as the birth of our second baby draws closer i’ve been thinking back to the day evie joined us. the emotions that surround her birth story already seem different to what i am experiencing the second time around. everything was unknown, scary, and exciting at the same time. this time i have a pretty good idea of what to expect (i hope!) and there is a curly headed almost two year old keeping me on my toes. there’s no time to sit around and think and wonder and get pedicures! so, in honor of evie’s second birthday and before we officially become a family of four i wanted to share the birth story of my first and only girl – evie parker lopresto.
i used to tell parts of this story a lot. i told it as encouragement to my friends and co-workers that were about to go through the same experience as me: having their first baby. i don’t share it quite as freely now because it seems as though my story doesn’t match up with most ladies i know, and they don’t appreciate the build up for what i like to describe as a “spa-like” experience. i’m really sorry eris…okay!
thankfully, i have email records with a fresh account of the whole experience that i sent to a friend four days after giving birth.my friend sarah wanted to know everything and i’m so happy that i took the time to put it all down in words. words that were full of mis-spellings and some sentences that didn’t make sense but that’s as good as it gets when you are blissed out yet living like a zombie.
so, let’s start from the beginning. we are having a baby in texas. my family is in mississippi and matt’s family is in delaware. how do you plan for everyone to be there when you just don’t know what day it is going to all go down?! evie was due october 6th, 2012. i was 3 cm for a couple of weeks before her due date, the goal was to get to 4 cm and we would induce. i was completely effaced and her head was all the way down (like, the doctor could touch it, i didn’t even know that was possible). my placenta was large so we were keeping an eye on that in hopes of avoiding placenta previa. as of october 1st i was feeling uncomfortable, bones creaking, sleeping was no fun…all of which helped me mentally prepare for what was coming. the idea of giving birth was getting less scary the more uncomfortable i became. no contractions yet and i was traveling with towels in my car anticipating my water breaking at any moment. i should also mention my ideal birth plan was for my water to break in the middle of the night, run to the car like crazy people, feet hanging out the window screaming as we flew through traffic on the shoulder to get to the hospital. who wishes for that? i wanted movie-quality DRAMA!
on october 2nd i was still 3 cm so my doctor stripped my membranes. she offered this up the week before and i passed, this time i thought it sounded like a good idea. although, it sounds painful i didn’t think it felt any different than a typical exam and it was super quick. usually labor comes within 24 hours of this being done so i went home ready for the contractions to start. matt’s older brother had already joined us from nyc and his dad was flying in from france asap (hello, grandpa, wrong time to take a work trip overseas!) people were making moves so i was too. that evening i remember we walked to a sports bar close by and i sat on napkins…you know just in case i got that dramatic water breaking scene in a bar. that would totally fit into my dream scenario. -it didn’t happen- that night i woke up feeling something that could be compared to a period cramp. my stomach tightened and then released. i woke matt up thinking that it could be something. we tried to start timing it but nothing else happened. i felt another similar cramp the next morning. this was the extent of the action. our next appointment was october 4th, first thing in the morning, and the plan was that if i had made it to 4 cm we walk over to the hospital and induce. all family is now en route. october 4th is going to be the day.
i did in fact make it to 4 cm. so, even though i knew this was going to happen, things just got real. my doctor’s office is in the hospital, we just had to walk over to another building to get set up in the labor and delivery room. as it turns out all the computers were down in the hospital that morning. this was a fact that did not faze me at all. i figured nurses keeping track of things on paper was still a few steps up from the process that takes place in some parts of africa. i was ready. by 10am i was in my room and getting hooked up to a pitocin drip. most family arrived the night before. both of our moms were invited into the room and stayed with us through the day.
my first nurse was very young and seemed unsure of herself. she was very sweet but when she was putting the iv into my hand it took a couple of tries that hurt really bad without any success. i am not okay with needles or blood, at all. so, as a tear rolled down my face and i’m squeezing matt’s hand off he is about to ask her to get another nurse and she volunteers that idea herself. thank goodness. i think if she had stayed on as my nurse my entire experience would have been different. instead, a much more experienced nurse entered the scene, slid the iv in with ease and from that point on set a relaxed tone in the room. she was amazing. i am now all hooked up and contractions are starting. we only know this because they show up on the monitor, i still wasn’t feeling anything. the epidural was coming up next so that means i never felt any pain.
the epidural is something i tried to stay ignorant about. i closed my eyes when they showed the needle during our hospital class, i didn’t read anything about it. the actual needle, not the process. i wanted to know what was going into my body, i just didn’t want to know how. the doctor that came in for this procedure was also amazing. he made me feel at ease and his conversation felt natural so i was able to let my mind drift. matt stood in front of me and held my hands as i went limp and bent forward. he talked through the entire process so i knew what to expect but never said more than i needed to hear. i remember hearing a couple of pops and a weird feeling in my leg, which was supposedly normal but doesn’t always happen. my legs never went completely numb, just the “action zone”. i could always feel them and move them so it wasn’t a paralyzing feeling at all.
the pitocin got turned up to speed along my dilation. the contractions got stronger and i could feel pressure and a distant pain. but nothing that ever really hurt. i had control of the pain meds and had been told to push the button as much as needed so it would build up for the pain that was to come. i didn’t want to push the button because, even though it may be hard to believe, since i was all hooked up to meds at this point, i don’t actually like pain killers. thankfully, my sweet nurse leaned in and whispered to me that the less i pushed the button the better so that i could have some sensation of what was happening when i needed to push and it would make the process much easier. she was right. my doctor then came in and broke my water. there went all my hopes and dreams…that would never have made the cut in a romantic comedy!
i got to 9 cm pretty quickly after my water was broken. the next time the nurse checked i was 10 cm and she softly leaned in close and said, “it’s time to push”. i remember the lights being low, everything being quiet yet upbeat and happy. our moms were over to my right, my mom with camera in hand. it was a really nice experience and i was feeling excited. i trusted everyone around me and felt very comfortable in the situation. what i had imagined was much different: cold, bright, and harsh. this was a soft, quiet, soothing atmosphere. matt and i had discussed that there would be no reason for him to move past my shoulder. but as soon as it was time to push the nurse asked if he would be helping and he was at my side in a second. i don’t think you can plan this part. neither of us thought that is the way it would go but i can’t imagine it any other way. he made me feel comfortable and taken care of. since i couldn’t feel what i was doing i read my progress through his face and felt the emotion of what he was seeing. he was the only mirror i needed. he was very much a part of evie’s birth, not the innocent bystander we had imagined.
so, once it was time to push the lights were down with just a spot light above the nurse for her to see. she coached me to push for 10 counts, 3 times, during each contraction. they were reading my contractions on the computer but i was starting to feel the pressure and knew when they were coming before they registered on the screen. it felt like we had a nice little system going. this part went on for about 30 minutes. i didn’t push through every contraction so that evie could take a break too. it was strange to push with all your might yet not feel anything so i based everything i did off the encouragement of the nurse and matt. i remember the nurse telling me a i was doing a great job and so i started slacking off. i had to tell her no more compliments, i had to stay focused!
once evie’s head was out enough (that’s as technical as i get) the nurse softly said it was time for her to get my doctor. once my doctor came in i pushed through four more contractions which took about ten minutes. during the last contraction i was half way through the pushes, and concentrating so hard on doing well, that when my doctor told me to stop i was disappointed and said “why?!” thinking i had done something wrong. she told me i was done! i realized that i was now feeling (slightly) her head, which was just a very full feeling between my legs. when her body passed through it was a “crazy lumpy sensation” (i quote myself from the email i wrote).
as soon as she was completely out she started crying. i still can’t see anything so i keep my eyes on matt. as he starts crying so do i and i think maybe my heart will explode. as they lay her on my stomach, this perfect, messy, beautiful creature everything felt complete. it felt as though she was always meant to be with us and had finally arrived. matt cut the cord (another surprise for us that we hadn’t planned for). at this point i can feel her but i still haven’t gotten a really good look at her. she was very quiet and calm and i did my best to bend down to see her better. she gets taken away (just a few steps) to be measured, weighed, and cleaned up a bit. everyone goes over with her while the doctor finishes up with me. there’s the delivering of the placenta then a stitch or two. i’ll just say that part was weird.
then, finally, i get to hold her. i’m sure it was all very fast but felt like a lifetime of waiting to get my hands on her. once i held her it felt like almost more love that one can handle in a moment. every cliched statement about childbirth i’d ever heard came true… “your heart on the outside of your body”…that becomes real. i nursed her right away, it just felt right. we had about two hours together in the delivery room before they took her to the nursery and moved us into our room.
the next couple of days the nurses were in and out of our room, constantly checking different things. once i was snoozing, in the middle of the night, with evie on my chest and woke up nose to nose with a nurse. it’s not the most relaxing few days. each nurse had a different perspective to offer and i found that i learned most of what i needed to know from this rotation of ladies. my exit nurse gave me the best advice by far and sent me home with the confidence to trust myself with breastfeeding and raising a small human in general. so ask all the questions you have and and ignore the answers that don’t feel right. i know everyone gives the advice that you should send your baby to the nursery as much as possible and catch up on your sleep but i couldn’t part with her. i had waited so long to meet her and there was just no way i could let her be down the hall without me. i think my experience was also not quite as exhausting as what some ladies go through…so to each their own. you’ll know what is right for you.
i couldn’t have asked for a more perfect experience welcoming this little lady into the world. evie parker, 7 pounds, 2 ounces of sweet squishiness. we were surrounded by all of our family and everything went so smoothly, which was the opposite of what i had prepared myself for. we became a family of three the best part of life started that day.
any day now we are going to do it all again…fingers crossed for a repeat.