Friday, April 5, 2013

Lydia Elise: A Birth Story

9 days ago our sweet, beautiful, healthy girl joined our family.
Such a wonderful little spirit who we are all so in love with.

Her birth was exactly what I wanted and I feel so blessed.
Here is the whole story so I don't forget any details...

Just like my other babies, I started to have consistent braxton hicks contractions starting around 35 weeks. At my 36 week appointment I was about a fingertip dilated and only 20% effaced, which was disappointing because with Brielle at the same point I was 2 cm and 60% effaced. So I stayed on my feet as much as I could, went on walks, did squats and anything else I could to help me start progressing ahead of time. I would have inconsistent runs of contractions pretty often and at 36 1/2 weeks I had contractions about 5-7 minutes a part starting when we put the kids to bed at 7 pm, I noticed them during the night and they continued through the next day. They got closer together around 3pm and about 4pm, I called the doctor. They said it was too late for them to check me, but wanted me to go into the hospital to make sure I wasn't dilating too fast. I decided to wait longer (it's a 45 minute drive one way) and we went to the park to play as a family and feed the ducks. When we got home, I noticed they spaced out and then stopped. At my doctors appointment a couple days past 37 weeks, I was 2 cm and 50% effaced so we knew those contractions were doing something! At that appointment my doctor said she wanted to induce me a couple days early because 1. Liam was 9 1/2 pounds on his due date and 2. I progressed really fast with Brielle (I went from 5 cm to complete/crowing in 30 minutes) and she didn't want to risk anything since we live so far from the hospital. Like I said here, I didn't think either would happen again, but I wanted to not take any chances, just in case.
However, at this point I started to have some serious doubts about being induced. Even though I was induced with Brielle and it was a very positive experience, I still felt very unsettled. It was on my mind a lot and I wasn't sure what to do. I knew I shouldn't go over my due date, but I wanted so bad to go into labor by myself. I did a lot of research on ways to help my body go into labor itself, but I didn't want to do anything too extreme because I really wanted her to come when she was ready. Also at this point I started to feel very unsettled about getting an epidural. With both my kids it significantly slowed my labor down and in my labor with Brielle, the process of getting the epidural was very painful, and my back hurt for about a year afterwards. 
At each appointment from 38-39 weeks I was more dilated and effaced and they set up my induction date for the 27th, which was 2 days before my due date. That also happened to be my birthday and the only day the hospital had available for a scheduled induction. My doctor said all she planned to do was break my water without using pitocin and expected that to throw me into full-blown labor, because once my water broke with my other 2 kids, things went fast
The day before my scheduled induction, I was still having painful, yet inconsistent contractions as I had been experiencing the past week and I had my last appointment. My doctor said I was 3 cm, almost 4cm and she did as much of a membrane sweep as she could without breaking my water. She said Lydia was at a -1 station (basically the farthest she could be without me in active labor) and hoped that sweeping my membranes would jump start things. After my appointment I went to get my hair cut with my mom and then I went on a 20 minute walk with her afterwards while Richard played at the park with the kids. The walk definitely started some painful contractions, but once again, nothing consistent. I also had a bloody show and lost a lot more of my mucus plug. The rest of the day I spent finishing all the last minute things and spending time with Richard and the kids. We bathed the kids, put them to bed, put the carseat in the car, put our bags next to the door, laid out our clothes and went to bed early. We were supposed to be at the hospital at 7am for my induction, and we were all ready
Of course, Liam woke up twice that night, once to go to the bathroom and another time with a bad dream, and after the first time neither Richard or I could go back to sleep. My mind was running with all the things that would happen the next day, plus Lydia was rubbing her head into my cervix and moving around so much, I couldn't sleep because of pain. Then I started noticing contractions. And they were hurting pretty bad, but still very far apart so I didn't think anything of it, because that had been happening almost every night for about a week. Luckily they were so far apart that I was able to sleep during the breaks. Then all of a sudden I woke up and noticed that they were so bad I couldn't lay down through them, and only walking around and breathing made them tolerable. They weren't coming close together (I would guess they were about 7-10 minutes apart, although I never actually timed them), but after 2 of these contractions, I woke Richard up because the intensity of the contractions made me realize, "this is it". In between a contraction I said "Richard, wake up, I am having very painful contractions and this is it. We need to go to the hospital NOW" I looked at the clock and it was 5:00 am. I felt a huge sense of urgency and Richard could see that, so we got ready as fast as we could. I jumped in the shower to see if the warm water would slow them down. They started getting closer together (about 6 minutes I would guess) and the intensity stayed the same. While Richard got in the shower, I went downstairs to blow dry my hair (pausing to breath/concentrate through contractions) and then ran the kids monitor to my parents. My mom was so excited when I told her we were headed to the hospital! By this point, the contractions were getting more painful and we frantically put all our bags into the car, skipped breakfast and sped off at 5:30 am.
The contractions were hurting really bad, but during my break (I think they were about 5-7 minutes apart at this point and never got much closer together the whole time) I started to put my make-up on (we still laugh about this). About 10 minutes into the 45 minute drive, they started to get worse and so Richard called 911 to let them know he was speeding to the hospital and not to pull him over. They told him to call the hospital to warn them so they could get everything ready, and while he was on the phone I had some really bad contractions. He said "my wife is in labor and I am afraid she doesn't have much longer. Please have a room ready. O and she would like an epidural". Once we were about 5 minutes from the hospital the contractions were so bad that I was almost frantic during them, wanting to get out of my seat and walk around and the only thing that made me feel any better was screaming. That was a bad sign. I was desperate to get out of the car and during one of the really bad contractions I screamed "I WANT AN EPIDURAL NOW!" Well  we made it to the hospital in a record time of 30 minutes and I ran in while Richard grabbed our important bags. They had a nurse waiting for us when we got there and she asked if I wanted to stop in the .E.R. for them to deliver me or head up to the O.B. unit. I got into the wheel chair they had ready, yelled "GO!!!!" and pointed forward. They giggled at me and ran me up to the O.B. unit. I had hoped if we got up to the OB unit as soon as possible, I could get an epidural. However, the contractions were so bad and they could tell by how I was acting, it wasn't going to be much longer. 
We got there at a little after 6:00 am, they put us in room 335 and immediately got me on a table to check me during one of the contraction breaks. As she was checking me the nurse said "ummm, I can't find your cervix." I thought that meant I was digressing in my dilation so I threw my head back in defeat and moaned. Richard said "does that mean she is complete?" and as I said "no..." the nurse said "yep, that is exactly what that means. You are totally complete. Honey, you aren't getting an epidural tonight". We were shocked. I had been going through transition in the all made sense now. I was still dressed, so I got into a gown as fast as I could during the break and they started breaking down the bed and getting things ready. I tried to breath through the contractions but it was getting almost impossible. They said they had called my doctor when we called, so she was about 15 minutes away. That was a long, painful wait. But I was so happy my favorite doctor and the one I wanted to deliver me was on call, even though she wasn't supposed to be on call that day. That certainly made the wait worth it.
Once the doctor got there at about 6:15 am, she checked me and confirmed I was totally complete and ready to push. She broke my water and after getting all dressed and ready, I started pushing. This is when I became frantic to be done because I was experiencing pain I had never experienced before. During one of the breaks I managed to say "please help me not tear too much". My awesome doctor said "don't worry dear, I will do everything I can to make sure you don't tear too much". The pain was so bad that I wasn't breathing enough and everyone had to remind me to breath so I wouldn't pass out. At about 6:20 am we were ready to really start pushing (the couple pushes before that was helping her get all the way down into the birth canal because she started at a -1 station) and all of a sudden this beautiful music started to play. We realized it was Richards phone going off for our alarm to wake us up to call the hospital to set up a time to come in and be induced. We all laughed at the irony while they set up the stirrups
Then a little after 6:20 am, I really started to push and her head started to crown. Everyone told me to reach down and touch her head, and when I did, I realized I was close to holding my baby. That helped keep me focused. The doctor coached me through the pushes telling me when to slow down, do small pushes, push hard etc. to help me not tear. At this point the pain was so overwhelming that the only thing I could do to handle the pain, was screaming at the top of my lungs. It was all I could do, and the only thing that helped the pain not be intolerable. I had to go deep into my mind to control myself despite the excruciating pain, and it was an experience I have never had to experience before, and one that is hard to explain. It was so intense, I started to panic and at one point the nurse had to stop me, because she was afraid I was going into shock. I got my breathing under control and everyone said "Mckenna, she is right there! Give us a good hard push and you will be done!" I pushed (and screamed) with everything I had and her head came out, one more push and the rest of her was born. The immediate relief as I saw her little body was more than I can explain. As they laid her on my chest, I was so overcome with happiness that she was here healthy, glad it was over, and so in love.
At 6:33 am1 1/2 hours after contractions started and 33 minutes after getting to the hospital, our beautiful Lydia Elise was born. 
I love that you can see Richard stroking my face. He was such an amazing support.
She cried for about 15 seconds, and then as soon as they put her on my chest and heard my voice, she instantly stopped and just looked around the room and stared at me for a long time. It was the sweetest thing. It was amazing to hold my little girl after dreaming for 9 months what she would look and be like. The doctor said I had a tiny little scrape, and I was so relieved. She said Lydia had a huge head, and was glad/impressed it wasn't any bigger. I held, admired and loved her (and regained my composure haha) for a long time. Then they took her to weigh, measure and examine her. When they put her on the scale, I was so interested to see what it would tell us. The doctor kept mentioning she was big, but I could tell she wasn't as big as Liam. I had thought 8 lbs 14 oz and Richard guessed 9 lbs 5 oz. Well they put her on the scale and she was 9 lbs 2 oz! I was pretty surprised! Another 9+ pound baby! No wonder it hurt so bad!!! And hearing that, I was so relieved that with such a big baby, I only got a "scrape". They measured her and she was 19 1/4 in long and perfect with all their tests. Everyone was very impressed because during all the pokes and prods, she just laid there totally content and never made a peep. She scored a 9 on her apgar test, and was announced a perfect, healthy, big baby girl.
 I was so proud and happy.
As my doctor was leaving we joked about how she was born 30 minutes before we were supposed to start my induction. This girl was determined to be born that day and share a birthday with her mama! Also, she mentioned that I need to make sure I live really close to a hospital from now on because that was too close! She said if my water had broken on it's own, we definitely wouldn't have made it to the hospital. Richard got a little run-down by several nurses on what to do if I don't make it to the hospital next time :)

The kids came later that evening and I was so curious to see how they would react, especially Brielle. They both walked in and when they saw her, they both got this super loving, tender look on their face and just watched her. Then they both got super excited and fell instantly in love. Even though Brielle is only 18 months, she was very soft, gentle and loving towards her. Liam held her for a long time, kissing, stroking and hugging her. He is head over heels in love with her and wants to have her next to him as much as possible. His new favorite thing to do is kiss her and just stare at her while stroking her head. No joke. Richard went home with them to put them to bed and as he left I warned him, he couldn't pull a Matthew Crawley, and had to come back in one piece. He minded me, and we enjoyed the night not sleeping cuddling our baby girl.

I have about 15 other darling pictures of him loving on her. So hard to choose from.
Holding brothers hand
The next afternoon we left the hospital because we missed our babies too much to wait longer, I hate sleeping at the hospital and I felt fine. As soon as we walked in the door Liam came running over and the first thing he said was "where is Lydia?!" The kids loved on her for the rest of the day and were so excited to have her home. They have been so sweet with her and Liam always wants her next to him. Whether he is eating or going to bed (we have had to have several talks with him about how she can't sleep in his bed with him). I am so glad they are both so soft and sweet with her!
3 days old
My recovery this time around has by far, been the best. I left the hospital with no pain meds and never needed them once I got back. By about 4 days postpartum I felt back to normal (of course except very tired from midnight feedings) and healed. My bleeding is pretty much gone and my stomach is almost back to normal (I get so stretched out that normally I still look about 3 months pregnant for the first week or so haha). I have lost more than half of the baby weight at 1 week postpartum as well. So really, it's gone so great. Nursing has been good, except she has a crazy strong suck so I am pretty...sore. And she eats a lot, so like my other kids, my supply is HUGE. That isn't so comfy...

In almost every way, her birth was exactly what I wanted.
I wanted to go into labor on my own: check
I wanted to labor as long as I could before going to the hospital: check (but no choice on that...)
I wanted to not need pitocin: check
I wanted to do it natural and not need the epidural: check (but again, no choice on that)
I wanted to go a little early and definitely before my due date: check
I wanted her to be big, but not too big: check
I wanted my favorite doctor to deliver me: check
I wanted to not tear: check (well my doctor didn't consider it a tear but in her words, a "scrape")
I wanted the least amount of interventions and pokes: check
I wanted to push for less than 15 minutes: check (it was about 10 mins)
I wanted a fast labor: check
I wanted to experience drug, needle and intervention free birth: check
I wanted a healthy baby girl: check

I had this conversation a lot with Richard about wanting the above things, but didn't think that would be possible. I am so grateful it worked out the way it did. It was the most intense and painful 1 1/2 of my entire life, but worth it. And the fact that I was doubting whether or not I should be induced and have an epidural  for a couple weeks before, was a big tender mercy, because I was hoping for that, rather than being disappointed it didn't work out that way. 

She is such a great baby! She never cries, unless she is starving and it is only a cry or two. When she is hungry she just grunts and roots around (which I swear she does all the time). She loves sleeping anywhere...her carseat, swing, bassinet, someones arms, you name it. She eats every 2 hours day or night, which is hard, but I am glad she is getting a lot of milk and my anti-bodies because Brielle has been sick for the past couple days :( So I don't refuse her when she is hungry (plus we love our babies fat! haha) or put her off. The transition to 3 has been much different than I expected. I will write more about that later. 

Truly, it was a wonderful experience and I am so glad she is in our life. 
She is only 9 days old, but I already feel like she has been in our family forever and I don't know what we did without her! 
Like I have said so many times before, we are addicted to having babies. 
In fact, a couple hours after she was born and I was cuddling her, I turned to Richard and said 
"Richard, how are we ever going to stop having babies?? I love this"
Can you blame us??
8 days old


  1. Thanks for sharing this McKenna. What a beautiful story. Pain with purpose. I had Maddie without an epidural and I was so glad that I got to experience a natural birth! You are such a strong woman. Thanks for your example!

  2. Congratulatoins, McKenna! She is absolutely gorgeous.

    There is something SO empowering and real about a natural birth. I think you are amazing! I would have been screaming my head off, too, if I had to transition sitting down in a car.

    Can't wait to see more pictures! I love how your older two are so gentle with her - it makes me excited to have another one just to see how my older two will react :)

  3. You make having babies seem so fun, and make motherhood look so easy! Congratulations on your newest addition, I look forward to reading all about her!


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