Today is Penny's birthday. I really cannot believe it. This year has been full of changes and has just flown by. On Sunday we had a small party with family for her birthday. My mom made her a ridiculously cute birthday crown, to be worn in lieu of a paper party hat. She kept it on all day, including when she fell asleep at the end of her own party.
I realized that I never wrote the story of Penny's birth. I kept telling myself to record it so I don't forget it, and I just turned around, and a full year has passed. So I will record it to the best of my knowledge. Really, this is for me to remember the day so feel free to skip this. :)
Around 4AM on the morning of May 24th, my water broke. I had to get up to pee and immediately realized what happened because it was exactly as it happened with Molly's birth. I woke Bill up, and he said "Let's just go back to sleep, try to get some rest." Because Molly was sound asleep in the other room, and I was still tired, this seemed like a reasonable idea. Looking back, it was probably pretty silly because Molly's birth happened so quickly. We also had some people lined up to watch Molly, and we didn't want to call them so early either. Around 7 when Molly woke, Bill stretched and said, "Now, did I dream it, or did your water break?" TRUE STORY! Anyway, long story short, we called the doctor and were told to get to the hospital pronto because of my history, even though I wasn't having any contractions yet. We made all the phone calls to our wonderful friends Tamara and Annie, who had agreed to share Molly duty until the birth.
Hours passed before any contractions actually started. It's funny because I had been on bed rest for about six weeks because every time I stood up, I would have contractions. After my water broke, nothing. We ran across the street to get food. I figured I would have the baby any time so I wanted to eat as much as I could. The hospital, though enlightened in many ways in terms of their practices around birth, still had a policy that laboring women are not supposed to eat after their water breaks, in case they have to be put under for something (the nurse told us this never happens because even in almost every C-section the mother is awake). No one was watching too closely, of course, but I just would eat in between visits from the nurses (who, by the way, were absolutely fabulous for my numerous stays at Alta Bates Hospital) so I didn't put them in the awkward position of stating the policy.
Around 3:30 or so I still was not very dilated, maybe about 4cm. The doctor was starting to get a little concerned that I might get an infection because my water broke. She wanted to start induction because the risk apparently goes way up after 12 hours, which we were getting very close to. Bill and I discussed it, and we decided to go ahead with it. I was absolutely terrified. I wanted a fully natural birth, and I was nervous I would have to get an epidural because the pain would be too much. Well, as I implied earlier, Alta Bates is really progressive, and their policy for Pitocin was to administer it at about 1/10th the rate of the national standard, which meant that it would be a very, very gradual induction. I only got two doses, and I started to labor in full force. I breathed through the contractions in any position that felt right, usually on my hands and knees with my head buried in my pillow. I breathed through them all, and I didn't need any pain medicine, which I was thankful for. Between the actual contractions I remember feeling very present, talking with Bill and the nurse. During the contractions, I was in a different place. I remember hearing the nurse and Bill continue their conversation while I was moaning and breathing on the bed between them. They were attending to me, and I would use my hands to communicate what I needed or where I needed them to push to relieve some of the pressure. My wonderful group of momma friends had had a blessing circle for me a few weeks prior to my birth, and I was channeling that love and energy during my contractions, breathing through them and picturing my body as water, with the waves of the painful contractions like the waves in the ocean.
The labor was really short (though not as short as with Molly), and after about three hours I was ready to push. I remember the same feeling with Molly--when it was time to push, there was really no stopping it. I pushed about 15 minutes, and out came our little Penelope. I wanted her immediately on me, no bath or anything. The doctor put her on my chest, and immediately she started to nurse. The nurses wiped her off while she nursed, and Bill and I cried and cried and were so happy! What a difference from Molly's birth! I didn't let go of Penny for at least an hour; Bill couldn't wait any longer to hold her. I don't really remember birthing the placenta, but I'm pretty sure it was while I was holding Penny. She didn't get weighed for about two hours after she was born because we were holding her. The two of us have not been apart for more than a few hours since then.
Here the three of us are soon after the birth, before her bath and weight check.