Welcome to the world, darling daughter! Beatrix Dot Quirk was born on January 11, 2017 after a powerful, peaceful and joyful labor and birth. It was the most emotionally healing experience and best day of my life!
I didn’t anticipate writing a birth story at all - mainly because with my son Felix I was stuck in my own head and not in the moment for so much of his birth (read about it here). I knew for Bea I wanted to be more present and luckily - that’s exactly what happened! So now that she’s four weeks old and I’ve processed everything, let me tell you more about it!
The morning of my 40th week appointment (and two days past my due date) I woke up early to some light contractions that were worth timing - about six minutes apart. They eventually faded enough to fall back asleep. We went to see the doctor as planned and I was at an emotional low after weeks of prodromal contractions (also called “false labor” even though nothing about them feels fake!) The doctor assured us we’d have the baby within a week and offer to sweep the membranes to see if that might jump start things. This is not comfortable. At all. But it worked! Within two hours I was having light contractions every three minutes. I could talk, walk and eat around them so I tried to just go about my day as normal while my sister and her husband came over for lunch and to play with Felix. We called the doctor and he suggested we come in for an exam so around 5pm we made our way to the hospital.
For my initial check I could tell I wasn’t very far dilated (I asked them not to tell me, for fear of a low number deflating my mood) and I was right. After two hours observation we were sent home to sleep in our beds for the night, which in hindsight was a great decision! I took a warm bath, had a bowl of soup and got a good seven hours of sleep before waking up the next morning to the real deal.
These contractions were different. I’d call them… primal? Deep into the core of my existence primal. We didn’t waste much time going back to the hospital, which is only a few minutes from our home. I was really emotional - sobbing, shaking, not sure if this baby was minutes or hours away. My doctor was on the floor so he checked to see where we were at and gave my husband a big smile (I still didn’t want to know my progress report unless it was promising). While the nurses helped me get checked in, I asked Adam to just tell me if it was a “good” number or not and he said I was in active labor at 5.5cm dilated. Yes!! It was probably around 8am at that point.
I had intentions of going for an intervention free birth but within an hour or so my leg and hip muscles were so fatigued I told Adam I thought I should have an epidural. He reminded me of my plans but also told me I had the highest pain tolerance of anyone he knew, so if I was serious, we should go for it. We didn’t have a deep conversation at this point, but one of the things that came up was why I really wanted the natural birth in the first place and my answer - bragging rights - later revealed a lot to me. I need to write a full post about it, but let’s just move on for the time being. I decided to get an epidural and I’m so glad I did.
Although… it did come with some hiccups. I’m going to make this long story short. The first attempt to place the epidural didn’t work and punctured my dura, so I got more of a spinal block than the numbing of a normal epidural. The doctor removed it and replaced it (at which point I was completely paralyzed from that point down anyway but weirdly felt like I was falling off the bed). When all was said and done, the epidural medication blocked pain but not feeling if that makes any sense. I could wiggle my feet and toes around and eventually move my knees from side to side. I felt the baby moving down down down and pushing and everything, but without any pain. If that sounds amazing, it was, but the side effect was an insanely painful headache after I delivered that lasted a week. Yikes. At the time thought - it was awesome!
Ok! Back to the labor bit. After my epidural was in place and I was comfortably numb I had another exam and whoa! 9cm. A short while later I was complete and the baby was at +1 station (+4 is delivery). This was around noon and then my doctor had me labor down for a few more hours (medical speak for letting my body just do the work?) I kept feeling like the baby was getting really close and kept asking to be checked and also asked if any babies had ever just slid right out? because that’s what it felt like (for not being able to feel much.)
Physical feelings aside, the main thing I remember from that afternoon was how happy I felt - I had this enormous smile on my face the whole time. I felt so peaceful and joyful - really unlike anything else I’d felt in my life. It was euphoric!
Around 4pm it was go time. The nurses called the doctor and as he was getting ready outside of the room, my main nurse was all like “Oh wow! there’s the head, Doctor! Come in here now!” I pushed three times and she shot out all once like a cannonball. The doctor literally had to catch her. And my water didn’t break on it’s own either - the doctor had to do that right before we started the pushing phase (which lasted less than 5 minutes). The quick birth wasn’t without injury (ouch) but with my daughter in my arms (and still really numb) I couldn’t feel a thing.
The numbers are blurry, but I estimate I was in early labor for at least 20 hours before the active phase and then another 10 before her birth. The early contractions were child’s play compared to the intensity of the actual birth day and hallelujah for western medicine. Because of it I didn’t just get through the birth of my daughter - I really loved the experience.
I held Beatrix for an hour before they did any of the necessary checks and it was the best hour of my life. I will never forget the look on my husband’s face and I will never forget how powerful and healing the experience was for me. It was absolutely one of the best days of my life.