A Labor of Love
Seventy Eight and a half. Please, read that again 78.5 hours...over three days of labor to bring this little boy Earth side. This momma is nothing short of a WARRIOR and I feel so fortunate I was able to witness and capture her journey.
June 15th I got a text from Angelina that she was being checked and her Midwife had decided to keep her at the birthing center overnight.
June 16th, I got a message from Beccy (remember that kick ass doula I mentioned earlier :) ) That labor had officially started and she would be headed up to the BC soon.
Around 4pm, I decided to scoot up there myself, just in case because I didn't want to miss anything, When I arrived, I met Angelina's mother Gretchen, and sisters Bianca and Natalia outside, then ventured into the birthing room. Angelina and Justin were napping in the bed together with Beccy closely watching over them. Every 10 minutes or so, she would stir and begin to have a contraction. Beccy would spring to action, jump onto the bed and press her hips for the pressure to subside, and then back to her chair to watch over them again. Angelina immediately fell back asleep.
The first night was full of laughs, contractions, stories, family, yummy food, more contractions, and lots and lots of love.
More family showed up, Monica her cousin and Dad and brother Nick. Soon the birthing center was completely filled with all of these people!!! Milling about, eating hot wings, cracking jokes and radiating this beautiful peace and happiness.
Most laboring moms want peace, and soft music...their birthing partner, and possibly a doula. Angelina however, thrived in this. It reminded me so much of my childhood with my big, crazy, loud Italian family with absolutely no boundaries and I felt right at home. Her big sister even at one point made sure that she was taken care of by feeding her chicken noodle soup.
And every time a new contraction came she would find her stance, holding on to her incredibly supportive, strong as hell husband, with her fierce doula at her back and she pushed through. Over and over again.
In between there were these moments...moments of joy that I will never forget. Belly laughing with her mom and sisters. Crying laughing at Justin explaining just how crazy it was when the cervical balloon finally came out and Angelina couldn't stop touching EVERYTHING in the bathroom, and the look on Bianca's face as he tried to explain it to everyone. It was fun, and funny, and you could just feel the love in the (albeit very crowded) room.
Soon...Justin, Nick, Bianca and Natalia were all passed out on the birthing bed while Angelina was quietly laboring nearby. Listening to her body, and with the support of Beccy, she walked, and squatted her way through. Inside, outside, on the floor and even in cowboy boots she labored through the night.
Eventually, one by one everyone awoke (excluding Nick of course) and spent some time, supporting and loving on the laboring Momma. Giving her some time, and keeping her going with encouraging words and a sweep of her hair.
Soon the sun began to rise, and coffee runs were afoot! Everyone caffeinated and ready for the day, Angelina walked. She labored in the fresh air, with the sunshine on her face, and her handheld fan always at the ready. Angelina's best friend Camely and her daughter Brinley made an appearance. The group scooted around the neighborhood and everyone got their squats in and even did the Baby Momma dance!
Nearing the evening again, and the mood began to change. No longer were the laughs and stories flowing out of the birthing center, but exhaustion, and concern seemed to fill the place. Everyone could see how tired the soon to be parents were, and delirium was setting in. She hadn't had a break in days, even the small naps that she was given were broken up by her intense contractions, and Justin was woken up to her squeezing and hanging on to him for a little bit of relief.
When the Midwife Lucie came out with her birth assistant after checking Angelina again and rupturing her membranes, with the concoction of teas and castor oil to move things along her labor progressed rather quickly.
Her contractions got even more intense, and the pool began to fill.
The room was dimly lit, and while most of the party waited outside the door...inside, it was a soft and beautiful affair.
What happened next, was one of the most transcendentally gorgeous acts that I have ever been blessed enough to witness...
Lucie the midwife, was observing, and checking and encouraging Angelina along the whole time. Such a voice of reason and knowledge in an unsure time. Bianca and Natalia, taking turns pouring warm water over their sisters back and massaging her through the waves of contractions. Gretchen's rosary, dripping into the birthing pool while she prayed over her daughter and unborn first grandchild, and Justin...this pillar of strength and assurance and concern for his wife and son. All, working together in harmony to her moans of labor and swaying with her as she endured each and every contraction. Bringing her baby boy closer and closer.
In the early hours of the morning, Angelina came out of the tub to be checked again. During the check, Lucie found meconium had been passed and knew that it was time to transfer her to the local hospital.
The next few minuites were a blur, Angelina was dressed and hurried to the car. Her sisters, husband, Beccy and Lucie piled in and took off for the local hospital. I followed closely behind as well as both sets of grandparents.
When we pulled into the loop of the ER the group was met by a nurse and instructed to don masks and get paperwork ready.
Unfortunately for the couple, the Doctor on call was vehemently against all things birthing center and midwife, and seemed to take it out on Angelina. Causing her to labor in the lobby of the hospital while dealing with inane crap instead of taking the laboring mother up to the L&D floor.
I was finally met by the security guard and instructed to cease. The remainder of this story will be Angelina's account of their time in the hospital...
The staff on that evening were...less than helpful, and unfortunately at some points downright rude due to the decision the couple had made to have a natural, midwife led, birth center birth. From leaving the room when Angelina was contracting to explicitly berating them for their choices... their first few hours in the hospital were not ideal.
About 3 hours into their stay, Angelina got some relief in the form of an epidural and a cervical IV. Finally allowing her to get some much needed sleep.
At 9am the couple met with the new doctor and nursing staff and said that the whole mood in the place changed completely.
The doctor explained that the baby was under stress and that Angelina wasn't dilating anymore and her labor had stalled. They made the decision to have a cesarean section.
Justin got gowned up and she was wheeled back into the operating room. During surgery she was in and out of it due to exhaustion and the pain medication she was on but remembers hearing that her placenta was infected and that there was a lot of meconium present. Luckily, they were able to clear his airways while Justin looked on and cried. (Yes. I had to add that in, Justin :) ) Baby Grant had arrived, healthy and ready to be held by his Momma. He latched on with the help from the nurses and Angelina was able to finally hold her perfect miracle baby in her arms.