*This is long. It was a long labor. I wrote it in sections – feel free to read all or parts or none of it. I wanted to remember the details, so I included them. It’s not too graphic, really it’s not, but if these sorts of things make you woozy – then this is me telling you to read at your own risk 🙂 Cheers!
Before Labor Begins
The weeks leading up to Claire’s birth, I began praying for her arrival. There are times when I’m nervous to pray about specific preferences, as if my prayers might come across petty or unimportant. But I prayed nonetheless, knowing ultimately those prayers were an act of placing my heart and preferences in God’s hand. I wanted God to orchestrate this birth, and I so hoped it would be different than the unnatural procedure of induction I went through with El. Those prayers, I believe, were a start of a beautiful story and a beautiful new little life…
Tuesday evening, March 16, JD and Sean headed to shorebreaks to surf. At the last minute, I grabbed El, some books and a blanket, and we hopped in the bus with JD. The weather was cool but not uncomfortable, and the sky showed an assortment of colors from blue to orange. Palm trees silhouetted the sunset dipping below the Ko’olaus and El and I were in heaven. We took turns playing tag with the waves while daddy surfed. Looking back, it was the perfect way to spend our last night as a family of three together.
Realizing it was our last date night before baby or my mom came, we headed to Big City Diner for an incredible meal. True to my pregnancy cravings, I ordered a giant cheeseburger with avocado, bacon, grilled onions, and everything else that belongs on a cheeseburger. It was all very perfect.
The next morning, St. Patrick’s Day (also my due date), promised to be fun as El and I piled into the Palmer’s vanagon and met up with the Kristina and her kids at the aquarium. El is really into fish right now, and I jumped at the chance to go to the aquarium with our friends. I didn’t have the slightest hint at a contraction the entire time we were there, and was content to spend the first half of the day enjoying my baby’s face light up at all the Nemo fish.
We arrived home from the aquarium around one, and El promptly went to sleep for a well deserved nap. She slept over two hours and I rested peacefully, hoping (not so secretly, I might add) that labor would begin soon.
I heard the engine roaring outside as JD and Sean packed Glorious Gloria the Bus with surfboards when the first contraction came. It was similar to every other contraction I’d had in the past few weeks, but strong enough to notice. 6 or 7 minutes later the next came. I waited until the bus left, not wanting to prevent the surf trip in case this was another false alarm. Sure that the guys were probably paddling out, I sent JD this text, “WOAH that was a really strong contraction! Enjoy the surf! You may just get a baby today :)” The time was 2:25 pm and I was working on my third contraction.
Feeling like this could be it but not wanting to get my hopes up, I laid down for a while to see if the contractions would go away. When they didn’t, I got up, called my friend Steph, and let her know I might be in labor. If anything, I wanted some company while JD surfed for the next few hours. He was close by so I knew I could have someone get him if need be, but I suspected things would take their time. I finished packing the hospital bag and waited for Ellie to get up so I could shampoo our carpets for the third time. She got up, and I called a few other friends to make possible arrangements. El requested Dalmatians and she sat quietly on the couch while I vacuumed and shampooed our carpets. She was more than willing to lounge after our busy morning. Steph came over shortly after and we decided to try a walk around the neighborhood. Just as we were rounding the corner on our way back, we saw JD and Sean drive by and let them know I was most likely in labor. At that point, walking made the contractions much more intense and I had to sit down on a bench to catch my breath.
We arrived back home to a beaming JD, and giddy Sean and Jess. We talked for a bit and made arrangements for Ellie to stay with the Palmers the next day should this be the real thing. Contractions were still coming, about 5-7 minutes apart with lots of rest in between. I called to cancel our dinner plans, asking that auntie Cathy bring dinner to us instead (which she graciously did!). JD called up our leaders to run youth group, and I laid down to rest. Because contractions were still coming, and I suspected they were getting stronger, I asked Cathy and Lane to take Ellie with them for a few hours before going to the Palmers.
And that’s when I lost it.
Ellie was reluctant to go, sensing something was up, and after she walked out the door I became an emotional basket-case, hating that I sent my firstborn away. JD consoled me as tears streamed down my face.
Labor slowed way down.
An hour later we decided to call El back home since my labor had slowed so significantly. I was bummed for another false alarm, but also pleased with all the work my body had done. Mostly, I wanted El back with us. She came home and went to bed for the night shortly after. Throughout that time, contractions were still coming, though 7-10 minutes apart and I was super restless.
So I did what any normal laboring woman would do…
I went out.
A few of my girlfriends had planned drinks and dessert at Formaggio’s to celebrate Jess’ birthday. I figured I might as well go, seeing as though contractions weren’t really intense. Since it was youth group night, and everyone thought I was laboring at home, I snuck out of our house with Steph so as not to send the wrong message. We were so sneaky! Technically, I was still laboring, but I knew I needed a good distraction and tiramisu with friends was just the thing. JD was a nervous wreck the entire time I was gone.
We laughed and talked over a square table and dessert while my iphone sat on the tabletop with the contraction timer on. Contractions were 3-5 minutes apart, but felt mostly crampy and lasted only 45-55 seconds. My friend Kristina noticed I was getting quieter and asked if it was time to go. I nodded, yup,
I snuck into a quiet house at 10 pm and crawled into bed. JD relaxed me to sleep and the last thing I remember thinking was that there is no way I’m in labor if I’m able to fall asleep this easy.
Yup, this is real.
A strong contraction woke me at 12:44 am. Around 6 or 7 minutes later another one came. And another. The rest in between was almost unnerving because I felt completely normal in between contractions. I woke JD up and told him my contractions were stronger now. We got up and started a bath, tried a number of labor positions to get things started, and ultimately I decided to go back to sleep. Labor didn’t seem to really progress, but was consistently sending me strong, working contractions around 7 minutes apart. JD surrounded me in pillows and I sat like a queen in the middle of the bed while JD slept on a therma-rest on the ground.
For the next several hours I slept in between every contraction, waking up to breathe through the labor pains and immediately falling back to sleep. Not a bad way to labor, I gotta say!
Shortly after 4 am, I sent text messages to our parents, asking them to pray because I was starting to get anxious and tired. Those text messages gave me the strength I needed to keep going for the next few hours.
At 6:30 am we called the Palmers and asked them to come get El. When auntie Jess walked in the door, El squealed and danced and eagerly went with Auntie. El went from crib to auntie’s without seeing me, and I’m so glad it happened that way. I felt great about sending her away and she didn’t have to watch me work through a contraction.
With El gone it was time to get this labor going! Contractions at rest were about 5-6 minutes apart and lasted just over a minute long. We got dressed, walked outside, and that’s when it got serious.
Off to the Hospital!
The Bradley Method teaches the laboring woman and coach to rely on emotional signposts to judge how labor is progressing. I passed with ease through the exciting, putsy putsy stage and was working pretty hard through contractions during the night, but I was still gung ho when we started to walk around the church parking lot.
Ten or fifteen minutes later I could only take a few steps between contractions and JD and I instantly realized it was time to go.
We drove all two blocks, passing Pastor Brad on the way, and started the long walk from the car to the birthing center. I stood up, had a contraction, walked a few more feet, had a contraction, and so on. The nurse weighed me, I had a contraction, we walked through the nursing station, had a contraction…
By the time the nurse checked me, I was dilated 6 cm. and effaced 70%. Heck yea!
The time was around 8 am and I had high hopes of having this baby soon.
Or not… whatever.
To make a long story less long, contractions continued at around 4-5 minutes apart with increasing intensity and time for the next several hours. The rest between contractions was AMAZING. It felt like I wasn’t even in labor between contractions. Quite honestly, I never felt like I even needed an epidural because I got such a wonderful break in between contractions. We tried the tub – which felt wonderful but slowed my labor waaaay down – and eventually discovered that walks to the bathroom and standing up were the only ways to speed up my progress. JD was an amazing coach, suggesting different positions and acting as my human totem pole to lean against during contractions. We really worked as a team – I never once thought about a dula because JD was so awesome.
Fast forward to the 8 cm mark, which I stayed at for nearly three hours (well – in between 8 & 10). After a while, the doctor checked me and said I was a solid 8 when at rest and nearly a 10 during a contraction. She offered to break my water, saying we were so close the baby could come right then, or I could wait it out a little longer if I wanted.
I breathed and prayed through a contraction and clearly felt the Lord say, “wait.”
So we waited.
Two more contractions later and I literally felt the pressure of Claire’s head begin to quickly move downward. The doc checked me again, my water broke, and sure enough, it was go time!
Claire Adalia Kalena Groves
I remember the pushing with El – it was such a relief to finally push. I actually enjoyed it! This time, however, it was a lot more work. At first I really didn’t have an urge to push and so barely pushed through a contraction. By the next contraction, my body did the work for me and I will confess here – it was just like the movies. I totally, er, uh, hollered cuz um hello?! I was pushing out a 9 lber!
As I pushed the doctor said, “uh, wait a minute,” and did some quick kung fu maneuvers (I later learned she was unwrapping the cord around Claire’s neck) while I “waited.” The doctor told me I pushed through two contractions. I remember it was quick, but not quick enough. Claire came out in a ball, with the cord wrapped around her arm and foot (and just had it around her neck as well). A nine pound ball.
They laid her on my chest and she was purple.
And she wasn’t crying.
I kept saying, “she’s purple and she’s not crying!” over and over again while the nurses did their thing. They reassured me that everything was going to be ok, but that Claire had a lot of fluid in her system. They suctioned, she sputtered, they suctioned, she sputtered some more. She was only on my chest for perhaps a minute before they whisked her away to the baby basket (?). The nurses worked hard, suctioning and monitoring Claire. Her blood sugar was really low and it took a while to get a good cry out of her. They told me she couldn’t nurse just yet because of all the fluid in her tiny body.
Eventually they took my purple little baby to the nursery.
They gave her formula, which I was bummed about, but necessary for her blood sugar. I suppose I could have pumped for her – but let’s be honest… stitches and pumping at the same time? I wasn’t even going there in my head. JD was my focal point as they worked on the painful afterbirth stuff – the part that hurts just as bad as labor but no one talks about because usually you get a baby to hold during that time. No baby, just JD’s hand and eye contact. I thanked him later and he confessed it was hard with his wife in agony and his purple baby sputtering in the corner.
The nurses kept mentioning Claire’s rough beginning… and I guess it was. I am thankful I waited to have my water broken, because that could have added to some of the complications with the cord wrapped around Claire’s neck. God is good and so faithful.
Claire came to me five hours later, all plump and sleepy. We bonded quickly and the first nurse went well. She’s a champ at nursing (she should be – all 9 pounds of her) and sleeping.
Whew, this is long.
So I’ll end it here. I’ll write another post later about El and Claire. Enjoy the pics!