You guys. If someone had told me I was going to be in labor for 37 hours (34 of which I was completely unmedicated), I probably would have imploded immediately after running into a corner and burrowing beneath the earth’s surface.
The Birth Story Breakdown
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 16th, 2015:
I was happily getting some frozen yogurt with a friend and checking out a grocery-store closing sale. Early labor was going to come at any point now since Aria’s due date was November 25th. The plan during early labor was to look for some Christmas decor for our apartment (one of the things we learned in our birth class was to find things to distract ourselves with during early labor that we’d find enjoyable). It was a fairly uneventful afternoon; once home, I decided I wanted to bake a batch of chocolate chip cookies, which ended up being super handy…
TUESDAY around 4AM:
Hello heavy cramping; I knew I was going into labor (mainly b/c this was reminiscent of the labor pains I experienced when I miscarried). Dave was sleeping, and I didn’t want to wake him, so I took warm shower to hopefully alleviate some of the incessant back pain I was experiencing. I went along with my morning to see how things would progress. By 9AM, things were picking up speed. My contractions were strong and so was the back labor (THE worst part of labor, IMO), and this is when I let Dave know that I was in labor. From this point on, he had his game face on. Whether I needed a nest of pillows to lie down in during contractions, music playing in the background, essential oils to help with the discomfort, or to get some food or water in, Dave was a freakin’ champ. He was there for it all, giving me space when I needed it and totally hands on when necessary. (Total sidenote, I thought you should know that as i’m writing this, Aria is in her crib barking like a dog and making all sorts of animal sounds instead of taking a nap…I guess this is the perk of writing her birth story once she’s a year and a half old :D).
TUESDAY around 3:30PM:
I told Dave to call our doula STAT. At this point, things were getting so uncomfortable that I knew I could use the extra support. Melissa (our doula aka an angel–a gift from heaven) came and busted out the exercise ball and her pick of essential oils (p.s. peppermint and lavender were my top picks for labor–peppermint for the nausea and lavender for the calming benefits). Gentle swaying while sitting on the exercise ball, rocking back and forth on all fours, taking more showers (I think I took three or 4 showers that day–both for distraction from and alleviation of some of the pain), Dave and Melissa taking turns putting counter pressure on my lower back (again, b/c the back labor was SOOO terrible), walking around the block once it got pitch black–we did it all, so that I could do as much of my laboring at home as possible (I wanted to spend as little time at the hospital as possible since home is a way more comfortable setting than some random hospital room). At one point I remember going through such a gnarly contraction while the three of us were on our night walk that I abruptly dropped down to all fours right by the corner liquor store, (very) loudly groaning and grunting like a wild bear as two innocent walkers passed us by. Sorry strangers. I’m sorry for giving you that memory.
TUESDAY around 7:30PM:
Melissa checked to see how far along I was, and since I didn’t want her to tell me (so as to not be discouraged if I hadn’t progressed after all those hours, which could cause a stall in labor), she told Dave. Turns out, I was already around 6 or 6.5 cm, which was pretty good. We decided to labor at home a while longer. After this point, things get blurry for me. I remember having lots of contractions, Dave cooking some Blue Apron meal since he was getting hungry, me taking yet another shower and making a ton more un-human sounds as the waves of contractions would come and go, and me crying because of the pain.
WEDNESDAY around 2:30AM:
Melissa made sure we had our hospital bag in tow as well as the Tupperware full of the cookies I had baked, so we could give that to the nurses on my floor since we knew they were going to be such a big part of the process (nurse gifts–do it!!) and off we went. I endured THE MOST uncomfortable car ride to the hospital (In case this sounds super dramatic–some info on back labor if you’re unfamiliar with the concept–sitting or putting pressure on your tailbone causes this constant, intense, dart-like pain to shoot up your back. It sucks) . Silver lining: at least it’s only an 8 minute drive away (insert praise hands here). The kind, protocol-following hospital peeps insisted that I get into a wheelchair, and even though I told them I wouldn’t be able to handle it because of how bad my back labor was, they insisted. So I obliged. This caused me to make more scary bear sounds, so I popped out of that wheelchair like a crazy lady and walked the rest of the way to my hospital room. Sometimes the pregnant lady knows best.
BLURRY TIMELINE, IN-LABOR RECALL of EVENTS:
-Got into a super fashionable, bottom-bearing hospital robe. Got hooked up to things.
-More laboring on a ball, on the floor, on the loo, anywhere and everywhere in that room that wasn’t the bed, really. Insert more bearing down, bear grunts and growls and low-toned howls here.
-More laboring in the tub w/ a gross-tasting, red-flavored popsicle.
-When checked, I was 9.5 cm. Long story short, I was at 9.5 cm for about 5 hours with no progress. Aria was even low enough to where I was told I could touch her head if I wanted to (I think I did, but I genuinely can’t remember). They had me pushing, but nothing was happening. Low point. So tired. All of us. Something needed to happen.
-I threw up once into this weird, conical sock-looking thing.
-The nurse midwife that I had been seeing during the pregnancy was actually on her shift, so she came in and broke my water since it hadn’t happened on its own. The contractions got even worse at this point.
Since we were at a standstill and all exhausted and discouraged at the lack of progress, a small team of nurses came in letting us know that we had two options at that point: Pitocin or an epidural–neither of which we had wanted since we wanted to go as au naturale as possible; but we also knew that, if necessary, we would choose accordingly. The thought of Pitocin was so far from my radar since I was already having such strong contractions, so we decided to go for the epidural since we didn’t want all of the hours of labor we had been through to result in an emergency C-section (which is where it would have gone if there was no progress). The first epidural didn’t work (didn’t even know that was a thing), so the anesthesiologist had to give me another (having to sit still for that long with crazy back labor was probably the most terrifying–and only terrifying– experience of labor). Once the meds kicked in, I was able to nap for about an hour, which meant Dave and Melissa were able to rest for a bit too. Once I woke up, a nurse checked and told me that we were ready to push! Hallelujah! Go time!
WEDNESDAY around 3:45PM:
They had me pushing in various positions, and I have faint memories of the songs that were playing in the background. Although the exact details escape me now, I do remember thinking, “Whoa, this song that’s playing is SO perfect for this moment” and that happening a number of times up until Aria made her appearance. Haha, I also remember a nurse pointing out how I was smiling a lot now (well yeah, I got to nap, woke up to an epidural that allowed for Aria to get into the right position, and now we were finally getting somewhere!). Apparently a lot of people were having babies that day because while I was pushing and Aria was about to crown, the doctor got paged saying that there was another mom in labor who was a bit farther along, so doc needed to switch rooms really fast (also didn’t know that was a thing). Sure, no problem. I’ll just stop in this amazingly comfortable position with all these lights shining on me and people staring at me as i’m mid-pushing my baby out; I’ll be right here waiting for you. Meanwhile as the switcheroo was happening, the nurses in my room were trying to guess when Aria would arrive–I think everyone undershot there. Doc comes back, I pushed a bit more, and…
Aria Meadow Lucht arrives–6 pounds 9 ounces, 19 inches long– takes her first breath and makes her appearance into the world. And just like that, her arrival was like an eraser for the last 37 hours of discomfort, grueling work, and tears. One of the reminders of those 37 hours was that Dave worked so hard putting counter-pressure on my back that he basically threw out one of his shoulders. He got the awesome Dad award from the get-go. (Almost forgot, we didn’t have the umbilical cord cut until it was done pulsating to ensure that the little bebe got all of the good stuff.)
Just like it takes a village to raise a child, it took one in this case to bring our little bubs into the world. We’re so grateful for everyone who made our hospital experience so amazing (was NOT a fan of hospitals before…my experience at ours was quite redemptive–so thankful for that).
Right after w/ the parentals and w/ Melissa (ah, the joys of post-birth bloatedness):
There for his girl right from the beginning:
The day after (everyone trying to take turns to get some rest after the marathon–Oh! A fun sidenote: Aria was up every hour from 10:00pm until 5:00am nursing. Whoever said the first night would be my longest stretch of sleep in a while was terribly misinformed. Thank you, Jesus, for the pacifier that got me 10 minute intervals of sleep.):
Going home day:
First smile–pretty sure she knew she was getting to go home.
Aria sporting her hospital beanie a la an elderly lady’s knitting group and on the right sporting her Tupac headband (aka headband made from one of her daddy’s t-shirts).
(Oh, and in true Lucht family fashion, you should know that our first stop before heading home was In-N-Out :D.)
Needless to say, no Christmas decor was purchased and our apartment didn’t look very Christmas-y that year, but we did have our first Christmas as a family of 3, and that was (sur)really the best gift. And because I wanted to buy myself some time to get cards out, I decided to go the New Year’s route :):
The Undoing by Steffany Gretzinger
Brave New World by Amanda Cooke
If you’re interested in what our Birth “Plan” (aka Birth Wishes) was, you can see it here.
Photo cred for the first four images of the post : Mycah Burns of Redmond Digital Photography
The two family photos from our New Year’s card: Keith Hardisty Photo
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