Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Mary's Birth Story

Yin and Yang. Salt and Pepper. Hot and Cold. Chocolate and Vanilla. Mmmmm...chocolate...wait, what?

Opposites: this word describes my two daughters to a tee. Everything about them so far is so completely different. It's fascinating how two people who come from the same parents could be so different, but I guess it makes sense. Dramatic, outgoing, creative, emotional Elizabeth is just like me (Lord help us). Calm, observant, serious Mary is just like Trent. They even look completely different (except for those trademark lips...they both have those).

Right after birth. Left: Elizabeth, Right: Mary
About 1 week old. Left: Elizabeth, Right: Mary

1 month old. Left: Elizabeth. Right: Mary

Their pregnancy and birth stories are no exception. I wrote about Elizabeth's birth story here, and to fully understand Mary's birth story and how different it was from her sister's, you should grab some popcorn, sit back, and read that first.

During my pregnancy with Elizabeth, I was violently sick for about 5 months. To the point where it was difficult for me to function. With Mary's pregnancy, I felt a tiny bit sick from time to time, but it was very tolerable and it only lasted for a month or so. The rest was smooth sailin'. I almost felt guilty when people looked at me with pity in their eyes and asked how I was feeling...inevitably, I'd always respond with a big smile and say "great! No complaints here!" During Elizabeth's pregnancy, I felt her move very early, at about 12 weeks. And she moved like a maniac during the whole pregnancy. I didn't feel Mary until about 15 weeks, and even then, she was always very calm. I never really felt that much movement with her. It even made me worried sometimes.

We started setting up new baby's stuff about
a week or two before my due date...
because we thought we had SO much time.
(Oh...and Elizabeth was a bit confused and
thought it was HER bassinet...)
When July came, I knew time was ticking and my due date (August 1) was drawing near. But I reasoned with myself that I would probably have until the second week of August to get ready. After all, Elizabeth went 10 days late. And I was not going to be disillusioned this time that my baby would come on or near its due date.

I was mentally preparing myself for the worst. That probably seems like a depressing and/or ineffective way to think. But after what I went through with Elizabeth's birth, I knew that things don't usually happen the way we want them to. I knew now that birth is a complicated process and that the ultimate goal is to get a healthy mom and baby. And I knew that sometimes, the process of getting to that goal does not always happen the way we want it to.

I was making lots of plans for the week of my due date. The thought did not even enter my mind that it was possible for me to have my baby close to my actual due date, so I figured it would be fine. The last week of July came and went, and I was starting to get excited that I would probably meet my baby in the next week (but no earlier)!

The evening before my due date, I was baking with my sister-in-law and her boyfriend, having a grand old time. I excused myself to go to the bathroom and noticed lots of blood. Hmmmm...I thought. Maybe this means the baby will come in the next week! Maybe my baby will only be a week late, rather than 10 days! I texted my midwife just to make sure the bleeding was a good sign. Her response: "I bet you are getting really close! I'd be shocked if you didn't kick in in the next 24 hours! Keep me informed."


Um, hey baby. I'm not ready for you to come yet. I was mentally preparing myself for you to be really late. So....WHAT?! I mean, come on! What baby is born on its ACTUAL due date??? No baby of mine, that's for sure!

Mary's first bath
So I spent the rest of the evening in denial, telling my sister in law, her boyfriend, and Trent that they could go on their merry way because there was no way this was for real. I reasoned that just because my contractions were starting to actually feel real didn't mean that they actually were real. I reasoned that just because my baby was moving more in a 10 minute time span than it had in the past 9 months didn't mean that anything was actually changing. I reasoned that just because it was hard for me to go to sleep because the pain from the contractions kept waking me up didn't mean that they were actual contractions. "Don't worry," I told Trent. "Just plan on going to work tomorrow. There's no way this is going to happen yet." And I kept telling myself that as I lay there through the night, having to concentrate more and more as the pain kept getting stronger and stronger.

The next morning, Trent decided to call off work. "This probably isn't actually happening," I said, "But maybe you shouldn't go to work just in case it actually is. Which I'm sure it isn't. But just in case." We called my mom, who was a labor nurse and is now a labor nurse educator. And I must say, it is wonderfully convenient to have a labor nurse as a mother when you are actually going through labor. My mom came over and checked how dilated I was. "4 cm," she told me.


My pitocin/epidural baby meeting my natural
baby for the first time
You must understand that it took me 16 hours, 12 of which were pitocin-induced, gut wrenching, sweat filled mania, to even get that far with Elizabeth's labor. And here I was, at home, pretty uncomfortable, but easily walking around, taking a shower, and eating breakfast. And I had already dilated that far. I could hear the choirs of angels in heaven singing Handel's Hallelujah Chorus.

"Well..." I said, "This might not be for real though." Because I was still in denial. And my mom just looked at me incredulously and said in a way that only moms can, "Ashley. You're in labor." And the matter was closed, closed in a way that only moms can close it.

So I walked around at home, still in unbelief that this was not only happening, but it so far was happening in the exact way that I wanted it to happen. I wanted to stay home as long as possible, and I wanted to do this thing without any meds. So far, so good. But I was not so naive to think that I was home free yet.

My mom called the hospital to see what the labor floor was like. And apparently everyone and their mother decided they wanted to have a baby that day, because there was only one open room left. And Lawdy there was no way in Hades that I wanted to share a room with someone. So, at around 9am, we decided to hightail it to the hospital.

I got to my hospital room, and they checked to see how dilated I was. 5 cm.


Soon after, my water broke. On its own.


My contractions were getting stronger and closer together. The room was dim, there was calming music, I was sitting on a labor ball, and I was free to move wherever I wanted because I was not hooked up to any IV fluids or meds. This was all happening in the way I had always envisioned it.

WHUT. WHAT?! Is this real life??!

It got to the point where during each contraction I had to concentrate more than I had ever concentrated before. As my friend Kim told me after she went through her med-free labor just weeks earlier, I had to remember that the pain was a good thing, because it was getting the baby out. So during each contraction, I repeating the words "down and out" to myself, just like she suggested. I had to concentrate so much that I had to ask my mom and Trent to be quiet when they were talking during my contractions, because it was distracting me.

It was kind of like those labor movies that you watch during your childbirth prep classes, when they show you the stereotypical "natural" labor. The one where everyone rolls their eyes because there's no possible way that the stars would align so well that it would actually happen like that in real life.

Going home from the hospital. Most babies
scream when you put them in the carseat for
the first time. Mary was pretty chill about it all
But it did. It was kind of textbook, actually, in a way. Around 3 or 3:30 (I think) I started to get a little crazy. The pain was getting to a whole new level and I was ready to get that baby OUT. They checked me, and they told me I could try pushing. I don't remember a whole lot of details at this point because I all I was really thinking was "GET THE BABY OUT GET THE BABY OUT GET THE BABY OUT." They told me I would "know" when I was ready to push. For some reason this freaked me out because how would I really know? I wanted them to just tell me when I should push. Apparently I had a "lip," which meant that I was just about fully dilated to 10cm but there was a tiny bit of my cervix that didn't want to cooperate. And I remember that stupid lip. It made things a lot more painful. I think I even shouted, "Ahhhhh, that stupid lip!!!" But I'm not sure. I kept pushing, but I had yet to feel that insatiable urge that everyone had told me about, where your body just takes over and starts to practically push for you because there's no way you can hold it back.

And then, all the sudden, my body just took over and started to practically push for me because there was no way I could have held it back. It was weird, actually. It was like my muscles had a mind of their own and just decided they would do their thang, thank you very much. And once that happened, that baby came out like BAM.

It was pretty awesome because since there weren't any complications so far, my midwife let Trent deliver the baby. She was there, guiding him and telling him what to do. But he was the one who got to bring her out! I obviously don't remember this actually happening, because I was too busy concentrating on AHHH GET THAT BABY OUT OF ME PLEASE RIGHT NOW I WANT TO BE DONE!!!!!

About to go home from the hospital

Daddy with his girls

And then, just like that, at 4:37pm, my precious baby Mary was born. IT'S A GIRL! Trent said. We were all actually shocked. Because obviously we didn't learn the first time that even though we might have a "feeling" that it's a boy, it doesn't mean a darned thing. And I was sooooo happy to have another girl, because that's secretly what I really wanted (insert caveat that obviously I didn't really care, and I would have been just as happy if the baby was a boy, etc etc etc).

She cried two small squeaky cries, and then was done. She laid on me, so calmly and peacefully. I was so much more emotional with this baby and I actually felt that immediate connection that everyone always talks about.

And that's Mary for you. Punctual, by the book, and calm. Born on her due date. With a labor that I always wanted but never actually thought would happen. Sweet Mary. She's my little lamb. (Ehhhh? See what I did there??)

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