(Written by Mommy, with some help from Daddy)

Note: As with all "birth stories," the following contains medical details about Ainsley's arrival. If you're squeamish, or if words like "mucus plug" bother you, you might not want to read this...

Tuesday, September 30, 2003

My last day of work before maternity leave came and went fairly uneventfully. I was a little bit tired, but that was nothing new, and anxious to visit the midwife in the afternoon to find out where we stood.

At 2:30 p.m., her exam revealed that everything was definitely progressing in the right direction. My cervix was continuing to efface and dilate, and the baby's head was firmly engaged in the pelvis. The non-stress test revealed that she was tolerating everything very well and that her recently decreased movement was not something to be concerned about. Once again, we discussed the subject of possible induction the week following her due date. We scheduled appointments for an ultrasound and repeat non-stress test on October 8.

After work, Greg and I went out to dinner with Troy and Jami. As always, they poked fun at my propensity for peeing a lot - they actually made a little bet regarding the number of bathroom trips I would take while at the restaurant (no one won). During the one trip I did take, I noticed a piece of mucus plug in the toilet - it didn't really excite me in particular, because mucus plugs can come out as much as 3 or 4 weeks before delivery, and because I had thought I lost mine several weeks earlier. But, there it was, and I told Greg about it in the car on the way home.

Riding home, I was on the phone with my mother and telling her about the mucus plug. She was convinced that a bumpy car ride would get things started, labor-wise, as my Braxton-Hicks contractions seemed to be stronger while in the car. When we got home, I went to the bathroom and started to get ready for bed. As I turned to get something off the back of the toilet, I felt a sudden gush of liquid - all over my pants and the floor. Every time I moved, more and more came out. I called to Greg, who came in from the bedroom, and told him I thought my water had broken. "Are you sure?" he asked. "Yeah, I'm pretty sure..."

While we waited for the doctor on call to get back to us, we called my mother, his parents, and some close friends to let them know. The doctor told us to head on in - the baby would now have to be delivered within 24 hours to eliminate any chance of an infection.

My contractions did not return in the car ride to the hospital. We arrived and checked into St. Vincent Hospital at Worcester Medical Center, and got settled in our room in Labor & Delivery. My midwife was not due to be on call until 8:00 a.m. the next day, so I was examined by the obstretrician on call, Dr. Elizabeth Darr. The nurse put the monitor on me to track my contractions (which were still non-existant) and the baby's heartbeat. My blood pressure was high, so they had me turn on my left side to bring it down a bit - this resulted in the monitor "losing" the baby's heartbeat. So, Dr. Darr ordered a scalp monitor be put on the baby. She also ordered a heplock in my arm, so that in the morning, should it be necessary to induce or give me pain medication, we'd be all set for that. Then, it was time to try and sleep. Ha.

We dozed in and out all night long - me on my side in bed, Greg in a very uncomfortable chair next to me. The nurses came in every few hours to take my BP and temperature, and to check the monitors. The night passed uneventfully, and it quickly became apparent that the baby would indeed be an October baby, as we'd hoped. ;)

Wednesday, October 1

At about 7 a.m., Dr. Darr said it would be best to induce within an hour or so. The baby was doing very well, and she was comfortable letting me off the monitor to go eat and make some phone calls to update people. So, we did that, and got back to the room just as Alison, my midwife, was coming on duty. We discussed the induction, and she had the nurse get me started. At this point, I was starting to get very nervous - I knew that labors induced with pitocin tended to be more painful than those that are natural, and I was seriously concerned that I wouldn't be able to cope with the pain.

Things started out slowly - I dozed through the early stage of labor with no problems and very little pain, only some discomfort. At about 11 a.m., things started to get a little more painful and I knew I was moving into active labor. Not sure that they would work, I started using the breathing exercises we'd learned in our childbirth class. Greg stayed with me, helping me get through each contraction and distracting me in between. Because we had to stay on the monitors at this point, due to my water having already broken, I could not be as mobile as I would have liked, but I did get out of bed to allow gravity to do its thing. At about noon, the pain had become too much for me, and I knew it was time to do something about it.

Alison examined me, and to my delight, I was already at 7 cm. I was really happy about that - I had made it through the first two phases of labor with no pain meds at all, and my level of pain, on a scale of 1 to 10, was at about 9 at this point. After discussing my options with the nurse, Alison, and Greg, I decided to go with an IV painkiller, rather than an epidural.

Alison indicated that I would receive immediate relief from the shot - she was right. My pain level plummeted from 9 back down to about 4. I was pretty groggy and incoherent during this time, but I felt great, and knew that I was saving up strength for pushing.

At about 3 p.m., the nubain wore off and I was in agony. Alison checked me again and I was at 9.5 cm - ALMOST THERE! We tried a couple of pushes at this point to see if we could get the cervix to hurry up and move out of the way, but it didn't work too well. A few minutes later, I got extremely nauseous and threw up - I knew it was time to push.

We tried a number of different labor positions, but I found the side-lying position to be the most "comfortable". It enabled me to pour more energy into the pushing, and less into holding both legs back, etc. It took about an hour for my body to learn how to push and not hold back - I remember my frustration because I couldn't seem to manipulate the right muscle groups. At one point, I apparently asked them to just "suck the baby out" of me, and I also sassed Alison when she asked for "one more push" - "I already DID one more!" Greg stood at my bedside the whole time, wiping my head, giving me support, and, toward the end, I was holding on to him while I pushed, rather than the bed.

Once I got the muscles to respond, it took me about 20 minutes to push the baby out. As she was crowning, a contraction ended, and I couldn't put my leg down, so Alison told me just to keep pushing. With what I thought was the last push I had in me, the baby came out, head, shoulders, and all, at once. Alison held her up for us to see - "Is it a girl?" I asked, groggily. Indeed, it was, and she started to cry, almost as if on cue. Ainsley Elizabeth Marr had arrived at 4:44 p.m., weighing 8 lbs., 4 oz. and measuring 19.25".

After wiping her off a little, the midwife laid her on my chest so I could hold her while they finished up with the delivery. She cut the cord, delivered the placenta, and stitched me up - she'd had to do a small midline episiotomy. I remember feeling so blessed - a short labor, a quick delivery, and we were all fine, including Greg, who had endured the whole thing with the calmness that I've come to expect from him - in this, however, he exceeded my expectations.

At about this time, Greg left to make phone calls, and surreptitiously, Jami arrived, thinking that Greg might need a break from the labor, with Troy in tow. Much to their surprise, they entered the room to find me already nursing Ainsley. When Greg came back, and she had finished eating, we gave Ainsley to Greg to hold for a while.

Then, the nurses took Ainsley to the nursery to be evaluated by a pediatrician. The nurses brought me dinner - I hadn't eaten a real meal since the night before. One of the nurses went and "stole" me an extra dinner roll, since most of the food was terrible, and the roll was actually pretty decent. :)

After I ate, Jami and Troy left, and Greg and I got moved to a room in the postpartum wing, where I rested for a while. Greg's parents (Nana and Grampy) arrived to see their new grandbaby shortly after that, and we had to wait for the nursery to finish with her for quite a while. Finally, they brought her in, and she was beautiful - all cleaned up and with her hair combed, she looked a lot like I did in my baby picture, but she definitely looked a lot like Greg, too.

So, that's the story of Ainsley's first day. We had lots of visitors the next day, and went home on her original due date, Friday, October 3rd.

Update: Ainsley was readmitted to the hospital on Sunday, October 5th for jaundice and dehydration. After phototherapy and some help getting mom's breastmilk into her system, we're pleased to report that she's now doing very well at home, having arrived home again on Tuesday, October 7th. Mom and Dad continue to do well, too, although we're a bit tired. ;)

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