Tag Archives: Labor

And Then We Were Four: Part Four

It was decided that I would stop trying to push through the last centimeter of my dilating, that I would  stop and take a break, let my body finish doing the work.  Then it was determined I should change position.  In spite of the enema I had managed to give myself during early labor the shred of privacy I had been maintaining was holding on to the fear that it felt like I had to go to the bathroom.  When Sarah suggested I go sit in the bathroom for a while it sounded like as good a plan as any.  Pillows were placed on the back of the toilet and I sat backwards with my face against the cool, soft pillows.  In the dark it was easier to let my mind go.

Earlier, I had gotten very sick.  Throwing up like a freshman at a fraternity party, I couldn’t even open my eyes lest I see the bucket and get sick all over again.  (Hello, chinese food, I had to have!!) I took a new bucket with me to the bathroom just in case.  There, in the clean white bucket from the birthing center was a single dog hair.  Even amidst the mania I felt… I smiled, Fisher… his damn hair gets everywhere.

Changing positions brought no physical relief.  If anything it required the body to  acclimate to new pressure points, new pain.  At this point each contraction seemed to radiate down in to my legs.  Later I would have IV fluids to hydrate me and the pain in my legs would  almost immediately subside.

Physical relief did not come while I was in the bathroom, but it did give me a moment to regroup emotionally.  I’d had my eyes closed much of the previous hour and now in the darkness I could  feel only hands rubbing my back.  Not knowing if it was MQD or Erin  – it almost didn’t matter.  I cried out as my contractions peaked.  Spoke quietly to myself and to the baby in the interim.  I don’t know how long I was in there.  But when I came out, I knew it was time.  I said more than once that I felt like I had been asleep.  And like I had just woken up.  I asked several times for Erin to tell me again what was happening.

For a time I felt like I was trapped between the bathroom and bed. My body had returned to the bed, my mind had stayed in the bathroom.  Eventually we all reunited and a feeling of calm alertness washed over me.  MQD smiled at me and I could see in his eyes the relief I was experiencing.  Never once did he look frightened, but he looked so happy to have me back that I know it must have been quite a scene there for a bit.

As with so many things in our lives the clearest pictures are those that we can see only after the fact. From this side of things I know that it was the final stages of transition in the bathroom.

As much as it was almost unnecessary to check, I needed to hear it. When Sarah said “You’re ten centimeters, we can have this baby any time you’re ready,” tears began to flow down my face.

I had watched a lot of birth videos.  I had seen images of these smiling women as they pushed their babies out in to the world.  But I had imagined I would be more of the Linda Blair/Exorcist labor and delivery type  than the Blissed-out Commune Mama type.  This picture does not tell the whole story, certainly.  But it captures the joy, the lack of a sense of fear and urgency, the calm that was in the room before Lucy made her debut. 

Our doula, Erin, pulled triple duty as she held the mirror, the flash light and my iPhone throughout the home stretch.  Sarah suggested I reach down and touch the babies head and I asked her to guide myhand.  In keeping with the sense of levity throughout my labor Erin said “I don’t know how big your vagina is exactly, but you’ll find it.”

As soon as I felt her the waterworks began again and I wondered how I would  ever continue to push slowly, not risk tearing.  At one point (after I had the moment of clarity wherein I asked for my glasses and could  actually see in the mirror!) I saw her head begin to emerge and then as I tried  and relaxed between pushing I saw it retreat.  “No, no, no, baby, come back….” and I wept.

I told Sarah and Missy and Erin the story of my dream, how Baby D came and knocked on the door and I didn’t pick him/her up.  How I was so terribly afraid that I didn’t do the right thing.  Sarah reassured me that the baby would descend at least as far as they had previously with each push.  So, I relaxed.  And spoke.  “Come on baby, I promise I will pick you up, and I will never let you go, just come out… Come on… I am right here.”

And slowly, I saw this tiny flash of baby hair become a baby.  I was waiting for the ring of fire, and as I saw the head emerge I can recall thinking this must be it… and then the head would grow bigger.  Later they would  tell me Lucy was born with her hand against her face contributing  to her already giant sized baby head.

I felt it, finally. The mystical ring of fire, the moment that your body is open, allowing passage of your child in to the world and then I saw her face.  Red and smushy, bloody and quiet.  With little effort  her shoulders appeared and I had my hands hooked beneath her armpits and I was pulling her on to my chest.  Our baby. She was here.

I cried out for Emily. I had been adamant that no one tell me if we’d had a boy or a girl and we realized as Emily entered the room that from my vantage point I really couldn’t tell.  And no one else had gotten a decent look. So, it was Emily that told me.  My sweetest girl, my Emily June, it was she that said “It’s a sister.”

“You got your sister, baby girl…” I said,my eyes flooding with the realization that my baby girl, was no longer my baby girl.

We stayed at the birth center only a few hours before we headed home.  Our family of four.  Mom and Dad in the front seat.  Our girls sleeping quietly in the darkness of the early morning.  I carried Lucy Quinn in to the house.  A teeny tiny girl in her car seat.  MQD carried Emily June up to her bed, her long legs looking even longer as he carried her past me up to her room.

It was just after six in the morning.  A new day.  We were home.  And then we were four.

MQD's girls

And Then We Were Four: Part Three

The final  parts of Lucy’s birth story are likely best told as a series of pictures in my mind.  Moments I thought I would never forget… my hazy memory of Emily’s birth tells a different story.  I’ll make some effort to put them in a narrative order… but that is the best I can do.

We took the room in the front of the birthing center, the same room I’d been in only twelve hours earlier.  Only at night it was different, quieter.  As we arrived and our bags were put down, cell phone chargers plugged in, I could not help but imagine that it would be in this room we would meet our baby.  These people…. these were the players.  Me, MQD, Erin, our doula, Sarah, the midwife and Missy, a kind and gentle nurse on call for the evening.  Later that night I would laugh between contractions, laughing to cover my embarrassment and apologize for what I feared seemed a rude question and ask Missy why she was there?  “I know you are not actually a scary person… but no one told me that there would be a nurse here the whole  time.  Is something wrong with me?  or the baby?  Is that why you are here? You’re scaring me.”  We all got a good chuckle over this, my being frightened by this addition to our cast of characters.

As we organized ourselves, each of us finding our place in the room I decided to change my clothes. I had a black nightgown, with a racer back that I had envisioned wearing for a while.  I pulled it on and realized it was backwards and started to giggle, pulling one boob out each side I said “So, I was gonna wear this, that’s cool, right?  A great nursing gown, too, right?’ It set a tone, showcasing my absurd sense of humor, in even the most reverent times.

Sarah checked me and I was six, maybe seven centimeters dilated.  Not as far along as I had hoped but lots of progress had been made since the morning.  She said that she thinks my water had ruptured up high in the amniotic sac, there was plenty remaining so there was no reason to be concerned about the baby.  I recall her telling me that we had plenty of time, and thinking, sure, loads of time, what’s the rush?

Shortly after we got to the birthing enter my contractions began to get closer together.  The experience of the stopping and starting of active labor was an incredible feeling.  The relief felt as each contraction ended, the way I could see it in MQD’s face as they peaked, the reflection of my own pain in his eyes and the strength I knew I had to endure them, these were all new experiences to me.

I have since told anyone that I have spoken to that the stopping and starting of contractions can be compared to only one other mind-altering, if not life-changing experience in my life.  In my wilder, younger days, as I sat in a hotel room after a concert with a handful of friends, looped on whatever was our pleasure for the evening, sweaty from dancing, all of us in our own mental spaces I can recall the moment when the trip was over and I’d blink my eyes.  And in that instant, I was back.  “Guys, hey guys!  Are you normal? I feel totally normal.  Is anyone else normal?”

As each contraction came to an end I’d revel in having my body back, my mind returned to me, all at the same time clinging desperately to the fleeting memory of the experience, knowing that I had experienced something while I was gone, something I wanted to remember forever.

This picture is everything that I wanted from this experience. My smile, MQD’s support, Emily’s pinkie blanket in my right hand.

My greatest weakness as an individual and as part of a couple is my struggle with asking for help.  And this experience was life changing in that respect.  To see and experience what I am capable of achieving if I am willing to lean on others, specifically someone who loves me, was empowering.  To experience that strength that comes when you need it most.

My contractions continued to escalate for some time, growing increasingly more difficult in their peaks, and slowly my need to entertain, to hold court, to make up for perceived weakness during those moments with a clever commentary during the time between contractions slowly waned.

It was during the first of one of these quieter moments that my water broke. Again.  This time I got to experience the rush of fluid that you see in the movies.  It was comic, nearly missing soaking Erin.

This was another moment that I could feel the energy of my own mind shift. My water had broken completely.  It was to time to get the baby out.   Shortly after this Sarah checked to see how dilated I was, at my request.  I was beginning to second guess my intuition.  What is an “overwhelming desire to push?” I have had a nearly overwhelming desire to meet this baby for weeks.  How would I know that this was the time when I could not fight the desire any longer?

I was only 9 centimeters, but feeling more and more like it was getting closer.  I was afraid that Em’s absence would hold me back.  That I’d not be ready to meet our baby until I knew she was here, the final players in our cast of characters.

MQD called Amy.  Or maybe it was Erin that called.  I knew they could get here within half an hour.  As soon as I knew they were on their way I started feeling more and more like I couldn’t wait any longer.  Sarah told me she could  help me, she could try to ease my cervix back that final centimeter if I felt like I needed to start pushing now.  Later, when my sweet girl was born with a head not unlike that of Megamind I would see that this early  pushing, the pushing that I felt had been wasted energy, it had been significant.  Moving Lucy down in my birth canal, it had also made for one hell of a bruise as I tried to squeeze the poor girl out a not quite open door.  Days later with her  perfectly round little noggin in the crook of my elbow as I type, I can laugh.  If I doubted my strength I need only look at those first few pictures of her.

Eventually the struggle of pushing before it was time became too much and both Sarah and Erin suggested I take a break, change positions.  I had been so certain that I’d want to labor in the bath but intermittently through this labor I was afraid of falling.  Off the bed, down to the ground, I just felt like my grasp on the planet was tentative enough, the addition of water seemed too much.  At one point, we started to fill the tub, but the sound was overwhelming.

Amy and Emily got to the birth center before I got up, I think. I know that Em came in, sleepy eyed and tentative.  She stayed through the duration of a single contraction.  And I told her that each one ended. And when they were over, I was okay.  I recall telling her that it was just like when we were at home.  Amy took Em out to the lounge area to watch a movie and I think that was when I started feeling like I needed affirmation.   I asked Erin to tell me what was happening, that I was okay.  I remember her saying “this is not like when you were at home, this is transition.”

It gives me goosebumps now to type it.  Transition.  The most difficult  part.  The last part.  The period of labor that comes right before pushing.  The hardest work is done now.  This is the time when it is officially “too late” for an epidural.  I was tired.  And frightened.  But in the back of my mind I knew then when she said that single sentence,  “This is transition,” I had this.

We’d done it…. part four.  

And Then We Were Four: Part Two

I spoke with our doula, Erin, shortly after three in the afternoon. She told me that she had class at the Durham Tech campus not far from our house that evening. She planned on stopping by and checking in on us shortly after seven.

The late afternoon passed slowly. I anxiously awaited contractions to begin. Emily, MQD and I sat side by side and hand in hand on the couch. We watched a movie, Fast Girl, about a girl that learns to drive race cars and we talked about how this would be the last time Movie Night would be just the three of us.

MQD said to me at one point “We are gonna have a baby in this house. It just hit me. I’m crying a lot right now. I just cried over Wizards of Waverly Place. Fisher is too ashamed to even look at me.” And we laughed.

We firmed up plans with Amy for the evening. Em would go to school in the morning if necessary. We would call her if things started progressing.

Some time between an early dinner and Emily getting ready for bed I started having fairly regular contractions. True to form, I timed each and every one on my iPhone. Seeing the numbers change as it averaged “all contractions” vs “last five” or “last three” I had to admit that things were progressing. Not unbearably. An uncomfortable 45 seconds or minute every five to seven minutes was more than tolerable. I’d not remembered this predictability. I could feel myself making a checklist of things to do during my next break. Give myself an enema. Put your bathrobe in the dryer. Run the vacuum. Empty the dishwasher. One task at a time we got closer to “ready.”

When Erin called just before seven I assumed she would stop by and say hello. Go home and tuck in her kids. Rest, maybe. Early labor with Emily was a long day of movies and worrying and I’d not imagined this would be different.

When Erin arrived I noticed my contractions slow down for a short while. I told her about how I had felt that after my visit with Maureen I was emotionally ready in a way I had not been yet. That my water breaking felt very mind over matter.

In the moment I did not connect the dots. But hours later it was obvious that my contractions began as soon as I knew that Erin was close by.

We laughed a lot. Told stories about our kids. Took the chance to just get to know one another. The more comfortable I became the stronger my contractions became.

At one point I can recall rolling forward off of the ball and falling to my knees, in quiet tears I said matter of factly “I do not like this. I am NOT comfortable.” and seconds later I was laughing. Not comfortable? No shit? You don’t say?

Erin said more than once that this would be a fun labor.

Eventually I connected the dots between an event and with what I perceived as the next stage of labor. Maureen told me I was ready and my water broke. Erin was near by and my contractions began. She was with us in our home and they progressed.

Shortly before ten I felt like I’d not see any more progress until I was at the birthing center. Mike called and spoke with Sarah, the midwife on call. He passed me the phone and I tried to keep my head screwed on. Eventually I had to say out loud “I know you’re just keeping me on the phone until you can hear me… Here we go….” and a little over a minute later I said “So, that is pretty much where we are. Every three or four minutes. We will be there soon.”

Amy came over and we woke Emily. I asked Em if I could take her pinkie blanket and I kissed her goodbye. And we piled in the car. Still clutching my iPhone contraction timer I started doing the math. A fifteen minute drive should be no more than seven contractions even if they started getting closer. I counted the first few. Chatting with Mike between the rest. He pulled up to the door to drop me off, parking spots only fifteen feet away I cried out “No, park the car. I’ll walk. I don’t want to be away from you.”

He came around and opened the door and helped me out. Slowly we walked away from the Maternity Parking spots I had driven by the last nine months and it dawned on me that we would come back to the car with a baby if all went as I had hoped…. part three.

And Then We Were Four: Part One

On Thursday morning at 9:45 I wrote on the Excitement on the Side facebook page. “is going out in to the world. Because nothing funny happens to you while you sit around on the birthing ball, not birthing, talking to your dog. Here’s hoping I have a blog worthy afternoon.”

I had another appointment with the midwife to have my membrane’s swept. I’d had such a groovy time the day before that even though my appointment was not until early that afternoon I was eager to go ahead and leave the house. “Hurry up and wait” is not a state of being I tolerate well, so I thought I’d head out of the house. Maybe run a few errands. Perhaps swing by my office and grab a few things to do in the afternoon.

I laughed to myself as I passed the vent from our chimney. Snapped a quick picture. It really summed up how I felt as I waddled out to the car.

Jumped in the car and figured I’d make the best of taking the day off. Turned on my car and… nothing. Tried it again. Nothing.

And proceeded to call AAA for the second time in as many weeks. My battery was dead. Lucky for me I remembered MQD’s excellent advice about being broken down in your own driveway from the week prior and went ahead on inside to wait for the AAA guy.

Less than 30 minutes later I was back in the car and on my way to the midwive’s office.

The visit was short and sweet.

But it changed everything.

As I sat on the side of the bed in the front room at the birthing center Maureen asked me about some of my tattoos. One pin-up girl from when Emily was born, one pin-up girl from when I came to find an apartment in Chapel Hill before my divorce. “And this one, oh it is the wedding present MQD and I gave ourselves.

And Maureen’s face lit up and she began to laugh. “Oh, then you can stop comparing your two pregnancies. Your body doesn’t recognize this is as second pregnancy. Different dads, different sperm, different hormones.”

We chatted about a few other things. I can remember her saying “I think we will see you back here this weekend.” But the rest of the visit was fuzzy. I was standing in the door waiting to leave when I felt my eyes get wet when Maureen asked me if I had any other questions. She said “You got it this time…” and she hugged me, kissed me on the cheek and sent me on my way.

I called MQD on my way to the car, tears running down my face. “I am so ready all of a sudden.” Maureen is friends with the midwife I saw when I was pregnant with Emily and for that reason I feel like she understands how important this experience is to me, a chance to do it again, the way I’d hoped it would be with Emily.

I left the birthing center feeling inspired. No longer feeling “overdue” or anxious that this baby wasn’t “early” as so many people had suggested second babies would be.

I had pulled out three filets from the freezer and needed only to stop at the grocery store for a few things. We would have a nice dinner and I’d just relax, finally having reached that state of “the baby will come when it is ready” calm that I had been hoping to find all week.

I called an ordered myself some Chinese food for lunch, hoping it might keep me from buying a bunch of junk at the store, knowing that lunch was waiting for me. I was half way to the front door of the grocery store when my pants were soaked. Stunned, I stood smiling In the parking lot in my wet pants. I guess I knew on some level what had happened. But I was so afraid to believe that it was real.

So, I did what any pregnant woman would do. I got in the car and left the grocery store. Drove immediately to the Chinese food restaurant, wrapped a sweater around my waist and went to get my god damn egg rolls. If I was really going to go in to labor today, dammit, I wasn’t going hungry. It was just after noon as I texted MQD “Umm…. Call me.” From the line at China Fuji I told him “Either I peed in my pants just now or my water broke, either way I am getting Chinese food and going home.”

When I called the midwives office to let them know what had happened they suggested I go home and eat, get some rest and stay in touch. MQD texted our doula Erin and headed home.

In the ten minutes I was home before MQD got there I inhaled an entire order of steamed dumplings, some shrimp toast and three egg rolls. Labor or no labor I was full.

MQD and I settled on the couch to watch some TV and wait for Emily to get home from school. When she walked in from the bus stop I could feel how exciting the rest of the day might actually be. “Guess what happened today Em?” and her hand rose in front of her mouth as if she was in a silent movie as I told her that my water had broken She gasped and my eyes filled with tears.

This was really happening……. part two.

A little bit creepy….

In preparation for attending Baby D’s arrival in to the world Emily and I have been watching some birth videos.  This morning I told her that she doesn’t have to be brave, she can just tell me what she really thinks.  “I think I want to be brave, but it might just get too creepy.  Like when the vagina just grows and grows… because you know it is going to have to get HUGE.”

Creepy?  I’ll give her creepy….. the kid is a shark.  She is growing a second row of  teeth BEHIND her baby teeth.

But I still made her cookies and let her flop on the couch and watch Annie on the iPad.  I mean… it IS kind of creepy.  All those HUGE vaginas.

Maybe there is room for me under that blanket…


A Recipe

A recipe for the upswing…

Favorite glasses, black tshirt, dark blue jeans, the earrings you were married in, an enormous cocktail ring, ten and a half hours of sleep and a smile.

Off to the midwife, fingers are crossed that what I think is a  baby butt jutting out of my abdomen really is… and then I can rest easy that Baby D is no longer relaxing sunny side up.  <— an informative link about spinning babies and posterior positioning.  If I can cross wicked back labor due to an occiput posterior baby off my list of things to worry about I am not sure what I’ll worry about next… but I am sure I will think of something.

ADDENDUM:  I must wear my desire to worry right across my forehead.  The one with the lines, as so graciously pointed out to me by Emily.  My appointment with my midwife was quick.  Weight and blood pressure in line with what they should be, Iron is looking good, negative for Group B strep and Syphilis so we can skip out on antibiotics for me and for Baby D.  We had a quick chat and then she had me hop up on the table.

I asked, quite casually I thought, if it was a good time to start seeing the chiropractor in an effort to make sure Baby D was in an ideal position for labor.

She smiled and said I was welcome to go to the chiropractor if I wanted.  Her words exactly as she placed her hands on my stomach “So, what are you gonna worry about it if I told you that your baby is already in a perfect position?”

I told her I’d surely think of something…


Heads or Tails?

Moody doesn’t really begin to describe it.  There’s a 50/50 chance I will begin to cry every time MQD puts his arms around me lately.

And since my brother is not here to say “No shit” I will chime in on his behalf.  I am a crier.  I have always been a crier.  But the tears of late are not of the “Jeez, I have so many feelings” Hallmark commercial tears ilk that have plagued me all my life.

They are the ugly, make your face all splotchy tears that came from a place of anger and fear and pain.

Sometimes it is hard to reconcile the two people that live inside of me.  Three, if you count Baby D.  Happy Go Lucky Kelly wishes Doom & Gloom Kelly would take a hike.  It might leave more room for Baby D, and maybe s/he’d quit poking me in the ribs.    Not likely but a girl can dream.

This hasn’t been the most glamorous of pregnancies.  I never realized how fortunate I was before to feel so great so much of the time.  I have complained about my heartburn.  But heartburn is tolerable.  I was completely ill-prepared for the day in and day out aches and pains.  The can’t get out of bed flu like feeling of all over tired.  The pain in my hips.

I am six years older.  I sit all day now, instead of working two jobs on my feet as I did with Emily.  Every pregnancy is different… blah blah blah…

I went in to labor last time strong.  I was walking daily, miles, not steps to and from the door to the car.  I was positive that an unmedicated birth was in my future.  I was ready.  And beyond hopeful. I was sure.  And I failed.

This time I am afraid.  I know how many things can happen, how many things can be outside of your control.  My body feels weak.  And tired.  And yet I am hoping to make it happen this time.  Because I don’t see myself doing it again.  I see our family of four as complete.  And I don’t want to do this to my body again.

So, it feels like my last chance to make it right.  For me.  This body I have struggled with loving, I want to see it do what it was designed to do.    I want to feel it this time. I want to be in awe, just once, of this body.

But it isn’t the pregnancy and the labor experience that has me inside out.

Last night I finally found the words.

It’s the baby.

I am ready for this baby to make me feel good.

I know it will.  I know when I can put my chin against my chest, my lips resting on a tiny little head, arms and legs all squished against my chest, my hand curled around a tiny little baby butt.    Breathe in baby smell and exhale every fear I have carried in my heart for the last year, I know I will feel nothing but love.

But now.  Now I don’t feel love all the time.  Sometimes when I reach out for MQD I see this man I have been married to for less than  year, I see this  life I had been waiting for for so long and I can barely reach my arms around his waist. My face no longer fits in his neck as it did the day we were were married, his arms no longer create a space for me where I feel safe.

All I can say through tears is that I just wish it would all go away.

I don’t want to be tired.  I don’t want to be cranky and short tempered.  I don’t want to spend the next six months in a newborn haze.  I want to rake my leaves.  And stay up late and wrap Christmas presents.  I want to drink Grasshoppers and write Christmas cards with this man I fell in love with.  And be a newlywed. I want to roll down the hill with my kid in to the leaves we just raked.

But I can’t.  Because I am tired.  And dairy makes my heartburn worse.  And I am too busy being weepy and peeing every five seconds and I can’t even get up off the couch anyway.  Walking to the mailbox makes my hip hurt some days so there is no hill rolling on my agenda.  Because I am fucking pregnant.

And “fucking pregnant” doesn’t make me feel full of magic and love.  It makes me feel full of a lack of gratitude for this beautiful thing that is happening to us.

And even though I am nine feet wide, he finds a way.  To wrap me in his arms and rock me back and forth and say “It’s gonna be ok.  You don’t have to do everything yourself.  I love you.”  And he smiles.  And as quickly as Doom & Gloom Kelly arrived she is gone again.  And “Get a Load of THIS, shit, we’re gonna have a BABY, y’all!” takes her place.

And I am smiling, and hopeful.  And excited.  So maybe the smile is forced.  But I am hopeful.  And excited.

[Note:  Dear Baby D, If you are reading this you are no longer a baby.  You are probably a tech savvy pre-teen.  And in case you are reading and thinking “Holy shit, you didn’t want me!!  You said it!!  That you wished “it” would go away!!” I have two things to say.  Watch your  mouth, we don’t swear in our house (ha!) and of course I wanted you.  Some days I wanted you so badly I was ready to reach down my own throat and yank you out by the feet.   Because I wanted you. Out here.  With the rest of us, please.  So I could have me back, too.  Because contrary to what you might think the world does not revolve around you.  Now, go clean your room. Love you, Mom. ]