Saturday, October 13, 2018

The Birth of Fern

She turns ONE tomorrow.  And I have not managed to write her birth story.  Part of it is because, well, it's been a really busy hard year.  We moved when she was just a few months old into a house that needed a little work inside and a lot of work outside.  We're talking several days of arborists.  We took down sheds.  Tented the place for termites.  Removed more than 6 tons of debris.  I traveled to tucson and ran a half marathon.  Dan had a close co-worker pass away in a car accident.  He had to travel for work.  I realized my anxiety was no longer manageable and talked with my midwives about it.  I started seeing a psychologist.  We had to replace our entire fence line.  We had ductwork done.  Removed 3 large trees. We had a friend need a place to stay so we gave up our office 4 weeks. We had 4 quotes about our plumbing issues that kept getting more and more expensive until we found someone who told us we didn't need any of that and that he could just flush the pipes and we'd be good to go.  Anxiety ensued. We had a new fridge installed.  We desperately tried to unpack and organize this house.  Raised some new baby chickens.  We took a trip to Utah to celebrate my in laws 50th wedding anniversary.  We had a wall taken down and a fireplace removed as well as demoing part of the laundry room- during the absolute hottest part of the year so we hunkered down in one room- it was AWFUL.  (The remodel is wonderful though)  Anxiety ensued.  We celebrated birthdays, threw parties.  I traveled with the baby back home to visit family.  Our friend again was in need of a place to stay for a couple weeks, those couple weeks turned into a stressful 3 months.  Dan got a vasectomy and had a rougher recovery than expected.  The neighbors dog jumped the fence and killed some of our little chickens, on two separate occasions, and it was seriously traumatizing.  We plugged thousands of holes in the yard to plant grass that will grow in shade.  All the while managing to keep up with two volunteer roles, raising four kids, maintaining a house, driving kids to school and keeping everyone fed and alive.

The other reason I haven't written it down is because, well, it was hard.  It wasn't my favorite and I thought it was going to be different.  But birth doesn't follow rules or plans and I really should know that by now.


The day I went into labor was a boring Friday.  My due date was 2 days away so I was not expecting a baby for at least a week.  My middle daughter was getting ready to go camping with my mom and we drove out to the campsite with the whole family, grandma too.  We hung out and had hot dogs and smores and once it was dark we took the other two kids back home with us and put them to bed.  Dan and I settled down to watch some tv and relax.  I had a few contractions here and there, just like I had been having for the past week.  Around 9:30 pm I got up to go pee, relieved myself, and heard more pee.  Thought 'that's weird'.  The water in the toilet looked a little cloudy but it hadn't clicked in my head yet.  I walked across the house to get a snack and I could feel that my underwear were wet.  I silently panicked.  Was that my waters that broke?  I walked back to the bathroom and sat down and nothing, no more leaking.  I put a pad on some fresh underwear and returned to the living room to message my photographer (who was terribly worried about missing my birth) to warn her something could be happening and that my waters may have broken.  She messaged back right away telling me to go sit on the toilet and press down on the top of my belly, if more water came out then it was most likely broken.  So I did, and it did.
And I was a little mad.  Because this pregnancy I was GBS+ and it would have been real great if my waters could have stayed intact until I was pushing- just like it did the last two times.  I went back to the living room and told Dan all that was happening because I hadn't said anything yet. Laboring moms do weird things like keep secrets about your waters breaking even though you've been sitting in the same room.  Contractions started to happen.  They were about 5 minutes apart, 30-45 seconds long and getting more intense.  I messaged a friend who lived close by to see if she could come over until Dans parents arrived.  His parents live 30 minutes away and we didn't want to wait for them just in case things went crazy fast.  My friend showed up in less than ten minutes and we took off. On the drive to the hospital the familiar feeling of adrenaline started.  Contractions got stronger.

we're having a baby selfie!
Once we got to the hospital they checked me and said I was about 4 cm dilated. They brought someone in to check the fluid to see if it was my amniotic fluid. In the meantime I was leaking everywhere.  It was so annoying.  I should have asked for another pad but it was a busy night and I wasn't in the mood to track someone down.  There was someone else in triage too that was not having a good time.  She was panicking and only spoke spanish.  I'm assuming she understood some english because they kept talking to her in english. They told her that she shouldn't have driven to this hospital because she wasn't far enough along in her pregnancy to safely deliver there.  That because she didn't have prenatal care she was putting her baby at risk. They also mentioned a complication that I would have guessed to be placenta accreta- because they talked about it like it was some serious business.  ANYHOW, I felt terrible for her and was struggling to keep myself in a positive space while we waited for a room.

cool henna still intact!
The nurse came in a checked the fluid.  She said that if it was amniotic fluid it would look like a fern under the microscope.  That was the name I was sold on and it convinced me even more that this baby was a 'Fern'.  I labored and things picked up a bit despite all the distractions.  I signed paperwork in between contractions and could not wait to get into a room.  After being there more than an hour they finally started the antibiotics for the GBS.  I was annoyed it took so long because my last labor was less than 2 1/2 hours and I wanted to get a full dose in.  My photographer was in the waiting room napping until we got our own space.

doula dan
After midnight we finally got our own room.  Our photographer came in and started snapping pictures and providing comforting words.  Shortly after she showed up I started feeling pushy when I tried to pee.  I 100% thought I was at ten centimeters.  Things were so intense and I couldn't get on top of things.  My midwife came in to check me and said I was only 6 cm.  I was pissed. Everyone kept reassuring me telling me that I was progressing quickly even if it didn't feel like it and to just try to labor without pushing.  And in my head I was thinking "shut the fuck up, that doesn't help me now.  This isn't fast enough and your words of encouragement are garbage".  But I was too busy laboring to yell at everyone.  I kept noticing small side conversations and all the hospital noises.  It started to make me think that something was going wrong.  I could only labor leaning over the bed or tray table at this point.  And I wasn't really handling it well, or at least it didn't feel like it.  I finally asked if something was wrong and everyone said "things are going perfectly, you don't need to worry".

laboring is hard work!
breathing in between contractions
I really could not get comfortable.  All I could feel was the baby's head pushing on bones and I was struggling to control the urge to push.  This was the first time in three labors that I had thought about getting an epidural.  I knew she was OP (face up instead of face down) and the back labor was no joke.  My photographer (who is also an amazing doula, I just didn't hire her for that too, even though I probably should have) must have noticed my internal struggles because she told me "this is as bad as it gets.  You're already in the hard part and you're doing great.  It doesn't get worse than this."  This was the reminder I needed.  Labor sucks, its really, really hard and we can do really hard things.  I started to get pushier and really hoped that I was complete so that we could get this over with.

hate. this. part.
I wasn't.  I was at 8 cm.  It was around 2 am at this point- not that I had any idea.  So I angrily labored on.  I went from one contraction being ok to screaming through the next one.  More people had filed in the room as I labored in the bed.  I had flipped over and had my back to the raised part of the bed and was kind of in a squat position.  I hadn't noticed that my midwife put on her delivery gown.  At some point I did and said "wait, can I push now?!"  and she told me to go for it.  That little squat must have changed things.  So I started pushing, and screaming, and pushing and screaming.  I hate the pushing part.  It's so incredibly painful and feels impossible.  After 12 hours of pushing, I mean minutes- it just felt like hours- out she came!  She was crying and pink and perfect.  She had the shortest little cord so I couldn't pull her up past my belly.  Its also probably the reason she didn't rotate much until I was pushing her out.  The cord didn't take long to stop pulsing so we cut it and I could hold her in my arms.

short cord
My midwife said "I know you have on your birth plan that you don't want pitocin, but you're bleeding is on the heavier side, it's up to you".  I told her that my birth plan was what I wanted in my wildest dreams and up for changes if it meant I wouldn't die.  I asked for pain meds because those postpartum contractions are terrible.  The placenta came out quickly and without complication thankfully.  We spent some time together while the nurse checked on me and waited until we were ready for her to be cleaned up and weighed.  She was 8lbs 5oz and was born at 2:43 am.  And the kicker- she was born BEFORE HER DUE DATE!  One whole glorious day before her due date.  My only baby to be born 'early'.

perfection
Leading up to her birth I was most anxious about the postpartum care.  With my 3rd daughter they came in and said 'we're here to take your baby to the nursery to put her under the lights' and it threw me off guard.  I wasn't prepared for that then.  This time I was.  My husband and I have the A-B-O blood incompatibility issue. So I was ready to advocate for myself and fight to leave the hospital like last time.  And Fern ended up having my blood type!  I was also concerned that they would want to keep her longer because we only got one dose of antibiotics in before she was born.  But the pediatrician was amazing and said she looked great and to just keep an eye on her.  I couldn't believe how smooth everything went postpartum.  I wish my husband could have stayed at the hospital longer but we couldn't get anyone to watch the kids full time.  And only my mom came to visit.  So it was a lonely stay.  I'm thankful Fern was so easy going, it made it easier to enjoy the quiet.

So there it is, my least favorite birth story.  A story that took me a while to feel proud of and want to actually write down.  Not every story is about being a warrior.  Sometimes the story is a beginning.  I didn't realize it at the time but her birth was the preface.  The start of seeing my inner strength, and my families strength.  I certainly haven't loved every minute of this last year just like I didn't love every minute of her birth.  But I am proud of it. 

It's nearly the time that my waters broke.  A whole year ago.  She's been the most chill baby who has slept the best and screamed the least.  There's been a whole lot of trials and challenges this year.  This sweet baby though, she's been such a ray of sunshine in it all.  Happy birthday baby girl.

***photos are by the amazing Alyssa with Cherry Blossom Doula Services***

so happy to have her in my arms!
one year old

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