My due date was on the 2nd. My sister Joy is leaving on Saturday the 10th to study for two years in the Philippines. She has been waiting (perhaps just a wee bit impatiently) all week for our baby to be born – so she can meet her before she leaves. I did get a fair amount of advice regarding eating hot foods etc. to hurry things up! Thursday evening a number of us were planning a ‘going away’ dinner with Joy before she left. Though Richard and I were invited, I am willing to bet she was secretly hoping we wouldn’t be able to make it as our new baby had arrived! Thursday rolled around and I had some very regular contractions that woke me up at 4AM. I got pretty excited thinking this was it … and then about 11AM they faded away. Ugh. Longer to wait. (not like I was past due and big and bloated and ready to be done or anything like that!) Looked like we were going to make Joy’s dinner after all that evening.
That afternoon though, about 2:00 the contractions started back up again, strong, regular, but about 20 minutes apart. They were still 20 minutes apart at 5:00 when we got to Buccas for dinner and met up with Joy and everyone. By the time we ordered and food arrived at 6:00 though, they were coming 5 minutes apart and I didn’t even want to touch the food. At that point we decided to head home and get ready! We missed Joy’s dinner after all, but somehow I don’t think she minded a bit.
As I have a relatively strong dislike of hospitals and doctors, we planned on having a home birth with a midwife. I seriously got down to business Thursday evening, and made good progress thru my labor all night. Early Friday morning things seemed to hit a wall, and went for four hours of being “almost there” with no further progress. I was exhausted to the point of uncontrollable trembling across my entire body, and my back had reached the point where it was severely spasming with each contraction so badly that I could no longer focus. Due to nausea I had been unable to eat or drink all night, and by morning was so dehydrated that the midwife was unable to even get an IV started. All things considered, it was time to head to the hospital.
Joy is completing her degree to be a midwife, and had worked for a local hospital so I called her and told her we were coming. (Reading between the lines there, I think it would be more accurate to say I was gasping at her between contractions and spasms to have someone with drugs waiting for me at the front curb when we arrived). She was incredibly awesome! Though she quit a couple weeks back (preparing to leave for the Philippines to complete her last two years of study) she was there waiting at the front of the hospital with a wheelchair when we pulled up. My mom was there as well when we arrived and she parked the car for us so Richard could come right in with me. Joy had me already checked in, a room waiting, a wonderful nurse and friend of hers (Candace) ready to take care of me, and a very nice Dr lined up as well. Seemed everyone in the place knew Joy and was glad to be able to help her sister.
My contractions were less than a third of the strength they should have been – or needed to be to deliver – and by that point I was unable to do anything but curl up and cry every time the back spasms hit. I was given an epidural to control the back pain, and allow my body to catch a couple hours of much needed rest while on IVs to get re-hydrated too. The Dr warned me that if my contractions did not strengthen I might be needing a c-section, but I told him I thought things would be OK once I was rested and my back was not an issue. He said we’d be looking at waiting till that evening likely and see what progress was made. I can’t say I got much sleep, but I did get a couple brief naps in between the nurse visits (I strongly suspect that hospitals have a monitor that alerts them every time I drifted off so they could come by with another reason to wake me up!). After a couple hours I called the nurse and told her I didn’t know exactly why I was saying this, but I felt the baby was ready to be born … she said wouldn’t hurt to check, and was surprised to find I was right! We made a couple quick calls and Joy and my Mom came back (and Joanna came too), I started pushing at 4:15, and Hope Ann made her grand entrance into the world just 20 minutes later at 4:35!
The first thing the nurse commented on as she was being born was lots of long dark thick hair – one of the heart monitoring probes on the side of her scalp was stuck in her hair when they tried to remove it! I think she looks like Richard, she has his head of thick dark hair for sure. After she was born, she spent an hour laying on my chest looking all around with her big dark eyes. I absolutely love the first picture Richard took (it is in the first blog entry below) – it was taken just 5 minutes after she was born!
Though her birth was not as I had planned, it was a good experience despite the unexpected change of plans and ending up in a hospital. Richard was there with me the whole time, and my Mom and sisters Joy and Joanna got to be present for Hope’s birth as well. Though I had originally wanted a quiet home birth, it was very special to me to be able to have my Mom & sisters there when Hope was born. I know my eyes weren’t the only ones that filled with tears when she arrived.