Thursday, May 24, 2012

first birthday week: Lorelei's birth story

(pictures throughout were taken by our doula, Kim Wheaton, unless otherwise noted)

As with most birth story posts, this is pretty long. The short version: after an unmedicated 18-hour labor with no complications, my beautiful baby was born! The end.

Here's the long version:

Monday, May 23rd
9am: my brother calls to ask if I'd had the baby yet, just like he did every morning during May. "Nope, no baby," I tell him.

Noon: Go to Target and inexplicably buy half-and-half for my mom, even though I know she won't come until after the baby [due June 2nd] is born (I dig around to find one with the latest expiration date possible) and a large package of Kotex, since I heard I would need them after giving birth and figure I might as well take advantage of the sale price. The cashier asks me when I am due. "Less than two weeks," I answer.

8pm: I get a sudden urge to start the journal I plan to write to our daughter in once she is born, but I decide I have plenty of time left to write her first letter in the next week and a half. Jason announces that he finished the paper he's been working on (finally!), so we celebrate with some  popcorn and settle in to watch an episode of Psych.

10pm: Laughing at some ridiculous line uttered by the ever-corny Shawn Spencer, I feel a funny gush. Oh. Crap. Run to the bathroom, hoping desperately that I peed my pants. It doesn't seem like the way our nurse had described water breaking at our birth class...but when I feel the same gushy sensation a few minutes later, I decide I have to face the music. I head back out to the living room. "Okay," I said. "Don't freak out, but I think my water just broke." Freaking out commences.

11pm: Quandary: our doctor said to go in right away if my water broke, but I know that would put me "on the clock" and I really didn't want to go down that road quite yet. I'm not having any contractions yet, so we finish Psych, call our doula, and then I climb into bed to try to get some sleep before all of the hard work starts.

Tuesday, May 24th
12:10am: Jason calls the doctor. Guess who wants us to come in right away? I convince Jason that we can stay home a little longer to install the car seat (oops), take a shower, eat, and relax a little bit. My contractions are extremely weak and far apart.

4am: Arrive at the hospital. "We've been expecting you -- a while ago, actually," the nurse says. Blood draw, heartbeat monitoring, check my progress (1cm -- not far at all), hook me up to a saline drip (despite my protestations to avoid one), and then we are left to try to sleep a little bit more. Right.

7am: Doctor arrives. I'm 3cm, 80% effaced, and the baby's head is at zero station. She is not happy with me that I stayed home and gives me a lecture about how the baby "doesn't look so hot" and really needed fluid. My contractions are still very weak, and she warns that if they don't start improving soon, I might have to use pitocin. NOT HAPPENING. Jason calls our doula, she gives us some suggestions (nipple stimulation being the main one -- works like a charm), and I start pacing the halls, trying to get things moving.

8am: Doula comes. Hooray! Contractions are moving right along now, but I'm totally on top of them. Feel like I can do this.

11am: Getting exhausted. Contractions way more intense, and I keep feeling like I have to push. I get scared when I have to go to the bathroom, because moving seems to cause contractions and I have at least two standing in front of the sink trying to wash my hands. I'm pretty sure that things are progressing rapidly, because it's taking all of my energy to get through each one.  Jason and Kim are at my beck and call, even though saying much of anything is becoming increasingly difficult so I'm not too demanding.

Noon: They check my progress. 5cm, 90% effaced. My doctor says, "Now the easy part is over." Want. To. Kill. Her. Decide I can't do this.

1pm: Out of my mind. The urge to push is increasing. The contractions are even more excruciating. I feel like I'm going to throw up. I'm freezing cold. I'm burning up. I grip the bedrails for dear life. I can't speak. I keep trying to repeat my birth mantras to myself but mostly just think "I can't do this. I can't do this."

2pm: "I can't do this. I can't do this." That's in my head -- I can't actually get real words out most of the time. The contractions seem to be never-ending. The nurse tells me to stop pushing, but I can't make my body stop doing it. Hands are aching from holding on so tight. I am a Bradley Method failure.

3pm: The nurse says she has to check my progress. I can barely handle it because the contractions are coming so fast and I am so scared that she's going to have bad news again. But instead she tells me I'm ready to start pushing -- hallelujah, because I've been feeling pushy for hours now. My doula tries to get me to drink a little water, but I can barely handle more than a sip.

3:15pm: Isn't pushing supposed to be a "relief"? That's what my birth books said! This is even worse than the contractions part. I hate this. How about if we have a quick c-section instead? I am never giving birth again.

3:30pm: Want to kill my doctor. If she tells me one more time that I'm not working hard enough...

4pm: This baby is never coming out.

4:21pm: Oh. My. God. I just had a baby! She is so small! She is so pale! She is making funny little grunting sounds! She is so slippery and soft! Hello, Lorelei -- welcome to the world!

4:25pm: The nurses are fussing over Lorelei. They are worried that she is still so pale and grunting rather than crying. They reassure me that it will be fine but they need to take her to the nursery and might have to give her oxygen, which means she may not be back for a few hours. Jason goes with them. I stay in bed and keep asking anyone within earshot, "Is she okay? Is she going to be okay?"

4:30pm: I am momentarily distracted from worrying about Lorelei when the doctor starts massaging my abdomen to get the placenta out. GET AWAY FROM ME! I didn't know this part was going to be so painful! She checks me over, and I have a tiny first-degree tear that doesn't even need stitching. Whew!

4:35pm: Lorelei is back! The pediatrician on call said she should improve after getting some colostrum, so the nurses help me get set up for breastfeeding. My brother, who has been waiting at a local coffeeshop ever since his daily call this morning, comes to see his brand new niece. She is so squishy and warm and tiny!

(own photo)

5:30pm: Lorelei is finally done with her first meal. Cradling her tiny body for an hour and looking into her face is like heaven -- I must be on the biggest oxytocin + adrenalin rush ever. I don't care what people say about hospital food -- this veggie burger and vanilla malt are the best I've ever had in my whole life. My cell phone is ringing off the hook, I can't stop smiling, I can't stop looking at my new baby, I am so tired and sore, I can't believe I just did this, I will never have another baby because that was unbelievably awful, I am so happy so happy so happy.

(photo by Bella Baby)


  1. I was looking forward to you posting your birth story!! What a beautiful birth you had, Lorelei is so sweet and perfect and these pictures are beautiful! My due date was June 3rd, a day after yours! Its amazing how much earlier you had your daughter then me, Chloe was stubborn and didn't come until June 14th and that was only because I had to get induced.

    1. The same thing happened with another friend of mine -- she was due something like 8-10 days later, but her baby wasn't born until July 1st so even though we were both expecting "june bugs" neither of us got them :)

  2. Wonderful! The look of relief and joy on your face is priceless. I love how you wrote this, I felt like I was right there with you and I was nervous and excited and I also wanted to punch your doctor in the face! Lorelei was a beautiful just-born baby, absolutely perfect.

    1. She had a super tiny head, which helped her to look less squished and mama to be less sore :) Thank you!

  3. What an honest and beautiful recollection! I had some of those very same thoughts about doubting if I could do this and not wanting to think about birthing another baby ever again! From one natural birther to another, AWESOME job Mama!

    1. Thanks Margaux! It's hard but rewarding work, right?

  4. Awe, what a great story! And good for you for going medication free! I'll admit, I couldn't do it...I was DEFINITELY medicated! :-)
    ♥ Kyna

    1. Thanks Kyna -- sometimes I think I was crazy NOT to be medicated ;) The things we do for love!

  5. What a great story! Well done on the unmedicated birth...mine was...not. And, I hear you on the "get the placenta out" abdomen massage. That was worse than just about anything else!

    1. I know. We should start a public service campaign for soon-to-be mothers!

  6. This birth story is lovely, Courtney. I mean, the funny parts...not the pain recollecting portions. I had the very same thought about not having another child during my labor, haha. Maybe that's a common thought? Everytime I felt like I couldn't handle another second of labor, I said, you can do this, eleanor...and my midwife replied, "yes, you can." Thank you for sharing your story. :)

  7. Happy first birthday, little Lorelei!! I'm sorry I'm late to the party. :) I love this post, especially the photos. All of our newborn shots came out so dark. These are just beautiful!!

  8. i love this story. a lot of what you wrote i can certainly empathize with ("i can't do it!" "get away from me!" "i'm never doing this again!") and yet, you still soldiered through that amazingly. way to go and thanks for sharing.