Juliette and Pawel

Dearest One,

The night before your birth, your Papa and I decided to go to the hospital. This was a very difficult decision for us, as we had been planning to have you at home. We'd spent the nine months you were inside of me preparing ourselves and our home for your arrival. We made this decision based on my doctor at Kaiser's concern about your size and the fact that my placenta seemed to be showing signs of getting tired. They no longer considered me to be "low-risk" and therefore felt we should come to the hospital to have labor induced and to have their good machines monitoring your heart. While our midwives, Nancy and Ami were not concerned, and knew that you were just fine, they decided that it would be best to follow the advice of the doctors.

So on Tuesday night, the night before you came, Papa and I packed our bags for the hospital. I was so sad, crying a lot, disappointed, but mostly scared. Really really scared. Worried about you, about me, about what lay ahead.

We called Grandma and Grandpa and asked them if they could pick us up and give us a ride to the hospital. When Grandpa arrived and saw all that we were taking with us, he exclaimed, "It looks like you are going to the Sierras for a week!"

When we arrived at Kaiser, the nurses and doctors were there, ready to receive us. And they were all so kind and understanding about our disappointment and worries. They attached me to an I.V., and strapped monitors around my tummy: one for your heart (which played on a little speaker), and one monitoring my contractions. Ami had come to help us get settled and later told Nancy how frightened and upset I seemed. 

At midnight, they gave me a little Pitocin through the I.V., the drug I was most afraid of, which makes the contractions come. It was just a little test run to see how your heart could handle contractions. And it did. Just fine. So strong and steady. So they unhooked me from the I.V. and gave me a 1/2 tablet of Misoprostol to encourage my cervix to soften. That was about 2 AM. They told me to sleep, and somehow between 2 and 4:30 I was able to sleep a little. 

The nurse came in at 4:30 and gave me another tablet. This time a whole one. By 5:15, I was starting to have contractions I could feel, and they were coming regularly about 4-5 minutes apart. I was so happy and welcomed each one as it came with deep breaths and visualizing opening. I had asked the doctor the night before if there was any chance I might go into my "own" labor just with the Misoprostol. She said that while it was not unheard of, chances were that I'd need to start on Pitocin in the morning. So, as I lay there, I just asked my body to keep contracting, keep opening. 

By 10 AM, I was really feeling the contractions. They were gradually growing. The doctor checked my cervix, and though he didn't tell me then, I was only .5cm dialated. He just told me that I was really soft and he massaged my cervix to release the oxytocin that would allow it to open further. I asked him again if my body might be able to take over this labor on it's own. And he said that unless he started seeing some really debilitating contractions, I'd probably need Pitocin. In my head, I said, "Dr. Valentine, I'll show you big contractions!" (his name was Dr. Valentine and he was very handsome and kind!)

Nancy arrived just as he was leaving, and after she had checked in with him, I had my first really big contraction which felt really different from anything I'd felt so far. I was sitting on Papa's blue exercise ball, and this wave came over me and I thought, "This is it!"

Maddy was there, Nancy was there, and Papa was there and together we labored through my contractions. I paced the halls of the hospital, stopping to lean on the wall, or Papa, or Maddy or Nancy. And they all encouraged me so much to breathe, to let go, to surrender. Papa made sure I took a sip of coconut water between each contraction. Maddy made sure I remembered to make my breaths deep and slow, and Nancy and Kara, who arrived at some point, explained to me what to do, how to move, what sounds to make, etc. Without all of them, I would have been lost. Slowly, slowly, I felt myself being drawn inward, and I felt as though there was a body of water insulating me from the world around me. I knew I was in labor. In my own labor. At some point, my mucous plug came out and we celebrated. A little later, my water broke and we rejoiced again.

Dr Valentine came in again, and checked my cervix. I found out later that I was only 2cm dialated. But I am so glad no one told me, because I knew I was in labor and their numbers might have scared me into stopping.

I took a hot shower with Papa's help. It felt so good. But it made my contractions slow down a bit. I knew that, and I didn't want that to happen, though I was enjoying the breaks in between when I'd fall asleep. But then, Nancy said the magic word: Pitocin, and I was back on my feet, back out in the halls, moving, contracting, jump-starting my labor. And it worked. Soon after we had ventured out into the hall, I started to feel the urge to push. First it felt like I had to go to the bathroom, so we did, but nothing came out, even though my body was involuntarily pushing.

The Doctor was called in, Dr Main, and again my cervix was checked. And again, I'm glad no one told me a thing, because this time I was only 5.5 cm. After the doctor left, Nancy told me that now she'd ask me to do something so difficult: to resist the urge to push you out. And yes, it was difficult. The most difficult thing I've ever done. Every time a contraction came, my body's only desire, only goal was to push you out. And I had to fight against my body using only my breath. And it seemed my breath wouldn't be enough. Nancy told me that the best position would be on my hands and knees, on all fours. So I mustered all the strength within me to hoist myself up and over onto my hands and knees.

The rushes came and it felt like this struggle between my body and my breath. Which would overcome the other? My body was winning, and after what seemed like an eternity, I asked Nancy how much longer I'd have to do this. She told me it has been twenty minutes and she thought it would take about twenty more. "Twenty more?!" I thought, I don't know if I can do this. And I remember wondering to myself if this was my 'I can't do this anymore' moment and that soon you would come.

After a couple of more rushes, I felt this great opening inside of me, just as Nancy was asking me if I felt opening. She was reading my body. I said, "Yes, I'm feeling it!" So she checked and sure enough, you were coming. "I can see head!" she exclaimed. Moments later, Dr. Main was there, and I was finally allowed to surrender to the urge to push you out.

At that point, things really felt like they were slowing down, and I was waiting, waiting for the next rush to come. Three contractions later you were here! The doctor passed you up to me between my legs and I received your soft, warm, wet body into my hands and looked at you. And I saw that it was you! My little girl, whom I'd known all along was inside of me. Such joy I felt, such strength, such love and power. We had done it; you, I, Papa, Nancy, Kara, Maddy, Sandi, and all of the kind people at the hospital had helped you to come out in your own way in your own time. And suddenly we were at home, because you were there. We had had our home birth, even there!

I felt so high, so full, as the room filled with our family who came to welcome you into the world. And all I could do was stare into your midnight blue eyes, my precious Zoë Eleanor. Welcome to the World!

With all my love,

Mama