But even though my perspective is different today, I would not change one thing about her birth. What isn't written here, as part of her birth, is how I felt in the days and weeks that followed her birth. I was literally on a birth high. I felt like Wonder Woman herself. I was so empowered by the experience that I literally could not stop thinking about it. I fell in love with my midwife and wanted to be her new best friend. I watched more births on TV in the weeks after than in the months leading up to Marisol's birth (there was a great show on at the time called "House of Babies - it was a birth center in Miami where many moms had water births). Basically it was the beginning of me becoming a "Birth Junkie".
But most importantly Marisol's birth began the journey that I am on today. She came into our lives and changed everything. I am so grateful for her and for everything I have learned from her. I tell my students that Birth is really just the portal. It is an important one to be sure, but it is the doorway to their new lives as parents.
Finally, a word of caution for those of you who may be "uninitiated" into the world of birth... I transcribed my story from my journal word-for-word - including references to bowel movements. I know that for some it may be "TMI", and so this is your warning. Even for myself ("Mrs. Share-All!"), it is pushing my comfort levels leaving it in there. But it is part of my story and it is *often* part of birth (don't think much explanation is necessary - just think of the force of pushing, the size of what women are pushing, and the placement... it's not a surprise that poop is often part of the equation!) What is interesting to me is that even in my own private journal I referred to it as "#2" - I couldn't even bring myself to call it what it is in there. I hope that as more women share their stories it becomes less taboo to share these things so women realize that such things are *normal* - to be expected and NOTHING to be ashamed of!
And with that said, I give you the rest of Marisol's birth...
I remember holding the garage elevator for Mary Ann but it didn't want to let us! Started making beeping/buzzing noises at us... I remember making it to the maternity "check-in" having to fill out paperwork and having a contraction there... I was definitely more inhibited in front of other people, like I would try not to be too loud... the secretary (nurse?) was actually talking me through it - "Just breathe through it" - I thought it was kind of funny/weird since Mike and Mary Ann were right there...
Then to triage - ahh... triage. I was definitely there longer than I expected. Mary Ann wasn't allowed in - they took her to the waiting area and then our birthing room. I had a contraction standing there waiting - just as Stephanie's (Mike's sister) friend Stephanie (also) who is a nurse appeared - then they gave me a gown - Mike came with me into the bathroom - I peed, put the gown and some underwear on - had another contraction - someone actually knocked! Then we went to an area curtained off - two nurses helped me there - they were young and nice. They put the external monitor on me and April showed up around that time - she said I didn't have to lie down which I was so relieved to hear because I had told Mike I didn't know how I could do 20 minutes in there.
So I could stand up for contractions - but then the paddles would slide off! So April or a nurse wold try to hold it so they could keep the baby's hearbeat. What a joke. They needed to see 3 jumps from baseline - 25 beats/minute or something like that.
April also checked me there - and I was 7 cm! ~80% effaced - Man I was so happy! Everyone was like, "what great news!" I remember April also commenting about how relaxed I was when she checked me...
Finally they let us go to our room - they had to hook me up again to get one more change in the baby's heart rate. I've never had my temperature and blood pressure checked so many times in my life either - through labor and all the next day for our stay. I remember having a contraction while a nurse was doing something - the EFM - and she didn't stop and I definitely felt more uncomfortable - I thought April looked annoyed.
April jiggled the baby around and finally got the last heart rate jump.
After that... I labored! On the birth ball - in the bub - on the toilet - I don't remember to many specifics of what I did. What I do remember is the people - how great they were, things they said, things they did for me... Mike was great. I was leaning of hanging on him all afternoon. He didn't say a ton but he gave me water, reminded me to go to the bathroom, kept me covered in the tub - and he never left!
The two nurses were great also. I think Louise (Grandma "Weezie"?) and Rachel was the young one - training. Louise kept telling me what an amazing woman I was - that she couldn't have done it... She told people outside too - and that she would have asked for something by then... Afterwards she told me that she had been present at many births and this was the most peaceful first birth she had ever been to... Rachel was great too.
And April - I have April on this pedestal right now - I was soo excited that she was on call - the 1 appointment I had with her was great - we talked a lot and I really liked her. She never pressured or rushed Mike and me - and she was present most of the day. She was so great!
And of course Mary Ann - our doula. She was also wonderful - massages, wash clothes, suggestions for different positions... we were both so glad to have her.
Another thing I noticed is that I hardly looked at the clock. Everyone thought we would have our baby by afternoon sometime since I was already 7 cm - we had Mary Ann go tell our families... but Marisol had other plans for us! I also remember that I never felt like I wanted to ask for drugs - I think I figured I had made it this long and it couldn't be much longer. Also I was very relaxed between contractions - I actually slept between them towards the end - at the bed and in the tub. I think I really felt confident about not needing drugs Saturday night (well actually Sunday morning 2-4 am!) When I was in the tub - I just realized - I can handle these contractions. I did well with breathing low "ooh" noises, and once they were over I wasn't in any pain.
I think I'll just list random things I remember from that afternoon-
- blue Popsicle, honey stick
- April saying, "I can't believe how with it you are between contractions!"
- Me telling Mike, "I still have to push!" (I was pretty tired)
- The worst contractions - on your back!
- Listening to music - Sarah McLachlan, Dave Matthews, James Taylor, Tracy Chapman
I think they were mostly surprised how "mild" I stayed - I never really got mean (with Mike for example) actually I said sorry to him at least once - and to Mary Ann when I leaned the chair back on her... I still was smiling between contractions when they told me how great I was doing - almost till the end.
I don't know what time it was - but I was starting to wonder myself - I wanted that "urge to push" to come! I was getting tired... no wonder with 2 sleepless nights! April decided to check me...
She said... you're about 8 1/2 cm (I'm convinced she added the 1/2 to make me feel better) I don't remember when... but soon after April brought up breaking my water (it had only broke partially - she could still feel it bulging) Also, Marisol was posterior.
I looked at Mike to see what he thought about breaking my water - he kind of shrugged his shoulders - I asked April if there were risks - especially with the umbilical cord - she felt that this far along and the head being so low, that it really wasn't a risk at all. I also asked if it would hurt and she said less than getting checked.
So she broke my water - I think she tried to turn the baby's head then - I'm not sure - she had me stay lying for a contraction so she could feel what was happening - but I can't remember if that was before or after breaking my water.
After my water was broken I tried different positions to "turn" the baby - "polar bear" (on the bed on hands and knees) and on the toilet. Those were some tough, intense contractions! I remember saying, "I don't like this position much" and on the toilet, "how many more do I have to do?" "Ok, I'll do a couple or 1 more" I think April was gone... I got back in the tub - I wanted to get to the pushing stage so bad! I remember also saying "This hurts!" but I never asked for drugs... The tub contractions were really tough - but it felt good in between - I couldn't relax or stay still during - I would basically say I was "writhing" I would grab at the side of the tub... I remember wanting April to come back because I kept saying I wanted to push - but I couldn't tell if it was an "urge" to push or just my wishful thinking - I think the nurse checked me at one point but I can't remember - that may have been earlier... I also remember feeling like I had to poop, and saying I think I had to throw up in the tub - they put the container in front of my mouth and I was pushing involuntarily at the end of a contraction. I remember Mary Ann saying these were all good signs - I don't know if that I believed her at that point! (I remember April and Mary Ann saying, "Stay with it" during these tough ones and although I still don't know how you do that - it helped me! Sports mentality I think :)
I actually fell asleep before the last contraction in the tub - They were all standing around looking at me! I thought it was pretty funny (I wasn't laughing at the time though) I vaguely heard April say something to Mike about me sleeping and a baby... then bam! The last contraction and I was rolling around! I think I was in transition at the time and the doubt was there... I wanted to push but wasn't sure - April checked me in the tub and said there was only a "lip" that I could push through.
So I got out of the tub - I think I wanted to - They asked if I cared to put the robe back on - I didn't care either way - I guess I did? (there's a picture of me with it on) at some point Mary Ann suggested the sports bra I had brought - I agreed - but found it humorous that I got naked in front of everyone to put it on.
We tried pushing in the bed - My urge to push wasn't strong - and sometimes I was pushing with my stomach instead of down low... April suggested moving to the toilet to help... I was glad to push there because I went to the bathroom (#2!) several times - It definitely helped me push correctly too. That part surprised me - I thought pushing would come very naturally - also my contractions spaced out a lot and weren't very strong... once again everyone was is the bathroom staring at me - this time on the toilet :) Everyone was so nice though - I made a joke about it smelling and blamed it on Mike - we flushed after every push - Mary Ann didn't get it (my joke) and April explained it to her... I also was very impatient during the pushing phase - I kept asking, "What's going on?" why were they so far apart? - April thought I was pretty funny about that - it was just so weird having everyone just standing around waiting for me to have a contraction! After 3 or 4 pushes I wanted to go back to the bed - I didn't want to continue on the toilet.
At some point Mike was on the bed behind me - I can't remember if it was before or after the toilet - but neither of us were very comfortable. I also tried with the bed propped up...
I think I was very tired at this point. I went #2 one more time - in bed! I thought I felt it but wasn't sure. April suggested a side lying position - when they helped me roll sure enough - more poop! But the nurses were awesome and it was cleaned up before you knew it.
It is amazing how none of this embarrasses you at this point. I knew it could (hence the joke in the bathroom) but didn't really care that much! Anyways - once I was in the side-lying position it went fairly quickly - April was motivating me by saying - let's see if this baby has hair! She said my pushes were very powerful and it wouldn't take many now (it took quite a few - but, hey I was tired!)
Pushing was definitely quite a feeling - April helped me a lot - she said it will burn and all that, but you will get mad! and push right through it. That helped me a lot! They had a big mirror for Mike and I to see (he was behind my head) - somehow I ended up diagonally across the bed - with my head almost off... They had me touch when just a circle of her head was showing... I couldn't believe how soft it was - April and the others kept exclaiming about all the hair!
The strangest was the head coming out then going back in... There were 2 or 3 pushes when I thought this one I get it out! But no... Almost but no cigar... Finally on the last few the head wasn't going back in or as much - I was like - "I don't know what to do! What do I do with my legs??" Everyone said just to relax - and I finally said, "I can't" or "It's hard to relax" or something and they said it's hard... Definitely very weird having a head stick out between your legs! Finally (they were holding my one leg up each contraction... each time I would be like... I think one is coming - and usually it was they were just so far apart and so gradual though! Very different from stage 1 labor contractions)
Finally her head crowned- April told me to rest (with some of the pushes I was shaking like crazy in between - I was grunting like crazy and turning so red too! April said it was ok) And then push - I didn't need a contraction...
She was pushing me down while I pushed and finally the head was out! Then it's kind of a blur - did they suction? (her nose - probably) her shoulders and body seemed to come out quickly - and the body coming out almost felt good - it just seemed so easy after the head!
They put her on me and there were hands all over her rubbing... someone asked "Mike what is it" he wasn't sure and asked, "Girl?" and someone confirmed, "It's a Girl!"