I was a wreck as my due date came and went with no sign of labor. I was convinced that I'd never have this baby and would be the size of a Thanksgiving Day parade float forever. My biggest fear was confirmed by my obstetrician — the baby hadn't even started to drop, making induction an impossibility, and making a cesarean section likely. I had already had a C-section with my first daughter, Jillian, and the thought of another one made my stomach lurch.
One day passed, then two, then three. Then — finally — I started to feel contractions. They became more regular, and by the following morning, I was sure it was time to call my doula. But 2 hours later the contractions stopped. I went to see my obstetrician only to find out that I wasn't ready to have the baby yet. My husband, David, and I were crushed.
When the contractions started again later that night, they were coming every 15 minutes with a strength that knocked the wind out of me. In the morning, we got the news we were waiting for — I was in labor! But I was only 1 centimeter dilated, and the baby was still very high. The doctor told us to go out to breakfast, walk around, and stay active for a few more hours before returning to her office. Exhausted and ecstatic, we went on our way.
It was around noon when we returned. The nurses chuckled as they watched me waddle down the hall to the exam room one more time. "This has to be it! No more false alarms," one of them joked.
And this was it! I was admitted to the hospital.
The Hard Work Begins
I spent the next hour hooked up to machines that monitored my contractions and the baby's heartbeat. As soon as I was able, I got out of bed and walked . . . and rocked . . . and showered . . . and I leaned against the windowsill, watching the people below come and go . . . and I held onto my husband.
Soon my doula arrived, and she helped me focus as the contractions got stronger, encouraging me to relax and visualize, and letting me hold her hand and lean on her when the pain was too much. I kept telling myself that every time a contraction ended, it was one more contraction I'd never have to experience again.
I was shocked and disappointed to learn, 7 hours later, that after all that effort and all that pain, I was only 3 centimeters dilated. I wanted to quit with frustration. At that point, I made the decision to have an epidural. David and my doula didn't really want me to have it, but they respected the fact that it was my body and my pain. A little while later I was also given pitocin to help move things along.
When the doctor finally announced that I was at 9 centimeters, we were so relieved that we cried. I had gotten past the 6-centimeter mark, which is where things had stalled with my first child — and which meant I was getting closer to having this child vaginally. However, the baby still wasn't dropping as well as she should have been, and the doctor reminded us that we still had a lot of work ahead of us. As it turned out, she was right.
I started feeling ill and dizzy, and I couldn't stop shaking. I vomited quite a few times. I felt like I needed to push, but the nurse told us that the baby was lying on her side instead of facing down. The nurse helped me roll onto my side in hopes of getting the baby to flip — and flip she did. I can't even begin to describe what a strange feeling that was.
With the baby now in position, I began to push.
Welcome, Miracle Baby
Soon my body, with a little assistance, did what everybody thought it couldn't do — it pushed the most beautiful baby into this world. At that moment, every ounce of disappointment and failure I had felt when I had my C-section vanished.
But the birth was not without some complications. Katie was born with the cord wrapped twice around her neck. She was immediately taken to the warming bed, suctioned, wiped down, and inspected thoroughly. She was fine. Tiny, pink, and beautiful, she weighed 6 pounds, 13 ounces.
Since her birth, Katie has woven her way into our world so thoroughly that I can't imagine living without her. She's my miracle baby and I'm thankful every moment of every day that she's with us.