Saturday, March 27, 2010

Lauren Jade's Birth Story - Part Finale

Warning: There's HEAVY discussion of uteri and birth canals approaching. If you're a boy (which I highly doubt), feel free to take cover. If you're a squeamish girl, you should stay; it's really not that bad. In fact, it's quite awesome.


I knew I wasn't supposed to be pushing yet, but each contraction brought more and more pressure, until I couldn't not push. My body had been in control all night, and nothing could stop it from causing me to bear down. Assuming I'd get in trouble for pushing, I tried to hide it. With Justin supporting me (...still -- his poor arms were burning with exhaustion by that point), I squatted down lower and lower until I could push when the contraction begged it of me.

At 2:45, the doctor came in congratulating me on my quick, drug-free labor, and suggested we break my water. He thought that without the buffer of fluid, the baby's head would push my cervix open the rest of the way so I could begin pushing. I agreed -- I wanted to push so badly.

Having my water broken was very simple at first. I felt a small trickle of fluid -- no pain associated with it -- and thought it was done. But then I felt a pop! and a gush and a slam! and was suddenly in the middle of the most crushing pain of my life.

I yelled, and that's putting it nicely. The tender moans and melodic humming I'd previously done couldn't have adequately expressed the deep sensation of the baby's head slamming against my cervix.

And at 3 AM, just like that: I was ready to push. The nurses set up the squat bar as I'd asked them to, and helped me position myself for the final act. I pushed through a couple of contractions that way, but couldn't get enough leverage on the too-high bar to make it comfortable. I sat back and wedged my feet against the bottom of the bars instead, and found my groove.

Pushing wore me out, but it was also very welcome. When I pushed, I felt no pain. I promise. No. Pain. When I stopped to take a deep breath, the pain of the contraction overwhelmed me, but as long as I was pushing, everything was perfect. That's how I knew how long to push, too, because if I stopped too soon it would hurt, so I just kept going. The room went silent around my pushes: silence while I concentrated on pushing, and silence while I rested between contractions. Everything was perfect -- tiring, but perfectly comfortable -- until the baby's head started to crown.

With each push, her head was brought further forward, and I burned in pain. When it got really bad, I finally screamed mid-push, only to be informed by my sweet nurse that it had caused the push to stop working. When I screamed, the good work of bringing her head forward had paused. But when I pushed silently -- not allowing any of my energy to escape in a scream -- her head kept emerging more fully.

They brought in a mirror so I could focus on what my pushes were accomplishing, but I couldn't tell what was going on down there. I knew it was probably magical and wondrous, but if I looked too closely, it just made me more frightened. If it hurt like THIS when only the top of her scalp was visible, how must it feel when her whole HEAD pushed though? So I peeked a couple of times, but for the most part, just closed my eyes and kept pushing.

When the doctor came back in the room, I knew the moment had arrived: my baby was only moments away from being in my arms. My doctor guided me through a few contractions as I tried to push her head out of my body, and told me that this push -- this next push -- would do it.

I gathered every last ounce of my strength and pushed for all I was worth. Not silently, either. Rip-roaringly loud, I screamed, for the entire duration of the push. I was so focused on the push and the pain that I didn't even realize the baby's head was out.

My doctor had to really raise his voice to get my attention. "Sarah! SARAH! Stop pushing! Her head's out! You have to stop now!"

Still heaved forward in my pushing stance, I locked my eyes on my doctor's face and didn't move. My mom and Justin -- who were each holding back one of my legs -- later said that I looked like a crazed person, so intent was I on focusing on my doctor's words. "That's good, Sarah. Breath for just a minute," he soothed. "We're just going to rotate her around and then you can push -- just a bit -- to free her shoulders. OK? Now then. Just a little push."

And almost as soon as I started to push, she was free. My baby was born at 4:00 AM, on her exact due date.

I hollered and cried out in surprise at the feeling of being emptied, but then all I could see was my tiny baby...hollering for herself.

I reached out to bring her to my chest, but she had an uncommonly short umbilical cord (37 cm instead of the usual 60-ish) and she couldn't be lifted from between my legs without Justin cutting the cord, first. But as soon as he did, my daughter was laid on my bare skin, purple and squalling and perfect.

I held her for a good long time while the placenta was being delivered, and then the nurses took her to be weighed and checked over.

My sweet Lauren Jade was perfect: 7 lbs, 13 oz, 20 1/2 inches long.

And I gave birth to her.

I couldn't believe my dream had actually become a reality: I'd had a natural childbirth, and what's more, it was perfect. I'd been fully present and involved in the process, just as I'd wished. The pain of the last few hours vanished into the immediate joy of the birth day. I forgot about the contractions, the crowning, the pushing, and was simply, blissfully happy.

When Lauren was placed back in my arms after only a few minutes away, her warm, new weight filled me with even more happiness than before.

I looked into her deep, blue eyes, snuggling and nursing her for hours.

And I didn't let her go.



Happy Birthday, my littlest sweetheart! We love you more than ever, and watching you grow has blessed us beyond our wildest imaginations. You are magic, Lauren Jade. Pure magic.

13 comments:

  1. Sigh... This was just beautiful. I cried and cheered and stared at Lauren's picture. Happy Birthday, Lauren!

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  2. awwwww! What a little sweetie! And what a wonderful birth story!

    Time to do it again! :)

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  3. I love birth stories! Thank you for sharing :) And happy birthday to your sweet girl!

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  4. Wonderful story, thank you so much for sharing.
    From a professional stand-point I encourage you to share it with anyone considering whether they could/should try to VBAC.

    Happy (early) Birthday, Lauren from one March '08 babe to another!!

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  5. I have loved reading every word of this! I'm so excited for my (first!) baby girl to be born and eagerly anticipate experiencing a natural birth as well :) Thanks for the encouragement!

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  6. Happy Birthday Lauren!!
    Sarah- so good.

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  7. fantastic! what a wonderful story to share with all of us, and your beautiful daughter (one day) :)

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  8. That is a wonderful story. Thank you for taking the time to share the whole thing here.

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  9. This is the first time I've been afraid of childbirth... probably because I know it's coming very soon. Great story, thanks for sharing. I'll definitely be taking the drugs.

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  10. This was so much better than any "Baby Story" TLC could ever show! I'm so happy you were able to have a VBAC! And what a beautiful little girl.

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  11. That's so great that you were able to do the VBAC. But like Chelsea above, I'm not looking forward to giving birth again. :/

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Hmm...And how did that make you FEEL?