The day that Penelope came into the world was unlike anything I've experienced. It was full of a wide range of emotions... emotions I was not expecting to feel. There are so many details I want to record and remember, and I won't be sugar coating anything so if you are faint-hearted or about to give birth soon you may want to come back another time :)
But first, let me back up to my due date. November 4th.
What happened on that day, you ask?
Nothing. Nada. Zip.
I wasn't all that surprised. I had been having mild contractions (or as Hypnobabies calls them- pressure waves) for a couple of weeks and they were never consistent. Sometimes I began to convince myself that they would be, but no... usually by the afternoon they were gone altogether.
The next day, I went in to see my midwife and she checked me at 3 cm, which didn't really give me much hope. I trusted that our babe would come on her own time and though the midwife wanted to schedule an induction date just in case, I refused.
If nothing happened by the 11th (41 weeks) , I was scheduled to come in and get an ultrasound and fetal monitoring to make sure all was good. This would be a three hour long appointment. After going home and thinking about this a LOT, something felt uneasy to me. I realized that wanting to wait to go into labor on my own was for sort of selfish reasons and not for the good of the baby. I decided that if I was going to spend 3 or more hours at the hospital on Jonathan's day off (Veteran's Day), it should be to have a baby. :)
So, a bit nervously, I arranged to have a "natural induction" for that morning (instead of the ultrasound and monitoring) by having my water broken. I had my water broken after being induced with pitocin for my other two deliveries and I know it's not fun...in fact, it's like the most uncomfortable thing ever. But it was better than waiting and waiting to go into labor, and I kept reassuring myself that I could still deliver naturally with this one step of non-invasive intervention.
Over the next few days I did EVERYTHING to get labor going, in hopes that maybe we'd get her out before the 11th :) We ate spicy Chinese, walked the mall up and down, I bounced and bounced on my birth ball, did stretches to bring the baby lower, and all that other jazz that they say helps jumpstart contractions. Still nothing. I even raked all the leaves in our front yard- and that was a lot of leaves :) At one point I asked Jonathan to supervise me mowing the lawn with our push-mower, but the rain wouldn't let up and the grass was too wet to mow. haha.
I was a bit frustrated but more than anything, just really sad. I have about a dozen friends with due dates after mine that already were holding their sweet newborns in their arms. Was I super happy for them? Of course! Was I jealous? HECK YES. I have never felt more jealous over anything ever. I wasn't expecting to be so sad over something that should be so exciting. I listened to my Hypnobabies tracks to stay optimistic and hopeful. We also said many prayers for baby to come soon, but I didn't feel comforted until the morning of the 10th. THE DAY BEFORE MY INDUCTION.
I don't know what it was about that day, but something inside me felt so calm. The night before I didn't sleep much- I had bad dreams about natural birth. I woke up at 5 am before everyone else (even the kids, which NEVER happens) and got in the shower to relax. I realized that my bad dreams probably stemmed from the fact that I was having actual contractions. Since this was not unusual, I thought nothing of it. But as the minutes went on, the waves remained consistent- ranging from 2-6 minutes apart. Jonathan woke up and got ready for work, and I came out into the living room and said:
"Sooo...just so you know, I've been having contractions and they're pretty close together. But they don't hurt much...should I call just in case and see what to do? You might be late for work if we have to go in..."
As my voice trailed off I realized that this could actually be happening. I called L&D at the hospital and the nurse said "Third babies are tricky. Even though your contractions are not intense, they could be any minute. I would come in and get monitored just in case."
Jonathan called his work and we got the kids up and ready. Despite the situation, nothing was panicked. We were all really calm about it, mostly because I kept saying "It's probably nothing. If it is- yay! But it probably isn't..."
We all had breakfast, I did my hair and makeup (if I'm gonna have a baby I want to feel "put together"... hehe), and we packed our hospital bags into the van in case this was for real. The plan was that all of us would go to the hospital, see what was what, and assess what to do from there. As we drove the waves remained a few minutes apart and I got super giddy. They still did not hurt much, just felt like mild cramps. When we arrived I checked into L&D ("Um, I think I'm labor? But I'm not sure..." I felt like an idiot. ) and they put me in a triage area to get monitored. It was about 7:30 am. Jonathan and the kids waited in the hall while the nurse asked me some questions and hooked me to the monitor. Each time one would come she'd say, "Wow, you're handling this so well. You sure that didn't hurt?" It really didn't. I thought maybe something was wrong with me. Then she did a cervix check and announced that I was a good 5 cm and should probably stick around since I was 6 days overdue. I could hardly believe it. Jonathan and the kids came in and I said,
"Hey kids, guess what? Momma's gonna have a baby today!" Jonathan looked at me with a huge grin and watery eyes, which made me break down and cry happy tears, too. I don't know why we were crying...maybe it was the hormones, or maybe we were just so READY to meet our little one. Either way I was all of a sudden very excited and nervous. We called the babysitters we had lined up and got a schedule set for the kids. Our good friends came straightaway to meet us and pick up Talmage & Charlotte for the day & night. We were truly blessed to have such great support when we really needed it. Soon after the kids left, my contractions got a little stronger and I definitely felt like things were happening. It was difficult lying on the bed through these contractions, and the nurse assured me that I would be able to get up as soon as my midwife came to talk with me. Kitty (midwife) was there soon and agreed that it was best for me to stay and have this baby :) We waited a few more LONG minutes for our birthing room to be ready, and then got settled in. Once again I had to lay on the bed and be monitored a little more while they put in a saline lock (which is just a poke in the hand in case I would need an IV later). As soon as all that was done and over with, Jonathan and I were left to ourselves. We turned the lights down, the heat up, and played my Hypnobabies tracks on our ihome. I changed into some comfy clothes and sat on the birth ball, breathing slowly through each contraction.
My grandma passed away last October. I suffered from pretty serious depression and anxiety after that, and soon after we found out we were pregnant with #3. I always felt her presence with me through this pregnancy...when I would get exhausted or emotional and the blessings began to pour in, when we found out we having a girl, and when I went over my due date and imagined her playing with our child in heaven just a little bit longer. And now I felt her with me as I prepared to bring her great-granddaughter into the world on her own birthday. I was incredibly touched and knew that it was no coincidence. I was even more determined to have our baby girl on this very special day.
I had requested to be left alone with Jonathan while I labored, so it was just the two of us. It was super relaxing in the room...perhaps too relaxing, because about 2 hours later the contractions fizzled out and then just stopped altogether. This concerned me and it concerned the midwife a little, too. She suggested we walk around.
So we walked around the halls and tried to get them going again. Lots and lots of walking, all the while listening to Hypno-tracks with my earbuds. I even did squats and lunges down the hallway. Nothing seemed to change so we went back to the room and I bounced vigorously on the ball. Still nothing. I started feeling that it was too good to be true...things were just too darn easy and perfect for this to be happening. I thought for sure that we would end up leaving and without a baby. Totally unrealistic, I know, but emotions are bizarre when you're in labor.
Kitty said that it's not uncommon to "plateau" at this point. I asked her if it was false labor and she said "Oh no- real labor got you to 6-7 cm. But sometimes this just happens." She gave me two options:
1. Wait for consistent contractions to start again, which could take who knows how long...and possibly go home if they didn't,
2. Have my water broken- which would get it going for sure- and have the baby within hours.
Go home? After I was all checked in and poked in the hand and my kids were at the babysitters? Go home when I'm already over my due date and super anxious? No, going home was NOT an option. Jonathan and I sat alone for a few minutes and we mutually felt right about breaking my water. It's funny how it worked out because I felt a LOT better about having it broken during this time then if we would have gone the next morning to be "induced". I had gone into labor on my own just like I hoped I would and that was all I wanted. So to have a little help at this point did not seem like such a big deal.
After the dirty deed was done (and yes- super uncomfortable. Is telling me that its just like a crochet hook supposed to make me feel better?) and I had fluids gushing outta me like crazy, I tried to bounce some more on the ball while leaning on pillows at the end of the bed. But every time I bounced I would gush...bounce, gush, bounce, gush...and this became really unpleasant. Plus, the contractions came back full throttle and were super intense. This happened in a matter of minutes after my water was broken. It was true magic...and true pain. Jonathan gave counter-pressure massages and we stayed in this manner for about an hour.
Then he filled the tub thinking it would be much nicer...even added some calming lavender drops. While we stood there in the bathroom I had about 3 really TOUGH contractions and leaned against him for support. This tub was deep and had jets, so I thought for sure I would love it. I was SO very excited to labor in that tub- it was something I looked forward to the entire pregnancy. Well, I was in there for about 15 minutes before yelling that I needed OUT. Nothing about the water was helping me- the jets were annoying and since I couldn't get my left hand in the water (because of my saline lock), I had to have my arms over the edge of the tub through each contraction. Jonathan used his "Relax" cue and I smacked his hand away while groaning deeply. It was just awkward and difficult. Plus, something definitely did not feel right.
Jonathan helped me out and BAM- those contractions were one right on top of the other with NO breaks in between. I could barely move or speak, but I motioned to Jonathan to help me out of my wet bra and gown. And then I was naked, standing over the bed, in sheer agony and wondering how to hold myself up without crumbling on the floor. My whole body felt tight like a rock...almost like a charlie horse but everywhere- especially in my stomach. The only position that felt right was to crawl onto the bed and get on my hands and knees. As soon as I did this, I had one super strong contraction and then...pressure. Like nothing I've ever felt.
"P... P... PUSH! GOTTA PUSH!"
Jonathan and I were both in shock. It had only been an hour and a half since my water was broken..only an hour and a half since I was 6-7 cm. And now baby's head was coming down. Un. Real.
He pushed the nurse button since we were by ourselves and I screamed into the speaker "I GOTTA PUSH!" Right away my midwife and nurse rushed in and told me not to push quite yet because my cervix could tear. But I had no control over what was happening. She was coming down and it was fast. The midwife checked my cervix to be sure it was time...I tuned out and tried not to panic.
There were about 3 seconds where the pressure was gone, like light breaking through the clouds. Looking back on it I wonder if this is God's way of giving a woman a last little bit of strength before the final push. Jonathan got up by my head and said in my ear: "You can do this. You're almost done and you're doing so good. It's almost over. Just push when you feel that it's right. I'm right here." His words were truly the most comforting words I had ever heard from another human being. I couldn't respond, and although I shook my head in a way that said "No I can't- you're crazy and I'm gonna lose it" I did feel somewhat more confident. And then...the pressure returned and-
I faintly heard the midwife say "She's crowning. There's no time- get the tray! Okay Lindsey, PUSH!"
I had read in my Hypnobabies manual that midwives/nurses/doctors should not tell a woman when to push because only she knows when the time is right. Well, this was obviously the right time and I was never more happy to be told to push. I needed to relieve this insane pressure as soon as possible or else I would die. I truly believed that.
At this point I was too far gone mentally to remember if I pushed very strongly or not. I just remember the pressure being so intense, and so unbearable, that I screamed without holding anything back. I yelled and I screamed and I cried...while naked and on all fours. I felt like a wild animal. Those animal instincts kicked in even more after her head was out, and I gave one last effort to deliver the rest of her body. After she was out, I felt like I was going to lose consciousness. I stayed paralyzed on my hands and knees and shook my head when they told me I needed to turn over to hold her. Of course I wanted nothing more than to hold my baby... but I could. not. move. Eventually they picked me up and turned me over with Jonathan's help. The baby was placed on my chest and just like that, my attention was completely on her. She was warm and pink and beautiful. She looked exactly like Charlotte did when she was born, but I knew she would be her own little person. I just laid there and held her, except when I tried to look at her I couldn't open my eyes. My muscles in my eyes simply did not work. Jonathan had been watching me intently and he noticed right away and said "Are you okay?" I told him I couldn't open my eyes and my midwife told me to keep them shut for a few seconds. It's kind of a mystery as to why this happened...but I guess the process of pushing pulled all all blood down to my legs and disabled my eyelids from opening. This feeling only lasted for a few minutes and then I couldn't stop staring at her.
I thought the pain was over, but I still needed to deliver the placenta and was having a bit of a hard time. Kitty massaged my uterus hard and told me to give a gentle push, but I refused to move my muscles. I still felt like I couldn't move any part of my body aside from holding up my arms to cradle the baby. Eventually it was out and I breathed a deep sigh of relief.
I didn't believe Kitty when she told me that I only pushed once. It felt more like 3-4 pushes. I also didn't believe her when she announced that I didn't tear at all and the swelling was minimal. How that is even possible is beyond me... somehow she came out perfectly, with no damage to herself or to me. I was so relieved to hear she was okay because I feared that I hurt her by not pushing the way I had imagined (gently, and slowly...is that even possible?!).
The entire experience was indescribable, but one word I might use would be humbling. I have a new-found respect for how Heavenly Father created women and the powers of procreation that we are given- regardless of how we give birth. Something I thought about a lot afterwards...throughout this pregnancy my biggest fear was that I wouldn't know what to do...that I would be out of control with my body while in labor. But somehow my body knew for me and instead of working against me, it became one with my mind. I admit that the pushing part was somewhat traumatizing, and writing out that part was emotionally difficult. I may have had to get up a few times and go cry before coming back to finish the post. But truly, that day is one that I will cherish for the rest of my life.
We named her Penelope Lynne. We always use family names for our kid's middle names- and Lynne was the middle name my grandmother gave to my mother. It was really special to feel Grandma's presence throughout this entire day- her strength and her love. I know that she looked after our Penelope in heaven before sending her down to us at just the right time!
First family picture with the FIVE of us!
We are all loving miss P- every little bit of her. She's sweet, chubby, smiley, and wonderfully soft. There's nothing like a new baby to remind you of the beauty in this life.
The kids are adjusting to the lack of attention from mommy, but both are super helpful in helping take care of her. It's been two weeks since we took her home and there are a handful of things we've noticed about her- she loves sucking on ANYthing she can get her hands on, she flutters her eyelids while she dreams, and she really likes having her face right next to yours. We love our little Poppy!