We had not found out if we were having a boy or a girl, so we referred to our fetus by the lovely gender neutral name of George. His due day came and went, with numerous evenings of contractions leading nowhere. Eventually I cringed every time the phone rang. People had been calling for well over a month asking if George had arrived yet, even though I told them all the baby was due "in september."
The evening of the 9th I remember talked to Christy and her suggesting a homeopathic remedy that would either kick labor up a notch, up get it to stop so I could sleep if it wasn't the real deal. Of course nobody in town actually had it. The woman at the store suggested I pick up black cohosh to try and get things going, since I was hoping to get some sleep(among other reasons) I declined and we went home empty handed.
I did eventually get to sleep, but by now I don't remember the details.
Finally I woke at about 3am September 10th with yet another round of contractions. Sure they were going to stop, I ran a bath, because what else is there to do? Eventually I woke Chuck, and he asked if it was time to call Christy yet, and I remember telling him not yet, and then suddenly telling her to call. I was sure this baby was going to arrive as fast as his/her older sister. I was also sure this was going to be easy, I had told myself for months it wasn't going to hurt, and George was just going to slide right out.
Of course I had checked my cervix and it was still very high and posterior. I had told Christy numerous times I wanted her to be as hands off as possible. When Christy arrived she asked if she could check my cervix since I said it felt posterior but she thought it might just be from me checking it myself. Since it made sense to me I agreed, then asked if she could try to pull it forward which would make things go more smoothly. Of course this has to be done during a contraction, and I remember that morning I let her try three times, but each time could not handle it. What I remember most is that while the contractions were strong, there was pain radiating from my cervix. As things progressed it got worse, and worse. If I was in the bath the contractions would start to slow down, so I'd get out against my will. I was not ready for this baby to come out, and just wanted the sharp pain to go away.
I remember Gin showing up about 7am, she had been up late and was exhausted, but I was so glad to see her.
I kept asking Chuck to go get things between contractions, but then another contraction would start and I needed him RIGHT THERE, RIGHT NOW.
At some point I was sitting on the toilet trying to bring baby down, and I remember the pain in my cervix was just horrible, and I kept trying to stand up, but didn't quite have it in me. Somewhere in there I threw up, but I just have a vague memory of telling Christy I was going to be sick.
Joy showed up at some point, and was lounging on the chaise trying to attend to work, and taking pictures here and there.
Faith was going to be the other midwife in attendance, but she had so many births that week and so Christy had asked me if it was ok for her to have Laurie come help her out. Laurie have been one of the other midwives in town I really liked when we did our interviews, we said fine. I have no idea when she arrived, she was so calm and inobtrusive.
At one point in the tub I had a contraction and told Christy I wanted drugs, and then when it was over I told her "I don't really want drugs." So the next time I remember asking for drugs, I remember Christy reminding me I said I didn't really want them.
The contractions started slowing down, So Christy had me up and changing positions. I remember trying to get up on my hands and knees on the bed, but the pillowtop bed was just too soft.
At one point I was lying on the bed and Gin was rubbing some part of me, my head, my arm? Christy was rubbing my leg. Chuck must have had his hands on me too, but it felt like a hundred hands and it was just the most delightful thing.
My father in law, Charlie, called(turned out to be an hour before George made his arrival.) He asked me what I was up to and I told him "having a baby, Charlie." We chatted a bit, and I remember suggested they go ahead and get in the car. They planned to drive down from Illinois once George made his arrival, and I knew it wouldn't be long. Another contraction started and I told him "I have to go now" and he said "Wait, are you in labor?" "Uh-huh" was all I could mumble as I handed away the phone for somebody else to hang up. One of my favorite pictures from the birth I'm hanging off the edge of my bed, chatting on the phone.
Sometime after that the contractions seemed to get stronger, with the sharp pinching being intolerable, but the contractions were still far apart according to the notes I read after. I remember crying, I told them I wanted to go to the hospital. They assured me I didn't, and I agreed, I didn't want to go anywhere, I just wanted drugs. No drugs, and Chuck told me I didn't want an aztek baby either. There was no way I was going to make it down the stairs anyway. "I just want the pain to stop." to which the response was to get it to stop I had to push.
Marilyn kept coming in, she so wanted to see her new baby brother/sister come out. Everytime she came into the room I couldn't focus on anything but her. So each time she had come into the room I had to ask her to leave.
Push? I hadn't pushed a baby out before, and I hadn't planned to try it this time. But my cervix was still posterior, and pushing was my only choice. Every time I tried pushing the pain got worse, the baby's head was low enough that it was now pinching the cervix against my pubic bone. During one of the pushes my water broke, and there was meconium in the water. I gave in and started pushing, I was sure I was doing it wrong because the baby wasn't moving, I pushed and I pushed and nothing happened. Then all of a sudden I felt my hips spread. Chuck tells me I told him "that is so cool." I have no clue how long I pushed after that, but I know I was loud. Not only was I loud, I was cursing. The entire trip down I was telling little George to "get out" with the f word thrown in for good measure. He had been in there quite long enough. Time must have slowed because I had to push every inch of this baby out, and it felt like he was a mile long, I remember pushing and pushing and pushing. Sometime during the pushing Christy looped the cord over the baby's head so it wouldn't get pulled as he came out. Joy told me after to her it looked like the baby just came right out.
I had been up on my hands and knees, and couldn't figure out what to do, or how to see the baby. Somehow I got flipped around and handed a baby who promptly pooped on my leg, somebody announced we had a baby girl. Because of the meconium they had to suction her, but all right there next to me while I was watching, able to touch her. When Nic was born with meconium in the water they grabbed him away before I could even see him, and it was a good 20 minutes before they let me see him, and longer before I could hold him. When Chuck and I would discuss names he said the baby would name itself. I asked him part-jokingly "Since she's purple is her middle name going to be Violet?" She was a bit chilled, so Christy got the heating pad set up on the bed, and she had started rooting around. I could not for the life of me get my brain working enough to figure out how to feed my baby, so I asked Christy to come help me. Nic came in and quickly said hello and disappeared. Marilyn and my Mom were in by then watching, and I asked Marilyn if she wanted to cut the cord since she didn't get to watch the birth like she had wanted. My Mom went down to start washing things and cooked me some eggs and toast, which became my standard breakfast until she had to go back home to her real life.
It's taken me a year to write this out. From the moment she was out the memories were hazy. I was upset that instead of the mellow birth I had imagined it was hectic, there were complications, and I was loud. That my sweet baby was welcomed to the world with her mommy cursing like a sailor. That wasn't how I wanted my daughter to think about birth. I haven't watched the video, even without sound. I'm glad we were home, with the support we had. I know had I been in the hospital I would have been given the drugs, I would have been stuck lying on my back not allowing my hips to spread the way they needed. With the meconium in the water and the cord wrapped around her neck I likely would have had a c-section to recover from. Instead I had no tearing, no stitches. I wasn't separated from my baby for anything. I think there were things I could have done to possible make things smoother. I kept wanting to go float in the pool, but the idea of walking all the way there in the heat was too much for me, and loading up to drive the burning hot van there wasn't much better. I do think that floating in the pool might have helped reposition her better.
Eleanor Violet Holbrook
Born 9/10/2008 at 11:46am
7lb 14oz, 20.75" long.