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My Story: Cora's birth story. We have told the story over and over and each time it makes me smile a little more. Each time I remember a new detail that I forgot the time before, so I figured the more time that added up, I'd be able to have all the details, the good, the bad, and the ugly ones as I did with Liam's birth story. So, feel free to read on, I can't promise it will be complete and I'll remember everything and I can't promise that anyone would want to read it, but I know I need to write it.
So, again, I'll start similar to how I started Liam's story - in the end, we have a healthy and wonderful baby - and that is all that mattered. But, I will say that this time, we had other ideas. We went through so much with Liam that we didn't want to have happen, we knew what we wanted this time and we were going to do what we had to do to get it. I spent a lot of time the last few weeks I was pregnant being worried about what happened last time - about having to be induced, about being stuck in the hospital, about not having any control over just about anything, about the doctor's not really being on my side, about Sean being injured and unable to give me what I needed - the list went on and on. And I continued to worried. At some point, I knew I had to release that worry - I'm not sure when it happened, or what was the key for me to letting go - but it must have happened and my body decided it would be ready to have this little girl - more ready than any of us knew.
I felt my first contraction, twinge at about 4:11 PM. It was on my way home from work, it wasn't painful, just a feeling that continued pretty regularly for the ride home. It wasn't enough for me to be concerned, I mostly thought it was fake, so I didn't tell anyone. I finally got home and I mentioned to Sean that I was feeling things. We decided to go get some dinner at the local mac and cheese place and I went with something a little spicy just in case she needed some extra push to be ready to come out. We came home, I decided perhaps I should start timing things as they were getting a little stronger. Liam finally went to sleep, I laid down to try and see if that would slow anything down or stop anything that wasn't actually happening. No change, the contractions were coming about every 3 or 4 minutes and lasting about 45 seconds - and getting more painful, rather just more forceful.
This was at about 9:00 PM when we went upstairs - or not, I actually have no idea about a time line on anything - funny enough, we didn't even really notice what time she was born at, but that's for later in the story. So, no time line here, just contractions that kept happening - over and over, stronger and stronger. I laid down, I was on my hands and knees, I was on the exercise ball, I was on the floor, I was leaning over my dresser and just about anywhere else were I was able to relieve a bit of pain. This continued for most of the night, I got in the tub/shower at some point and that seemed to help. Liam woke up a few times so Sean was able to get in bed with him and take a couple of short naps - not for me, for me it was non-stop contractions.
Once I got out the shower, I knew I needed to do something to get through the rest of this. And to be honest, Sean and I both thought we had plenty of time to get to the hospital and have this baby, so neither of us were in a huge rush. We figured we'd wait until about 6:00 AM, take Liam to day care early and go have the baby - simple enough. And if we learned anything from Liam, it's that no kid goes by any plan you have - for birth and for the rest of their lives.
So, at some point, I found what I called my zone, whatever that was, it was a time where I was able to relax a bit, calm down and perhaps even close my eyes in between the contractions. They were still coming, just as strong and fast, but I found a place to go to to get away from it. This was during a longer time period that Sean was with Liam and I was in my dark bedroom, listening to some relaxing Pandora station that Sean put on. I laid down on my side for the small break and sat up during the contractions, I leaned my legs forward and shifted my weight back and forth and somehow, this all helped - somehow things slowed down in my world and I was able to calm down and looking back, progress even farther. At some point, though, I was done - done with my calm place, done with being alone, done with being pregnant and in labor. I wanted to quit...I had no idea what that meant, but I was done. I went to get Sean and he joined me back in our room. It was so crazy and awesome to be in the comforts of home for all of this - no one coming in to check how far I have progressed, no one attaching things to check the baby, just me, trusting my body and my partner to do what we needed to do - when I didn't want to quit, of course. So, at this point, Sean started to think it was time to get going, but also we thought we'd have plenty more time - after all, Liam took 2 and 1/2 days to come. Sean suggested I get back in the tub after he saw the pain I was in.
He got the water and tub ready for me and I headed in. It was a tough time - again, not sure how long it all lasted, but it was a while. I tried to move from position to position to get more comfortable, there was no way for me to be that was comfortable as I moved through my contractions. At some point, I found some side lying position, half hanging out of the tub that got me through another set of progression as I like to think of it. At some point, Sean tried to make me eat...which was something I really wanted to make sure I was able to do in labor - both with Liam and this time. The doctors advise against it saying that if you get sick, that is unpleasant in labor - and they certainly were right. Thankfully, Liam's potty chair was close enough for me to throw up in there. And even at the time, I found it a little funny that I got sick. It's even funnier now - something the doctors really felt strongly about - and I said screw that and paid the price.
Anyways, as I got through that, I couldn't go back to getting comfortable. My body was ready or done or not sure what, but I had let go and trusted that my body and Sean knew what was best. So, I got out of the tub, after a few more contractions and being super cold and super hot, all within about 15 seconds on each other and sat on the toilet. It was at this point, I felt like I wanted to push. Sean told me to go ahead and start, he assumed I'd be pushing for a while. Liam was awake at this point, coming in to check on mommy and needing us to get to sleep. Sean called Miss Sharon - who is Liam's day care and is just down the block. She was going to head up so we could head to the hospital.
As Sean told me that we were mostly ready to go, just needed me to get ready, I knew I had no desire to be in a car at all. I was in some serious pain and wanting to push - this was not something I wanted. We joked about waiting long enough to have the baby in the car, but I didn't really think we'd get to that point. But we were at that point, the point where she was coming no matter where we were.
I'm pretty sure anyone and in the near area would have woken up when I decided it was time to push. I read at some point to tap into your primal instincts during birth and I certainly did that - to say there was a bit of screaming during my pushing would be an understatement. Liam came in to check on mommy - I think he was just curious as to what was happening - thankfully he didn't freak out or cry and he was happy to come downstairs and watch a movie.
At some point, I got back into the tub, decided to try and be on all fours for a bit, just in case I was having back labor and she was sunny side as Liam was, it's supposed to be better that way. So, at this time, Sean is downstairs turning the TV on for Liam, I am upstairs pretty much having a baby, being worried that perhaps something is wrong. Nothing in my body told me anything was wrong, it was just a fear placed there - like what a huge mistake we made by not getting medical attention if something was wrong. By this time, Sean came back up and was able to see her head. He assured me nothing was wrong, she was coming out the right way and to keep pushing. I sat back down and pushed out baby Cora. Sean worked hard to ensure she was delivered correctly, that she looked well, that she was pinking up, all the medical things he should be doing. He found some string to tie off the umbilical cord between Cora and I, he put her on my chest and we both looked at each other, mostly in disbelief.
And in that moment it was all right and worth it. We didn't have a million doctors and nurses telling us what to do, we didn't have anyone, we just had each other. I remember looking at Sean and trying to figure out if it was over, if she was all right, if what really happened just happened. I sat there, in the tub with Cora on my chest and the moment seemed to freeze. The moment Sean looked down and knew she was all right, the moment she arrived. And the only way she arrived the way she did was due to me trusting - trusting myself and my body and trusting Sean to deliver our baby. Time stood still, I didn't think about anything other than we just had a baby, in the most natural possible way, doing things the way women are meant to do things. It was amazing, and still hasn't sunk in. She laid on me, she cuddled, she tried to nurse...all the things we wanted. She was awake and alert and scared and happy to be in the world with us. It is still hard to put into words how it all felt - perhaps it will sink in one day, perhaps it will take a lifetime to sink in, but regardless, it was amazing, unreal and spectacular.
Sharon arrived and brought Liam upstairs to meet his baby sister. She was so happy to be a part in her small way of the miracle that happened. Liam went to get some toys to try and share with Cora right away. I finally snapped out of some daze of joy and realized we had no idea what time she was born at, did some back tracking from when we called Sharon and decided on 5:53 AM. I sat there, in the tub, in such a wonderful moment. My family was all with me, at home and Sean and I worked together as the best team possible. I love when I get to work with him on things and there was no way I would have gotten through any of this without him, his belief in me, his medical knowledge and his confidence to know we could do it together.
We finally got out of the tub, and snuggled the rest of the day on the couch. There were plenty of insurance phone calls to make and thankfully Sean took care of those. We had to take Cora to see a doctor that day to make sure she was all right. She weighed in at 7.25 pounds and 18.9 inches. A nurse came the next day to check on her again and all seemed to check out. Sean worked through the system of getting all those things figured out and I'm sure we have plenty more to figure out.
But at this point, all I know is that we did things how we wanted, while it wasn't how we planned, we were able to have the most natural possible experience for Cora and us. She has been a champ in just about every way possible so far...I'm sure that will change, but I have to believe that trusting my body to do what it was made to do was a huge step in this process, of her being well, of us bonding well, of all the positives we feel with her at this time.
I am still completely overwhelmed with joy at how things happened, how everything turned out and how lucky we were. I should also say that I feel very lucky that there were no medial issues that we ran into in order to have this amazing experience. My heart is happy and full of love with our family of four. Watching Sean as a dad to a newborn again makes my heart swell with love. I fill with such pride for Liam when he talks about how much he loves his new sister. I know we were worried before we had her, how would the love grow - but love is like that, there is no limit to it, no way to explain how it grows, how it all works, but it is there, and stronger than ever, for my little girl, for my big boy and for my husband, my best friend, my partner in all of this Sean. Life is good today. I know we had a couple rough patches and I'm sure there are more to come, but right now, I'm still so full of happiness and love, that the rest of that doesn't seem to matter. And all because I let go and trust.
Susan Foege | Colorado | Mama to Liam - 2 and 1/2, Cora - 5 months | Connect with Susan here on her personal blog