The story of Gwen’s arrival (retold as best I can from memory- some details are a little fuzzy on account of the extreme pain and slightly delirious moments of labor):
Friday night, 3-22-13, approx. 11pm: we finished watching The Hobbit with my parents, and got up to go to bed. As I was walking into the bathroom from our bedroom, all of a sudden I started leaking fluid. Did I just pee myself? Maybe…wait…no….cause I can’t control it or stop it and it’s leaking down my legs and puddling on the floor! “Um….I think my water is breaking right now”, I said to Ivor, who was standing right next to me. I wasn’t convinced at first but Ivor kept telling me to call Labor and Delivery, also reminding me that if it was really urine it would’ve smelled like asparagus urine (we had asparagus for dinner that night and it always smells!). Good point. There was no odor and it was colorless- the 2 main things I was told to look for when/if water breaks. So a few minutes later, and still leaking, I finally called L&D. They said there was no rush, I could take a shower, take a nap, and wait a few hours since I wasn’t really having painful contractions (yet). We didn’t rush…but there would certainly be no napping or waiting much longer. My water just broke! How was I supposed to just wait around? So we tried to take our time and just make sure we had all of our things packed and ready to go, double and triple checking. Then we were off- me, Ivor and my parents all packed in the Prius and ready to go!
Early Saturday morning, 3-23-13, sometime between midnight and 1am: we arrived at the hospital (Kaiser Santa Clara Medical Center). I was dropped off at the emergency entrance and wheeled up to L&D to check-in. I was placed in an observation room first, put on monitors and checked for confirmation of water breakage. Water breakage confirmed. By this point, I’m having somewhat regular contractions. Not really painful, just slightly uncomfortable. Because my water broke prematurely, they avoided checking me too often for dilation/effacement because there is more of a risk of infection. So I went several hours without really knowing my progress. I remember being annoyed by this. But I know it was for the best and they were just being cautious.
Shortly after, I was moved into my actual birthing suite. And then the waiting game began. Hours and hours went by, contractions gradually got stronger. They eventually started me on pitocin to speed things up, only because they wanted to be sure I delivered within 24 hours of my water breaking (the whole infection thing again). My body was doing a good amount of the work on its own, but pitocin certainly helped kick things up a notch. At this point, I was finally checked (3cms dilated, 80% effaced). Gradually my silent breathing through each contraction transitioned into audible moaning through contractions. At some point in the afternoon, it just became too much for me to take and I asked for the epidural. Since it was going to take a little time for the anethesiologists to make their way over, they asked me if I wanted any other pain medication while I was waiting, just to take the edge off. YES PLEASE. It was wonderful. Right before (I think…) I was given they epidural, they checked me again (now 6cms dilated, 90% effaced). Progress!
Now here’s where things get crazy. The epidural was great. But I only had relief and rest for about 3 or 4 contractions. I started to progress crazy fast all of a sudden! Sure, the pain of the contractions were gone, but the pressure….oh, the pressure….it was intense. And kept getting worse with each contraction. I would argue that the right amount of pressure IS painful. So no, the pain was not gone by any means. I told Ivor to get the nurse back in the room ASAP. She had me change positions and upped my dosage of the epidural. Did not help. I had the urge to push. We know what that means- game time! I was checked one final time and sure enough, I was 10cms dilated and 100% effaced. Baby was coming out. And soon. Wasn’t I JUST 6cms, like…30 mins ago? Yes.
Now with each contraction I was told to push. The nurse and Ivor (but mostly Ivor) coached me through the pushing, counting to 10, 3 times with each contraction. The nurse started getting things prepped for baby and called the doctors to give them the heads-up. During this whole time, I’m starting to go into my own little world of delirium. The pressure and pushing was so intense and quite indescribable. There’s nothing like it. The nurse was shocked at how much I was feeling, even after having an epidural. “She’s pushing like she never had an epidural”, I remember her saying. But she was also super impressed with how well I pushed. “Is she or was she an athlete?” she asked Ivor. I guess there’s a good reason they say being active and fit before and during pregnancy does pay off lol. In any case…I didn’t really care how impressed she was. It hurt and I wanted to give up. I wanted a C-Section. I wanted her out. As soon as humanly possible.
Before I know it, the doctors are there in scrubs and masks and the bright light is shining down on me and shockingly, my husband is still conscious and by my side (he even put oil on the baby’s head before she came out- way to go Ivor! We assumed he’d be passed out on the floor, or in a bed in the room next door by now). He was such a trooper. I, on the other hand, started screaming bloody murder at this point. I’ve seen baby stories on TV where moms bear down and push in breathless silence. Not me. I’m a screamer. I’m pretty sure all of L&D heard me. They don’t call it the “ring of fire” for nothing. Man alive! It hurt.
But then this happened at 6:12pm:
And those 19 long hours seemed like a blur. She was finally here and healthy! She was so alert and content and perfect. We fell in love with her immediately. How could you not? Look at that face!! I found out later that the cord had been wrapped around her neck when she came out, which is why she looks a little pale/blue in this picture. But she was fine and quickly turned a nice healthy pink! During that first hour, I had the chance to nurse her. She latched on like a champ. Like she’d been doing it her whole life 🙂 It was a great bonding moment for us.
And then I ate chocolate cake. I hadn’t slept or ate anything throughout this whole ordeal. I was hungry. And thirsty. So the nurse brought me dinner and chocolate cake and juice. And I ate it while Gwen bonded with daddy and then met Gramma and Pop-Pop (who had been in the waiting room the majority of the time).
Now, here we are- 6 days later at home with our little girl (who’s currently snoozing away in her swing). We’re already amazed at how much she can do. All of her facial expressions and little smirks. The way she raises one arm up in the air, which I’m trying to capture in a photo because she does it ALL the time, except when I have a camera out. Everytime she does it I hear “FOR NARNIA!!!!” in my head. It’s adorable. She also has great head control for an infant…maybe it’s normal, but I didn’t think they could lift their heads up for quite some time. She’s already doing it, for a few seconds at a time of course. But lifting it up and looking from side to side- I love it!
She’s going to be doing new things and changing so much, so quickly. So I hope to use this blog to write down and share the memories. For me and Ivor, for our families and friends who live far away, and for anyone else who cares to read.
God has blessed us with Gwendolyn Jane and we are so thankful to Him. She is a gift.
Gwendolyn Jane Griffiths
Born 3-23-13 at 6:12pm
7lbs. 2oz, 19inches long
Santa Clara, CA