Saturday, April 18, 2009

Time for some random baby updates

Sadie has started smiling. This is what all you parents were talking about. Words can't describe this feeling. Babywearing is my favorite thing ever!! I'm way too much of a multitasker to not take advantage of wearing Sadie. And while I'm able to clean, cook, walk, read, work on the computer, etc...Sadie reaps the benefits of being close to me (rather than left in a swing or cradle for much of the day). She can hear my heartbeat, smell that I'm nearby, and hear my voice. She sees her surroundings and has the same sensory experiences that I do. What a wonderful way to bond with her AND have the use of both hands! Yay for babywearing!

Cloth diapering is going very well; frankly, better than I expected.

After using disposable diapers for a few weeks after coming home, I finally bit the bullet and started in with my sizable stash of cloth diapers. I told myself I'd give it at least a week and wouldn't be afraid to come out with my tail between my legs and sell my stash on Craig's List if it wasn't working. However, within 24 hours, I was hooked, and so was Brian. We love cloth diapering! Not only for the warm fuzzy feeling we get knowing we're not tossing all those diapers in the trash, but especially because of the money we're saving. It's amazing how many diapers a newborn goes through. Oy! There are times when I go through 3 or 4 diapers in ONE diaper change. How does that happen?

When we found ourselves spending $20 every couple days on diapers, we became pretty motivated to give this cloth thing our best shot....and I'm so glad we did. We couldn't be happier with our decision.

And now I have to brag a bit. I knew that if Sadie was anything like her father, she'd be a big fan of sleep...and is she ever. Of course when we first got home, mom and baby were so mentally and physically exhausted that we did nothing (really, nothing) but sleep for a few weeks. See Sadie on my chest? Lily was also quite happy with this agenda....
All that snoozing must have set the stage for Sadie to be a great sleeper. During the day I nurse her whenever she wants and she sleeps whenever she feels like it. Somehow, though, without really any concerted effort on our part, she's figured out a pretty reliable nighttime schedule. Sadie goes to sleep in our room between 10:30 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. and gets up to nurse between 5:30 a.m. and 6:00 a.m. I'm about to go ahead and call that sleeping through the night. I'm up for about half an hour with her and then I put her back to sleep in her crib (in her room) so she's slowly getting used to sleeping in there too. She'll sleep until 9:30 a.m. or 10:00 a.m. when we'll both get up and start our day. Wow, this is the life. How'd I get so lucky? And she usually even wakes up smiling!

One of our bigger challenges the past couple weeks has been introducing Sadie to a bottle. After exclusive and successful breastfeeding since birth, a bottle at 6 weeeks was somewhat of a rude awakening for her. But, Brian has been very patient and loving with her, and little by little they are forming a feeding relationship too. I've been able to pump so that Sadie will continue to receive only breastmilk until she starts eating solids in several months. I'm thankful that we're making progress with the bottle, as that'll be very important when I go back to work. But for now, it just means that I can leave her for more than a couple hours at a time. And although I don't really want to ever leave her side these days, I did leave her with Brian for the morning today and went to a meeting in downtown Denver. And they did so well together, that I even spent some time at the knitting store before heading home! Hee hee.

Bathtime is so much fun already (for us at least, maybe not quite yet for Sadie)...

A couple weeks ago, Sadie met my oldest and dearest friend, Angela, who came to visit from Boston. It was amazing to watch this woman who I have known for 28 (!) years (since we were just babies) hold my daughter.

Sadie attended her first Passover seder. What a joy it was to take our daughter to the Bernsteins to join us in what is one of my favorite nights of the year.

And of course she had a role to play in our reenactment of the Passover story....

Last weekend, Sadie met her great-grandpa Peterson, who came to visit us from Holdrege, Nebraska. Grandpa Peterson was so happy to meet his first great-grandchild.

What a wonderful thing to have four generations of Petersons together in our home.

We also were able to celebrate Sadie's first Easter with the Petersons

Life has changed a lot. It's wonderfully busy and joyous. And now Sadie and I are gearing up for her first airplane trip. Florida, here we come!!!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Hello Again

Well, I've been away from my blog for a lot longer than I expected...but all my writing and posting time has pretty much been taken up by working on my birth story. I've finally posted it below. Warning: it's VERY LONG! (Just like my labor:)

Now I can get back to the business of blogging. Expect to see LOTS of news about Sadie Caroline. She's amazing and I am more in love with her than I ever thought possible. Every day is a new adventure with her, and I'll do my best amidst the business of motherhood to keep things up to date here.

Birth Story

Sadie Caroline Peterson was born on February 18, 2009 at 9:15 a.m. She weighed 6 pounds, 5 ounces and was 19.5 inches long.

On Friday, February 13th, I worked all day at my office and by the end of the day had met with my coworkers and discussed the status of several projects I manage. I think I knew that I wouldn’t be back in the office the following Monday. Needless to say, I was very anxious to have my baby.

When I started considering my childbirth options, early in my pregnancy, I wondered if I would become more nervous about the labor and delivery as the time neared. However, as my pregnancy progressed, I found myself feeling more and more confident about my ability to naturally deliver this baby. I wasn’t filled with doubts about my capabilities or strength. I had complete faith that I was ready for the challenge ahead. And I was just excited to get started!

On Saturday, Valentines Day, I spent the day relaxing at home watching movies. Brian was so thoughtful and gave me a gift certificate for a massage at my favorite spa in Castle Rock for after the baby arrived.

For several weeks I had been doing everything in my power to rest, relax, and conserve energy. I knew that the worst thing I could do for myself would be to go into labor already feeling tired.

Brian and I have never made a big deal about Valentines Day, and considered just staying in that night. Then we thought maybe we would go to Chili’s (romantic, I know). At the last minute, we made a reservation at Siena, one of the nicer restaurants in Castle Rock. I had a glass of red wine and a delicious meal. We joked that this would be our “last supper”. During the day, and a couple times during supper, I had been feeling slightly “crampy” but didn’t want to jump to any conclusions and I don’t think I even told Brian.

By this point, I was determined to go into labor this weekend. Brian and I had sex when we got home from dinner, and as it’s known to do, that kick-started my labor. Within a couple hours I was pretty sure I was having contractions. I knew that they were contractions because there was a definite beginning and an end, and the discomfort (they weren’t painful, yet…), increased to a peak and then faded. There was no discomfort in between contractions. Exactly what my midwives told me it would feel like. I was so excited!!! But I knew that what I needed to do most was go to bed and get some sleep while I could. We finished watching TV and got in bed.

I don’t remember sleeping at all that night. I continued to have contractions that were uncomfortable enough that I couldn’t sleep through them. I had always heard that during early labor you’d be able to continue doing whatever you were doing through a contraction. That definitely wasn’t the case for me. From the very beginning, I had to stop what I was doing and breathe through each contraction. Thankfully, at that point I was able to lie down through them. At some point I got up and took a bath, and I used that time to reflect on the journey I was about to begin. I focused on what I knew about birth, about my body, and on the joy I felt that I would soon meet my daughter. I kept my thoughts calm and positive.

After my bath I thought I’d time the contractions to see if they were regularly spaced. I went downstairs and timed them on The contractions were about 7-10 minutes apart for the rest of the night. I finished packing up a few things that weren’t in my suitcase yet and tried to sleep…unsuccessfully. There just wasn’t enough time in between contractions, and they were too uncomfortable to sleep through.

Brian woke up a couple times throughout the night, but I encouraged him to go back to sleep…I was doing fine on my own at that point and knew that he also needed his sleep for the work ahead.

On Sunday, we spent the day watching movies and just trying to be restful. Nothing much had changed by that point. I continued to have contractions spaced 5-10 minutes apart. By Sunday I wasn’t able to lie down through contractions, but I could lean forward on the couch. I took a couple hot baths during the day and again used that time to focus my thoughts.

By Sunday night, my contractions were spaced about 5-7 minutes apart and were becoming more uncomfortable. I was starting to need to breathe much more heavily and vocalize through each contraction. I spent the night either in the bathtub or downstairs timing contractions on the computer. I wasn’t able to sit through them anymore and would have to stand up and lean on the counter every time. I found that I could sit at the dining room table and lean my head against the back of the chair and nod off for a couple minutes before another contraction would start and I’d have to get up and go to the kitchen counter.

Happily, I hadn’t lost my appetite at this point and had been eating and drinking like a champ since my labor started. This was very important for keeping my energy up for what was to come.

Monday morning I called my doula, Brandy, to let her know that it looked like I was in labor. After describing everything to her, she said it sounded like it might just be “pre-labor”, which I knew meant that this might not be the real thing. Sometimes pre-labor can die off for several days or even weeks before real labor begins! I was seriously hoping that wasn’t the case…I was ready for this baby to be born! Brandy told me to call her again when things changed. Although she couldn’t really tell me what that meant, she said that I would know when things got to the next level, and that the contractions would definitely be longer, stronger, and closer together.

I spent the day on the couch watching TV and movies, which helped the time pass. Every 5 minutes I’d walk to the front door, hold onto the doorknob, and breathe through a contraction. Brian was in charge of turning the volume down because it would annoy me so much to hear the TV in the middle of a contraction. The contractions were holding steady at about 5 minutes apart, and were between 45 seconds and a minute long.

Brian went out to run a couple errands and I used this time to call my mom and let her know that I was in labor. We had consciously waited that long to tell our families what was happening because I was wary of feeling like a “watched pot”. I continued to labor downstairs for the day and continued to eat and drink. Monday night Brian went to bed to try and get a little sleep while I continued to labor on my own in our bathroom. The contractions were starting to be very painful and were requiring a lot of effort to get through. At some point, I realized that I needed help getting through each one. I was starting to feel panicky as each contraction reached its peak and wasn’t doing a great job of “staying on top of the pain”. Brian got up and started to labor with me.

We timed the contractions for about an hour and a half and they were consistently between 3 and 4 minutes apart and were at least a minute long. We called Brandy and told her that we thought things had gotten to the “next level” and she arrived at our house about an hour later.

I spent the rest of the night and early morning laboring downstairs at the dining room table. I would sit down in between contractions and get up and lean on the chair for each one. Brian and Brandy both helped me focus my breathing through each contraction. At some point during the night we started counting through each contraction in rhythm with my very loud breathing (I would count in my head and Brian and Brandy would count out loud for me). During our childbirth preparation, I had told both of them that I thought counting was going to be very important for me...and that ended up being the technique that I used to focus through the entire labor.

Brandy was concerned that my contractions were somewhat erratically spaced and wanted the labor to become more regular. She had me do nipple stimulation (used to get contractions going) and labor in the shower. Around 5 a.m. on Tuesday, she mentioned that she was concerned that I hadn’t slept since Friday night and that I would be exhausted by the time I got to active labor. She and Brian built an elaborate pillow platform for me on the couch so that I could attempt to lie down through contractions and get some rest. Unfortunately, the contractions were too painful at this point, and lying down didn’t work for long.

I called my midwife around 8 a.m. to discuss my progress. I was thrilled to hear that Nikki, our favorite of the four midwives, was on call that day…we were sure that she would be the one to deliver our baby. Nikki said that I sounded “too happy” to be in active labor and that I was probably experiencing prelabor or early labor. Not necessarily what I wanted to hear, but it didn’t discourage me. I was still feeling very positive and excited at this point, although I was starting to feel the exhaustion setting in after about 70 hours with no sleep. Nikki told me that I could come to the hospital and have my cervix checked to see how dilated I was. She also mentioned that if I wasn’t very far along, they could give me a sleeping pill so that I would be able to come home and get some rest. After discussing things with Brian and Brandy, we decided that Brian and I would head to the hospital. Brian finished getting the car packed and Brandy headed home to wait to hear from us. Brian called our parents and told them we were headed to the hospital and he also texted the ladies who were patiently waiting to light birth candles for me (my three cousins and my best friends Bay, Angela, and Rachel).

I’d been feeling really positive and optimistic the entire labor so far, but for some reason, I sort of lost it when we started pulling out of the driveway. I started crying and feeling scared for the first time. I had been nervous all along about the car ride, because I had heard that laboring in the car sucks, so I think that was part of my breakdown. But I also think this was the first time that I realized things weren’t going quite the way I had envisioned them. I was hoping to labor at home until I was very obviously in active labor. At this point, I didn’t know how far into labor I was “officially”. And I think the exhaustion was definitely factoring into my emotional state.

As we drove out of the neighborhood Brian talked to me until I had calmed down, and before I knew it, a contraction required all my energy. I rode to the hospital on hands and knees in the back seat with my face buried in a blanket, and Brian would count with me through each contraction. Thank goodness I only had about 4 contractions on the 40 minute drive to the hospital. It’s funny to think what passing cars thought of the lady in her pajamas with her ass in the air.

I was so relieved to get to the hospital and that the car ride wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I had a contraction in the parking lot, one in the bathroom in the lobby, and one while we waited to be admitted to triage around 10:45 a.m. on Monday. Sadie’s heartbeat sounded great, and my blood pressure looked good. Nikki checked my cervix and I was THRILLED to hear that I was already 4 cm dilated, 80% effaced, and the baby was at a -1 station! After bracing myself for only being 1 or 2 cm along, this was great news. Nikki stripped my membranes (separating the amniotic sac from the wall of my uterus) to get labor going more steadily and we checked into our room.

I definitely got a boost of energy from hearing about my progress and just changing environments. From the moment we visited this hospital during my pregnancy, I felt genuinely excited about laboring there. The labor room was big, clean, full of natural light, and we could see Pikes Peak in the distance! We got to work setting the room up for the work ahead. The artwork I had completed during our childbirth classes was hung on the wall, and my birth affirmations were placed where I could continue to refer to them during labor. I changed into comfortable clothes and put on my labor music.

Brandy arrived at the hospital around noon and settled in. She started some aromatherapy in the room and encouraged me to continue direct nipple stimulation. We met the nurses and gave them our birth plan and bag of snacks (bribery).

My mom arrived at the hospital around 1 p.m. and came up to the room to say hi. She walked the halls with me for a while and helped me through several contractions. The rest of our family started arriving at the hospital, but went straight to the waiting room to join my mom. Brian went to get us something to eat, and I continued to walk the halls of the birth center.

At 5 p.m., I noticed a slight trickle of fluid down my leg, and we quickly realized that my water had broken! The midwives confirmed that it was amniotic fluid, and we were all excited! This was progress and a good sign that my labor was moving along in the right direction.

At this point, things get a little foggy. I got into the rhythm of labor and pretty much lost all sense of time. When the sun went down, we lowered the shades in the room and kept the lights very low. It was a very peaceful, quiet, and comfortable environment to labor in. The contractions were intensely painful by this point and required all my effort to get through. I was examined again at 7 p.m. and found to be 5-6 cm dilated. I labored in the tub and the shower, as well as walking around the room. At 10 p.m. I was checked again and found to be 7 cm dilated. Slow progress, but progress.

At some point, Nikki stated that I would for sure be having this baby by the time her shift ended at 7 a.m. Brian and I laughed at how ridiculous this sounded. OF COURSE! 7 a.m. was so far away!

The contractions were quite painful at this point, and I was beginning to vocalize loudly through them. Brian and Brandy would remind me to keep my voice low…when it got high pitched, I would panic and get scared of the pain. Breathing, counting, and keeping my voice low was all I could think about. I would focus on one contraction at a time and didn’t ever think about how long I’d been laboring for or how long I might still have to go.

Just before midnight I was checked again and found to be 9 cm dilated. I think I experienced some of the typical symptoms of being in transition: shaky, slightly nauseous, etc. My vocalizations were starting to sound somewhat “grunty” which I was hoping meant I was getting ready to push before too long. I was still able to take sips of water between each contraction and with a lot of effort, was able to stay on top of the pain.

An hour later, I was at 9 cm and the midwife broke the remaining bag of waters. During this long night of laboring, I definitely used hot water as a pain management technique. Brian joined me in the shower to help me through contractions, and I took several hot baths.

Many people knew of my plan for a waterbirth, where our baby would actually be delivered underwater in a birthing tub. Interestingly enough, even if I had delivered Sadie vaginally, I may not have been able to have a waterbirth. Every time I got in hot water it would slow my contractions down (which is unusual once you’re in active labor). I believe that my body and my baby knew we needed to rest, and would take advantage of my more relaxed state in hot water to slow down and re-energize.

I got out of the tub just before 4 a.m. and noticed the clock for the first time all night. I remember saying, “How the hell did it end up being 4 a.m.?” But even then, it didn’t occur to me that this was taking WAY too long.
When I was examined again at 4 a.m., I was 9 ½ cm dilated and the baby had moved to a +1 station in my pelvis. The midwife pushed the remaining cervix out of the way and I began pushing after almost 80 hours of contractions. I was so excited! I was going to meet my baby soon!

My birth plan specified very clearly that I only wanted to push when I felt the urge, and I didn’t want any coaching during the pushing phase. However, by this point, I was so exhausted that I told the midwife, Brandy, and the nurse that I was going to need some help knowing how and when to push.

I’d heard that for many women, the pushing phase is a relief after contractions, and that pushing actually feels good. Unfortunately this was not the case for me. Pushing wasn’t necessarily painful, but was SUCH HARD WORK!!! The effort required to effectively push was frankly worse than the intense pain of contractions. My support team was awesome and talked me through each contraction, encouraging me to push with all my might. This is when I consciously had to go deep inside myself and find strength that I seriously didn’t think I had. I would be pushing as hard as I thought was humanly possible, and the midwife would tell me I had to push twice as hard as that!! And I would somehow!

I pushed in several positions…on the toilet, on the bed, on my hands and knees, and in the bathtub. Several people have asked me why I kept pushing for so long. First of all, I had no idea how much time was passing…I was absolutely in the moment at that point. Secondly, and most importantly, I was sure that at some point very soon, I would deliver my baby. With each push, I expected to hear the midwife say, “I see the head…two more pushes and you’ll be meeting your baby”. It never occurred to me that it wasn’t going to end that way. In my mind, you labor until you’re completely dilated, then you push your baby out. At this point, with how far along I was, I never considered that this baby wasn’t going to arrive as planned.

I think things started to get tough for Brian at this point too. He was exhausted from not getting any sleep for a few days. He had been on his feet, by my side, since the moment we arrived at the hospital. He would rest briefly between contractions, but as soon as a contraction started, I would go to him, and hang on for dear life. As the pushing phase progressed and my physical and mental exhaustion got to new levels, I started becoming somewhat delirious and saying things to him that didn’t make any sense. I also got to the point where I would pretty much black out between each push. I know that watching me get to this point was starting to wear on Brian and I’m glad that at one point he stepped out of the room when things got too overwhelming for him.

At 7 a.m. I was contracting and pushing in the bathtub when Nikki came in to inform me that her shift was over and that Jessica A. would be replacing her as my midwife. I think this was the first moment in 4 days that I felt discouraged. All of a sudden it felt like an eternity ago that we laughed as Nikki predicted that this baby would be born before her shift ended. Now here we were at the end of her shift.

Jessica came into the room as I was getting out of the bathtub and did an exam, only to find that the baby had not progressed through the birth canal at all since I started pushing at 4 a.m. She continued to help me through several pushes and was a great coach.

I know that as my family sat in the waiting room all night, they continued to ask themselves why this process was “allowed” to go on so long. The answer is that I wanted it to. I could have at any point called it quits, but that option never occurred to me. I never once doubted that this neverending process was going to end with me pushing my baby out, so there was no reason for me to stop. And again, I really had no perspective about how long this had all been going on. Secondly, and most importantly, Sadie’s heartbeat and my vital signs had remained strong the entire labor. If at any point her heartrate hadn’t been strong, or my blood pressure had dropped, things would have changed. But up until this point, everything still looked good, so I was allowed to continue as long as I had it in me.

Around 8 a.m. or so, as I continued to push, the nurse was no longer able to get a good heartrate from the external fetal monitor and I was quickly and firmly told to get on my back and that they were going to need to install an internal fetal monitor. Brian didn’t know what this entailed, but I knew this meant they would be screwing a heartrate monitor into the baby’s skull. Brandy quickly explained to me that this wasn’t an intervention that I needed to take time to consider; and that it was absolutely medically necessary in order to make sure the baby was o.k. I have complete trust in Brandy and her statement made me feel at ease about things. Brian explains that once the cord from the internal monitor was visible, he was really able to tell that I was making no progress with each push.

At some point, Jessica started the discussion with me about the lack of progress I was making. She was concerned that my contractions were still spaced a couple minutes apart (rather than right on top of each other like they should be during the pushing phase) and that I wasn’t contracting often enough to move the baby through the birth canal. She was very frank and honest about the fact that I hadn’t made any progress during 4 hours of pushing and that I may need to consider other options.

At this point, if someone asked me if I could have kept pushing I would have absolutely said yes…if I thought it would end with delivery of my baby. Mentally I could have pushed for days if I thought it would work to push the baby out. But once I knew that 4 hours of pushing hadn’t done a thing to move the baby in the right direction, my willingness to keep pushing started to waver. I really did feel like I could keep going, but what would be the point? I asked Jessica to talk to me about my options.

Option 1: Assisted delivery using forceps or a vacuum extractor
Option 2: Receive an epidural so I could rest for a couple hours (due to my extreme exhaustion) and receive pitocin while I slept to increase the frequency of my contractions. Then wake up and push some more
Option 3: C-section

Once these types of interventions are in play, an obstetrician is brought in to consult with the midwives. The OB who came in to talk to me was very respectful of my wishes and I immediately felt safe and comfortable with her. She explained the risks associated with forceps and vacuum delivery and I expressed that this was the option I would like to try. Assisted delivery was on my list of “NO WAY”s going into this labor, but at this point, this seemed like the least of all evils (still allowed me to have a non-medicated, vaginal delivery). After the OB checked me, however, she stated that the baby wasn’t progressed far enough in the birth canal for an assisted delivery to be an option.

The OB and midwife were very honest with me in saying that I needed to rest if I wanted to keep pushing. My pushing was becoming less effective as I became more exhausted. (I wish there was another word to use other than exhausted. I was “exhausted” by Sunday night, two days beforehand, before I even started active labor and before pushing for 4 hours. Exhausted doesn’t even come close to explaining how I was feeling by this point).

We then started talking about the idea of getting an epidural so I could sleep for 2 hours and then continue pushing. In the back of my mind I was thinking, “Two hours of sleep isn’t going to do a damn thing for me…I need two weeks of sleep to regain any energy”. Instinctively I didn’t feel like option 2 was going to work for some reason, and I was inclined to choose to have a c-section. But I hesitated to make this decision. A c-section was my last, worst case, birth scenario, and I just didn’t want to regret not trying every other option available to me before consenting to surgery. I was having a very difficult time sorting through the options and making a decision. The midwife and OB gave Brian and me time to talk through things with Brandy, and Brandy allowed Brian and me to discuss things on our own. Everyone was waiting for me to make a decision, which I was feeling incapable of doing.

At this point, Sadie’s heartbeat was starting to dip slightly during each contraction. This is not too abnormal during birth and isn’t cause for too much worry, as long as it comes back up after the contraction is over. Brandy did mention to me though, that increasing the frequency of my contractions with pitocin may cause problems with the baby since we were already seeing some dips in her heartrate.

When the OB and midwife came back in, I told them that I was having a really hard time deciding what to do. Either option required an anesthesiologist, so they recommended that the anesthesiologist be brought in for me to sign the paperwork, etc. I agreed that this seemed like a good idea and continued discussing the options with my support team. (by the way, I was still pushing every couple minutes during this whole ordeal).

As Sadie’s heartrate continued to waver, the OB looked at me and told me that she honestly felt like a c-section was the best option for me. It was such a relief to have someone just tell me what they thought I should do. The pressure of having to make this decision was very difficult for me, and while I am thankful that everyone was respecting my wishes and allowing me to make the decision on my own, having someone just recommend something lifted a huge weight off my shoulders. I was already feeling like option 2 wasn’t the best idea for me or the baby, so the OB’s confirmation was a great feeling. I never felt like a c-section was being recommended because of anyone’s medical agenda or schedule. I truly felt respected in this recommendation and believed it was the option that would be best for me and for the baby.

I’m not sure if I asked for them to come to our room, or who went and got them, but shortly after I’d consented to a c-section, my mom and Brian’s mom came into the room to see us. I remember talking things over with my mom and explaining to her why I was feeling all right about the c-section. I know that Brian was talking to his mom and was very upset at that point. From talking about things afterwards, I know that he was feeling relieved but also angry that this was the way things were ending up. As he put it, “it’s not fucking fair”. Concur. After all the hard work I had done prenatally, all the work we put into preparing for a natural childbirth, and the extremely long labor we’d been through, it definitely didn’t seem fair that we were ending with a major surgery and the gentle welcome we’d prepared for our daughter wasn’t going to be realized.

At that point, I was too tired and out of it to be feeling much of anything. I don’t think it even occurred to me that this neverending labor was about to be over and I was going to be holding my baby soon. I think at that point I was resigned to experiencing contractions for the rest of my life! Labor had definitely become my new reality over the last 4 days, and in my delusional state I probably just thought things were going to stay that way forever….

There was a lot of activity in the room at that point, but I was just focused on talking to my mom (can’t even really remember what I was saying at that point). All of a sudden I was told that we were leaving the room that instant for the operating room. Sadie’s heartrate had taken a dive (from the 130-150 range to 70) and wasn’t coming back up. Things had changed into more of an emergency situation all of a sudden. I don’t even remember saying goodbye to anyone.

As I was wheeled down the hall, I didn’t even have a chance to reflect on what was going on…I realized that this was happening because of the baby and I instinctively started talking to her. As I went towards the operating room I spoke to her out loud to give her strength and to tell her everything was going to be all right. I knew she needed to hear from her mama to hang on for a few more minutes.

When we got into the operating room they sat me up and took my blood pressure (which kicked in another horrible contraction) and prepped me to receive the spinal anesthesia. It was freezing in the operating room and my entire body started shaking, but as soon as the anesthesia was administered, they wrapped my upper body in warm blankets, which helped a lot. There were so many people in the operating room, it was bright, and not at all the environment I planned to birth my daughter in. However, I felt safe and confident and wasn’t afraid at all. Soon enough, Brian and Brandy came into the room and Brian brought me my birth beads. He put them in my hand and I tried to focus on what they represented to me and to gather strength and peace from them.

People told me I would feel a slight tugging, which I did, and then all of a sudden, a squiggling, bloody little baby was brought around the sheet to where I could see her.

She was immediately taken to a table a few feet from me and Brian was soon called over to cut her umbilical cord, get her footprints, and to help clean her up. Before I knew it, she was wrapped up and Brian was carrying her over to me. Although I couldn’t hold onto her, my hands were free to touch her face, and Brian held her right next to my cheek while I was stitched up. All I wanted in the world was to go to sleep right then. My body and mind had completely shut down the minute I stopped feeling the contractions, but I forced myself to try and keep my eyes open and to be aware of the miracle of my baby’s birth.

At some point the doctor or midwife or Brandy told me that Sadie was in an occiput posterior position, and her head was asynclitic, or turned to the side. At this point, although I couldn’t even begin to process all that I’d been through, I felt an immediate peace in knowing that because of how she was positioned in my pelvis, my birth outcome was the only possible outcome that would have worked for us. Sadie simply was not going to come any further down the birth canal in the position she was in. That’s why I had pushed for SO long without her making any progress. I was also thrilled to hear the OB tell me that I will definitely be able to have a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) for a subsequent delivery. There is nothing structural about my pelvis that will require me to have another c-section. This outcome was simply unique to how Sadie was positioned.

Brian held Sadie next to my face where we could smell and hear each other. Although this wasn’t the immediate skin-to-skin contact I had planned for after a waterbirth, this was the best possible setting for us immediately after her birth. In most hospitals, the baby is taken away from her mother to the nursery immediately after a c-section. I am so thrilled that Sadie and Brian were never out of my sight. It didn’t take long for the doctors to finish with the surgery, and then we all went back to the labor room together. I was immediately propped up in bed and Sadie was placed on my chest and the nurse helped us to try and breastfeed. In accordance with our birth plan, no one but Brian and I held or touched the baby for the first couple hours of her life. After a while, a nurse helped Brian give Sadie her first bath and they weighed and measured her.

For the first couple days after Sadie’s birth, Brian and I were mostly unable to talk about the labor and delivery, even to each other. We were so intensely overwhelmed, both physically and emotionally, by everything we had been through that we couldn’t put words to our feelings. We would both start crying every time we thought about it.

By now we have had a lot of time to process everything and we have spent a lot of time talking to each other and our families and friends about my labor and Sadie’s birth. Although we didn’t welcome her into the world in the way we envisioned, we feel very positive and ecstatic about our experience.

I had many reasons for wanting a natural childbirth. We wanted to give Sadie a gentle entrance to the world and wanted her to be born without drugs in her body. I wanted to experience the power of my body to withstand the pain of childbirth and to witness the natural process of labor. I expected that the natural process of childbirth would be an experience that would significantly impact my relationship with Brian. I anticipated entering motherhood with a feeling of empowerment after successfully enduring an unmedicated labor.

I have come away from this birth experience without any regrets or disappointment. I am so happy that I went through that long labor and pushed for as long as I did, even though it ended with a c-section. I know that I did everything I possibly could to achieve the birth I wanted and that the surgery was absolutely medically necessary.

Although the final moment of Sadie’s birth was not what we planned for, I truly feel that I did experience a natural childbirth. My body progressed to complete dilation and I experienced the overwhelming urge to push. I definitely gained much of what I hoped to from the process.

Although I did receive spinal anesthetic for the surgery, because Sadie was born just moments afterwards, she did not have any drugs in her system. She was alert and active when she was born.

I know that I am stronger than I ever thought I could be after enduring such a long labor. I never once doubted my ability to manage the pain of childbirth.

I got to “labor land”, where all sense of time and place are suspended while you instinctively birth your child…without consciously knowing what to do, your body takes over. I experienced a deep level of communication with my baby.

I went through the hardest work of my entire life with the help of my husband and know that I could not have survived the experience without his support. During the most intense parts of my labor, Brian and I communicated in a very deep and profound way which has taken our relationship to a completely different level.

I believe that the empowerment I gained from this experience has given me the confidence and strength I need to start the journey of motherhood and that our family of three is stronger after going through this amazing birth together.