Noli Ann: A Natural Birth Story {Part 2}

Thursday, November 30th 2017.

….When I awoke at 5:30am, I slipped into bed with Stephen before he had to get up for work. However, at 6:15am I shot up in bed with my first “real” contraction. Let’s get this party started! (In case you missed it, check out Noli Ann: A Natural Birth Story {Part 1})

One of the things I had earnestly prayed over leading up to delivery was my proneness to anxiety. I desired to be as present as I could during each part of labor, and did not want fear to rob me of those precious moments. 2 Timothy 1:7 played on repeat in my heart: “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”

I planned to labor at home as long as possible, so when it became obvious that things were progressing, I reclined in the bathtub for quite some time. As the contractions increased in intensity and in frequency, that no longer felt comfortable, and I stood in the shower, swaying, with a stream of hot water running down my back. I may or may not have used up all of our hot water, so I moved to the living room, rocking and bouncing gently on my birth ball, and stretching on the floor. I quickly learned to just do what worked as long as it worked, experimenting with many difference positions I had practiced in the previous months. Stephen toasted up an English muffin, but I couldn’t think about eating. I knew food would be important for providing strength, but every time he tried to feed me I would decline (though truly I did not notice the sensation of hunger the entire day).

At around 10:30am, we followed the 3-1-1 rule as my contractions were 3 minutes apart, strong, and lasting over a minute. Stephen called the hospital (which was an hour away!) and the midwife on duty told to us leave immediately. We had kept in touch with Allyson (my sister/doula) all morning, but then had her meet us at our house to caravan to the hospital. As I said, the hospital was an hour away, but when your wife is in labor you throw on your hazard lights and just get there!

When we arrived to triage, we were greeted by an amazing nurse, Julie, who would support me until our sweet babe was in our arms. The examination showed that I was at least 6cm dilated. (Tip: have your spouse or a member of your birth team fill out your paperwork – I could not for the life of me remember my home address!) Before leaving the triage room, Julie encouraged me saying, “I hope you are going unmedicated because you have come so far already!” Those words truly empowered me. We moved to a spacious room where I would remain for the duration of my hospital stay and where Stephen and Allyson had unpacked our bags, hung my affirmation banner, and “lit” our battery operated tea lights. (I also had an oil diffuser with lavender, but we didn’t actually use that until after delivery.) The view from our large window was beautiful and calming, displaying glorious fall foliage. Stephen had loaded a few albums of Hidden In My Heart onto his phone, scripture sung to calm melodies. That room truly was a peace-filled place.

I first labored sitting down on the bench/daybed. It was tolerable, but I knew standing up would be more effective (i.e. more painful). Stephen and Allyson took turns swaying side to side with me through my contractions, which had greatly increased in intensity and frequency once on my feet. The slow, constant movement helped me stay focused in on each moment. This went on for several hours, though I can’t say I had any concept of time passing. My next cervical exam revealed that I was dilated about 9 centimeters, and I had just begun feeling incredible pressure and a slight urge to push. I wanted to wait until I was fully at 10 to begin pushing. I lingered in the bed for a few minutes after the exam, but when I did this the contractions began to slow down. Though it felt good – a nice little “break” – Allyson gently reminded me standing would bring about the progress I ultimately wanted. It took some time (and some courage) to scoot myself to the edge of the bed; before my feet even hit the floor, the intense contractions returned, more powerful and more productive than ever. On my feet again, I needed both Stephen and Allyson to support me now, as my legs were incredibly weak from hours of laboring standing up. They kept pace for my breathing, and made low humming sounds with me to remind me to maintain steady control of my exhales. At this point, contractions were long, and the peak of each brought a painful urge to push. When I felt the urge coming, I would say a simple “help” to let them know I needed extra support (physically and with breathing guidance). During the urge, I pushed a little – almost involuntarily – and my legs became like jello as pain shot down my thighs. With the help of my dream team, I was able to start and end each contraction in complete control of my breath – I cannot begin to tell you the difference this made. (Also, I must give a shout out to months of prenatal yoga, which truly helped me train for this!)

At the next cervical exam, I was finally at 10cm with a steadily increasing urge to push, I had the midwife break my water as a final step! After she broke it, I began to labor in bed (because, jello legs) and began pushing with intention. I started to feel like I was getting the hang of it, but when midwife came a while later, I just hadn’t made the progress we’d hoped to see. During the next contraction she performed another exam that determined our babe was posterior, meaning the largest part of her head was coming first, and hence the lack of any significant progress. At this point I had been pushing for about an hour.

In hopes of turning the baby, I began to push while propped on my side. Stephen, Allyson and Julie were an incredible help, holding my legs in place, encouraging me through every contraction, and literally cheering me on during each push. I honestly remember feeling incredibly calm, even cracking jokes here and there. Once we began to see progress, I let go of any remaining hesitancy I felt toward pushing, and that’s when things finally began to move. Pushing on my side and with baby’s feet pressing against my ribs, it was difficult to take deep enough breaths to make the most of each contraction. I had previously been pushing twice per contraction, but then began three times and things really began moving.

Once babe’s head became visible, I felt so empowered!!! Julie said she would need to call in the midwife soon, but with my next contraction I pushed four times and I heard Allyson exclaim, “I see the baby’s face!!” Followed by Julie, “stop pushing Katelynn!” as she sprinted out of the room. (How does one stop pushing when a baby is already in its exit route?) Thankfully, 40 minutes after beginning to push while lying on my side, baby had indeed turned naturally! The next thing I knew, the midwife was there, accompanied by who knows how many others scurrying about the room – this was it! The following contraction, I pushed with everything I had.

6:36pm.

November 30th, at 6:36pm, our lives were forever changes. There was nothing like the moment when our baby was out from head to toe, crying, and Stephen doing a double-take before announcing, “IT’S A GIRL!?!!!!” We were absolutely shocked and immediately began weeping uncontrollable tears of joy. Julie placed her on my belly while we waited for the birth of the placenta (you better believe we got pictures of that amazing life-giving thing). I just kept repeating, “She’s HERE! She’s OURS!”

Now, to be real for a minute, I am a major wimp when it comes to pain – even the mere idea of it. But labor was like nothing else I have ever experienced. This heart of mine that too often wrestles with anxiety and self-doubt was not present in labor and delivery that day. Yet, I realize it had nothing to do with me, and everything to do with Jesus. He crushed all my fears, sweeping away any hint of anxiety and replacing it with his indescribable peace. Focusing on God’s promises kept me in the present moment; I honestly cannot remember a time I got ahead of myself. I never worried “I can’t do this”, because I knew He could.  

Every birth is unique and holds its own set of challenges – physically, mentally, emotionally, even spiritually. I am so thankful to have had the support of the most incredible labor & delivery and postpartum nurses. Along with the encouragement from Stephen and Allyson, they truly made Noli’s birth the experience I dreamed it would be.

Naming our darling girl:

While Cannoli was simply a nickname we used during pregnancy, we learned that Noli comes from Greek roots meaning “New City”. We are praying over her new life, that it be continually built up – brick by brick – as a strong fortress, protecting the name of Jesus and promoting God’s love. As for Ann, it is my middle name, as well as my mother’s. We believe in the power of legacy, remembering that our lives are so deeply connected through the blood of Jesus.

Noli Ann DiCarlo
November 30th 2017
8lbs 6oz / 21.5in

SMD_7807

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