in place. I cannot believe how fast it went from the start of pain to the end of it all.

More than that, I cannot believe it has been a complete year since that day. My Lucy Charlotte, one year old. Check out the last photo on this post to see a photo of her from just last week. From 7 lbs to 18 lbs, and from 18.75 inches to 29 inches--- she's had a big year, and I am so blessed to be her mama through it all.

Welcoming Lucy to the World:
All photos by Jodie Allen of Fresh Art Photography

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  1. Absolutely breathtaking, the stories...the photos ... All of it. And the photo of Lucy now?! Absolutely unbelievably perfect, amazing and a true work of art.

  2. What a story! Of course, now I feel even more that I don't know if I could handle the pain of giving birth- I think of the pain I've had to deal with over the last month with having sciatic nerve problems, and I know birthing pain is SOOO much more. I'm such a coward with pain...

    So I'm so glad you were able to get through it to bring such a darling child into the world! I LOVE the photos- I think my favorites are the ones with Noah, trying to get a closer look at his new baby sister, hugging her, hugging you, etc. So sweet!

    (And of COURSE I love that charming picture of Lucy at the end!)

    Happy birth day to both Lucy AND you!

  3. Stunningly beautiful and powerful photos! You are so blessed to have those treasures. Happy Birthday to your darling Lucy!

  4. Oh my goodness, what precious photos. So glad to finally hear the story and see the photos and remember back to that time when you were so nervous about the VBAC and approaching your due date and everything leading up to that day. Does not feel like a year ago already.

  5. It's so great to hear a story of a successful VBAC! I'm absolutely dreading my next birth only because it will be a c-section. I wish I had the opportunity for another vaginal delivery.

    Happy birthday to Lucy!

  6. What a little beauty! Love the photos:)

  7. Amazing Pictures!
    She is so pretty... I enjoy a lot reading your blog since she was born. You are such a great mother.

  8. I will never get over the pics of Noah meeting her. So so perfect! They should be in a magazine! And I will also never get over that ruffled romper. Are you freaking kidding me?!?!?!

  9. I will never get over the pics of Noah meeting her. So so perfect! They should be in a magazine! And I will also never get over that ruffled romper. Are you freaking kidding me?!?!?!


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