I’m just the Vessel

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The same mantra that kept me focused during Noah’s birth kept me sane this time around. My dear friend (and yoga instructor) Brooke read us a passage out of a book during my very first yoga class a year and a half ago. I can’t remember the exact wording, but it reminded us that we are just the vessel. The baby decides how they come into the world. It’s our job to carry them here, but they decide their birth. Throughout this whole experience I just kept reminding myself that I was just her vessel.

Magdalyn Elizabeth, 4:19 am January 19th, 7lbs 12 oz, 21 in.

For the two weeks before my due date I was very stressed with school commitments and holiday and birthday parties. I kept praying the little person inhabiting my body would just hang tight for another month. I was nervous about Noah’s reaction and sad that he wouldn’t be my “baby” any longer. In the days before Maggie was born things got even more stressful.  I fell down the stairs two days before my due date and Teran kept harassing telling me all weekend that I needed to call Lynn (my midwife) to tell her what happened. She could tell I was getting annoyed because I felt fine aside from some bumps and bruises. So on Sunday night we made a compromise that she would call her sister Maureen (who was my Bradley Instructor) and if Mo thought I should call I would call. Well, of course Mo agreed with Teran and offered up one more piece of advice that Teran warned me I probably didn’t want to hear. “Tell Christina to go get a relaxing foot massage, practice her yoga breathing, and have a chat with the baby.” To which I responded, “Is she CRAZY? If I relax I might go into labor!”

The next morning was my due date, January 18th. We had been up with Noah all night because he had a stomach bug that he caught from a party so once we were up and moving I called Lynn to tell her about my fall and quickly felt terrible about not calling sooner. The girls were off school because of MLK day and Steve stayed home from work to help me because I was really sore from the fall. There was no way I could take care of Noah by myself. We had a very low key day, just laying around watching TV and resting.  Around lunch time I had this realization that I just needed to let go of everything that was stressing me out. That the baby was going to come whenever he/she wanted to. It wasn’t up to me. So, I took Mo’s advice. I took a nice long bath, had a chat with Little Miss and told her I was ready for her whenever she was ready to meet us. When I was done I went downstairs and had Steve rub my feet while we watched a couple TV shows. We layed on the couch and laughed at the baby hiccuping for well over a half hour.

Around 4:30 pm I started feeling nauseous. I knew I was getting whatever Noah had, but I told Steve to go ahead and go to bowling and we would be fine until he got home. I was feeling worse as the night went along so I rushed to get all the kids to bed by 7:00.  I took another bath because that is the only thing that kept my stomach calm and crawled into bed around 8:00. As long as I was laying completely still I didn’t feel the need to get sick. Around 10:00pm I noticed that every once in awhile a contraction would wake me up, but I didn’t think too much about it. At 11:30 I couldn’t lay still any longer because the contractions were waking me up more frequently so I got up to go to the bathroom and got sick for the first time.  I went back to bed and for the next hour and a half I slept between contractions and it still wasn’t registering that maybe I was in labor.

At 1:00 am, January 19th, I woke up to get sick again and when I went to the bathroom I had some “bloody show.”  I believe the words, “Oh, shit!” came out of my mouth rather loudy in the bathroom and I waddled my way into the bedroom where Steve was sleeping. I woke him up and told him I was in labor. With all my other pregnancies I never had any sort of bloody show until I was well into labor, so I just knew it was the real thing.  Steve asked if I was serious and I said, “Yeah, I’m pretty sure.” I started letting my birth team know it was time by first sending a text to them all. Antonette called me and I can’t remember the exact words that we exchanged but I do remember telling her I wasn’t sure if I needed everyone to come yet, but she was going to head over anyway.  At 1:45am I started to get a little nervous that if things went as fast as they had with Noah everyone may not make it in time.

I called Lynn and then texted Amy so that they would be on their way and Steve called Eileen. When we were both off the phone we opened up our birth kit and got out the plastic sheet and spare set of sheets to get the bed ready. When that was done I started filling up the bathtub because my contractions were getting much more uncomfortable and I wasn’t able to talk through them anymore. They were anywhere from 2-4 minutes apart. All I wanted was to relax in the tub.

I came downstairs to wait for everyone while the tub was filling. When Antonette got here I remembered how sick Noah had been and how sick I was shortly before labor (which seemed to vanish once I realized I was in labor. It was like my body had something else to focus on rather than being sick). I didn’t want anyone else getting sick, so after leaning down against the kitchen counter during a contraction I pulled out the Lysol spray and wipes from under the sink. Antonette asked me right away what I needed her to do for me. My response? “Lysol my house, please! I don’t want anyone else puking!” She stared at me a little dumbfounded for a minute, but did what I asked 🙂 I was working through the contractions in the kitchen and then started walking through the downstairs looking for things to keep me busy. I cleaned the bathroom mirror and sink and then went back upstairs to check on the status of my bath. I didn’t want to get in the water until Lynn was here though because I was nervous things would move quicker.

Shortly after Lynn arrived she and I went upstairs to check out the baby. I layed down on the bed and she got the doppler out to listen. It wasn’t working very well so she asked if she could go ahead and do a vaginal exam. I layed back and closed my eyes while she checked me. She said, “Great, you’re 6cm…”  *giant pause* “and, that’s the baby’s butt I’m feeling.” My eyes flew open and I said, ” You have GOT to be kidding me.”

Lynn said we needed to head to the hospital to get an ultrasound to confirm it. I asked if we would be able to come back home if by any chance the baby really wasn’t breech and she said if we had the time, but in the back of my mind I knew that wasn’t going to happen. I was losing my homebirth. Lynn headed downstairs to call ahead to Labor and Delivery and I just stared at my birth kit all packed up still sitting under the window in our room. I snapped out of it and found the hospital bag I had packed “just in case” but was so sure I wasn’t going to need and walked out of my bedroom.  I paused outside the bathroom door when I noticed my nice warm bath still sitting there waiting.

I got downstairs and by this time Amy and Eileen were both here as well and everyone was just kind of staring at me. I didn’t know what to say. I just wanted to cry, but I also knew that I needed to hold it together so I could think about the questions I needed to ask once were there and stay calm enough to still have options to make this the best birth it could be. I tried waking the girls up a little just to tell them we were leaving and then Antonette and I walked out to the car first. I turned and asked her if there were things we could do at this point to even try to turn the baby.  She said it didn’t sound like that was going to be an option. She sat in the back seat and held my hand the whole way to the hospital.

When we were walking in Lynn told me that Dr. Bulger will sometimes do breech vaginal births, so that gave me a little hope to hold on to.  L&D knew we were coming so when we got into the ER they called up and a nurse came down to get us.  This is when things start to get a little blurry for me. Everything was happening so quickly. We got into a little room and I changed into a hospital gown.  I put my Ipod on and was listening to my OM (a CD we listen to at yoga).  Dr. Bulger and Dr. Wolfe were there because Dr. Bulger doesn’t do c-sections.  I was given a shot of terbutaline to stop my contractions and checked again by both doctors. Which I must say, was probably the most violating and uncomfortable part of the entire experience. I’m still not quiet sure why both of them felt the need to do a cervical check. We had an ultrasound that confirmed her head was way up under my left rib and she was still at a -2 station.  They explained to me why doing a version wasn’t safe at this point and then we started talking about the option of a breech vaginal birth. Honestly, I was really surprised that it was even something they would consider. The only thing I remember about the conversation was Dr. Wolfe saying something about the posibility of her body coming out and then my cervix closing around her neck.  At one point I sat up in bed because I was having a contraction and her heart rate dropped on the monitor. That was the point for me where I knew I needed to start being informed of what would happen during the c-section and let them know the things I wanted done in the OR instead of still talking about the vaginal birth.

Fortunately, the nurses and doctors we had were very sympathetic to the fact that we were in the exact opposite place we wanted to be. This was as far from the birth we planned as you could get and they were very accomodating to our needs/desires. They all stayed right next to my bed and kept me a part of the whole process. They allowed Steve, Lynn, and Eileen to go into the OR with me. The baby’s sex was still a secret so we told them we didn’t want anyone to blurt out what it was. We wanted to be the first to know.  Although, little did we know Lynn discoved the sex during my exam at the house! LOL I wanted the baby skin to skin with Steve if she couldn’t be skin to skin with me.

They took me to the OR first in a wheel chair and all I remember is how freezing cold it was the minute we walked through the door. My anesthesiologist was awesome. He kept me laughing and jokingly suggested that Carla was a great name (his name was Carlos) if the baby was a girl.  The scariest part of the birth for me was right after my spinal was placed. They laid me down very quickly so the medicine would distribute evenly.  I started feeling like I was trapped in my own body. I still felt like I could move, but couldn’t actually move. I could tell I was still breathing but it felt like something heavy was on my chest. Finally they let Steve, Lynn, and Eileen in to be with me.  We were joking about how ridiculous it was that Steve had to wear a hair net.

Everything went much faster than I expected. I kept asking Steve to look and tell me what was going on, but he didn’t want to. I asked for a mirror and still couldn’t see anything because of the placement of the nurses and doctors. I was getting so frustrated that I couldn’t actually watch her being born. I didn’t care about the blood or the fact that I was being cut open. I just wanted to see her come out.  When Steve said he would look I asked Lynn if she would check to see how close it was.  In one of the pictures you can see my anesthesiologist pointing to the left because he was telling me to look that way because she was almost out.

As soon as they pulled her out, at 4:19 am, the nurse brought her around to us so we could peek between her legs. I reached out and moved her leg and said, “I knew it!” From the very beginning I knew she was a girl. I also remember thinking, “She doesn’t look like any of the names we have picked.” They took her and wiped her off a bit and then brought her back over and tucked her inside of Steve’s scrubs while they finished closing me up.  I started feeling something very strange. I can’t describe the feeling, but it made me very curious about what they were doing. I asked Lynn if  she would tell me what they were doing. She looked and leaned down close to me and said, “I don’t think you want to know.” I did want to know though! She told me my uterus was out and sitting on my abdomen. It was driving me crazy that I couldn’t see what they were doing! I was so curious about the whole procedure.

The whole time Maggie was snuggled in his scrubs, both Steve and I were trying to get a little peek at her, but you can see in the pictures that all we could see was one little eye and an ear. As much as I wanted to see her face I was so glad she was getting that bonding time with her daddy. We could all hear her smacking her lips and Steve jokingly told her she wasn’t going to get what she was looking for from him!

When it was almost time to head to recovery they swaddled our little un-named beauty and finally handed her to me to hold. She had the most perfect little round face and it was like looking at Addison all over again. She’s identical to her very proud big sister.  As soon as we got into recovery they sat my bed up so I could nurse her and start getting to know this new little person. She latched on right away and it was clear to me right from the start that she was not a Charlotte, a Lilly, a Maegan, or a Julianne.  I knew that I was going to need some time to get to know her before she would have a name.  She still doesn’t have the name that I feel she was meant to have, but I didn’t feel it was fair to Steve to make him settle on something he didn’t like. She’s still our Maggie, no matter what the longer version of her name may be.

Eventhough her birth was the birth I feared the most I’m very at peace with how she came into the world. I feel that she came to us how she needed to come to us and I’m really ok with how everything played out. I felt like I was an active participant in every decision that was made and was able to make her birth just as beautiful as it would have been at home, only in a different way.  I still mourn my homebirth. I still can’t bring myself to unpack my birth kit.  Everytime I look at my bathtub it brings me back to that night and me walking out of the house leaving it full of warm water. I get a little teary thinking about how things could have been, but then when I look at all of the pictures of my birth I see how genuinely happy I was and I know that everything happened exactly as it was meant to happen. 

Thanks to our awesome friend, Eileen, we can relive this day anytime we want with nearly 300 amazing pictures. She captured every moment perfectly. I wish I could put captions on all the pictures b/c there’s something I could say about the moment each of them was taken. They begin with us leaving the house and end with us in recovery. If you want to see all of our pictures from the birth this is the link:

http://traditionsphotography.morephotos.com/mp_client/pictures_welcome.asp?categories=no&keywords2=no&eventid=25047

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One response »

  1. Just beautiful, Christina!!! The pics are amazing. I’m very glad you are at peace with it for the most part.

    Pic 130 cracks me up, OMG!!! Hope that isn’t the start of something LMAO!

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