Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Her Story

Sweet baby Claire is now four and a half months old.  The other day I was holding her and she looked up at me with one of her many expressions (she does this really cute thing where she really raises her eyebrows REALLY high) and I could tell that she was thinking that it was about time for her to get a little real estate on this almost defunct blog of mine.  So here goes.

On Christmas morning of 2010 while my family was dancing in the kitchen and drinking mimosas (true story...see below) I was trying to keep my mom's awesome breakfast casserole from performing an encore.  I was certain I was pregnant but no place was open in my little hometown to acquire a pregnancy test.  Everything was fuzzy that day.  I was trying to soak in all the details of Cora's second Christmas but I kept imagining another footie-pj clad little one amongst all the bustle.  Rob darted off to the drug store the next morning for a firm confirmation and we immediately shared the news with our family.  Anyone who knows me well knows that I CANNOT keep good news in.

Side note - I cannot believe the difference in Cora from last Christmas to this Christmas.  If the difference is going to be that big every year then I need someone to get me a time-slowing machine immediately!  

First trimester ickies were way worse this time around and caring for a toddler with low energy had its challenges.  Overall though, the pregnancy was smooth and I didn't have any of the problems of last time.   Rob and I opted to use a midwife this time at the OU Health Sciences Center and try to avoid another c-section.  Our midwife was a magical combination of calm sweetness with tons of experience and knowledge.    

Throughout the pregnancy we read books to Cora and tried to explain to her what was happening.  At the end, she went with us to most of our appointments; she began to use toys around the house, like Mardi Gras beads, to listen to the baby's heartbeat and it was adorable.  Up until Claire's birth she still seemed like a baby to me. 

The most difficult part of the pregnancy was enduring the drought-stricken, record heat summer.  I felt like a dried-out, beached whale for most of it.  Nothing like 60 plus 100 degree days of pregnancy and Claire made sure I felt every one of them by coming almost two weeks after my due date.  We went swimming as much as possible (read, everyday) and those last few weeks with my little Corafish as an only child were precious.  Sometime I'll have to blog about how I set the alarm off at a friend's house while using their pool (with their permission) and a police officer almost walked in on a 41 week pregnant lady changing into her swimming tent.  I'm still not sure who was more mortified, but I would put my money on the officer.  

Each day after my due date I began to get more doubtful that I was going to labor spontaneously.  There were several nights when it would seem like something was going to happen only to vanish after a walk around the block.  One night I even felt like I had the full-on flu for several hours but the next morning was back to normal.  Rob and I snuck in a few more date nights and of course a few more trips to the pool.  I wasn't nearly as anxious this time around as I was with Cora.   

After the last of the 100 degree days Claire decided she was ready to make her debut.  It went something like this.  I got up at six a.m. on a Wednesday morning to drive to the city for a non-stress test (common practice after 40 weeks).  Everything with Claire was fine but there were still no signs of labor.  I had a very good "what if" conversation with my midwife and left knowing that I would definitely have a baby in a few days.  I honestly don't even remember what I did for the rest of the day.  I wish I did.

At ten that evening I nagged Rob to clean the bathroom and at around 10:30 my tired head hit the pillow expecting another full night's rest.  A few minutes later a contraction woke me up.  I laid on my side wondering if this could FINALLY be it.  Contractions were coming every two minutes and I was feeling certain this was the real deal.  After a few hours of contractions we called our doula and she said that my voice sounded like it was the real deal.  So much for another full night's rest and I haven't had one since.  

Our doula came over early the next morning.  The midwife did not want me to labor at home on my own too long given the slight, extra risks of a VBAC so around 4 a.m. we headed for the hospital and 13 contractions later arrived to find out I was only a whopping two.  I spent several hours laboring in a tiny, stuffy little triage room until the midwife on duty had mercy and admitted me even though I was only a questionable three.

I'll spare you all the nitty-gritty graphic details of my labor.  Let's just say it wasn't pretty and it turned out to be quite the interventionist birth even though I was using a midwife.  After the first sixteen hours of labor with steady, strong contractions I still hadn't progressed. Finally with the help of pitocin, my midwife doing some manual dilation (I didn't even know that was possible), and an epidural, I dilated to a nine.  My husband, doula, mom and dad, nurses and midwife offered such incredible support.  I felt surrounded by a bubble of love; and that was key to making it through labor and delivery.

Late, late Thursday evening I started having some very strong and painful sensations.  I was shaking, nauseated, and just generally ill.  I hadn't fully dilated but I felt overwhelmed by the need to PUSH!  I was annoyed by the pain because after all I had opted for an epidural.  This was supposed to be a pain-free breeze right?  After further investigation we discovered the medication had run out.  AWESOME!

My midwife urged me to wait another hour or two to push to let Claire descend on her own further but my body was calling an was time for a game-changing was time to push that baby into her new world.  My amazing doula urged my midwife to let me push and she agreed.  My midwife and the nurses place me in a traditional pushing position and after a few tries I knew that was not going to cut it.  I told them that I had sensation back in my legs to let gravity help out a little.  So with the help of everyone they got me into a position on my knees draped over the back of the bed to push.

At this point we were reaching 27 hours and I was starting to doubt that I was going to be able to do it.  I started to panic and worried that I was going to end up with another c-section after all that work.  It was at that point that my midwife told me that Claire had lots of hair and I then knew that I couldn't be too far away.  This mega surge of adrenalin and energy came over me; I had this incredible cheering squad in the room for each push and finally at 1:54 a.m. Claire Frances was born.  She weighed 8 lbs. 12 ozs. and was 21 inches long.  She was this beautiful little blue squishy ball of love.

The room was quite dark except for the overhead lights and all of sudden everything was very peaceful and I had a beautiful new baby on my chest.  Our midwife left the cord intact until it stopped pulsating and Rob cut it.  I felt so lucky have my husband by my side and also my mom and dad in the room.

The next few hours were a blur of elation mixed with exhaustion.  Claire was checked over, I was repaired, pictures were taken and everyone was happy.  Sometime around 5 a.m. we were moved to our room to get some rest.  It was just so dark, quiet and peaceful.  I found myself missing Cora terribly and wished she was with us but took comfort that she was sleeping at Grandma and Grandpa's house.  

Just like that we became a family of four.

The adrenaline was starting to wear off and the exhaustion was setting in, but I was SO happy.   
And Daddy is happy too.
Family of four.  Cora meeting for the first time is probably a post all on its own, but I think I'll just save that to share with her when she is older.

Does this one really need a caption?