March 10, 2015
The Day I Met My Daughter
Since I was so exhausted, I collapsed into bed that night at 8:30 and was out like a light, with the exception of getting up every hour or two to use the bathroom. I woke up at 12:10 in the morning and begrudgingly admitted to myself that I had to use the bathroom once again so I climbed off the bed when water suddenly started gushing down my legs. Immediately, I woke Jonathan who was instantly wide awake and told him that my water had broken. While he ran to get a towel so I could mop up the small lake that had become my bedroom floor, I grabbed my phone and called my mother, telling her that this was the real thing.
At that point, I thought things would progress quickly. I weighed my options and decided to jump in the shower and throw on a little makeup, but after that was done, I still wasn't having regular contractions- just the occasional uncomfortable one, but definitely not true labor. So I took my time pulling things together, making our bed, and packing the last few items in our bag to take with to the birth center.
By that time, my mom had arrived at our house and things still weren't progressing with labor so I started walking laps in our family room. That wasn't yielding any results other than tiring me out, so I finally took a break around 5:30am and we all settled in to watch a little Netflix. Just as I was considering a nap, we all heard coughing and gasping upstairs.
We ran upstairs to see Nathaniel (who had been recovering from a cold), who had awakened and was having a hard time breathing. The poor little guy was scared and wheezing, and since I wasn't about to take a chance on his ability to breathe, we threw clothes on him, called my mother-in-law over to stay with Evelyn, and my mom, Jonathan, and I took Nathaniel to Urgent Care.
It was a huge blessing that Urgent Care was a ghost town when we got in there so we were seen quickly and the doctor was admittedly very nervous to hear that I was technically in labor at that point. He examined Nathaniel and took a set of X-rays to rule out anything serious on my little boy. Unfortunately, the X-rays were inconclusive and that earned us all a one-way trip to the Emergency Room at Children's Hospital of St. Paul.
As Nathaniel got checked-in, I ran to the bathroom to change the Depends that were keeping me from leaking water all over the hospital. I would become an expert at changing them in public bathrooms as the day went on, though I didn't know it at the time. As I grabbed a clean pair, I noticed that there was meconium in the water and I knew that it was time to call our midwife.
It was quite the juggling act getting Nathaniel settled into his room in the ER, getting his information processed, and calling the midwife to ask her what we needed to do; I was so grateful to have Jonathan and my mom there to help keep Nathaniel calm so I could step out and have a quick conversation on the phone. One of my favorite midwives was on-call and she was so sweet about understanding what was happening with us that morning so we had a little extra leeway with when we needed to come in to be checked out.
Shortly after, Nathaniel was diagnosed with a bad case of croup and he received a nebulizer treatment. The doctor kept asking me if I was doing all right and we were getting nervous glances from the rest of the staff; Jonathan later told me that there was a sign posted on the wall that the hospital was legally obligated to treat anyone with a serious injury or a pregnant woman in labor, which made us chuckle. After Nathaniel's treatment, he was clearly feeling a little better and we were discharged around 9:30.
We had driven separately, knowing that there was the possibility that Jonathan and I might have to leave quickly, so we said goodbye to Nathaniel and my mom and we headed up to the birth center, making a quick stop for a cup of coffee on the way. We arrived at the birth center and our midwife hooked the baby and I up to the monitor for a non-stress test to see how the baby was handling things. Our little one looked great on the monitor, but despite my body progressing to 3-4 centimeters, I still wasn't having true labor contractions.
Given that we had some time, our midwife suggested that Jonathan and I go grab some brunch. We found this little hole-in-the-wall joint called Modern Times in Minneapolis that really didn't look like much, but it had the most amazing breakfast food! We enjoyed our mini-date, even though I had to stop during the meal a few times to breathe through contractions.
Without things really picking up enough to go back to the birth center, we considered our options. I was afraid to go home at that point (a thirty-minute drive) so we instead drove to the nearby Minneapolis Institute of the Arts to walk. I never thought I would find myself walking through museum while I was in labor, but clearly this labor wasn't anything like we had thought so we embraced it and walked for two hours. Admittedly, we received some strange looks when I had to stop and focus to get through a contraction, but it was all part of the experience.
After a couple hours passed and I was only having uncomfortable contractions (still not true labor), I was exhausted and discouraged. We walked back to our car and called the midwife who suggested that we head home and take a nap. I was so tired that I instantly fell asleep in the car on the drive and collapsed into bed as soon as we got home for a solid two hours.
I was awakened by real labor. Suddenly, I remembered exactly what a natural labor felt like and I knew that things were picking up. I got in the shower to help deal with the pain and to make sure that it wasn't going to stop by itself. It quickly became apparent that it wasn't stopping, but I was still afraid to go in to the birth center too soon. I got out of the shower and walked around our bedroom, talking with Jonathan and debating whether or not we should go in. It was then that a very strong contraction hit me and that made the decision for us: it was time. We called our midwife to tell her we were coming in and got back in the car.
My husband only drives aggressively when I'm in labor and I was immensely grateful that he drove quickly as I moaned through the contractions. It seemed like forever over those bumpy, pothole-filled roads, but we finally made it back to the birth center at 6pm where the midwife and nurse were waiting for us. They quickly took my vitals and checked our progress, telling us that we had progressed to 5-6 centimeters during the day. It was music to my ears, knowing that all of those contractions had been helping us along and I took the encouragement to heart as I climbed into the warm tub.
Jonathan was my rock as I labored. He was there with me every step of the way, holding my hand and reminding me to breathe, which was surprisingly difficult to remember at the peak of each contraction. I vividly remember him whispering encouragement to me as I felt each wave coming on and it helped me make it through.
After about an hour of laboring in the tub, the contractions grew significantly worse. I was crying and moaning through each one, desperately moving around to try to find a position that alleviated the pain. Nothing helped as the contractions grew closer together, several often coming on top of each other without stopping. Finally, I hit my breaking point and I turned to the midwife and begged her for nitrous.
She agreed and went to get the equipment out but as she began to set up, another contraction hit me. I felt it coming on and growing stronger; at the peak, without warning, I knew it was time and I had to push. We quickly scrapped the nitrous plan so I would be alert for pushing and my midwife assured me that it wouldn't be long- the baby was right there.
I got up on my knees in the water and gripped the sides of the tub as another contraction hit, pushing as hard as I could and feeling my baby move down. As another contraction approached, I pushed again and heard my midwife tell me to reach down and take my baby. I looked down into the water, catching a glimpse of my child. I reached down and pulled my baby out of the water, laying my little one on my chest and feeling relief and joy flood over me. Sharing that moment with my husband as we sat there looking at our brand new baby is a memory I will never forget.
It took several moments for us to check for gender, in fact, the midwife had to ask if we had looked. Jonathan and I were so overcome with joy that our little one had arrived that we hadn't checked. I gently lifted a corner of the washcloth they had laid over my baby's back to look and saw that we had been blessed with another baby girl!
Mary Louise Gamlin, named after both of her grandmothers, was born at 7:50pm on March 1, 2015. She weighed 8lbs 6oz and was 20 inches long. My sweet baby girl, despite the meconium in the water, was born perfectly healthy and after recovering at the birth center for several hours, we were discharged and able to head home.
Looking back, Mary's birthday was unexpectedly dramatic, but it couldn't have been orchestrated any more perfectly. Jonathan and I clearly saw God's hand in how the day progressed; in the little things like being able to have a unique day together just as husband and wife, to the big things like a delayed labor so we could be there when we needed to take Nathaniel to the hospital. All in all, though the day was so unlike what we had expected, it was perfect and memorable just the way it was.