In honor of Aven’s 17 week birthday, I thought I’d post her birth story.
Aven was due on July 19. Everybody kept saying they thought she’d come early. But deep inside, I knew that she wouldn’t come before her due date. I had a hunch that she’d be late. At work, everybody guessed the date they thought she’d come. My guess was July 30. I hoped that she’d come sooner, but I had no idea she’d be even later than that.
After my due date came and went, in the 41st week, I started visiting my midwife every day. We employed a whole bunch of natural methods to get things going. On Monday, July 29, I was only dilated to 1 and my cervix was posterior. At 1, they couldn’t even sweep my membranes. So they sent me home with some herbs to drink and told me to pump. I did as instructed, but the next day I was still only at a 1. When they performed a non-stress test, she wasn’t reacting the way she wanted, so they sent us out for lunch since it had been a couple hours since I had eaten. While we were out I dilated to a 2 and my cervix moved forward a little. That was encouraging, so they put in a foley balloon, which has the potential to dilate me to a 4. They sent us home and told me to try castor oil. So, I mixed up some orange juice, milk, and castor oil for a yummy evening snack. Let me tell you, I’m not sure if I could ever make myself do that again. But, that did seem to kick things into gear. While I was spending all my time in the bathroom I began having some pretty intense contractions. I went to bed to try to sleep, excited that things might finally be happening. I was using the Hypnobabies CDs and dealing pretty well, I thought. Alec was right there, massaging my back and helping me. I called my doula and she came out. When my contractions were about 2 minutes apart I called the midwife and told her I wanted to go into the birth center. It took us a while to get out to the car, and after a torturous hour long drive, we arrived. The midwife checked me and I was still only dilated to a 2, but the baby’s head was very low. She told me to go home and sleep. After I asked how I could possibly sleep with such strong contractions so close to each other, she offered some morphine, which I gladly accepted after Alec and I decided it would be worth it.
At this point, I couldn’t fathom another hour-long drive and then another drive when she started to come for real. So, we got a hotel room nearby. We were lucky to get one at all, as there was an outdoor expo and nearly everything in the valley was booked, from Ogden to South Salt Lake. And we didn’t want to be that far from the birth center. But, we got lucky and we found one down the street. After we arrived, I laid down and slept until late morning. The next day, when we went back to the birth center, things were about the same. We were advised that things could start up at any moment and to just take it easy that day. Alec’s parent’s arrived in town that day. They had been planning to visit that week, but at that time they planned it we all thought Aven would be about two weeks old. So we just hung out with them and I had contractions sporadically throughout the day and we met my parents for dinner. That night, I decided I wanted a bath. As I was about to step in, my water broke. I called the midwife and she told me not to get in the bath and try to get some sleep. Unfortunately, that night, I did not really get any sleep. My contractions were strong, but they weren’t consistent. I never found a real pattern that night, or into the next day. After we checked out of the hotel, we went to a park to kill some time before our appointment with the midwife. I was so uncomfortable and discouraged. But Alec was incredible support throughout all of the contractions and discouragement and crying. He kept my hopes up and was optimistic and I’m so grateful to him for that.
After we got to the birth center we were told that I had dilated to a 3. But, Aven just barely didn’t meet the non-stress test baseline that they wanted. And, since my water had been broken for more than 12 hours, they wanted us to go the University of Utah hospital and they performed the same test. If they thought she was OK, we could go back to the birth center. But, if they were concerned, we’d need to transfer there. So, we got into the car anyway and went to Paradise Bakery for food. We knew they wouldn’t let me eat once we got there. A few times I had to get up and bend over the bench during contractions. I’m sure the other patrons thought it was interesting. Not quite what they expected when they went to dinner. I was pretty emotional and upset that our planned labor and delivery was not turning out how I wanted it to. I was mourning the birth that I had planned and wanted so badly. I knew that there was no way the hospital was going to release us, as I was a day short of 42 weeks.
The midwife sent all my medical records to the emergency OB unit at the University of Utah. We were in the triage room for at least an hour. While I was there I was having very strong contractions that were getting closer and closer together. These were very difficult but I remembered my breathing and Alec coached me through each contraction. I got very upset that we were there for so long because the room was not comfortable at all. So I sent Alec out to ask them what was taking them so long. Shortly thereafter they came to get me and the midwives at the U accepted me into their care. I was lucky enough to get a really great midwife. She discussed every option with me and made me repeat back the advantages and disadvantages of both. We decided to start pitocin to induce labor because even after all those contractions in the triage room, I was still only dilated to a 3. This was very late at night and the anesthesiologist came into ask me if I wanted an epidural. At this time I was bouncing on a ball and having some pretty good contractions. When he asked me I told him no and then promptly threw up. I got into the tub to help with the pain and things really got worse. I was so tired and deflated that I couldn’t remember any of what I was supposed to do to get through contractions. Alec and I said a little prayer about getting an epidural. Before we were even done I sent him out to find the anesthesiologist. I was worried that if I didn’t get it done right away I wouldn’t be able to sit still long enough to let him do it. So I got out of the tub and I was so cold I was freezing and shivering. They sat me on the bed and put the bedside table in front of me and Alec held my arms down and everyone else surrounded me while the anesthesiologist did his thing. I was swinging my legs because I just wanted to be able to move. I kept thinking if I could just get up and run away the pain would stop. I kept picturing myself doing it. The epidural seemed to take ages and when he was done I was disappointed that it didn’t provide instantaneous relief. But it did kick in within a few minutes and I felt so much better.
Before I had gotten into the tub my mom came. It was hard to communicate to our parents exactly what was going on with so much emotion and pain happening at the same time. She only knew I was going to the hospital. So, she came up and she was with us for a few minutes but she left after a while because it was so hard for her to see me in so much pain. So as soon as I got the epidural she left. She got Alec a sandwich and we both slept for a few hours. The only side effect I had from the epidural was a headache, and they gave me an ibuprofen for that. When the nurse came back to check me around 1:00 am I was dilated to a 7. Which was only a few hours after they had started the pitocin. She told me to let her know when it felt like I needed to have a bowel movement, which means you’re ready to push. Well, around an hour later, after I had been debating if I was really feeling that or not, I called the nurse. They checked me again and I was a 10 and ready to push. She was already so low that they could see her head. I pushed for about 45 minutes or so and didn’t feel a thing. I was disappointed that I had to lie in bed on my back but I couldn’t exactly walk when I couldn’t feel my legs. Pushing was pretty easy and Aven was born at 4:31 am on Friday, August 2. She was 6 lbs 11 oz and 19 in long. The moment she was born they put her on my chest and she immediately pooped on me. Twice. I’m so grateful she waited until she was outside to do that; otherwise we both may have had some problems.
Nothing can describe the joy I felt when they placed her on my chest. All I could say was how much I loved her and how happy I was to finally have her in my arms. After a few minutes she was grunting and the pediatricians came to the room to make sure she could breathe OK. She starting losing her pinkness so they took her to the nursery. Alec went with her but as soon as she got there she starting crying and got everything out of her lungs and she was fine. When she got back to the room she nursed right away. She must have eaten well because when we left the hospital she had already regained her birth weight. This, I am told, is not usually expected until two weeks later. We both recovered very quickly.
Although things didn’t go the way we planned, I think it worked out as well as it could have given the circumstances. We were very well taken care of at the U and I am very grateful for that. Those first few moments I held her after she was born will always be on my mind. It was like meeting someone I loved dearly that I hadn’t seen for a very long time. It can simply be described as exquisite joy.