Friday, March 6, 2015

Margot James

A month ago on an early Friday morning, February 6th to be exact, our lives changed forever. But let me back up a little bit.

The Monday a few days prior, I went into the birth center for a checkup since I was now 40 weeks + 3 days pregnant. They checked me saying baby was indeed coming and everything was getting ready for her arrival. I woke up Tuesday morning and told Lee I just didn't feel good. It was the first day I had felt like this. Bad. Icky. Just not normal. I tried to go about my day as I normally would.

Now that the unpacking was done, taxes sent off to our accountant, and the last of my to-do list checked off, it was time to get some meals made and into the freezer for after baby's arrival. Grocery shopping, chopping and prepping kept me busy most the afternoon. It was about 7:30 pm that things got exciting. I started having 'real' contractions, at least I hoped they were. They definitely felt different than the Braxton Hicks I'd been having for weeks now. They were coming every 4-7 minutes apart. We ate dinner, cleaned up, watched a show or two, all the while I kept having these contractions. I kept thinking, is this it? Are these the real deal? I would say something like that to Lee periodically, to which he'd reply, "yah, hmm...I donno babe." Around 11 we started getting ready for bed. They were about five minutes apart at this point. I told Lee that this might be it. Baby might finally be coming. I suggested we gather our things just in case. I text my doula to inform her of what was happening. She said it could be labor, but just to try rest if possible. Sleep. Take a bath. I didn't know how anyone could possibly sleep at a time like this, but I took her bath advice. I ran a bath, trying to stay calm, while Lee put together our birth playlist.  Haha, yes, Lee doesn't plan ahead as much as I do.

We had purchased an exercise/birth ball a week or so prior per request of my chiropractor and midwives, but it had lost some air and needed to be blown up again. Lee decided it was a good time to blow it up, but then the pump broke. So here I am, contractions every five minutes apart, in the bath, while Lee's heading off to Walmart at 2am to get another pump and put gas in the car, just in case. It makes me chuckle to think back on. A good while later he rushes back in with two replacement birth balls/pumps, just in case one of them didn't work. I was still in the same state. By about 4am, we were both exhausted from the anticipation and waiting, me from hours of contractions. We decide to try lay down and rest a bit. I think the contractions stopped around 6am, at which time we both fell asleep for a couple hours. We woke up disappointed, me especially so. I thought that was it. It made me nervous for what the real thing was going to be like because those were intense, so close together, and felt real to me. I was a little bit crushed and a lot exhausted.

Lee went into work late that Wednesday morning and I stayed in my pj's and tried to rest. I finished up a few more freezer meals to keep my mind off things. She was bound to come, eventually. At least that's what everyone kept telling me.

8pm rolled around and we were back in the same boat. Contractions had started up again, but tonight they were ten times more intense. So intense, that there was no question in my mind that this was the real deal. Baby was coming. But they were only coming 4-6 times an hour. It was nice to have more breathing time between them, but man, when one hit, I would grab Lee's hand and squeeze like my life depended on it. This went on. All night long. I text my doula again, and she said to let her know when they got closer together. We waited. I groaned and squeezed his hand, but they never got any closer. I was really exhausted by this point. They tapered off by early morning and again we slept. I awoke still having contractions, but only 2 or 3 an hour. I text my doula again and she said this could be prodromal labor, which is labor that starts and stops, sometimes for days on end.

Suddenly my life felt like the terrible movie Groundhog Day, and I was stuck in this long labor time loop. I couldn't bare the thought of going through this one more night without her actually coming. I was tired physically and emotionally. I was anxious to get to our midwife apt that afternoon. We were scheduled to do a non-stress test and check fluid levels for the baby. Lee picked me up after lunch and we decided to load up our bags just in case.

We headed off to what we thought would be a normal check up. I prayed for good news and that all those hours of contractions were indeed productive. When the midwife walked into the exam room and asked me how I was, I burst into tears. Not good. She's not coming. And these contractions won't stop, or progress. I blubbered on for a bit and she was so sweet and understanding, reassuring me that baby girl was indeed going to come, probably within days. That wasn't what I wanted to hear. Baby was active and sounded great on the non-stress test, and there was plenty of fluid surrounding her. She then checked my cervix and shockingly told us that I was 6cm dilated, 100% effaced, and that baby was coming within hours, for sure by tonight. We both looked at each other completely shocked at the news. I was so relieved. All those hours of contractions had been working. My body was preparing for baby and knowing I was already over halfway there was the best news ever.

The midwife said my body looked like it was in active labor, but my uterus wasn't contracting like it was in active labor. She said it must be resting from all the hard work it had been doing the last 20+ hours. She told us to go grab some lunch, get a quick adjustment at the chiropractor (which was a couple blocks away), and go home for a nap (since we only lived ten minutes away) until contractions picked up. We got the chiro adjustment and lunch parts done, but by that time contractions were coming every six minutes. I called her back and said we were coming in now.

We arrived a couple hours after leaving the appointment, and by then I was dilated to 8cm. We got settled into our room at the birth center and I got into the birthing tub. My husband started our relaxing labor playlist and lit my favorite candle. Our little room felt so homey, peaceful and relaxing. I spent the next 4 hours laboring in the water, working and breathing through contractions. I felt my water break shortly after I got into the tub which excited me.

Time passed more quickly than I imagined four hours taking. It's like I was there but not at the same time. Lee and my doula took turns passing me water and gatorade, and I sipped frequently. I was focused in on my breathing, breathing through the contractions as they came, each one more intense than the last. Each time one came, I squeezed Lee's hand until it was through. The warm water felt good but my low back was feeling so much pressure. The nurse came and checked baby's heart rate frequently, and every time I heard it, it made me want to meet her that much more. Three or so hours in, I was feeling tired and like things should be progressing more quickly than they were. The midwife came in and said she wanted to do a membrane sweet to make sure nothing was blocking baby from coming. They helped me out of the tub and onto the bed. This is where it got really intense.

The next three hours were full of the hardest work I've ever done in my life. Three hours of pushing with all the energy I could muster. I don't think I could have done it without the amazing team around me. My husband was my best cheerleader, right next to my face, whispering encouragement through every single contraction and push. My doula was on my other side, putting cool wash clothes on my forehead, cheering me on as well. The nurse and midwife were amazing at helping me know how to push, but I honestly felt like she was never going to come out.

Midnight came and went and still no baby. As each contraction came and went, I felt like the last bit of energy and will to push drained out of me. I was worried I wouldn't have any left to finish. I knew I had to push this baby out and soon, or I was gonna give up. I gave those last few pushes my very all, and will never forget them all cheering, saying she's coming, she's coming, she's coming! I remember my midwife saying reach your hands down and grab her. I did and pulled my perfectly fresh, new daughter onto my chest and then breathed the biggest sigh of relief. She's here! She's perfect! Lee and I kept looking at each other and then at her in awe. Our daughter was finally in our arms. I will never forget that moment. It was 12:28 am on that unforgettable Friday morning. I instantly felt the sweetest relief sweep over my exhausted, sweaty body. I did it. I had just birthed a little life into the world. It was the hardest, most amazing and rewarding thing I've ever done. I'm still in awe of the whole process and that I actually did it. It's like my whole life as a woman I doubted that I could really do it, deliver a baby naturally, and here I had gone and done just that. I was so proud and so happy that it was over.

We spent the next four hours laying on the bed, soaking up this little life and our first quiet moments as a family of three. At about 5am that morning, we loaded up a car and headed back to our new home and new life.

Miss Margot James, you've already stretched us more than we've ever been stretched, but we love you more than we ever thought possible. We are so amazed and grateful we get to be your parents baby girl.

*All photos compliments of Revival Photography.