hi there sweet souls!
I ducked out on a month-long hiatus from untidy grace (and most social media) for the month of february after our sweet Iola Grace was born… speaking of which…
yes! she is here! our darling girl is finally in our arms and it’s both easy and hard and beautiful and terrifying. we are completely overwhelmed in all the best ways, and we are equal parts out-of-our-minds exhausted & happy. ❤ she is the perfect addition to our family.
it’s really important to me that I get to share the story of her birth. I think birth stories matter hugely because they are the stories of how we came to be, how we joined humanity in this wild flood of wild and holy chaos. they are the stories that contain the first moments of our lives, our first breaths, the first time we were touched and held and hands-on-loved.
birth stories come with waterfalls of emotion, too. there is always a bit of fear and panic entwined in the joy and expectation that surrounds the birth of a child. it isn’t all rainbows & butterflies, and sometimes that pain & panic can turn into trauma, deep physical ramifications, or postpartum anxiety & depression. I think ALL of it matters- the joy, the newness, the happy… and the fear and disappointment. all of it deserves a voice.
I will insert here a TRIGGER WARNING for those of you who had traumatic birth experiences. mine was, too, and I want to be sensitive to what you may have faced.
you may have followed along with my pregnancy journey, which included some pretty scary & exhausting moments involving prenatal depression, preterm labor scares, and modified bed rest. if you haven’t, you can read the highlights here . long story short, my wee one’s head was engaged for nine weeks, I had debilitating nerve pain that often sent me crippled to the floor, and was having contractions every 10 minutes or less from 30 weeks on. I say this because pregnancy and birth are closely intertwined, and the first deeply affects the second- mentally, emotionally, physically.
I had been feeling particularly unwell for a couple of days, and Io had definitely dropped even further. my thighs looked & felt like a giant bruise from all the pressure of her being so low!
NOON as the day wore on, my contractions not only began to get much closer together (which they’d done on 6 other occasions), but also started getting really strong. I wasn’t just uncomfortable… they had definitely crossed the threshold to painful.
4PM I texted Joey all day, and when he came home from work we decided to head into the hospital. I was still only 2.5 cm dilated since my monday appointment, but they had me spend an hour or so bouncing on a birth ball. I was pretty good-natured and positive at this point, as I was sure I was finally getting close to having my girl. they discharged me (you must be 4 or 5 cm to be admitted), but my nurse said “your water bag is definitely bulging, and you’re having significant contractions, so I wouldn’t be surprised if you came back in the next couple of days, or even later tonight!”
9PM my contractions were continuing to get more intense, but we decided to go to bed. at best I could no longer talk through them, and at their worst were tear-inducing. I didn’t sleep at all.
4AM the contractions were now bad enough that I was crying through them & vomiting from the pain. back to the hospital we went… the night shift people looked at me pityingly.
unfortunately, I had not dilated any more at all. I was beginning to feel like I would never get admitted to the hospital; it was so frustrating, and I was exhausted. the nurse definitely felt bad for me. they put all the monitors back on me, and after an hour and a half finally gave me a great big shot of morphine for the pain. (hallelujah)
6:30AM I asked to go back home where I could rest if I was still not progressing, so back we went. they told me to only come back if my water broke or if I couldn’t handle the pain any longer, since I seemed to be progressing slowly. the morphine really knocked me out, and I finally slept… through most of the day Saturday.
MIDNIGHT I woke up halfway through the night from the pain.
10AM obviously, I was not going to church, but I continued to text Joey while he was there. I remember at first telling him he needed to come home between services, but then I started to feel just a little better, so I changed my mind and just asked him to hurry home afterwards.
3PM the pain was back with a vengeance, and my whole digestive system was throwing a fit, to boot. I was contracting strongly enough that it sent me to the ground crying in pain. I hopped into a hot shower which actually really seemed to take the edge off the contractions, but after I got out, they returned to their previous strength.
7PM eventually I sent Joey to the store for laxatives & tylenol pm to hopefully help me get some rest.
10PM the tylenol actually (shockingly) helped me get to sleep.
I had no idea this was about to be the hardest day of my life.
MIDNIGHT after about an hour and a half of sleeping, I woke up screaming in pain and stumbled to the bathroom to be sick (again). Joey suggested insisted we go to the hospital, and I gave in. I was so afraid of being sent home again that it was causing me to panic. I vomited twice on the way to the car.
12:30AM we get to the hospital & check in. same night shift check-in people from Saturday’s visit are in shock that I haven’t had my baby yet.
2AM nurse says I am 3.5cm dilated and suggests I walk around the labor & delivery unit for an hour to see if I can get things progressing. she’s awesome and feels bad for me when I tell her this is my third time at the hospital in 48 hours, and doesn’t want to send me home. I speed-walk with crazy-eyes, then halt & crumble against the wall or Joey with each contraction. my mantra: “I WILL NOT BE SENT HOME. THIS IS MY THIRD TIME AT THIS FRIGGING HOSPITAL IN 48 HOURS. I AM NOT LEAVING WITHOUT MY BABY. SO THERE.” (okay, less of a mantra than a deranged laboring woman’s crazed thoughts.)
5AM I am 4cm dilated! my awesome nurse tells me to eat some food before they admit me to the hospital since I’m so exhausted. they call my doctor. I cry happy tears. Joey goes to find coffee.
7AM I meet my birth team (they are AWESOME), and my doctor arrives. my excitement begins to dissolve as the pain intensifies & contractions get much closer together. we discuss the birth plan. I labor hard.
8AM I get pain meds through my hep lock. I am only 5cm dilated… just over a single centimeter after five hours of laboring. they suggest I get up and move again. I do for a while. my doctor breaks the news that I can only get one more dose of pain meds for the sake of the baby, due to my lengthy labor.
10AM I decide to labor in a hot shower to help with the pain… until I am in too much pain to stand in the shower any longer.
1pM I am in so much pain I am sick to my stomach and shivering. I am 6cm dilated. basically dilating at the rate of one centimeter every 3-4 hours. the doctor breaks my water to try to speed things up, and I ask for my next dose of pain meds.
I am slipping in and out of consciousness- only coming to when the contractions hit again, eyes rolling back in my head, unable to form sentences, twitching & shivering head to toe. (I’d later learn I was experiencing delirium) contractions are about a minute apart and triple-peaking. the second and final dose of pain meds never kick in. my poor husband is thoroughly traumatized and calls the nurses often when I cry out in pain.
4PM the doctor comes back to check on my progress. I’m only 7cm dilated. I have a panic attack but am unable to vocalize that is what is happening because I can’t speak. I start to hyperventilate, and they give me an oxygen mask. I can no longer have any more pain meds other than an epidural, which I am still terrified of.
5PM I scream at every contraction. my vision is blurred. the nurses have to adjust my position for me because I can’t move.
6PM my head nurse takes me by the shoulders, looks me in the eye, and says “you are suffering, you need an epidural, and you need it now before it’s too late. or you will be too exhausted to push this baby.” I numbly agree. she knows how terrified I am of it, and assures me that the doctor to do it is the best of the best. (I’m so thankful for this nurse and that she spoke so kindly & bluntly and very likely saved me from some more serious trauma.)
6:30PM I get the epidural, with two nurses holding me down because between the triple-peaking contractions and a panic attack, I am shaking and twitching too badly to be still. this is easily one of the most traumatic moments of my life. I clench Joey’s hand and stare at him, still screaming through the contractions, to survive it. the anesthesiologist is amazing and kind and talks me through the whole thing. I sob and try to thank him.
7PM the epidural finally kicks in. Joey says I am like a completely different person. I watch the contractions on the monitor and cry in relief that I’m not feeling them.
7:30PM I meet my new birth team. they’re great, too. my doctor checks me and says I’m 8.5cm dilated.
8PM I sleep. Joey sleeps.
9PM my nurse wakes me up to check my progress. 9cm!! I go back to sleep.
10PM they check my progress again… 10cm and ready to push. I am so excited!
10:30PM I begin pushing. I’m in such a good mood. they ask me if I’m okay, pain-wise, and I laugh and tell them it’s a piece of cake compared to earlier. the nurse is shocked that Iola is so low and squeals at how much hair she has. I crack jokes and laugh and feel really positive and excited. pushing isn’t too bad at all. my doctor arrives and is amazed at how quickly the pushing phase is going.
12:45AM Iola Grace Avrick is born! Joey watches her. she is 7lbs and 8oz and 20 1/2 inches long. she has an adorably smooshed nose from having her head engaged for so long. Joey cuts the cord. he looks so happy. only the last three pushes hurt. my first words upon seeing her were “it’s my baby! my baby is here! she’s so pretty!” the first thing I heard Joey say was “oh my gosh… look at her, she’s so cute. you did amazing.”
1AM it takes half an hour to stitch up my multiple tears. the numbing shots don’t work for half of it. I shiver so badly my teeth chatter, and feel like I’m going to pass out. I look at my husband holding my tiny daughter and hold up the sheet so I can’t see the doctor stitch me.
3AM they give me pain meds and finally let me put clothes on. I finally feel like I can breathe. I hold my beautiful baby and endlessly stare at her. ❤
and after almost 36 hours of labor… she’s here. my baby is here.