Our beautiful daughter, Aellyn Leigh Renée, was born Wednesday, February 11, 2009 at 4:53 AM.  She weighed 7lbs. and 14 oz. and was 20″ long.  She is amazingly perfect and so was our birth experience.  Despite not going according to plans it was a blissful and blessed experience.

Well last I posted, I had visited the midwives and had my membranes stripped.  I thought my water might have broken but I was in denial.  The next morning I was still having occasional gushes of fluid and knew it must be my water.  I called the midwife office with a kind of wishy-washy “I think that maybe my water mighta broken.”  They were like “come in now!”  So I called Pete and he high-tailed it out of work and we packed up and went to the office.
I was so worried it wouldn’t be my water and I’d feel like an idiot.  But, seriously, if it wasn’t amniotic fluid then I was peeing myself for more than 24 hours!  Sure enough, it was my water.  I knew that water breaking starts an indelible clock towards cesarean so I didn’t want to say that I believe it broke the day before at the appointment but I wanted to be honest too.  So I told my midwife what I thought and we agreed that my water had broken that morning and it was time to get some contractions going.  
They admitted me to the birth center  and I was 2cm so I didn’t need to Cervadil – thank goodness since it takes 12 hours to work and the clock was ticking!  We started pit at 5 PM on 2/10.  I had to be on the monitor and IV but I was pretty mobile using the birth ball and lots of standing and swaying.  They started the pit really low and slowly increased each 1/2 hour.  About 9:30PM my water really broke (apparently there are two sacs and this was the breaking of the inner one) – like explosively and everywhere!  This really kicked the contractions in and they became much more intense.
By 11 PM the contractions were 1.5 to 2 min apart and very intense.  I was doing my meditation and breathing/moaning through each one.  I had what I’ve heard other mommas refer to as “butt labor.”  Sounds weird I know but the focus of my pain was in my rectum.  No back pain and the pain in my uterus was secondary to the pressure and intense spasms of pain in my butt.  Since I said I was feeling pressure she decided to check me.  I was only 2.5cm!!!  Ugh, I hadn’t even went a cm and I was just keeping on top of the pain.  The pit needed turned up a bunch more to get somewhere so the midwife recommended some nubain which I agreed to because it would be so long before her birth that she wouldn’t be under the influence after birth.  The nubain helped me relax a little but the contractions got longer, harder, and closer together as the pitocin increased.  That was about 11:30 PM.
At 2:00 AM on the 11th I was really beyond coping with my contractions I had about 20 to 30 seconds between each one and the pain was so intense it was making me shake in a cold sweat and almost throw up.  This is always what I was most afraid of.  Pain I can cope with but nausea really throws me for a loop.  The pain was still focused in my butt and felt like a charlie horse type cramp with waves of spasms.  It was not what I expected from labor pain.  
I retreated to the bathroom so I could be alone and think.  I wanted to make a decision and not feel like anyone had influenced me (or have them feel bad that they did).  I wanted to remember my reasons for not wanting an epidural:  1. girl power, 2. effect on baby, 3. I wanted to be “present” for her birth and not numb or out of it.  I wanted to be lucid and remember this sacred event.  My current contractions were so intense that I couldn’t open my eyes or hear what anyone was saying to me.   I didn’t feel like I was going to be able to enjoy or even remember the experience in that level of pain.  I also knew that my inability to relax completely was slowing my labor down and I was t-minus 5 hours till they started breathing down my neck for a cesarean.  I decided that to continue without the epidural would be plain martyrdom for me.  I wanted something that would help me be in the moment.
I left the bathroom and asked to talk to DH alone.  I told him how I felt and that I thought I was listening to what my body was telling me.  He asked me questions to make sure I wasn’t going to regret my decision or be mad at him for not talking me out of it.  It was a very frank discussion and we both agreed to get the epidural.  He left to tell the nurses what we had decided.  Amazingly, from horror stories I’d heard, I had my epidrual by 2:30AM.  That was the worst.  My contractions were almost non-stop on top of each other the whole time they were doing the epi, plus my mom and DH had to leave the room which just really stressed me out.  The epidural application didn’t hurt but staying in position was agonizing.  It stung just a bit when they numbed my skin and then at one point I jerked with a sharp pain in my right knee.  They said that was good and meant it was working.  It takes about 15 minutes for the epidural to take effect but it quickly took the edge off and I could breathe!
I felt my contractions as pressure (still in the butt) but not the spasm pain.  Right after the epidural my midwife checked my cervix again and I was 6.5 cm!  This was exciting to me because a) all that pain had been advancing me and b) I wasn’t 8 or 9 cm which would have bummed me out that I was so close and got the epi.  6.5 made me feel like I made the right decision.  My body had done a lot of hard work admirably but the relaxation was really going to help me complete.  And relax I did!  I fell asleep for 2ish hours.
at 4AM I woke to intense pressure, but not pain, in my butt.  Even though the contractions were not painful with the epidural I could feel the waves and they were insistent.  The pressure in my butt was continuous even when I wasn’t having a contraction.  Also, the contractions were more spaced out than before.  I woke up DH and he went to get the nurse.  I was complete! and the baby’s head was “right there” hence the pressure.  I was awake, lucid, smiling and excited to meet Aellyn.
For pushing I was on my back.  I guess since I couldn’t stand or squat steadily that this position is the best for getting the baby past the pubic bone.  Mom and DH held my legs up and we got a mirror so I could see.  I could feel my contractions so I was in control of when to push (one of my other worries about the epidural).  My very first push we saw her head!  That’s how far down she was.  I pushed maybe 10 contractions.  Once she crowned, I didn’t push at all.  I swear she birthed herself.  If I had kept sleeping she would have been born without us!  Once her head was born the midwife rotated her for her shoulders to be born on the next contraction but she birthed herself!  She just slid right out.  The midwife told me to reach down and take my baby and I did!  I pulled her up onto my chest!  I’m sure Heidi’s hands were there to help but I caught my own baby!  
She was beautiful! she was wet and slippery but not gunky with vernix or blood.  She was alert and didn’t cry except when they suctioned her.  She was so quiet and peaceful.  I cried and so did DH.  I just kept saying “I love you Aellyn, I’ve been waiting to see you.”  /sniff…it was magical.  Beyond explanation.  A miracle.  An angel among us.  
Continuing adventures in breastfeeding (the best part of motherhood!) but this is our birth story.  Our OWN birth story at last!  Thank you God.
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