March 24, 2015

She's Here! Happy Birthday Winifred Jane!

Well it has been one week since we welcomed our precious Winnie Jane into the world. She has truly lived up to her name: Winifred Jane. Winifred means "Blessed Peace" and Jane means "Gift from God."  She is a very peaceful baby thus far, and certainly a gift from God!

The story of her birth was not all that peaceful at times, yet here goes my best attempt at recalling it all, complete with gory (or awesome) details, so read on at your own risk:

Day one of contractions!
On Saturday March 14th, I started to get some contractions that begged my attention. They weren't so serious that I couldn't continue on with my day, and they were certainly not that close together, but they were definitely more significant than the Braxton Hicks contractions I had been experiencing for the past few months.  They were a very welcome occurrence, since by this point I was sitting at 41 weeks and 3 days.  They reminded me a lot of the contractions I had experienced with Leopold a day before he arrived, but I knew I had to be realistic and not expect too much from them, since I had been in labor three days before Leopold came into the world.  

Well I wasn't surprised at all when they dissipated later that evening, and seemed to disappear altogether if I decided to relax. Needless to say, I spent a lot of time walking. I walked all over my neighborhood, making sure to hit up as many cul-de-sacs as possible for the benefit of doing curb walking. There are strangely no curbs around these parts except in the cul-de-sacs! I'm sure this odd practice of walking with one foot up on the curb and the other in the gutter was amusing to my neighbors as I bobbled along in front of their houses.  The contractions picked up with my walks, but petered out shortly after I would return home...this went on all of Sunday as well. Monday morning, however, the contractions that woke me up at 4am had more punch. I rocked on my hands and knees through them and tried to go back to sleep, but failed to do so. Instead I got up and went downstairs, making a full breakfast for me and the boys: ham and eggs!  They seemed to space out a lot from there on out. Andy had been planning to go to work that day, but I asked him not to, I just had a feeling things could get more real considering the increased intensity of the contractions. He obliged, and I went for another chiropractric adjustment.  I had come to depend on these to keep my pelvis balanced out using the Webster right side of my pelvis always gets out of alignment, perhaps because she was persistently Right Occiput Posterior or Transverse for the third trimester, or just because I'm wonky! :)

The contractions were again pretty few and far between, however strong, so I went for another long walk, and when I returned climbed into a nice warm bath, belly down.  I don't know if the bath just helped me relax or what, but I started to get really strong contractions a few minutes after climbing in. When I got out, I thought I noticed a trickle of water on occasion, but I wasn't sure if it was just from bathing or if my water might have broken.  It was never enough to gush or do much about so I assumed it was from the bath. However, the contractions kept getting stronger.   They were still really spaced out, coming maybe 15 minutes apart, sometimes much longer. Heeding to my labor instincts I invited our friends who had agreed to watch our three boys for us during labor and delivery over to enjoy the fire pit in our backyard so they'd be here if things got serious. When they first arrived my contractions were probably 20-30 minutes apart, although they were so strong I had to brace myself and really breathe through them.  After a while I decided to lie down on the couch to test them…if they were to slow down, that would be my cue it might be another night or so. They, instead, started coming more frequently, and they were so intense I started to get the chills and shakes.  I went to the bathroom to discover some bloody show, and decided to call the on-call midwife. My midwife to-be was Amber Price, a Godsend in my delivery and my labor! Her calm voice, when confronted with my shaky description of my condition said something along the lines of “come on in and we can see how things are going.” I was elated as I hung up the phone and told Andy to get our things…at least I would find out if these last few days of labor had done anything to progress things. I was uncontrollably shaking and freezing at this point…I’m not sure if I was in shock from the pain or if I was just exciting myself, but the intensity of the contractions were certainly more than I remember for my previous labors…perhaps because of her posterior position, or perhaps because, like some say, each progressive labor can be more painful. I certainly wasn’t as well composed as I was for my two previous spontaneous labors. 

When we arrived and checked in, shortly before midnight, we found the labor room to be pleasantly low-lit with soothing ambient melodies playing softly in the background. My contractions were still about 15 or so minutes apart I think. The magical Mrs. Price checked me to find me at 4cm, almost 5cm (I don’t remember how effaced I was) and she said Winnie’s head was really low. At my last check on Friday, the day before contractions had started, I had still only been about 2cms and -3 station. So this was progress!

I had the urge to pee what seemed like constantly and I remember feeling like with each contraction that my bladder was just being pulverized…I think my contractions this time around somehow irritated my bladder because that pain stuck with me in the after pains that kept up for a few days after Winnie’s birth.  I was given some fluids, I seemed a bit dehydrated, and attempted to rest. I don’t know how long I tried to rest, but I don’t think it was more than an hour at most.  On one of my subsequent trips to the restroom, I got a contraction so strong I couldn’t move, walk, or talk, I could only cry out in pain and hold my belly…I think this is when the tears started, and my lovely midwife gave me the suggestion to labor on my hands and knees on the bed. This was right after she attempted to find a bag of waters to break but didn’t seem to find anything to grab on to. She mentioned it might have broken when I thought it did in the bath earlier that afternoon.  So on my knees, with my arms hanging over the back of the bed, this is how I spent the next hour or so I would guess, the contractions were so much more painful than my previous labors, and I was not impressed with my inability to breathe through some of them without feeling a little panicked. The only thing that seemed to help was light touch on my back as I swayed back and forth.  Nausea came and went several times.  

Eventually Amber suggested I try laboring in the labor stool on the bed, and it was a bit more comfortable. After a while (my conception and memory of time and facts is all very hazy for most of this) we decided to see what the progress was, and she found me to be 7-8 cm if I remember correctly.  It was at this point, I believe, that she showed what her “magic hands” were capable of.  She was able to gently lift Winnie’s head and help her to rotate into an anterior position for birth, she had to hold her steady there for a while until another contraction came that would lock her down in that spot.

Just from having her head in the right spot things started to move quicker, her head had started to descend more even before the contraction that set her in place. I labored in that position for what felt like a really long time, because at this point I’m pretty sure I was in transition.  I started to get very weary, my whole body was just so spent after days of bad sleep and painful intermittent battles with contractions. So, considering how soft and conducive to labor my cervix was, Amber helped the process along, applying slight pressure to the cervix which melted completely away with very little prodding. I was 10 cm! Hallelujah!

Pushing lasted all of six minutes, but felt more like an hour to me. I pushed harder than I ever remember pushing with my other babies…although I think you always feel like that in the moment. That pain is always an insurmountable feeling. I remember when she was crowning, Amber asking if I wanted to reach down and touch her, I tried but don’t remember if I was successful, I just seemed to want to exert no more effort at this point. I remember being asked if I wanted to reach down and help her up too and just feeling like I couldn’t handle any more than just getting her out at that point, and I declined.  Ha-ha! I felt so pathetic.  I seized up in pain at the end and was trying not to push as per instructions given by the nurses and Amber, and had a hard time not doing so…I guess I listened though, and in the next push she was out! Sweet relief! I was kind of in shock and disbelief when I was handed her, and was told to rub her gently because apparently all instinct had kind of left me at that point, I felt like a space cadet.


Those sweet moments, when she was first in my arms were so cathartic and amazing. I remember just looking at Andy, Amber, and the nurses and just feeling so incredibly grateful to have had them there supporting me.  I don’t know how I would have mustered the strength or wherewithal without them. God bless midwives! Their knowledge and instincts and experience: priceless! Winnie was so perfect and beautiful.  Once the cord stopped pulsing, it was cut, and Amber had to kind of negotiate with what was left of my bag of waters to get the remnants out…at least I think that was what she said…like I said, space cadet!  She also said the cord had been wrapped around her neck twice. Poor baby! No wonder she stayed in ROP/ROT position despite all my efforts…she couldn’t move easily most likely!

One funny point in the after birth experience: Just like her big brother Leopold, Winnie marked me as her mommy shortly after delivery. She peed all over me! But that wasn’t enough, she had to trump her big bro. Unbeknownst to me she also pooped all over me.  And this was no petite poo! I was completely covered in meconium…it's a good thing events like this don’t phase you at all after going through labor, ha!

Great recovery room experience, even great food at VCU!
Ok. Well there you have it. Winifred Jane Schwartz, born March 17th (St. Patrick’s Day!) at 3:55am, 8lbs. 5oz. and 20 inches long at 41 weeks and 6 days. One week later and she weighed exactly the same today at her checkup. She is a champion nurser, great sleeper, and sweet in every way.  She is incredibly loved by her older brothers as well as all her extended and church family.  What a little blessing and gift from God!

Scenes from her first week:

So loved!

I set up a little photo shoot to practice my photography on our princess...I love how they turned out!
This was my dress when I was a baby :)