Wednesday, April 27, 2011

When Veronica Was Born . . .

The birth was wonderful. It sounds odd, doesn't it? Of course there was pain. A lot of it. And it was long; beginning on Saturday evening and Veronica being born on Monday morning at 6:10 am. I was hoping that this one would be shorter than Noah's 30 hour labor, as subsequent births are often shorter. Not so much. We went for longer.

On Saturday, Joanna and Alicia had come by to give Joshua a birthday present. We ended up renting some movies and they were going to stay for dinner. Well, at about 4:30 pm, the contractions began. First at about fifteen minutes apart and by about 8:30 pm, they were about every three to four minutes. The pain was manageable. But because they had gotten so close together, we went to the hospital which is thankfully only about ten minutes away. I was only two centimeters dilated, so they had me walk around for an hour to see if I would dilate further. As I walked around, the contractions continued to be just as frequent and the pain grew more intense. After an hour, the nurse checked again and I was just sure that all of this pain must have done something. Nope. Two centimeters.

They gave me some morphine and sent me home. The hope was that I would sleep all night due to the morphine and let my body do the work, waking up in the morning with much progress made. Like maybe I would even give birth in my sleep! Well, none of that happened. The morphine helped me to sleep for the ten minute car ride home. But that was it. For the rest of the night, I moaned in bed with each contraction. By the morning, I had made no progress and the contractions had slowed down to every ten to fifteen minutes apart. Erg.

By about 4:00 pm on Sunday, we were back to every three to five minutes. We called the hospital and the nurse instructed me to drink a lot of water and lay down on my side for an hour. If the contractions let up some, this was not real labor. Well I did as I was told and the contractions did not slow down. Jason called and we were told to come to the hospital again.

When I stood up after lying in bed for that hour, the contractions immediately became much worse. Tenfold. These were not really manageable anymore and I was a little worried that we had waited too long before going back to the hospital. I tried to breathe through them, but it was nearly impossible. Jason helped me to the car and on our way, I noisily threw up in the yard, giving our neighbors quite a show. The car ride seemed like an eternity, each bump in the road causing more pain. The walk from the parking lot to the maternity suite also seemed to take forever, as I had to stop and hold onto Jason with each contraction and could only walk at slug pace. When the elevator door finally opened, the charge nurse took one look at me and said, "Yep, she's in labor."

I was immediately admitted and was thrilled when the same nurse from the night prior, Rachel, was quick to ask what my plans were for pain medication. My plans? Umm, yes please. At some point since Noah was born, I had it in my head that I might try for a natural birth. But I was honestly very relieved at the beginning of this pregnancy when my doctor let me know that because this would be a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean), they would really prefer me to have an epidural. This way, if I needed to have an emergency c-section, the line would already be in for the anesthesia. So I had an epidural purely for safety's sake. Oh, and also so that I wouldn't strangle anyone.

At this point, I was only at three centimeters. 

So, why wonderful? Well, for many, many reasons.

While we waited for the epidural, Jason made some phone calls and my mother and my dearest friend, Jenny, were on their way. This may need some clarification. Yes, my mom and Jenny were in the room during the birth. And I don't want to sound defensive or anything, but most people's reaction when they hear this is, "Why?" Well, for support. And in no way does this mean that Jason does not provide enough support all by himself. He has always been a complete rock star during our children's birth. But can you have too much support? It's like saying you have too much love or too many friends. Jason and I made the decision together to ask Mom and Jenny if they would be there. And afterward, Jason and I both agreed that it was wonderful to have them there.

This is not as uncommon as many seem to think. Did you know that women started giving birth in hospitals at the beginning of the 20th century? That's only about the past 150 years. Well, in the history of mankind, that's not really very long at all. And before hospitals, women would give birth at home, often in the presence of other women in their family or community. In many cultures today, it is still very common for women to have other women present at the births of their babies. And while Jason's presence and support is vital and irreplaceable, the presence and support of women who've experienced labor before is wonderful in a different kind of way. It's icing on the cake.

I like the comfort and security of a hospital, which is even more necessary because I have had a cesarean. Also, it's like a mini vacation. It is wonderful to be taken care of by the nursing staff not only during labor, but for a day or two afterward too. So for me, the perfect environment is to give birth in a hospital with not one, not two, but three loved ones supporting me. I am one lucky girl.

Mom and Jenny arrived and shortly after, the anesthesiologist arrived and I received the fabulous epidural. They both had to leave the room while it was administered and I am sure that I looked like a completely different woman when they returned. With the epidural, I began progressing more and dilating further. Then I reached 9 centimeters and stopped. We waited and waited and waited. Hours went by. Still 9 centimeters. At 9 1/2 centimeters, the line for my epidural began slipping out. The contractions were once again becoming unbearable and I had a lot of fun convincing the anesthesiologist that yes, the epidural was no longer working and yes, she needed to readminister it. Once she finally did, I dilated to 10. Thirty-seven hours after we'd begun.

The pushing was a piece of cake. Ten or fifteen minutes later, Veronica was born. I could not believe that it was a girl. I definitely did a double take. In fact, I'm still not used to it. I often still think "he" and "him." It's just what I'm used to calling my children. We were all so ecstatic, with Mom, Jenny and I sobbing, and Jason proudly cutting the cord and later handing her to me; the doctor and nurse both said it was one of the happiest births they've ever experienced.

Veronica let out the initial cry of a baby entering the world. But then for a long time, she was quiet. Not in a way that was concerning or worrisome. She was perfectly healthy and received an 8 on her APGAR. But in a peaceful, serene way. Believe me, she's made up for it at home.

When they weighed her and announced that she was 8 pounds 14 ounces, I replied, "She's tiny!" The doctor and nurses were surprised, but I explained that our first boy was 9 lb 14 oz and our second was 9 lb 6 oz. We all laughed.

We stayed at the hospital until Tuesday afternoon. During that time, Veronica proved to be a pro at nursing. On Monday afternoon, much of my family came to visit. My brother Jeremy drove over from Pullman and Kristen came down from Bellingham. My sister-in-law, Kristal, brought Joshua and Noah to the hospital to meet their sister. They all then went to my parents' house for a birthday party for Veronica, complete with an ice cream cake and a "0" candle. Tuesday was spent seeing doctors and nurses and waiting to be discharged, after which we met my parents at our home where they brought us dinner.

I would like to finish reiterating that it was a wonderful birth. Sure, there was pain. It hurt like hell. Sure, it was long. It seemed like it would never end. But it did. And the birth of a child is one of the most beautiful and amazing and Spirit-filled moments you will ever experience. For nine months, you wait for it. Honestly, at times I am sad that it's done. It's like the end of your wedding. You're so happy to be married, but your big day is gone. There is such anticipation in the arrival of a new baby, I think that was even more enhanced because we didn't know the gender. It's sad to know that you have lived one of the most special times that you ever will and that it's no longer ahead of you, but behind you. Nothing will bring back that moment. Not that I want to be pregnant again. And I'm obviously thrilled that Veronica has arrived. But there is just nothing like having a baby. I don't want to forget anything. And I'm glad, that as long as this entry is, it will help me remember. And that Veronica will be able to read how joyfully she entered the world.

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