Saturday morning, I woke between 6 and 6:30 with contractions strong enough that I couldn't sleep through them, so I got up and showered and started prepping to leave for the hospital. By 8:30, the contractions were strong enough that I had to stop what I was doing, so I woke Tyler- who did everything he possibly could to stay calm, even if he did want to act like a kid on Christmas morning. We timed the contractions and at about 12:30 pm, called the midwife to let her know we were on our way to the hospital. Amy was the midwife on call, and I couldn't have been happier since she was the midwife I had grown to know best and love for her calm manner (and for being a fellow vegan!).
When we arrived at West Suburban, I had to be hooked up to the monitors for 20 minutes to be sure Baby Girl was handling the contractions well and had to be examined to be sure I was actually dilating and entering labor. Tyler and I were hopeful that I was dilating, but had pretty low expectations after hearing all the stories of women in labor being sent home at less than 4 cm. When Amy said I was 6 to 7 cm dilated and 100% effaced, we were ecstatic! Baby Girl's heartbeat was strong and the contractions were nice and close together, so we moved our huge load of stuff into one of the Alternative Birthing Rooms. Amy was helping another woman who was in the pushing stage and the nurses came in every 30 minutes to check my blood pressure and Baby Girl's heart beat (using a transportable dopplar, not the belt connected to the huge monitoring machine).
Other than the nurse every 30 minutes, Tyler and I were on our own, which was just what we wanted. I was able to concentrate on the contractions with help from Tyler, who provided whatever I needed- shoulders to hang off of, pressure to my knees to open my pelvis, lots of back rubs, water, a toothbrush and toothpaste after I threw up (which happened throughout the day), distractions between contractions, and most importantly, the sense of protection and security that let me continue to progress. I moved around the room a lot, alternating between standing and rocking, standing supported by Tyler, rocking on the birthing ball, and rocking on the edge of the bed. With each contraction, I focused on the pressure opening my cervix and visualized Baby Girl's head pushing through my cervix. As long as I was able to concentrate, the contractions felt like a good pain that I focused on relating to a deep tissue massage- that "good pain." It wasn't until a male housekeeping staff member came in with a dinner tray mid-contraction, breaking my concentration, that I realized how truly painful the contractions could be- and that was excruciating.
At about 7:30 pm, the contractions became significantly stronger and the relaxation of the water suddenly started calling me.
The tub where Baby Girl was born
While we filled the tub, Amy checked me one more time to find that I was dilated to over 9 cm, so she manually helped me along to 10 cm. At this point, my water still hadn't broken (which is actually normal; most women's water breaks naturally during pushing if left intact by the doctor- only a small percentage have Premature Rupture Of Membranes, say, at the grocery store). I got in the tub and continued to concentrate through the contractions, thankful for the buoyancy of the water.
When the nurse came for Baby Girl's 8:30 heart rate check, I asked her to get Amy, who came in right away and didn't seem surprised when I told her I wanted to start pushing. She told me later that she was surprised I felt ready, but thankfully, she trusted me and let me go with it. I gradually started pushing but felt like I wasn't making much progress, which I was attributing to the bag of waters still being intact, so I asked Amy to break it. She tried during a contraction, but the bag was so strong that she couldn't break it- a sign that I was extremely well-nourished during pregnancy and received plenty of protein (to which I remember replying between contractions, "Go vegans!..."). I could feel Baby Girl's head through the bag, which was beginning to come out with the pushes, and I was so ready to move along with the process that I reached down and, with Amy's permission, popped the bag myself with my finger nails- a first for all of us in the room! Just a couple contractions later, Baby Girl began to make her appearance and finally arrived at 9:35, pink and squirming, in one push-- arm first-- to be caught and swept out of the water by Tyler. She coughed slightly, took a deep breath, and whimpered just a bit as Tyler placed her on my chest. Like many water babies, she was completely calm and alert when she came out and didn't cry in response to the transition. As she opened her eyes and began to take in the new world, Tyler and I tried in amazement to take in what had just happened. Words just don't explain the utter joy and awe I felt as I held the child who had been inside of me just moments before.
Baby Girl and I rested in the tub as we waited for the cord to finish pulsing (bringing all of the blood in the placenta to Baby Girl's body), and then Tyler cut the cord. Baby Girl (still unnamed) was dried and suctioned as I moved to the bed to deliver the placenta and be stitched up (that whole arm first arrival did a little external damage), but she was placed on my chest again and started her first breast feeding with little coaxing.
Tyler and the nurse took Baby Girl to be weighed (6 pounds, 13 ounces)
and when they returned, everyone left us to rest in our big queen-sized bed.
By this point, it was past midnight; I had been laboring since 6:30 am, neither of us had eaten anything all day, and we had just welcomed a new baby into our family. As we spent time with Baby Girl, we tried to connect a name with her personality, but all discussions were limited to about 10 minutes, after which one of us inevitably fell asleep. It was a magical night of cuddling together, skin to skin, in the same bed as the three of us bonded ourselves together as a family.
By the next morning, we had seen enough of Baby Girl's personality to know which names were potentially fitting. We already knew her middle name would be Tiana after Tyler's sister, whose strength and independence we hope become traits shared by our daughter. Soon, it became clear to us that her first name was meant to be Tye. Tye Tiana.
Happy Birth Day to you, Tye. You'll always be my Baby Girl.
Tye on the way home from the hospital