From Vegas Ben, Rowan and I, as well as Mom and Tiffani, were going to travel down from Vegas to Arizona from the wedding in our two cars. Then wait out the two weeks together until the baby's (Mercedes) due date, or whenever she would be born.
That Wednesday (the day before we were supposed to leave for Vegas) at about 4 am in the morning I started to have contractions. I'd had plenty of them before, but these were about 10 minutes apart. Ummm, a little too close for comfort. About a week before I had also had contractions that close together and I called my midwife who told me to lay down and drink 32 oz of water. After I drank all the water and laid there for a while I felt them slow way down and went to bed. They seemed to behave after that.
So, this Wednesday morning I got up and got myself 32 oz of water again and laid on the couch in the family room at my parents house in Utah, watching movies on my computer. I told my body "You have 'till 7 am to change your mind, before I call Ben."
Ben was in Texas; still planning on flying into Vegas on Friday for the wedding.
I waited and waited. People started waking up in the house, and I stayed as still and calm as possible. Luckily the contractions didn't speed up, but they didn't slow down either. So, true to my word at 7 am I called Ben. Actually I called Paul's cell phone (his brother) because Ben's didn't have reception where they were. I briefly told Paul what was happening and he woke up Ben and put him on the phone.
"So you think you're in labor?" He asked me.
"I think so. I'm not sure that she'll be getting here today, but if not today, VERY SOON. You need to book a flight and get here as soon as possible."
In his groggy voice, "Okay, let me tell Paul. I'll call you later."
Those poor guys had been working 'till late at night so they really only got about 4 hours of sleep and had to head to the Dallas airport. Ben called me again later and said that they booked a flight but that it had a long layover in New Mexico and he wouldn't arrive until after 4 pm. Eeek! Was he going to make it?? We just had to wait and see.
All day I tried to slow down labor. I have no idea how to explain what I did to slow it down. All my life I have tried very hard to understand, and gain a specific kind of control over my body, so I'm very in tune to it. But it's hard to explain the things I did to try and control it with my mind. During a contraction I would not relax, but not tense up, kind of a standstill. So, it was kind of like the contraction couldn't go anywhere. Sounds very weird and mysterious I know. Call me crazy if you want, but hey, it worked. I was able to slow down the contractions to one per hour. So when Ben got there we actually thought that maybe we could still make it back to Arizona if we drove all night. I thought "Hey, if contractions are one per hour right now, it would just be 10-12 contractions and we're there!" Yeah, we might have been a little out of our minds at this point, LOL! I really wanted my midwife Ramona to deliver our baby because she delivered Rowan, she's awesome, and a great friend of ours. But I remembered that she was out of town that weekend anyway :(
We then realized we weren't going anywhere unless it was the hospital. So at that point I relaxed my body and welcomed labor. All that night was: sleep, contraction, sleep, contraction... Sometime after 3:30 am the contractions were so intense I even felt like I should push. I told Ben it was time to go and he got our stuff ready. As we were about to leave Mom got her stuff and we all left for the American Fork hospital. We got there and a woman led us up to labor and delivery.
It was so quiet, like no one was in there. I guess I was the only one laboring that night 'cause the girl at the desk was painting her nails, haha. I asked for the midwife on call, but she said that because I hadn't had pre-natal care in the area I had to have the Doctor. I hoped it was at least a woman (it's just my preference), and she told me it was. Yay. We got into triage and two nurses started attending to me. One who seemed to have been working in the field a little longer, was at the computer, the younger one came to check me. After several minutes of her "checking" me...digging around during contractions, causing them, and driving me crazy, she says "I think maybe, like a 7?" Right before that I was about to turn to the other nurse and say "Can you come do this, please?!" So I was a little put out by that, but whatever.
They moved me into a room and got me set up on the monitor to monitor the contractions. I was used to this from my labor at Mercy Gilbert (in AZ), but after about 20 minutes I was getting sick of laying there. I needed to walk! About this time we gave them my birth plan and they said they were waiting for the doctor. When she finally got there the nurses asked if I was allowed to get up and walk around and thankfully she said "Yes, let her do what she needs to." So I got up. I asked for a birthing ball, but when I tried it it was so deflated that it was hard to stay on, and I could barely get off it without falling, so I nixed that and just rocked my hips and leaned on Ben during contractions. After not very long, I felt like I needed to push, so we called the nurses and doctor in to break my water. The doctor said "Once we break your water everything will go very fast, so be ready." I was ready. I got situated on the bed the way I wanted to be for delivering and everything. All the nurses/doctor's instruments and clean up gear were laid out and ready. I asked Ben to say a prayer first and then we told the doctor to go ahead. She broke my water, the nurses cleaned everything up and suddenly the doctor was gone. The nurses cleaned a little and threw some stuff away and said "Let us know if you need us." and LEFT!
Mom was on my right, Ben on my left and I just turned to them and said "I don't get it? Where did everyone go?!"
Seriously we were all just stunned. Was I just supposed to deliver by myself? I'm sure I could if I had to, but I didn't really want to. I wanted a little coaching; a little help. Duh.
After a couple minutes Mom pushed the call button and said "Um, Crystal is ready to push. Can you come in here please?" The two nurses returned and Mom took the older one aside.
"Crystal doesn't feel like she's getting much help. Can you try and coach her through this?"
Nurse said "Oh yeah, sure. It's just when there's two people here to help we figure you just want to do it your way."
Whatever that meant.
But after that things went much better. They called the doctor in (who mostly just watched), and then the nurses actually started helping me. I decided on laying down to deliver, like I did with Rowan and they helped me through it all. There was a new nurse that was just coming on shift named Michelle (I think) and Ben said that she was the biggest help and everything really went smooth once she got there. I couldn't really say because once I was pushing I had my eyes closed and everyone's voice kinda sounded the same as they gave encouragement, so I didn't know who's was who's.
I think they said I pushed for like 10 minutes, but I'm not sure. I just remember thinking "I need a time frame to work with. Like tell me 10 more pushes, or 1 more hour, or something to work towards, not this endless strain." "How much longer?", and right then the doctor stood up (she had done nothing until this point, SO different from having a midwife) and she said:
"Okay Crystal, on this next push you can have a baby." I was so relieved. It was nearly over.
She said "But when I tell you to stop pushing, stop." I wasn't about to do anything I didn't want to unless I knew why, so I asked why. She said "To help keep you from tearing." Sounded good to me, so I agreed.
I pushed, she said stop, I stopped (it was SO hard to not push). Then she said "K, push." I did, and there she was. Beautiful little baby girl with lots of dark, dark hair. She was pretty purple too. Very normal, of course.
It had been such a hard pregnancy with the weight, the SPD, the next-to-no sleep every night, waking in pain everyday, exhaustion, etc. That being not-pregnant anymore was the best feeling in the world! I felt so light and relieved, agile and free (not to sound corny, but it's true). Ohhh, it felt so good! And I had a new little darling to love and hold!
For the next day and a half or so our new baby girl went without a name. At the end of the first day we toyed with a couple, but then Ben said "I have one I thought of, but I'm not sure you'll like it." I told him to tell me anyway. He said "Mercedes." At first I wasn't too sure. I kept thinking "that's a car." But then I thought of "The Count of Monte Cristo" one of my favorite books and I started to like it. It's a, old, classic European name. So we tried it out and at first it felt weird calling her anything but an endearing nickname like pumpkin or darling, but it grew on us and so she became "Mercedes Abilene Schultz". Abilene being the name of the town near where Ben had been working.
Rowan came later in the day to see her new baby sister and she was so sweet with her. She even seemed to understand that the baby had finally come out from my belly too. Pretty good for a girl her age.
Some of the differences in Rowan's birth and Mercedes' are like night and day. Contractions and labor with Mercedes was so much stronger and harder than Rowan's. I don't know if Rowan's was better because I had the water tub (I'm sure it helped), or Mercedes' was worse just because I had been trying to hold off labor for so long. Could be both.
With Rowan I had Ramona (my midwife) there the whole time I was laboring at the hospital and when I delivered, she was there helping. With Mercedes the doctor came in 3 times. First to say hello and tell me I could walk around (then she went somewhere to go back to sleep, I heard a nurse say), second to break my water, and third to 'catch' the baby. It seemed very impersonal. The delivery nurse, when Rowan was born, helped Ramona, and helped coach me, and was there the whole time as well. As you can tell from my description that these nurses, for the most part, were not so helpful. Another thing was that they took Mercedes away to get her all checked out and bathed (which Ben was not allowed to do). At Mercy they did everything in the delivery room and let Ben bathe Rowan right there. I think the only time Rowan left our room was for her hearing check.
So many times during the labor, delivery, and afterward I thought "I wish I was at Mercy Gilbert." No offense to AF hospital, or the nurses there, but honestly my experience was really a 5 star rating at Mercy Gilbert (in AZ) and with AF not so much. I do have to say though, that the rest of the staff at AF were much better in the following days, than the ones in the beginning. Especially the night-shift nurses that brought us so many snacks and were so kind. Also, the pediatrician that we met with went far and beyond his call of duty. Even came in very early on his day off so we could be discharged in time to (hopefully) make it to Dalein's wedding (read more about that in Part 3). And the Social Services guy that came in to check on us. We told him we didn't have a carseat yet to take her home in and he even called around to get us a discount on a nice used one. Very kind. And the food may have been just a little bit better than at Mercy, but Mercy's was still pretty good :)
The discharge, explanations, and monitoring of diapers and feedings was more thorough at Mercy though.
But all in all everything went well, and I'm grateful for all the help we received from the hospital staff to my Mom and Tiffani watching Rowan while Ben and I stayed at the hospital. And now we have a beautiful, healthy baby girl, who is now 3 months old and a big chunk ;) We love her.
Here's some pictures of the journey.
The last picture of her in my belly.
This is right when they gave her to me. Right after this picture I put my left hand up towards her face and her little hand grasped my finger!
Exhausted. And rightfully so.
Getting all checked out.
She was not too happy about this.
Sweet big sister.
Just a big swollen mama. Really, this is not how I normally look, I'm just huge from labor and pregnancy.
Mom, Dad, Mike and Tiffani all came to visit. Thanks!
Part 3 coming next, about our trip to Vegas two days after Mercedes was born.