Penny Jones was born at 3am on March 29th, now just more than two week ago. Her birth was in no way what I expected, and such a great experience that, upon leaving the hospital, I actually felt sentimental, like it was a place where I had one of the greatest experiences of my life.
On the March 28th, I woke up feeling spacey. I hadn't slept well the night before, but when you're nine months pregnant the appearance of strange symptoms becomes normal; you justify it just the next thing you have to tolerate, right? At work, the last animated shot of film was completed. At 1pm, I went to the bathroom and saw "the show", a sign that labor could be starting. Convinced I was wrong, I consulted Mr. Jones from the other side of the building, and we headed home to wait and see.
I called the doctor's office, where the nurse told me I should go to the maternity floor of the hospital and be checked, just to make sure nothing had ruptured. The hospital is only 3 blocks from our house, so we walked there, no packed bag, no expectations. The examining nurse told me this is the lowest baby she have ever seen/felt, and that labor might go very quickly once it actually started. Nothing had ruptured, so we went home to wait and see.
By 8:30pm I was feeling both small pains and larger contractions. In class they told us that when this begins you should go on your last date as a couple, go out to eat, or to a movie. It would take hours and hours to dilate. When we timed my contractions they were 27 minutes apart, then 17 minutes apart, then 10. They were of such a variety of length and strength that I had a hard time determining where one ended and the next one began. At 7 minutes apart, we decided to go back to the hospital. I remember having a moment when we left the house. It was the "we're going in as two, coming out as three" moment, though I only managed to mutter "Well, I guess this is it". When we got to the hospital, I was five centimeters dilated, already almost half way to the 10cm you need for pushing.
I was assigned Sara, a labor and delivery nurse who would be with me through the whole experience. She asked me if she could put an IV in, in case they needed to give me any drugs. I said of course, but with the deepest veins in the world, I am not the easiest candidate. She tried twice, and another nurse was brought in to try a third time. I was in a jet-tub, trying to warm my arms, while Mr. Jones just drove his knuckles into my back during almost constant contractions. After 40 minutes in the tub I got out for an exam. I was 6 centimeters dilated.
|Sara, our lovely nurse, with us through the whole birth|
I never in my life considered natural childbirth until about 6 weeks before my due date when we took classes and I began researching my options. I have always put childbirth on par with, say, a root canal. Why would you refuse drugs for a birth, and not for dentistry? It's modern times, I would always say, drugs help you maintain some sense of dignity, and I was not going to refuse them. As my labor was progressing so quickly, however, I thought I'd stay in the game and see how long I could do without. I could tell the gravity of standing was helping, and when I tried to lay down, the bed felt like a pit of hot coals.
When I told Sara I wanted to just see if I do it drug free, she got very excited . "You want to try it naturally? I think you can do it!" she said. I could tell she didn't see many births without drugs, and I got scared of disappointing her if I got the epidural. No one really cares whether I have drugs or not, I told myself. But I also knew that and to stop in the midst of constant contractions to see the anesthesiologist and get the epidural done, just didn't seem realistic.
So it went, through the night. Mr. Jones driving his knuckles into my lower back, Sara monitoring my heart rate and the baby's, and me, moaning quietly (and not so quietly) while I walked the room. The contractions were never more than 10 seconds apart. At 8cm, my water finally broke. It was such a strange sensation, like a giant water balloon, actually popping inside me. The pains then doubled, and and hour or so later, I was ready to start pushing.
|Looking at my new baby|
Sara helped me choose a position for delivery. Suddenly there were so many more people in the room, three more nurses and the OB. Everything got very serious, yet incredibly supportive. The pushing was the most intense sensation I've ever felt, and at one point I was instructed to "push into the burn, Holly". It took every ounce of effort I had, as I shivered and shook and cried out. They kept telling me I was so close to meeting mt daughter. Penny was born just after 3am. They put her on my chest as Mr. Jones kept said "She's finally here! She's beautiful. She's perfect! She's ours," through tears of joy. He cut her cord, and the nurses left us alone for her very first hour. Later, they weighed and measured her, as we decided on her name. I had given birth to her, and we were a family.
|Skin to skin with Penny, moments after birth|
|After weighing and measuring, Mr. Jones gets to know her.|
|Looking at Penelope a few hours after her birth|
|Penny's first bath, given to her by (amazing) nurse Jen the next day.|
|Penny dressed, and ready to go home|
The days since have been filled with so much love. Penny is of course the center of our lives, and we have relished in these days that the three of us could spend together. I'm adjusting to my roll as "new mom", as we watch Penny day and night, memorizing everything about her. We are a family, and her birth has brought us together in ways I cannot describe.
|Carrying Penny out of the hospital doors|
|Home with our bundle.|