Monday, January 26, 2015

Josephine Acorn Grace - A Birth Story

Josephine Acorn Grace Eaton

Contractions began as mildly crampy Braxton Hicks at about noon on a Sunday like any other pregnant, wintery Sunday. In some ways I felt certain she would come early and save me from having to work another 6 days, in other ways I was still sure she would wait until Christmas had come and gone. Feeling introspective about the unpredictability of the next three weeks of my life, of deadlines and family and festive celebrations, I busied myself with housework, scrubbing the bathtub and washing the sheets. I kept Rosebud busy with The Aristocats as I felt the contractions continue to get more painful and remained in a deep pool of denial with shallow waves of excitement creeping in. We ate Kraft dinner and I waited. I packed a bag just in case.

Eventually, I told Blake. “I’m having contractions. It’s probably nothing, but they’re there.” He was surprised and excited while I remained calm and tried still to convince myself it was prodromal labour and nothing was going on.

At about 5, I was ready for some answers. I told some folks in my December due date club that I was “oscillating wildly between telling myself they are nothing and i could have another three weeks and feeling nervous that this could be it!” At six, Rosie and I climbed into a hot shower to clean up and see if my contractions would subside. At 6:30 I texted a close friend ‘just in case’ to ask her if she would be free to come spend the night with Rosebud.

I tucked Rosebud in to bed at about 7:30 PM. Giving her a bottle and extra good night kisses, I contemplated this ritual on this night, knowing it was she would fall asleep now an only child, while tommorrow her world would likely be changed. I remember the click of the latch on her door feeling like the turning of a page in the story of our lives.

Suddenly my contractions were coming harder and closer together. Five minutes apart and a minute long, it was go time. At 8pm I texted my friend from the darkness of my bed “I think you guys should come if you can… I will feel terrible if this isn’t real!” It felt like it took her forever to arrive. When she did, I was on my knees on the floor. I looked up at her desperately and told her never to have babies. Blake had the car ready to go and I ran to it between contractions, barely making it onto the passenger seat before writhing in pain once again.

The car ride to the hospital was the best part about my labour. If I could have had the baby in the car with him driving all the while, I would have. The night was sharply cold but I was hot and aching and with my window rolled down I finally felt like I could breathe. It was incredible. We arrived at the hospital around 9PM and I had to climb a snowy hill to get to the entrance. Contractions were debilitatingly painful but in the peace between them I still felt strong and elated.

Under the florescent hospital lights, that quickly changed. When we got to the labour and delivery unit of the hospital, I was put into a pre-admitting room with a black, faux-leather chair, like the ones in dentist's offices and a writhed through contractions while we waited, seemingly forever, for our paperwork to be completed. When the nurse came to check me I was fully effaced but only 2.5 cm dilated. I was disappointed but somewhat nonplussed, remembering similar circumstances during Rosebud’s birth. What I didn’t understand was that they wouldn’t properly admit me until I was at least 3 cm dilated. It was about 9:30pm when they asked me if I would like to go home or if i preferred to wait there for 15 minutes ‘just in case’ I dilated further. I moved to my knees on the floor and asked Blake to apply pressure to my back while I tried not to scream. Two days later I noticed big brown bruises on my knees and couldn’t help but laugh, looking back. It was almost 10 when a nurse finally checked me again. I was 3cm and I got to go into a real room!

I was admitted and my contractions were hard and fast and layered on top of each other leaving me little time to breathe. A young, somewhat inexperienced nurse told me after just 10 minutes that my pain seemed to be getting more intense quickly, and she asked me if I wanted an epidural. After some hesitation I said yes- in that moment I felt as though I wouldn’t be able to birth my daughter without a few minutes of peace. She tried twice to insert an IV until another nurse came in to do it (I don’t really want to include it in my story, but the second nurse to arrive was really condescending and impatient with the first, inexperienced, clearly nervous nurse, which did not help! It was so bad that my OB noticed and suggested I email the head nurse of the hospital). When she finished, they told me my baby’s heartbeat decelerated and that I couldn’t have the epidural until it came back up and stayed up for an unidentified period of time.

I felt like I was watching everything from behind a thick wall of glass made from my own pain. “Is everything okay?” I kept asking the young nurse. She kept telling me everything was fine, but with a stricken look of panic on her face. I would be more concerned myself if I didn’t think that she probably had this look on her face almost all the time. It reminded me of the look the new line cooks during a perilous lunch rush at my job in a restaurant a lifetime ago. Despite the wall of pain I felt surprisingly present, mentally aware but strangely disconnected from my body. I puked and knew I would never get that epidural I had asked for. I was in transition and I would just have to persevere through the pain.

When my waters broke I saw the meconium. I was already feeling pushy and could feel that intense pain of bones shifting and the baby descending down inside my pelvis. I was worried to see brown on the cloths they used to wipe up my waters, but again the nurse said everything was fine and I was so focused on push time nearing that I could barely concentrate on it nough to worry. I needed to PUSH! My OB suddenly floated into my room and I immediately felt a relative feeling of calm in knowing that it was go time and she was there to put an end to bickering, panicked nurses running the show. I really can’t explain how much her presence changed my entire labour. I started to really push and it hurt so much! I couldn’t believe how much it hurt! I was given a local anesthetic and episiotomy during my first birth and so I never experienced the ring of fire. I remember feeling her head crowning and amidst all the chaos and pushing so hard, thinking to myself “Oh, THAT is the ring of fire!” I kept pushing through the fear that I was ripping my own body open, and after instructed to give a few short, hard pushes, she was here! It was 11:30PM, only two hours after the nurses in admitting debated sending me home.

I was giddy and elated, but mostly relieved. (She’s here! She’s healthy! I don’t have to go to work tommorrow!) She was a tiny 5lbs 14oz and so beautiful. I was immediately struck by how similar and different she was from her big sister. Blake warned me against comparing her against Rosebud right off the bat, but it was impossible not to. We called her Josephine, as we had intended and we looked at her. She was lovely and darling to us immediately. I couldn’t help but chatter away, remarking over how incredible that the pain is just over in such an instant and the whole world is changed. I felt even more relieved at the feeling of delivering the placenta. As with Rosebud, they were concerned about me bleeding a little too much and I was given av IV of fluids and blood thickener of some sort. I nursed her right away and she latched on like nothing and I was, and still am, in complete disbelief of her beauty and the process of making new life and birthing a new human into the world.

Josephine Acorn Grace Eaton: 11:30 PM, December 14, 2014.

“The greatest achievement was at first and for a time a dream. The oak sleeps in the acorn, the bird waits in the egg, and in the highest vision of the soul a waking angel stirs. Dreams are the seedlings of realities.” - James Allen

Sunday, April 27, 2014