I. is the only child of mine that signaled me with her presence before I even knew I was pregnant. Her conception was somewhat of a surprise. I knew it was possible but didn't think it was likely. While sitting on the couch one afternoon, not thinking about that at all, I had this powerful, indescribable, feeling wash over me that I was pregnant. It was too soon to test, but she let me know she was there. She is a very strong willed individual and has continued to make us aware of her since that day.
Her due date was Aug. 5. I had invited my parents to attend the birth. They lived in Michigan and we lived in Arizona, so they flew out a week before my due date to be sure that they wouldn't miss it. My 3 previous children had been 1 week overdue, 2 days overdue, and 2 days early, in that order, so my midwife and I figured this baby would arrive somewhere between 39-40 weeks since each one seemed to come a few days earlier. I was actually hoping the baby might be born on Aug. 2, my birthday. August in Arizona is beastly hot, and I was ENORMOUS. My parents were helpful with the other kids, and it did give me a bit of a break, but they also watched every breath I took looking for signs of labor. "Is something happening?" I was ready to scream by my due date.
At 40 weeks, the midwife attempted to strip my membranes, but I was only 1 cm dilated so it was difficult to do. Every morning Daryl got me out of bed and walked me around the neighborhood in an attempt to bring on labor. Some days we tried another method of "natural induction" first (blush!) All of this was to no avail. At 41 weeks, the OB was able to strip my membranes successfully. By the next day, nothing had happened and the midwife told me it usually works within 24 hours if it is going to work. I awoke from an afternoon nap depressed, and called a close friend. She suggested I walk laps in the swimming pool. I didn't think anything would come of it, but I went out with the kids and walked in the shallow end while they swam. Suddenly I felt the biggest kick I'd ever felt, literallly almost knocked me over with the buoyancy of the water, which was followed by a familiar POP! I hopped out of the pool and dried off so that I could tell if my water had broken or if it was pool water. It was clearly NOT pool water, so I called my dad to come outside and watch the kids while I went in and called Daryl.
I urged him to hurry home, because it was now about 5:30pm on Friday. Rush hour in the congested Phoenix area can be terrible, and the birthing center was a 30 minute drive in good traffic. By the time he arrived it was 6pm and I'd begun having contractions and wanted to leave. I called Lylaine, my midwife, and got the answering service who said they'd contact her and she'd call me back. Daryl and I left, giving my parents instructions to tell Lylaine that I was on the way and give her my cell phone number.
Traffic wasn't as bad as I feared, and as we got close to our destination, I realized I'd never heard back from Lylaine. I called again, and this time she called right back. She wasn't the midwife on call, but she'd told me she would attend my delivery regardless. She'd just parked at a sports arena, but she said she'd come right away, and that one of the doctors was at the birth center and would let me in. When we arrived, there weren't any cars in the parking lot, so I assumed that the doctor had left and didn't knock on the door. I paced in the parking lot while waiting for Lylaine, who arrived shortly. The doctor was surprised when we walked in together--he was still there waiting for me.
It was now around 7pm. Lylaine checked me and I was 3cm dilated. I was disappointed, hoping to be farther along. There was a jacuzzi tub in my room and I tried it out while Daryl and Lylaine ate popcorn. It didn't help, because I like to pace, so the warm water was very soothing between contractions but once I was having one, I just wanted out. Around 7:30pm Lylaine checked again and I was now 6-7cm. I was disappointed again but she pointed out that it had only been 30 minutes since she last checked!
She suggested we call the family if we wanted them there because she thought we could have a baby in the next hour. We did want them there, so we called. My parents were not initially supportive of having the kids present, but I made it clear I wanted them there and would have someone else bring them if my parents couldn't agree. They had taken a class and seen a film of childbirth to prepare them, and we'd talked about what might happen. When they arrived, Lylaine asked if I wanted them to come in and say hello, and I said no, as I was now in transition. I spent a lot of this time sitting on the toilet, as the squatting position felt really good. When I really started to push, Lylaine insisted I move since she didn't want the baby born in the toilet! She checked, and I still had a lip of cervix, so she told me to stop pushing because she didn't want it to swell. I was upset, didn't feel like I could breathe through any contractions without pushing, so she told me to roll onto my side and see what happened. The change of position worked immediately, and she slid right by the lip and was soon crowning.
We quickly called in my parents and the kids. I smiled and said hi to them when they came in. I had rolled back onto my back in a semi-upright position. I pushed through the next contraction and her head was halfway out. This was very painful, and I told Lylaine, "Just give me an episiotomy! I don't care!" She suggested we wait and see what happened with the next contraction, and I was able to push her head the rest of the way out, and then her body. She was my biggest baby: 10lbs. 15 oz! She had pooped on the way out and had meconium on her legs. Lylaine said if she hadn't done that she'd have been 11 pounds. She was born at 9:09pm. I had one small tear that required one stitch. Unfortunately, the squatting had led to severe hemmorhoids, so I was unable to sit for several weeks even though otherwise I felt great.
The kids had watched quietly, and no one seemed upset by it. Once she was out, they came over to the bed to meet her. It was a very special moment and I am so glad they were there. My parents were totally awed by the experience, never having seen childbirth before or been able to remember it (see previous post). They brought the kids home and put them to bed, and we stayed until about 2am. After they left, Daryl went to Denny's to get us some food, since we hadn't had dinner and I was starving. This particular Denny's had a bar where people were doing karaoke while he waited for the food, which he said was very surreal after just watching me give birth. We ate, and once I'd rested a little I got dressed and we headed home around 2am. The birth center only requires that you stay for 2 hours after delivery if everything is fine. The next day they send a nurse to do a home visit.
My parents had been in Arizona for 2 weeks by the time she was born, and were due to depart the next day. They were able to change their tickets and stay 2 more days. It's a shame I wasn't able to have their help for that 2 weeks, but we did OK. It was very special for them to be there. In the end they thought it was great that the kids were there. They also enjoyed the serene intimate atmosphere of the birth center. I was glad to be able to share Isabel's birth with them.
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