A week ago we brought our baby Lucille into this world. I cannot believe a whole week has passed. In the past week I have simultaneously been the most confident and humble I have ever been, baby birthing is serious business, guys. If you ever want to feel the full rainbow of emotions take a couple weeks out of your life, tape your eyes open, squeeze out a human and rub your nipples against the fine side of a cheese grater. Even then, you might not get the full grasp of how freaking amazing this all has been.
Lucie started making her moves toward the exit row about two weeks before her birthday. I knew she wasn’t in a great position to hatch so I started seeing a chiropractor. My hips were tweaked and she couldn’t seem to make it all the way to the checkered flag. The chiro seemed to help my hips but she was still hanging out on my right side. I tried it all, Spinning Babies, super seductive hip swirls on a birthing ball, laying exclusively on my left side… You name some midwifery voodoo and I was on it. My uterus took a swing at shifting her so for days I lived in Prodomal Labor Hell. That is a place between No Labor and Early Labor that only a select few in a sisterhood of irritated uteruses (uteri? Uteren?) know of. It’s a place of timeable, consistent contractions that only serve to build you up high enough to let you down. The Sunday before Lucie came to meet us my mom was in town. We were pretty sure it was Go Time as I waddled through the Escondido mall, plopping one swollen stump of a foot in front of the other, taking breaks to breathe through each squeeze. It was like this for hours until… it wasn’t. I cried when my mom left that night, not only because I was going to miss her but because it meant my baby wasn’t coming. Prodomal Labor Hell will make you lose your mind.
Come Tuesday I was in a full out emotional stand-off with my uterus. Oh, you wanna play hardball? Well two can play that game! I really proved my point by not timing the contractions as they came and went. I was going to be no uterus’ fool. I did call my mom and she told me to take a Tylenol PM, get some sleep, and if it was the REAL DEAL there would be no mistaking it. Sure enough, I fell asleep at 8pm only to be woken up at 11:30 with contractions 4 minutes apart! Sweet Baby Jesus, I was in labor! I called my mom and let her know what was happening and she started making moves to come down with my Aunt Jenni. They arrived at 3 am and my mom sprung into doula action by… sending us all back to bed? Believe it or not, I was able to pass back out waking only for contractions for a few more hours. When I woke up around 6 we hung out around the house and got ready for my doctors appointment that morning.
Our doctor scanned my belly to make sure Lucille was swimming in ample fluid and then did a cervical check. Whaddayaknow, I was nearly at a three! He sent us on our way and encouraged us that he would be seeing us soon to meet our baby. Soon, it turns out, is a slippery word. Soon can mean a lot of things when you are in labor.
So the day wore on. I labored in a Vietnamese restaurant, standing between bites of spring rolls to get through the surges. I labored in Ross, distractedly looking at various shades of owl vases as I got the squeeze down. I labored in the car while my mom and aunt shopped for brewer’s yeast in preparation for some lactation cookies. I labored all over town. It started to feel a little Dr. Seussish. And so she labored in a car, and so she labored near and far. She labored while she pushed a cart, she labored and labored at the grocery mart! You get the idea. Distraction is half of the game in early labor, or so they say.
Laboring at home was a sweet chapter of Lu’s birth story. I was able to take a shower, move around, eat and contract my little ute away all in the comfort of our apartment. I was able to do important things like blow out my hair, no one wants to look a mess in their birth pictures, amiright?
My guard dog, Sugar wasn’t sure what to make of all of this commotion. Quinton was amazing. Hour after hour he guarded my heart and encouraged me to keep fighting. There is no greater man on this earth.
The house slowly filled with our birth team. As I looked around it was reminiscent of our wedding day. My Aunt Jenni was managing the house, making sure all of the bases were covered.
My in-laws were amazing. They hung out with us and inspired such a sweet excitement every time a surge would hit. Their excitement was a reminder that we were one step closer to meeting our baby as every minute passed.
My sister Katerra filled her roll of friend/mother as she tenderly cared for me.
A little before midnight we decided it was time to go to the hospital. The contractions, though they didn’t fall into a pattern, were so strong that I couldn’t walk or talk through them. So we packed up our gang and drove the least bumpy road we could to the hospital. To our great luck, my OB was the laborist that night and was available to talk me off the ledge after finding out I was only dialated to a 5. A freaking 5. Can you imagine how disheartening it is to think you are waddling in to have your baby only to find that you have the option to go back home if you want?? Oh man, that was disappointing. My rational brain knew that home would be the better place to labor so I picked up my pride and we gathered the troops to make the long walk of shame out of the hospital. I was so thankful for my husband’s broad shoulders as we left that night. He was carrying me more than he knew in that moment.
Four more hours went by at home before we decided to return to the hospital. While at home during that stretch my mom stayed awake with me while I labored in bed. Everyone else was sleeping as she rubbed my back and held my hand through the surges. I am convinced that she has super human strength and the willpower of a midwestern farmer because she never once faltered. I know it was hard on her to be sleep deprived and to be both my mom and my doula but her game face never once faltered.
We got back to the hospital to learn that I was nearly at 8 centimeters. After a blown vein and a few curse words later we were free to move around our labor suite. Let’s just say that over the course of the next day we made use of every inch of that room. We left no labor position unturned.
The hours wore on and on. Our bodies are so incredible. As exhausted as I was, I was able to sleep between surges. When I was coherent I was able to pray, talk to Lucie, and use positive imagery to encourage her to come. I felt like I was screaming but was assured after the fact that I used low moans throughout the labor. High five, Ash!
Eventually the decision was made to break my water. As much as I had dreamed of an unaugmented birth, the reality was that it was time to get the show on the road. Shortly thereafter I finally reached 9 cm and we discovered that Little Lucie was still in a Right Occipital Posterior position (aka: not the optimal birth position) and she couldn’t slip past a lip on my cervix. This meant another hour of moving positions to try to get her to ping pong down to where she needed to be. They might as well have told me it would be infinity until she was going to arrive. Another hour felt like a lifetime.
Finally, we got the good news that it was time to start pushing. I am so very grateful for our nurse that day. She had no qualms about being on the floor so I could push bedside for a bit. What was incredible was that even after days of no sleep, the hardest physical activity I could have dreamed of, and being emotionally spent, when it came down to push time all systems were go. I will never forget how empowering it was to be active in my labor.
…Then (I will spare you the pictures of this part) Lucille Marie was born into this world!! It was freaking incredible to feel her hot little body placed on my chest. Her eyes were wide as she quietly took in her surroundings. Try as we all might, she just wasn’t in the mood to cry. Everyone else in the room had no problem shedding tears though!
One week ago our whole world was rocked by a little 8lb7oz bundle of awesome. It has been incredible.