Stephanie and Mike

Eliza made her way into the outside world on Tuesday night, just a week late. She weighed a whopping 9 lbs 8 oz and was 20 inches long. She has a head full of sandy blond hair and lots of chubby rolls all over her body. She loves being swaddled up tightly, being fed by her mommy, and being rocked by her daddy.

For those of you who are interested in the play-by-play and all the gory details (well they aren’t gory, but some people cringe just at the word “dilated”), continue reading. Everyone else, feel free to just skip ahead to the pictures.

On Monday night I started having contractions. I was quite excited when they woke me up in the middle of the night. We could attribute the onset of labor to a number of things, as we tried just about every old wives’ tale in the book on Monday in hopes of getting this baby here asap (My doctor wanted me to be induced on Tuesday or Wednesday because I would be a week over. Since I was planning on being un-medicated I wanted my labor to take its natural course without being induced.), but I am confident that it was simply a merciful answer to our prayers.

On Tuesday morning I was scheduled for a non-stress test just to make sure fluid levels and baby’s heart rate were still fine. Though the fluids were fine and baby’s heart rate was constant, they were worried because she wasn’t moving much. When they would try to wake her up by putting a buzzer to my belly, she would jump then go back to sleep. Mike and I weren’t worried (and I’m not one to just not worry). I know that 9am isn’t her usual time for gymnastics and figured she just inherited my alarm clock snooze reflexes. They wanted to admit me and start a pitocin drip right then, which we didn’t feel was necessary, especially because I was already having contractions on my own. We (thankfully Mike was pretty adamant) convinced them to monitor me for a little longer before admitting me. Since it had now been hours since I had eaten, the labor and delivery nurse wisely offered me something to eat while I was on the monitors. Just at the mention of food, baby woke up and started her vigorous workout routine which she continued for the remaining two hours of monitoring (that’s my kid!). At about 1:00, the decision was made that everything looked perfect and we could go home.

By 3:30, my contractions were regular at about 3 to 5 minutes apart. I would have liked to labor at home for longer, but since I tested positive for Group B Strep, I would need (well the baby would need) a full 4 hour (preferably 8 hour) dose of antibiotics. I had been feeling like my labor would go pretty quickly, so at 5:30 we went to the hospital. I was dilated to a 3+, then after an hour I was at a 4, so they kept me. Mike was great at helping me relax. We used a combination of what we learned in Lamaze and HypnoBirthing . We felt confident and prepared.

Things progressed relatively quickly. My nurse was always surprised and impressed by my progress when she checked me. I had telemetry monitoring so I could move around more easily. My water broke when I was dilated to 8 cm. “Broke” actually doesn’t do it justice. It was more like an explosion. My mom can’t get over the sound it made. Since there was a little meconium in the fluid, the nurse said she wasn’t sure if the doctor would be able to put the baby on my abdomen skin-to-skin right after birth and delay clamping the cord, as we had expressed in our Birth Preferences.

Before long, I was complete. I did a combination of open- and closed-glottis pushing. I pushed for about 40 minutes, though it doesn’t seem like it was that long. I started in a side-lying position, then finished in a squatting position (which explains why my arms are so sore). Those positions were the most comfortable and practical in the moment. By everyone’s comments, I knew that the baby had a full head of hair. They got a good view of it with each push. I thought about asking what color it was but didn’t. After her head was out, I could hear a sudden urgency in the doctor’s voice and words, so I made more of an effort to push the way the doctor wanted me to (closed-glottis). A few pushes later she was out. Needless to say, I have a sizable tear down under (in my Birth Preferences, I explained that I’d prefer to risk a tear than have a episiotomy). I found out later that they thought it was a case of shoulder dystocia, a very scary complication (thus the sudden change in the tone of his voice), but it turned out that she was just big.

She was born a little after 11pm. All my nurses were impressed and grateful to witness a natural, un-medicated birth since they don’t get to see births without epidurals very often. I was excited that the doctor set the baby on me right after she came out. I just had her for a few seconds while the doctor clamped and cut the cord, then passed her off to be checked for meconium in her lungs. I wish I had a picture of her on my tummy. Everything happened so fast. I couldn’t believe it was real.

As the doctor addressed the damage down under (requiring some twenty stitches), I watched everyone scurrying around the babe as she lay under the warming lamps. Everyone was commenting on her size and her hair. Finally I got to hold the little (big) bundle of joy. Her big eyes were eager to soak in everything. It was beautiful. She is beautiful. What a miracle!

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