Birth Story!

Our baby girl is HERE!

Marigold “Goldie” Lennox Mapes was born on April 17 at 10:39 a.m. She weighed 7 lbs, 2 oz and was 19 inches long. It was the most special, miraculous event of our lives, and a complete blur of overwhelming emotion.

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Here is Goldie’s story:

I woke up around midnight on Wednesday night/Thursday morning with contractions that, because of the night’s earlier events, I was thinking could just be Braxton Hicks contractions (which I’d been having nearly daily during pregnancy after about 32 weeks). They were more uncomfortable than the typical Braxton Hicks contractions, though, but similar to ones I experienced after similar evening events from when I was 34 weeks pregnant. If you know what I mean by this, then you may be thinking: “TMI girl!!!” But hey, you are reading a birth story, so buckle up – it’s going to be a long ride. 🙂

I was 39 weeks and one day pregnant and had been thinking baby’s arrival was imminent for over a week due to how my body was feeling, and was on serious baby watch and a specific regimen (so to speak) to prepare for labor (more on that in a future recollection perhaps, if there’s interest!).

So, I got out of bed at midnight because I could no longer stay lying down through the contractions (as much as I squirmed around trying to find a bearable position), and went out to sit on the living-room couch, drink a glass of water and time the contractions to see if they could possibly be the real deal. They were irregularly spaced out, but jumped around from being one minute apart, two minutes apart, and even consecutive — but never more than three minutes apart for the hour or so I timed them.

Still, I just assumed they were false labor contractions because of the similar uncomfortable ones I’d had at 34 weeks, and because I knew from what I’d been told that real contractions would be evenly spaced, consistent, and grow in intensity to the point where I wouldn’t be able to walk or talk through them.

Around 2 a.m., I went to the bathroom and noticed my “show” had arrived (that’s a labor term, google if you’re curious. Although maybe don’t), and I really had to go to the bathroom – I’ll spare you any more description than that, other than to say that I’d read that that particular bodily function meant that labor was probably beginning. At this point I sort of started believing I might really be in early labor (though I remained calm and still somewhat in denial) and decided to wake Christian up.

“Babe….”

I whispered quietly into the darkness of our bedroom, and then had to repeat more loudly to my sleeps-like-the-dead husband, who then woke up with a gulp like a fish out of water —

” I think I’m in labor..”

He immediately said OKAY, hopped out of bed (yes, that is the correct verb choice) and asked what I needed. We both then relocated to the living room and he helped me time the contractions for a bit (they were still irregular at that point), listened to me question a million times whether this could be the real thing, made me toast to eat, helped me go through our final-items checklist to add to our hospital bags, drew me a bath, and kept reminding me when I’d have a contraction and be bouncing on or kneeling on my exercise ball that my body was made to do this. Ultimate hype man!

At one point I realized that I wasn’t feeling the baby move very much, even between my contractions, so I finally told Christian I wanted to go to the hospital in those wee hours of the morning, rather than wait until later the next day like I’d originally thought we would do. (It was around 3:30 a.m. when I made this decision, and thank goodness I did.)

Then, when I went into our room to change into the clothes I wanted to wear to the hospital, I suddenly had a contraction that made me feel the need to crouch on the ground to get through it, and when Christian came in and saw me in that position, he started moving much more quickly, filling up our water bottles and taking the bags down to the car. I decided I had better time my contractions again to see if they’d gotten regular. We’d stopped timing them a while before, because I was just breathing through them and getting prepped for the hospital. I realized they were coming 2 minutes apart like clockwork – so we rather swiftly headed down to the car. (My original plan was to head to the hospital when my contractions were consistently 4 minutes apart, since we had an hour’s drive. Oops.)

I’ll always vividly remember that when Christian was pulling the car out of our apartment’s carport, I didn’t get in yet because I wanted to make sure that walking down the street a ways didn’t make the contractions slow down or cease. HAHA. I was so afraid to show up to the hospital and be sent back home after the long drive.

But, I didn’t even make it to the edge of the carport driveway before I had another contraction. And they would continue to come consistently, two minutes apart throughout the long, bumpy drive to the military hospital where I’d be giving birth.

When we got to the hospital before the sun came up, there was no one walking out and about and parking was a breeze, a stroke of what I considered to be major luck as far as timing goes. When we got inside to the triage area of labor and delivery, the people working at the desk asked what we needed, and when Christian told them I was having contractions that were two minutes apart (I had one while we were standing up there for good measure; as though to show the validity of his claim), they took me to a room to get monitored and checked for dilation. A nurse strapped a fetal monitor to my belly, and immediately confirmed that I was having strong and frequent contractions, and she called for a midwife (I was in the midwife program) to come in and check my cervix.

The midwife came in and asked me a few questions that I was not at all focused enough to remember, and then she checked me for dilation for the first time in my 39 weeks of pregnancy. When she checked me, we waited with bated breath for the briefest moment before she smiled and announced to the room – the nurse, Christian, and I – that I was already 6 cm dilated, and in active labor. Everyone in the room laughed, and I breathed a sigh of relief and said without a beat: “Oh, thank God. I’m so glad.”

Because like I’ve mentioned, there had still been part of me that was denying I was in real labor based on what I’d been told about how immediately I would “just know,” and I was afraid that I would believe I was in labor only to find out that the real thing was much worse.

The midwife said we would be having our baby that morning, and proceeded to ask me a lot of questions before the nurse could move me into the labor and delivery suite where I’d be giving birth. It was around 5:30 a.m. at this point, and I could not believe how quickly things were moving – even though when we’d first walked into the hospital at 5 a.m. Christian said that he believed I would already be far dilated and that labor would move quickly, to which I gave him an admonishing look — certain that he would somehow jinx my cervix into remaining shut tight.

At this point, the midwife who had checked me asked me what, if any, kind of pain management I was thinking of using. And though I had not made up my mind up to that point about an epidural or having an unmedicated birth, and instead wanted to go into labor with an open mind to either option, at that moment I knew I wanted to be able to breathe a little bit and wrap my mind around the monumental event that was about to occur that morning. I assumed the epidural would slow things down a little and allow Christian and I to process and enjoy this experience, so I let them know I would be wanting one. After being transferred to the room where I’d be giving birth, I met my new nurse and midwife who were beginning their shifts, and I was told the nurse anesthetist would be coming to administer my epidural after getting to a few other patients. My nurse asked if I wanted to be checked again to see my cervical progress before the epidural, but I declined.

It took a while for the nurse anesthetist to arrive, and my contractions felt quite close together and intense during that time, although the nurse who was in the room with us told me my breathing during the contractions was remarkably good, and Christian kept reminding me how strong I was and saying what a good job I was doing, both of which gave me confidence and made everything seem easier.

Right before I got the epidural, I was very shaky and trembling, not from being cold or from nerves or anything – so I let my nurse and midwife know, and they informed me that I was probably in “transition.” Right after that, though, the nurse arrived to give me the epidural, all the while explaining to Christian and I what she was doing, what to expect, and what to inform her of in terms of my body’s reaction to the medicine. Being a redhead, I wasn’t sure how the epidural would work for me, because I’ve learned that I require a lot of anesthesia, and I’ve read interesting statistics on that being a “redhead thing” – and the nurses agreed that they’d witnessed that before. I didn’t think the numbing shot before the epidural or the epidural itself hurt at all, however, I did feel a jolt radiate down my left leg, which my nurse had told me to inform her of if it happened on either side. This ended up meaning that my left side was numbed from all pain, but my right side wasn’t numb at all. Ultimately, she had to take out and reposition the epidural to get my right side numbed, because while I was medicated on only one side I could feel my contractions very intensely in just one concentrated area, which made them feel more painful, and they were coming rapidly. I’m so grateful that I had a nurse who wanted to be sure she thoroughly and completely did her job.

After the second epidural, I was numb on both sides, and contractions only felt like the slightest pressure, though I was still extremely shaky, which they said was totally normal, but made them want to check my cervix as they assumed my body had progressed a lot during the whole epidural process.

They were right, because when my new midwife (the one who would be delivering our baby) checked me, I was 9.5 cm dilated!

Christian and I looked at each other in amazement, and our midwife told us she was just going to let us relax and enjoy the effects of the epidural for a while on our own, and let the baby move down my birth canal in her own time (aided by the strong contractions I could no longer feel), so that I wouldn’t have to spend a long time over-exerting myself pushing before the baby was ready. That was sometime around 8 a.m.

For the next hour or more, I got to lie on my side with a peanut ball between my legs, relaxing and enjoying the pain-free time with Christian before we’d meet our baby. It was wonderful and surreal; a time we spent conversing in disbelief about what was about to happen, and what had already occurred overnight. During that hour we were also visited by a doctor I’d seen for ultrasounds throughout my pregnancy, and the midwife I’d had most of my prenatal appointments with who was working in the triage department of labor and delivery that morning. We thought it was very thoughtful of them both to stop in.

When it was time to start pushing around 9 or 9:30 a.m., my nurse held one of my legs and Christian the other, and they wheeled out a big mirror that they’d given me the option of using to help me figure out whether I was pushing effectively, since the numbing effect of the epidural made pushing a learning process. I never thought I would want a mirror to see what was going on down there before, but everything changed when it was all actually happening – and I suddenly had no shame. I was ultimately so glad I said yes to it, because pushing took me a while to get the hang of, but I started to understand eventually.

My midwife took extra care to help me push cautiously so as not to experience any post-birth trauma at my request, so we took pushing slow and she took so much care to make sure the baby didn’t come out too quickly.

 

I will never forget seeing Marigold’s dark hair for the first time after hearing the nurses tell Christian to look. I’d had my eyes closed during a push, but opened them to see for myself, and it was the craziest thing. When she finally came out and we saw her beautiful face for the first time, I started crying immediately, and looked over at Christian to see him crying openly as well – and then our nurse started crying too and said: “If he’s crying, I’m crying.” The look on his face is one I’ll always treasure in my memory. We’d been looking at each other in astonishment throughout the birth, but I’d been focused for the last few pushes, so I’m beyond glad I turned to look at him right after seeing her face so as not to miss that moment of pure love and overwhelmed emotion.

Then my midwife told me to reach down and help pull my baby out, and I got to have my very own iconic Kourtney Kardashian moment (for all you KUWTK fans).

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The next hour(s) we spent just admiring, cooing at, and having skin to skin time with Goldie. We were enamored with her, and didn’t answer any inquiries from family or friends (on accident!) until well after the golden hour — because I was trying out breastfeeding, getting checked by nurses regularly, and we were just in a little bubble of love.

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We knew our baby was going to be named Marigold Lennox Mapes right when we saw her face. Seeing her confirmed the first name we’d loved for most of my pregnancy and helped us decide her middle name. Both names are inspired by books, and I really wanted her to have a first name that was beautiful but that had a unique and fun nickname.

Goldie Lennox, you are our heart. We love you, sunshine girl.

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