Lucy had her two month check up today. Two months! Measuring 23 in long and a whopping 14lbs, 7 oz (which is off the growth charts!) my girl is apparently the breast feeding champion of the world. And after two month I realized it’s either now or never if I’m going to write her birth story. So I chose now.
I spent the morning of Lucy’s due date in Melissa’s Saturday morning yoga class. My son had come a week early, so as far as I was concerned I was already a week overdue. With my 1 cm dilation and 50% effacement I listened to 37-38 week pregnant ladies report of their 4 cm status and thought, “What the hell am I doing here?” I was going to need a little more than savasana to clear away my anxiety.
After eating a case of pineapple, spending every free moment walking, and convinced that sex being the best way to naturally induce labor was a lie perpetuated by men, I woke up Thursday morning still pregnant for yet another postpartum appointment with the midwives at St Francis.
I took my usual morning walk, telling Lucy how wonderful the outside world was (leaving out key details like the 115 degree heat). Despite my frustration I was convinced that Lucy had the benefit of patience and time on her side. We’d been through a lot: not one, but two markers for Downs syndrome; a report that she was too small; a questionable mass growing in my right ovary. It wasn’t a surprise she needed some extra time to collect her thoughts.
So I was shocked when Gene met me with a long face and Leslie asked, “Why do you think you’re still pregnant?” (Which is still the dumbest question anyone has ever asked me). But I was grief stricken when, despite the walking, 5W, evening primrose oil, sex and pounds upon pounds of pineapple I was still only 1 cm dilated and 50% effaced.
Then Leslie dropped the A bomb. Dr Miller was going on vacation and the OB taking his place would not “allow” me to be pregnant two weeks past my due date and I needed a plan B so I could “advocate for myself” with this women.
I had spent the better part of a year doing everything in my power to avoid a second cesarean. Now, a mere five days past my due date, I was finding myself at the mercy of a doctor I’d never met who wanted to induce me yesterday and two midwives who I felt were wimping out on me. My hopes of a VBAC were fading fast with ever moment that passed. I could tell I was a lost cause as far as Leslie was concerned and I would be out of their hands once the induction was administered.
Thank God for doulas! I called McKenzie in a panic and if it weren’t for her I probably would’ve driven frantically to Tennessee in search of Ina May herself. Instead I made an appointment to see an acupuncturist the following day and was reassured that my body was doing exactly what it was suppose to and Lucy would come when she was damn well ready.
I don’t know if acupuncture moved things along, but regardless, it was the most relaxing experience I’d had in ages. It was like floating and there wasn’t a worry in my brain. Keith told me this is called “accustoned.” It was so wonderful I’m surprised it’s legal. Afterwards Don and I had a mini date while our son was with Grandma (Chipotle and a child free stroll around Barnes and Noble). Things were looking up.
Another Saturday came and went and I woke up Sunday still freakin pregnant! My husband was headed to the airport to pick my mom up and I was mentally preparing myself for battle at my next prenatal appointment. That night my mom gave me one of her killer foot rubs and I broke down and had a glass of red wine before bed.
Around 3:30 am I woke up feeling a little sore and thought it was from sleeping on one side for too long. But the aching was coming and going in regular intervals so I went downstairs, made coffee, checked my email and timed the waves for about an hour. They were approximately 15-20 minutes apart. It was finally happening!
I went upstairs and quietly told Don, “Don’t get up, but I just wanted to let you know my contractions started about an hour ago.” Don’t get up?! Ha! Don bounced out of bed and we went downstairs to have some coffee and talk. We put on our shoes and went for a nice 5 am walk while my mom and three year old slept. When we got home an hour and a half later my mom was awake and we let her know that labor had started.
Around 9 am I gave McKenzie the heads up that I was in labor and I’d keep her posted on the progress every hour or so. I went for another walk with my mom. This time the 100-degree heat was kicking in so she brought a cold rag and during contractions I’d lean on her or a fence or the hood of a parked car and she’d rub my lower back.
Thus began the day of laboring around the house. I sat on a birth ball while we ate Subway sandwiches and during contractions would get up and lean on the back of a chair or against the wall and moan. My three year old Owen was a trooper through all of it. He asked his dad and grandma, “Why is mom acting crazy?” and they told him it was because the baby was going to be born soon. This apparently made total sense to him because he said, “OOOhh. Okay” and continued to eat his lunch.
As the contractions got more intense (they were no longer “waves”) I’d get in the shower and the water made everything better. The shower would space the contractions out again and so I’d walk up and down the stairs and then they’d get to about 5-7 minutes apart and I’d get in the shower again… repeat a couple of times.
By 5pm Don had to do the talking on the phone with McKenzie because I wasn’t up for it. I reeeaaaally didn’t want to leave for the hospital yet, but Mom and Don were getting a little anxious and the thought of laboring in the car with the contractions any stronger or closer together sounded like my idea of hell. So we agreed that we’d at least be near the hospital but wouldn’t check in until absolutely necessary.
Once we got to St Francis Don and I walked the parking lot at a snails pace, stopping to let me lean against him during contractions and telling everyone that passed us, yes we were okay, and no we didn’t need a wheel chair. The contractions were about 3-3:30 minutes apart and when we got back to the car (6pm) I threw up. It was time to check in.
Gene was the midwife on call and she checked my progress. After laboring for about 15 hours I was 3-4 centimeters dilated. It was going to be a long night. The nurse hooked up the fetal monitor (this was a mandate by the hospital because of the previous c-section). The monitor was of little consequence to me at that point. I hardly even noticed it. McKenzie would suggest different positions for labor and the nurse simply adjusted the monitor.
At some point Gene suggested getting in the tub. There is something magical about water and this got me through transition. It’s funny to imagine now — me in the tub with Gene checking Lucy’s heart rate with the Doppler ever so often, Mom stroking my hair, Don rubbing my shoulders and McKenzie rubbing my arm and telling me “bring those sounds down Morgan.” It was almost relaxing. I got very quiet, closed my eyes and went deep inside myself…. Until I realized that this was insanity and I told Gene, “I can’t do this! I change my mind!! I want an epidural.” To which McKenzie and Gene said “You ARE doing this Morgan. You are doing fantastic! You’re almost done.” And “You can do this!” (I apologized for this afterwards. Gene laughed out loud and said 9 out of 10 women say the same thing and it usually means they are almost finished).
I got out of the tub and the nurse brought in the birth bar, which I used during the pushing stage. I don’t even know what to say about pushing. Pushing is a huge relief during the contractions. It is also the hardest work I have ever done. I used the bar so I could push standing up and squatting. I pushed against the bar while sitting down. I pushed on my hands and knees. I pushed and pushed and pushed… for two and a half hours.
My eyes were shut tight 99% of the time. I looked up once in between contractions and remember thinking how tired everyone looked. I remember looking up once to check on Owen, who slept through the entire thing on a cot. And I remember opening my eyes and seeing what seemed like a million people dressed in blue, pushing carts covered in blue come into the room and I knew that Gene was telling the truth. It was almost over for real.
My motivation during pushing at first was all of the doctors who have told women that they’re bodies weren’t built for vaginal birth and for all of the women who believed them. Then my motivation was just for Lucy and me. I was so tired and I knew that she was probably hating this as much as I was (being squeezed out of a birth canal doesn’t sound like a good time). I should mention here that my daughter was an absolute rock star. Her heart rate stayed just as strong as ever through all of this.
Gene was amazing. Thanks to her patients (and olive oil) I didn’t have any tearing even with Lucy having her arm up by her head. And by God’s grace all of the people who needed to be present were exactly where they needed to be. My mom was able to witness the birth of her granddaughter and the doctor who was on call that night was the best person to be present for a VBAC who pushed for 2 and a half hours (McKenzie told me she was very supportive of natural, vaginal birth). I guess Lucy knew what she was doing after all.
And she was perfect. An absolutely gorgeous 7 lb. , 8 oz and 21 in. Holding her for the first time, was incredible and I’m so grateful I wasn’t in the same dizzying, drug induced fog I was in when Owen was born. And Owen? He slept through the whole thing despite all the noise I made. What finally woke him up was Lucy’s cries while a nurse weighed her and cleaned her up. I wish I knew what he was thinking at that moment. I’m sure it was pretty wild.
I’ve never been so proud of myself. After 25 hours of labor I felt surprisingly full of energy. Everyone around me looked like a Mac truck had hit them. They say I did all of the work but I feel like they worked just as hard as I did.
Hours later, after moving to our room and taking a shower I noticed my arms were super sore. I couldn’t even lift them about my head. I couldn’t think of why that would be. My mom was like, “You pushed against a bar for over two hours!!” The endorphins your body produces are no joke because I had no idea. Labor land is a real place. I listen to my mom tell me the story and it’s like we were in two different places.
It’s funny how quickly all of this pregnancy and labor business slips from our memory. Just a month ago I told my husband that this was it. No more kids. The last month of pregnancy, the worry, the four days in the hospital holding Lucy under bili lights for jaundice, were all too fresh in my mind despite the infant induced sleep deprivation. And now, as I type this, looking at my two month old daughter sleeping in her swing and watching my son wave around a light saber while wearing an Iron Man costume and cape I think, “My next VBAC will probably be at home.”
Side note: More pictures of Ms Lucy Goosey are HERE. Two month pictures coming soon…