Being pregnant with you was the most amazing journey I’ve ever been on. From the beginning I loved you, knowing that you were there, just beneath my skin, forever mine. But it wasn't until you were here that I knew the true meaning of love.
Labor. It was long. I started having prodromal labor with you at 35 weeks, kinda scary to say the least. It sent your Daddy, Grandmama and I to Labor and delivery, on more than one occasion. Only to be sent home reeling in pain with contraction after contraction and no baby. . It's basically your body trying to kill prepare your uterus for "the real thing." I had contractions that would last anywhere from 30 seconds to two minutes, all day everyday, sometimes one per hour, and on those lucky days, ten per hour. The doctor promised me that you would be here in two weeks max, which gave me some sort of relief to know that this horrible pain wouldn't last to long and you would be here soon.
After two weeks, with contractions gradually getting stronger and stronger, I wanted to kill the doctor for ever telling me you would be here in two weeks. I began to joke with everyone that I would have the buffest uterus ever by the time my body was ready to kick into "real" labor.
After three weeks I was just mad, mad my body seemed to be failing me, mad that these seemingly endless contractions would never stop, EVER. Night after night I would stand by our bed, crying, praying for a break so I could just sleep, hanging onto your dad at times, begging him to make it stop. Asking God why He allowed this to go on for so long. But you just weren't ready, little did I know this would be the biggest lesson in patience I would ever have.
By 39 weeks I was a woman on a mission! After countless people advised me to start doing some serious walking, eat spicy food, do lunges, basically anything to get this labor into full gear, I did. Your Dad and I hiked, well I waddled up and down the hiking trails down the street from our house. Lo and behold my contractions started picking up, I could have kissed the dirt I was walking on at that point. Sadly, all it did was throw my body into even more painful contractions, spread to far apart to change my cervix. This is the point where I began to be outside myself. I was a grumpy crying mess, and so over being pregnant, I wanted you here NOW, better yet yesterday, knowing you were full term and healthy, I just couldn't understand why oh why you weren't here in my arms yet.
The evening of June 6th my contractions picked up to the point where I couldn't walk or talk through them. I got pretty excited because I knew I had to be making some progress, finally! However, after so many false alarms I continued to ignore them, and sent your Dad off to work, reassuring him that this was not labor. He called when he was about half way there and I picked up the phone crying, he immediately turned around and came home so we could go to the hospital once again, thinking this was finally it. I was having contractions every two minutes, and as soon as our 40 min drive to the hospital was over they stopped dead in their tracks. Thankfully, my doctor was working that night, she checked me and I was 1cm and 80% effaced. She said she could feel your head, how cool. She felt incredibly bad for me and offered to stir things up. I consented, anything to get you out. Holy Moly BATMAN that phrase will never sit the same with me again! She manually stretched, wiggled, and jiggled my cervix to 2cm, ouch is a understatement! She told me to walk the halls, so we did, The contractions picked back up with a vengeance. But after two hours and one more check later I was only at a 3cm. So she sent me home to labor since she knew I wanted a natural birth and staying at the hospital at this point would mean Interventions would be inevitable. So off we went...back home, to continue laboring.
By the next morning my contractions slowed to every 20 minutes, I cried to my mom asking when she thought you would come. I had pretty much convinced myself that I would be pregnant forever. She reassured me that you would come when you were ready. Worst phrase ever! Because I was ready, I had been ready. By that evening my contractions were completely gone for the first time in almost five weeks, it felt strange not being in pain.
When evening time rolled around I once again reassured your Dad that he could go to work, I just wanted to be alone. I went upstairs and prayed,I gave thanks for my life, for being able to bear life, and for everything as a whole. I decided I was ok with whatever happened, I was done walking, done eating spicy food, I just wanted to enjoy these last few days or maybe weeks of being pregnant with you. Then I did some yoga, meditated, then went to sleep, I don't even remember your Dad coming home from work at 3am. I slept, for the first time in weeks, I slept.
At 6:30am on June 8th, the day before your due date, I woke to text messages from family asking if you were here yet. I wanted to throw the phone out the window. Instead, I wrote to everyone that no, I was still pregnant and probably would be pregnant forever. As I pressed send I heard a faint POP! No way, I thought to myself, no way my water just broke. I got up and went to the bathroom, there was no denying it, my water had broken, I was in shock! I shouted for your Dad, exclaiming that my water had broken. He wobbled over sleepy eyed from a hard nights work, excited and confused. Could this really be it?! I asked him calmly to please call my mom. I put on my sacrum meditation music and sat on the floor in your room, the contractions were so much stronger than anything I felt before. I concentrated on calming myself while welcoming each wave. After about thirty minutes they were coming hard and fast, about three minutes apart. I had no choice but to concentrate on them. By the time your Grandma got here at around 8, they were coming every two minutes and thirty seconds on the dot, and were lasting for over a minute. I still insisted on taking a shower, and re-packing my hospital bag for the umpteenth time. I think a part of me was still in denial, after weeks of labor I couldn't believe I was finally going to get to meet you. At one point, I remember saying it was time to go, as in, RIGHT NOW! So we got in the car for our 40 minute drive, Grandma following close behind. The contractions were not letting up, and the only way I could stay on top of them was to listen to music and sing. Every time your Dad would ask how I was doing, it would break my concentration and the contractions would become almost unbearable. This was the worst drive of my life. I was in and out of myself, excited, ready, happy, and nervous at the unknown.
I know your Dad wheeled me in to L&D, though I don't quite remember the journey. Time became irrelevant, it only consisted of wave after wave. Upon arrival they immediately checked me in after being monitored briefly. It was clear I was finally in active labor. As I walked to our labor room, which was about 15 ft away, I had three contractions and the nurse commented on how fast my contractions were coming (NO KIDDING). All I remember is leaning my forehead into the hallway walls, moaning through contractions. At 1:30 the doctor came in to check me and I was a loose 3cm, and 90% effaced, I was a little disappointed, but not surprised. The contractions were now lasting two minutes and thirty seconds with only a minute break in between, and they were literally reading off the chart. The nurses and doctors kept commenting on how I was just banging out these contractions. I wasn't even aware that my favorite nurse (from all my false alarms at L&D) was taking care of me. My world was the music coming through my headphones, I felt as if I was standing on a cliff and with every contraction the wind would almost blow me over the edge. It was a pain like no other, all consuming, nothing else existed, I couldn't even tell you who was in the room.
After about an hour I started vomiting with every contraction, I remember telling your Grandma that I can do one or the other not both. It was then, that I was on the brink of panicking, I just couldn't get on top of the contractions anymore. Then they started coupling and I lost it, I begged my mother to please help me.
I wasn't getting any breaks, I was contracting like I was in Transition but wasn't, I was angry at the pain, angry that my labor wasn't gradually getting stronger like the norm. I begged for relief around 3:30, something to just help me get my head on
straight. I was determined to go all naturally but my mind could not get a handle on the pain. I asked the doctor to give me the lowest dose possible of the epidural. I was obsessed with not tearing, and I wanted to be able to feel you coming out so I could push like I needed to. It wasn't the sweet relief like most women have, but it was enough for me to handle. I was able to calm myself and breath. I wanted to take a nap but I began to get the shakes.
By 6 pm I was 8cm and going through transition, my uterus must have lost its mind because the contractions lasted well over 3 minutes, at some points, doubling on top of each other! By seven I was complete, the doctor started explaining that I could push whenever I was ready, and suggested that I labor down as long as I could, since first time moms can take up to 4 hours pushing. I labored down for what I thought was an hour, though my mom said it was only twenty minutes until I said that I need to push. My sweet doctor said ok, in a calm voice, thinking that she had ample time before the babies arrival. She had me push, her eyes got wide and she immediately changed into “splash proof” gear.
This was it! By this time the meds had worn off completely on my left sid it and was almost gone on my right as well. Your dad put ice packs and sock balls behind my back giving me counter pressure. For me, pushing was the easiest part. I was finally present and active in my own labor and pushing gave me a goal. I pushed for an hour taking breaks when told to allow the tissue to stretch. Your dad was holding one leg while my mom held the other. The not pushing part, when all you need and want to do is push, stinks, let me tell ya. Everyone was praising me on how controlled I was and how much progress I was making. I kept wondering if they were lying, because every time your head would come out a little, as soon as I stopped pushing it would slip back in a little. But everyone kept assuring me that that's the best way not to tear, so I continued to push slowly.
After a little less than an hour of pushing your head was out. The cord was wrapped around your neck twice, they unwrapped the cord and I pushed the rest of you out in one big push. You were placed immediately on my chest, I cried, you were here... you were perfect!
But something was wrong, you were silent and very purple, your mouth was wide open as you tried to cry and take your first breath, but you couldn't. I rubbed you and rubbed you, telling you that it was ok, and to breath baby breath, you wouldn't. Your Dad cut the cord and they took you over to the warmer. The doctor immediately called pediatrics, and they were here in minutes. My mom, your Dad and the team surrounded you, I kept asking if you were ok, and why weren't you crying!? My mother assured me that everything would be alright.
My world was crashing down around me, and after what seemed like 15 minutes, when in actuality, it was more like two, there it was a sweet gurgaly cry, and relief. I was bleeding more than they wanted, but I could care less. You were ok, and that's all that mattered.
Before I knew it you were back on my chest, looking up at your Dad and I, and you were smiling. You were ok, you were here, and you were mine. I was complete. It was the sweetest thing, the deepest love, I never knew what I was lacking until that moment. I cried and stared at this little being I had just brought into the world. Staring at this little person that is you, who lived inside me for the last 39 weeks plus six days. I knew you and you knew me, my life was complete, I was on this incredible high, I could do anything after that, anything.
Our family came in to meet you after they got the bleeding under control and you were alright. Everyone was in love. The doctors and nurses confessed that your birth touched them. Two of them had to leave the room because they were in tears.
When your Dad and my mom walked the family out, one of the nurses said that the love she witnessed between us during your birth, was unbelievable. She delivers babies everyday and this one, your birth, my precious Eleanor touched her. I cried, then hugged and thanked her for bearing witness and helping me through the hardest thing I've ever done.
Then it was just us three, we stared at you, kissed you, and marveled in all that is you. After your Dad fell asleep, it was just you and I, like it had been for ten months, I was in awe of what just took place. I would do it all again, I would take every pain just to have that moment.
Eleanor Marie Festerly graced us with her presence June 8th at 9:36pm weighing seven pounds and seven glorious ounces.
Love Always, Mama Bear