Thursday, February 6, 2020

The Day Vera Was Born.

I've never written a birth story before. I honestly never felt that inclined to share them. I mean, of COURSE they had a significant meaning and they were amazing experiences, but I never had the urge to share. They were mine to hold onto. But I wanted to share this last one with you as I grew from this experience. It was more than just a painful experience that I wanted to get over with to meet a sweet baby face. It was such a wonderful story.

Each of my children have taught me lessons. A little back story on my last two deliveries:

Scarlett was my first and I was in labor about 14 hours with her from the time that I got to the hospital. She came over a week early. I started having mild contractions with her that grew stronger overnight. By 5am I wanted to go to the hospital. I thought, I must be 1/2 way there by now! When we got there, I was only about 3-4 cm. What a defeating feeling hearing the nurse say that...They broke my water and the pain immediately went from "I can tough it out" to "Get the epidural man now!" I've never considered myself one with a high pain tolerance and I never had a set birth plan in mind. I just wanted to do the best I could.  From there, I was pain free and watched Everybody Loves Raymond until I felt the urge to push. Then, I pushed for 45 min and she was born at 7:20 pm that evening. My little Scarlett Cindy was just a perfect angel and I must say, she was such a good baby, toddler, child and still is my good girl. So caring and thoughtful. I hit the lottery with this one as my first. Scarlett taught me how to be a mother. I am grateful for such a good-natured child as my first. So many anxieties and worries with your first. We went through a lot of scares with her from hospital stays to febrile seizures....she definitely broke me in as a parent.

With Maxwell, I was in labor only about 4-5 hours from the time my water broke. He came 5 days late. I had been leaking fluid for 2-3 days but they tested it and said it wasn't amniotic fluid. I think they were wrong since those tests are not 100% accurate. A day or two later and my water broke in a huge gush of water that you only see in movies. I wanted to stay home as long as I could because I didn't want to be in the hospital confined to a bed as I had been with Scarlett for so long. Luckily the hospital was only right around the corner. After my water broke, the contractions came on pretty intense. By the time that I got to the hospital at midnight, I could barely walk in. I couldn't even think straight. I was 5 or 6 cm and when they asked me if I wanted an epidural, in the midst of my most painful contraction yet, I said YES! He was born 4 hours later after 3 pushes. Maxwell Theodore came out a hefty 8 lbs and 12 oz. He is my shy and sensitive Mama's boy. Although, I can say that he definitely came with the "Middle Child" attitude, this boy is so loving at his core and despite giving me a run for my money sometimes, he is such a blessing. Maxwell has taught me patience. Before Maxwell, I never had to adjust my own behavior to teach someone else. With him, I have. I know also understand the term "mama's boy". Because it's true what they say, nothing like a bond between Mama and son.

But the day Vera was born was a little different. We named her Vera Solveig LaFountaine. All of our children have middle names after lost loved ones. Scarlett Cindy is after Tyler's mother who passed away. Maxwell Theodore is after not only my Grandfather, but my father, (who is still here). For those of you wondering how you pronounce her middle name, it's Sohl-vay. Her middle name is after my late Nana from Norway to whom I was very close with and miss dearly. The Scandinavian name, Solveig, means "the strong house" & "daughter of the sun". She is indeed both. My little strong house taught me about strength this time around.

As my 3rd baby, I was well aware of the signs of labor. The day before I felt wonderful! An abundance of hormones must have surged through my body and I was so productive and had a day of accomplishments. Perhaps a little late nesting.  I felt happy and just ready for my little one to come along. But the next morning, I woke up feeling not so great. I had a trickle of water occur that morning,  just like I did with Maxwell. Just a trickle and then that was it. To me, that was a sign that I may be close to my water breaking-perhaps a slow leak. I also noticed what they refer to as the "mucus plug" being lost as well, which I never did with the last two and I knew it was only a matter of time before she came. I begun to have braxton hicks that day. I hadn't had any braxton hicks throughout this entire pregnancy which was also much different than the last 2 pregnancies where I had them throughout the last trimester. But the morning of, they started in. I sat on my exercise ball instead of my office chair for the whole day. It felt more comfortable. I still worked that entire day. After working a full day, I picked up kids and I did some interviews for the gym. I ate a good meal just in case it was the last meal I ate for awhile. I prepped Scarlett for the fact that the baby might be here any day now and that she needs to help out with her brother when the sitter came. She was my good girl, as she ALWAYS is, and helped get her school bag ready, helped her brother get in pj's and fed the dogs.
By days end my "braxton hicks" seemed more like regular contractions where they wrapped from my back around to the front, but they still weren't painful or consistent so I just ignored them. We all went to bed. At midnight, they woke me up. I just changed positions and tried to go back to bed. But I was woken up again at 12:30 and 1pm and thought, maybe these are real contractions this time? You would think by baby #3 that I would know the difference but they didn't come on so intense and all at once like they did with Maxwell. At 2pm we decided to call our sitter and have her come stay the night at the house just in case. She came over and I started to feel like the contractions were indeed, real contractions. When I couldn't talk through them anymore, we decided to head to the hospital and beat the rush hour traffic that was going to hit by 5am. My fear was getting stuck in that traffic, in labor.  No thanks. With how quick Maxwell came, the doctor urged me to get there asap and not fool around.
We arrived at the hospital at about 4am. When we got there, I made Ty sit in the parking lot with me for a bit since I dreaded going in. I'm not sure why but being in the hospital just stresses me out. All the poking and prodding, needles and hospital beds. The less time I had to be in labor at the hospital was good with me. Finally, around 4:20 am I decided we could go inside.
I walked in, up 2 flights of stairs (most of you know how much I hate elevators) lol and into Labor and Delivery. They asked if I was there for a scheduled induction. I said no, I think I'm in labor. I could see the nurses eyeing if to say, You aren't in enough pain to be in labor. 
They sent me into triage where I waited for them to come check me. It seemed like a busy night.  I could hear the nurse in the room next to us,
"You aren't quite in labor yet, we will be sending you home for now." After about 15 min, the nurse finally came in and started on a slew of questions since I had never been to this hospital before. I have now had 3 babies in 3 different states. I guess the trick is to stop moving to new states ;)
She started to prep me for the scenario that I might not stay. I just nodded and smiled. This ain't my first rodeo, lady. After checking me, she made a surprised look and said, "Ok, you're staying! You are 7.5 cm with a bulging bag of water! I'm going to call your doctor and get her in here asap because this could go quickly."

I knew I was in some sort of labor but I didn't feel that they were painful enough to be 7.5! They asked if I wanted an epidural. I had to think for a moment. I looked at Ty for reassurance. I had always wanted to do natural labor but always assumed that I would just get another one since I didn't feel I was strong enough to get through it without. Then I looked at the nurse. She said, "You are walking around and laughing like nothing at almost 8 cm...."
And she was right. I said, "This last time, I'm gonna do this without." After I said it, the most powerful contraction yet came on and I thought "What have I done?" lol.  But I stuck with my decision. They got me checked into my room and called my doctor. By this time it was about 6 am. I wanted to stand because it made the contractions come on stronger and I figured that was helping me progress. The nurses were calling me "Ms. Casual 8 cm" the whole night. They said they rarely see women this far along so calm and controlled. I went from 7.5-9 cm very quickly and with some pretty strong but manageable contractions. I even thought to myself, is labor going to be this easy?!? The doctor then arrived and asked me if I wanted her to break my water. It was inevitable anyhow so I said yes. My water broke very easily as it was leaking somewhat anyhow, just as I had suspected. I just had one cm to go.  Let me tell you, that last hour, from 9 to 10 was excruciating. And I was wrong, labor was NOT going to be that easy. It was certainly unlike anything I have ever endured before. I barely remember it now but I do recall going in and out of it as if I could feel less pain if I wasn't there. An instagram friend sent me some birthing affirmations to listen to. I only listened to them for about 3 days since that was all the time I had but they did indeed help. I repeated them to myself as I zoned out of the pain and focused on the only thing I could control, my mind. When I would have contractions, I focused on not fighting it, but letting is come, accepting it and releasing my tension, relaxing my muscles and the urge to tighten up my body. I envisioned as it was happening that it was slowly working to open up and as the pain would diminish, I was a step closer. Those thoughts were all that got me through that final hour. I don't really remember much else during that last hour.
Once I finally got to just about 10 cm, I recall my body just began pushing on it's own. I couldn't stop it if I tried. I recall pushing the nurse button, the nurse calling for the doctor and them both running in to assume positions. I recall holding under my legs, wrapping around baby and pushing like my life depended on it. Having an epidural with the previous two, I couldn't feel much when I was pushing. It just seemed like I was pushing but didn't really know if it was working. This time, I could FEEL it pushing her down and I could FEEL it working. It was not as painful as I suspected it would be, more just an intensely strong feeling of pressure-almost hard to describe, but also more rewarding than anything I have ever done in my entire life. I recall yelling at one point while I was pushing. They said it was the only time I made any sort of noise throughout the entire process. The nurses said that I was very focused and quiet most of the time. Then I recall regaining my composure once I realized that the only way it was going to end was if I put my entire energy into pushing.  The nurses were amazing and reassured me, giving me direction on what to do again.  All of that happened in just 2 hard pushes over a few minutes. But it felt like it was longer. Most likely because I really FELT it this time and because my contractions were spaced out quite a bit which was nice because I got to rest in between. On the last push, the one that I used every fiber of my body to push her out with, I took a deep breath and just zoned everything else out but the thought of her coming out to meet us.  I felt her head coming down and out...again, it didn't feel painful which I am still surprised by. Maybe natural endorphins and adrenaline mask it. Then another gasp for air and I heard the doctor say, "one more push and her body will be out". With the last push, her body come out.... her cries filled the room. Without a doubt, the most amazing feeling in the world.  As they held her up in the air, I saw her sweet face and thought, there you are. They placed her on me. I tried to pull her closer to me but the doctor reminded me, "Don't pull her too much yet, she's still attached." Ha ha, Oh yes, of course she is. The doctor clamped the cord and handed Ty the scissors.  We saved the cord blood this time so the doctor was busy collecting that. The doctor looked up at Ty at one point and asked, "Are you ok?" He nodded, "Ya, I'm good".   I laughed, "That's just his normal serious look." and we all laughed as it was evident this was true.

Once they put her little body on my chest, the entire world melted away and all I saw, felt and smelled, was this little life that we made. This little being that took so much energy from me over the last 9 months. This little being that made me so sick and so tired for so long. The hardest pregnancy I have had yet. She looked up at me trying to see through the ointment over her little eyes and my heart just exploded. It was if she wanted to say,  "It's me Mama. Thank you for dealing with all the sickness so I could be here. I'm the one you have been waiting for. I'm here. " Her fresh skin and tiny fingers wrapped around me. I will tell you, there is NO other feeling in this entire world that can compare to a moment like this. This little strong house showed me my inner strength. One I didn't know that I had: That I'm not just a girl with a low pain tolerance and that I can do what I set my mind to. She taught me strength in so many ways. I had the strength to get through a crappy pregnancy for 7 out of the 9 months, strength to overcome any of the hardships we dealt with because of it and the strength to welcome her naturally into this world. Something I really didn't think I had the courage to do. I don't think any one birth was better than the other. I don't think that having an epidural the first 2 times made it any less special or important. But I am grateful for the experience this last time.  Vera is my perfect little ending to my family and the perfect beginning to another life. I feel so very blessed.

Dear Vera, you are worth it all. You are my little strong house. Never forget that. 

Love, Mama.

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