Tuesday, September 02, 2008

A star is born

On August 19 at 6:34 p.m. my daughter Aliza Catherine was born. My labor was everything I could have desired. My contractions began around 8 a.m. I was home with Peter and my step-daughter, India. Around 10 a.m. Peter ran to the office and India was my sole support person for a couple hours. I had not expected her to be at my labor, but she was a wonderful addition to the birth team. She was given some instructions by Peter and with much excitement and sense of responsibility, she dutifully recorded the time and duration of every one of my contractions.

When Peter left for work, India and I went hiking with the dog in the hills around the house. She carried a stopwatch and pad of paper (as well as bags and water for us and the dog), and she wrote down every single contraction I had -- the time it began and the duration. When we got home she made sure I took a bath, ate lunch, and drank. Our doula and my parents arrived shortly thereafter. My doula suggested that we go for another walk and again we hiked around my neighborhood -- this time with my doula and my father. When we got back the contractions were much stronger and closer together. My mom and the doula massaged and supported me through these. After a while my father left to go to my sister's house and Peter returned home. My mom, the doula, and Peter massaged, encouraged, and supported me through the contractions. I focused on relaxing through them. It was challenging and painful, but also very beautiful. I was calm and focused. In fact I was so calm and focused throughout that it was not evident when I hit transition. The contractions were long and coming one on top of the other, but I did not exhibit the emotional sign posts of self-doubt, fear, etc.... at least not outwardly. I did have some thoughts and feelings about wanting drugs and feeling overwhelmed by the intensity of the contractions, but I never verbalized them. Whenever a thought came up I used a mantra to counteract them and/or I focused on surrendering to the contractions. I also stayed very calm and rational. During this transition period I started feeling very hot and felt like I needed a shower. I went into the shower and 5 minutes after I got out, I felt an urge to push. At this point, I told everyone that we had to get to the hospital right now. Because I was so calm, Peter and the others did not realize how quickly this child was coming. The one time I found myself getting frustrated and snappy was when, in my opinion, everyone was taking so long to get ready.

Finally we did get everyone and everything into the car and headed to Cedars at 5.45pm. During the ride my contractions were fast, furious, and very painful. I did not feel an urge to push in the car though (I think my body knew to wait until I got to the hospital). When we got to the hospital, the valet parking that we were told to go to during the maternity tour was closed! A nurse told us to go self-park and walk to labor and delivery (she said that if we waited in the emergency room, we would need to wait for at least a half an hour in the waiting room). So we had to find the parking lot, park, and walk to the elevators to get to the 3rd floor labor and delivery! Peter searched, but there were no wheelchairs in sight. So we walked slowly there. My contractions were so strong and close together that I could only take a few steps at a time before a contraction hit. Everyone was afraid I was going to give birth right there in the parking garage!

We finally made it to the third floor and the charge nurse came and led me to the triage room. When I entered the triage room I made a beeline to the bathroom and my water broke. The nurse checked and there was some merconium in my water. She got me on the bed and at this point my urge to push became unbearable. The charge nurse implored me not to push while she did a quick vaginal exam. I was at +2 station. I again said that I had to push. Again she begged me not to push as a doctor and several nurses came rushing into the room. I was hoisted onto a delivery bed and taken across the hall into a L&D room. As they started wheeling me, I started pushing. By the time I was across the hall and the doctors and nurses opened up my legs, the baby was already crowning. One more push and our daughter literally came flying out. It took only 14 minutes from the time we walked into the hospital until the baby was born!

Because of the merconium and that I had tested GBS positive, the umbilical cord was cut right away and the baby was taken to be checked out. In the meantime the doctors pulled out the placenta, stitched me up (I had one small internal tear and needed only one stitch), and got the bleeding under control. The baby was perfect and healthy, and several minutes later they placed her on me for skin to skin contact and nursing. She latched on like a pro and I held her and she suckled for the better part of the next two hours. After that Peter went with her to the nursery and I was moved to my hospital room. Peter and I spent one night in the hospital and the next evening we went home.

The whole labor was a really wonderful experience for me. I spent the vast majority of time at home and was incredibly comfortable, calm and relaxed. The time we spent in the hospital was blessedly short. I learned through this process how wise and amazing my body is. I really listened to my body's desires to move, walk, shower, lie down, drink, pee, and push and everything went smoothly and beautifully. I really did not need drugs, and I never needed anyone telling me what to do (though reminders to relax were very useful).

The whole family came to the hospital after Aliza was born. The room was quite crowded!

Aliza and her big sister India

Aliza on day one