Lorelei's birth story drama really starts weeks before her birth- at the 39 week mark. The day I turned 39 weeks I tested positive for influenza. I am sure you don't need to be a baby expert to understand that being diagnosed with an illness that can be detrimental to a person's respiratory system, particularly that of an infant, is not exactly good news to a full term pregnant mother. I lived out that week begging and praying that Lorelei would stay put. Since I delivered her siblings at 38 weeks and 3 day and 39 weeks and 5 days, I had little hope of making it to a point where I would no longer be contagious. This was an extremely stressful week for my family and I pretty much put myself on bedrest so that I knew I was doing everything I could to keep our little one safe in my belly. By the grace of God, I reached that day that I was aiming for- the day when my antiviral dose was complete and I would no longer be putting our baby at risk by simply being there. I was so grateful that she stayed put and thanked her all morning for listening to mommy- and then promptly started telling her it was time to get out of there.
See, I was super uncomfortable by this point. Having never made it this far in pregnancy, this was all new territory- territory I didn't think I would ever see. Days passed, and before I knew it my due date had come and gone and I was at 40 weeks and 6 days. Now, don't get me wrong- after having a baby rushed out by an impatient doctor, I was grateful that she was coming on her own time. But I was ready for her to decide it was time. That Sunday, we went for a long walk (thank you, unseasonably warm February!) and even attempted accupressure using youTube. We were ready to meet our little girl! All day I was having random contractions, but as that had been going on since about 36 weeks, I really wasn't too impressed by them. I had just been texting with my good friend and due date buddy Lynn about how she was going to be induced in a few days. I teased her how it would be funny if I had my baby before that day just to be obnoxious. Shaun decided to treat us to some milkshakes that we had all just sat down to. I had taken about 5 or 6 bites when I felt a sharp pain in my belly. It was a different feeling than I had been experiencing, but I figured gas pains (looking back I am pretty certain it was a contraction). I sat back forward, intent on finishing my little treat when I felt that all too familiar gush. Even though I knew what it was, I didn't want to excite my family for nothing, so I hopped up to go to the bathroom (something that my husband hardly even noticed since I could never go more than 15 minutes without a potty break). My hunch confirmed, I went back to the dining room and informed Shaun that it was time to call his mom to tell her that the kids were on their way to spend the night.
What followed was this: the famous "flight of the expectant father" (c'mon honey- you are the most calm, cool and collected person I know, but I would ALMOST consider having another baby just to watch this entertainment again), Jameson and Delaney jumping through the house yelling "we're having a baby", calling of all the necessary people, and me taking a shower and shaving my legs. Yep, you read that right. In my defense, my doctor specifically told me he didn't want me going to the hospital until my water had been broken for a few hours or contractions started. He wanted to give me the best shot at an unmedicated birth, and he knew that if I went straight to the hospital they would want me in the bed and not walking like I should be. So, did I need a shower? Were my legs especially hairy? No, and no. But let me just tell you- water breaking may look all cute and dramatic on TV, but the reality is that it is the most disgusting feeling EVER. Being in the shower was the only place that I could ignore the "peeing constantly and can't stop" feeling. As adamant as I was to not leave until I had contractions, a certain husband of mine was really getting antsy and nervous at the idea of me hanging out at home at this point. Since it is his kid too I figured he got a vote, so I agreed to head to the hospital. Luckily, we both got to win because my contractions started on the way to the hospital.
After meeting up with Shaun's sister in the parking lot to pass over children, we went in through the emergency room entrance. Let me take this opportunity to inform you of something- it is never a good plan to try to tell a pregnant woman, especially one whose water has broken, that she isn't allowed to use the bathroom. Ha! This is what I was told by the desk clerk in the ER. I told her there was no choice and she was welcome to join me if she was worried. She declined. For the record, I totally understand the policy- nobody likes a baby born in the toilet. But do they really expect to be able to enforce this rule? (I realize this story wasn't necessary to the storyline of the birth, but it was pretty darned funny so I had to share).
Jumping forward to after I was all in the bed (blah!) and checked in. My contractions had stalled, which is apparently pretty common with being in the car and then a bed. We were informed that the on call doctor was the one I'd had with Jameson- madam "screw what is natural/best for the baby, we are doing this on my time" herself. I was pretty bummed, but a quick chat with my nurse had me feeling much better. She assured me that she would be my advocate and would do everything she could to give me the birth I was wanting. Feeling even more desire to get some contractions going, we started walking the halls. We only made it about 2 laps before the contractions started. It was only a few after that that they really got going and I was no longer able to walk through them.
When it was time to check the heartrate we discovered that she wasn't handling the contractions well- her heartrate was dropping after every contraction. This required that I stay in the bed for awhile longer. While I was laying there the contractions really got going. The nurse had just informed me that I was at a 5, which has me worried since it seemed like I had really far to go and the contractions were really picking up. They quickly progressed to being strong enough that I was needing to moan through them and hold Shaun's hand (which surprised me since I didn't want him near me during Delaney's birth). During this I have to say that I had the BEST support in that room that anyone could ask for- I had a loving husband telling me good job after each contraction, a nurse telling me EXACTLY what I needed to hear (to relax my face, picture my cervix opening, etc), my mom encouraging me, and even my birth photographer was reminding me to relax and telling me how awesome I was doing). I don't know how I could have gotten through it without their encouragement. After her heartrate had settled down a bit, the nurse let me get on a birthing ball to try to get some of the pressure out of my back. It was amazing- the back labor disappeared and the counterpressure on my cervix was such a relief. The contractions were still very strong, but I was able to stand them a little better. I was actually even smiling through a few of them. Unfortunately this didn't seem to be the optimal position for Lorelei as her heartrate was suddenly plummeting with the contractions. I was quickly moved back into the bed. The charge nurse came in to install an internal monitor to track the heartrate and confirmed that I was still at a 5. While this was all happening my contractions had very suddenly grew much, much stronger. They were now almost back to back and not completely going away in between. Though it cross my mind that this was classic transition, I had just been told my two separate nurses that I was at a 5, so I knew there was no way this could be transition- which freaked me out! I was terrified of what transition would be like since I was in such pain. I started telling them that I couldn't handle the pain and asked my mom to pray for the baby and for my strength.
As the charge nurse walked out of the room, I suddenly felt a very strong urge to push. I was absolutely terrified at this point. I was at a 5- I had heard horror stories of women who pushed when they were not fully dilated and caused their cervix to swell to the point that they had to wait longer in labor before they could push. But I had no choice- I had to push. My nurse ran out of the room to grab the charge nurse during which I gave one big, involuntary push- and Lorelei's head popped out. The nurses came running back in and reached me just in time to catch her halfway through my second push when the rest of her popped out.
Nope, I didn't miss anything- the time span between when I was last told I was at a 5 and when Lorelei was out was about 2 minutes. I didn't even have time to feel the pain from crowning (which any mom who has delivered with no epidural can understand how amazing that is!)
Though her birth was incredible, natural and absolutely beautiful, it was "unattended", meaning a doctor wasn't present, so she was quickly swept to the warmer to be examined by one of the 6 or 7 nurses who flooded into the room in the minute after Lorelei came out (I even got the supervisor who informed me that she was never there for births). This was pretty heartbreaking for me because I very strongly desired to have her put to my chest immediately after birth. My baby girl who came out with beautiful, pink skin and lungs screaming was being treated like a high risk. Though I certainly didn't blame the nurses who were just doing their jobs, this "policy" really ticked me off. I have no idea why they thought there was any safer or better place to be than on her mother's chest! It took a good 10 minutes before I finally got to hold my baby. During this time the doctor arrived and started stitching me up- without saying anything more to me than instructions and shot dirty looks at the nurses the entire time. I guess it offended her to know that something as natural as childbirth could occur without her presence? (Can you tell I am slightly bitter about this woman?)
After much too much wait, I finally got to hold my baby girl. I offered her the breast to see if she was interested- boy was she! This wasn't too much of a surprise as the entire time she was being examined I could hear her lips smacking and she kept sticking out her tongue classic hunger cues. She instantly latched on. And for the reference of anyone who is ever present in any capacity for a birth- get the momma her baby ASAP! As soon as I had her in my arms my nerves calmed and I was no longer focused on the pain from the stitches. We were in our own little world. I even have some pictures taken by my birth photographer at an angle that I am sure I should have noticed her and I had no idea she was there.
Overall her birth was incredible. I finally had a totally unmedicated birth. I realize this is the worst nightmare of many women, but for me it was incredibly empowering to have my body do what it is supposed to do. Delaney's birth gave me some of this since I had no pain medication for it, but this time I hadn't needed drugs to get my contractions going. And I have to wonder if there was something in my body or Lorelei's that triggered to get the birth happening quicker since she wasn't handling it well. I don't know the science behind this, and I know that there is so much about childbirth that is not known, so there probably isn't a real answer to this, but it definitely makes you wonder!
Knowing that Lorelei will almost certainly be our last is so bittersweet. While it is painful to know that I will never feel a baby move in me again or experience my child's birth again, we are eager to move into the phase of raising and enjoying our children. It also helps to know that I was finally able to do what I have always wanted- have a baby come when they are ready and not a second sooner, and to deliver them naturally. I am also not devastated with the idea of never facing morning sickness again...
Below are some pictures taken by our incredible birth photographer. I was lucky to have Tammy Schmidt of Little Leaping Photography in the room for Lorelei's birth. Tammy asked on a moms' group Facebook page for pregnant moms who would be willing to help her build her portfolio in exchange for her free photography services. I was a little hesitant with the idea of someone photographing such a vulnerable time, but I am so glad I decided to take this step out of my comfort zone. Having my last birth in pictures will be a priceless treasure and Tammy was amazing to work with and did such great work. I highly recommend her!
This picture was taken soon before her birth- birthing ball=women in active labor smiling through a contraction