Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Birth Story - Part 1 - Through the Valley of Darkness

After a LONG delay, I'm finally back (at least a little bit!) I have discovered that it is quite difficult to find time for blogging now that I have two kids...who knew?!! I hope to get back in the habit of posting regularly soon, but I have currently been using my tiny bits of free time to finish writing Molly's birth story. However, as you will soon see, because I have been writing it in little bursts, it has become something of a mini-novel. So instead of trying to post the whole story in one gigantic post, I have broken the story into 3 main parts.

Here, finally, on the eve of Molly's 2-month birthday, is part 1.
(I will add pics to this story as soon as blogspot gets their stuff working again...argh!!)


This story really begins several weeks before Molly was born. Here is a summary of the thoughts/feelings/emotions and events that led up to the birth of Molly Ruth Schiltz.

Aaron, Ben and I spent the month of January enjoying our time together without a newborn in the house. We got everything ready for the baby to come, and talked a lot with Ben about what his new little sister would be like and what she would need every day (lots of sleep, cuddles, and milk!).

We also did our traditional belly painting. It was great doing it before Ben was born, but even more fun doing it this time for Molly, because her big brother LOVED this little “welcome baby” ritual of ours.

I was pretty tired by the end (more than with Ben) but tried to continue exercising, eating well, and practicing my “hypnobabies” homework as preparation for another natural labor.

Finally, February arrived, and we started to gear up for her arrival. Let me share a bit about where I was mentally with the impending delivery. I had always heard that second-born children are typically born earlier than first-born children, and that girls often are born earlier than boys. So because this was my second baby, and I knew she was a girl, I began to think that she would arrive on or before February 7th, the day that I would be 39 weeks along, and the same day of pregnancy on which Ben was born. So as we got closer and closer to the 7th, even though my due date wasn’t until Feb. 14th, I began to pay attention for signs of labor coming.

At my doctor’s visit the week of the 7th, my doctor checked me and said that I was already 4 cm. dilated and 75% effaced, and that it looked like labor would start at any time. The baby hadn’t “dropped” low into my pelvis yet, but other than that, all signs were looking like labor was close.

So when Feb. 7th came and went, I have to admit that it was a particularly hard day for me. Even the happiest pregnant lady is getting uncomfortable by 39 weeks along, and I knew that the baby was technically “ready”, so it was hard to think that the baby was definitely not coming earlier than Ben, and that, now that my mental due date had passed, there was no telling how much longer I could be pregnant!

After whining and complaining all day on the 7th, I woke up on the 8th with a fresh outlook and a resignation to welcome the baby on whatever day she chose to be her birthday, rather than to wish for an end to my wonderful pregnancy with her, and an end to my last days with just Ben. (My apologies to anyone who was around me on that day!!)

This turned out to be a VERY good thing. Out of the blue, Ben woke up on Friday, Feb. 8th with a fever and flu-like symptoms. He was sick until Sunday, and I was so thankful every day that I didn’t also have a newborn to take care of, when little Ben was so sick and needy. I figured the baby knew what she was doing and didn’t want to come when Ben was sick, but that now that he was healthy, she would come any time. And, in fact, all day that Saturday I had LOTS of early contractions and felt that we might be within about 48 hours of labor.

Then, the world turned temporarily upside-down. I woke up on Monday, Feb. 11 with full-body aches and chills, a fever, a cough, and, in general, feeling more sick than I have felt in my entire life. I thought it was the flu, but it turned out to be some other unspecified virus that was going around. I was so unbelievably sick! I was essentially bed-ridden for the first 4 days. On the 5th day, I went in for my weekly OB appt. and my doctor couldn’t believe how sick I still was after 5 full days. She ordered me to stay in bed and rest as much as possible over the weekend to try to fight it off.

Thankfully Aaron took her seriously, and I pretty much just slept and rested all day Saturday and Sunday. By Monday, I was mostly healthy, and by Tuesday, I could officially say that I was now just needing to recover my strength, but that I wasn’t really sick anymore.

It was the strangest experience. I essentially just lost a week out of my life. My due date passed without me even noticing, and each night I would pray that I didn’t go into labor, because I knew I didn’t have the strength for a natural delivery, which is so important to me, much less the strength to care for a newborn. Then, on Tuesday, Feb 19th, I began to pray that labor would at least hold off until Thursday, the 21st. I would hit 41 weeks that day, and I felt that if I could make it a few more days, I might have the strength I needed for delivery.

Interestingly, though I was (and had been for 2 weeks) 4 cm. dilated and so “ready” physically to go into labor, my contractions almost completely stopped when I was the sickest. I didn’t have any for days, and then they only gradually started to come back as my strength returned. It was amazing to think that my body knew to turn off all labor prep and focus on healing. My doctor said that it was particularly amazing because usually strong illnesses at the end of pregnancies cause women to go into labor, rather than have labor stall.

So, amazingly, we finally made it through the waiting, Ben's illness, and my illness. I made it to 41 weeks (and was so happy to still be pregnant...pretty uncommon for a woman who is THAT pregnant!) I said many prayers of thanksgiving for both the return to health, and the strength for the now definitely impending delivery. And I said many thanks to baby Molly for being patient and waiting to come out until I could be healthy.

Stay tuned for parts 2 and 3 of Molly's birth story!