On December 18th, I went into my 39 week + 5 day appointment with my midwife at 10:45. She checked me and told me I was dilated to a 1-2 and 60% effaced (!!!) which was AWESOME because the week previous I was at a solid zero, and I’d be lying if I said that wasn’t slightly discouraging. She asked me if I wanted a membrane sweep, to which I responded, heck yes! I’d read countless forums and heard many stories of it working and jump starting labor, but at the bottom of it all was this – if your body is ready to go into labor, the membrane sweep will work. If it’s not ready, it won’t. But I was totally going to take that chance that maybe it would work because I was so 1000% done with being pregnant. I didn’t get super tired of being pregnant with Sophie and I think that’s simply because she was breech & a scheduled c, so I didn’t spend any time sitting around thinking about when she would be born. Gratefully I was cleared for a VBAC this time around but waiting was sooo much harder! I had no real reasons to complain – I had such a lucky, complication-free pregnancy. I was just done. I wanted to meet my girl! And I had no idea when that would happen! I was wildly impatient. Anyway – my midwife did the membrane sweep (which, by the way, I didn’t think it was painful, just about as uncomfortable as your typical vaginal exam) and she told me that if this was going to work, I’d know within the next few hours. I walked out of the office crampy and hopeful!
All day long I kept moving – in my head if I just kept moving, that would increase my chances of going into labor. I kept joking with Brig about “manifestation” and how I was going to will this baby into the world one way or another by the end of the day. I felt these tight, crampy sensations for about 30 seconds each every ten minutes and at first I was just kinda like, hmm, is what I’m experiencing a contraction? But they were very predictable and consistent and crampy and tight – just like everyone said they would be. So contractions, I decided, they were. I took turns bouncing on the exercise ball with Sophie – you can’t pull that thing out without her wanting to join in on the fun, too 😉 Soph refused to take a nap, so I told Brig that we should just head to the mall to walk around. So we headed to the mall and walked and grabbed chick-fil-a and I boldly declared to Brig that this grilled market salad with tangy apple cider vinaigrette was my last meal. I was texting my dad all afternoon, telling him that maybe something was happening, maybe it wasn’t….I was trying to be super optimistic but also trying not to psych myself out in case nothing happened and I would just be pregnant for another week. The later it got in the day, the more discouraged I felt, because the contractions stayed exactly the same – every ten minutes, for thirty seconds, with no change in time intervals or increase in intensity. We put Sophie to bed and I kinda resigned myself to believing the membrane sweep didn’t work – I was in such a bad mood! Haha. With a sliver of hope, I felt prompted to shower, wash my hair, shave my legs…the whole nine yards. We went to bed early, though since I was still contracting every ten minutes, I didn’t really sleep (and Brig didn’t either, as it turns out.) Also, the chick-fil-a salad turned out to not be my last meal, because I had a really big bowl of Lucky Charms to drown my sorrows at about 8 pm 😉
All of a sudden at 12:40 AM I felt a rush and then a POP! There was a gush of surprisingly warm liquid and I was totally shocked – really loudly I said, “Brigham, my water just broke!!” He shot out of bed and my head was spinning. Oh my gosh. I couldn’t believe it was actually happening! I walked into the bathroom, my whole body shaking uncontrollably – a combination of nerves and excitement and my body in the early stages of labor. The liquid was tinged green, which meant there was meconium in the amniotic fluid. I knew that wasn’t a good thing and there’s some risk involved when that happens, but I felt at peace. Everything would be okay. Contractions were now coming every five minutes, and they were getting stronger. I quickly showered off and got dressed as Brig called our friends to come over and sleep at our house and be with Sophie. He then called our hospital and both of us talked with the midwife on call. Her name was Julia – she was calm and reassuring as she asked me questions and confirmed that we definitely should head to the hospital. I delivered at Mount Auburn in Cambridge, which I absolutely loved, but getting there with traffic could sometimes take up to an hour. Luckily we were headed to the hospital at 1 AM, so it only took 20 minutes. At a stoplight that had just recently turned green, the car in front of us was taking their sweeeet time getting through the intersection. Brig, bless his heart, got impatient, and swerved around the car to cut ahead and, what do you know, there was a cop right behind us who flipped on his lights instantly 🙂 I started to cry, not really because I was worried, but just because I was feeling a lot of feelings, haha. Both of us were like, this is SO CLASSIC. Brig pulled over, rolled down his window, and shouted, “my wife is in labor!” to which the officer responded over his intercom thing, “stay in the car,” I assume because he couldn’t quite hear what Brig said and Brig was waving his arms frantically. The officer got closer and Brig shouted again, “my wife is in labor!” and then the officer said, “okay, go on ahead.” We laughed and kept going, naturally skipping a few more red lights on our way as the opportunity presented itself.
We parked outside the ER in the parking garage and walked up to L&D, where I got all checked in and hooked up to monitors in a triage room. When your water breaks they really try to minimize the amount of vaginal exams you receive in order to decrease the risk of infection, so our nurse, Katherine, confirmed that my water had broken and then Julia, our midwife, explained that we’d probably do the first exam in a couple hours to see where I was at. We talked about various housekeeping things in between contractions and then I was taken out of triage into our L&D suite. The contractions kept getting stronger and the pain became overwhelming. With each contraction came this searing, gut-wrenching pain like I had never before experienced. I started throwing up about every other contraction and that was rough. It was so wild and intense. I got in the shower to see if that would help but the water wouldn’t get hot and so it was absolutely miserable. My body was shaking so violently, from the cold and from the intensity of labor, and I couldn’t settle down. I sat on the birthing ball and breathed through each contraction, squeezing Brig with all the strength that was in me. It is just so wild how much power is pulsing through your body when you’re in labor – in the strangest way I am excited to experience it again even though it hurt like the ever loving DICKENS. I know how much positive self-talk matters when you’re in labor, but eventually all I could think and say with each contraction was I can’t do this, the pain is too much, I can’t keep doing this. Brig was calm and reassuring and supportive as ever. The nurse gave me a dose of Zofran to see if it would help with the nausea, but it really didn’t do anything, because the vomiting was just coming from a place of really intense pain. At 4 am, after a really powerful contraction, I told Brig that I wanted him to go get Julia and I wanted to talk to her about getting an epidural. I had told Brig far in advance that I never wanted him to be the one telling me or the nurses to give me an epidural – if I wanted it, I would ask for it, haha. Brig knew that I had wanted to go unmedicated for this birth and so he asked me if I was sure and then after my resounding yes, he was totally on board.
I don’t remember much about the conversation with Julia, but we did decide to go ahead and get the first vaginal exam to see where I was at. I was 6 cm, fully effaced, and the baby was at -1!! Excellent news. The nurse anesthetist came in around 5 and Brig went out – in some states birth partners are allowed to stay in the room and in other states they are not – in Massachusetts, they are not – blast. Brig helped me breathe through one more contraction and then left the room. I remember looking at my nurse, who was so great, but really not a very large person, and thinking, I hope you’re ready to be squeezed, haha. Staying still for the epidural was soooooo unbelievably difficult since my body was still like a cell phone on vibrate. I was praying constantly, for peace, for relief, for whatever it is that I needed at any given moment, all night long. In these moments though, I just prayed for stillness, that I would be able to be completely still for this epidural, that it would work to my full advantage. My nurse was so good to help me through each contraction and the nurse anesthetist was really great, too. When all was done, I felt like I was walking on a cloud. There was a choir of angels behind me and a symphony playing and I was BEAMING. Brig walked in the room and I was like, “getting an epidural was the best decision I ever made.” Haha. It worked perfectly. I was seriously like a new woman. I could feel my legs and toes and wiggle around, but I was numb in all the important areas. I could feel each rush but it was just a feeling of really low vaginal pressure. For the next few hours Brig and I talked, he slept a little, I spent a lot of time writing and reading and praying and waiting. Time was passing quickly and we watched the gorgeous sunrise over the Boston skyline outside our window. It was honestly just a really peaceful and restorative time and I’m so grateful for it, especially since my body was gearing up to push for a loooong time.
The nurses switched at 7 and the midwives switched at 8 – now, my midwife was Erinn. She was AMAZING and I am so grateful she was the one that ended up delivering our baby. I really connected with her personality and she just had such a good presence – calm, reassuring, strong, fun. Our nurse, Jess, was the same. I prayed specifically to have good, supportive women on my labor team and that prayer was answered so perfectly. Truth be told, I was switched midwives halfway through my pregnancy because my original midwife had to go on leave for an injury and although her sub was fine, I secretly hoped she wouldn’t actually be the one to deliver my baby, haha. At 9 am Erinn checked me and I was 10 cm dilated and fully effaced – totally ready to go! We decided that we’d start pushing around 9:30. Brig and I took those thirty minutes to read scriptures and pray and prepare ourselves for what was about to go down…literally. I’m so grateful for the amount of rest we had in the few hours leading up to pushing, because it gave me the strength I needed to push for THREE HOURS, which was a real heckin’ long time. When I started pushing at first it definitely felt like with each contraction I was just practicing, just learning how to push because it something you kinda have to get the feel for. Knowing where exactly in my body to push toward, what kind of pressure I was feeling. I had to be so in tune with everything my body was feeling and really pay attention. At first it was difficult to tell when I was feeling the urge to push because I’d had the epidural, but over time I grew to recognize what the feeling felt like for me. I could still feel pressure, but what really helped was when my midwife would press on those places I needed to push toward as a guide. Eventually I got the hang of it and then felt that each contraction was productive and we were getting somewhere. It felt like it was taking forever, but I was grateful in a way that it was going slowly, thinking that maybe this is just what my body needed to stretch without tearing. Initially in between contractions and pushing there was a lot of conversation and chatting, but as things progressively got more intense I started to turn inward and stop talking. Probably about halfway through pushing they gave me a shot of pitocin to see if we could increase the frequency of my contractions – my body, ever consistent, was still keeping the contractions about 4-5 minutes apart. At 12:15 PM, Erinn told me that she needed to have the doctor come in and check on things since I’d been fully dilated for over three hours and it was hospital policy. That made me kind of cranky, and I didn’t love when the doctor was in the room. I just kept my eyes closed because I didn’t want to look at her haha, I was so annoyed! The doctor told me that they generally let women push for four hours, but she was fairly confident that this baby would come out on her own. She was nice but I guess I was just not in a receptive mood haha. I just felt like with her coming into the room, all of a sudden I was on this time crunch and I started to worry – what if I pushed for four hours all to just have another c-section? I was determined to get this baby out on my own. Her head was already in plain sight and had been for quite some time. Erinn and Jess and Brig were so encouraging, telling me that we were so close, I was almost there. I started to wonder though – exactly HOW close are we talking here?? Haha. But sure enough, at 12:50 pm, her head emerged, with a little fist right next to it, and the rest of her body followed. Jess was like, “open your eyes and look at your baby!!!” because with each push my eyes were just instinctively closed tight. But I opened my eyes and saw my baby and it was so surreal. My umbilical cord was short, so they just immediately laid her on my tummy and started scrubbing her with blankets as she cried softly and so so adorably. Brig cut the cord and then they laid her on my chest. I held her as I pushed the placenta out, which wow, what a breeze! Haha. The nurse and midwife gave us a “placenta tour,” explaining all the various parts of the placenta and how it works. That was so cool. I did experience a second degree tear, which my midwife said she believed was because of Liv’s little hand by her head. Brig was able to have some good skin to skin time with Liv while Erinn stitched me up, and then she got all of her newborn tests and measurements on the other side of the room. 6 lbs 6 oz, 19 inches, she’s just a tiny little thing! I was itching to hold my baby again, and we could all tell she was super hungry, too! She latched perfectly and ate for a long time (and then slept for the next 7 hours straight – seriously. Haha.)
Once we got settled into the postpartum unit, Brig left the hospital to go get Sophie. I ordered my first meal – cream of wheat, apple juice, and lots of pebble ice. Cream of wheat just sounded SO good and warm and comforting, haha. Plus a packet of almond butter I brought from home for a little staying power 😉
We had a really sweet couple of hours with Sophie in the hospital and then Brig left to take her home. I cried and cried as she left, wishing I could just come home with them. Spending the night alone in the hospital was no fun at all. Luckily we were able to come home at the 24 hour mark the next day, and it felt so so so good to be all together again.
Olivia is one week old as of yesterday and I can’t even believe it! She’s still so fresh and new, and almost back up to birth weight – 6 lbs 2.5 oz as of her weight check appointment yesterday morning! She nurses so well and is soooo sleepy. She has the sweetest, most peaceful spirit, and is totally unphased by loud noises like Sophie crying, the blender, and the vacuum, haha. She can’t stand to be swaddled, her legs are always folded, and she is allllll about the snuggles. I can’t imagine our family without her and I’m so grateful she came in time for Christmas! We had the perfect day at home making cinnamon rolls for breakfast, taking naps, watching Moana, playing with Sophie’s new little kitchen (she is ELATED!) and reading her new books. Brig made us crepes for dinner with his new crepe griddle and we decided that crepes for dinner on Christmas is going to be a family tradition. I love these people so much.
It’s funny, I had this perfect plan of how everything would go with Olivia’s birth. And truth be told, it went exactly how I wanted it to and I’d do it all again in a heartbeat. Each prayer I offered was answered so specifically and perfectly and though I try not to be grateful that MY will came to fruition, I am grateful that it just so happens that my will and God’s will were the same 🙂 Those can be hard to align, and I especially felt that dissonance towards the end of my pregnancy when I so desperately wanted to be done but knew it was all in God’s hands and timing. But everything played out exactly how it was supposed to. I am just filled with delirious joy, it has just been such a sweet time. My love for Brig has grown SO much in the past week with the birth of our second little girl, I just love watching him as a dad. He has done so much for all of us and has been a tremendous support. We are unbelievably lucky to have him home right now on his winter break from school – the biggest blessing of all, especially since we don’t have family out here.
I feel really, really great. Never been so happy to be so tired, as a wise person once said 😉 Brig is doing everything he can to help me sleep as much as possible and it is truly a lifesaver. Truth be told, I hate sleeping during the day, so I kind of have to force myself to take a nap in the afternoons. Recovery from a vaginal birth is like ten bazillion million times better than a c-section – honestly, I didn’t know it was possible to feel this good after having a baby. My midwife had to sit me down after I had Olivia and be like, “okay, I know that as a VBAC mom you’re feeling on top of the world right now, but please remember that you still did just have a baby and it’s a lot for your body to handle and you need to rest,” which I appreciated and definitely needed to hear. I do want to write more about postpartum in another post, so just know that’s coming in a few weeks 🙂
Oh! I almost forgot. Everyone keeps asking how we decided on her name, and really, we have always just loved the name Olivia. I like that the root of her name is Olive and how it’s a symbol for peace, because peace is such a defining characteristic for her, and we’ve felt that all along. Lu is for me and for my maternal grandmother, Luana. We call her Liv and Livvy and Livvy Lu, and on Christmas – Livvy Lu Who 😉
We love you, sweet girl. I am so glad you’re finally here. I can’t believe it was you all along. Welcome to our family ♡