My due date was January 22, but I was so sure I was going to have her early. I was wrong. We had our appointment scheduled for 9am with our midwife, Hannah, so we got up bright and early and started getting ready to go. I had been so uncomfortable for the past few weeks. Sleeping was uncomfortable, sitting was uncomfortable, and standing was uncomfortable. I felt huge and was losing patience waiting for our “big day.” My mom and sister had been in town for the past few days and my mom was in the living room working at 8am when I walked out of the bedroom ready to leave. As I walked out, I felt the gush and froze for a moment wondering whether my water broke or if I had just peed my pants. Hannah had given me a swab to test and I ran upstairs grabbed the stick and rushed to the bathroom. When I pulled down my pants I knew already that I had not wet my pants and that Addison was on her way!
I went back to my room and called Hannah to see what we should do. Since I had not had any painful contractions yet, she suggested I still go to Roanoke for our appointment so she could monitor the baby’s heart rate and contractions. While I stood in my closet on the phone, I heard Luke walking around looking for me. He finally found me and by listening to what I was saying to Hannah, learned what had happened. Once I hung up, we got in the car and started driving. The whole ride there I was gushing water. I was sitting on a towel that was saturated in a matter of about ten minutes. I called Hannah again to see if we should keep going and decided it was best. I was not thinking when we left and only brought one pair of pants with me. They were completely soaked and I was completely uncomfortable the whole ride there!
When we got to Hannah’s office, I wrapped the towel around me and walked in. Her office space is shared with a number of offices, an AllState office is right across from hers and the guy in the office always had his door open. I felt pretty foolish walking up to her door in front of him with soaking wet sweat pants and towel around my waist. He told us she hadn’t made it in yet so we headed for the waiting room, which was locked. I was so uncomfortable that we walked out to go to the Goodwill for new, dry pants. Luke got my pants, then drove to the CVS for new underwear. When we got back Hannah was there. She hooked me up to a machine and tracked the contractions and heart rate, which all looked good. After about forty minutes she sent us home and said she would check in after her appointments.
Once I got home, I ate a big meal of meatloaf and macaroni and cheese. That was my last meal before Addison was born, about 11:30am. By noon, the contractions started feeling pretty intense. I still had payroll to do though. I tried to do them on my own, but kept getting distracted every few minutes by another contraction. Mom was pretty concerned so she started helping me finish up and gave Elizabeth the job of tracking the time of the contractions. They were already about four minutes apart! We called Hannah sometime around two and she showed up around four to check on us. I was only a few centimeters dilated. They left to get some dinner and told me they would be back later to check in again.
I couldn’t believe how intense my contractions were. I thought I would ease into it, but there was no easing. I needed to focus from early on. By about six in the evening, I was pretty tired and in a lot of pain. I did not feel any cramping during the contractions, just intense back pain. It was like the back pain I would get during my periods, just worse.
Katrina came back to check on me around 7pm. I was lying on the bed trying to get a little rest. Luke was lying with me, but he was sleeping and it completely irritated me. After every contraction, I would drift off into a half doze until the next contraction came. After each one, I would turn around and look at Luke and give him the evil eye for being so relaxed and comfortable while I was in such discomfort. I am sure it was so boring for him, and I would probably have done the same, but since it was me, I expected him to be at my EVERY beck and call!
After a few hours of lying on the bed, Katrina suggested we start walking to progress things. I started walking up and down the steps but had to stop so often to kneel down and wait for the contraction to pass. Katrina and Luke tried applying pressure to my lower back to relieve some of the pressure. It did not seem to help at all. I started alternating between the steps and walking around the living room. I could only walk one lap around the living room before kneeling down on the pillow again to brace for the next one. I thought I must be getting so close, but Hannah and Katrina didn’t seem to think so since Katrina had not made the call to bring her back yet. I kept waiting for her to walk through the door because it would mean that Addison was close to arriving.
Hannah finally showed up, I have no idea what time it what, but when she checked me, I was only five centimeters dilated. It was really discouraging to only be halfway there. The only upside to being at five centimeters is that I could get in the birthing pool. I was grateful to have a change of pace and a more relaxing environment. The pool felt great, nice and warm, but did nothing to ease my contractions. I got in the pool a little before midnight and stayed there for two hours. Mom and Liz, who had been hanging out in the living room the whole time, went upstairs to give me more privacy. I am not really sure when I started becoming vocal during contractions, but I know I was getting pretty loud in the pool. Katrina was really helpful in directing my breathing and the noises to get the most benefit out of them. It was really hard to remember to make the right sound though. I was making a very high pitched “heeeeeh” and Katrina would remind me to make more of a lower abdominal “hhuurrrr.” I kept thinking of my mom and sister upstairs listening to me in such discomfort. I was afraid I was going to scare Elizabeth into never having kids! I read that women become kind of zombie like/sleepy to help cope with the contractions and I was exactly that. After every contraction, I would lay back against the pool wall and feel like I could completely pass out. I think the hardest part was not knowing how long that would go on.
I remember at about 12:30am, Hannah told me that we would not go any longer than the morning and if things had not progressed, we would go to the hospital and I would get an epidural. She said the point was not to be tortured. I remember watching the clock after she said that, wondering if I would be able to make it eight more hours. After twelve hours of labor, I could completely understand and empathize with any woman who chooses to have an epidural. Had I been in a hospital, I might have agreed to one.
I don’t know if I remember the transition phase or not. I just remember feeling like it was really hard not to push during the contractions. They were so close together and I had to really try to control my breathing so I did not push through them. I also started to notice some blood in the pool around this time. It was about 1:40am and Hannah suggested I go to the bathroom and then we all go the bedroom so she could check on my progress.
Those next few minutes in the bathroom were extremely intense. There was no possible way I could make myself go. I have no idea how long I was in there, but it was long enough for a handful of contractions, each of which made me all but scream because of the intense need to push. There was no way I could stop myself by that point and I was afraid because I was alone. Of course, I wasn’t really alone since everyone else was standing outside the door listening. After a number of minutes they suggested I leave the bathroom and make my way to the bedroom. When Hannah checked me, I was ten centimeters and ready to push. She was amazed and very happy by the fact that I dilated from five to ten centimeters in two hours. Now it was time for me to be active.
Luke stood in front of me and held me up for the first part of the pushing. We stood by the bed and I squatted and leaned into him with every contraction pushing as hard as I could and screaming each time. I had the very intense sensation that I was going to defecate on the floor, not have a baby. Although the pushing was really hard, it did not last very long.
It was only a matter of minutes before Hannah had me lay on the bed, with Luke behind me to support me. I continued pushing. It was so hard and really hurt! I kept trying to lift my pelvis and Hannah kept telling me to push my butt into the mattress. That made it hurt more, but I did it. Finally she saw Addison’s head. During my brief break from pushing I reached down and touched the top of her head. I was surprised by how soft it felt. I was really encouraged by being able to feel her, but I was also really scared about that last bit of pushing to get her head through. I was terrified that I would tear. Luckily, I had no tearing at all! I felt what they describe as the “ring of fire” as her head crowned. It was exactly that, a really intense burning sensation. I could tell as soon as her head was through and I was so excited because I had seen how fast everything else slides out in all the videos I had watched. It just took one more big push and Hannah lifted Addison up and placed her on my stomach. I had pushed for only fifteen minutes and I am completely thankful because I do not think I had the energy to go very long.
As soon as Addison was on my belly, all the pain I had felt disappeared. I couldn’t believe she was finally here and that she was real. I had watched my belly grow over the past eight months, but it was hard to believe that there was really a baby inside me. This confirmed all doubts! Addison had the most perfect little round head. She cried when she first came out, but as she was laid on me, she just stared at me. Luke and I were both mesmerized. It was such a powerful moment that Luke started crying as soon as he saw her. He would finally have the chance to hold his daughter that I had been carrying for all this time. He could finally help! As soon as the baby started crying I heard a knock on the bedroom door. Mom and Elizabeth had made their way downstairs and had been waiting in the kitchen through my pushing. The both came in and could not believe she was finally here.
As we explored our new daughter I still had the task of the afterbirth. I was amazed at how hard it was for me to push it out as I felt completely wiped out. Thank goodness that part does not hurt at all. I was not really sure I would want to see it, but in the end, I was too curious not to look. It was a strange looking blob. It is amazing that it was what kept Addison alive and fed the whole time she was in me. Luke cut the umbilical cord and then we continued to stare at her with Mom and Elizabeth also watching and taking pictures.
Liz started making the phone calls to let family know that she had arrived. Pete and Katy were at a hotel and told us they were going to come by in the morning. Five minutes later, they called back and said they were on the way. About forty five minutes after Addison was born, I went to take a shower and Hannah bathed Addison. She had already completed her exam and Addison had aced the APGAR. She was born at 2:04am on January 23, and weighed 7lbs4oz. She was 20 inches long. She had a full head of dark hair and dark grey/blue eyes.
It was almost five in the morning before we finally lay down to go to sleep. Addison slept on the co-sleeper between me and Luke. I was so completely exhausted, but I still had to lie in bed and stare at her for the longest time before finally going to sleep.