It is Lilian’s birthday week and I seriously cannot believe a year has passed since she arrived. In some ways, it’s hard to even remember life before she was here and in other ways, every day I wake up completely surprised that she’s actually mine! All week I’ve been remembering her birth and the crazy events that led up to it and since I’ve never actually blogged about it, I thought now is as good as time as ever. So get ready for the story that almost never ended…the story of Lilian Emmanuelle Cruz!
Lilian’s due date was never really clear. At first, it was Jan. 24th. I switched from my OBGYN to a midwife group and once I did that, they moved her date to Feb. 1st…however, I knew that wasn’t right because if you did the math, Kyle was out of town and from what I hear, babies can’t be made without their daddy! Anyway, I immediately loved working with the midwives. They listened to what I wanted for my birthing experience and I knew they would do anything they could to support me. While I would be birthing in a hospital, I wanted a waterbirth and to have the most “unmedical” birth possible. Like most first-time mommies, I was all about the birthing experience–little did I know that mine experience would be one for the books! Literally!
About three weeks before my due date, I was devastated to discover a new lump in my right leg. I had been completely clear for well over a year so the news was heartbreaking. What followed was pretty chaotic…back to my surgeon, back to the oncologist, back to the overseeing OBYGN of the midwife group. After lots of discussion and an amnio to determine whether her lungs were fully developed, it was decided that I would be induced. Not my ideal choice but being that I knew cancer was in my body, I just wanted her OUT. The midwives assured me I could still have a somewhat “natural” birth so I agreed that this was the best choice.
So, at 38 weeks, I checked into the hospital. My family had come down from TN and like a big herd, we sat in the waiting room for a room to open. My midwife warned that inductions could take awhile and the baby probably wouldn’t be there for a day or so. Ha. Ok. So, I got checked in and a few hours later one of the midwives came into give me a rundown on what would happen. I was 2 cm dilated and 50% effaced at the start so I would get cervidil overnight to try and make my body more prepared for labor. So, got that around 8pm and they gave me a sleeping pill to try and rest. So, with Kyle on that uncomfortable chair beside me, it all started. Within a few hours, I started feeling contractions. To my surprise, they felt nothing–and I mean NOTHING–like I expected. They were 100% in my lower back. I could barely lean back or sit down because any additional pressure was just unacceptable. Finally, the nurse came in to check my progress. Still 2 cm but now 100% effaced. She said the cervidil had done it’s job and that they would now start the pitocin on the lowest dose possible and slowly increase it throughout the day. Contractions were still about 3-5 minutes apart and completely in my back. Hours and hours passed. Late afternoon the midwife comes in to check me and to my SHOCK, I had somehow regressed. I was now 1 cm (excuse me, ?) and back to 80% effaced. While I really liked all the midwives in the group, this one needs some delivery help and I felt less than encouraged. She said we needed to repeat the cervidil and we’d try again tomorrow.
So, repeat the above..exactly. The entire time, contractions continued 2-5 min apart and 100% in my lower back. Woke up the next morning and started pitocin…all day long. Contractions intensified. Every time I got checked I was the exact same. No progress. I took a “pit break” so I could eat and shower and continued on low dose pitocin during the night. I got NO sleep because the contractions were so painful. I watched the clock all night and finally, morning arrived and a new midwife came in. She came in and she gave us her advice: GO HOME. I seriously couldn’t believe this was happening! What did she mean, go home?! She basically said my body just wasn’t ready for labor and in the last weeks, a week makes a difference. And if I didn’t want a c-section, I should go home,wait a week, and come back.
In all my life, I don’t think I have ever been so upset. I had no idea that an induction could take so long, much less FAIL! So, we packed up and took the drive of shame home. I had left our apartment 4 days earlier thinking I would come home with Lilian and there I was, coming in with all my stuff…except her. It was awful. Kyle kept consoling me, telling me it was fine and it was just few days away…but it seemed so defeating. I mean, my family had been there the whole time waiting and again, it felt like I had failed. Who is on pitocin for over 30 hours and NOTHING happens?!? This girl, apparently. During my week off, I was determined to do everything I could to help my body progress. I walked every day at our church and tried every thing I knew. If I couldn’t get this baby out naturally, it wasn’t gonna be because I didn’t try.
Well, a week passed and I checked back into the hospital on Sunday night. The plan was the same, try cervidil. To make long story somewhat (but not really) shorter, the first two days were exactly the same as before. Cervidil the first two nights and pitocin during the day. When I checked in, I was already having contractions 2-3 minutes apart so they didn’t want to up the pitocin a lot. Because Lil was “sunny side up,” they kept telling me it was just going to take awhile. However, two full days in and only 3 cm dilated left me incredibly frustrated…and exhausted…and convinced that if she didn’t hurry, my spine was going to break open! I had come to terms that if I needed a c-section, it was fine. I was tired of waiting and I couldn’t take much more. So, Wednesday morning arrived and the midwives changed…and thankfully, the midwife on call was the head midwife with over 30 years experience. She came in my room with a big gulp in her hand & asked me point blank, “you don’t want a c-section, do you?” Of course I said no but that nothing was happening. She said she didn’t want to take what the other midwives said and just wanted to check for herself. So, she did her thing and said confidently, “oh, I can feel her head. You can have this baby today.” Excuse me? Seriously, this was the FIRST positive news I’d heard and quite frankly, I didn’t believe her. She readjusted my bed and shoved a couple pillows underneath me and said that she would come back in a few hours and break my water. So, she did. And just like that, labor took off.
Lilian was still sunny side up so every contraction was in my back. I felt nothing in my stomach. No position was comfortable and the pain in my lower back was nothing less that torture! Hours passed and I was sure that I had to be progressing. That evening I was checked and was 5cm. This seemed like a huge success but I was seriously questioning whether or not I could make it without an epi. My whole “birth plan” was long gone and really, I just wanted her here. I ended up getting the epi, which provided immediate relief…on half of my body. Yup, you read it right. The epi worked on my left side but my right…yeah, felt everything. About midnight, things started to get incredibly intense. I seriously thought my pelvis was going to come apart. Kyle could tell something was happening so in true Kyle form, he started cleaning the room. 🙂 The nurse came in around 3 a.m., took one look a me and said, “Oh, I think you’re probably ready.” She checked and I was a 10! WOOHOO! I was so excited, exhausted, and READY. Kyle called my family to come to the hospital, the nurse called the midwife, and it was go time.
Delivery was an entirely different story than labor. Finally, I had a job and I knew she was on her way out. Because the epi was only on one side, it took me a minute to figure out how to manage the pain and use it to our benefit. I pushed for about 30 minutes before they said they could see her head and in one more push, she’d be here. With Kyle beside me and the midwife that had sent us home a week before, we finally met our daughter. Kyle burst into tears as they placed her on my stomach and I laughed at how this tiny, 6-lb baby had been so incredibly determined to arrive in her own way and time. Her eyes were wide open, arms and legs outstretched. In that moment, I could have cared less how long it had taken or what the upcoming weeks and months might look like. This precious LIFE had finally arrived and to us, that was all that mattered.
Looking back, I can’t even believe that I was able have Lilian naturally. Without my amazing midwives and their determination for me to avoid surgery, it simply wouldn’t have happened. In total, I was induced twice, in labor for 7 days, had over 72 hours of pitocin. Lilian’s heart rate remained steady the entire time and after being sunny side up the entire time, flipped right before she was born.
Now, I know it’s a pretty common first time mom mistake to put so much stock in a birth plan. In the grand scheme, it’s not all that important and very rarely goes as planned. However, despite how LONG everything took, her birth was just as I wanted it to be. I was alert, excited, and beyond overjoyed as she opened her eyes and looked at us for the first time.
It’s so hard to believe that year has passed since this crazy experience. She is the world’s best and easiest baby and every day with her is a new adventure. Obviously, I’d do it all again to have this sweet girl in our lives! Happy Birthday, Lilian Emmanuelle Cruz! You are so loved!