July 2, 2011

Birth Story - Alice Mae

Lindsey & Alice

Next up in the Baby Momma's birth story series we have Alice Mae, daughter of Louisvillians, Lindsey & Matt. Lindsey, 31, is a high school arts teacher and amazing artist and photographer herself. Sweet Alice was born on March 10, 2011 at 1:07am and was 8 lbs., 3 oz., 22 inches long.

Here's Lindsey!

Alice was a dream baby from the beginning. Throughout my pregnancy, which was my first, she posed very few problems for me. I was able to work pretty much the whole time I was pregnant – a remarkable blessing considering I teach high school art & photography! Aside from the occasional bout of nausea and extreme fatigue that is often commonplace, there were no scares or worries. The only real tragedy was that our community garden bit the dust…the smell of dirt and taste of vegetables made me want to vomit!

Leading up to Alice's arrival I met with the midwives, read every pregnancy book I could get my hands on, took a nine week natural childbirth education class, hired and met with our doula, found out the baby was a girl, researched and registered for all the "right" baby gear, attended three baby showers (thanks again, everyone!), prepared the nursery, made practice runs to the hospital, and packed our bags. We'd already picked the name Alice Mae after my great aunt Alyce and Matt's grandma (her middle name was May), and kept it as our little secret the entire time I was pregnant. Matt read a book on being an expectant father and attended the classes with me, on top of being a new partner in a design firm and making late night runs to Kroger for the ice cream and chocolate that I craved so much (best husband ever). I was hell-bent on having a natural birth with no interventions, so I wrote a birth plan and submitted it to the hospital - after all, women have been giving birth for centuries with no drugs, right?! We were both as prepared as newbie parents could be, which is to say not much. 

So we waited. And waited. I hoped she would come early, but she had other plans. I worked a week past my due date and still nothing. I was HUGE and very uncomfortable those last few weeks. People kept asking me, "When's this baby gonna show up?" and "I thought you'd be gone by now!" and it became very difficult to concentrate on anything else. It was also hard to be on my feet that long every day, so I decided it would be best to take some time off work to regain my physical and mental strength for labor and delivery. 

At my 41 week appointment with the midwives, I elected to have my membranes stripped (yes, it's painful) and said they would have to induce the next week if there was no progress. This is not what I wanted to hear, being pro-natural birth, but I made that fateful appointment and crossed my fingers that Alice would show up on her own. In tears I called our doula, Jenny Claire, and she reminded me that due dates are only rough estimates and to stay strong.

A few nights later, my prayers were answered. Just as I was getting into bed at midnight, I heard a slight "pop"…my water had broken! YEE-HAW!!! After freaking out for a few minutes, I tried to remain calm. All that was running through my head was, "We're going to meet our baby!" over and over again. Sleep was no option because I immediately began having contractions about 10 minutes apart. I reluctantly called Jenny Claire (who was 7 months pregnant at the time) and she told me to try to eat something and rest as much as possible. Around 2am Matt made me one of the most delicious egg and cheese sandwiches of my life and I hung out in my favorite chair until morning, trying to relax between contractions. Matt didn't get much sleep, either, because every time I breathed heavily through a contraction or got up to go to the bathroom he awoke with a jolt, ready to help.

Jenny Claire arrived at our house around 9:30 in the morning and my contractions became much longer, stronger, and closer together. We hung out and watched "Let's Make A Deal" and other terrible morning TV programming to keep my mind off the pain. We decided to go to the hospital when they were about 4 minutes apart. Although it was drizzling and chilly outside, I remember thinking that it was a beautiful day to have a baby but PLEASE not in the car on the Kennedy Bridge!

Upon our arrival I was wheeled up to Labor & Delivery and got the last private room available that morning. I was in really good spirits considering the pain that was washing over me. We met our first set of nurses, one of which was named Mae (the middle name we had chosen for Alice). I took this as a good omen while they prepped me with an IV port and hooked me up to the fetal monitor among other things. They checked me and I was only 3cm, but almost fully effaced - good news. Little did we know, it would be a long day and night.

Thankfully, the room we were given had a large tub and I climbed in as soon as the nurses finished with their tasks. Baths have always been soothing for me, and this was no exception. The water took the edge off and Matt brought our iPod and speakers in for me to listen to the Relaxation Mix I made specifically for my time in labor. There I sat for hours singing along to Nina Simone, Bjork, Air, The Sea & Cake, etc. between moments of low-pitched moaning and strain. Matt and Jenny Claire took turns rubbing my shoulders, keeping me hydrated, and helping me up every so often so the nurses could hear the baby's heartbeat. One of our nurses on duty for the second round was even named Alice…I was sure we'd picked the perfect name! These are the warm, fuzzy moments of labor that I will always cherish. This was the calm before the storm.

After awhile we all realized that laboring in the tub, pleasant enough as it was, would probably not make Alice arrive any sooner. She seemed perfectly content to stay in the womb forever, our little Pisces water baby! I had no idea what time it was, but I assumed it was early afternoon judging by how wrinkly my hands were from soaking in the tub. I dried off, wrapped up in a blanket, and sat in a chair next to the bed while the nurses hooked me up to the fetal monitoring machine. Alison, my midwife, showed up and hung out for awhile thinking she would deliver me soon. (Did I mention she was ALSO very pregnant? Crazy, right?!) I was excited to see her because this meant I should be pushing soon! Little did I know, Alice would not come into the world so easily.     

From that point on everything became a fever dream - the room was undulating around me and time was suspended. I heard voices, but they were muffled and unintelligible. My vision was blurry and I rocked back and forth to cope with the intensity of the pain. I had one contraction on top of another with very few breaks for hours on end. I remember feeling like I'd truly lost my mind. At one point I was sobbing uncontrollably and saying something to the effect of, "I just want to meet her already!" I am never that whiny and impatient in real life!

When it seemed I had a break, I changed positions and tried to squat on the bed. This proved VERY painful, so I laid on my side for a little while and worked through another round of crushing contractions. Alison came over to the side of the bed and checked my progress. At this point it was around 9pm (I remember asking because everything was hazy and I couldn't see straight) and I was positive that we were close. Turns out, I was only 7cm - not much progress! I was completely crushed by the news and needed to get some rest, so everyone except Matt and Jenny Claire left the room and I was assured some peace and quiet. As soon as I closed my eyes to sleep, a nurse walked in to ask me something inconsequential. By this point I had been awake almost 36 hours straight and this was NOT the time for questions. Thankfully, Matt shooed her away before I got a chance to give her a piece of my mind! Just then, the contractions started coming again in waves, only this time they were excruciating. I held on to the side rail of the bed with my body in the fetal position and braced myself for each one. I pulled the side rail toward me with such force that Matt thought it would break off any moment. I was absolutely in the worst pain of my life and I was sure I was going to die. SOMETHING HAD TO BE DONE. 
 
 
I cried out for Matt, who had been right next to me the entire time, and Jenny Claire to ask them what I should do. Obviously, some rest would help and I wasn't getting anywhere at the rate I was going. Jenny Claire fetched Alison and she sat down to explain our options. "All that matters is a healthy mom and a healthy baby", I chanted in my mind. "I don't have to kill myself trying to have it my way." It basically went down like this from my perspective:

Me: (thrashing around like a wild animal): "AAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH! I need SOMETHING!
Alison: "Well, you could blah blah blah, or get an epidural which will numb you from the waist down so you can get some rest, or blah blah blah…" 
Me: (looking sideways at Matt, eyes wide and hope restored): "Did you just say EPIDURAL? And I'll be able to SLEEP?!"
Alison: "Yes, but there are risks…blah blah blah…"
Me: (with the utmost clarity): "LET'S DO THIS."

After signing some paperwork I waited for what seemed to be an hour for the doctor on-call, but in reality it was only a few minutes. Alison, Matt, and Jenny Claire had to leave the room for 30 minutes (hospital policy) while the doctor and anesthesiologist to came in and did their thang. I was told to sit up, lean forward, and remain still while she inserted the needle. That part was not so fun, but I did have the help of a great nurse who coached me through it. Then came the sweet sweet drugs that saved me. I was myself again and no longer felt like I was transforming into The Incredible Hulk. Matt and Jenny Claire came back into the room and we all collapsed to rest up for delivery, which would begin in a couple of hours.

I awoke from a deep sleep to the nurses wheeling in the cart for delivery and Alison close behind. She checked me and I was FINALLY dilated to 10cm and fully effaced! The epidural had worked its strange magic. She said, "Are you ready to meet this baby?" and we all responded with an excited "YES!" in unison. My lifeless legs were hoisted onto the stirrups and I was instructed to bear down and push even though I couldn't feel a thing. The room was buzzing with anticipation as every push got us closer to meeting our sweet baby. When her head crowned, Alison declared there was a huge curl on top -  one she still has to this day.  

Then it happened. With one big push, our sweet Alice was finally born. Everyone in the room let out a collective gasp, and our angel appeared sunny-side up (no wonder she was being so stubborn), with a loud cry! She was instantly placed on my chest and she remains the most beautiful thing my eyes have ever seen. "Hi, baby!" I said over and over again, for lack of better words to express myself. Matt and I were awestruck by this tiny person that would forever change our lives. It was love at first sight, pure and simple. As she laid there taking her first breaths, we cried tears of joy and I made Matt count her fingers and toes (10 and 10? Excellent!). Her little fingers wrapped around ours and we cuddled family-style in our little love bubble, getting to know our beautiful Alice Mae. 
 
 A current photo of Alice, who is now 4 months.

Amazing story! Thank you, Lindsey, so much for sharing your beautiful story. I think there's a theme with these stories - we plan, the babies call the shots. So goes the rest of our lives, or at least the next 18ish years.

1 comment:

cindy said...

I loved this! Thanks for sharing, Linz! *hugs