Eleanor Hazel Rose was born on May 27th at 3:11 p.m. She was 7lbs and 12 oz and 20 inches long. She is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.
On Wednesday night I fell asleep on the couch and I awoke abruptly as I thought I was wetting myself! I jumped up, horrified, and rushed to the bathroom! I was so embarrassed that I did not even mention it to John. I got up every hour that night to use the bathroom because I was so paranoid that I would wet the bed. Also my hips and back ached so badly that I eventually got back up and laid in the recliner. In the morning I did mention to John that I thought the baby was so low that I was having trouble holding my pee. Little did I know that my water had broken and I was slowly leaking! John jokingly said, "You love being pregnant." To which I replied, "At this point I am doing it with love!" I went to work, the last day of the school year!
During the morning I began to suspect that I was leaking fluid and not simply having trouble holding my bladder. I noted a few contractions but I was so busy with the kids and end of the year excitement that I did not have time to take much note of them. I had so much to do! When I got a moment I called my sister in law to tell her that I had now begun wetting my pants. I thought this would amuse her. She said that was how her labor had started and she urged me to call my Midwife. I told her I was going to wait until the end of the school day since we only had a half day of school. But she kind of insisted that I call "just to be sure". After I spoke to her I used the bathroom and noticed a pink tinge when I wiped. I called John and told him and called my sister in law again and then the Midwife.
They suggested that I come in to get checked out. I left school somewhat reluctantly. I did not even really get to say goodbye to my students, which made me a little sad. I told them I would probably be back... and I really assumed I would be. On the way to the Midwife I began to notice that the contractions were coming pretty regularly. While we waited we timed them and they were about 3.5 minutes apart! They did not hurt but they were more intense and I could now feel them in my lower back. Once we were called back to the office my Midwife, Diane, checked me out. Low and behold she confirmed that my waters had broken and I was already 4 cm dilated! I was so surprised and nervous! She was so happy and excited for me! I asked who was on call and they told me Lylaine, whom I really liked. Diane said, "Oh Nora, you are going to have a beautiful birth!"
After they checked me out the water really began to gush. They gave me this HUGE diaper to wear. It was absolutely hilarious. John and I both laughed until we cried over the sight of pregnant me wearing a gigantic diaper. It was exactly what I needed because from then on I was really calm and confident. They hooked me up to a fetal monitor for a bit which confirmed the contractions were about 3 and half minutes a part. Diane told us to go home or out to lunch and relax until the contractions were a little longer and harder to work through. SO we ran an errand to Target to get a nightgown and then hurried home to finish packing up my bag!
Labor was certainly progressing and I began walking and pacing through the house doing odd chores and working through the contractions. This lasted for maybe 45 minutes to an hour. Jason, my brother in law, showed up with my nieces to drop off the labor set list he made for me and I continued to pace until the distraction by the kids was too much. I then got into the shower. I labored in the shower for about 30 minutes or so and the contractions started to become really intense and close together. At one point I thought I might get sick or pass out so I quickly got out and told John that he needed to ask his brother to leave.... NOW. Looking back I was definitely in Transition at this point but labor was happening so quickly I did not quite realize it.
I laid down on the bed and by this time the contractions were so intense that I had to really concentrate on breathing and relaxing to get through them. I remember thinking, "I don't know if I can handle this much longer!" and then answering myself, "You can do this, its not meant to last." I took deep breaths, relaxed my whole body, and then said OM as I exhaled. When John timed them they were so long and close together that it was hard to really tell when they began. We quickly decided to go to the hospital!
When we arrived at the hospital I went into Triage where they check to see if you are in labor. They put us in a small room with a curtain and then left us there for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile I was having some serious contractions. I started to get really agitated that no one was coming to check on me. John started pushing every button on the wall and a nurse rushed back and yelled at him saying, "Don't start pushing buttons back here! Every nurse will come running!" John said, "GOOD! Can someone please check her, she is in labor!" The nurse looked irritated and told me that she was going to check me and then send me walking because there were no labor rooms at that time. I told her, "There is no way I can walk" and she said, "Well you might have to." Then she checked to see how dilated I was. Her eyes got huge and she said, "Oh my honey, you are 10 cm!! Are you feeling the urge to push?" She changed her tune pretty quickly. I said, "I WANT MY MIDWIFE!"
She said, "Your Midwife is in a C-Section right now, she might not make it." This is when I started to get really scared. I did not want to give birth with those crazy nurses. She then said that I was going to have to give birth right there in Triage. I was so afraid they were going to leave me alone again. Just as I was really starting to get worried Lylaine poked her head through the curtain and gave me this huge encouraging smile. Tears came to my eyes. I have never felt more relief in my life. She came in and said, "First things first, lets get rid of all this stuff. She took me off the fetal monitor and helped me out of the hospital gown. I already felt better. She asked me if I wanted to try pushing through the next contraction and I said that I did want to try. She was said, "You just push when you are ready, you already know what to do."
Pushing my baby out was really the most amazing thing. Lylaine said to me during an appointment once, "You already know how to give birth." I thought about this a lot over the past few months and felt very confident that when the time came I would know and surely this was the case. There was something so freeing and beautiful in letting my body take over. I felt very protected and supported by Lylaine and so loved by John. Pushing was hard but also very easy.
Lylaine and John held my legs and I just told them when I was ready to push. Between contractions I relaxed and John and I would speak softly to each other and marvel at all that was happening. We celebrated our last few moments, just the two of us. I was so overwhelmed with love for him, my very best friend. I pushed for about 30 minutes and Lylaine continued to encourage me and rub my back and rinse my face with a cool cloth. With each push I could tell I was making progress by the look on John's face and Lylaine's commentary. As the head began to show she encouraged me to reach down and touch it.
Feeling her head emerge was the most intense and exhilarating feelings I have ever had. They call it the "rim of fire" for a reason but at the same moment I knew that it was good because her head was emerging! John told me later that once her head was out Lylaine grabbed her chin and delivered her shoulders in an instant. John said, "Look down No, there is your baby!" I looked and there she was, half out! Lylaine said, "Go ahead and grab her Nora" And so I delivered or "caught" my baby the rest of the way! I just leaned down and pulled her out and on to my chest.
Breathtaking euphoria overtook me as I held my sweet Eleanor skin to skin for the first time. She let out a short cry and then laid completely alert and serene on my chest. She was totally peaceful. I now fully understand the miracle of childbirth. Diane was so right, we had an amazing and beautiful birth.
I am so thankful for all the Midwives at Bethany Women's Center. They were all so wonderful. I am especially thankful for Diane, who took care of me through most of my pregnancy. She was always so patient, kind, and informative.... and she is from Chicago, which is awesome :) Also, Lylaine was so fantastic. She guided me through the end of my labor with true love and grace.
After the baby was caught and I was all fixed up I said, "You know, that was kinda fun!" This really caught the nurses off guard! Throughout my pregnancy I often joked that my birth plan was "birth ecstasy". I said, "If I shoot for the moon, I will surely land somewhere among the stars!" However, what I really worked on was not being afraid. I focused on empowering myself and being confident that I had the instinct and strength to do what generations of women have done, given birth naturally. Through the care of my Midwifes, reading (thank you Ina May), mentoring by my good friend Nicole, reflection... and a fantastically FAST labor, I feel like I truly landed among the stars.