As many of you know, I was pretty darn sure that Finley was going to come early. In fact, my only stipulation was that she wait until after June 13th when I graduated. Once that day came and went, I was ready. Ready, ready, READY!
And then...she didn't come. And then again...she didn't come. And finally...she didn't come.
I kept going to my weekly checkups and my midwife kept telling me, "go ahead and schedule the next appointment, but you probably won't need it."
I kept needing it.
I was tired and big and so OVER being pregnant. And then my due date came and went. And every night before I went to bed I would have contraction upon contraction and think, "ok! tonight is the night!"
And then...she wouldn't come.
Finally, on Friday, two days past my due date, I resorted to acupuncture. I was stuck with a dozen and a half needles, I sniffed citrus ("To draw the baby out!") and I had a radish seed stuck on the uterus point in my ear (did you know your ear has a uterus point?). Clearly, I was willing to try anything.
That night, contractions were about 10 to 12 minutes apart but, knowing that going to bed usually stopped contractions, I wasn't too excited. I ended up sleeping comfortably through the night but woke up about 6am with a pretty decent contraction. I got out of bed and began timing them and found they were about 6 to 7 minutes apart.
Morgan and Conor got up and contractions continued to come every 6 minutes but they weren't too intense. I took a nice hot bath and read a book and everything felt great. I had decided from the beginning that I wanted to labor at home for as long as possible. I had gone to the hospital fairly early in my labor with Conor and I was there for nearly 24 hours before he was born and it was not an experience I wanted to repeat. I knew I could be in for a long day so we decided to ship Conor off to Opa and Grandma's so that I could relax and focus on getting through each contraction as it came.
Morgan and I went for a walk around the neighborhood at about 10:30 and contractions really sped up and became increasingly uncomfortable. They were pretty steady at 4 minutes apart but still weren't unmanagable as far as pain went. That day was hot and I was sweaty and hungry so we cut our walk short and got some lunch. We then ran over to Target for more walking and to pick up a couple last minute supplies.
I'm sure you can imagine my disappointment when my contractions slowed to 6 minutes apart, then 10 minutes apart, then 15 minutes apart. Oh, I was so looking forward to meeting my girl and here my contractions had almost stopped altogether. With more errands to run, Morgan and I went out to get him some work boots for his new job (yeah! new job! more on that some other time) and STILL nothing!
We decided to go for one last walk hoping that it would jump start contractions again. This was about 2:30pm and boy did that do the trick! Contractions came rushing back at 4 minutes apart and became so strong that I would have to stop and lean on something until they passed. We did one short loop, and headed back home to pack the hospital bag.
We called my wonderful doula, Melissa at about 4 o'clock and she arrived at our house by about 4:30. By this point, the contractions had slowed to 5 minutes apart but they were intense. And by intense I mean really, amazingly, blindingly painful. Every time a contraction would begin, I would run (waddle) to my birth ball, rest my arms on it and moan my way through it. Morgan and Melissa were so incredibly helpful while I was laboring. They reminded me to breathe, kept me calm and focused on taking each contraction one at a time.
At one point I asked Melissa when we should go to the hospital. She said the decision was mine and that I would just know when it was time to go. I remember at one point leaning on the ball and finishing a contraction and thinking, yeah, we better go. I don't know why, but Melissa was right. My body just KNEW it was time to go. Contractions were still about 5 minutes apart so I knew we had plenty of time and that I would still be labor at the hospital for several hours so I told Morgan to drive quickly but carefully and avoid bumps at all costs.
As soon as I got into the car though, I was hit with a BIG ONE. As in, don't drive carefully, just DRIVE! I had two more of those on the 10 minute drive to the hospital. By the time we pulled into the parking lot my contractions had rocketed up to 2 minutes apart but they were also about 90 seconds long.
Because I couldn't walk during a contraction and I only had about 30 seconds between each contraction it took us nearly 20 minutes to walk from the parking garage up to maternity. At one point I was given a wheelchair and Morgan would run with the chair in the 30 second between contractions. When I felt one coming on, I would have him stop the chair, I would stand up, lean against him and moan. Loudly. Like, really, really, REALLY loudly. I was THAT pregnant lady. The one you see in movies or on TV. The one that makes women without children never want to have children.
Finally we made it to labor and delivery and they kept trying to ask me questions and I was all "I don't even know my name, there is no way I can give you my social security number or tell you if I have an advance directive." They quickly wheeled me back to triage where I was asked to provide a urine sample. I'm all, "um, ok, I'll try" all the while thinking "are they freaking kidding me!"
A kind nurse came in, checked for cervical dilation and then stuff started to happen. I was told to immediately get on the gurney and was quickly shuttled down the hallway. (They actually ran me into the wall three times...I guess they were in a rush.) We got into the labor and delivery room (where I assumed I would be for the next few hours) and all of a sudden there were a dozen people all around me. I was strapped to the monitors (screaming for the epidural - screw natural childbirth - that sh*t is for the birds. I want drugs and I want them NOW! I actually told Morgan if he didn't get me the epidural I would kill him. And I really, truly meant it.)
After what seemed like hours (probably about 3 minutes) I heard a man's voice through the door and I was certain he was my own Epidural King. Savior of my sanity and my hero for life.
Not the case.
It was Dr. Bair. Apparently the midwife who was on call that day was at home and Dr. Bair was just going to keep an eye on me until Mary could get there. I know my eyes got big because I was like, a man! I don't want a strange man looking at my lady bits. Where is my midwife? I'm a hippy now! I have natural childbirths! I did acupuncture and walked around with a radish seed in my ear!
Um, no. Dr. Bair began to do an examination and said, "Oh! There's the head. Start pushing."
Um, excuse me. What? No, no. I don't think you understand. I'm not ready to push. I want an epidural. I need to rest. Let's just wait a bit.
And then I heard maybe the scariest words. "Can someone please page the NICU and have them on standby." I looked at Dr. Bair. He looked at me. He said calmly, but rather sternly, "Erin, the baby's heart rate is dangerously low. If you don't push, RIGHT NOW, I will have to get the vacuum out. You need to push and you need to push NOW."
Ok then. Here we go. I looked at the clock. It was 6:15 pm. I pushed. I pushed again. I gave one last push and she was out. I looked at the clock. It was 6:22pm.
She was perfect. They laid her on my chest, covered her with a blanket and she was mine. My perfect, little, itty bitty angel with blue eyes and a fuzzy head. She stayed on my chest for about a hour and then, when the nurses tended to me, they had Morgan take his shirt off and he got to enjoy a perfect moment of skin to skin contact with his beautiful daughter. In all my life, I've never seen a more perfect and beautiful picture.
Three days late, our girl wanted to come on her own time. And, despite my pleas for the epidural, she came too quickly and allowed me the natural childbirth that I wanted all along. It's a powerful feeling knowing that I gave birth to my girl all without drugs or intervention.
Finley, for her part, is a perfect little doll. So sweet and quiet and quite the little cuddle bug. She has taken to breastfeeding like a champ and is getting more and more alert every day. We all love her so much and can't imagine our lives without her. Our family was perfect before, but now its perfect and complete.
Finley Clare Walsh
Born July 10, 2010, 6:22pm
7 pounds, 7 ounces
20.5 inches long
Perfect in every way