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And then there were four: The birth of Grace Elizabeth Unmedicated

And then there were four: The birth of Grace Elizabeth

"He says he was just trying to lighten the mood and help pass the time, but I remember him telling me it sounded like I was saying the Spanish vowels during a contraction."

We have a fourth family member! It is always such a crazy thing to have a baby in your belly one day, and then cuddling her in your arms the next.

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The week before our little girl arrived, our town got a snowstorm. We live in Kentucky, so it really wasn’t that much snow, but it shut down our city. I just kept thinking, What if I go into labor? I bet the hospital is running with a skeleton crew! Will a janitor have to deliver my baby?

Luckily, the baby held off a few days until the town could get the roads cleared. Early in the morning on Saturday, February 21, I woke up with a cramping feeling. It wasn’t anything consistent, so I ate a bowl of cereal and tried to lie back down to sleep. I kept feeling uncomfortable, so I started to think that this might be “it.” I decided to get up and shower. My last labor was pre-term and rushed, so I didn’t have time to shower or think about much before I left for the hospital. I wasn’t letting this one go down the same way. I got ready, even put on make-up and then went and woke up our toddler. I still wasn’t having real contractions, and my water hadn’t broken—so I was still in limbo on what to think.

Now my husband, bless him, is a laid-back guy. When I told him I thought I might be having early labor, his response was “Well … just let me know when I need to start timing.” He went about his morning routine, even heading outside to shovel the driveway.

We started to time my contractions, and at around 9:45 a.m. the contractions were the magical five minutes apart, lasting one minute each. I told my husband it was “go time,” and we grabbed our bags, took one last family photo of three and told our son we were going to go pick up his baby sister when we left him with a friend. Ha! If only it was that easy!

When we arrived at the hospital around 10:30 a.m., they sent us straight into a delivery room and had me change into a hospital gown. Those things are oh so flattering! I was still concerned that they would tell me I wasn’t far enough along and send us home to wallow in pain, so I asked the nurse to cut to the chase, and check how far along I was. When she did, she looked up and said, “Well, you are at 6 centimeters. You are having a baby soon!” Woohoo!

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The contractions started coming hard and fast, and the nurse asked me what I wanted to do about an epidural. I had my first without an epidural, and I went into this pregnancy hoping to do the same—but at the moment I was HURTING. I hesitated, and then responded, “I don’t … think … I want one,” as I winced in pain. It was the most apprehensive I’ve ever been, I think. An epidural sounded really good then, and I ended up signing the consent form, just in case. After I signed it though, she told me they had to administer at least two bags of fluids through my IV before I could have the epidural, so I still had some time before it was even an option.

When they checked me again, I had progressed another centimeter in less than an hour, so things were moving full steam ahead. I started to recite the coping mechanisms I had learned in our labor and delivery class, one of them being the noises to get through the contractions, sort of like “Ooh, aah, ooh, aah.” It seemed to be working well … until my husband decided to start making jokes. He says he was just trying to lighten the mood and help pass the time, but I remember him telling me it sounded like I was saying the Spanish vowels during a contraction. So sweet and supportive, huh?

In reality, though, he is the perfect birth partner. He doesn’t get worked up (at all), he helps when I ask, and he reminds me of our plan (he encouraged me several times that he knew I could deliver without an epidural). But he never pushes me in any way. They really should clone him and offer him as a sort of doula/support personnel at all deliveries. And like I said earlier, he’s got jokes—so at the time you will want to kill him, but you will have something to laugh about later.

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By noon I was tired and burning up. (That make up I put on earlier was running down my face at this point!) I asked my doctor to go ahead and break my water to speed things up even more. This is also when we found out the baby had a bowel movement while still inside my belly, so they would be monitoring her vitals closely to make sure she hadn’t ingested any of it. By 12:30 p.m. I was exhausted and even hotter, so I asked if I still had time for an epidural. (Just keeping my options open!) My nurse checked one last time and said, “Nope, you are ready to push!” Stir-ups came out, nurses came in and a big spotlight was wheeled over to light up my nether regions. My absolute least favorite part of pregnancy and labor was about to begin: the pushing. After my first set of pushes, the on-call doctor told me that I could push the baby out in the next set. That, my friends, is what I like to call “false hope.” But five contractions later, it felt like our little baby was hanging halfway out. The doctor told me I could either wait until my next contraction or keep on pushing, and I didn’t hesitate. I pushed with every ounce of strength I had left, and out she came. All 7 pounds, 3 ounces of her beautiful self was laid on top of me while my husband cut the cord. Whoa … my body had just done that, for the second time! Welcome to the world, Grace Elizabeth Robertson!

 

She is perfect, and during her first two weeks with our family, she is already fitting in wonderfully. She eats like crazy and is fussy at times, but I find that this second time around, I feel a little calmer and a little more relaxed even if everything isn’t perfect. I think from the moment she popped out, I fully realized that this time is fleeting, and I have to soak up every cuddle, every cry and every feeding—and that is exactly what I have been trying to do.

Thanks for following along on this journey for the last several months with me. I’ve loved reading your comments and being a part of this neat community of mamas. I hope all of you have healthy and safe pregnancies and deliveries and take the time to soak it all in, it goes by way too fast. Take care, mamas!

Send us your birth story! Whether you had a home birth, hospital birth, 37-hour labor or emergency C-section, we’d love to read the tale of your little one’s grand entrance. Write up your birth story (click here for tips on getting started) and email it, along with a few photos, to birthstory@pnmag.com. We’ll share it on our Birth Day blog and may even print it in an upcoming issue!