Birthday Story

It was the first day of my maternity leave, and I was 5 days post-due date. I’m a planner. I was pretty upset that Lucy was late! Whit had convinced me to go ahead and go on maternity leave, because the stress of my job may actually be preventing me from going into labor. Sooo I bit the bullet and started my leave on Thursday, Nov 10. It was a pretty strange feeling waking up and not going to work on a regular Thursday, and being on maternity leave while Lucy was still in my belly. So, I figured I would focus on getting Lucy to join us! That day, I first went to acupuncture. My acupuncturist, Lyle at East Nashville Community Acupuncture, laughed at my desperation to go into labor and said, “Ok, it’s time to bring the big guns out.” She put needles everywhere, hooked them up to electricity, put me on the exercise ball, and gave me a regiment of things to try at home. She said that baby was just not quite in position but if she could move just a couple of inches, she’d be on her way! To further my efforts, I got a prenatal massage later that afternoon. I told the massage therapist, “I am not here to relax. I’m here to go into labor! Can you help??” And she did. With the combined efforts of these 2 amazing women, labor started that very night.

I started having contractions (or, in hypnobirthing language, surges) that night. I woke Whit up around 12:30 and told him we needed to start timing. All night, we timed. We breathed. We tried to rest. We called our amazing doula, Beulah (yes, Beulah the doula!!) way too many times. Finally around 6 AM, we went to the hospital. I was so scared that when we went my labor would stop, but I felt like it was pretty real, and the surges felt different than before. So we went. Upon arrival, they told me I was at 2 cm. I could not believe that my body had worked all night to make a 2 cm opening. That seemed ridiculous! Beulah/drill sergeant/angel from heaven told me I needed to walk. So for an hour, she (70 years old) and I (in labor) fitness-walked the halls of Vanderbilt hospital. We would stop to breathe through surges, then keep on truckin! She said it was the best way to get me to open more. I never thought I’d be exercising so much while in labor! Sadly, I hadn’t progressed much after our workout, so they sent me home to keep laboring there.

Once at home, we tried to rest and I continued having surges. Around 3 PM they got pretty serious, so Beulah came over to help us decide if it was time to go back. Again, I was so afraid they were going to tell me I hadn’t progressed that I just wanted to stay at home. But upon Beulah’s expert advice, we went to the midwives. Lo and behold, I was at 5! I never thought I’d be so excited about 5 little centimeters! But that meant we were being admitted to the hospital, and Lucy was really on her way!

At the hospital, those incredible midwives hooked me up with the room with the tub. I absolutely couldn’t wait to get in. This was approaching hour 16 of labor, and I needed a change of pace. The tub quickly became a girl’s best friend. The warm water sooo helped relax my muscles and helped me deal with the pain much more easily. For the next few hours, it was the classic hypnobirth. We had our “yoga music” (Whit’s term) playing, the lights dimmed, and our awesome team of Beulah the doula, Whit the supportive husband, and Lauren & Amber the midwife and midwife-in-training. We all breathed together and went “deep within” for hours. It rocked.

Just when we thought Lucy was about to come, however, something changed! Suddenly the most ridiculous pain I’ve ever felt happened, and honestly, all the breathing and relaxation we practiced flew right out the window. I was having back labor. Wow! It hurt! Little Lucy was being a little gymnast, and she had turned herself to being sunny side up. Thus, her face was forward and her perfectly round head was pressing into my spine! This also meant that labor slowed, and I had to get out of the tub. Lauren (midwife) told me that I would have to get Pitocin if we couldn’t get Lucy to turn. In my exhaustion, I started bawling and turned to Beulah. In a moment meant for the movies, she took my face in her hands and said, “We are going to turn this baby! Get in the shower!” Once again, Beulah went from nurturing support person to drill sergeant (I consider this to be one of her greatest strengths) and had me doing lunges and squats in between the back labor contractions (I mean surges), in the shower. She was also having me drink raspberry leaf tea. Then it was out of the shower and into the pretzel position! She twisted me and turned me in all kinds of directions, and pushed on my belly and pulled on my legs. She was like some sort of yogie/shaman. Amazing.

In birthing class, Beulah kept saying to us, “When you get to the point in labor where you tell me you can’t do it anymore, that’s how I know the baby is almost here!” Sure enough, I hit that point. Around 12 or 1 AM on Saturday morning, I remember looking at her and telling her that I just couldn’t do it. She smiled. I just wanted to curl up in a ball in the bed.

Upon my request, they wheeled in some nitrous oxide (laughing gas) to help me through. That is some interesting stuff. It doesn’t take away the pain, but it kind of makes one not care as much. For me, it helped relax me and I think get me to that final point. I was pretty much just going through the motions at that point, so tired I couldn’t really focus on anything. But then suddenly, it was time to push! The back labor let up! Baby had turned! They whipped off the nitrous and threw on an oxygen mask. Lucy (gymnast) had wrapped the cord around her neck and needed some air. For the next 20 min, I went side to back, side to back, breathing on my left side and pushing on my back. I remember thinking, “She must be huge! Why isn’t she flying out? I’m pushing as hard as I can!” All the yoga in the world cannot prepare you for that moment. It’s pretty crazy that your body is meant to do that!

And suddenly, I felt her. Not inside my belly anymore, but on top of my belly! She was here! All 6 lbs 14 oz of her…screaming and squirming around. She was all covered in gunk and was all pink with energy, and she was absolutely beautiful. I just couldn’t believe she was ours! She promptly got to eating! From the first minutes of life, my girl was getting her needs met! It’s amazing how all of a sudden, the pain and strife of the last 26 hours completely faded from memory, and all I could think about was this little creature who was part me and part Whit. It’s the most amazing thing I’ve ever experienced.

Happy birthday, Lucy Amelia Sellers! You are a precious gift.

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