Maria May Vallette was born on Saturday, June 24th (one day before the Garth Brooks concert -because, duh-). Here’s how it went down:
On Friday (the day before she was born) I was exhausted and starting to worry a little because the baby hadn’t been super active. I spent most of the day laying around the house not having much energy. I felt like a huge hippopotamus and I was super constipated. Around 2 in the afternoon I was finally able to poop and immediately got a huge burst of energy. (It’s amazing what a good poop can do, eh?)I decided to clean the entire house. Marvin got home and saw me in a cleaning frenzy and made a joke about me going into labor. At one point he called to me from the living room: “What are you doing?” I was in the bathroom cleaning it (something I have done the day before each of my kids were born). Marvin said “uh oh, did you call your mom and tell her to be ready because you’re cleaning the bathroom?” I told him he was being silly–I just happened to have energy and wanted to clean. (The denial runs strong.)
We went to bed that night and I could not sleep (which was not that strange for me at this point). At around 1 AM I was finally able to fall asleep, but I woke up at 4:30 AM (only a few hours later) thanks to a painful contraction. I got up to pee. Contractions were no big deal at this point. I had them off and on. Nothing new there. When I stood up it felt like my pubic bone was being ripped in half. Hmph. Weird. That was new. Did the baby’s head drop? I got back in bed and had more contractions. They weren’t close together, but they were painful enough to not be Braxton Hicks. When the kids got up, we got up. I was exhausted from not sleeping so Marvin and I had coffee. I kept contracting. They were not coming together and were not getting more intense. I had maybe one or two an hour. Marvin kept pushing for me to sell our Garth Brooks tickets but I was hesitant because the contractions seemed so sporadic. I thought it might be another few days of random contractions so we decided to go on with our day like we normally would.
Elaina had swim lessons that morning and after we went to Pitt Grill for breakfast and then did some grocery shopping at Wal Mart. The contractions never got closer together and they came randomly, but they did not stop. When we got home from Wal Mart we had lunch and put on a movie for the kids. Marvin and I decided to try to see if we could speed things along so we had some “alone time.” (For anyone who doesn’t get subtleties, that means we had sex. We’re all adults here. We can say the word sex, right? We said the word poop two paragraphs ago. We’re basically family at this point. Anyway, moving on.)
The kids were occupied with their movie so we decided to rest after our “alone time” and watch a movie. During the movie I had what seemed like slightly closer together contractions- maybe every 15ish minutes. The contractions still weren’t doing a great job of coming together but every once in a while they would hurt badly enough that I had to breathe through them.
Around 2 PM we decided to head over to my mom’s house so she could watch the kids while we walked around her neighborhood to get things moving along. We got to my mom’s and hung out with her for a bit. Marvin and I noticed that the contractions only seemed to be getting closer together when I was standing up or walking around. When I sat down the contractions slowed way down. I was exhausted from not sleeping the night before so I didn’t really feel like standing up and walking around all day. Eventually Marvin talked me into going for a walk outside.
It was hot outside and I only had one or two contractions while we were out there but they hurt. We only made one lap before heading back inside. It was too hot and I didn’t want people to see me squatting like a crazy woman and breathing.
We visited with my mom for a little bit and then I started to wonder if being around the kids (and breaking up fights and changing diapers and getting them snacks) was stalling my labor. At this point it was 5PM and I had been contracting for about 12 hours, and for 12 hours they still hadn’t done a great job of coming together or getting stronger. I asked my mom if it would be ok for Marvin and I to go home for the two hours before it was the kids’ bed time to see if things would step up a notch. She said that was fine and we agreed if things didn’t happen we would be back around 7 to pick them up.
On the ride home I asked Marvin to stop at WalMart to get a new exercise ball (aka birth ball) because the one we had was too small and it wasn’t comfortable for me to sit on. When we got to our parking spot I had a contraction so strong I had to hop out of the car and squat holding on to the door breathing and swaying. I really, really hoped to not have any more contractions while inside WalMart because having to stop in the middle of aisle 3 to squat and breathe would be really embarrassing. We found the balls quickly and hurried to the check out line. The cashier asked me when I was due. “On Thursday,” I responded. Marvin piped in, “actually, we’re in labor right now.” She looked at us like it was weird or something for people to be shopping at WalMart during labor. (ha!) Luckily, I did not have any contractions inside the store. At this point we both knew we would be having a baby within the next day or so.
We grabbed a movie from RedBox and made it back to the car just in time for a contraction to hit. We got home and Marvin blew up the birth ball and I put on the movie. I sat on the birth ball and watched the movie. Marvin timed my contractions. They still weren’t very close together, but they hurt and I did have to close my eyes and hum and move around on the ball. Around 7:00 the movie was almost over. The contractions still weren’t close together, but they were hurting badly enough that I had to hop off the birth ball and hum and sway when they came. The humming helped the pain. I imagined my baby’s head pressing against my cervix and my cervix opening during each contraction. Remembering that this was pain for a purpose helped me to deal with the pain. At this point I figured we would be going to pick up the kids to put them to bed at our house. I imagined I would have the baby tomorrow some time (or maybe even during the night). I did not feel like I was close to meeting my baby.
I had one contraction and hopped off the ball and swayed and hummed and at the peak of the pain I felt a little pop. I opened my eyes and pulled down my pants and told Marvin that I thought my water broke. My water had never broken this early before. (I usually have my water broken by the doctor when I’m ready to start pushing.) Marvin freaked out a bit. I ran to the bathroom and Marvin followed and when I sat down on the toilet water was flowing out of me. Yep, my water was broken. Marvin started running around the house and asked what he was supposed to do. I told him to get me a diaper from the hospital bag. (I wear adult diapers after birth instead of those huge pads.) He ran out of the bathroom and stubbed his toe and told me we were going to the hospital now. I asked him if he was sure and he said “yes, that’s weird, you don’t just stay home after your water breaks.” Oh, you don’t? Ok.
In my head it still felt too early. I felt completely normal in between contractions. Normally, I know it’s time to go to the hospital when I am not in the mood to chit chat in between contractions. (The contractions are normally so intense by this point I have to stay in the right frame of mind between them in order to be able to handle them when they come.) I was nowhere near that point now. Marvin seemed serious about going, though, so we did. I texted my mom to let her know that we were headed to the hospital. It was 7:15 PM. I told Marvin not to let me get disappointed if I got to the hospital and was only at 3 cm or something. I talked obsessively about how the number meant nothing and that things can go from 0 to 100 quickly–I was trying to psyche myself up for whatever happened at the hospital.
On the 10 minute drive to the hospital I had only one contraction. We got there and Marvin filled out papers and I walked around the waiting room breathing and swaying through the contractions. I had alot of contractions in the waiting room (probably because I was up and walking). I was not timing them any longer but I would guess they were around 5 minutes apart now, maybe even closer. We went upstairs to our room and met the nurse. Her name was Joni. She was really nice. She checked me and I was at 5 cms. I tried not to let myself be disappointed but I was. My contractions slowed down again.(Probably because I was sitting on the birth ball).
I knew my doctor was out of town and I asked her how the on call doctor was. She said that she had not worked many natural labors with the on call doctor and that he had a habit of making the nurses wait when they called him to come in. Joni told me not to worry that if he missed the delivery she was perfectly capable of catching the baby. I was not worried that he would miss the delivery. It was 8:00 at night and I knew we were here too soon. I had been in labor since 4:30 AM. This was my fourth baby and I had only progressed 3 cms in over 12 hours (I was 2 cms at my last doctor appointment). I got myself comfortable on the birth ball and was hooked up to the monitors for 20 minutes per hospital policy. In between contractions I answered Joni’s questions and made jokes with her and Marvin. I hated that we were here so soon. I wish I would’ve labored at home longer. It was now around 8:30 PM and I stood up to go to the bathroom and water poured out of me. Well, this sucks. I made a comment about how much more convenient it was to be in labor with your water intact. This was messy!
I waddled to the bathroom with a towel in between my legs and sat on the toilet to pee. I was immediately surprised: with my last three babies I could not physically sit on the toilet while in labor. The pressure was so unbearable that I had to stand and hover over the toilet and let the pee fall out of me, but now sitting on the toilet actually felt good–much better than sitting on the birth ball. I didn’t feel any pressure at all. I decided I wanted to live on the toilet even after I finished peeing. Marvin hated this and was scared I would have the baby on the toilet. I “knew” I was nowhere near having this baby and I assured him it was fine. Every once in a while I would try to get off the toilet and make my way back to the birth ball but I hated everything and everyone. The toilet was my only friend. It understood me.
I labored on the toilet for the rest of the time. Marvin gave me sips of water in between contractions. I was tired and thirsty and I kept telling Marvin that I wished I had slept the night before because I felt like I had no energy. I asked him to bring me a pillow so I could lay my head against the wall while I sat on the toilet. Toilet naps happened in between contractions.
Out of nowhere the contractions got really bad. Through each contraction I just said the f word the whole time. Like, I probably said five thousand “fucks.” (Sorry for the language, but it’s what actually happened.) This was really unlike me. I am not a big cusser in everyday life and generally during labor I just moan, but, for some reason, cussing felt right. I spent the next hour sitting on the toilet and swaying and breathing and cussing. In between contractions I drank water and laid on the pillow and closed my eyes.
I started to notice that if I put a little bit of pressure behind the contractions it helped the pain. (This is something my Bradley method instructor told me when we took the class. Thank GOD for that woman. I never would’ve thought to do that and it helped with the pain tremendously.) I told Joni I needed her to check me and see where we were. Marvin asked if I was sure. I said yes. I waddled to the bed and Joni checked me and said I was an 8. I said “I must be in transition because I just want this to end.” Joni was so sweet. She commented that I was doing a great job. I walked back to the amazing toilet and had a few more contractions. I asked Marvin for water and he said “here, this might be the last time you can drink water.” I got aggravated. Was there a water drinking limit? I asked him why and he said “I don’t know, because.” I was confused. No one better take my water away.
I noticed I could feel the baby descending in my pelvis. I’ve never felt this before with my other labors. I waddled to the bed and asked Joni to check me again. She started to check me and then I had a contraction and I jumped up on all fours. I asked her if I was complete. She replied that she didn’t get to feel all the way around. She watched me have one contraction and said “I’m pretty sure you’re complete.” I asked her what I should do. She said we would do whatever I wanted. I said I wanted to push. She said “well, I think we should wait for the doctor if we can.” I told her I could. I had two more contractions on all fours on the bed and all of a sudden I could no longer wait. I yelled “I’m puuuuuuushing! I can’t help it.”
I have read many birth stories where the women say that their body started pushing and there was nothing they could’ve done to stop it. I had never experienced this before. Pushing with my 3 others felt very controlled. It was deliberate. Not this time. I felt out of control.
I am on all fours in the hospital bed and my body is pushing this baby out and there is no doctor in sight. I am confused because literally an hour ago I was upset that we were at the hospital “too early.” I did not want to push the baby out on all fours but the thought of laying on my back in the bed seemed impossible. I could not make myself move. So, I’m on all fours and my body is pushing and I hate it. It feels like my butt bones are breaking in half. I tell Marvin that I want to lay down. I tell him to please help me. He picks me up in the air and I wonder why I’m in the air and I ask him what he’s doing and he says “be careful don’t sit on the baby’s head, it’s poking out.” And I freak out. “What?!?! You can see the baby’s head?” He lays me down and I push one time on my back and I feel the ring of fire and I say “it burns.” Marvin says “that’s good that means it’s almost over, keep pushing” and I push and the baby’s head comes completely out and Marvin says “the head is out, give one more big push” and I wonder why Marvin knows what to do and why the nurse isn’t saying anything. I start to wonder if he might be wrong, maybe he’s confused about how this whole thing works, so I look at Joni and ask “do I keep pushing?” she looks at me confused and says yes and then I push and the baby shoots out of me. It is 9:30 PM. (Only an hour and a half after we first set foot in the hospital.) The baby is so tiny and RED and perfect looking. The baby has a head full of black hair and I ask Marvin if it’s a boy or girl and he looks and it’s a girl. I knew it!!!
I look at this beautiful little girl and I say “Marvin, look at her! She’s beautiful. Her name is Eva!” Marvin says “Are you sure? That’s kind of a random name, we never really talked about that name.” I am insulted that he would doubt my mom intuition. “Yes, Marvin, I just KNOW her name is Eva. Like, I feel it! She’s an Eva!”
I wrap sweet Eva up in a blanket and she nurses and I am so happy. I keep telling everyone that I cannot believe it’s over. The doctor walks in and stops dead in his tracks when he sees me holding a baby. “Sorry!” I say and he says “I knew that was going to happen.” He asks me to give him a second so he can suit up and examine me for tears. The nurses start pulling down the stirrups. I know there is no way I can get my legs into the stirrups nor do I want to. I ask the doctor if he can just examine me with my legs on the bed. I say “I promise I’ll spread eagle.” He looks at me as if that’s a weird thing for a woman to say (ha!)
He checks me out and I did not tear. It’s time to birth the placenta and the doctor starts pulling on the cord. I ask him if he wants me to give a little push and he says “NO! I’ve seen that turn out ugly before. Last time a woman pushed the placenta ended up flying across the room.” I am confused because my doctor always has me push the placenta out and none of my placentas have ever flown across the room.
A few hours go by and Eva is given a bath and Marvin goes to pick up dinner for us. I text all of our family and friends a picture of our sweet little Eva with the caption “Eva Marie Vallette was born at 9:30!” We are moved to the recovery room. I wake Eva up every 2 hours to nurse and I cannot sleep in between nursing sessions. I cannot sleep because during our nursing sessions I look down at her and she does NOT look like an Eva anymore. I freak out. I freak out alone about this until 3AM when I cannot handle it any longer and wake up Marvin. Marvin tells me not to worry, to get some sleep and we will talk about it in the morning. I cannot handle this rationally and I tell him I won’t be able to sleep unless we change her name. I ask him what he thinks about Marie. In his sleepy state he says Maria. I ask him if he’s sure. He says yes. I am sure, too. Marvin goes back to sleep. Maria is this baby’s name. I do what any sane person would do and text everyone at 3 AM “oops, name change! Meet Maria May” (as if something so important could wait until people are actually awake).
So, that’s the story of Maria’s birth! My contractions were so spread out that I had no idea I was even in active labor until transition, I said the f word for an hour straight, the doctor missed the delivery and, for a hott minute, she was named Eva. Until next time, my friends!