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November 14, 2018

The Birth of Adeline

Towards the end of October 2017, I was 39 weeks pregnant and the contraction were so real. Throughout my pregnancy journey and care (which stated in Nashville, TN), I has been told that my little girl would be arriving on the earlier side. By week 37, I was ready. At week 38, I couldn’t wait any longer. And yet, I was still at home with on and off contractions by week 39. That week, I saw very little sleep and three false alarms (thankfully, the fantastic midwives at The Birth Center talked me through those on the phone). My time that week was full of tweaking my Birthing Hope and Dreams and envisioning my perfect natural birth to come…if only baby girl would get the message! The Thursday before my sweet Adeline was born, I had contractions on and off just like every day prior. I had given up my hopes that she would come early and figured she would have me waiting until 42 weeks (although I prayed hard that I was wrong!). I spent the day wandering Longwood Gardens and eating all the spicy food I could- hey, it was worth the shot even if I did get heartburn. In the back of my mind, I kept thinking about my last appointment which was the day before. At it, I learned that I was hardly effaced and there was no dilation. I was going to be pregnant forever and it would never end; I was sure of it.

That night, I settled in to watch an episode of Project Runway. At the end, I stood up to go to the bathroom and the unthinkable happened…I peed my pants. I had hit the point of pregnancy where I couldn’t even make it to the bathroom. Great. I made my way upstairs, finished going to the bathroom changed. My husband and I watched another show and I got up from bed to use the bathroom again and…I peed my pants again. It was a lot more this time and I just couldn’t help it- I started to cry. My poor husband couldn’t help me- I should be holding my baby and instead, I was peeing my pants every time I stood up. After cleaning myself up again, I laid down with hopes of never needing to pee again. It was about 2 hours later that I was up and, you guessed it, peeing my pants.

At this point, any normal woman who has taken birthing classes would know what was happening. She’d call her midwife and get some rest before labor really got going. I was not that woman. I cried. I woke my husband up and told him that I peed myself- again!! As lovingly as you could after being woken up by a grown woman who keeps peeing herself, he said, “Sweetie, that’s your water breaking.” I didn’t believe him. That couldn’t happen to me. This was the one night the contractions weren’t keeping me up. It was the one night that I didn’t feel like I should be calling The Birth Center. He convinced me to make the call and after a few minutes of sitting in the nursery, rocking back and forth while on the phone with the on-call midwife, I finally believed it- I’d be meeting my girl soon! I was given instructions to rest because I had a big task ahead of me.

The next morning, my husband stayed home from work. I was happy it was a Friday—he had all weekend to be with us and our new baby! Around 9 (almost 12 hours after my water had broken/I first “peed” myself) we made our way to The Birth Center. They checked- yep, it was ammonic fluid. Another check- I wasn’t dilated. My effacement was good but there was no dilation. I felt the clock ticking as I watched my hopes and dreams get further and further away. It was time for a non-stress test. I didn’t feel any contractions but they told me they recorded some faint ones. I was sent home with a bottle of castor oil.

Friends, I thank that castor oil but I also hate that castor oil. I’ve had people give me weird looks when I tell them that I took it. I’ve had knowing glances and I have seen eyes full of sympathy. All I have to say is that the castor oil worked. No need for details. I had my pineapple/mango/castor oil smoothie at noon. By 2 o’clock, my contractions had picked up and within 2 hours, we were headed to The Birth Center.

When we got there, I had the pleasure of getting checked in by Julie. She told me I was about 1-2 cm dilated but she didn’t seem worried so I wasn’t. I sat on my yoga ball, I walked and I tried to keep my spirits high. The contractions were getting stronger, longer and more frequent. Surely my body was getting ready. It was about 7 PM when I was checked again, this time by Sheila. I wish I knew when she took over but time got pretty blurry for me. I still wasn’t dilated more than 2 cm and everything hurt- I couldn’t walk, stand or lay without crushing pain in my hips. I kept apologizing and shaking. Shelia was amazing. She calmed me, she recommended positions and did everything she could to help. It was her idea to move to Bryn Mawr hospital around 10 or 11 PM. My water had broken 24 hours previously and my body couldn’t do what it needed. She was kind and encouraging about the switch and she never left my side.

We drove over and were checked in quickly. I remember crying, trying to walk and being scared of the epidural. Shelia was always there, saying exactly what I needed to hear. She didn’t judge and I never felt unsafe. After finally getting my epidural, it wasn’t long before I was full of the “sleepy ha-ha’s”. I drifted off to sleep with my husband close by in a chair. It wasn’t what I pictured but at this point, I just wanted to hold my baby.

After a few hours, Shelia woke me to do a check. I told her there was no need- all my contractions had stopped. She laughed and told me they were as strong as ever- the epidural was doing its job! It relaxed me and gave me the much needed rest my body needed and- guess what! I was dilated! Time to push!

I looked Shelia in the eyes and told her, just as I was to start to push, that I trusted her and would only push if she told me to. I couldn’t feel anything, I was scared, and I was relaying on her. Between the excellent help of Shelia, my husband and a nurse, I pushed for about 3 hours. I vomited, I pooped (thanks, castor oil) but I was doing it. It wasn’t like what I thought it would be but it was still wonderful, empowering and beautiful. Five minutes before my dear Adeline arrived, I was told that if she wasn’t out in 5 minutes, the doctor would be called in. Oh, I made sure she was out!! The cord was around her neck and so they needed to quickly take her away to examine her but soon, she was back with me. My precious little girl, born at 7:09 AM the morning of 40 weeks.

Birth wasn’t what I thought it would be. It wasn’t perfect and it wasn’t always a glorious event in the way I envisioned it. It was messy and scary and was easily the hardest thing I have ever done. It was also empowering and beautiful in ways I can’t describe. I did it- I grew and delivered a beautiful baby girl who gives the biggest smiles, still adores nursing and loves to run around. Every time I look at her, I remember the days, hours and moments leading up to holding her. I had hopes and dreams but my experience far exceeded them. “The perfect birth” doesn’t look the same for every baby let alone every woman but every birth sure is perfect.