Lilliana is three years old. I can’t believe I’m typing those words. I remember her very first day like it was yesterday.
Lilliana came into our lives and completely rocked our world before she even got here. If you haven’t read her story, read: this.
I was due on september 15th but the day came and went and there wasn’t even a sign of her. The 16th came and left, but still, no baby! I had the normal 9 month pregnant thoughts, “Will I be pregnant forever?”
Well, at about 4:00 am, I woke up with a tight feeling belly. It hurt, but as soon as I was concious enough to notice it, it faded away and I just laid there until I convinced myself I was just dreaming and drifted off to sleep again. 20 minutes later it happened again, and was gone. This happened about 4 times before I snapped out of it and realized what was happening.
“Jordan, hey… Jordan, I think I’m in labor.” “What? Why? No you’re not, it’s the middle of the night.”
Ohh, that’s right! Babies only arrive during business hours. I got all hissy and went down stairs to bounce on my birthing ball and read The Secret Life Of Bees. My contractions slowed down and so I just went back to bed. Well, by about 7:00 am, Jordan had to decide his plan for the day. I said that yes, you should go to class and bring stuff for your game, but this baby is definitely on her way.
He left and my Dad was at the lake and offered to drive me to the house I grew up in to be closer to the hospital. He drives an old jeep and we had to take highway 50 and route 12 for the entire hour drive. (Sound familiar? I labored in an old jeep for an hour ride down rt 12 for Daniel’s birth too. It is really not that fun.) When I’m in pain, I don’t want to be touched and I don’t want to move. So, bouncing in an stinky (sorry Dad), old truck down a rickety high way was a little less than ideal, but I was calm, conversational and totally committed to the all natural labor I was going to have. Just like the powerful birthing women in the (totally awesome) documentary The The Business of Being Born
Oh Honey. Sweet little Mama. This is a 3.
I’m an athlete. I had just completed the Chicago Marathon the summer before that and I heard that labor is like a marathon. Well, in a marathon, you need fuel. Luckily, I was in the home of The Queen Of Snacks…my mother. She is also The Queen Of A Good Deal. So, her pantry was stocked with some delicious caramel Aldi granola bars. I grabbed one, and went back to the living room with my birthing ball and bounced.
My Uncle Tom told me never to eat something on race day unless you’ve tried it in training. Even when they hand you a cool brand new gatorade chewy thing at mile 16 and you’re starving, you can’t have it. It could really throw you off and make you sick.
Why don’t I listen? What is wrong with me?
I was bouncing away while licking my fingers after my delicious snack and in my impatient boredom, I decided to read the wrapper of my grano-wait…FIBER BAR. OH MY GAAAAASH. I JUST ATE A FIBER BAR. IN LABOR.
Do I even think? Can’t I read? I’ve read the horror stories of the poop on the table and *Spoiler Alert*: Soiler alert. Just don’t make me say it.
To add to my panic even more, My contractions almost completely stop again. So, I took a nap on the couch and woke up when they were more prominent again.
It was time to call Heika. She was going to help me labor until I thought I should call Jordan back. She came and got me and we went to Jimmy Johns because I was an athlete and needed fuel and DO I EVEN THINK???
I ate a giant veggie sandwich and some freaking barbecue chips because I was 21 and thought that my body was a machine that I told what to do. Also because I was a big fat idiot head.
We carried on and went to Deer Park, the outdoor shopping mall. I had been in early labor for almost 12 hours now and I figured my sweet baby girl needed to be bribed out. We went to the Apple store. “See little one? Look at all the iThings. You will learn to master them all. We went to look at baby clothes and I think all of the tiny, cute things put me into gear. I’m going to have a baby. I started to sway and grimace through contractions. I thought that toughing it out was going to get me through labor. I had no concept of relaxing and allowing my contractions to work for me. People around didn’t know I was in labor so Heika and I played it cool and worked contractions into our conversations.
“Look at this shirt Heik. Like for a whole minute, look at it and pretend I’m listening to you talk about it.”
The fiber bar and veggie sandwich really started doin their thing so we decided to move along.
Me: “Should we grab Starbucks now or when we get there?”
Heika: “What are you talking about?”
Me: “Jordan’s game. Should we just get it out there?”
Heika: “Darla, you are in labor. We aren’t going to Jordan’s game. I’m taking you to the hospital.”
That she did. In her old Jeep Wrangler. (What is with the Jeeps? I guess it’s a thing. I wouldn’t understand)
They checked me into the hospital because I was dialated to a 4 and at my last appointment I was at a 2. So, I was progressing and, therefore, in active labor. That and the fact that you couldn’t pay me to get back into a jeep just to turn around and do it again.
The birthing ball turned out to actually slow down my labor for some reason, so I eventually ditched it. Heika is a good friend but a really bad birth partner. I was hooked up to fetal monitors and she could see the chart behind me. She would see a contraction on the chart and wince, “OOooo this is going to be a really bad one.” Then I would get hit with a real doozie and, against my will, the fiber bar would hit Heika with a real doozie.
Jordan was done with school and wanted to know what to do about his game. I said just play and we’d call his mom if we needed him to leave.
Warm up? Keep playing. First half? Keep playing. Second half?? Keep playing but then get here as soon as you can. Heika left and I promised I’d keep her posted. She was awesome to have around for that first leg of the journey. It was our last best friend date before I became a mommy.
Jordan made the one hour trip in forty minutes, took a shower in my hospital room and then they came out and said that they should break my water. They pretty much used a crochet hook and popped it. I really don’t like that feeling.
Sh*t got real after that. It was painful. Our families wanted to come in and say hi and I gave them all about one minute. My contractions were getting closer together and I was fighting my way through them. Swimming upstream. They heard my painful cries as they left towards the waiting room. The nurse came in, offered the epidural. I declined. I was going to be tough. They checked me and I had barely progressed. My mind started in on “Labor Math”
If I’ve been in labor for 23 hours and I am only at a 6, how many hours more until I’m at a 10?!
I dimmed the lights. At about 24 hours of labor, my contractions were piling on top of each other. I was vomiting in between them and could barely think. The nurse came in, offered me drugs and a barf bin and left. I opened my eyes just in time to see fear, sadness, and helplessness on Jordan’s face.
(In retrospect, I should have called my Mom in. She had 5 of us completely natural. She could have helped me calm down. She could have told me that I was almost there, but I was alone, by choice and I paid in the long run.)
This isn’t what it is supposed to be! I don’t want this to be how I remember bringing our baby girl into this world.
White Flag. I surrender. Give me the epidural.
It was scary, but it worked and in no time, I was relaxed and Jordan was falling asleep on the couch in our hospital room. The nurses started talking about Pitocin and that is where I, personally, drew the line. I gave them my very firm “no” and they agreed to leave me be.
Thank goodness it was the middle of the night. The doctor on call was willing to sleep and wait for my body to work. I even got some sleep. They said if I wasn’t dilated, they would be forced to take more medical action. So when they checked me in the morning, I was so relieved to hear that I had finally progressed to a 9.
Nurses filed in, the lights grew brighter and the doctor was on his way. They sat me up and pulled in the mirror and they began to coach me on how to push with an epidural. I pushed through two contractions and was doing well. I pushed again and my doctor said that her head was there but he needed to give me an episiotomy to allow her to come out. I asked him not to. He insisted. I pleaded, I began to beg, but I gave in. He cut me open and in the next contraction I could feel her come out. I kept pushing. Please, girl, please.
She was here. She was absolutely beyond anything I could have prepared my heart for. My little baby girl was handed to me and I tucked her into my chest. I kissed her head and gently held on tight the way only a new mommy can.
Lilliana Mae Innis. 7lbs 11 oz born on 9-17-2011 at 8:31 am
We’ve been buddies ever since.
Jordan announced our new love to our families and they all couldn’t wait to come and meet this girl.
Did you meet her? She was impossibly small and squeaky. Her big brown eyes were already full of love and awareness. Her heart was beating. She had all of her fingers and toes. She was flawless. How was she ours? Only by grace. She was scrawny but she was the strongest force I had ever faced and I’ve never been the same.
You are my little song. You are my windows down. You are my bare feet on morning grass. You are the steam coming from my coffee. You are my ice cream on a summer day. You are a kiss to make it feel better. You are a smile when I’m feeling down. You are the greatest mountain ever scaled. You are the most precious of all stones. You are unrelenting tenderness. You are unconditional love. You are a fragile pane of glass showing me the most enchanted and secret place. I’ll give you all I’ve got girl. It’s not half of what you deserve. I’ll run for miles, I’ll sing for years. I’ll hold your hand. I’ll wipe your tears. You’re my surprise and my treasure. You are more than I can bare. You have a light in your heart, love. You’ll change the world around you as long as you stay you.
Lila girl, you are my flower.
Happy Birthday, you’ll always be my baby
I have a lot to say about birth and the difference between both of mine. That is for another day. Meanwhile, if you want to learn a lot about birth and want a natural birth, I would suggest reading this book Birthing from Within: An Extra-Ordinary Guide to Childbirth Preparation.
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