It's been two months since I was blessed with the most perfect daughter in the universe. Really- she is. As to be expected, I haven't had copious amounts of free time to type about it, but God blessed me with an evening tonight when both of my kids went to sleep early, giving me a chance to recount my labor and delivery experience.
Hanalei (pronounced "Hawn-uh-lay", after the most beautiful place my husband and I have ever seen, Hanalei Bay, Kauai, Hawaii) joined our family on September 21, 2012 at 8:59pm EST. She couldn't have come at a better time and I could not have been more physically and mentally ready for her.
My pregnancy with Hana had begun with rough start. The doctor told me I was at high risk for a miscarriage. I had been nursing Karl still when I became pregnant with Hanalei and she was not fully attaching to the wall of my uterus. My OBGYN told me it was because I was still nursing so I was forced to quit nursing Karl early (just 2 months shy of a year!) and I had to take progesterone supplements to help the embryo take hold. Thankfully, after all, she began to grow healthily in my womb.
After the drama of the first 2 months was over, I found that pregnancy this time around really wasn't as bad as it had been with my son. I was super nauseous this time, but I actually didn't throw up at all (something I did on the regular with Karl...bleck). After the nausea passed, I felt amazing. I had the burst of 2nd trimester energy I had heard about but didn't believe really existed (because I DID NOT have that with my pregnancy with Karl). Things were going great. Rainbows and butterflies. I found out I was going to be having a daughter and my husband and I were over the moon in love with the idea of a daughter. I actually even thought (even just a couple of times) that pregnancy wasn't so bad this time around...until...
Friday, July 7, 2012. I woke up and got Karl and I ready to go to the splash park because it was a hot and sunny summer morning and I wanted to get us out of the house. I lathered him up in sunscreen and squeezed my 28week pregnant self into my bikini- shamelessly I might add (it was summer time and I felt great even though I was big and pregnant). I got us both in my car and started driving when I suddenly and abruptly was hit with an agonizing cramping pain. My whole lower back region seized up in what felt like a charlie horse from hell. I thought that maybe the baby had moved and was lying on a nerve because the pain eased up momentarily. While driving in Friday morning rush hour traffic, the pain came back to me in a wave. My back cramped and the pain radiated around to the front of my belly like I was being constricted by an invisible anaconda. This time, the pain didn't let up. It grew more and more intense. I began to sweat and shiver. Karl was in the back seat so I was trying my very best to keep complete composure, plus I was still actively driving while my body was writing in excrutiating pain. I was closer to my mom's house by this time than I was to my own home, so I drove there. When I arrived it took all of the strength I could muster to get out of my car and crawl onto my mom's bed. I called my sister because I was convinced I was in preterm labor and I needed to get to the hospital immediately.
My sister sped me to the hospital- literally going 90 miles an hour down one of the busiest highways in my town, all the while I was screaming, literally yelping, in pain in the seat next to her. The pain wouldn't subside, not even momentarily- it just continued to grow and intensify as if my insides were in a yolk being pulled, stretched and wrenched in all directions. I'm not being melodramatic either, it was the worst pain I've ever experienced.
Turns out, I had appendicitis. 1 in something like 1600 women experience it during pregnancy, and I won the lottery. I had to have an emergency appendectomy. Thankfully, after the pain of the surgery and the recovery, everything turned out alright. I did go into pre-term labor that day, however, it was because of the appendicitis. I now have a scar, what I've dubbed my "Franken-scar," that's about 5 inches long, dotted with pin-prick scars all along the top and bottom from my staples.
I suppose after the emergency surgery scare, Hana decided to take it easy on me. The pregnancy was relatively uneventful afterwards. I had to take it easy and wasn't allowed to lift anything (including my tank of a son, which was heart-wrenchingly difficult). I had contractions on and off until the day I finally went into labor.
It was around 3pm and I started to have contractions- timeable ones this time. We were at home and my husband decided to mow the lawn. My contractions grew more and more intense and they were only about 4 minutes apart. I was in the house alone with Karl, who was on a screaming rampage because his daddy was outside and he was not, and I was pacing the floor trying to breathe deeply and find a serene place in my mind. Bruce's cell phone wasn't working so I couldn't call him. I was in just my underwear because I was sweating so much and Karl was literally throwing my clean laundry around the house. I marched into the front yard, in my panties and waved like sailor on a ship to someone on land to get Bruce's attention. Sweating, covered in grass flecks and dirt, and stinking like, well like he'd been working in the yard, Bruce stomped up to the house where I met him in the doorway, panting through a contraction and Karl running wildly about (in only his diaper, also, come to think of it). With a "I'm going to kill you for mowing the lawn" look I bleated "I'm (hehehe, hooo hooo hooo) in (hee hee hee, hoo hooo hoo) LABOR!"
He replied "For real? Like, really?" My pacing like a penned bull and labored breathing of a beast of burden didn't give it away, apparently. "YES!" I growled at him. So, naturally, (because when your wife is in active labor, why isn't this your main concern?) he went to take a shower!
My mother and sister had arrived by this time and I'm extremely grateful to them both for their help. My sister entertained Karl while I writhed in pain on my knees in my living room and my mom called my doctor for me. The entire time Bruce was in the shower, which felt like a decade, I would yell "I'm going to kill him if he doesn't get out already!" I had this yin-yang feeling of wanting to cause him physical harm for taking his damn time while I was in labor and this desperate and urgent need for him to be with me to help me through the pain I was in.
By the time we got into our car and headed to the hospital, my contractions were 3 minutes apart. The heavens opened up and it began to rain intensely. Of course, it was a Friday night, so my doctor would not be the one to deliver my baby. I had to use the doc on call. On my way to the hospital, in the swirl of rain and uncertainty of my physician situation, I made the conscious effort to stop worrying that everything was going to go wrong and to start really focusing on having my baby instead.
I got the hospital and checked in and I was a whopping 8cm dilated and 100% effaced. You could have stuck a fork in me- I was practically done. I was actually so relieved when the nurse told me how far along I was because the pain was pretty severe and I was worried I'd be stuck at 3cm, and in that pain, forever. My nurse asked me if I had planned on having any pain meds and I literallly laughed out loud at her because I hadn't. It dawned on me that I was there, at the hospital, having my baby. She was coming all on her own, and I was having her naturally. It was oddly relieving because at that moment I realized all the anxiety I'd ever had about having a baby, all my doubt and worries, were meaningless because I was DOING it... I was LIVING it. Hell, I was rockin' it! I was having a baby. It's like, through all the pain of labor, this empowering wave of certainty and determination swept over me and I was suddenly super woman. Well, at least I felt like it. Never in my life have I had such a confidence about the unknown. It was awesome.
After an hour at the hospital I was ready to push. 30 minutes later, after literally pushing my guts out, I heard Bruce (who, thankfully, was spanking clean! He actually got to deliver our daughter. The doc on call turned out to be fabulous and guided him through the entire delivery) announce "She's here! She's here! She's gorgeous!" and he laid our beautiful, perfect little gift on my chest.
I'd been sweating, I'd been screaming, I'd been out of breath, worn out and crying from pain but the moment I opened my eyes after the last push to see Hanalei on my chest the most weightless, high-flying feeling I've ever experienced overcame me. I don't know how else to describe it other than feeling like I was flying, suddenly and all on my own and having the time of my life doing it. I began to laugh and the laugh grew. My laugh grew because I was filled with so much joy I literally felt like I was going to pop. I was instantly, fully and completely in love with daughter. I was riding a rush of love and a complete natural high that I hadn't ever experienced before (I didn't have this feeling after my son was born, not that I didn't love him instantly, because I did, but the instant elation I felt after the birth of my daughter just wasn't there after I had my son, and I have my theory as to why, but I'll write about that in another post). I felt like I could get up and run a marathon. That might be stretching it a bit, I had just given birth after all, but I was filled with a complete rejuvenating energy.
My family feels perfect now- because it is. It is perfect and that fact is not lost on me. I am so blessed. I have two healthy, beautiful children and I have a husband who loves me more than words can describe, and I love him back just as much. I've never been happier in my entire life and even though each day I don't think I could love my kids any more than I already do, I wake up each new day loving them even more. I think the high that I experienced after giving birth to Hanalei will last me for the rest of my life,and if that's the case, call me a junkie. There's no greater feeling than the love you can have for your children. I'm so thankful I get to feel that everyday!