**Warning: This is my actual birth story. There may be TMI for some people. There are pictures. I’ve tried to keep them “modest” as I can, but this is about a natural birth. You’ve been warned**
When I was at the end of my pregnancy I had a really difficult time sleeping. Getting comfortable was almost impossible. I was exhausted, but I couldn’t fall asleep as easily as I usually do. I couldn’t move from side to side without effort. I couldn’t move at all without effort. To help relax and get to sleep I would visualize my labor and birth. I would write Georgiana’s birth story in my head and I could relax and fall asleep.
This is not that story. This is what actually happened.
Thursday, March 31, 2011, Georgiana Grace Strange made her entrance into this world at 12:41 PM.
I woke up Thursday and it was just like any other day. I had a cup of coffee. Checked Facebook and then logged on to work. I was making good progress and getting a lot done when I felt this “pop”. Kind of like when you step wrong and your knee pops. I looked down and said “I don’t know what you just did in there but knock it off, that hurt” and went back to work. A few minutes I felt like I had to pee (again) so I got up and that’s when I realized that “pop” was my water breaking. This is the first time I had ever experienced it breaking naturally. I went to the restroom and when I sat down I got the gush of water. Thankfully it was in the restroom and on the toilet. I changed my clothes and called up to Doug. (Thankfully he was home. He was supposed to fly to Yakima for work that day) I said “my water just broke” and his whole face lit up! I came upstairs and he asked how I was. I said I was fine and “looks like we’re having a baby today”.
I didn’t really think that things would progress as they did. I’ve read probably over a hundred birth stories. Your water breaks and sometimes nothing happens for hours or it’s a slow progression. That’s what I was prepared for. I called my boss and let him know that I wasn’t disappearing but my water broke so I wasn’t sure how much I would be getting done that day (I never did get back to work). I updated my Facebook status. I texted some friends and Krysty (she was in CA for my uncle’s funeral). I had some breakfast. We had time. My water broke at 8 and we had plenty of time. I called my doula, Jen, just as a head’s up. I told her we had plenty of time. I was going to shower and get ready. We had to pack a bag. The girls weren’t even up. Doug called his boss and started shaving and I got in the shower. I had a small contraction here and there but nothing we needed to really pay attention to. I asked Doug to get in the shower with me. It was a nice intimate time for us. Just having to be so close together (our shower isn’t that big – but I was!) was nice. The hot water was relaxing and I was enjoying the closeness of my husband. It had been a crazy couple months and those few intimate moments mean the world to me. I had a couple more contractions, this time a little stronger. I told Doug it was time to get out and that we should probably get things together and get moving. By the time I was dressed I called Jen back and let her know it might be time to come out. I knew she had kids of her own to find care for and that it could take her some time to get out here. She said she’d be here in about an hour. I called the hospital and let them know my water broke but we weren’t heading in quite yet. Contractions were coming but they weren’t substantial yet. They said they would call Dr. Merrill since it was his day off and he wasn’t in town.
By this time I’m having to really concentrate through my contractions. We aren’t even bothering to time them because they’ve changed enough that we know it doesn’t really matter. Jen is on her way and we’d leave when she got here. The girls are starting to wake up. We’ve told them what’s going on and that they’ll have to stay at the house for now. We’ve had to make arrangements for Doug’s dad, Phil, to pick up my mom from the airport. She was flying in there was no way we would be able to pick her up. He would stop by the house and pick up the girls and bring them to the hospital. We’re still gathering stuff. We’re still trying to think of what we need to bring. I would have been 37 weeks on Friday, we thought we had more time and weren’t anywhere near ready. I had managed to charge the video camera the week before (Spoiler alert: There is no video of the birth). More than once I had to get on my knees and lean over the bed and begin to vocalize through the contractions. I was glad to know that Jen was on her way. Doug came to me when he saw they were getting worse and rubbed my back and supported me through them. Jen got there right as Dr. Merrill called and asked how things were going. I let him know that we were heading in. He asked if I thought he should come in, too. This was my 5th baby and he asked how I felt things were going. I told him it might be a good idea for him to head to the hospital, too (he was 45 minutes away). We gathered the last of things together and left. Jen gave me some balls to put in the small of my back for counter-pressure and warned me about laboring in the car.
I was not prepared to labor in the car. HOLY SHIT! That was awful! I couldn’t sit still. I couldn’t get comfortable. My contractions are really close together and I have to vocalize through them. There is no more just breathing. I have to just sit there but I can’t just sit there. Doug is doing a great job of distracting me and making me laugh by kicking my ass at Slug Bug. I think I did manage to get one!
When we pulled into the valet parking for St Elizabeth Hospital in Enumclaw I told Doug to just go in and get us signed in. They knew I was coming but I wasn’t sure what the procedure was for signing in. Jen had followed us and would be able to help me get in. I had to wait through a contraction to get out of the car anyway. And then another before I could head for the doors. We arrived at the hospital at noon.
When we got inside they said that I would have to “register”. I told them that I had just been in on Tuesday and that nothing was different. The front desk gal said “it’ll just take a minute”. I told her that I was in labor and had called and they knew I was coming. What she said I couldn’t make up. I’m not that funny. She looked at me and said “Well you’re not having the baby now are you?”. It took me a second to even form words. Who says that? The registration lady came out and I explained to her that I was just there on Tuesday and everything was the same and they knew I was coming upstairs. She said “it’ll just take a couple minutes”. I’ve never been so thankful for a contraction in my life! I was rocked by one at that very moment. I grabbed ahold of the counter, went into a deep squat and moaned through the contraction. Both women looked like I was about to drop the baby on the floor in front of them. “You can just fill out the paperwork later”. Gee, thanks gals. You’re tops.
We made it up to the birth center and as soon as we got to the labor room I told them I needed the restroom. I sat on the toilet and instantly felt the baby move down. It was like she was waiting for that very spot to get into position. I was feeling “pushy” and having to moan through some very difficult contractions. Jen heard me and came in to check. I could hardly move. She’s telling me we need to get out of the bathroom and I wasn’t sure I could do it. I think without her Georgiana would’ve been born on that toilet. With Jen’s help I made it back into the room. I believe I must’ve hit transition either in the car or in the bathroom.
From this point on in my mind everything pretty much happened at the same time. While I do remember most of the order the space between is pretty much not there. From this point on my brain is simply following the orders from my body. Everything is instinctual and I gave into that instinct. I allowed my body to take over and listened to the signals I needed to in order to birth my baby. Because I know when we got to the hospital (noon) and when Georgiana was born (12:41) I know that everything happened in that amount of time. It felt like 10 minutes if I had to guess. Otherwise I have no real recollection of time. Also, I have very few “picture memories”. There are some. Jen’s face here and there, or Doug’s smile, or his eyes – but that’s it. My memories are mostly feeling and audio. Like listening to a story with your eyes closed.
After I came out of the bathroom I immediately held onto Doug through another contraction. By this time the nurses are in and are asking if I can get on the bed so they can check how dilated I am. I looked at the bed and it was like a dream sequence from a movie where the furniture gets farther away the more you need to sit down. While I know it was only a couple of steps to the bed, it might as well have been a mile. I knew there was no way I was making it to the bed. When she asked again if I could make it to the bed I just shook my head. She said she would have to check me with me standing up and that was OK as far as I was concerned. I was NOT getting near that bed. Not then. I was dilated to 7cm at this point. I think that was the only cervical check I had. I had the idea that I would try and sit on the birthing ball through some of the contractions. Apparently that was not the best idea I had all day and I knew instantly that I would find no relief there. I hit my hands and knees and spent a couple contractions there. Then, with little warning I threw up! I wasn’t expecting it, but I felt better once I had. After that I felt like I could make it to the bed. It was the farthest 3 feet I’ve ever had to walk. At some point close to this Dr. Merrill arrived.
I crawled onto the bed and remained on my hands and knees. I remember the nurses and Dr. Merrill asking me if I could turn over and all I could do was shake my head. The message I was getting from my body was “No” so that’s what I was relaying. I raised the back of the bed as high as I could and just hung from it. I remember telling Doug and Jen that I just needed a minute. The contractions were hard and fast and I was having trouble wrapping my brain around them. It was definitely getting to be too much. I remember saying “I just need a minute to rest”. I was moaning and yelling through the contractions and I needed a moment to get some quiet in my own head. (I’m sure the staff would’ve been OK with a moment of silence, too!) I remember Doug telling me how great I was doing, how beautiful I was and that we would see our baby soon. As I moaned and yelled through contractions I would hear him telling me that I was doing just what I needed to do to bring our baby out. He would tell me how much he loved me. I remember Jen’s voice, too. Reassuring and calm. As I would get to the end of a contraction and start to wonder if I could make it to the end of it her kind words of encouragement and soft touch were just what I needed. When I finally got a minute to rest between some contractions I was aware of only her and Doug’s voices and Doug’s hands. I remember Doug putting a cool towel on the small of my back and feeling like that was the most wonderful and loving thing he had ever done for me. It was the most wonderful touch I had ever felt. I looked at him and I don’t think I’ll ever forget the love I saw in his eyes.
I vaguely remember hearing Dr. Merrill ask me if I could turn over. I knew I couldn’t. I’m not sure if I ever answered him. I am grateful that I had a provider like him. I learned later that he was reigning in the nursing staff. When they were rushing and trying to get a heartbeat and trying to get the monitors on he shooed them away saying I was fine and baby was fine and waiting a few minutes wouldn’t hurt. When they were getting upset that I didn’t have an IV and wanted to at least get a hep-lock started, again, he waived them away assuring them that things were progressing fine and that it wasn’t needed. He has seen enough natural births to know when things are happening the way they are supposed to. When I finally did feel like it was time to turn over Doug said I just flipped over. He said he hadn’t seen me move that fast in weeks and I surprised everyone around me! I knew it was time to lay back and so that’s what I did. It never occurred to me that what I was doing was anything but exactly what I needed to be doing at that time. Right about this time is when I started to push. This part wasn’t very long. I grabbed onto the top of the rails of the bed and actually lifted myself to help with the pushing. I don’t know if it actually helped or not but it made sense in my head at the time. (My arms and sides hurt like hell the next day! LOL) I know there were 3 or 4 where I would push her down and as soon as I would stop she would go back up a bit before she started crowning. I think there was another 5 or 6 before I was able to get her out. Between some of the pushes I was aware of some discussion of Doug’s glove size since he wanted to help deliver our youngest daughter. Again, Dr. Merrill’s support in this was amazing. I remember snippets of conversation about what was happening and what he would be doing. I remember looking at him and feeling such joy for him. Knowing that he would be one of the first people to touch our daughter meant the world to me. It also helped to motivate me to bring her into his waiting hands. I could wait. I was fighting against the “ring of fire” (If you don’t know what it is other than a Johnny Cash song then Google it) and had all the time in the world. But how could I delay bringing our daughter into the waiting hands of my husband? Like in so many things, Doug’s smile was my motivation.
I was finally able to push her head out and then her shoulders. Dr. Merrill helped turn her for this and then let Doug take over and lift out her body. He placed her on my stomach and she was amazing! She didn’t cry. She looked at me with these bright eyes and seemed to take me in as much as I was her! Doug was there with me and the world stopped for just a moment.
At 12:41PM Georgiana Grace was born and the world was right again.
She was 9lbs 3oz and 21.5 inches long.
A few minutes later Doug cut her cord. I delivered her healthy placenta without incident. I had one small tear that Dr. Merrill said would heal on it’s own and I didn’t have any stitches. Doug eventually took her to be weighed, measured and examined. Although the nurses examined her, Dr. Merrill also made sure to do his own thorough examination of her. Within a few minutes she was nursing like a champ. Her blood sugar was very low (26. Normal is 55.) and they asked that I supplement a little formula at the same time and I agreed. They just placed a little tube in her mouth along with the breast. Jen hugged and congratulated us and left us to attend another birth.
I could not have asked for anything better than the birth that we had. While this is not the birth story I wrote in my head night after night, it is the one I will tell year after year. Georgiana made a forceful entrance but has been mostly quiet ever since. She is nursing like a champ and sleeping even better. She sleeps almost 7 hours most nights already. She is the light in everyone’s eyes and I’m afraid she’ll be spoiled beyond any hope of repair before too long.