From before she was even conceived, drama has surrounded this little girl. Her frozen cycle was all sorts of stressful with incorrect syringes, forgotten medications, postponed appointments, etc. Then at 10 weeks, she hid from three different midwives just trying to find her heartbeat which took almost an hour to track down because she was ping ponging around in there. Considering her track record, her labor and delivery were par for the course.
It started Wednesday morning at 2:30am. Granger woke up with a nightmare about a train. He was sobbing at the top of the stairs. I went to tuck him back into bed and Nash was awake as well. I had a foreboding feeling to really soak them up a little before I went downstairs, so I kissed and cuddled and tucked them back in. Gray started crying again about 10 minutes later and Cam went up to comfort him. I laid in bed and couldn't fall back asleep. I was getting really annoyed at not getting the rest I needed and it took me a while to figure out I was so uncomfortable because I was having contractions. They woke me up constantly over the next two hours so I decided I should probably time them and just see what was going on. 7 minutes apart. 1 minute long. It was so exciting to be able to predict them and watch my body regulate the tightening! I could literally count down to when the next one would start. That had never happened before. I texted my mom and analyzed things for a bit with her. I really cherish that one on one time I had with her that morning. I was so grateful she was up and willing to talk things through with me.
Cameron woke up for school around 5 and I told him I was having contractions, but that they weren't deep and painful, just regular for the first time, so he left and told me to keep him posted. Earlier in the week, I had contractions all night long but as soon as the boys woke up they went away, so I decided to wait until the boys woke up to see what happened. I went to get them out of their room and I could hear Gray waking up Nash. "Hiii!" "NO." "Hi Nash!" "NO." "Nash! HI!" "NO." It was so funny. Nash takes after me. He loves his sleep. Gray is my early riser. I had another contraction outside their door. That was encouraging to me. My body knew I was about to enter mom-mode for the day and it was still contracting. I went in their room and they were so cheerful! I gave them a few kisses, breathed through a contraction or two and got them dressed. Changing their diapers was really hard. And then I had two solid contractions 5 minutes apart. And then I had one 2 minutes after that.
I told my mom. And she told me to get Cam home. If they were coming this quick, rush hour could be a problem. They still weren't terribly difficult to get through, but they were regular and consistent. I called Cam. And I texted two of my best friends to see if they could take Nash and Gray. And I texted my midwife. Her advice was to get out of mom-mode as fast as possible so my body didn't shut off the contractions. Within 30 minutes, Cam was home to take the boys to a friends' house and contractions were coming every 6 minutes consistently with a double peak after every 5 or so. My midwife sent us on a walk to try and deepen them and help things progress. During the walk I could feel Tenley get lower and lower. It was exciting to me. Contractions kept coming! I remember the trees and birds and sky looking so vibrant. I loved holding Cam's hand and breathing deep and just enjoying the sunshine with him. It was just what I needed.
After about an hour and a half I needed water and my legs were really tired. We went home and I laid down for a minute. And contractions all but disappeared. I was so discouraged! I texted my midwife to let her know and she suggested nipple stimulation. 30 minutes. Horrible (at least I thought they were at the time...), hard, contractions coming every 2-3 minutes by the end of it. After the thirty minutes, they kept coming on strong and my midwife said to come in to the birth center. This was about 2:30 in the afternoon, so we're talking 12 hours of early labor at this point. As soon as we got in the car, I didn't have a single contraction for 20 minutes! It confused me completely. Didn't I know my own body? Cameron had me say "She's coming and she'll be here soon." over and over again to try and conquer the mental block I seemed to be having. The very first time those words came out of my mouth, I had the biggest contraction yet. My midwife still wanted me to come in to see if these contractions I was feeling were helping me progress at all. And they were! I was a 3 and 60% effaced. That helped. I liked knowing SOMETHING was happening.
We were sent home to take another walk (which didn't help near as much as the first one) and take a nap. I had wimpy little contractions every so often. I didn't time them. And they didn't seem regular anyway. My midwife, though, had said "You are definitely in labor. It's just early in the game and we have a lot of work to do." She mentioned that Tenley would most likely be born in the next 48 hours. I didn't understand though. Does that mean that I just have to sit and wait for my body to fake me out again? I was pretty discouraged. And I was panicking about my boys overstaying their welcome with friends [they weren't. My friends are AMAZING, but rational thoughts were not my strength at this point.] I had decided we would go pick up the boys, put them to bed at home and see what happened the next morning. Before that, though, Cameron arranged for my chiropractor, Sarah, to come to our house and adjust me and do some acupuncture to get labor going again.
She arrived at 7:30 with another friend. She adjusted my back first. It helped relax me and get rid of a lot of the anxiety I had been experiencing that day. And then she adjusted my hips. My right hip was really hard to get. As soon as she did it, I sat up on the table and said "I'm going to vomit." and left the room. I didn't vomit, but I could definitely sense that something major had changed. Contractions started again, much harder than the first time, every 7 minutes. I sat on the couch and she put needles in my hands, feet, and head to relax me, help with pain relief, and keep the contractions coming strong. They stayed and chatted for an hour and a half, and contractions came consistently every 7 minutes through their entire visit. I had come to the peace that no matter what I did, contractions were out of my control. They would either keep coming or they would die out and that just doesn't matter. So I got up and we went to take a change of clothes to our friends for the boys the next day. Since contractions were back and it was so late [after 10 at this point] we would let the boys sleep over at their friends'.
At their house, we stayed and chatted for about 45 minutes. I was having consistent, tense contractions still which made me excited. I had been sitting, standing, riding in a car, walking up and down stairs, etc. and they hadn't changed at all. I let myself think maybe this was real. We went to get a drink at the QT and headed home. It was nice to be just me and Cam for the night. My midwife told me to take a tylenol PM, get in the tub, and then go to bed so I could hopefully get some rest before things got real. Things got real much faster than either of us anticipated. I took the Tylenol PM, got in the tub, got out at around 11:30 and tried to go to bed. At midnight I ran another bath. These contractions really hurt. I stayed in the water as long as I could, but I was breathing and moaning through each surge. Cameron stayed in bed, but I know he wasn't sleeping. When the water got cold and I could psyche myself up enough to move, I managed to get out and wrap a towel around myself. I figured I should probably time a few contractions just to see where we were at. My sense of time had been a little screwy since the night before. They were coming at 3 minutes apart and I was really working through them. This was at 1:30 in the morning. I got Cam up. He is very cautious and didn't want to call the midwife unless things were really happening. He wanted to time a few more. As nicely as I could, I told him to call her. He asked if I could talk to her. I'm really proud that I didn't swear at him. She answered right away and he explained what was going on. I got on the phone for about a minute between contractions. All I could say was "I'm really....having....a hard....time." And I tossed the phone back at Cam when the next one came. Robin, my midwife, said it was definitely time to come in.
I was nervous to get in the car for two very different reasons. 1. I didn't want the contractions to die down again like they had that afternoon. 2. I was worried about being able to cope with the contractions because I had really been moving my hips to work through them at home. We had to labor at home for another half hour because Robin lives farther away from the Birth Center than we do, so Cam helped me get dressed and ready to get in the car. We grabbed food from the freezer, my phone charger and our bag and he helped me out the door. It was a 20 minute drive to the birth center. I had 3 contractions on the way and 1 in the parking lot. If I could bounce my hips back and forth before they came on, I was fine. I missed the boat on one of them... I didn't miss it again.
We got to the Birth Center at 2:30am, Robin had already drawn a bath for me. The tub there could easily fit three people in it. She checked me and I was at a 5! Then she helped me get in and got Cam a chair so he could stay right by me. I needed his hand somewhere on me so I could close my eyes, but still know that he was right by me. Robin taught me how to let my limbs float in the water and release as much tension in my body as I possibly could through each contraction. If I managed to reach that high level of relaxation, I could visualize using the energy and sinking into each surge instead of feeling like the contractions were happening to me. It gave me a lot of confidence. I had read about women being able to use the energy instead of working against it. It was incredible to know that I could do that, too. I would let Cameron know every time a contraction came and he would talk me through it and just rub my shoulder or arm. Just him touching me was such a strength to me. The water cooled down after about an hour and a half and it wasn't helping me as much as before. The contractions had also slowed quite a bit, so I got out. The break was nice, but it wasn't going to get my baby here!
I went to the bed and Robin checked me. I was at a 7.5-8! I couldn't believe it. It had only been an hour and a half and I had dilated almost 3 centimeters! I could do this! My bag of water was getting in the way of her head and not putting enough pressure on my cervix either, so Robin broke my water and I expected things to really pick up. Oddly enough, they did the exact opposite. Contractions were coming hard and I was so, so tired, but we needed to walk in order to get the contractions closer together. Contractions were super strong when they came, but they weren't close enough together to push through those last few centimeters. I walked laps around the Birth Center. Cameron followed closely behind everywhere I went. Just when I needed him, there he was. I would turn around and put my arms around his neck whenever a contraction came. I hung on him and swayed my hips side to side and took deep breaths. Robin would come behind me and put counter pressure on my hips and help me move. When I started having a hard time coping with the pain, she suggested talking to little Tenley. I was blown away by how much that helped. I could do anything when I felt that the two of us were on the same team, working together. "Come on, baby girl. You're doing great. You are strong, because you are mine. And I am strong." Whenever I forgot to talk to her and started to panic as the peak of each contraction neared, someone else would say something to Tenley and I could breathe again. "You beautiful angel girl, your mama can't wait to hold you." "Tenley, come help mama. Mama's hurting. She wants you to come." Talking to her got me through the next two hours.
At 6 in the morning, she checked me again and I was still at a 7.5-8. Nothing had changed and I had been working SO hard. I thought for sure we were getting close. The contractions were so strong, but they were not coming close enough to move me forward. I was so defeated. I was so tired. I hadn't slept in well over 24 hours and there was no end in sight. I was just having horrible pains that would not go away unless the baby came, but she was not coming. Robin and Krista [the other midwife] worked together to figure out that Tenley was caught on my right hip. She wasn't descending into the birth canal, so there was no pressure to move things forward. They had me work through a contraction with my left leg up on the bed and my right leg on the floor. It felt amazing. I could move so well and breathe so deep. And then they informed me I had to do one with my right leg up and my left leg down. And I thought I was going to die the first time I even just tried to lift my leg up. It definitely put pressure on that right hip. I worked through two more contractions while the midwives explained to me that I had to do a contraction like that in order to move forward. Somewhere in there, a prayer was said that I would not suffer needlessly in order to bring Tenley here. Somewhere in there my wonderful husband called Sarah, my chiropractor, to get to the center as fast as possible. Somewhere in there I started talking to my sweet Tenley and giving myself the biggest pep talk I could muster. And somewhere in there, I gained the heart of a warrior. I felt so strong. I felt invincible. I felt like I could do a hundred more contractions if it meant my Tenley was coming.
I remember Cameron saying, "Kristin, you HAVE to do this." So I did. I put my leg up on the chair and worked through the toughest contraction yet and I grinned and about burst into tears when I felt her move! She moved down! I felt her move! I enjoyed two extremely productive contractions. I got to push a little with each one. And then I felt her move back. All I kept saying was "something just isn't right. It's not right. It's not right!" We decided to try something else. So I sat backwards on the toilet resting my arms on the tank. Cameron sat in a chair behind me and pushed on my hips as each contraction came. Once again, they slowed. Then Sarah walked in. And she took command of the situation immediately. She had me move to the bed and lay on my side and cranked my right hip so hard it was alarming, but PERFECT. Baby loved it. She moved right where she needed to be and didn't move back again. Sarah adjusted my other hip after the next contraction. Cameron was right by me, rubbing my shoulders. Talking me through everything. I relied on him completely. I was still a 7-8. And I screamed. I was so completely angry. The contractions were coming so hard. Nothing was changing. I felt so defeated, again. I remember whispering to Cameron, "I can't do this anymore." He squeezed my hands and said "Yes, yes you can! You CAN do this. You were made to do this." He always knew just what I needed.
A few minutes later the head midwife, Joyce, arrived and was told the situation. Up until this point, Robin and Krista had been so encouraging to me. Everyone kept telling me I was strong, that I could do this, that I was doing it right that second, that she was coming. The contractions were so hard that I started panicking. When I panicked, they were horrendous. I remember banging my head into Cam's chest, the bed, pillows, struggling to grab anything I possibly could get my hands on, kicking my legs. Everything felt miserable. Then Joyce came in with the tough love. "Kristin. Get on top of this RIGHT NOW." She meant mentally. And after I heard that, it reminded me of my dad coaching me in softball. I don't know why, but it tapped into the side of my brain that managed to shut the pity party off. Her command both gave me direction and convinced me that I had the capacity to finish this and at that moment I was choosing to give up. I repeated "I will NOT panic again." over and over in my brain. I am not sure if I said it out loud or not. I do know, though, that whenever I felt the fear of panic coming, I repeated that phrase and could breathe deep and long instead of panicking. "I am strong. You are strong because you are mine. You are mine."
I believe it was about 7 am when Joyce made the decision to check me. I was still at a 7-8, but she kept her fingers in me through the next contraction. I was flat on my back and thought I was going to die. [I use that phrase far too often and far too flippantly. For the first time in my life, I actually, truthfully thought my life was going to end.] Up until that point, I had been able to move through the pain. That movement was what I believed allowed me to use the energy and work with it instead of letting it consume me. I could not move with her fingers in me, flat on the bed. I looked at Cameron and said "I can't do this. Please let it end. Please don't make me do this. I need to be done. I need a break." But through that contraction, Cameron instinctively leaned down and kissed me so gently and sweetly and stared straight into my eyes. I love him so much for that. No one told him to do that. He saved me. I focused on his big, beautiful green eyes through the next contraction and Joyce called out, "You're complete!" I was at a ten. And I could have just exploded from joy. I didn't think I was going to hear those words. They moved me onto all fours and told me to push hard. The contractions were right on top of each other, which was fine because I could finally use that energy again. And I felt my baby girl coming. I had no idea how close we were. I thought I could be pushing for hours because of how the earlier stages of labor had gone. I was losing my oomph when one midwife said "she's crowning!" and Joyce responded "well hey! There's a baby!"
There were some difficulties still with her descending and Joyce had to keep her fingers in me all the way up till Tenley was born. But I got over it. She was coming. They talked me through every single second of pushing. "Slow down. Let her stretch. Slow. Breathe." I tried as hard as I could, but my body took over. I tried so hard to slow down, but I felt like I was constantly pushing anyway. My midwives kept telling me I was doing beautifully, so I don't think it was a conscious ability. My body just did what needed to be done. And I felt her head come out! I visualized her body coming smoothly afterward, but that's not what happened. They soon realized why the labor had been taking so long. Tenley's umbilical cord was wrapped around her shoulder preventing her from descending properly. I had to bring my right leg up into a sprinters stance for a couple pushes so they could get Tenley's shoulders out and unwrap the cord. Then they had me move onto my back and I pushed twice and then she came. The cord was also wrapped around both of her ankles. They put her up on my chest immediately. I couldn't believe it. I have never known such a sense of relief and love and power and gratitude. It was completely tangible. Cameron, still on his knees at the edge of the bed by my face, gave me a huge kiss and tearfully said "You did it! Oh Kristin she is beautiful. You did it!" The emotion and spirit in the room felt so real and perfect. She was born at 7:42. 8 lbs 4 oz. 21.5 inches long.
Tenley was blue and beautiful. I remember rubbing her back and begging her to cry. She let out the most beautiful cry I have ever heard. She had so much hair! She pinked up as she got the rest of the cord blood in her little body. It was so fascinating to watch. After about a minute, Cameron was able to cut the cord. She had the most beautiful hands. Long, long fingers and gorgeous nails. I've never liked my fingernails. Hers are so elegant and long. I felt so incredible laying there holding her. Meanwhile I was still losing some blood and delivering the placenta. But I didn't care. All I could focus on was her and Cameron. We did it. I kept thinking to myself "We are strong, little girl. We worked together."
I was told later that without Sarah, we were headed to the hospital for an emergency c-section. She came just in time. I am so grateful she could be there to be a part of Tenley's birth. Without her, I know things would have been completely different. The midwives were so well trained and knew just what to do. They handled the situation so well and were so empowering to me.
Around 9:30, our friend Scarlet brought the boys to the birth center to meet Tenley. I was so excited to see them. They walked into the room and both boys yelled "Mom! Hi!" "Hi dad!" Cameron was sitting next to me on the bed and Gray came over to his side and said "Baby?" Cam lifted him up and told him it was his new sister Tenley. He came right up to her and softly patted her head and gave her a kiss. Nash on the other hand was not so excited. He hasn't quite figured out what happened. Whenever we tried to tell him he had a baby sister he would just say "No baby! No sister!" Oh well. He will get it eventually. The boys have been staying with friends this entire weekend. It has been so so so helpful. Gratitude doesn't do it justice. Our house is so quiet and peaceful. But we are excited for them to come home tomorrow.
For the past several weeks I had been having these anxiety dreams. Cameron was so stressed, busy, and gone for school and national boards. I was afraid I was alone in this entire process. I was so scared going into this. I was shocked and surprised at his instincts. Everything I was afraid of was completely forgotten. He knew exactly what I needed and when I needed it. Whether by his words, his touch, etc. he knew just what to do and say. I could not have asked for a better partner in this. It was completely amazing. I will never forget it.
We got home at 11 AM and spent the remainder of the day sleeping and cuddling and skyping family. We have been so blessed and taken care of. My mom comes out on Sunday. My dad is driving out later next week for Memorial Day weekend. And then Cameron's mom is coming after that. We are so glad Tenley is finally here. She is a complete miracle; a dream come true.