Giving birth is miraculous. There is not doubt about that. I don't think you will find a woman on this earth who has given birth that wouldn't attest to its miraculousness. All of our birthing stories are so different. Our experiences are so rich with the sights, sounds, sensations, and emotions that come flooding through.
I have been among different groups of women at different times when the subject of birthing comes up and undoubtedly every woman wants to share her story or stories no matter how old her children are. Giving birth is an experience that unites us even if only for the 5 or 10 minutes that it takes us to tell our part.
I have two wonderful, amazing, beautiful daughters and their birthing stories couldn't be more different. I feel like I need to share Holland's story in order to share Dylan's. It was because of my experience of giving birth to Holland that I was able to formulate my thoughts, my highlights, and even my frustrations about giving birth to Dylan.
When Holland was born, we had the most amazing experience from start to finish. There isn't a thing I would change about the whole pregnancy - not even the gestational diabetes or the 6 week stint with bedrest.
I adored being pregnant.
I loved the way my body changed, the way Jonathan constantly told me how beautiful I was, and the way friends and strangers would frequently inquire about my status. I loved the cute clothes that I splurged on, the pregnancy books,the birthing classes, etc. etc. etc.
I embraced every minute of it.
I loved discovering that the gift of life is so miraculous, amazing, mysterious, life altering, thought provoking, weird, wondrous, and bizarre all at the same time.
I had been on bedrest 7 weeks prior to Holland's arrival. I had one week of freedom from the time my bedrest sentence ended to the time that she was born. The night that I went into labor, I had been having contractions about 3-4 minutes apart for about an hour, and then I got up to go the bathroom and my water broke. I felt a massive gush of fluid come rushing out and crashing to the floor (like a huge water balloon bursting all over the ground). The amount of fluid was unbelievable. Jonathan quickly jumped out of bed, grabbed a couple of towels, realized he needed a dozen more, and then proceeded to do clean up duty as I raced around looking for something else to put on. The adrenaline rush immediately kicked in. This was it! We had no idea what to expect as we forged on to the hospital for the most amazing experience of each of our lives.
We arrived at the hospital at 1:30 a.m and she was born at 4:57 a.m. My labor was so fast that I missed the opportunity for an epidural so she was born all natural. My labor and delivery nurse was a godsend. She was absolutely amazing. My OB-GYN was a master at the fine art of delivering babies. He delivered Holland with such gracefulness and expertise. I had only about 3 pushes and I felt her head slip through the canal and then her body quickly followed. I remember thinking that giving birth was the most exhausting and exhilarating thing I had or would ever experience. I vividly remember this strong urge to climb up on a mountain, beat my chest, and scream to the world, "I am woman!".
Within 5 seconds of delivering Holland, she was on my chest and we were skin to skin. The tears were pouring down my face as I held our sweet baby girl for the first time and stared up at my adoring husband with complete and utter wonderment.
Life has never been the same since.
When we transferred from the delivery room to the mother/baby room, chimes rang through out the hospital informing all that were present that a baby had arrived. I couldn't help but think of "It's a Wonderful Life" and the bells that rang signifying that "an angel had gotten their wings". Holland was our sweet angel and she was receiving her wings as she entered into our world.
By contrast, when we walked down the hall to transfer rooms after Dylan's birth, the nurse took us to the button on the wall that made the chimes ring. She allowed us to push the button for the recorded chimes. This somehow took away from the magic of the experience. I didn't want to see where the chimes came from, I just wanted them to miraculously be chiming as we carried our sweet girl into our room. And what tainted the whole chime thing even more is that when I pushed the button it didn't work the first time. I had to push it again.
So let me backtrack a little bit now. Back to the beginning of Dylan's arrival. I have already mentioned that the two experiences were totally different. I think I must have expected that my experience of Dylan's birth would be equally amazing as my experience of Holland's birth, however that is not the case.
This is really hard for me to write because it involves me coming to terms with the fact that there was disappointment surrounding the whole event-- from the time that I stepped into the hospital to the time that we took Dylan home. I have such a fairytale mentality that I never could have imagined that I could feel this way about a birth of a baby. (This is probably another reason I have been putting off posting this story).
It all started on Saturday evening. We had spent the day at a nearby lake with Jonathan's parents and our niece who had come to visit for the weekend. We were really hoping that this weekend would be the time as we had an instant babysitter for Holland, Jonathan's parents would already be in town (they live 2 hours away), our doctor was on-call, and of course the obvious fact that we were tired of waiting!
At at about 9:45, I was watching T.V and I felt a slight little trickle. I stood up to go investigate and a small leakage of fluid ran down my leg. It wasn't a gush though and it wasn't high volumes of fluid so I wasn't quite sure if I had actually ruptured or not. When I got to the bathroom, there was a slight gush of more fluid and it was all clear so I knew it must be my water breaking. I casually called for Jonathan and told him, "I think it's time". As I changed my clothes, he gathered stuff for his hospital bag -- the hospital bag that I had asked him to pack days in advance!
We went through the emergency room and of course there wasn't a parking place so Jonathan just parked in a fire lane. He hunted down a wheelchair and wheeled me in past various shady looking characters smoking and meandering outside. Someone from ER transported me to L&D as the hospital transportation transporters were backed up for the time being. My disappointment started as we approached the L&D nurses station and I didn't recognize any of the nurses. How could that be? I had lived at the hospital for 7 weeks and knew at least 30-40 different nurses. I thought for sure that I knew most all of them. I had fantasized about having one of the nurses who cared for us during our pre-term labor days continue her care by being part of our delivery team. I longed for the personal embrace, the flooding of tears, and the sincere congratulatory blessing that could only come from a nurse who had been a part of our personal journey.
Upon meeting my nurse, I knew immediately she wasn't going to be of the calibre of the delivery nurse we had when Holland was born. It wasn't so much that she was unlikable, it was more that I knew she wasn't going to meet my needs as a delivery nurse. She was very soft spoken, introverted, and didn't have a "coaching" bone in her body. Or maybe she was just having a bad night. She was rather quiet and reserved. I think I was mostly disappointed that I didn't know her and that she didn't know my story, but I have to confess that I felt annoyed at her basic lack of presence -- and that started the big ball of disappointment rolling.
I started having contractions pretty soon after I got settled into my delivery room. I knew that this would probably be a fairly quick labor based on Holland's delivery and also based on my cervical situation. The nurse had no sense of urgency even after I explained my situation.
Shortly after she "checked" me, the epidural guy came in to talk to me about an epidural. I was at a "4" at that point, and I knew that if I didn't choose right then that it may be too late. I was already experiencing pretty intense contractions and they were about 2 minutes apart. I was so scared that I wasn't going to have the stamina and endurance needed to make this happen the way it should happen. The reality is that in the past 5 months I hadn't exerted any more energy than it took to walk down the hall and read Holland a bedtime story! I was pretty uncomfortable and decided at that point that I was going to "treat myself" to an epidural! And I did!
The epidural was amazing. It took all of the pain out of the contractions but left me with the sensation. I could feel when I was contracting, but didn't have to endure the excruciating pain and discomfort. I could tell that the contractions were getting closer and closer together, but my nurse did not seem to have any sense of urgency as far as "checking" me again. I was monitoring my contractions verbally to Jonathan and she never once inquired about them. I thought it was pretty clear that I was dilating quickly.
Dylan was in slight distress. Her heart rate kept dropping when a contraction would come on. They said it wasn't happening with every contraction and that her heart rate wasn't too, too low, but low enough to be concerned. They made me change positions a few times to try and relieve any pressure that may have been causing the distress. I wasn't able to see the heart monitor, but I saw the exchange of glances between my two nurses that was just as telling as the numbers would have been. I was starting to get nervous, however trying to maintain my composure and manage any anxiety and fear that was creeping in.
After about 45 minutes of this, my nurse decided to "check" me a second time. They had just put an oxygen mask on me so that Dylan could get more oxygen. It was at this point that I began to feel some anxiety. As soon as she "checked" me, her eyes widened and she said, "you are at a 9 .... a 9 1/2, we need to call the doctor".
Stay tuned for part 2