On Saturday night, we watched Saving Private Ryan. I’m going to say that put me into labor, because by 3:30 AM on Sunday morning, I was having regular, “painful” contractions. (There are quotes around painful, because I really didn’t get the meaning of the word at that point.) They were about 13 minutes apart, though, so we were still far away from birth center time, which was 4 minutes apart, 1 minute long contractions.
And so began the waiting game. We savored our last moments as a family of three, spent sometime with Mom and Dad Leavitt, and relaxed around the house. Josie went over to her Grandparents’ house, and meanwhile I tried to take as many chances to sleep as possible, and I’m very glad I did.
I called my parents to let them know that things were getting close. My mom was scheduled to fly out from Wisconsin on the 14th, with the hopes that she would be there to be my labor coach, but it was looking more like she wouldn’t make it. Luckily, she was able to find a flight out of town that was scheduled to arrive by 11:00 pm. It was delayed, but she got to our place around midnight. We were off to the birth center 2 1/2 hours later.
At the birth center, we all got settled and Eric and my Mom met my midwife, Jane. Contractions were about 5 minutes apart at this point, but were lasting a minute to a minute and a half each. I figured when I got there that I’d be measuring a four at most, but to my surprise I was almost at a seven. I was thrilled, and figured that the rest of this would be a total breeze. (hah)
I spent the next few hours moving from the tub to the bed. Things were getting worse, but I was able to manage things well for the most part. Baby was posterior for most of labor, so the back labor was pretty intense, but with the counter pressure that Eric and my Mom put on my back, I was able to work through each contraction. While I was in the tub, I thought my water had broken, so then I figured the contractions I was getting into would be the worst. They were bad, but we were surviving! She was almost here…but I was getting anxious that soon wasn’t soon enough, so I asked to get checked again.
I was now at 9 cm and almost all the way effaced; unfortunately, though, my waters hadn’t broken when I thought they did. I thought maybe I could survive the strength of the contractions that had been hitting me up to this point, but when I was informed that they would get worse once my water was broken…I started losing focus. Jane broke my water and that’s when the real pain hit. I mean, it had been painful up to this point, but nothing could have prepared me for this.
From this point on, it was survival mode. I surrendered any hope of being positive and relaxed, which probably worked against me, but really, as long as I made it through each contraction, I didn’t care. There was a lot of screaming and crying and I was not a happy camper. I spent most of my time laboring on the bed, trying to rest between contractions. I was sure that Olive was never getting here and I was destined to remain in labor forever. At one point, I said I gave up and wanted to go to the hospital – at this point, Jane told me, getting there and getting an epidural would take at least two hours, and by that time baby would probably be here. So…that option was out, which meant we were just going to have to get through this.
An eternity (fifteen minutes) later, we decided to start trying to push. After one contraction on the bed, I jumped up and yelled that I had to be in the tub instead. Apparently this was pretty funny (says Eric), since I was so adamant about it. I got into the warm bath, pushed through three contractions and…she was here! At 6:41 am, after only 4 hours at the birth center and a whole day of “early” labor…I got to hold that little baby girl, and it was one of the best feelings ever.
After some quality skin-to-skin time, I handed baby off to her daddy and we slowly tried to get me out of the tub. The real fun started when it turned out that I was hemorrhaging. Without going into all the gory details – after passing out twice and receiving two liters of IV liquids everything was (mostly) back to normal. I was pretty weak, but considering I had just had a baby a few hours before, I felt pretty awesome.
We left the birth center around 11 am and headed home to rest. Olive slept most of the day (which definitely caught up to us later that night). She got to meet her Grandma and Papa Leavitt and her big sister, Josie, in real life, and “met” the rest of her extended family over FaceTime. She shares a birthday with her Grandma Leavitt and her Uncle Zach, which will continue our family’s tradition of sharing birthdays. We got through our first night, and she is a really fantastic baby overall. Her sister already adored her, as do everyone that’s met her so far. We’re so happy to have her in our little family!
As for the natural birth experience – would I do it again? At this point everything is so fresh in memory, I don’t think I could say. I will say, though, that it was the most amazing, empowering experience that I have ever had and I don’t regret doing it for a second. It required more strength than I ever thought I possessed and I’m still amazed that it was something I did, especially since I swore that it was something that I couldn’t do.
This quote definitely rings true today, even though there were many points during that labor where I didn’t really believe that I could survive to the end.
Olive Eloise Leavitt
Born January 13, 2014 @ 6:41 AM
7 lbs 2 oz – 20 1/4 inches long