i've been wanting to write about my birth with audrey so that i could actually have it recorded somewhere (this will be printed at kept in her baby album), but also to celebrate my little one by remembering the day i got to meet her! and it's been two months since her birth on november 23rd!
i also have to admit that i feel a bit guilty for not devoting more public posts to my second child or writing about her birth sooner. but really, i don't have much time. or much energey. when i have time, i usually choose to sleep. when i have energy, i tend to fill it with necessary household chores or playing with sophie or cuddling with audrey. but the delay in this post (if it can even be called a "delayed post") or "the lack" in how many posts there should be for audrey), does in no way reflect how i actually feel about this baby of mine. nope. it just means that i've decided to spend more time with my baby love instead of blog!
but here is the story of that wonderful, surprise-of-a-day (i hope our doula will be able to help fill in the details since she was jotting down events as well):
around 5 a.m. on wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving, i woke up suddenly and felt different. there was an awakening. a hum of something starting... labor. it was sooner than i was "ready" for--9 days sooner (her due date was on december 2). even though i really knew she was going to be a november baby, just had this feeling from the beginning, i didn't really want to admit that it was happening today. i had plans. it was my last day of work, and we had plans to go out for staff lunch. we had plans to enjoy a Thanksgiving celebration with friends the next day. we had plans of building a room in our basement before baby came. plans i tell ya! but of course God's timing is always the best. and of course i ultimately did have plans of having a baby. but i had to change the timeline of that one!
i woke ben up an hour later and told him that i was starting pre-labor. we laid in bed and held hands for awhile and smiled at each other. talked about how crazy-wonderful having our little baby will be. how THRILLED we were at meeting her. of sharing her name with our family. of holding her.
contractions continued for a couple of hours and then subsided. i began thinning out as well. i called the midwives just to clue them in on what was happening. i also got the okay to continue with my day...
we were buzzed with excitement--kind of moving around getting things in order. we would cuddle with sophie and get her all pumped up to meet her new sister who would be arriving very soon. ben sent out an email to close friends and our family letting them know things had been progressing. to be praying for us.
i couldn't rest. my body was getting ready.
i ended up going out to lunch with the open door staff--they had been pre-warned about my labor and how everything had suddenly stopped which made me feel okay to take the time for our lunch. on our way to the restaurant, our pastor, my boss, asked what it was like to be in this state of expectancy--at any moment i could be in full out labor and give birth--knowing that over two thousand years ago, Mary was waiting. in hope. not knowing exactly when or how her baby would arrive. the thrill of hope. yes. i could feel that.
on the way back home after lunch, i started to feel the contractions return. very calm, subtle contractions. i laid down for a bit before i had to leave again for an already scheduled midwife appointment. i was 4 centimeters along and she asked if i'd prefer to go home for awhile or if i'd like to check-in already. i opted to go back home and labor a bit more there.
we let our neighbor sharon know that we'd be leaving sometime in the next few hours for the hospital (she was going to take care of Sophie for us). ironically, we had many friends agree to help watch sophie while we went to the hospital to have our baby, but of course weeks prior, they made it known they wouldn't be in town the weekend of thanksgiving. ha! we are very fortunate to have such a loving neighbor who is so willing to care for us in such needy moments such as this one. i tried to eat a bit of dinner, but i mostly walked around the living room breathing as the contractions grew stronger.
sophie was constantly asking, "what you doing mom?" and there were a few times that she sat next to me on the couch and breathed deep breaths with me. so adorable. it was around 6:30 p.m. that i decided it was time to leave for the hospital. honestly, laboring at home with a toddler is kind of difficult and not very calming. so i kissed my first born baby good bye--a quick good bye as i was having another contraction. sharon kissed me good bye and hugged us as we walked out the door. a family of three. soon to be four.
on the way to the hospital, we called our doula, bb, and asked her to meet us there soon. we also called ben's mom, linda, and let her know. i couldn't get ahold of my parents, but left them a message.
after checking into triage, the midwife measured again and i was still 4 centimeters dilated. i thought i'd be further along, and started to worry that i had a long labor ahead of me yet and that our baby wouldn't be born until morning the next day or something like that. around 8 p.m. i was moved into a labor and delivery room (we had to wait for one to vacate--it was a busy night there). things were getting pretty intense. ben was such a calm, strong presence and just having him in sight helped me get through some difficult contractions. i tried to labor using the large exercise ball. not very helpful. thought i could get into the shower to try hot water as a relief, but couldn't make it to the bathroom because of the pain. i signed the consent form for an epidural and wondered why it was taking so long to get an anesthesiologist down to my room! there were many contractions that i recall trying to yell through, but my voice was so tired. bb was also amazing, and out of my peripheral i could see her breathing, more calmly and steadily than i was--a great reminder for me to focus my breathing. which of course made it a little more tolerable than the frantic yelling i was doing.
getting the epidural was painful...more so than i recall while in labor with sophie. but relief happened soon. almost as quickly as i felt relaxed and calm, the midwife turned the lights on low and bb turned on a few battery operated candles to add a bit of comforting ambiance. my midwife, laura, checked again and i had dilated to (i think) 6 centimeters. i kept thinking i had a long road ahead of me still. it was probably about 9:30 p.m. by now. i laid there with my eyes closed. trying to rest. knowing what was yet to come...the pain of pushing. but also knowing that my daughter would soon arrive. i rubbed my pregnant belly again, listening to the consistency of her heart from the monitors they had placed on me. it was a sweet, dream-like time laying in that bed and feeling such peace and stillness. the silence would be punctured soon, but these were my last few minutes, perhaps hours, of being pregnant. of feeling my daughter on the inside. and it was a perfect mix of happiness to have known her in my womb, and to have that phase nearly completed--to be ready and excited for the next phase: receiving her outside of my body.
my midwife checked on me again around 10:30 p.m. or so and said i was a stretchy 8.5/9 cm. wow, that went faster than i thought it would. i might not actually have a turkey baby after all if she came within the next hour (i kind of hate the term "turkey baby"). laura left, saying that it would probably be awhile yet before i was completely dilated, so she was going to check on another laboring woman. yup, that's a classic line: "it's going to be awhile yet. i'm going to leave. leave you. alone. leave you alone." and she left. and some where in that time, so did the two delivery nurses. it was just ben, bb, and of course me. and not even 10 minutes later, my water broke. wow, did it break. what a crazy feeling to have that happen naturally. there's water down there, people. and it's like, "hey, i'm just letting you know that you have a baby coming!" RIGHT NOW! so i'm like, i'm ready to push. this baby is coming out now!! help! i give ben and bb the look of panic and i'm terrified because there isn't anyone in my room who was wearing scrubs. and i'm thinking, she might have to be delivered into ben's hands with bb there to give a few verbal instructions! yikes!
bb runs out into the hall to gather the nurses and to track down laura. i may not have uttered a few explicatives at this point because it was so anti-normal to hold back the urge to push my baby out. and when the nurses arrive, they say to me, calm down. don't push. and i'm like, (well, i'm sure you can just imagine what was said or thought)! ben is holding onto my hand and i'm well into the 'there aint' no turning back phase', aka, baby is about to drop on outa here! not even 2 pushes later Audrey was born. this tiny little baby is set onto my chest and i try to see who she is. who is she? who does she look like? i want to study her sweet face. bb cuts the umbilical cord and Audrey is moved over to the warming area. ben gives me a look as if he's torn between staying by my side or going to watch over Audrey. i tell him it's okay to be with her--that one of us should be with her! and of course the other stuff is going on with me, so i didn't even notice that they had to vacuum out her lungs and give her a bit of oxygen because she was a bit more blue than normal. but i was glad ben was with her. and they continue to talk to me, nurses who were just not very pleasant to have in my room let alone to talk to, so my anxiety is increasing as i have to look at my baby from across the room. i can not physically walk over there since my legs are numb, but everything in me wants to flop out of bed and do an army crawl over toward my baby and grab her out of foreign hands--gloved hands who haven't wished for 9 months to touch her. no, my hands are the ones that ached for her to rest in them. and bb nudges me and gives me a look that says, "i know how you feel mama. demand your baby right now!" and so i did. i yelled out, "i want to hold my baby. you can do all of that over here while i hold her!" and the tears are streaming down at this point and my arms are reaching far, my eyes are only on her.
there wouldn't be enough epidural in the world to calm and numb my heart. even though the lower half of my body felt nothing at this point, my heart was alive with love and swarming with delight for my child. my daughter, Audrey. i kissed her over and over again. i cried mammoth sized mama tears--the kind of tears that are filled with the release of any kind of pain or discomfort i felt in carrying or birthing my child because it was all so worth it. the kind of tears that christen a new born babe with love. the passionate love that will never need to be wooed, but is just there. for her. and maybe that's when i felt it. it was then that i knew i could love two children. i was capable of ferociously loving Audrey with an Audrey kind of love and at the same time love Sophie with a Sophie kind of love. but at this time, it was just me and her. her and me. i kissed her. and kissed her. awed over her.
she came to us at 10:53 p.m.
Audrey Linda Beatrice. we called out your name. for you are a strong, beautiful voyager.
Audrey, when you read this some day...and i hope that i am there with you holding your hand...all of this was just the beginning of why i kiss you every day and tell you that you are loved, you are loveable. you arrived. you. my lovely one.
as it's almost certain that this will be my last baby and therefore, last birth, there has been a brief moment when i think, "did i do it right? i won't get another chance at this. and there were a few things i wished i had done differently." but not really. because everything in each of my birth experiences were beautiful. they were MY experiences. and in each of these, i got to hold a beautiful, tiny baby with eyes that found mine and gazed into them. my daughters were healthy and there weren't complications. i am thankful for that.
i had a sweet, lovely, painful, real labor. and i am so thankful that i was gifted with such an amazing experience. to carry and to birth two children. that is what matters.