The Birth of Vivienne Rae
I woke up Friday morning with what felt like menstrual cramps. They weren't extremely painful, but they were noticeable enough for me to pull out my heating pad. The day before, I had gone to my hair appointment but I didn't like the way the color turned out so I was going back at 3:00 that day to get the color fixed. I still had cramps when it was time to leave for the appointment so I brought my heating pad with me. When I got there I noticed that the cramps turned into contractions. They weren't very painful, but weren't painless either. I tried to time them, but they weren't regular. I called Kelli, one of my midwives, just to let her know what was going on. I don’t remember what all was said, but I’m pretty sure we decided they were just Braxton Hicks contractions. Four hours later I was STILL at my hair appointment having the lady undo the damage she had done to my hair the day before and I had been contracting the entire time. They were coming closer together now, but still weren't regular. They were anywhere from 3-5 minutes apart. At this point I was irritated for having to be there for that long and was getting hot and uncomfortable. I was on the verge of tears. I called James to come and sit with me and just be with me until she was finished with my hair. We finally left the salon and went home at 7:30. I texted Kelli and told her that my contractions were getting painful and were accompanied by a feeling of pressure in my butt. She told me to up my water intake and try to rest. She said if it was the real thing there was nothing I could do to stop it so to rest to make sure I was ready when labor started. She said to keep her posted. At 8:22 pm I called Kelli again to update her. I got in the bathtub at about 10:30 to try to relax and get ready for bed. I was undecided on whether I should take an Ambien or not because if this was actual labor and my contractions started getting stronger I was afraid the Ambien wouldn't put me to sleep and I would just feel drugged. James and I discussed it while I was in the bathtub and we decided that I really needed to sleep so I took the pill. Sure enough, my contractions continued to pick up and I couldn't sleep through them even though I was exhausted and feeling drugged! It was miserable. All I wanted to do was sleep, but it was impossible to sleep through the contractions. At 2:40 am I texted Kelli again to tell her that I could no longer walk or talk through them and that I was pretty sure this was the real thing. At the time I had no idea what it really meant to not be able to walk or talk through them! They were about 3 minutes apart, lasting about a minute. Thirty-five minutes later I threw up in the bathroom and felt a bit better. I knew that this was really it and we would have our baby soon.
I called Kathy, my Hypnobabies doula and she reminded me of what I needed to be doing to stay calm and relaxed. Up until this moment I had completely forgotten to listen to my Hypnobabies tracks during my waves. I was just so focused on my discomfort that I had forgotten to use what I had been practicing for all these months. So I laid down on my bed in the dark listening to my Hypnobabies and breathing through each wave. Sometime later Kathy showed up and she suggested a warm bath. So Kathy and I went into the bathroom to get me in the tub while James went downstairs to set up the birth pool. The warm water felt amazing and laying there in the dark listening to my Hypnobabies while Kathy poured water over my belly during each wave was so peaceful. I remember NEEDING her right there and NEEDING her to pour the water on me through every wave to keep them bearable. Sometime later (I think around 5 or 6 am Saturday morning) the midwives showed up. Everyone was whispering and the atmosphere felt dreamy and peaceful. I remember Christy coming up to me where I was laying in the bathtub and softly asking me, “Are you in your zone?”. She was referring to my Hypnobabies. I nodded yes and said, “This is hard”. She simply replied, “I know”.
The midwives wanted to check me so they asked if that was okay with me. I said yes as I was anxious to know how dilated I was, thinking I was further along than I was. I stood up to get out of the bath and immediately started throwing up in the toilet. As I was throwing up I had a ton of bloody show and lost my mucous plug. I remember Kathy saying, “ We've got lots of bloody show here!”. I thought for sure I was in transition. If I had known at the time how much longer I really had to go I don’t know what I would have done. We went into the bedroom so that I could lie back on the bed and have Christy check me. After she checked me the midwives discussed it with each other and with Kathy but never told me how dilated I was. And I knew better than to ask. I am very grateful for this! I know it would have been disheartening to hear I was only a 2 or 3. At this point my memory of the timeline of events gets really fuzzy. My mom showed up sometime later that morning after driving 6 hours with my Dad after they got the call from James. I spent what I now know was hours and hours of just breathing through my waves. I had my Ipod on the entire time listening to my birthing affirmations, although I didn't consciously hear any of it. It was just background noise in my brain but for some reason it was comforting to me to have it on. I did lots of walking up and down our short upstairs hallway with James or Kathy following me.
When I felt a wave coming on I would immediately lean onto one of them and go completely limp and just breathe. In through my nose and out through my mouth. Over and over and over. I felt nauseated at the peak of my waves and vomited several times in between waves. I was hot and cold and hot and cold. I desperately needed the fan on one minute and was freezing and needing my robe the next. I wanted nothing to do with food but managed to force myself to eat a few strawberries every now and then. Between waves I sipped water and Gatorade. At some point Christy said that Vivie was posterior so we needed to work on getting her to turn around. This is where it started to get really tough. They had me walk up and down the stairs several times, taking two steps at a time on the way up. James walked with me. He walked in front of me on the way down and I held on to his shoulders. On the way up he was beside me holding on to my arm so that I didn't fall. Next they had me lie down on the floor on my back on top of a rebozo. One person held on to each side and pulled on it so that I was being “tossed” side to side. After a few minutes of this I would get on my hands and knees and do pelvic tilts through my waves. Then it was back on the ground to do the rebozo again. They had me lie on my right side for several contractions and then my left. I hated this! For some reason it was so painful to labor on my side. Through every contraction I always had loving hands on me. One person rubbed my leg, one person rubbed my arm, James rubbed my hair, and my Mom fanned me with the portable hand fan. After hours of this Christy called a chiropractor to come out and see if she could help. I don’t know exactly what time it was, but it was late at night when she arrived. She adjusted my back while I stood and leaned on James. Then she had me do something called “around the world” where I had to have 3 contractions in different positions to try to get her to turn. This was so hard and I can remember saying, “I just don’t want to do this anymore. I don’t know if I can do this anymore”. Christy and Kelli said, “You ARE doing it”. The chiropractor also discovered that Vivie had a hand up by her face and she was able to move it. I was so relieved to hear this because it meant some sort of progress was being made. Sometime later it was discovered that her body had turned and now we just needed her head to turn (it was facing sideways). We needed her to come down more so that her head could get into the correct position. I did a lot more walking up and down the stairs and down the hall and back. James was always by my side thanking me for doing this for our baby and telling me how amazed he was with me. He was constantly reminding me to relax and release my hips during my waves. My legs were shaking uncontrollably throughout my entire labor. My legs were starting to feel weak and I just wanted the shaking to stop. The only time the shaking would stop was when James would remind me to let go of my hips and I would completely relax into the bed. It took a ton of effort to do this. Her head was still not coming down so Christy asked how I felt about having my water broken. She said she still wasn't sure she wanted to do it but I told her if she felt it was right then lets do it. She thought breaking my water might bring her head down and encourage it to move into the correct position. But, on the other hand she said it was possible it would bring her head down but not correct the position and we would be even worse off. Eventually she decided to do it. And it worked! The next problem we encountered was a cervical lip. Christy wanted me to start pushing so that I could push past it. I pushed in so many different positions. James sat on a chair and during a wave I would squat down and hang my arms over his legs and push with everything I had. I sat on the toilet and pushed with my feet propped up on Kathy’s legs and then on Kelli’s legs because she needed to listen to the baby after every single contraction at this point. They also had me push on my side for a long time. They had me do “tug of war” with Kathy during contractions. I had to lie on my back on the bed with James holding one leg and one of the midwives holding the other because I couldn't hold them up on my own at this point. Kathy held on to one end of my baby wrap and I held on to the other. During contractions I had to lean forward and pull as hard as I could while pushing with Kathy pulling on the other end and telling me to “get that baby OUT!!”. This took absolutely everything I had. By this point I was completely exhausted. At the end of the contractions I would fall back on the bed and just feel the energy drain out of my face. They had me get on the toilet again to push some more. My contractions were really starting to space out, but after getting some fluids in me my contractions started to pick up again. Kathy and Kelli sat on the floor in the bathroom while I pushed on the toilet. All of a sudden Kathy said, “Oh, she’s pooping! Wonderful!”. They were thrilled with this! I wasn't even the least bit embarrassed. All I was focused on was getting my baby down and out.
I have no idea how long I sat there on the toilet and pushed, but eventually I got on the bed again so that Christy could check me. The cervical lip was still there! I was devastated! I didn't know how I could go on and I was seriously wishing I was in the hospital with an epidural. I was kicking myself for doing this at home! So, we did more tug of war and more toilet pushing. In between contractions on the bed I was starting to drift off and fall asleep. Kathy urged me to stay awake and focused on getting my baby out at this point. I was completely exhausted and it was so difficult to keep my eyes open. While pushing on the toilet my body started pushing involuntarily. I could feel every part of my body working to push my baby out. I could even feel it in my face. It was such an intensely powerful feeling. It felt similar to throwing up but backwards and much more intense. At the next check the cervical lip was gone. So now it was just time to push her out! They had me lie back on the bed and push to try to push her down further before getting into the water. During the involuntary pushes everyone would say, “THAT’S how we want you to push!”. I told them it wasn't me doing it. It was my body and I couldn't help it. Christy told me to reach down and feel her head. I could feel her head a finger-tip inside of me. It felt so soft and wrinkly! Sometime later my pushes were really progressing. When my body stopped pushing I stood up to go downstairs and get in the birth pool. I remember it felt like I had a bowling ball between my legs and Kathy said I had the walk of a woman about to give birth. Now I was feeling more energized because I knew I was about to have my baby in my arms. I got that adrenaline rush and was so ready and happy to be finally getting her out! I got in the pool and got on my hands and knees because it just felt right at the time and waited for a wave to come. I did feel some trepidation for what I was about to have to do, but I knew the only way past it was through it. The contraction I was waiting on wasn't coming so Kathy had me do nipple stimulation. It worked and with the next contraction I grunted and pushed as hard as I could. At this point I couldn't push without grunting. This was the only noise I made during my labor. Pushing her head out hurt SO bad! I had always heard that the pushing part was the best part because your contractions had a purpose. This was not the case for me. I felt like I was ripping in half and I hated pushing her out! At this point I didn't even care if I tore, I just wanted her OUT NOW! But Kelli had me stop and try to hold her head there for a while to let everything stretch. We did this a few times and her head would slide back up after each contraction, which got me discouraged. But, pretty soon her head was out! It was total relief. The tearing pain was gone. My contractions had spaced out again so Christy took over and had me push her body out without a contraction. This was fine with me! I wanted her out so bad! The next thing I knew she was out and Christy told me to reach down and grab her.
The feeling I had was complete and total bliss. All of the pain was gone. Such relief!! James immediately jumped in the water with all of his clothes on. I grabbed her and pulled her up and she was blonde and soooo beautiful! The first thing I said was, “she’s so pretty!”. And she was. So pretty. She was quiet but very alert. We got a tiny short cry out of her but nothing after that. James started singing the song that he sang to her while I was pregnant and she immediately turned and looked at him with big bright eyes. She was so alert. She KNEW that voice and she knew that song. But she still wasn't breathing as regularly as she should have been. Her cord was still pulsing. They gave her some oxygen, suctioned her mouth and nose, and were helping her breathe. I heard Christy say, “make the call”. I realized they had called the paramedics. Christy said she did it just to make sure we had help for Vivie in case her breathing didn't regulate. James was singing to her the entire time. Even once the paramedics arrived. Finally Vivie gave us a little more of a cry and we knew everything was fine. I was never once scared. Somehow I just knew she was okay. She never did give us a really loud cry until later that day. I think she was just so peaceful she didn't need to cry. She just took her time. She took her time coming out and she took her time to cry. She did things when she was ready. After 33 total hours of labor, 22.5 hours of active labor, and over 3 hours of pushing, our baby girl made her perfect entrance into the world weighing 7 lbs and 7 ounces and 19 ¼ inches long. We are forever in love.