So - TAKE 2: Now I've got my babe sitting next to me with groggy eyes and paci in mouth. We'll see how long this lasts before the sleepiness wears off and she wants a little more attention :)
Where to start! Well, I guess we will go back to January when little miss Aubrey Isla Ho`opomaika`i Graef entered our lives! It was a crazy easy birth (I call it a dream birth) after my horrific experience with Ryenne, and I couldn't be more thankful. It was so beautiful that I actually thought "I could do this again" the minute she popped out. It was an all-natural, no interventions birth experience, and I had such a great stay at the hospital here in Hawaii as well. Everyone was incredibly supportive of all things natural - including breastfeeding.
I remember contractions starting on Monday morning the 23rd of January and then growing stronger and stronger until early Wednesday morning (1/25 at 3 am), we headed to the hospital. I kept waiting for them to get unbearable, but my body just seemed to be handling it all so remarkably well. I remember thinking when we pulled into the hospital that it all just felt pretend because this couldn't really be it. My water hadn't broken yet, but contractions were averaging out at 3 minutes apart.
When I got in, they took my vitals and immediately asked if I had a birth plan. Did you catch that? They ASKED me! We did have one, so I handed it over and the doctor literally took notes and from that point on they never ONCE asked if we wanted any pain meds/epidural. Instead, they were all so supportive and kept saying how I could do it and how great I was handling everything. They also asked me on a scale of 1-10 what my pain level was at (10 being the worst pain imaginable). I said maybe a 6 or 7 (wanting to save my high numbers for transition). They checked and I was already 7 cm dilated and I was VERY relieved that this really WAS it and that we were gonna meet our baby soon.
We were ushered into a large, quiet, dimly lit room. It's always surreal seeing all of the newborn things sitting across the room as you sit in the hospital bed feeling as though you are still ages away from meeting your babe. Little did we know that about 8 hours later she would be born :)
I managed the contractions with the support of my amazing birth partner, David <3 If you remember from Ryenne's birth, we had a doula come with us, but since she lives in Chicago, we couldn't very well fly her out here, and I felt confident that David's support was really all I needed this time anyway. He did AWESOME - kept repeating the same comforting words to me over and over again, and allowing me to squeeze the life out of his hands, shoulders, wrists, arms, waist - anything that was within reach when a contraction hit. The nurses did an amazing job of just letting me birth in peace and gave David and me lots of space to do so.
Periodically, the nurses would ask me what my pain level was at and I would continue to say a 6 or maybe an 8 once in a while. I just wanted to save those last few numbers for when things got out of hand, I thought.
At about 10am, one of the doctors came in and suggested that we try breaking the water bag since it hadn't happened yet and it might be what was keeping baby from coming out. I really really did not want to intervene at all, so David and I compromised by saying that if nothing had changed by 11, we would consider intervening.
At about 10:45, I was beginning to feel discouraged and disheartened and afraid that we would need to break the water bag. We were praying that this wouldn't have to happen, and then a big contraction hit and my water bag popped and I felt an explosion of water under me! I yelled "my water just broke!!! I need to push!!!" and while I was relieved that they wouldn't have to break it, I was suddenly very afraid of the pain to come. I had a feeling that once my water broke, things were going to get a lot more painful and progress a lot quicker.
They brought the doctor in (amazingly fast by the way), and she patiently waited for a contraction to hit and encouraged me to push. It felt SO SURREAL at this point. My pain was still remarkably manageable, yet here I was about to push out a baby! Again, it felt like it was all pretend!
I should add that there were a couple of nursing students that were in the room that were incredibly supportive! One of them was a guy and it was his first day on the job. He had been turned down by all the other ladies that day who didn't feel comfortable with a male student in the room, but we welcomed him in! I just felt like it would be so healthy for a guy in our day and age to see what the female body was made for, rather than what Hollywood makes our bodies to be! He was a CHAMP - super helpful and supportive- at one point he was even holding one of my legs when it came time to push! It didn't feel weird at all, and I would strongly encourage mamas to give students and especially male students a chance if they have the opportunity :)
So! Back to the story. I was fully dilated at this point and baby was definitely on her way out. I remember with Ryenne feeling so discouraged when everyone would tell me that they could see her head because I wondered if they were just saying that to encourage me but really there wasn't much progress. This time, I started to feel the same way. It felt like with every push there was no progress. Someone offered me a mirror which I promptly turned down (I never wanted to use a mirror!), but after a while I asked if they could bring it in and it helped me immensely! It was so good to see the progress and finally made me BELIEVE that this baby was really REALLY coming! No more pretend!
I remember with the last push, they were saying that this was it - I took one last look at the little head on its way out, then pushed with all my might with my eyes closed! The next thing I knew, she was right there!
Well there you have it! Aubrey Isla's beautiful birth story. There was no NICU stay this time, no breathing issues, no formula, no pushy doctors/nurses poking and prodding. There was just US.
So thankful for this experience! And if you are reading and you had a traumatic birth, I am so sorry. That was my first experience when Ryenne was born and it was very traumatic. I think I had a little PTSD afterwards because I could not bear to talk about her birth story for months and even years. It still brings a lump to my throat to think about it. I felt like a failure of a mother for the longest time, and prayed often that there wouldn't be a repeat of that experience when Aubrey Isla came. But God is good, and He can heal you and you can still have the birth of your dreams :) Aubrey Isla is proof of that.
Thanks for reading this overdue blog post! Hopefully this will give me a kick in the pants to keep posting more regularly.