When Jordan and I lost our third pregnancy, I went into a dark place. It was really hard staying positive about anything. When I was finally ready to try again, I figured we’d get pregnant right away. I had before and had no reason to think this would be any different. But it ended up being VERY different. Most of 2019 was spent tracking ovulation, pregnancy testing, going to various doctor’s appointments, etc. We were lucky to have found Karen at City of Oaks in the fall. Karen had delivered Hattie at Baby+co and I knew I could trust her in this journey of trying to get pregnant with our rainbow baby.
On the night of September 15th, 2020, our sweet rainbow entered the world. Karen was there yet again by our side. Here is Alice’s birth story!
My due date passed the day before and at 10am on Monday, September 14th, I assume I will be working another week because this baby girl seems awfully comfortable in the womb. I am pretty uncomfortable myself, so I decide to work on my laptop via the couch instead of at my desk. Just to be careful, I sit on top of a folded up blanket.
A little after 10am, I feel liquid gush out of me. I know immediately that my water has broken. Jordan is on the living room floor and I tell him my water broke. When I stand, more comes out. I rush to the bathroom and put on a pad to be safe. The trickle never stops. I call the front desk at City of Oaks Midwifery and Tara tells me to come on in. Next, I call my dad who has just left my house (he had been doing sleepovers when Jordan worked, just in case) and tell him to come back. While we wait for him to arrive, I gather up a few last minute items and make a list for my dad of where the kids need to be over the next couple of days.
Finally, we are on our way to the office. Since I’m not having contractions, I drive there. Karen calls along the way to let us know she will be there as soon as I am in active labor. Stacie is on call. I go inside alone (per protocol due to covid).
I wait for a while since Stacie has to run to help a laboring mama. I am seen by someone still learning midwifery while we wait for Stacie (I believe she was a student – I can’t remember her name! Sorry!!). I tell her what happened and she does a swab to see if it was in fact my water breaking. She uses a strip that should turn blue when the swab touches it but it doesn’t. She tries to tell me I may just have a lot of discharge but I know that isn’t true. I’m convinced it’s my water. Luckily, Stacie comes back and checks again. Still not blue. It baffles all of us. Stacie says my story sounds like my water broke so she does a cervical check. When she rubs her fingers on the strip after, it finally turns blue immediately. It is definitely my water! She says she felt that my bag was broken but there was still a little bit that wasn’t. She explains that this will act like a cushion and that once my water is completely broken, it would make labor even more painful. Alice is still OP (sunny side up). This can also contribute to a more painful labor which can include back labor.
I am dilated to a 3 and still no contractions. But because I am group B positive, I need to be admitted so I can get the antibiotic. We come up with a plan that we will induce me with an oral medication instead of pitocin to get things moving since I really don’t want pitocin. I leave the office and Jordan and I get Guasaca for lunch before arriving at the hospital.
We check in, go through the covid screening, and are both handed masks. We have to wear these at all time. (Yes – I labor in my mask anytime someone is in the room. I do pull it down if I couldn’t breathe through a contraction, though. Mostly after I test negative) We settle into our room and I am given an IV for the penicillin and an oral medication to start labor. I’m not happy with the placement of my IV and when Stacie comes in to check on me, I start crying. I am overwhelmed. I didn’t want to have to labor in a hospital. My wrist hurts where they placed the IV. I am terrified of going through labor again. I’m just not in a good headspace. She talks to me for a bit and I work on getting my mind right.
After she leaves, the woman comes to give me a COVID-19 test. On the first nostril, I instinctively grab her wrist and pull away. I apologize and let her do it again. It makes me feel like I have to sneeze. I hold my breath and let her do the other nostril without flinching. Afterward, my eyes won’t stop watering.
Jordan helps set the mood for the room. He puts up some string lights and my affirmations on the wall. We keep the room’s lights off so it’s just natural light. He also puts a sign on the door to make sure people enter slowly and only if needed and that they leave the lights off.
As my contractions increase, I try many tactics for pain relief. In the beginning, I put on my “hype” music playlist and do some dancing and squats. As they get more painful, I switch to a more chill playlist. I spend a lot of time on the exercise ball. That feels the best, position-wise. Jordan presses on my lower back as I go through a contraction to counter the pain. This helps the most.
I’m starving and I know Jordan is too. Around dinner time, we both break out snacks and start to eat. My nurse comes into the room and tells me that I can have what I am eating but nothing but clear liquids after that. I’m confused because the midwives had all told me I could eat and drink throughout labor. My energy is fading quickly. Later, I’ll relay this to Stacie and she will tell me that I was right and they never work with that nurse and she must not have know how the midwive’s patients are allowed to eat. I was very bummed I didn’t push back. I could have used that energy.
My nurse changes to Dedre. While Stacie is around, she sweeps my membranes to speed up labor. It is excruciating and I cry out in pain as she does it. She mentions that you know it’ll be successful if it hurts. Something to that effect. She also breaks the rest of my water. I’m warned that my contractions will probably be more painful now because there is zero “cushion” left.
Stacie leaves and lets Karen know that it is probably time to head toward the hospital. I labor on the ball some more and the contractions are starting to get the best of me. Stacie is back now. I’m asked if I want anything to manage the pain. I am exhausted and hungry and need a little relief so I say yes. Since gas and air isn’t an option since they are out of tubing, I’m offered pain meds through my IV.
Dedre puts the pain meds into my IV and I dumbly ask, “How quick will this kick in?”
She laughs and says, “It’s going directly into your bloodstream.”
Duh. And within two seconds, I feel… drunk. The contractions don’t seem so bad anymore. I can actually smile now. I announce that I have to pee and head to the bathroom.
As I’m opening the door to leave the bathroom, Karen is coming at me with the biggest hug. I giggle and tell her I feel really good all of a sudden. I feel drunk! It’s awesome! We both laugh and embrace again.
At this point, we begin trying all the different things to alleviate some of the pain naturally. The meds wear off quickly and nothing seems to help. I try the ball for a bit with counter pressure. I try the peanut ball. Last, I strip down to my bra and so I can try the shower. Karen notices that the fluid I’m leaking has a green tint to it which means there is probably meconium in it. She tells me some NICU folks will be around for my delivery just in case the baby has swallowed any.
It’s at this point that the shaking starts, too. From now until I give birth, I will shake uncontrollably on and off. It makes the contractions worse and makes it even more difficult to relax and catch my breath.
The shower doesn’t help at all and the contractions have gotten extremely intense. I’m exhausted and don’t have much left in me. I ask Jordan about getting an epidural for some relief. I’ve labored and birthed 100% pain med free with Hattie (and mostly with Jude, too, but that’s a more complicated story) for this long but my water didn’t break until much later (meaning there was a little bit of a cushion) and I had the birthing tub. I have neither of these things and wasn’t allowed to eat dinner so my energy and coping abilities are not as strong as I’d like. Jordan seems hesitant to go along with this because he knows how against an epidural I was. Karen tells me we should talk about it privately so she steps out of the bathroom. Jordan hesitantly tells me that it is up to me. He doesn’t seem sold but I don’t want to wait too long and then the epidural not work like what happened with Jude’s birth. Karen comes back in.
“Am I failure of I get an epidural?” I ask, holding back tears.
Karen stares me dead in the eye, rips her mask down to be sure I hear her clearly, and says firmly, “Absolutely not. You are not a failure.”
This is what I need to hear. She requests the epidural. I get checked again and I’m 6 centimeters. I get dressed and we wait for the anesthesiologist to come.
It takes about 20 minutes or so for the anesthesiologist to come. In the mean time, Stacie leaves and Karen tells me I’ll be able to take a nap once I get the epidural. I am so excited to get some sleep so I can regain energy. The thought of a nap is what gets me through the contractions that take place as we wait. Karen tells Stacie she will meet up with her as soon as I get the epidural.
I get onto the edge of the bed and I am put into a hunched over position to get the epidural. The anesthesiologist is all business. I keep making her stop when I have a contraction. There are weird things that make me feel better – an awkward foot I prop on Jordan- and, at one point, him holding my hand in a certain position helps. I am desperate for this pain relief.
It’s around 11:30pm when I finally get it. Once the epidural is in, they have me lie down. Over the next couple of hours, I am repeatedly told the epidural should kick in at any moment and then it doesn’t. I’m given higher doses over and over after waiting the appropriate timeframes and getting permission from the anesthesiologist and try different positions to get it to work it’s magic. It never works. I can still feel both my legs. My left leg tingles a bit but it’s not numb. The contractions have gotten extremely intense and I can barely breathe. I keep begging Karen to give me a higher dose but I’m maxed out. I got the short end of the stick. I can tell by the pain that we are getting close to meeting baby girl and I cry for a moment knowing that I won’t get the nap I so desperately want.
I am at the point of exhaustion that I’m falling asleep between each contraction now and waking up the moment a new one begins. My eyes stay closed. I’m given a bit of pitocin to move things along.
Around 1:45am, I’m fully dilated. Finally, it’s time to push. I feel like I need to pull down on something so they bring the bar up on the bed. I have my right knee propped up and my left leg is down but bent. A nurse helps support that leg while Stacie helps support my right. Karen is handling the delivery and Jordan is standing by to help. The NICU folks are there just in case. It’s a full house.
Between pushes, I fall asleep. Determination is coursing through me. With my eyes closed, I can feel my body working her down. I listen to my body’s urges and push when I feel the need. As she is coming out, I don’t feel the ring of fire like I expect. The lack of this makes it easier for me to concentrate on pushing. Not having the ring of fire is the only thing the epidural did for me, but I am thankful for this. Because I am able to concentrate and really listen to my body with out the burning pain I felt with Hattie, I barely tear. I am a lot more calm and feel more empowered as I am pushing her out.
At 2:12 AM on September 15th, 2020, Alice Maginn Lamotta arrives. She is vocal almost immediately and placed on my chest. This is the third time I’ve birthed a baby but it will never cease to amaze me what my body can do. I am in awe of this sweet creature. She is perfection.
Jordan cuts the cord. She weighs 8lbs 15oz and is 23 inches long according to the nurse. She is the biggest baby I’ve ever birthed. Our sweet rainbow.
She nurses like a champ. Around 4am, we are taken to our new room. The next few hours are a blur. We are exhausted. As much as we hate being in the hospital with the constant interruptions, we would do anything for this sweet thing. We are forever thankful.
We love you, Alice. You truly are our rainbow after the storm.