Baby boy Trudelle was due on August 1st, but I always suspected he would arrive late. My doctor, whether using medical knowledge or just plain psychology also told me "prepare yourself to be a week late." So when August 1st came and went, I wasn't too surprised.
When I went to bed Saturday night, I was a little worried that I wouldn't be able to sleep. Suddenly contractions seemed to have more distinct beginning and end points, so around midnight I began timing them myself. I found that lying in bed wasn't the most comfortable, so throughout the night, I walked around the house, tried to sleep on the couch, all the while timing contractions that were still pretty sporadic (between 6 and 10 minutes apart). I kept thinking that I just needed to get to 6 am (a time that I thought would be reasonable for waking Steve up and calling the doctor). Around 5 am I was pretty exhausted (I hadn't slept more than 10 minutes at a time) and figured I should just call. My doctor was out of town for her own birthday, but the on-call doctor said we could come in if I felt I needed to. A part of me had a feeling we still had a lot of time (contractions weren't getting much closer) but I had never felt this type of pain, and I had been up all night--this had to be it!
We watched a little bit of the women's Olympic marathon before deciding to put our bags in the car and head to the ER (the childbirth center wasn't open until 8 am). On our way I called Alyssa, our friend who would be coming in as our doula. She knew just by talking to me that I was still in early labor, but said she would come to the hospital too. Around 7 am we were shown to our room and they checked to see how far along I was--2 cm. I asked the nurse if they were going to send us home, but she didn't think so. I had rated my pain a "5" and was needing to breathe through contractions now. I was a little worried that I wasn't very far along, but already feeling a lot of pain. She did suggest that we walk around for awhile, so Steve and I went outside and walked in the sunny, quiet parking lot. A bit later my mom and sister arrived, and the nurse checked me one more time. Still 2 cm. The doctor on call suggested that I go home and try to get some rest. They could give me an Ambien, which would help me get some form of sleep. We decided to give it a shot.
By Sunday afternoon the temperature outside had reached close to 90 degrees so my mom, sister, Steve and Alyssa set up a little "labor room" in our downstairs basement. As the Ambien started to kick in I suddenly felt very emotional as I drifted between painful contractions and a strange kind of sleep (I had visions of robots and those half-animal-half-human creatures...centaurs I think? It was weird). I remember my mom running her fingers through my hair as I cried quietly to myself.
Throughout the afternoon I "rested," walked around the neighborhood (I didn't remember doing this until Steve reminded me days later), and breathed rhythmically through contractions. Around 3 or 4 pm, Alyssa suggested that I use a birthing ball and drape my body over it during contractions. Not too long afterwards, I felt my water break. I was suddenly very eager to go back to the hospital. I was afraid that I wasn't feeling the baby move very much, and just hearing his heartbeat on the monitor would be reassuring to me.
When we returned to the hospital and the nurse checked me again, I was 5-6 centimeters dilated. Although I was only "halfway" there, and already so exhausted, I remember feeling a sense of relief. I was going to have this baby tonight! To be honest, I don't really remember how we spent the next few hours. A lot of breathing and occasional monitoring I guess. I do remember the pain though. With my water broken and back labor, I was needing to really focus on breathing through each contraction. I was encouraged to get into the tub, and taking a bath did ease the pain slightly.
My labor team was amazing. Alyssa, Steve, my mom and sister joined me in my breathing/chanting through each contraction. When I felt one coming on, I would take a deep breath in and then breathe out, chanting as deeply as I could. We sounded like monks as we chanted together, and I'm sure anyone in the hallway had to notice and find it a bit funny. Things continued like this for hours, and as night came, I started to feel discouraged. I had made it to 7 centimeters, but wasn't really progressing as I should. The doctor told me that I had until 1 am, and if things didn't progress, she was going to strongly recommend Pitocin. Of course I had heard about Pitocin (a hormone that speeds up and strengthens contractions) and knew that the pain would only intensify if I had to go on it. We decided to give walking one more shot, so Steve and I paced the hospital hallway. It was around 11:00 pm.
At one point on our walk I heard the cry of a newborn baby in a room nearby. I suddenly felt great envy that I still did not have a baby in my arms. At the same time, I felt determined to bring our baby into the world as soon as possible, no matter how much it was going to hurt. When 1 am finally came and I was still at 7 cm, we decided to try Pitocin.
Throughout the night I remained hooked up to the IV, although Alyssa encouraged me to try various positions on the bed with the birthing ball and birthing stool. I hardly talked (except for one time when I snapped at Steve to quit eating a Cliff bar in my face...sorry Steve!) but narrowed my focus, despite the pain. Each time the doctor checked me (about every hour or two) I was progressing only about a half centimeter, sometimes not at all. At the same time, the baby's head was dropping lower and lower, and the pressure was pretty intense. I remember looking at the faces of my mom and sister and wondering what they could be thinking. Later my mom admitted that she hoped I would ask for some kind of pain medication--it was hard to watch! Steve's parents, sister, and my grandparents had been waiting in the waiting room all evening, but finally decided to head home to get some sleep.
At around 3 am, I was finally fully dilated. However, there was a little lip around my cervix, and I couldn't start pushing, even though I was starting to feel the urge. At this point I was exhausted, shaking, and hardly able to breathe through contractions. When the doctor said, "we'll check back in about an hour," my heart sank. Another hour seemed like a lifetime. Sure enough, when she returned, the lip was gone, and the nurse said that they were going to call my doctor, who was now back in town (it was Monday morning). While I was glad that she'd be the one to deliver the baby, waiting for her to arrive felt like another eternity. Days later, Steve and I agreed that the entire night felt like one long race in which we thought we'd arrived at the finish line, only to be told that we had to keep going, over and over again.
Still, I held on to the words that I had heard from our childbirth instructor, "Labor does not last forever. It will end," and I knew I was getting close. When my doctor arrived at around 4:30 am, I was relieved to finally start pushing. With my entire labor team there cheering me on, I pushed at each contraction. And while it was painful, I welcomed the change of pace and feeling of progress that had been lacking in my labor thus far. In the room next door, a woman was pushing at the same time, and she screamed wildly with each push. When I heard the cry of her new baby I once again felt determined to finally meet mine.
The moment my baby came into the world was surreal. I know that I was still in a daze of pain and exhaustion because I didn't cry or become emotional, as I expected I would. Instead, I remember the mix of darkness and bright lights, the voices and cries of my family, and the warmth of a little body being placed on my chest. He was wet and so so warm, and he let out a beautiful cry before calming down and resting in my arms. I remember thinking that he looked like me, as his eyes met mine, and I know it couldn't have been possible, but it felt as if morning suddenly came and the light from the sun filled the room.
It took us until the next morning to name Baby Trudelle, but after the first night of holding him and waking up to feed him, I felt pretty certain that we should name our calm baby Miles. His middle name would be Joseph, which is a family tradition on Steve's side. Miles, meaning "peaceful" and Joseph, meaning "God shall increase."
We left the hospital the next day, Steve's 31st birthday. I told him that I was sorry I didn't get him a present, but I got him a baby, and that should be enough. :) I think we both agree that Miles is the best gift God could have ever given us. We are blessed and so very thankful.