I have thought a lot about what our birth story would be like over the course of the pregnancy. It's one of those things that is impossible to predict, as much as you try to. I really thought I would go early with Penelope, that she wouldn't be too big, and that I wouldn't have to worry about a c-section. I even thought that I would have a short-ish labour.
I was basically wrong about everything.
I started getting contractions around 4:00pm on Wednesday, May 15. At this point I was so exhausted and so ready for this baby. We'd already been to the hospital twice that week, thinking the baby might be arriving. I was so disappointed each time I returned from the hospital without the baby. But, finally, I was starting to feel contractions.
I wasn't sure if I was going into labour. I didn't want to get excited. At this point, we'd already scheduled an induction for the following morning. But, I really, really wanted to have the baby without an induction, and had been praying for this for the past few days.
By 5:30pm my contractions were getting much closer together (about 6-minutes apart). They were so painful and concentrated mostly in my back. I still didn't know if I was in labour. As time passed my contractions would get closer together, but then there would be random long pauses. I was so confused and frustrated.
By about 9:00pm my contractions were really close together. I felt like we needed to page our midwife soon, but I held off a bit more. Suddenly, I was getting contractions on top of each other (like...90 seconds apart). I paged my midwife and talked to her for about 6-minutes, but I didn't get any contractions! I was so confused, so we decided to wait an hour and see what happens. An hour later, I paged my midwife and told her I needed to get to the hospital, the pain was unbearable and the contractions were very close.
The drive to the hospital was agony. We finally got in, and I prayed to God that I'd be "for sure" in labour and 5cm dilated. A few minutes later my midwife told me my cervix was fully effaced, and I was 5cm!
I continued to labour through my contractions. The only position I could really endure was either bending over the bed, or getting on all fours. My back was on fire and the pain was pretty intense. I asked for an epidural around 12:30am. By 1:30am I was begging for it. Finally by 2:30am my epidural was in place. Suprisingly, I felt no pain when receiving the epidural. The anasteseoligist told me that she was able to administer the epidural really quickly, and was surprised because my short stature did not make it easy.
It took about 45-minutes, but the pain slowly subsided. I could feel the contractions still, but was able to close my eyes and rest. My midwife broke my water about 3:30am to speed up labour. My contractions had slowed significantly, and I was only dilated to 6cm. Finally, the decision was made to start me on oxytocin around 9:30am. Quickly I began feeling the contractions more intensely. As they continued to up my dosage I felt the pain more and more. It was almost equal to the pain I experienced before the epidural, but this time I had to lay on my side since I couldn't get up.
During this time I had multiple visits from the doctors at the hospital. My baby was looking quite big, and they were worried about a vaginal delivery. I wasn't dilating. My contractions weren't consistant. The baby also hadn't turned, which was why I experienced so much pressure on my spine. Never in my life was I more annoyed that my genes had basically doomed me to a height of 4'11. Continually I was told that I was short and this baby was big.
Finally, at about 1:30 they checked my cervix. I knew that if I wasn't dilated much further that I would have to have a c-section. I was so emotionally and physically drained that the prospect of pushing this baby out was daunting. I didn't think I could do it.
The midwife checked my cervix, and I was 10cm dilated, and the baby's head was..."right there" as she put it. I could see the surprise and relief on everybody's face. I was so overwhelmed. "So I can start pushing now?" I asked. The midwives offered to let me nap first to get my strength up. They knew this wasn't going to be an easy delivery. I didn't want to wait. I was ready. I started pushing on my own as they got things ready, and managed to bring the baby down further.
The baby's heart-rate started to slow down as I pushed. The midwives asked me to stop pushing. Her heart-rate was very erratic and they wanted to get a specialist to do the delivery. We waited while the head obstetrician at the hospital finished a c-section. about 20-minutes later she arrived (around 2:00pm). She told me that we needed to get this baby out quickly. I was terrified. I heard first time babies can take 3-hours to deliver. But, I was determined to push my daughter out as quickly as possible. I asked for a mirror, and even I'll be traumatized for life, I think that the mirror is what helped me to get Penelope into this world in about 30-minutes.
Pushing was mentally exhausting, but not so much physically painful. I needed to get my daughter into my arms safely. I delivered our daughter, but it took 2 midwives, an exceptional doctor, my mother, and my amazing, wonderful, nurturing husband to all coach me through the process. I'm forever grateful for each of these people.
The head took the longest to emerge, and quickly we realized that the cord was wrapped around my baby girl's neck. I was terrified. Later I learned that the cord was wrapped around her neck twice, but thanks to some very skilled people she was safely delivered. She also had a mild case of shoulder dystocia, which can result in a medical emergency (but, thank the Lord, didn't!)
When my daughter was born the doctors whisked her away to be checked over. My heart broke when they carried my baby away from me. I told my husband to go see his daughter. We finally heard her cry and breathed a sigh of relief. She was finally placed on my chest, but was returned again to remove some fluid from her lungs. It took awhile for me to finally have some time alone with my daughter, but I was so overcome with emotion to have her safely in my arms. I was so thankful to the Lord for this precious little miracle.
Penelope is now almost 4-days-old. She is healthy and happy. She feeds really well. She loves to be held. She sleeps peacefully. She is beautiful. She looks like her Daddy and each time I see her my heart melts. Her birth was tiring, and at times terrifying, but I would do it all over again for this precious child.
my sweet little Penelope, you were worth the wait and we love you more than words could ever express!