I have not been a committed blogger this past year for a host of reasons but namely because of the fullness of life. Staying home with our four girls is the most rewarding occupation but there is little time to write. So you may not have even known that we were expecting . . . our FIFTH daughter! This pregnancy was definitely the hardest, and when contractions started around week 37, I had a gut feeling this wee little one would arrive much sooner than our others.
And she did.
Here is her birth story . . .
On Wednesday, December 28, I woke up a little before 6 with consecutive contractions. After my 4th contraction in 20 minutes, my instinct said, “Go!” Since our last child was born in an ambulance on the side of the interstate during early morning rush hour traffic and because I had tested positive for group B strep and because we live about an hour from the hospital, I knew I needed to get moving quickly. Daniel’s dad came over to watch the children, and we headed up to Vanderbilt Medical Center in Nashville.
At this point my contractions were not consistent but still coming. I knew I needed to get in 4 hours of antibiotics prior to delivery to protect the baby from infection, but I did not know that I had to be in active labor first. I went to triage where my midwife, Lori, checked me and hooked me up to a baby monitor. The baby was fine but, at 9:30, I was only dilated to a 2 and the baby had not descended very far down the birth canal. Daniel and I walked around the hospital for an hour and I drank a cherry coke but still no change, so we left the hospital with Lori’s advice to call her if I progressed more.
We went to Panera for lunch. I was still having contractions and not much of an appetite but ate. Then, we drove over to Centennial Park and walked around. As we walked,Daniel pointed out all the coots and we even watched a lovely terrapin sunning on a log. I found myself having to stop and squat whenever another wave of contractions hit me. Because it was the week after Christmas, the park was very crowded with locals and tourists, all of which probably thought it odd that this woman in sweats was kneeling down staring at the ground. But I could care less.
After walking around the park twice, we both needed to use the bathroom, so we drove over to McDonald’s where I had to stop and squat again before entering the restaurant. An older employee expressed concern but we assured him I was fine. At this point, contractions were coming much stronger but still not as frequently as I wanted them to before I returned to the hospital. So we drove around West End for awhile before Daniel decided we needed to go to the midwives’ office to be checked. I had several contractions in a row, though, before we entered the office and we ended up leaving and going straight to the hospital. Daniel called Lori to let her know we were heading back.
Back at triage, I was directed over to labor and delivery. Contractions kept coming like waves over me, and my anxiety was beginning to mount as I thought about what lay ahead. Lori checked the baby’s position. At 1:30, I was dilated to a 5, but the baby had already descended significantly since earlier that morning. I felt quite discouraged: I thought for sure I was at least a 7, but Lori assured me that this baby was coming and would come fast.
At this point the L&D nurse started looking for a vein to hook me up to the IV to start the antibiotics. I thought she would never find one, and when she wasn’t able to, another nurse came in and finally set up the meds all while I was contracting. And since I had had a C-section, a doctor and then an intern came in to warn me about the dangers of a VBAC. Why do doctors spew out all the risks of what you’re doing when you’re in the throes of labor? I wanted to punch those men.
As the contractions began to overwhelm me, I had to really focus on what I was doing. I was thankful that I had been meditating on these scriptures and kept repeating “ye though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil” (because I felt like I was truly dying). And, I know this sounds very hippyish, but I kept thinking about what Ina May Gaskin says about how with each contraction the cervix opens a little more until, finally, like a flower, it is fully open. So, I kept visualizing the baby descending and everything opening up until I knew it was time to push.
Ugh, the pushing stage. My least favorite part of labor. So, I told Lori that I thought it was time to push. She checked me: I was fully dilated and ready to go. Still, my water had not broken. At this point, I had expected the nurse and Daniel to help me push. I remembered in past labors how they had held my legs, but no one offered help, so I started panicking, not knowing what to do, until Lori told me to grab my legs and start pushing. I pushed two times when I felt “the ring of fire” and knew the baby was crowning, but I still felt like I wasn’t doing much and began to lose control. Lori calmed me down and helped me refocus. I pushed 1 or 2 more times and out came Eleanor Grace.
Because I only had one vial of antibiotics since labor was so short, we had to stay for 2 nights. Normally, we leave after 24 hours. Fortunately, Eleanor never had any symptoms of infection and passed all of her tests. She is our tiniest baby but we couldn’t be more in love with her. She is truly a blessing from the Lord!
Eleanor Grace – Born December 28, 2016, at 3:52 p.m. –
6 lbs, 9 oz. – 19 1/2 inches