Friday night was a pretty normal evening for us. We all went to church (Alejandro, Danny, my Mom, I and my big ol' belly) and enjoyed a typical evening with Yahweh, family, friends and good food. Most everyone's greeting to me was, "What!? You're still pregant!? You're not supposed to be here!"
After about 3 weeks of contractions, I wholeheartedly agreed! ...But I'd also reached the point of resignation and reluctant patience. My mom's birthday is May 2nd, so I decided that maybe if I started hoping he'd wait and be born on her birthday, that then he'd go ahead and come early. Ya know... reverse psychology with God. 'Cause that always works well.
Hardy har har. Be careful what you wish for! ;-)
Another friend said she didn't want to see me next week, and then my mom piped up and said, "Oh, she'll go have the baby and be back in church by next week!" Well, that just might happen, folks.
Because after an extra late night chatting with friends, a stop at the gas station on the way home, and a late night snack of olives, chocolate and cheese - hey, I was very pregnant, people - I laid down to sleep for all of 2 or 3 hours. At 1:20ish in the morning, I woke up after being kicked REALLY HARD by my sweet 2nd boy. I groggily thought, "That was hard enough to break my water!" Actually, he'd been working at breaking that bag of waters at church while I walked to the car. I dozed off again, then woke a few minutes later feeling some fluid seeping and thinking, "I wonder if he really did break my water." Another few minutes and a snooze later, I woke up and realized it was more than just a trickle.
1:28 a.m.: "Ale! Wake up. My water just broke."
The 30 seconds that followed were absolutely comical, as a totally sleeping man flew out of bed, came around to my side, and tried to find a towel, which happened to only be at the foot of the bed, but it took 3 times telling him where, before he could locate it.
Then I made my way to the shower and stood there as fluid gushed out of me. That is the WEIRDEST feeling. I always wondered what it felt like, because with Danny's birth my water was broken after an epidural. It's WEIRD. Anyway, my contractions weren't any harder than they'd been the past 3 weeks (yet) so I calmly called our doula and our photographer and told them my water had broken. Then I started to get dressed, enjoying the hot shower and knownig it was probably the last time my muscles would feel totally relaxed for quite a while. It was a slow process, because my waters didn't all come out at once, but rather would come in gushes and then I'd have to hurry to the toilet and/or change my pants. By 2 a.m., contractions were a minute and a half apart, lasting about 30 seconds, but still not super uncomfortable. By 2:30 a.m., my hair was done, I was dressed (for the 2nd or 3rd time), my make-up was done (oh yes, I did) and I was gathering the last few items to put into my suitcase. And by then, I was having to stop and breath through each contraction. Things were getting serious.
We left the house at 3a.m. By then I had quit chatting about anything I didn't have to and I'd started being bossy about how to help me through contractions. We checked into Labor and Delivery by 3:15a.m. and I was shaky and breathing hard. I knew I needed to remember how to relax my way through contractions, but I couldn't remember what to do and I really just wanted my doula's help. After a few minutes, Nicki (doula) arrived and she and Alejandro switched places (because they only allow one person in triage with you). Her presence was immediately calming. I was able to express my fear about a few things. I remember saying, "I need to relax and I don't know what to do." I remember telling her I was scared. When they checked me, I was only 3 cm dilated and she could tell that had me worried.
Then I remember her telling me how to breath. I remember her reminding me that an epideral IS one of the tools in my "tool box" and it WOULD NOT mean failure. I remember her calming voice and gentle touch and being SO GLAD she was by my side.
After another 20 minutes or so, during a hard contraction, I caught my breath and had the urge to push. I told the nurse that I didn't care that only 2 people were allowed in the triage room, that I didn't want Alejandro to miss a moment and I needed Nicki's help, so they admitted me to a room.
From here, the timing of things gets fuzzy... I know we tried several positions and I struggled to ever find a way to relax. Contractions were coming so hard and so fast that the nurses hardly had a chance to check me. After 3 tries, they finally gave up on trying to get an IV lead into me. I ended up delivering without it. When they finally did get a chance to check me, I'd gone from 3 cm dilated to 5. It was about 4 a.m.
Nicki looked at me then and said, "Ok, it's decision time. You're half way. If you want an epidural, now's the time. If you wait much longer, they won't give it to you. I believe you can do this. But it's up to you." I now SO appreciate that she had this conversation with me. It was so empowering, and it also really helped me pace myself.
But, "I don't know if I can do this," were the thoughts that came to mind. According to Alejandro, I voiced those thoughts out loud several times, as well.
"Let me think," I said. Two contractions later, I had the urge to push and had completely forgotten about the epidural.
After that, I just remember everyone yelling (well not really) at me, "DON'T PUSH!!! YOU CAN'T PUSH!!"
I had to pant really hard to keep from pushing, and even then, I couldn't keep from pushing a bunch of times. I went from 5 cm to 7 cm in the next hour. Somewhere in there, maybe about 4:45 a.m., without warning, I GOT UP ON THE BED, turned around on my knees and hugged the back of the bed. (Picture a hospital bed that sits up and I'm kneeling where one usually sits and leaning over the back of it.) Alejandro sat behind the bed and held my hands, while Nicki put all of the weight of her tiny frame into my tail bone to couunter the pressure. She kept telling me not to push and Alejandro held my hands and squeezed as I squeezed his hands and panted through more contractions. I kept telling her to put more pressure and she was giving Alejandro looks like, "I'm pushing as hard as I can!"
"DON'T PUSH, RENEE! YOU CAN'T PUSH!" she kept saying.
Desperately, I cried, "I CAN'T NOT PUSH!!! I CAN'T!!!"
And then in a moment, the Holy Spirit caused me pause and said, "YES, YOU CAN!" And I started saying, "I can do this. I can do this. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. I can do all things through Yahweh the Messiah who strengthens me."
Then I had a cheering team and I do remember the nurse saying, "You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you!"
At about 5 a.m. they told me I was at a 7 and I said, "Is this transition!? Please tell me this is transition!!"
"Yes, sweetie, this is transition.!" Nicki said.
With the next contraction, I absolutely couldn't keep from pushing, and I yelled, "HE'S COMING!!"
The doctor had arrived - I have no idea when - and the nurse said, "We've got to get her turned around NOW."
In seconds, I turned around and sat down, they checked me and told me I was at 8 cm, and the bed was taken apart to prepare for delivery. I told Nicki to grab the camera and to start shooting pictures!! (Little did I know, that at that point, my dear sweet photographer, Sharayah, was running around the hospital, begging the security guard to let her through the door!) There was no time for anything else, and Alejandro started (somehow) snapping pictures and holding up my leg at the same time, while talking to the photographer.
FINALLY I was told I could push with the next contraction. I'd gone from 8 to 10 cm dilated in about 15 minutes and I gave 3 hard 10-second pushes with that contraction. It felt SO good to finally be able to do that!!
Then time stood still, as the doctor - who was absolutely fantastic - looked me in the eyes and said, "Renee, you're doing amazing. You are doing so great! I need you to hold back and not push SO hard next time or baby's going to come shooting out too fast. So just hang back and don't push too hard, okay? You're doing fantastic."
With the next contraction, I pushed 2 or 3 more times. I remember the doctor saying, "That's great! That's amazing control. Way to go! He's coming! Keep pushing through the burn!"
And then he was out! Just like that. His head came out with the first or second push and then his body slipped out with the next one.
"He's out!?" I said, unbelievingly.
"His head is out!" they said. After the last push, they put him up on my abdomen and all I could do was look and cry and say, "I did it! I can't believe I did it!" And then I talked to my newest boy and watch as Alejandro cut the cord and enjoyed a few minutes with him on my abdomen and took in all the afterwards moments.
He weighs 7 lbs, 14 oz and he's 20 inches long. I have a 2nd degree tear, which is not a terribly bad one, considering how fast it went. Gianni is nursing, filling his diapers and sleeping like a champ. I am sort of in awe that in 4 hours I went from my water breaking to delivering a baby and how great I am feeling not even 24 hours after the birth. I'm super proud and blessed to have the support to have the natural birth experience that I always wanted. And above all, I am in love with our baby boy.
Gianni means, "God is gracious." I am so filled with the knowledge and peace that He is indeed, so gracious.