Stella's Birth Story

On the morning of Tuesday December 1st, I slept in after Lewis went to work and got up around 9am to let Daisie, our dog, out the front door. I was still catching up on rest after hosting Thanksgiving at our house the previous week and quitting work in Chattanooga the Friday before Thanksgiving. I wanted to be well rested to start whittling away on the 2 page long to-do list I had to complete in the next 2 1/2 weeks before Stella got here. By the time I got to the front door though, I had some watery discharge that was too much to be normal....but not the regular gush you'd expect for your water breaking.

I immediately got on the internet to try and look up what this might be and called our doula, Gaylea. I hadn't had any of the strong Braxton-Hicks contractions in several days and thought this couldn’t be the beginning. Gaylea had me lie down for an hour and then stand up and see if the discharge repeated. When it did, she was pretty sure this was a high tear leaking slowly and my water had broken! I was so excited to know I'd be meeting our baby in the next 24-48 hours....but I had a LOT to do to get ready! I didn’t' t have the hospital bag packed, or even a packing list, and had to write up instructions for someone to take care of the dogs since Abbie was paralyzed and needed a lot of care. I worked around the house doing stuff all day. I called Lewis and mom to let them know, I listened to my Hypno-Babies scripts….and waited. NOTHING happened all day and I started to get worried that I would have one of these labors that never really got started and lingered on till I would have to have a C-section because it had been so long.

At 5pm I called Gaylea to let her know pretty much nothing had happened all day. She gave me some exercises and things to do to try and get things going. While I was about to get off the phone with Gaylea though, I felt the slightest cramp and thought “Well at least that's something!... maybe I'll get going after all!” I also called the Vanderbilt midwife group to let them know and they repeated Gaylea's advice. I wanted to stay at home as long as possible to be more comfortable and to avoid any temptation for pain meds or other interventions. We’d put a lot of effort into prepping for a med-free birth, but like many women I still had my doubts about my own pain tolerance level.

I called my sister Kelly around 5:30 to see if she could come over after work to stay with me until Lewis got off work around 6:30. I didn’t want to bug him to come home early or get Gaylea to come to our house yet because I figured I had a long time to go and that it would go slowly if it had taken all day just to get small contractions. From 5 to 6 I just had a few contractions that felt less than a period cramp and didn’t last long. I decided to put Abbie in the tub to get her exercise while I took a shower. With all the bending and stooping I did to try and shave my legs and get Abbie in and out of the tub I guess I helped the tear along because I had a bigger steady trickle of amniotic fluid as I bent over and got Abbie out.

This really seemed to get things going better because I had about six real contractions from 6 to 7pm….enough that I started to keep track of them around 7pm. I called Gaylea back and she suggested I try to relax, even drink a glass of wine to get a little sleep if I could. Thankfully Lewis decided to come home on his own at this point even though I didn’t ask him to. He got to work getting things together and ran out to get the car seat installed while Kelly was helping me with the laundry and getting things packed since I was walking slow and couldn’t bend over. I paced around keeping track of the contractions on a notepad…the following times were noted while I was doing things to get ready. Then Kelly made me a PB&J and a glass of wine that I downed while pacing around the kitchen table using the chairs to lean on when I had a contraction. I then tried to lie down as advised but that lasted all of 30 seconds!... there was no way! The weight and pressure lying down was much more painful!

6:56

7:11

7:27

7:32

7:43

7:50

7:54

8:01

8:08

8:12

8:23

8:31

Somewhere after this I stopped counting and focused on the things we’d learned in Hypnobabies. The contractions were getting intense and Lewis drew up a bath and put on some of the Hypnobabies CD’s. I don’t think either of us really counted the time between some of these contractions listed above or else we might have been a little more proactive. I got in the tub and it felt good to get off my feet for a few minutes since I’d been pacing for a while by then. I leaned over the side of the tub during contractions that were getting closer together and much more intense. I couldn’t do anything but focus on the contractions but it irritated me when no one else was recording them because I didn’t want to lose credit for them! I don’t have the scrap piece of paper Lewis was recording on except for these:

9:54

9:56

10:00

I paced around the bathtub…and then around the bathroom for what seemed like forever. I remember thinking, “How am I going to do this for another day or two!” and “How am I going to sit in a car to get to the hospital!” This timing should have gotten us going to the hospital but I was in a zone…I think Lewis called Gaylea to come to our house somewhere in here.

I was dreading the ride to the hospital. I paced around the bathroom, stiffening my arm and leaning on Lewis’ hand each contraction. During contractions I visualized the “O” from my mouth through my cervix that was described in the Ina May book I’d been reading that week. It worked, maybe a little too well, when around 11:15 I had a different strong contraction that went from me saying “Oooooh” to “UGGGGGGGH” and I felt a “pop” and gush of amniotic fluid as Stella’s head passed my cervix. I didn’t realize this was what was happening at the time, but I knew that sound was my body trying to push now and that got us in the car by 11:20 and on the way to Vanderbilt. Lewis called Gaylea to change plans and just have her meet us there.

My sister Kelly was still at the house helping us the whole way. For a non-medical slightly squeamish type, she was a real trooper in essentially helping me through some of the hardest parts of the labor and witnessing some of the not-so-pretty scene in our bathroom after transition.

The ride to the hospital was really tough!...we made it up our street when Kelly called Lewis to come get my purse with my ID and we backed down the street to get it. It was the longest 20 minute ride of my life and Lewis and I both silently thought maybe we should go to Williamson Medical Center 2 minutes from our house but we kept on to Vanderbilt. I didn’t know if I could make it because my body was now doing the “UGGGGH” contractions to push Stella out on its own. I held myself up by the grab bars the entire ride because sitting was impossible. I had three of those pushy contractions in the car while trying my hardest to relax my muscles and keep it from happening. I kept visualizing telling Stella to “Crawl back up in there and stay a little bit longer baby girl!”

When we got to the ER entry around 11:45, Lewis found a nurse on her smoke break that helped him get me inside. They pushed me right through the metal detectors and up to the check-in desk in a full waiting room. With electronic medical records shared between the midwives and the hospital, we weren’t supposed to have to sign in. But when they started asking questions and showing paperwork I had another big contraction and just let the “UGGGGH” do the talking for me….there was no time for paperwork! I remember noting a few of the stunned looks on people’s faces in the waiting room. Two nurses wheeled me into an office just to make sure Stella wasn’t crowning before they cleared me to head up to labor and delivery. That ride took longer than I wanted….I wanted the nurse to run with me in the wheelchair!

When they wheeled me into the delivery room it was great relief to see Gaylea and the midwife and a bed to deliver on because I was ready! I stripped down, not caring a bit for the first time in my life. Lewis says I tossed the gown they gave me aside to get on the bed quicker. I was so excited after the midwife checked me and said I was at +4 station and that I could push and Gaylea said I would be having my baby “soon, very soon within the hour.” Gaylea had to lend the nurses a hand to get their equipment in place since they weren’t really ready for me and things were going so fast.

I got on the bed and leaned my chest over the vertical back of the bed….the first push felt great! Pushing is actually much easier than trying not to push and really felt like a relief! With the second push her head crowned and then it was out. I felt some burning and said so just to make sure someone else knew what was happening! But even that didn’t hurt really. Then I remember hearing something about her shoulder and thought “oh no…distocia.” But then I heard “Push” when in actuality they’d said “Don’t push” because they were re-arranging her shoulder. That third and final push got her shoulder out without a tear and the nurses told me to look down and bring my beautiful baby girl the rest of the way out and up to my chest. She was so slippery I had to get help to get turned around and lay down with her. She felt amazing lying on my chest and I was the happiest most blessed person in the world at that moment looking into her bright wide awake little eyes! Words really can’t describe how wonderful and perfect that moment felt. Born weighing 6 lbs 1 oz and 19 ½” long, at 12:23 am, December 2nd, 2009…just barely holding out to be born on her mom’s 29th birthday!! What a gift from God!!!

While Stella was laying on me, the nurses did some of the tests they needed and then after a few minutes had passed, they clamped the cord for Dad to cut. She scored a 9 out 10 on both Apgar tests and was a perfectly healthy happy little baby! We got to stay there for an hour or so as I tried to let Stella nurse and my sisters, Erika and Kelly, came in to see us. I couldn’t believe how lucky I was to have Stella…. and to have gotten her after a 6 hour labor with no drugs, no episiotomy, no tears or stitches….virtually unheard of for a first baby….all on my birthday! The nurses and midwife were all surprised by how quickly and easily she came.

After our hour was up, Stella went into her bassinet and I into a wheelchair as they took us over to the recovery rooms and nursery. Stella had to go into the nursery for some tests and shots and then we were all three in our room ready for bed by 3:30am. The nurses offered pain meds, but I felt great and really didn’t need any but took some aspirin just in case I woke up sore. I don’t think I slept a wink that night though…I just listened to the sounds of my little baby next to me most of the night and watched the clock for when the nurse said the McDonalds opened because I was STARVING and they wouldn’t bring breakfast until 8 or 9am. We stayed in the hospital till December 3rd and were so ready to check out that evening and get home. Everything went so well I think we’re both already looking forward to when we get to do it again!

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