Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Your Birth Story

Dear Scarlett,
So many people told me you would come early. I wasn’t sure I believed them, although it certainly felt like you were close. I started having very regular contractions about a week before you were born. They didn’t hurt, and I knew it could still be a while before you arrived, so I tried not to get too excited. It was hard!

March 22 was my first official day off work, and you clearly didn’t want me to enjoy my time off. Real labor started that day. Daddy went to work in the morning, and I began my day by thinking about how often the contractions were coming. It was every 7 minutes or so, but I still thought they were the “fake” kind. I spent my morning on Facebook and emailing Daddy about the things I was reading. He emailed back “THIS is how you spend your time off?”

At 10am, he decided to come home and we took a walk and went to The Little Chihuahua for lunch. I had spicy tortilla soup because I thought it might get you going. And it did—we had to leave the restaurant when my contractions got stronger. At around 3:30pm we started to time them, and they were coming fairly regularly, about 7 minutes apart. I was in the kitchen making cookies for the nurses at the hospital, but I still didn’t truly believe I was in labor. We called our doula, Angelika, just to let her know what was going on. She said that since I was still making cookies (even though I had to stop and lean over the counter with each contraction), I was likely only in very early labor. But she wanted to come over anyway to see how far along I was. She told me I was 1.5 cm dilated and to call her as things progressed.

The afternoon continued much the same way. We started watching Couples Retreat, and Aunt Liz came over. Dad tried out his video camera and Aunt Liz performed imitations of me having contractions, making us all laugh. I was on the floor kneeling on a pillow with my arms and head resting on the couch during the contractions, which were painful but totally manageable.

After a while, that stopped working and I decided to take a bath. The hot water was really nice, and I stayed there for a while. Aunt Liz left, and the contractions started to pick up in intensity. I got out of the tub, but stayed in the bathroom on my hands and knees on the floor. Dad brought pillows in and sat on the edge of the bathtub so he could squeeze my hips together when the contractions came. You were really on the way, and it hurt more than I had imagined it could. But I tried to stay calm and think about you. We called Angelika and when she arrived, she told us I was 5cm dilated.

It was so exciting. Our whole plan was to get to about 5cm at home and then head to the hospital--and it was working. You were very cooperative! I rested in bed for a few more contractions while Angelika rubbed my back and shoulders and told me to let the contractions wash over me. She wanted me to be completely limp and not fight the pain. That was tough, but having her there helped immensely. Between contractions I just rested quietly. Dad got everything we needed into the car and we left. I had about 3 contractions in the car, and as we approached the hospital, we both realized that he had never been there and had no idea where to go. He was out of town when I did the hospital tour. I had no glasses or contacts on (both had been packed in the hospital bag), so I was no help. We had to ask someone where to go, which was a little stressful. When we got into the hospital around midnight, a security guard took one look at us and pointed down the hall. “That way, man,” he said to Dad. I guess it was pretty obvious why we were there.

When we got to Labor and Delivery, Angelika gave the nurses our birth plan—we wanted you to be born without any intervention or pain medication, and we asked that the environment be very calm and quiet. The lights were turned off almost completely in the room, and everyone left except for Dad and Angelika. I drank pink lemonade and water, and moved around the room a lot, trying to get comfortable, which was impossible. As you got closer to coming, I got a little scared. I wasn’t sure how much longer I could take the pain. Angelika rubbed my head and told me you were almost here. Dad told me to keep thinking about you and what a great job I was doing. I started to feel like I needed to push you out. We were still alone in the room, so Dad tried to get on the phone to call the nurses station, while Angelika yelled into the hallway “There’s a baby coming!”

Suddenly the room was full of people and they were all telling me to push. Harder, harder, harder, they kept saying, even though my chin was in my chest, my lungs felt like they would explode and I was pushing as hard as I possibly could with every contraction. For a moment, this part actually felt like a break, since it didn’t hurt as much. I was sitting up against pillows and had my feet in my hands, pulling them towards me. I reached down to feel your head, which was like a lumpy bowl of oatmeal. Sorry, but it was. Each push felt like it could be my last, and finally (after only about 20 minutes) one of them was. You came out in a whoosh, and were placed on my chest briefly. The nurses thought you might be having trouble breathing, so they whisked you away to a corner of the room (Dad went with) for a few minutes. I kept asking for you, since I knew you were just fine.

When they gave you back to me, I held you and stared. I couldn’t believe it was over and that you were with us. It was the single most amazing experience I have ever had, and although I can no longer remember the pain of it (thankfully), I will always remember how shocking and truly incredible it felt to know that you had arrived. You were—and are—beautiful. I could look at you forever.

You were born at UCSF on March 23rd at 4:33am. You were two days early, weighed 7 lbs 9 oz, and measured 20 inches long. Once you came out, your head did not feel like oatmeal.

I love you,