A Belated Birth Story

*edited August 16, 2011, to include details and thoughts I want to remember.

It's been nearly 7 weeks now, but in case anyone is still interested in Adrienne's brief birth saga, I'll share.

This was not an easy pregnancy. And it was probably worse because my first was so easy. I certainly knew in my head that no two pregnancies are alike, but subconsciously I must have expected to glide through the second as smoothly as the first. When that was not the case, it was hard for me to adjust my expectations and summon the necessary coping skills. Now that I know--for at least two of the discomforts that made this one difficult are all but sure to return with subsequent conceptions--I am hopeful and prayerful that God will grant me courage and strength to endure with greater fortitude. Being mentally prepared, I think, is half the battle.

Our predicted due date was Friday, Nov. 26--the day after Thanksgiving. Carolyn was 8 days "late," so I suppose it's no surprise that I was still pregnant on Saturday the 27th. My parents and my brother had arrived on Thanksgiving Day, but we didn't get the new guest room finished in time. So Carolyn slept in the pack-n-play in our room, leaving the futon in her room to my parents and the living room couch to Brian.

I started having contractions that were actually painful sometime early Tuesday evening (November 30). But they were short and infrequent, so I helped cook and generally continued on as usual. (Roast turkey served alongside Gingered Pumpkin Soup w/ Molasses Whipped Cream makes a fabulous pre-labor meal, by the way.) In addition to my parents and brother, my aunt was here for dinner, and Kevin was working on the house with our good friend Jim. So, being me and having an inordinate love of privacy, I didn't tell anyone that labor had begun. . .even when the pain became fairly intense and the spacing was close enough to start watching the clock (except Kevin, of course. I did tell Kevin, because you shouldn't keep secrets from your husband. Especially secrets like "we're going to have a baby tonight."). I know this bothers people, this keeping things to myself. And I'm sorry. Really, I am. It's not something I can explain easily, so suffice to say that it helps me. The introvert in me copes best with pain and pressure without extra attention.

Anyway, Carolyn went to bed a little late. The men worked late. The house didn't start settling down for the night until about 11, by which time I was having a hard time masking the contractions and confessed that we wouldn't be needing our scheduled "past-due ultrasound" the next morning. We settled into the living room for a few short hours, Kevin timing the contractions and bringing me sustenance, Brian providing distractions. (He's the closest thing I've got to a sister, you know, and he's priceless. Truly priceless.) By 2 AM, I was beyond ready to call the midwife. We'd been waiting because the timing of my contractions was not what it "should" have been to indicate imminent birth, but my legs were starting to shake and I was feeling as if I was in transition. . .which, as it turned out, I certainly was. By 2:50, we met Nikki, the midwife on call, at the birth center. She did a quick exam, found me dilated to 8 cm, and stepped out to phone in the nurse. (Because it is a freestanding birth center, there is no need for 24-hour staffing unless someone is in labor.) By 3:15, I was yelling for her to come back, and by 3:27, about the time the nurse arrived, I was back in bed with a baby girl on my chest.

I think Nikki would have preferred another 15 minutes, so as to have an assistant present for birth. Oops.

Adrienne was a compound-presentation, emerging with head and hand together. I almost laughed when Nikki said she saw a hand. Of course she did! I'd been feeling a small appendage jabbing my pelvic bone for months. In fact, at every appointment I was worried that the baby had turned breech, because I knew that was not a head I was feeling so frequently. Now we know that she is a die-hard thumb sucker and, no doubt, has been since conception. She was eventually documented as weighing 9 lbs 4 oz and measuring 22" long. Kevin--who had worked all day, before coming home to work on the house, before staying up to help his wife have a baby--was exhausted and went to sleep pretty quickly after we were settled.

Full of the adrenaline that comes immediately post-partum, I dozed a little between visits from the nurse and midwife to check on Adrienne and me. There was some delay in stopping my bleeding, requiring some medication. (I believe that the undue haste with which Adrienne finally entered the world was not best for me.) Also, Adrienne's heart-rate and respiration were elevated every time they checked, but would calm back down immediately. She simply didn't like being bothered. They were eventually able to record normal numbers by gently pulling the covers back and timing her breath manually, counting the rise and fall of her torso and watching the clock. I am so grateful they made the extra effort instead of bundling us off for further observation at the hospital, where we would have had to stay for 24 hours. As it was, we were released before noon.

If you haven't seen them elsewhere, here are a few other pictures from the birth-day.

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