Desmond Anatoli was born on November 25th at 4:55am at 8lbs and 9 oz. He is pretty much the cutest thing I have ever laid eyes on in my entire life, I love him to bits. This is my first letter written to him - his birth story:
I had been feeling contractions all Monday night but most of them were light enough to sleep through. By Tuesday morning I was having really light contractions every 10 or 15 minutes and stronger contractions about once an hour. I was 41 weeks pregnant and I asked your dad to drive me to my doctor's appointment because I just didn't want to be driving through the snow if a contraction hit hard. At the appointment, we listened to your heartbeat and the doctor checked my cervix. She could feel your little head in there, I was already 4cm dilated and you were very low, just like you had been for the last five weeks! The doctor scheduled me for an induction, and I was getting disappointed. I wanted you to choose to come naturally on your own time, even though I was incredibly anxious to meet you!
We went home and took the bumpiest roads we could find. I ate an entire pineapple, and your daddy and I tried to get those prostaglandins moving in our own special way. Contractions kept coming, but they were irregular and I was getting sad. Kristin came by after work and brought me to the mall so we could walk you out. We walked around that mall for nearly four hours and I was soo grumpy, embarrassed to have to stop and gasp at how a few contractions seemed to be getting more and more intense. I wouldn't let my hopes get too high, but I was begging, pleading, praying that you were finally on your way! I went to bed at midnight and woke up at 2:00am, restless. I bounced around on my birth ball, showered, and cleaned up the kitchen while timing contractions that were getting closer and closer! Most of them were between 5 to 7 minutes apart, and some of them really hurt! I tried to rest, but only slept about 3 hours before I just couldn't sleep through them anymore. I woke Dimitri and we putzed around the house while I timed my contractions at 4-5 minutes apart. It was 10:30 and since the hospital was about an hour away, we decided to make our way there.
They turned us away! When they checked me out and I was still only 4cm dilated. My contractions were coming regularly, but the nurses said all the beds were full and they didn't think it was the real thing quite yet. I was pretty sure, however, that it was! We turned around and started driving home and already I regretted it. The contractions were getting as close as two and three minutes apart and they were too much for me to talk through. At home, I had two contractions and then felt my forewaters break. We got back in the car and were back at the hospital by 12:45. They finally admitted me.
At 1:00pm on Wednesday, things became very intense! The nurses who were admitting me read my birth plan and immediately began telling me all the things that simply would not happen, which was exactly what I didn't need to hear. Eventually they did accommodate me to some extent. They took my blood pressure and it was exceptionally high, so they called my Doctor to see what she had to say. One of the nurses had such a thick accent, I could barely understand her, but it became apparent that they wanted me to have an epidural and they wanted me to have it now. It was that or morphine, they said. I flat out refused, and one nurse spent a long time trying to convince me that the epidural wouldn't affect my baby - but I didn't believe her. So they brought out laughing gas and I tried it, but I just became confused and told them no. I wanted out of bed, I didn't want to be on my back. They brought me a birth ball and then magically it was shift exchange and I received a new nurse. Her name was Alex, and she told me she had read my birth plan and that she was going to come in only to check the baby's heartbeat unless we called her. She was wonderful. She showed me how to use the sitz bath and let Dimitri and I share the birth together. At this point the contractions were very serious to me. It was overwhelming how such a power came from inside me and took over my body so consistently. Dimitri was wonderful, he never left my side and helped me breathe and focus through every contraction. I knew it was hard for him to see me in such pain, but he was so supportive - constantly telling me he loved me, that I was doing so well and he was proud of me. I was constantly moving from the birth ball to the sitz bath and occasionally even on the toilet, but the toilet made the contractions unbearable. I focused on his eyes as he stared into mine and coached me on taking deep breaths and moaning low through the peaks of contractions. Both your grandma and grandpa and your babushka and dedushka visited us that evening, but I was busy with contractions and could barely say hello. They saw that we were concentrating, and wished us well before they left. They were just so excited to meet you!
I asked Alex to check me late that night (we covered up the clock, so I'm not sure what time it was!) and I was only 5cm dilated. She encouraged me that my cervix was fully effaced and that was a good sign. She told me to keep moving around and told me I was doing great, that she thought I could go the whole way without an epidural. I soaked up every bit of encouragement I could get at that point, I was getting very tired. Soon afterward, we were back in the sitz bath and I was crying. I told Dimitri I was getting tired and I was worried that I would be in labour forever. I was scared that I might need to have an epidural after all. He reminded me of all the reasons why I didn't want to have one and asked me to wait and see. Between contractions I would lay my head back and actually fell asleep for brief moments at a time. I would jolt awake at every wave of tightness that hit me and immediately Dimitri would wake and help me through it only to have us both doze again immediately afterward. Again I asked Alex to check me and I was only 7cm dilated. It felt like this was taking forever!
At some point there was another shift exchange and our new nurse introduced herself as Barb. I asked her to check me right away and I was only at 8cm. I was crestfallen. It seemed to be taking forever to get anywhere and I was having a hard time keeping my strength up. We kept on working through contractions and I worked so hard to stay positive. Sometimes I would give in and say that I couldn't do it anymore, but I also tried to say things like "Open!" and "I can do this! I am doing this!" Saying things positively really helped the contractions seem less powerful. I asked Barb to check me often. I suddenly needed to know what my body was doing at all times. Finally I was 9cm dilated, only one centimeter left to go. I laboured for a while longer and had her check. Still 9. I laboured for another hour and had her check again. Still 9. I wanted to scream! They told me that there was a small lip of cervix that just didn't seem to want to dilate. She encouraged me to labour through contractions on my side and flip after each one to encourage that lip to go away, but it didn't. She tried to encourage the lip to dilate with her hands during one of my contractions, which was so painful, but it didn't really help much.
I was feeling so much pressure down low, and I wanted to push. They told me if I pushed too early I could cause my cervix to swell and that would hold things up even further. It was impossible not to push, my body was doing it all on its own. All during labour I was encouraging my body to give in to the waves and stay relaxed, and here I was being told not to listen to my body, to reign it in. I moaned and screamed and Dimitri stared into my eyes coaching me to breathe. I guess I said some pretty terrible things, but I really don't remember anything but how green Dimitri's eyes were and how badly I wanted to push through the pain. At some point my doctor arrived and I became aware of how late it was getting. Finally they encouraged me to try a little laughing gas to see if it could relax my body and allow that last cm to dilate. I was so worried that the laughing gas would affect you, something I desperately wanted to avoid, but they told me it was safe and you wouldn't feel anything.
As soon as I did, I was calmer. People were talking to me and I couldn't hear them. I was labouring on my side and found the contractions were just as painful, but the experience seemed removed. It was only minutes before I put it down and I was fully dilated. They told me I could finally listen to my body and let myself push. It was 3:20 in the morning and I had been in active labour for over 12 hours, including early labour it had been 24 hours or more. I was so ready to meet you.
Pushing was incredible, it felt so natural and yet hurt so badly. I reached down and touched your head a couple times between pushes. The nurse and Dimitri held my legs and let me brace against them as I held my breath to bear down. Sometimes the pain between pushes was so bad I would start to hyperventilate, your poor dad was at a loss for the first time. I think he just couldn't take his eyes off the itty bit of your head that he could see materialize. I remember grabbing him by his shirt and commanding 'HELP ME BREATHE!' because I just couldn't slow my breathing on my own. While it was all so intense at the same time, I could actually feel the progress. Each push made me feel infinitely closer to holding you and I wanted to get through it so badly. I pushed for over an hour and a half. Nobody told me how close I was getting, I still thought I had a couple more to go when suddenly I felt the strangest thing in the entire world. You were out! I pushed out your head and shoulders so quickly, the rest of you was so easy.
Suddenly, nurses were flying everywhere. You dad did a double take and announced to the world- It's a boy! Immediately, I called out, "Desmond!" Your cord was short so I had to wait for your dad to cut it. I remember being so confused but reaching down and asking to hold you. A nurse whisked you away and told the doctor your temperature was low. I asked to hold you, I wanted to see you and hold you so badly. Things were hazy, but I remember my doctor telling the nurse that skin to skin contact was just as good if not better than the warming station and suddenly you were wrapped up and in my arms. Though there were many small things that didn't go exactly as I had envisioned them (it's funny what they can talk you into during Transition!) I was just so ecstatic to see you, it washed away any pain or negativity and I was just beaming with love for you. I immediately unswaddled you and put you on my chest. I held you and kissed you and stroked your little (huge!) head. You were so perfectly grumpy straight from the beginning, but you didn't cry once you were on my chest, you just squeaked around and started looking for my nipple. It took you a while to open your eyes but when you did I knew I wanted to look at them forever! I breastfed you right away and you latched on so well even the nurses were surprised. Your daddy held you, too, and he was just as deep in love as I was. I thanked him for being so good to me through the birth, that I had never felt more loved or supported in all my life. Even some of the nurses were saying that he was better than some doulas they had seen! Your birth was definitely the hardest, most intense, and most empowering thing I have ever done. As we snuggled as a family, I knew we were just never going to let you go, even later when everything died down and I could finally rest, I rescued you from your little bassinet and snuggled you all morning in my bed, it was perfect. I love you, Desmond, and I always will.