Life is crazy. I lost my sister in July of 2017. I was given a daughter in July of 2018. Needless to say it’s been an emotional year and all of those mixed emotions associated with grief ultimately ended up carrying me through the birth of Eva. Birth stories are something I love hearing and reading…so here is mine.
Everyone said that the second baby would just “fall right out”. In fact my biggest worry was that I wouldn’t get to the hospital on time. For a first time delivery Julia’s birth was relatively “straightforward”. My pushing phase was short and there was no tearing,” so baby #2 would be a breeze”.
As I neared the end of this pregnancy, the heat and humidity were really getting to me. I delivered Julia at 37.5 weeks, so the extra few weeks Eva was in my belly felt like an eternity. My two pregnancies couldn’t have been more different and …the same can be said for labor/delivery, as well as the personalities of my two daughters (my two daughters…WTF I; STACEY SCHAEDLER; have TWO daughters J).
The weeks of July 16th and 23rd I was having regular contractions at night that were resulting in jack nothing. On Friday July 27th I lost my mucus plug. I figured that THIS was a perhaps a real sign that my body was doing something. I had spent the last week and a half resigned to the fact that I would be pregnant for as long as an elephant and that this baby was going to take its sweet ass time. Saturday we had a great family day at the neighborhood pool + splash pad and Sunday was the annual Lawrence lobster fest in Hudson. I am one of those superstitious people and figured if I brought my hospital bag then nothing would happen, but if I didn’t bring it then maybe contractions would start or something. Ahhh my superstitious-self was right.
Anna and Duane (the party hosts) are both avid CrossFitters. They recently got a new Assault Bike as well as a manual treadmill. I clearly wasn’t going to run on the treadmill, but you bet your ass I did a few sprints on that shiny bicycle in their basement. Shortly there after we all headed upstairs to the living room where everyone was chilling in the AC. I got up from my seat to make sure Julia didn’t slam her finger in the piano fallboard and I felt that suddenly my shorts had gotten wet. I went to the bathroom and called Anthony in. I wasn’t positive but I had a feeling my water had broken. Before we left I managed to leak amniotic fluid on Anna’s spotless kitchen floor and tell my mother in law that the liquid at my feet was in fact “from my VAG”.
I had SO BADLY wanted this baby to come, no sooner had things started moving in that direction, I found myself super emotional about Julia’s last night as an only child. Like suddenly I wasn’t ready to share her with someone else. We dropped Julia off with my mother in law (I cried), and we headed to the hospital to check in on the baby. I updated my parents on situation and they agreed to get in the car and head to MA. My favorite midwife Adrienne was working and after a few tests it was determined that my water had broken. I had the option to see if labor would start on its own or be induced then and there. I opted to see if my body would start on its’ own and we headed home (actually we headed to pick up Julia and hang out with her one last time as an only child :))
Contractions had started up on their own as soon as we reached the parking garage. Shortly upon putting Julia to bed my Mom + Dad arrived and Anthony went to bed. Anthony isn’t in the best of moods when he doesn’t get his sleep. My dad played the guitar and my mom and I stayed up talking. As contractions progressed I went upstairs to shower and sit down in the tub. An hour and a half later I went and got my mom and transitioned to the downstairs tub where she timed my contractions. As soon as I had used up the hot water we went into the living room. By this time contractions were lasting a minute and were 4-5 minutes apart. My mom went upstairs and got Anthony and after speaking with our midwife, we headed to the hospital.
Let me rephrase that. Anthony drove like a fucking maniac to Mt. Auburn and as I clung to that clutch handle on the ceiling in the backseat. Despite being in labor, all I could think about was how scared my mom must have been in the front seat. He dropped us off, and my mom and I walked through the ER. As I leaned against the wall the woman at the desk gave my mom directions. This continued as we made our way to labor + delivery upon which the nurse said “ we know you love the tub, let’s try the tub”. I replied “I would like the epidural!”
Flashback to my third trimester my midwife had discovered that my blood platelets were low. Low enough to warrant me getting them checked weekly for the last few months of pregnancy. They were so low that I wasn’t actually sure that I would be able to get an epidural. Due to this history they first had to check my platelet levels before calling the anesthesiologist on duty for the epidural. I started to feel extra nauseous after I had my blood drawn and we awaited the results. While my mom was laughing with the nurse and Anthony was his usual talkative self I started projectile vomiting. The nurse rushed over to try to get the puke bags …but no such luck I got her too. At this point, I hadn’t eaten in 12 hrs, after the stomach contents were gone, then came the bile. Blood platelets came back and they had climbed from 85 to 120….yehawww I could get the epidural. Now I just had to buckle down and remain still during contractions and puking.
With Julia I went from 1- 10 cm in a little over an hour with the epidural. After 2.5 hrs the nurses asked me if I wanted to push. I told them I didn’t have the urge and it didn’t feel like last time. Seeing as I came into the hospital at 6cm they decided to check me again. There was meconium in my amniotic fluid, they weren’t worried since my water was broken and the baby’s vitals continued to look great. To make a long story short I hadn’t progressed at the rate we had hoped for, all the nurses and midwives kept saying that it had to be a boy to put me through all this pain and waiting for baby #2.
Given that everyone’s body and pain tolerance is unique, it is often difficult to put into words just how the process of labor can feel sometimes. Once again I didn’t feel as though the epidural was doing much, the back labor and pressure were overwhelming. Add to that my nurse kept saying “bear down like you are taking the biggest poop of your life.” OVER AND OVER.*** I ended up getting the point where the baby’s head was showing but apparently it was sunnyside up with face first presentation. Hands, forearms all the way to what felt like ELBOWS, went inside of me in unsuccessful attempts to turn the baby for what seemed like an eternity until I just couldn’t take the pain anymore. In a room that just moments before was prepped for delivery, I had a sinking feeling as I looked around at the faces in the room. When I say I had nothing left to give I mean it. I had already pushed for 1.5 hrs. This felt IMPOSSIBLE.
*** Important side note. Since the birth of Julia I had been going to see Trisha Jenkyns my PFPT for pelvic floor physical therapy. I have a hypertonic pelvic floor on my left side and a history of chronic constipation and she has been my saving grace. For over a year we had practiced relaxing and using my breath. As we got closer to birth we practiced what it should feel like to push and breathe at the same time. It was a challenging thing to learn but we did it!
I asked my mom for my headphones and Rachel’s sweatshirt. I played my Rachel Playlist and sobbed thinking about all the crazy shit my sister went through in her too short life here with us. If she made it through all of those hardships and through years and years of struggles then I could get this baby out.
I was told to lay on my left side and the nurse squished my knees tightly to my chest, they wanted to see if they could change the baby’s position. After another hour of “rest” I got my first sense that I wanted to push.
Anthony took my sweatshirt and headphones and came in close to my face. He reminded me just how strong I am, all the work I had done to get to this point and that I wasn’t a quitter. I saw the look on my mom’s face, she was scared for me. I asked if Anthony could get a cold cloth and place it completely over my face. Being able to see my nurse, the midwife, my mom as well as Anthony’s facial expressions in plain sight was NOT what I needed at this point. I am super sensitive to energy and I needed to be able to let all that shit go and simply help this baby into the world.
I hadn’t gotten into how I was pushing in much detail in my first 1.5 hrs. But for my SECOND 1.5 hrs, I will. I was instructed to take a big inhale, crunch my upper body up super tight to my body while holding on behind my knees and pushing as hard as I could as I held my breath. I have “worked out” pretty regularly for 20+ years and never ever have I been so exhausted by an activity like this. My biceps were burning and each time when I had given it my all they were asking me to do it again…with no end in sight. When you are in an immense amount of pain, it is one thing to focus. But when this is compounded with the same cue being yelled at in your face OVER AND OVER AGAIN when you are trying to do what you practiced…IT IS FRUSTRATING AS FUCK. I finally ripped my face away from the cover of the rag, looked my nurse in the face and screamed ” CAN YOU GIVE ME A DIFFERENT FUCKING CUE…STOP SAYING THE SAME FUCKING THING TO ME!!!!”
Now. I am NOT bashing my nurse. And, I don’t think that I could have simply “BREATHED this baby out” like I had practiced in pelvic floor PT. But I did do the best I knew how to at the time. I do think it’s important to know that BIRTH CAN BE A SHIT SHOW and that you are never in full control of the outcome. I trusted in my nurses and midwives to take care of me and had Anthony and my mom alongside me for support. During all of labor the baby’s heart rate remained steady and strong.
I was “prepped for delivery” at 6:35am. Miss Eva Rachel Lawrence made her earth-side debut at 11:49am with the help of her Aunt Rachel. I remember that feeling of all the pressure being relieved as she legit FLEW OUT on my last push. She came out screaming at the top of her lungs with a full head of dark dark hair. The midwife held her up and showed Anthony. The nurse asked “what do we have?” Anthony cried “it’s a boy it’s a boy!” The nurse said ” NO, IT’S A GIRL!” My mom and I started crying even harder and screaming it’s a girl, it’s a girl, it’s a dark haired girl! I get to call her Eva Rachel. She literally crawled up my chest like a marsupial and I kissed her and held her close and I couldn’t stop saying “it’s a girl, it’s girl”. The whole room was in tears and Anthony was just SO PROUD.
The midwife brought me back to reality to let me know she was going inside to check me out.
She looked at me mind blown and said “you don’t need any stitches, you didn’t tear.”
OMG….my magical vagina did it again.