A phone call at 11:30p.m. on the 24th came to announce that my 17 year old daughter, Rachel was probably in labor.
She called back some time later to let me know the doctor suggested she go into the hospital. I was exhausted from the week before and I figured it would be awhile and I could catch some more sleep. I told my daughter I would sleep a bit and to keep me posted.
Her husband, Brian happened to be home on leave for a weekend visit, so he was present as well as Brians mom Melonie. Brian is in the Army and soon to be sent to Iraq. That was an aswer to Rachels prayers, him being home as well as her doctor being on call (he was). She was 5 days early too so it all worked out so perfectly.
About 3:40 a.m. Melonie called to update me that she had not really progressed yet and that contractions were truly coming as real labor.
So I told her I would rest a bit more, then come. I do not drive well in the dark especially when I am tired. So I rested aobut 20 more minutes, then awoke and began to tend to the needs of the family and household. I knew it would be a long day away from home. With a large cup of coffee, I was out the door by 5:30 and to the hospital by 6.
Upon arriving, her contractions were coming about every 5 minutes and she was able to breathe through them. She had a couple shots of Nubain to help her relax and sleep between cotnractions. Resting on and off between contractions, Rachie was cheerful, but tired. Brian and Melonie stayed up most of the night sleeping in little spurts or not at all. Melonie and I drank quite alot of coffee that morning trying to keep ourselves awake enough to help anyway we were needed.
About 9 a.m. the dr came to check on Rachel. She had not progressed much so he ordered pitocin to get the contractions stronger.
It took a little while, but the rushes became pretty intense for Rachel and some of them left her in tears. It is very heartbreaking seeing your daughter cry and there is absolutely nothing you can do to make it better. I tried to get in her face and encourage her to breathe through the contractions, but they were to strong, it was hard for her to relax through them. I would breath just as she should hoping she would pick up on my cues.
But would just cry.
It was so familiar.
I remember when I birthed my first child, Robyn. I too was 17 and childbirth literally scared me to pieces. I remember feeling so helpless against the natural course of uterine tightening and pushing the baby down onto the cervix.
I wanted to be done, yet the intense sensations of labor would not stop.Being powerless against them, I cried and screamed during her labor.
I knew what my daughter was up against, and yet I, as well as generations of women before us had endured the very same thing and had come through. Strength is in a womans lifeline and we had to encourage her to tap into that power.
Melonie asked the nurses to give Rachel something more to help her relax.
I really was not in favor of that since she would be so wiped out during delivery, but looking back, Rachie probably needed something to take the edge off.
Once she had progressed to her cervix being dilated to at leat a 4 she could have an epidural. I dont recall exaclty when that was but I think lunch time approximately. I think she was also more dilated than a 4 as well.
Rachel was allowed one person in the room during her epidural and her husband felt it should be me. I was in front of her while the anesthesiologist inserted her spinal catheter and administered pain medication.
I have never had an epidural in any of my 7 births, but I tell ya it sure changes things. I saw that in my oldest daughter when she gave birth to my first grandchild.
Once the medicine began to work, Rachel was able to sleep off and on. She was wore out though adn could only have ice chips.
About 2:30 or so, the nurse encouraged rachel to begin pushing the baby as she gently moved part of her cervix off the baby's head during a contraction.
Rachel was having a difficult time pushing. And not exaclty feeling everything correctly, she at first was using the wrong muscles to push. Her face was shaking and red.
Then the doctor came in and really tried to get Rachel to push harder. Her pushes weren't bringing the baby down enough. Also the babes heartrate was dropping so oxygen had to be administered to Rachel. she had to wear an oxygen mask pretty much teh rest of the delivery.
Then for many pushes the baby did not move any further and the Dr told one of the nurses to get things ready but not to open anything, then this nurse left the room.
I really feel they were preparing for a C section because the doctor told Rachel he would not be able to help her if she could not push harder.
I got into Rachels face right then and firmly said, Rachel you have got to push this baby out hunny. Seriously, I did not want her to know that they were preparing for a section right then, but was hoping she could pick up on my concern that she had to make it happen.
And she did! Brian, Melonie and I continued encouraging her to push hard, we were holding her head and legs in positions she could work with and we were all extremely engaged in the process.
It was intense. I cried a few times seeing the babes head coming through the birth canal. One the baby was past a certain point, it was ok. I saw the doctor grab for instruments to perform an episiotomy. I watched everything going on with my daughters vagina in case she needed to know later. And of course wanting to watch the birth.
I thought I saw the doctor behave as though the baby had been cut during the episiotomy and that memory was lightly etched in my memory as he told the nurses that this one particular instrument that looked like scissors were not sharp and needed to be removed.
We continued to encourage Rachie to push hard. She was doing several sets of 3 pushes for 10 seconds.
And at about 3:31 pm on November 25, Megan Rayne emerged from Rachel body into this world.
She as covered in vernix and had a long cone head. She was very white from all that vernix , gave some cries, and pinked up really quickly.
Her top lip and gums were really prominent at birth and I remember wondering "what side of the family has such large gums and lips"?
I spent the first few minutes with Rachie, then ran over to the table where the baby was and talked with her. It was most amazing because as I spoke with her she responded to my voice. She looked around and listened. If she cried, I spoke and she was quiet.
She also did that with Brian and Melonie. That was amazing.
I rubbed the vernix into her skin as I sat observing her and taking some pictures.
Then the nurses tended to Megan again and I saw Rachel was alone while the doctor stitched up her episiotomy.
So I ran back to Rach to rub her and talk with her.
The doctor was very thorough on stitching her up. I asked how badly she tore and he said about 2 1/2 out of 4 being the worst.
The epidural was not as strong then and Rachel could feel some of the stitching pressure going on as well as a darned hemorrhoid the size of Maine.
She tried to nurse the baby before she was taken to the nursery and Megan latched on! GREAT START!
However, the medication must have hit her belly now that she had room Rachel managed to puke just as I got a hospital tub under her chin. Rachel was afraid to puke with the baby in her arms but I could tell there was no time for me to grab Megan and catch...Baby was fine and after Rachie was sick, she did so much better.
I wiped her face off with a clean cloth and rinsed the pan out.
Then Mama and Baby felt better:)
She was so sweet. So young and yet she had just crossed over into the most intense job of a womans life. Mothering.
That night there must have been 20 people in and out of her room post delivery. It was what she wanted at the time. She did not care who saw what in those hours.
Brian and i watched thorugh the nursery glass when they took the baby for some measurements, apgar checks and first bath. She would cry then quiet. Then cry again.
It seemed like such along time I was apart from Rachel so I went back to her room.
Rachel had enough of sitting in bed so she walked to the nursery to watch them check out Megan. I pushed her IV pole and Rachel was just "zipping along" for a new mother.
They were moved to another room and I left then.
At that point I too was tired, and it was very intense being with my little girl though suffering and triumph. I worried too as I knew breastfeeding was her next challenge and with my lifes work being related to birth and breastfeeding, it was hard to let her make her own choices and maybe mistakes. I chose to leave then so I would not butt into her business.
She made the decision to breastfeed, but bottles were already being encouraged by people around her to be sure the baby was not hungry and I was getting tense. All the research I know of shows that the reason why mothers milk does not come in for a few days is because her baby is not hungry until then. I shared that with her but other voices seemed louder.
I wanted to be sure her baby had that wonderful colostrum to help immune her to bacteria and virus and things colostrum prevents.
It is liquid gold for a baby!
The next day I went to see the family in the hospital and introduce Olivia to Megan.
And what did I see? 2 cuts on megans head. Just as I suspected, her head was cut when the episiotomy was happening. She is fine but jsut goes to show how easily things can happen especially with so much intervention. However, the staff overall was very good with Rach. I am not complaining.
I bought Rachie the Womanly Art Of Breastfeeding published by La Leche League so she woudl have 24 hour access to the questions she may have. The hospital lactation consultant also gave her some info and her numbers for support anytime.
However, 3 days after birth, Megan has had soem formula, but Rachel has not given up on breastfeeding. It has been challenging for her, though. I received a call from Rachie last night and in joy announced "My milk is in"!
As of this writing, Megan is 2.5 days old. Beautiful. All of her family loves her already so much. We were concerned how Olivia, who is my youngest daughter, would accept Megan. Olivia has been the little princess for about 4 years now and even though Ariella took away some of Olivia's novelty, I think we all have been able to show love to all without anyone feeling they are not special to each of us.
I will go spend the day with Rachel today. I am looking forward to it. I do look forward to being with Megan and Brian too, but I am just drawn to Rachel right now. I want to hold her and wrap her with all the love I have for her and help her anyway I can.
For now, we are armed with lanolin, witch hazel extract, calendula and I will make her a hot cup of prenancy tea when I get there for nourishment and uterine toning.
I am a blessed woman