Many thanks to Abbie Enlund of Greening Sam & Avery for sharing her story with us.
The story of Avery’s birth started at about 2:00 pm on Tuesday, January 5, 2010 when my water broke. I wasn’t having any contractions, so Chris and I kind of took our time getting Sam (our older daughter, 2.5 years old) taken care of, cleaning up the apartment and getting our stuff together. Okay, it was just me that wanted to clean! I did not want family/friends to see a messy apartment, while we were in the hospital and other people were taking care of Sam.
About 3:00 pm we were in the car and headed to the hospital. I still wasn’t really having contractions so it seemed weird to be going to the hospital, but with the amount of fluid that I had lost we knew that I wouldn’t be going back home without Avery. Side Note: The whole “water breaking” thing, at least for me, seems to be more “water continuously flowing out” rather than that giant burst they tend to show on TV and in the movies. I just felt like I kept peeing on myself. It was really very disgusting!
We got to the hospital, found the labor-and-delivery area and got me ready to be checked out. The nurse was having trouble finding our information in the computer. I had called my doctor’s office, who then called the hospital to let them know that we were coming, plus we had sent in all the pre-registration paperwork, so it was REALLY weird that they had no record of us. (A bit of background for you: in the middle of my pregnancy we moved to a new city!) Finally Chris says to the nurse “This is Saint Mary’s Hospital, right?” The nurse looks at us, smiles and says “Nope. This is Meriter Hospital. Saint Mary’s is just down the street.” HA!! We were at the wrong hospital! Who knew that Madison had two hospitals right down the street from each other? I had to get redressed, gather up our stuff and head back to the car. Then we saw a sign saying “Meriter Hospital” when we got back to the car and could not stop laughing at how embarrassing/ridiculous the whole thing was. Kind of a hilarious way to start the journey.
So we made it to the right hospital, got checked in (they were waiting and ready for us) and were settled into the birthing suite. My contractions were still non-existent, so the nurses and doctors weren’t really in any rush to do much. They did the first test to just be sure that my water had broken, which of course it had, and then we just settled in to wait for labor to progress. Time actually went by really fast and at one point I looked at the clock and could not believe that we had been there for four hours already. My family was driving really fast and making good time, and with labor not moving that quickly we were pretty confident that they would make it in time.
Around 8:30 pm my contractions had started to kick in, but I was still barely wincing from the pain. My doctor had checked me and I was just over 3 cm dilated. He got the IV going with a very slow Pitocin drip to start moving labor along, but assured me that this would not make things go too fast and cause my family to miss the delivery. Because that is of course the most important thing when you are in labor, after all! Quickly after the IV was in, my contractions got much stronger and I asked for the epidural. They put in the orders for the epidural and got the process started.
However, my doctor quickly realized that somehow all of my prenatal blood work had been lost; they did not have a platelet count. How do you lose pre-natal records when everything is done on the computer? I was COMPLETELY STUNNED! Apparently you cannot get an epidural without knowing an accurate platelet count. My doctor came out and let me know that we had to put the epidural on hold until the folks from the lab could get there to draw my blood. I started to panic at this point, a little because the contractions were really getting bad and I just didn’t know how much longer I could truly, physically continue to handle the pain.
You know hospitals, things never quite move as quickly as doctors and nurses say they will and these folks from the lab were no different. When the woman finally came walking in, acting very nonchalant and like she had all the time in the world, I really wanted to bite her head off. It was after 9:30 pm when they had finished taking my blood. The doctor said he would need to check me to see how dilated I was before he could have the epidural put in. He checked and then came up and stood right next to me head. He whispered into me ear, “You are 9 cm. The worst of the pain is almost over. I don’t think you need the epidural. Let’s do this without drugs.” I almost had a heart attack. He could tell by my reaction that this was not something I was excited about so he went on “The pushing part is a breeze compared to what you have already been through. You are strong and I know that you can do this. Let’s do this!” My mom and Chris were pretty quiet, but I remember looking at my sister and seeing her eyes light up. She got very excited and between her and the doctor I got a very quick pep-talk about the benefits and thrills of going natural. I don’t even remember making the decision. I just remember time kind of running out because all of a sudden I HAD to push. It was too late for any other kind of pain meds so away I went with having Avery pain med free!
So I don’t really remember exactly how many contractions it took to push Avery out but it wasn’t very many. I do remember at one point I was REALLY screaming and even said to Chris that I didn’t think I could do it anymore. Ha! As if I had a choice! But with Chris right by my side, my sister yelling from behind her camera lens and my mom encouraging me I did do it, Avery came out and they immediately put her on my chest. I was shaking so bad and crying, but I had done it. Within minutes my hands felt almost normal again, my muscles started to relax and Avery was crying in my arms. I actually remember seeing her being put on my stomach, a memory I don’t have from when Sam was born (had an epidural with her that really knocked me out).
Less than two hours after Avery was born I was feeling pretty good. I could talk, move around, sit up and I even walked myself to the bathroom and took a shower. It took almost a day before I felt like that after Sam. I had no idea how different the recovery would be after a natural childbirth. Or maybe it was because it was my second or a combination of both, I don’t know. But it was awesome. I love that I have real memories from the actual labor of Avery. I love that I could actually enjoy her first moments with Chris. I love that my mom, sister and dad were there to see the struggle and then the joy of those first moments afterward.