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On Thursday at 6:15 p.m., my water broke.

I wrote this account of our baby girl's labor and birth three days after her arrival, and even though it's way more personal than I've gotten so far on the site, I feel compelled to share it as I reflect on my munchkin's first year. Who's getting sappy? { points at self } This girl.

On Thursday at 6:15 p.m., my water broke.

hanging out with the neighbors about 20 minutes after my water broke

We called The Midwife Center, mostly unaware that the rupture of the water started a countdown for us of how the labor needed to progress in order for us to have a "plan A" birth experience (we had plan B and plan C too and were ready for whatever happened...or so we thought). Because The Midwife Center did not offer major medical intervention or pharmaceutical pain management at their location, we basically had to have the baby within 24 hours in order to avoid heading off to the hospital for drug intervention and maybe a Cesarean (plans B and C, respectively)--to avoid infection, etc. Kathy, the midwife on call on Thursday, calmly told us via phone that we had three options at that point:

1) wait and see how labor progresses 2) come into the midwife center right then and start breast pumping to speed labor 3) go to the hospital and begin Pitocin therapy to make sure baby was born within 24 hours

We decided to wait and see. I wasn't yet in labor. No contractions. Nada.

We heading to Eat N Park for dinner and labor contractions began at 7:30 p.m. At first the contractions were mild and about 20-30 minutes apart. We ate, came home, and Jen decided it made the most sense to go to bed early and sleep as much as possible to conserve energy for the heavy labor.

By 7:15 the next morning, contractions were 3 minutes apart and some were lasting 45-70 seconds, and some had double peaks. We figured it was pretty much a good time to call the midwives back and think about heading over to the birthing center. Kathy listened to a couple of contractions and was convinced were far enough along to come into the center to continue.

best prenantal and labor care imaginable. i owe much to kathy, lori and kara, each of whom were present at some point in our labor.

We arrived at the center around 8 a.m. and the midwives said they could tell we were very advanced in our labor, based on the timing and intensity of the contractions. We settled in for our first exam and hit our first big whammy--what looked to everyone very much like "transition" labor (7-10 cm), was actually only 3 cm. Upon further exam, they found that the baby was in a posterior position, which is why the contractions were so intense with little to show for them. My uterus was working overtime, but the baby's head was punching up against my pelvis, preventing the cervix from dilating. We basically had a log jam.

I in excruciating pain but honestly didn't realize how bad it was because I didn't have another birth to compare it to, so I labored on as she had learned in our Bradley classes, even though it was seeming impossible to do at times. After almost sixe hours of different exercises and position changes to correct the baby's position, we had another exam. The midwives seemed to be optimistic because I had been dancing and doing lunges on the stairs, walking, doing pelvic tilt exercises, even eating to keep up her energy.

Everyone was surprised that the last six hours only yielded another cm. 4 now.

We were instructed at that point to try the jacuzzi to see if that helped me relax enough to speed things along. It seemed to work, as my contractions became somehow even more intense, even closer together and were marked by triple peaks lasting 3 minutes at a time. The midwives were cautiously optimistic and I settled in for another exam after two hours  in the tub.

4-5 cm. Super disappointing. And we were running out of time to safely deliver at the center because my water had broken so early the day before. We had only four more hours to basically give birth and still had 5-6 cm to go, plus stage 2 (pushing). At this point, the previously "optional" medical intervention we had been offered became mandatory. Everyone, including the midwives and nurse were clearly bummed by how complicated a labor our very easy pregnancy had become. They all assured us that what we had experienced was far more extreme than a "normal" labor, and that we had worked as hard as anyone could possibly expect us to work.

The ball got rolling for us to head over to Allegheny General Hospital to continue the labor with antibiotics, Pitocin and an epidural. It was, they encouraged us, our best chance at still preserving at least a vaginal birth, but they were very concerned that the baby's position was going to require us to have a Cesarean. We settled into that reality and headed over to the hospital, literally verbally praising and worshiping God the whole drive, regardless of the fear and pain.

The midwives met us there at the hospital to continue with the delivery. They made sure to bump us to the top of the priority list for the anesthesiologists so we didn't have to wait long for the epidural. It was easy to get (though very scary because I was having really tough contractions during the setup...God was faithful to hold them off completely during the insertion), and within a half hour or so, I finally got some relief. This gave Sean tremendous relief too, as he was struggling emotionally with watching me and being unable to do anything to help give relief.

Understatement of the decade: Sean was absolutely AWESOME and even though he says he FELT helpless, I could never ever have gone through it all without him.

i couldn't have done it without him. he didn't leave my side for a second in 27 hours.

After about four hours, we were completely dilated (thanks to the epidural relaxing my pelvis enough to help the baby correct her position) and ready to "labor down"--waiting for the baby to descend a bit. It was only at this point that we were finally assured that a Cesarean was no longer on the table and we were going to be able to have the baby non-surgically.

The epidural was turned way back about two hours before I started pushing so I could feel the contractions and help with the work of delivery. I started pushing at 9:45 p.m. and our beautiful baby girl emerged a half hour later at 10:17 p.m. with no tearing (God's great gift to me after such a tough labor). She was alert, eyes wide open, and turned pink almost immediately. She was crying and anxious for contact! The midwives let Sean call it--IT'S A GIRL! Tears all around, laughter and excitement! All the pain from the last 27 crazy stressful hours were lost as Sean cut the cord and the midwives said "well that's a 10 if ever I saw one" (the hospital didn't give 10 APGAR scores though, so baby girl got a 9/9--still pretty darn good LOL).

it's a girl!

Baby girl was calm and alert as soon as she got good skin-to-skin contact with me. She putzed around to nurse and settled into her new family's love. Photos, more tears, more laughter. Three days later, we're all home and rested (for now), and our sweetie is a nursing champ. She shows no sign of the hard work she did except for a bumpy little head from hitting my pelvis repeatedly for all those early hours.

We are absolutely humbled and grateful for our experience, even the toughest parts. It wasn't in our "plan", but we believe 100% it was God's best for us all for a million reasons. Nothing else matters now that we have our little girl. :)

Winner, winner, chicken dinner!

She's One, I'm Sappy, and You're Lucky

© 2016-17 big {happy} wall. don't steal my stuff. It's unethical + not very nice.