Thursday, October 13, 2005

I Have a Daughter

I Have a Daughter
Sarah Deigl

At 39 weeks 6 days I walked back into my midwife's office proclaiming, "I'm not going home without a baby." After a few false alarms I was certain the time for my second child to arrive was upon us. I had been contracting for hours, although they were fairly far apart and not very strong. I had bloody show all morning. I had my mother leave a Garden Club conference and break the land speed record to drive home and care for my son. I had a bag packed. My in-laws were waiting anxiously by the phone. Short of alerting the local media, everything had been set in motion.

Everything except the baby.

I should have guessed the truth by the expression on Donna's face as she checked me. She very kindly explained if this was in fact labor it was really REALLY early. I was 2cm dilated 50% effaced and 0 station. I refused to believe her. I was ready dammit. People had been called, 150 Garden Club ladies were waiting to find out if it was a girl or boy. I could not go home and report I had cried wolf. Donna said to try walking and sex and nipple stimulation and said I could drink castor oil if I wanted to.

Paul and I hung out and walked and shopped and snacked and nothing happened. I called my best friend and whined. I decided to go to yoga and see if some Om vibrations and downward dog would spark anything. I felt much calmer and looser after the class, but sadly, no closer to birthing.

I slept pretty well with a few potty breaks until 3:45am when the contractions made me get out of bed and move. I watched infomercials with contractions that were six to ten minutes apart. I finally went back to bed at 5:30 and dozed between contractions. It was all quite different from my first labor when I was too excited and nervous to do anything but pace and freak myself out. I had a crying jag at 6:30 for no real reason, which I took as a good sign.

I spent the entire day of my due date at my parents’ house. Being in my childhood home with my family was the ideal safe space to let my labor progress. (I didn't realize until some time later that spending the day with a pacing contracting occasionally panting woman was not exactly relaxing for them.) By mid-afternoon I felt like a panda in the zoo being watched intently for any sign of action. I started to give the castor oil serious consideration.

After some breast pumping at 6:00pm contractions got a bit stronger and more regular. Much like my first labor they were short and pretty easy to pace through. I worried about how effective they were. I started getting anxious about the 40 minute car trip to the hospital at 7:00pm, but wanted to get Rhew to bed at my parents’ before we left. Paul got him almost settled and then I started feeling like we must go. We called Donna and agreed to meet at her office for a check and if it was still early we'd go to a friend's house in town. I was quite sure she was going to tell me I had a long way to go and the contractions were not effective just like with Rhew. I considered asking for Pitocin if that was the scenario. I clearly was losing my mind.

The car ride was hard but oddly zen. I sat in the back so I could move around. The contractions were five minutes apart, twenty seconds or so long. As one ended I just focused on letting the next one come and do its job. Just as we got into town I thought I might throw up, but after a frantic search for a barf bag, managed not to.

Donna checked me, and again her expression gave me no hint of the future. She asked us to guess how dilated I was. I was just praying for four or five. Paul guessed six and I started to laugh at his optimism.

I was seven with a very bulging bag of water.

We went right to the hospital and I got the IV antibiotics for Group B Strep. We ideally needed two hours before delivery for the antibiotics to do their job. The contractions were stronger but I was still coping with them on my own.

I got in the tub and it felt great until the first contraction, then I wanted to jump out of my skin. I hated sitting down—I stayed in the water and just kept crawling around and splashing. I got on my hands and knees when the pressure in my back and pelvis became too intense. I told Donna how and where it hurt and she said if I wanted to push I could. I was shocked. It was too soon! We had hours to go! She hadn't even checked me!

I tried pushing with the next contraction and it was like a rocket taking off. Everything happened at once. My water broke and I could feel the head go way down. When I stopped pushing I felt the head slide all the way back up. The sensation was very odd and unexpected. I was screeching and moaning as the next contraction started but also giving a play by play. "I feel it moving down, owwwww it burnnnnsssss, I'm pushing, DONNNNNAAAAAA!" I felt the head come out and then the shoulders. With Donna's guidance Paul was able to catch the baby.

The relief when she slid out was enormous. Paul and Donna were saying, "Sarah, Sarah it's a girl." It barely registered for a moment and then it did and I was totally fine and everything felt right. All my fear and negativity about having a girl disappeared. I think part of me knew who she was all along, I just wasn't ready to accept it until that moment.

Avery Coleman Deigl was born at 10:16 pm on her due date, 50 minutes after we arrived at the hospital.

We got out of the tub and made it to the bed and she was so quiet and just looked at us. She stayed attached for a number of minutes with the cord pulsing. I remembered to look at the placenta and it was beautiful.

Avery's birth was a life changing, empowering experience. No one told me what position to get into or how to breathe. No one counted or shouted, "Just one more push." I listened to the life force inside me and was not so afraid this time. I got my mind out of the way of my body and it did the work in its own time in its own way.

I didn't cry at all. I felt so amazingly good and strong when it was over. All night after she was born as I lay there wide awake I just kept saying to myself, I have a daughter, I have a daughter.

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