Hi there! Sorry for the lack of posts... I've had my hands full. (Apparently I am not so good at juggling baby and life as some other moms I know of. Oh well.) I am excited to eventually start writing more as the little one starts napping on her own a bit more (some day, right?!). I have been working on the birth story though... it's a long one! :) * * * *
It was just after 10pm when we went to bed the night of February 12th. I was uncomfortable as usual... I'd been uncomfortable for the last few months of my pregnancy. Severely swollen, achy and tired. I laid down on my left side like they recommend and attempted to get some sleep.
I remembered telling my friend Brianna earlier that week that I thought I'd give birth on February 13th. It was after all, my brother's birthday, and it just seemed appropriate and inevitable that my daughter would share her birthday with one of my favorite people.
I wasn't asleep long when I felt the first contraction at 12:07am. It felt like a sharp, sudden menstrual cramp in my lower abdomen. And I breathed slowly through that first one, wondering if this was false labor or the real thing. It passed quickly and I assumed it was the former. So I closed my eyes again to sleep. And not five minutes later I felt another one come on. This one more intense. And immediately I felt my body take over and found myself on my hands and knees on the bed, head lowered as I called over to Colin, who was sleeping soundly, that "I think this might be it, babe..." The wave passed. A few minutes later it was back. Strong again. And I breathed in my position.
We turned the lights on as the third and fourth ones came on and we realized that this was indeed time -- and that it was going fast. I felt excited and ready... not scared at all. Just filled with the awesome thought that within hours I'd finally be meeting my daughter for the first time.
We called Brooke, our doula, to come over. And she arrived within the half hour, timing out each contraction, helping me sway through them, and encouraging me -- telling me I was doing a great job. That this was a natural, wonderful and beautiful beginning!
I slow danced with Colin through more contractions. Holding onto him and breathing deeply. And I was pleasantly shocked that the breath was working so well to control the pain. All my practice doing yoga breath was paying off because it was like the most intense, focused meditation. I was right there in each moment, and nowhere else. I felt excited as I realized my power over the pain -- that I could control this to some extent and then trust my body to do what it was built for.
Soon it was time to go to the hospital. Colin grabbed the bags and threw them in the car as Brooke helped me down the front stairs and into the passenger seat. I continued to feel intense and frequent contractions all the way to the hospital.
We arrived at the hospital and I think I managed to say my name and social security number before starting the walk to the birthing room. I had to stop and sway a lot during that walk. But finally we were in the room. I put on the hospital gown and the nurses started doing whatever they were trained to do. I told them I didn't want an IV as I closed my eyes and breathed through another contraction. I was doing great, and I knew it. It felt so right and I felt really calm -- until I saw my mom's face. Then tears flowed down my cheeks (I always cry when I see her and have been holding back emotion). I tried to contain myself so I could maintain my breath. She kissed me and said she was there and then left me to keep laboring with Colin and Brooke and the nurses.
A few hours later they told me I could push. And my mind screamed "It's about time!" and I gave it everything I had. My breathing was really loud now and I hummed through each push. Pushing didn't hurt like the contractions did... it just felt like this was what my body wanted to do. And I was so close to seeing my baby.
But after pushing for a few hours, the doctor said that the baby wasn't moving down the way she should, and they put an oxygen mask on me to make sure the baby was getting enough air. They broke my water and saw that it had meconium in it... not a good thing... and then the scariness started. The baby was in danger and had to come out quickly now because she was breathing in that fluid.
They told me that she had gotten stuck and that had caused my cervix to swell from 10cm back down to 6cm, and we needed to do an emergency C-section. What?! I couldn't believe I'd made it that far only to have to go another route... I felt a little like I'd failed, even though I knew it was out of my hands. Still... tears slid down my cheeks and I looked to Colin to tell me we'd be ok -- that the baby would be ok.
I was scared.
They told me I wasn't allowed to push anymore and my mind exploded. My body still wanted to push, but it wasn't good for the baby. The window for the safe vaginal birth had passed.
I consented to the C-section. And soon I was on a table in the bright white OR under glaring lights and I was shaking uncontrollably. They gave me a spinal to numb me for surgery and a drug to stop the shaking, and soon I didn't feel the need to push anymore, but I was disoriented. I knew that they were getting the baby out.
Colin was standing next to me, watching as they did the procedure. Within minutes the baby was out and he went with her as they cleaned her off and assessed how much bad fluid she'd inhaled. It felt like an eternity to me. But I wasn't clear on what was happening... I was so out of it. I cried with confusion and sorrow that I couldn't hold her right away like I wanted.
The next thing I knew I was in a recovery room and I remember hearing that I might not be able to see the baby at all because she had to be rushed to the NICU in Ft Wayne (the next biggest city to our small town) for treatment. My heart shattered... and I couldn't help but cry. I couldn't believe how badly this was turning out. This was nothing like I'd planned!
The next bit was a blur... With hushed words my bed was quickly wheeled into the nursery and I found myself suddenly holding her. This was apparently not allowed because the emergency crew was there to take her, but the nurses looked the other way as I held my baby girl for the first time and nursed her. She was so beautiful and so tiny. I couldn't believe this moment... it was more wonderful and beautiful than I'll ever be able to explain. My daughter was finally in my arms. All I felt was pure joy! Bright glowing gold joy!
I have no idea how much time passed or what happened next. I was blurry with happiness and love and meds... I found out later that Colin talked to the crew to ask them to really think hard about whether or not they needed to take her. And some kind of miracle happened because when they looked her over, she didn't need the oxygen anymore and was breathing fine on her own. This tiny 6 lb 5 oz girl wanted to stay with her mom and dad. And they decided to let her -- thank god. Thank god she was ok. She was ok...
So that, in a not-so-tiny-nutshell, is how Veda's birth went down. It surely wasn't what we planned or envisioned, and it's a mystery what exactly went wrong. But miracles happened, the surgeons were capable and swift, and a healthy baby was born -- and that's all that matters. We had our daughter.
Veda Katherine Dullaghan 6lbs 5 oz, 19.5 inches long February 13th, 2009