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Feb 13, 2017

Heidi's Birth Story: Part 1

[WARNING: Long winded-ness ahead! I've been slowly writing bits and pieces of Heidi's birth story for months (she's 5.5 months old now, oops?). Probably more info here than needs to be shared, but I want to remember it all. Every minute detail. Plus, maybe this will encourage other overdue mamas to HANG TOUGH. You can have the birth of your dreams, maybe just a littttttle later than you planned. We plan and God laughs, amen?]

Mallorie Owens Photography - 31 weeks

Being overdue after carrying around a tiny human in your uterus for 10 months just plain sucks. There's really no other way to describe it. I LOVED being pregnant, don't get me wrong, but having moved 3,000 miles cross-country at 8 months pregnant, I was DONE. I wanted to meet our girl SO BADLY and I wanted to have my body back (famous last words, my postpartum body has challenged me more than my pregnant one, go figure). I was so stressed from our move that I was almost positive I'd go into labor early. In preparation for that, my mom bought her plane ticket as soon as we settled in California and planned to be here to help support us into parenthood for 3 whole glorious weeks...a few days pre-due date and the rest postpartum. My due date was August 28th and Mom arrived to California on Wednesday, August 24th. A sight for sore eyes, that woman! I kept thinking to myself the days before she arrived, "Heidi, just stay in until Grandma gets here...then feel free to come whenever!" Interestingly enough, Heidi (and the good Lord) had other plans for making her grand entrance into the world. She made us wait 7 whole agonizing days past my due date before introducing herself...and for what it's worth...the whole experience was more perfect than I could have ever imagined.

40 weeks 5 days

In the days leading up to Heidi's birth, I did everything...EVERYTHING...to try and coax her out. The day my mom arrived, I started drinking red raspberry leaf tea twice a day and taking evening primrose oil capsules. If my midwives suggested it, I did it. I so hoped to be one of the magnificent pregnant women who do one thing differently and BOOM...baby! Nope. Turns out, babies really do come whenever they're good and ready and I'm living proof. I walked miles around our neighborhood each day, we ate spicy foods (and loads of basil and oregano, too), I bounced my brains out on a birthing ball, had sex, got a pedicure, baked and ate my weight in these
labor cookies, and even got acupressure foot massages...but NOT A BLEEPING CONTRACTION. Pretty much did everything short of reaching up there and pulling her out myself. We clearly had a stubborn gal on our hands.

Miles and miles with this bump!

As the days crept on, I started to get really discouraged. My midwives never did any cervical checks until I was in full on labor and I couldn't have my membranes swept because I was GBS positive (we didn't want to risk prematurely breaking my water and start my 18 hour labor clock ticking without my body being ready for it to tick--I wanted as few labor interventions as possible, so induction terrified me. Pitocin contractions are like contractions on steroids, or so I've heard. #nothankyou). So, I had no clue where I stood in the whole labor process and I was left to let my body work when it was ready. That would have been all good and fine had the peanut gallery not started to psych me out. The incessant well-meaning questions from every person I ever knew-- "In labor yet?" "Did you have your baby?" "I keep waiting for pictures on Facebook, she here?"...KILLED ME. I knew everyone was just as excited as we were, but the added pressure seized my uterus up like a prune with every new message. I ending up having my mom run interference. Don't text me your questions, go through my secretary and check Facebook for updates! Annnd we waited some more.

Enjoying the Preggo Pizza -- supposedly "labor enduing" -- yeahhh, didn't work. 

On Friday, September 2nd, my dad and sister flew into town. They'd bought their tickets to coincide with Labor Day weekend thinking Heidi might be here by then. Needless to say, we were all a little panicked when the weekend began and she wasn't budging. They both were due to fly home on September 6th, so I had a teeny-tiny window to have this kid, otherwise their visit would have been a total waste (ok, not a total waste...but a big fat bummer, to put it mildly). As if I needed more pressure put on my uterus to do work. We spent Friday and Saturday of that weekend preparing last things for baby and showing my family around the local area. We ate at a couple fun restaurants and watched a lot of movies...it was nice! But in the back of my mind I was constantly thinking of Heidi. I wavered back and forth between being SO READY to meet her, panicking about how long this might drag out, and being paralyzingly terrified of the imminent pain of labor. I tried not to let myself go there too often, but the fear of the unknown added a whole other layer of crazy to an already crazy time of life. The mind is such a powerful thing when it comes to baby birthing, so I did LOTS of praying. And eating See's Bordeaux candies. My two saving graces. ;)

Can I just pause here and say, choosing to deliver at a birthing center and have my prenatal care given by midwives was the best decision we ever made through this whole pregnancy journey. One of many silver linings about moving to California that I've clung to. My prenatal care with my OB in Florida was good, but looking back, it could have been better. Especially given how awesome Heidi's birth ended up being with zero medical intervention and total control on my part. But, I'll get to that later!

Early morning on September 4th, I woke up to very mild contractions that felt like typical menstrual cramps. I'd had Braxton Hicks off and on for weeks, but never any cramping. Braxton Hicks always just felt like abdomen tightening to me, although they'd gotten stronger from 39 weeks on. I didn't really think much of these cramps, but being 7 days overdue, I figured I better start tracking them just in case. D was sound asleep (as were my mom, dad and sister in various rooms in our house), so I grabbed my phone and started timing them on an app while hidden under the covers. I didn't want to cause any undue panic if this wasn't go time. Heidi seemed nice and comfy, so I wasn't very hopeful.

From 2am-5:30am I timed those mild contractions...they never amounted to much, most were 10-12 minutes apart and lasted 45 seconds. By the time 6am rolled around, they disappeared altogether. I was pretty annoyed, but not surprised given my track record up to that point. Back to square one we went, or so I thought. I decided I couldn't lay in bed and wallow any longer, so I got up and went downstairs to find my parents already awake. I mentioned the mild contractions I'd been having, but we all shrugged them off, decided I'd probably be pregnant forever, and started our day.

The morning of my non-stress test...and my last bump photo!

Prior to this at my 40 week midwife check-in, I was told if I hadn't gone into labor by 41 weeks, we'd do a non-stress test to see how baby was doing. Being Labor Day weekend (the irony isn't lost on me), I had an appointment directly at our birthing center for the NST at 11am since the midwives office was closed. Our birthing center is roughly an hour from our house (yep, we're crazy!), so while my dad and D went out to grab us all breakfast, I scurried upstairs, showered, and dressed for our appointment. I thought about those mild contractions on and off while getting ready and so wished they would start back up again. As I pulled on my jean shorts, I halfheartedly thought..."what if this is the outfit I wear the day I meet my daughter for the first time?" Looking back, I wish I'd worn something cuter. Like I'd care what I was wearing when it was go time! HA! We ate our breakfast, Heidi got lots of good luck belly rubs from my family, then D and I made our way to the birthing center for my NST.

On the car ride there, I starting having mild contractions again. Still far apart and hardly more than a handful of uncomfortable pings of pressure. In the back of my mind, however, I thought it was odd they'd picked up again. After days of total nothingness, here were some true signs of labor progress. At that moment, D and I started to become hopeful we'd meet our daughter within the next 48 hours. We spent that car ride daydreaming about the days to come...reminiscing over my pregnancy journey...praying for our daughter and for a smooth delivery. Little did we know this car ride would be among the last few quiet moments D and I would get together, just the two of us. I wish I would have relished that time more.

We arrived to the birthing center, got checked into a room (snapped above photo), and the nurse hooked me up to the monitor to watch Heidi's heartbeat and to see if I was having contractions. No surprise that my contractions were showing up on the monitor and interestingly enough, were registering about 6-7 minutes apart. In some cases, 5 minutes apart. However, they were still quite mild. After the 20 minute monitoring session was over, the nurse returned, confirmed I was in early labor, and told us that since I was still talking through my contractions we'd best go home and rest...it could still be a while. When she said that, my heart sank. I just KNEW we were close to go time, but now we had to make the hour drive back home with no baby. She did, however, go ahead and schedule my induction date for the following Sunday...my 42 week mark. I was already manic at the thought of having to be induced, but a whole week away! KILL. ME. NOW.

Funny thing about scheduling inductions...they also tend to be bonafied eviction notices. Heidi must have heard about her scheduled fate because as soon as we arrived back home from the NST, things got interesting! 


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