We waited as impatiently as humanly possible, and Vivian finally made her appearance at 9:22 p.m. on July 23, 2013. Weighing 9 lbs and 1.6 ounces, she was welcome to stop hanging out in my pelvis! I can finally walk without waddling again! The experience of receiving another precious daughter into our arms is one that would only be diminished by words. The beauty and calm that Vivian brought into our room with her first cry and her searching eyes, simply took our breath away. We continue to find ourselves breathless throughout these first days, as our family gets to know one another all over again. Elliott is learning to see Ryan and I as two people who are the parents of more than just her, and she’s getting to know Vivian as her sister. Ryan and I are reminded of who we were before we had children, and we’re so grateful for the fire and torrent that being parents has been in our lives. We’ve certainly been burned, broken and spun around, so that we’ll never be the people we used to be, nor would we want it. The thought of living without these girls in our life would be simply that: living without. Elliott made me stronger, more confident, more calm and more capable of many things I never thought I’d accomplish. I’m sure she’ll continue to teach me what it means to be a mother, wife and daughter of God, and I shudder as I think how the whirlwind of this new sisterhood between Lettie and Vivi will rock my humble sailboat. I’m clutching the rigging already! So, without further adieu, here is Vivian Moiraine Robbins. The newest member of our family.
(following photos by John Garrard)
I know some of you are interested in the story of Vivian’s birth, and I’m more than happy to share our experience. The rest of this blog will be the honest, unadulterated tale of my labor and delivery, and Vivian’s emergence into the bright, air-conditioned world of Banner Gateway hospital. Read on, if you’d like. If you’d rather not know the intimate details and see a nursing photo, you should scroll back up through those adorable pictures one more time and then call it a day with this blog.
The Birth Story.
I wish I could say my labor would make a good story, but to be honest, I just labored at home all day. I’d had two previous bouts of false labor, one that lasted for 5 hours, so even once the contractions were 5 minutes apart, I wasn’t convinced I was really in labor. My doula told me if I could talk during my contractions that it wasn’t time to go to the hospital. Honestly, her ambivalence made me feel ambivalent. During the day I showered, took a short nap, helped Ryan make a cake, played with Elliott, and when contractions came I rolled my hips on an exercise ball. Around 6:30 we called our friends to pick up Elliott, figuring we’d rather be safe than sorry with getting her set with her birth-accommodations. Honestly, Ryan was the proactive one during the process. Without his vigilant anxiousness I would’ve had the baby at home! Around 7:15 I called our doula again, with contractions 3 minutes apart. She told us we should probably head to the hospital, so Ryan threw stuff into the car and by 7:40 we were on the road.
I tried to page (that’s right, my doctor lives in a 1980’s hospital drama) my doctor about six times between contractions 4 minutes apart and on our way to the hospital, but never got a call back or even a confirmation that I’d reached her. When we got to the hospital at 8, we had our registration checked by the oldest lady who has ever been hired to run what was apparently a very complicated data-entry computer program. I was admitted to triage and told to put on a hospital gown and lie down in a bed to wait for my cervix check. What I did instead was have a really stinky bowel movement in the en suite bathroom, and had a contraction with my face in the mattress and my butt in the air (backless hospital gowns don’t lend themselves towards modesty. Luckily, women in the translation phase of labor couldn’t care less). When they finally checked me at 8:20, I was 5/6 cm dilated and 90% effaced. I was thrilled! During my last labor, I checked into the hospital at 2 cm, labored (and complained) for 10 hours and was still stuck at a 4! This labor was already going better. Plus, the nurses actually read my birth plan and discussed my preferences with me. Around 8:50 they moved me into my labor room and asked me to lie down in another bed so they could administer the antibiotics, because I was Strep B positive.
Now, previously to my labor, I read “Ina Mays Guide to Childbirth,” which I highly recommend to any woman who will be giving birth in the future. It’s very informative, which was incredibly empowering. I went into this labor with no fear or irrational concerns; it was liberating. But anyway, in the book Ina May discusses how moaning with your throat open helps to relax the cervix and makes for an easier birth. So, this was my method of dealing with my contractions. It helped me feel a modicum of control when I felt the constant waves of pressure and pain, knowing that 7-8 full moans would take me to the end of a contraction. Also, it feels really good to be as loud as you want when you’re experiencing constant earth-shaking pain, knowing it’s going to get worse before it gets better, with only a vague time frame for relief. It was good labor therapy. Plus, I felt like a movie star.
I told the nurse before she checked my cervix again at 9:00, that if I wasn’t 10 cm, I wanted the epidural, like, NOW. And I quote, “I wrote that birth plan a LONG time ago.” She checked me and I was complete! Which would explain the crazy pressure I was feeling. Then they dropped the bomb: “Your doctor isn’t here yet, so don’t push.” o.O srsly? “Try and stop me!” I growled. For the next 5 contractions of “not pushing,” I yelled, cried and finally, my water broke. One minute later my doctor came in. At 9:13, I started pushing.
PUSHING. The most empowering, intimidating moment of my life. I grabbed my legs as I watched my baby descend, through a standing mirror the nurses placed at the end of the bed. This is the only point during my labor that I swore, which I’m really proud of. And it wasn’t even the “f” word! Everyone around me was telling me to push over and over again, and I was trying! But come on you guys, I needed to take an occasional breathing break. And, to be honest a break from the sharp pressure of pushing was nice too. Once when my doctor and Ryan told me to push I yelled back, “It really hurts my ass!” It wasn’t the most glamorous thing to say, but when you’re naked on a table, yelling, bleeding, and pooping on yourself, you don’t really worry about sounding glamorous.
A few more pushes and her little head was out. Naively, I thought this meant I was home free! This naivety only lasted a millisecond before those shoulders hit. I don’t know if I was more scandalized or terrified by how badly they hurt. Luckily, whatever emotion it was helped me push those shoulders past in one more push, and the rest of her tiny body followed. Vivian Moirane Robbins, born on 7/23/13 at 9:22 p.m.
I was in shock that it was over and I looked at the baby my doctor was handing to me. She had to tell me to take the baby before I realized I wasn’t moving. I reached down and pulled her up onto my chest, and the nurses covered us with a blanket to keep the baby warm. And that was it. She was here, she was healthy, and she was cooing quietly on my chest while she blinked her eyes open and looked around. The nurses helped dry her off, and she started nursing. She was a champion nurser from the very first go, nursing for 40 minutes before they took her to do her infant screening and to draw blood to check for Strep B.
Not having an epidural was glorious for post-birth everything. I got myself out of bed, walked myself to the bathroom, cleaned myself off, got myself dressed. It was a completely different experience from Elliott’s birth. I had no stitches or tearing, so I haven’t had to deal with the painful urination of the last birth. Granted, the cramping has been much worse, but I hear that’s the way second birth-recoveries go.
Vivian has been such a calm soul. She nurses constantly, which resulted in my milk coming in during the first 72 hours, and she loves her sleep (not so much at night, but we’ll fix it). The only thing she really hates is diaper changes, to which I say, “Then stop pooping so much, Vivian!” But don’t stop pooping… constipated babies are the saddest.
They kept us in the hospital for 48 hours, since I only got half of my step B antibiotics in before the baby was born. That part was boring, but it was nice to have 3 full, healthy meals every day. Plus I loved all of the visitors we got! Thank you to everyone who came to see us and welcome Vivian into the world. And thank you for feeding my husband! He very much appreciated it.
A BIG THANK YOU to Jena and John Garrard, who watched Elliott for us and kept her fully entertained and safe/happy in our absence. Elliott loves you guys. And a special thank you to John who took newborn pictures of Vivian for us. We can’t wait to see them. For those of you who don’t know, John is an AMAZING photographer. http://www.pressingtheplane.com/superstitions
I also made a last minute decision to do placenta encapsulation, and I’m so glad I did. I started taking them today and I already feel TONS better. Much more energy, no sadness or weepiness. I know a lot of people turn their noses up at the idea, but in my mind it’s no different than taking a prenatal vitamin, except this vitamin came from my body and contains everything my body needs to be balanced and healthy.
This birth was an adventure. One that I look forward to having again in the future.
I’m one happy momma.