Facebook status. 9:58pm, July 7th
7:25pm: Eleanor Hope MacGray is born
7:15-ish: I look at Jeremy between contractions and tell him pushing feels different this time. It's harder. It's taking a longer time. She must be big like they thought, I say. I'm very aware which was my goal, but I'm not sure I like it.
4:50pm- Leave the house for the hospital. Contractions are anywhere from 1-4 minutes apart. Some come within 30-40 seconds of each other. On others a few minutes pass, but they are getting much more intense.
4:25pm: I pack my hospital bag because I haven't yet. I like to live dangerously.
5:30-ish pm: 5cm dilated
6:40pm: I am unable to talk much between contractions. I lay my forehead in my arms over the tub. I haven't needed to throw up yet (sorry) which worries me a bit since I have during transition during my other labors which, in my mind, is 7cm. Was I not there yet? How could I not be at 7? I am silently dreading each contraction and telling Jeremy how it's not restful between them even in the absence of pain. I can't articulate why that is. I am hot. I need cool wash cloths draped over my shoulders and sips of ice water every few minutes.
7:06pm: 9cm dilated and my water just broke. I'm back in the bed, having transferred from the tub. Everything is intense. They tell me I'm close and that it's all happening so quickly. I am shocked. It feels like an eternity, not quick. They tell me I've only been out of the tub for 5 minutes. I have no concept of time. I notice the doctor dressing for delivery. Seriously? Is this happening now? They check me again. Paper thin I hear. I think I hear complete. They say I can push with the next contraction. With each subsequent contraction and push I think and say "oh, no."
At 1:00pm that day I sent Jeremy on a 2hr mountain bike ride. I had contractions but didn't say anything to him becuase I wasn't sure if they would slow down and stop or keep progressing. Plus, I knew that either way we'd have time. Earlier that day my sister sent me a text asking me if she should stay in town where she had been visiting just in case I went onto labor that day, or make the 2 1/2 hour drive back home. I sent her off, assuring her I felt fine and was convinced this baby had no intention of coming. Then, around 11:30am our little family left the house to get the car washed and purchase our diaper bag. Good thing to purchase since I had three contractions on our 10 minute drive home. I needed to start paying attention. Truth be told, I had my first contraction while eating Jeremy's breakfast bowl around 10am but didn't know it was the start of labor. Later, when I realized I was indeed in labor and that she'd be coming that day, I was super excited. I felt good.
Jeremy's Breakfast Bowl - My last meal before baby
I started to time my contractions at 2:10pm while I edited my last blog post on why I want to have a drug-free natural delivery. It's intimidating to edit such a post while you suspect you are in labor and about to face everything you've written about. Although, it did help get my head in the game. From 2:10pm to 3:00pm, contractions went from ten minutes apart to six minutes apart.
And you guys? I did it. Drug-free and natural, just like I hoped! I was also pretty present throughout the experience which made time move at a strange, inconceivable pace and everything seem just a bit more surreal. I was very, very aware. This was my goal and I was completely resolved to taking it one contraction at a time, but it was getting tough. I had to keep refocusing on the present and getting through the contraction at hand and not think about what was next. When the time came for pushing, I didn't want to, which caught me off guard. I had wanted to with Jeremiah. But this time, It didn't bring relief. It felt unnatural even though there was immense pressure and the need to do it, all which bothered me. Something about pushing was harder this time. I told Jeremy that something didn't feel right, and it was very hard work, so "she must be big." Ellie was big, with a big head to boot, but she was also POS (face up) which makes pushing much harder. They told me this after she was born, but I knew something was up. I was just so...there. I can't say I liked it. And since I've been saying so, people have been responding with "but at least it was really quick." This, I've decided, doesn't mean anything. Had it not been as quick, it would also not have been so intense. Quick doesn't equal easy, lets just get that straight. Mmmmkay?
After she was born they placed her on my chest. They kept remarking on how big she was, but she looked itty bitty to me...until later when she suddenly looked gigantic and I wondered how in the world she had fit in my belly to begin with. You know the part after you have the baby and you think all is good until, like, two minutes later when all the cramping, stitches, teeth chattering shakiness, cold, soreness and flu like symptoms rush in? Well, being my fourth baby, they were all supremely heightened this time. I know these after effects notoriously get worse with each child a woman has, but still, I was quite in shock over the intensity of it. I had to keep asking if it was normal. I also was losing a bit more blood than expected and when they got me up to switch rooms I almost passed out twice. I guess you could say my body was ready to rest and recover already. I slept like it was my job that night...after pizza. My husband totally went out at 10pm and got us pizza from our restaurant.
Big brother and sisters coming to see the baby for the first time
So did I like natural childbirth? No. I didn't like or enjoy natural childbirth. But then again, I didn't expect to. Childbirth is -hard.freaking.work.- It's hands down the hardest thing I've ever done. I knew I wouldn't "like" it. I wanted to embrace it. And I did. That's what changes everything. I was able to embrace and face something that was taxing and brutal, with intentional boldness-battling my fears along the way, and came out victorious. Childbirth like this is the most exhilarating and terrible thing I've ever experienced. Although, ask me about it the same night and I'll tell you it was only terrible. :) Overall, I was much stronger and in control this time around than with Jeremiah's natural birth. I had a sense of- you got this- in my head. I did have to battle my fear of being able to handle the pain with each contraction, and not get too far ahead with the what if's -What if I can't take the pain thirty minutes from now? What if it gets worse?- And that was my biggest mental hurdle.
Eleanor Hope MacGray was born at 7:25pm, on July 7th 2013, weighing 8lbs 7oz, measuring 20" long, and screaming.