Dearest Viviana Marie,
You arrived! May 18, 2010 at 9:37am. You were 8lbs 2oz, 20 ¾” long, and had a 14” head. You have lots of gorgeous dark hair, and big, dark eyes. You’re a precious, beautiful bundle of joy, and you couldn’t ask for parents who love and adore you more. And here, Sweet Girl, is the story of your birth- a story so perfect only God could’ve written it…
For about a week leading up to your birth, I started having more consistent contractions, on and off. They were still very light, but would often stay at a consistent rate apart for a few hours, before dwindling off, and then pick up again later. My body was preparing and getting ready for the big day! On Saturday, the 15th, I lost my mucus plug, as my body continued to prepare. We had a busy weekend with Daddy’s ultimate tournament, and visiting the zoo to celebrate Uncle Brenner’s birthday, but not much in the way of contractions. My midwife, Cindy Rogel (who was also Grandma Carmichael’s midwife for several babies, and Grandma Graber’s for one), was going to be out of town the following week, due to family stuff that had come up, so you ended up being delivered by her back-up, Joselle Weiss. I got to meet her earlier in the pregnancy, because Cindy also had a daughter getting married around my due date, and got to see Joselle in action at a friend’s birth. Her philosophies were very similar to Cindy’s, and there were a lot of things I appreciated about her, so after a brief stress-out over the large time frame Cindy wouldn’t be available, I decided that God knew who was needed at your birth, and would arrange the timing accordingly.
Monday morning I woke up around 1, and every 15 or 20 minutes afterwards with cramping and contractions that were quite a bit stronger than the previous Braxton Hicks. Around 3, they became firmer, and were a steady 4-5 minutes apart, lasting 45-75 seconds. I couldn’t sleep through them, so I got up and did some light housework, in preparation for the possibility of that being your birthday. Around 4:45 I decided to call Grandma C., and ask what she thought. I didn’t want to ask her and the midwife to come out early if it wasn’t the real thing yet, but everything seemed consistent, and significantly different from all the previous prep my body had done. She though it sounded good, and I should call Joselle, so I woke Dad up and asked him to start filling the pool. I called Joselle a little after 5 to give her a head’s up, and she suggested my calling again in an hour or so to let her know where things were at.
Around 5:20 contractions started gaining in intensity, and became a little closer. I started craving getting in the water, and was looking forward to having the pool filled. In the meanwhile, I focused on getting things ready for the birth, and relaxing through the contractions. At 6:30 I got in the pool, and it finished filling shortly thereafter. Joselle thought she should come out and check on things, so Grandma arrived at 7:10, and Joselle a few minutes later. Being in the water slowed things down a little bit, but contractions still stayed 4-5 minutes apart.
At 9:15 I got out of the pool, and Joselle did the first internal exam. Because of how the cervix was positioned, and how high up it was, she couldn’t feel how far I was dilated. She said, though, that baby’s head was in a perfect position and once the cervix moved into place, I would probably dilate very effectively. She was right- but it was a long time before the cervix moved into place. If I could do it again, now having felt and experienced labor, I probably would’ve worked at going through the day more normally, instead of focusing on the fact I was in labor. Having no previous experience to compare it to, though, your birth was mostly a learning curve for me.
Around 11:30am I got out of the pool at Joselle’s suggestion, and stayed out for the rest of the day. I spent the rest of the day alternating walking around, resting, sitting on the birthing ball, etc. I tried napping during the afternoon, and Daddy laid down with me, touching me and helping lull me to sleep in between contractions. I had a couple more internal exams through out the day- she could feel that I was dilated to about 1 centimeter, but the cervix was still really high and needed to drop before things could start moving.
Joselle had a prenatal to do in the evening, and ended up going home after that. It was slightly disappointing to be at what felt like a stand still- but I was really tired, and thought maybe labor would just taper off and kick back in in the morning, which was a welcome idea. I was also encouraged by the fact that no matter what I did or didn’t do, labor didn’t go away, so we would be holding you soon. Grandma decided to stay the night, at our request. We decided to watch a movie, but my contractions picked up a lot in intensity, and got closer together. I had to work harder at relaxing through them. Around 9, I got in the pool to try and take the edge off the contractions, hoping maybe they’d slow down some and I could sleep a little. It didn’t seem to help too much, so we decided to go to bed around 11. I threw up, and contractions continued to get stronger. They were 90 seconds long, and about 3 minutes apart. Daddy worked really hard at getting me to relax through the contractions and rest in between. He was a wonderful support- your birth was completely a team effort, that couldn’t have been nearly the beautiful story it was without Dad. He gently reminded me to relax when I started tensing up. I decided to try standing in the hot shower, because I couldn’t sleep and was having a hard time dealing with the contractions lying down. It helped slightly, and I stayed in till the hot water ran out, then went in the living room for a while. Around 1:30, I went in Grandma’s room to talk to her about the new developments. She was up, and suggested we drain a little of the water in the pool (it was pretty cool the night before) and refill with hot water. Daddy, who managed to fall asleep for about an hour, after I had assured him I wanted him to try sleeping and would get him if I needed him, came out and helped with the pool draining/filling.
It felt nice to get in the water again, though the contractions were still really intense. I was so tired I kept falling asleep during the 30-60 seconds between contractions. It took a lot of effort, energy, and work to relax through the contractions- more than I had anticipated. Since I was so tired I kept slipping into loosing my focus once the contraction hit its peak point. Daddy quietly cheered me on, reminding me I was doing a great job, prayed for me, and supported me physically. Grandma kept reminding me to relax when she saw me start to tense up during a contraction. She was a perfect mix- understanding and encouraging, but forceful about the fact that I needed to relax, pointing out when certain body parts started tensing up. I started each contraction determined to relax through it, but started to loose my focus more than once. Daddy’s emotional support was such a huge encouragement, especially when I felt like I wasn’t doing as well at handling the contractions as I should be…he would remind me that I was doing great, in spite of being too weary to focus on relaxing as much as I needed to. When I felt too weary to go on, he supported me and reminded me that I absolutely could do it, no matter what I thought. Somewhere in that time frame, my water broke.
After I asked Grandma about when we should call Joselle, Grandma called her at 4, and Joselle (who lives 45 minutes away) arrived at 5. I had thrown up several more times before she got there, which she said made for great dilation contractions. I felt a lot of pressure, so I felt certain the cervix had dropped, and I was hoping I had dilated fairly far, but didn’t want to get my hopes up. So, we were elated when Joselle checked me around 6, and said the cervix was fully dilated, and everything was ready to go. It was thrilling, and a little energizing to realize we were down to the final stretch, and most likely would soon be holding you.
I started bearing down with each contraction, but didn’t start serious pushing till around 7. I made low-throated noises through the contractions, which helped me focus on putting all my energy downwards, towards pushing you out, so I didn’t get tired too fast. Joselle coached me through the pushing, telling me how to make my pushing effective so I didn’t get tired with ineffective pushing. It felt good to push, and do something with the contractions, that helped instead of being tempted to tense up against them. Grandma and Daddy continued the reminders to relax, and that I could do it. Around 8:30 we finally had your head in a full crown. It was so exciting to get to feel your head, which was covered in dark hair. Throughout the pushing, Joselle had me alternate my positions between squatting, hands and knees, and tailor sitting, which seemed to help bring you down. We were down to the home stretch, with no turning around! My pushing became even more serious and down-to-business…I was very eager to meet you. You had a hard time fitting through, and my perineum did some major stretching. Joselle helped it along, and supported and massaged it to prevent tearing. In spite of best pushing efforts, and Joselle’s attempts at pulling the probably area you were stuck on out of the way, you stayed in a full crown for an hour. It was encouraging to be able to reach down and feel your head when the pushing got long, and the pressure intense. Joselle, Grandma, and Daddy all prayed for us throughout the labor and birth. Specifically when you were stuck at a full crown, they prayed for strength and endurance for me, and that you’d be able to fit through perfectly. They reminded that God had designed my body for your birth. Finally, just as Joselle was contemplating offering to do a small episiotomy, your beautiful head came through. Everyone was ecstatic, though I remember mentioning in response to someone saying the hard part was over that we still had the shoulders to go. A couple more pushes, though, and we had the shoulders (with your arms crossed over them) out…in the next moment you were lifted out and into my arms. I gave a cry of delight as so many emotions flooded over me. You were so perfectly beautiful, and gave a lusty cry as soon as we lifted you out of the water. I nestled you against my chest, and we covered you with a towel. You were a little purplish, so Joselle had Daddy start rubbing you down right away, and you quickly pinked up. Then I checked to see if you were a girl or boy- and was pleasantly surprised to see God had given us a daughter. Though we didn’t have a preference, we thought we were more likely to have a boy...we were thrilled God had given you to us. Daddy really loves having a princess to love and adore.
The placenta was about an hour in coming. Daddy started draining the pool shortly after you were born, so the water was pretty much completely gone by the time the placenta was birthed. I wasn’t sure where the energy to push the placenta out was going to come from, but eventually, after some position changing, we did it. You enjoyed nestling against my breast, and latched on and nursed for a few minutes. You also got to enjoy Daddy’s arms- it was so special to get to hand you- our baby- to him.
After the placenta was birthed, I got cleaned up, and into bed which Grandma had made up and prepared for us. You nestled up with me, greatly enjoying skin-to-skin contact, and nursed some more. After checking me, Joselle left. Grandma stayed for several more hours, and helped with some of the various clean up, as well as making sure you had a good latch for breastfeeding. You were exhausted after the experience of entering the world, and did lots of sleeping. After lunch, our new little family of 3 took a nap together, and then Grandma Graber and Aunt Annie came to bring dinner and see you.
We’re so grateful for you, and the birth experience God blessed us with! Pregnancy and birth has always been really special to Grandma, and I eagerly anticipated experiencing it, instead of only dreaming about what your birth would be like. Although there were things I could’ve done differently, and relaxing took more work than I felt like I had the energy for, God blessed us with a beautiful birth- I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect labor or delivery…and I definitely couldn’t ask for a more perfect daughter!