Stella's birth story begins on Saturday, July 19th at about 7:30 pm. Nick and I had our friends, Sara and Dan, over for BBQ when contractions started. We finished our dinner out on our deck in the wonderful summer warmth and sat around chatting for a while.
Sara and Dan came along with us as we strolled down our street with Pepe and enjoyed our last night as a two-person family. Nick and I knew that our lives would soon change forever, and we were very excited about it.
Although we didn't sleep well that night, Nick did an amazing job timing the contractions and keeping me comfortable.
The next morning, contractions continued and I was pretty sure that this was the real thing. Stella would come today! Nick called his Mom (Marlane), my Sister (Jessica) and my Step-Mom (Sonja) to let them know that they needed to get on the next plane to Salt Lake City, as they were all planning on attending the birth.
At 1:00pm, we went in to the birthing center to be checked and to our surprise, the midwife (Becky) informed us that I was only 1cm dilated. Becky was concerned that I wouldn't be able to handle the upcoming labor and delivery because I hadn't had any sleep the night before, so she gave me a pain killer and a muscle relaxer and told me to go home and try to get at least a few hours of sleep before the labor progressed.
We arrived back home, I took the pills, and within 30 minutes, my contractions were so intense, that I couldn't hold still. I thought to myself, "I thought I was going to SLEEP! These pills did not help at all!"
Nick helped me change laboring positions for an hour before calling Becky back and letting her know that I was completely unable to even talk between contractions and was obviously in second stage labor. (Thankfully, Nick was very well educated on the stages and emotional signposts of labor thanks to the Bradley Childbirth classes that we took.)
By about 3:30pm, Marlane had arrived at our house and the three of us left to the birthing center. Upon arrival of the birthing center, Becky checked me and I was 4cm dilated. Becky left Nick and I alone in our birthing room to walk around and try different laboring positions for the next few hours.
By 7:00pm, my contractions were closer together than they ever had been. I was in the birthing tub trying to work out the pain in my mind. With Nick's help, I was able to wrap my mind around the sensations I was feeling. I knew that at this point in my life, I needed Nick's support more than ever. He helped me through each and every wave of pain, talking me through them, pushing on my back with his fists and whispering motivating comments in my ear.
By this time, Jess had arrived at the center and was waiting in the lobby to be called in for the delivery. I quietly asked that she be brought in to the room, because I knew the time was coming and I wanted her with me.
Soon, I told Becky that I felt the urge to push. Without even checking me, she quietly told me, "Livia, if you feel the urge to push, do what your body wants, and push." So I did. It was the most relieving feeling. The waves of pain didn't seem so intense anymore!
Nick knew that keeping me up and mobile was the fastest way to labor, so he told me that we would finish the next contraction in the tub and then move to the bed. Once we were back to the bed, I knew the time was coming close for us to meet our little girl.
Becky continued to listen to Stella's heart beat with the doppler and noticed that with each push, her heart rate was dropping from 140 to 20. This wasn't acceptable. Becky and the nurse attendant (Jennifer) knew just what to do - and they quickly transitioned me to the McRoberts position for delivery.
Even in the new position, Stella's heart rate continued to drop dangerously low with each push. Becky is normally a very quiet and calm woman, but at this point, she was very assertive. She told Jennifer to call an ambulance.
Becky then told me, "You have about two minutes before the ambulance arrives. Your daughter is in trouble and she needs to be born right now. I need you to forget everything you learned about delivery. I know you were taught to only push when you feel the urge, but you need to push and get her out even if your body isn't ready. Push, and don't stop. If you don't get her out in the next 2 minutes, you're going to the hospital."
With Jessica and Nick both spilling out encouraging and loving support, I pushed and was frightened to know what was happening inside of me. I couldn't even imagine being taken away in an ambulance mid-delivery. I decided that I wouldn't let that happen. Stella was born just as the ambulance arrived. Jennifer left the room to tell the EMTs
At 7:45pm and with great relief, Stella was placed on my chest. Nick and Jess were both softly weeping tears of joy and ooh'ing and aah'ing at this amazing little girl. Becky and Jennifer checked Stella and I and confirmed that we were both perfectly fine. Stella scored 9 out of 10 on her APGAR scores and to my surprise, I had not traumatized my body as I had thought. Becky was amazed.
Shortly after, the placenta was delivered in to the special bowl that Nick and I painted just for this occasion. Stella was soon nursing and Marlane joined us in the room to stare in amazement at the new addition to our family. At this time, Becky told us that Stella's heart rate was likely dropping during the pushing because the umbilical cord was being clamped between her shoulder or head and the inside of my cervix. The midwives often deal with situations like these, but they were amazed at how quickly I was able to get her out and we all sat in quiet thankfulness for the miracle that had just taken place.
Not only did we win the best prize in the world that day, but we also happened to be the 600th birth at the birthing center. Becky and Jennifer came in with a large basket filled beautifully with gifts and a lovely card as a congratulations. In the basket, there was a boppy pillow, a layette set, a bathing towel set and a silky smooth baby blanket. I felt like I was dreaming. Could this day get any better?
Just two hours after delivery, Becky and Jennifer were completing Stella's check and statistics so that we could head home. Stella weighed 7 pounds, 1.5 ounces and was 19.5 inches long. She had her foot prints taken to be added to the yearly quilt made of all the foot prints of babies born at that birthing center. Becky then gave Nick a tutorial on how to bathe a baby - and I'm thankful for that - because I was entirely too exhausted to pay attention to anything besides keeping my eyes open!
By 10:45pm, just three hours after delivery, we bundled Stella up and headed home. I was relieved to be home and surrounded by my family. Stella and I settled in to bed and fell in to the most wonderfully deep sleep I've ever had.