Friday, December 18, 2015

Neva's Birth Story

I feel like this story is going to be all over the map. I will probably include too many boring or unnecessary details. Bear with me.

[Neva Mae Ward was born December 11, 2015, at 7 lbs. 8 oz. and 20" long.]

Around 34 weeks, instead of seeing my midwives, I had to make a last-minute appointment change and I saw the nurse practitioner instead. As she measured my fundus, I mentioned, "At this point in my pregnancies I usually start measuring small." She made a surprised face and replied, "Yep, right as you said that I saw that you're measuring small. We'll get you scheduled for an ultrasound to check baby's growth."

I knew this was coming. That's why I had decided to follow my midwives (the two ladies I'd seen for my pregnancy with Barrett) when they switched practices. The old practice had been about 20 minutes from me. The new practice was about 50 minutes from me on a good day. When I was pregnant with Barrett, they had sent me for ultrasound after ultrasound when I started measuring small. It had been the same with William (at that time though, I was at a different practice in NC). Around 34 weeks my fluid would drop a bit and I'd start measuring too small. But with Will, my laid-back midwives had been content after one ultrasound that confirmed baby was good and fluid was just a bit low. With Barrett, the practice wasn't comfortable with that, so each week during that horrible frigid winter, I hauled Will in for another ultrasound to confirm that my amniotic fluid was still okay. After a bit, my midwives agreed that this was probably just how my pregnancies went and they stopped making me go for ultrasounds. (Which, though I'm not concerned that they have ill effects on the baby, I just find to be a huge pain in the butt.)

So one pro about moving to the new practice was that my midwives were already familiar with this little factoid about my pregnancies and would hopefully not be too concerned about it again, resulting in weekly ultrasounds I found to be unnecessary. Another pro was that I really liked these two ladies. The third pro, no less important than the first two, was that I could now deliver in the Karmanos Birth Center at Royal Oak Beaumont. During our birth center tour, Brian and I were blown away. It was like the most plush spa resort I'd ever seen. "No rules, just right," seemed to be its motto. Wear what you want, eat when and what you want, do whatever you like during labor (walk our vast walking labor trails, avail yourself of our many natural pain management options), have whomever you like visit, whenever you like, and have your families enjoy our private waiting room with fireplace and complimentary coffee and food. The room had an enormous king size bed and 24-hour room service. Brian was extremely excited to stay there. I, knowing I'd be there to, well, labor and give birth, wasn't as pumped but was still looking forward to the beautiful surroundings.

So when the nurser practitioner told me I'd need an ultrasound, I wasn't worried. It was a pain to schedule it in conjunction with my next midwife appointment, but Brian was able to take off work and watch the kids, so I ended up going alone and it was no big deal.

Baby looked great. "She's got beautiful kidneys," remarked Dana, the ultrasound technician.

But there was one little problem. She was measuring just a bit small - in the 14th percentile. My fluid, interestingly enough, looked great. I was 35 weeks at that point. Tracie, my midwife, reviewed the results. "Your little girl is measuring a little small, but she looks beautiful. There's nothing to worry about unless she starts measuring less than tenth percentile. Then unfortunately you wouldn't be able to deliver in the birth center. You'd have to go to the regular labor and delivery."

So you see where this is going.

Fast forward to 39 weeks. Brian's watching the kids again while I go in for a follow up ultrasound to check baby's growth. I'm still measuring small, about 36 weeks at this point. Dana tells me, "Wow, honey, you're really close." Her measurements had Baby Girl in the 10th percentile.

I went back out into the waiting room to wait for Tracie, and I was surprised when Dana walked out to talk to me. "I'm so sorry," she said, "but when I put the measurements into the system" (I forget the term she used for this fancy measurement system) "the result I got was seven."

"Seventh percentile???"

"Yes. I'm really sorry. I just wanted to tell you, so you didn't think I misspoke."

"What does that mean? Is she okay?"

"Well, I'll let Tracie go over all that with you. Your baby still looks beautiful and fine."

She left and I sat there and my eyes started to fill with tears. But then I stopped myself. Who cares if I can't deliver in the birth center? I COULD have just gotten the news that my baby didn't have a heartbeat anymore. That does happen to some people. God knows I'd have a c-section on the surface of the moon if it meant a healthy baby. So get over it, Maegan.

The nurse soon took me back to the exam room. She left a paper blanket on the table. "You'll need to undress from the waist down; she'll check you today." I thought that was a little funny, since checks weren't mandatory, but I'd been planning on asking for one anyway, so I didn't mind.

Tracie came in with a sad face. "I haven't seen you in weeks and now I have to give you bad news."

"I already know," I said. "I know I can't deliver in the birth center. But is anything else wrong?"

The answer was yes and no. No, nothing was WRONG with Baby Girl, except that YES, she had IUGR. Which meant that I needed to be induced. Immediately. That night.

I was shocked. "Can't I do it tomorrow morning, after I've had a good night's sleep?" I asked. Tracie reluctantly nodded. "You can do it early tomorrow, if you prefer." She explained that since Baby Girl had IUGR, she was safer out than in, that babies measuring so small had a higher rate of fetal demise. I didn't argue with her. There was nothing more important than making sure Baby Girl was safely here.

I had never been induced before - had never even considered it - and I had lots of questions. Tracie put my mind at ease. "This is your third baby. It will go beautifully." She checked me and gave me a rough exam. I was already measuring at four centimeters, baby's head was low, and the rough exam soon had me mildly contracting every ten minutes or so. My body had gone into labor with Will and Barrett both on their due dates, so I was at peace with inducing a few days early with this little girl.

The peace was surprising, however. I'd been telling everyone that I hoped to go late. I wasn't ready to go into labor, mentally or physically. I felt pretty good. I needed more time to wrap up my Christmas to-do list. It was Thursday; I was due the following Monday. I needed that weekend, I had told my mom. Just give me the weekend and then she can come. I was worried I'd go early. I 'd had a feeling that I would, and I didn't want to. So the surprise induction blew my plans out of the water. But it wasn't long before I grew excited to meet my daughter in a matter of hours.

In fact, I was so comfortable with the thought that when my other midwife, Chris, who was on call that night, called me around 5 pm and suggested I just "come in tonight and get it over with," I actually considered it. And then I decided, what the heck. Let's just do this. It's not going to be pleasant either way, but the way I'm contracting now, I might be going in at 2 AM anyway. I felt a lot more comfortable getting the kids set up with my dad and heading to the hospital - an hour away - in a calm manner. I'd been worried about making it there in time. My labors tend to be confusing and tricky to identify, and both times I've made it to the hospital, fully dilated, and with Barrett it was just in time to push. My midwife Chris said I'm "one of those spooky dilators."

Oh boy. This is getting long.

So we got to the hospital at eight. It was funny to drive there in peace, calmly chatting. It was surreal, too; it wouldn't be long before we met our baby girl. (!) Erin and my mom met us there, their excitement palpable.

But it didn't go as I had planned. I guess I'd been expecting Chris to meet us at the door, break my water right away, and get things rolling. But first Brian and I had to check into triage while Erin and my mom waited in the common waiting area. (I'm sorry. It's just that the Karmanos waiting room had been SO nice. I wanted to apologize to them.) We were there an hour while they monitored my contractions to see "if we can admit you." I wanted to say, "What? Where's my midwife? Of course I'm being admitted. That's the plan." I was already getting tired. I wanted to get it over with.

Well, it wasn't until ten that Chris actually broke my water. I was already experiencing a lot of disappointment by the time she did. I was tired. I was frustrated that I'd been there for two hours and I was only at a five and my contractions were still easy peasy, hardly noticeable, and that I'd been there TWO HOURS before she'd broken my water. I was in a stuffy, little L&D room with a stodgy nurse who wasn't very friendly and who was a stickler for protocol. I couldn't eat anything. I had a painful IV in my arm (I have a high pain tolerance, but that thing wasn't placed very well and it hurt). I was strapped up with two monitors that kept shifting around and The Nurse kept messing with me to reposition them. I was psyched up and ready for the pain to get serious as soon as my water broke, but it didn't. The contractions remained very, very manageable. With Barrett, the contractions threatened to rip me out of myself. With these, I had to pause to see if I was having "a good one." There's nothing like feeling a contraction, hoping it'll be nice and painful, and then having to admit to yourself that it really wasn't.

I also felt pressure to get it done quickly. There we all were, my mom and Brian and Erin and Chris and The Nurse, all in this tiny room, and suddenly I worried that we'd be there until nine in the morning. There wasn't anywhere for people to catch a nap, except one hard little sofa/bench thing that wouldn't even accommodate Brian's full length. These poor people, I thought, all here because I thought we could "do this fast" and be done by midnight. And my contractions aren't even bad yet. WE HAVE SO LONG TO GO.

I was impatient. I asked Chris what I could do to make the contractions more intense. She suggested walking the halls, so I did. I dragged my rolling pole around the halls - and by "halls" I mean the short stretch of labor and delivery that led to the double doors that opened into the glorious birth center. I would turn around and walk that short stretch again and again, Brian by my side. Again I felt a pang of disappointment that I wasn't walking the nice walking trails for laboring moms in the Birth Center. Oh WELL, I told myself. Get over it.

With each contraction I was disappointed that it wasn't MORE painful. When I finally started having "good ones," I hardly dared to hope. Could I be dilated? Maybe? Chris was calm and cool as a cucumber. She let me take the lead, only offering suggestions if I asked. "Should I get pitocin?" I'd asked, and she offered squatting as an alternative. So I squatted. Around midnight, I'd say, the contractions were picking up. But I still felt so discouraged. I was really expecting the hard, heavy contractions that had brought Barrett in such a short time.

The contractions became more intense, and of course there was The Nurse during almost every one, moving the monitors around my stomach to get the baby's heart rate. There's nothing more annoying than someone touching you undesirably during a contraction and I finally asked Chris to check me. I was so worried I wouldn't be past an eight. I wanted to be dilated. I wanted to be DONE.

I was almost at a ten, with a lip! "Can you stretch it?" I asked her, and she did - THAT hurt. But then, I was complete. Could it really be? The only problem was... I didn't feel any urge to push.

And so the story goes very similar to Will's, in this regard. I never really felt that urge to push the way I had with Barrett. I had to just DO IT, and that was very hard. It felt that at the end, my body almost stopped contracting, so I really felt pretty good (for being in labor, of course), and the thought of pushing and bringing ALL that pain on myself was so daunting. I really, also, didn't believe the end could be so near. I feared that one push would bring on an hour of pushing, and hour of pain. I just couldn't work up the courage to do it.

Chris had me using the squat bar, but after one attempt to pull myself up and push while squatting, I knew I wouldn't be able to do it in that position. I was too exhausted to exert myself any more than necessary, and the feeling of the baby moving through my pelvis was excruciatingly painful on my back. But all I could mutter was, "I can't do it. I can't do it." "Yes, you CAN," they'd reply, but it took me a while to articulate that I needed to be in another position. I kind of felt like I wanted to be on my hands and knees, but I wasn't feeling bold enough to say hey, THIS is what I want to do. My mom got the ball rolling, having Chris help me reposition myself with all those dang wires and cables tangled around myself. Now, on my hands and knees and somewhat more resting, I still felt so afraid. I would halfheartedly push, feel the pain, and stop. I couldn't really believe that I was anywhere close to actually pushing her out.

Finally, my mom told Chris, "I think she needs you to be more assertive." So Chris complied. "Maegan, you're this close," she said. I couldn't see Chris, but I could hear. My mom asked, "If she gave a good push, could she get the baby out in a contraction?" "Yes," Chris replied, and that was what I needed to hear. The next push, I felt the baby descend and emerge, but I was too tired to push again, and I felt her slip back in. "The baby was almost out!" said Chris happily, but I was so discouraged. "I know, and then she slid back," I said. "That's okay," Chris replied. "You'll get it next time."

This thing that was being required of me was so painful and so impossible that I finally grasped that there was no time like the present to do it. When I regained my strength and my breath I just DECIDED she was coming out, and I pushed with all my might and I felt her head like a rock coming out, and then when her head was out I started to rest and Chris told me to push again, but this time I had no oxygen and so I took a shallow breath and pushed with the rest of everything I had until I was shaking and had no breath left, and she slid out.

(Chris had broken my water at 10 PM, and she was born at 1:30 AM. It hadn't gone as fast as I would have liked, but I guess it really didn't take all that long at all. Throughout the next 24 hours I kept wondering, is it really over?)

Chris wanted me to grab her ("She's out! Come and get her!") but not only was I SO tired, there were also a mess of wires and cords that made it seem impossible to turn over without pulling something out. Finally, finally, I held my baby girl.

I had been so looking forward to this moment for months. Holding William and Barrett for the first time, those were lifetime mountaintop experiences and I knew holding Neva would be the same. But it wasn't quite the same. First, I was just so dang tired! Secondly, my poor baby cried and cried and cried. For probably the first hour, she cried. Even when I tried to nurse her, she would break off and cry. At the time I wondered if she would be a colicky, fussy baby. But she's not. I wonder now if she was just sad to be out of me sooner than she had planned. Finally, after having been induced for a scary-sounding reason, I just felt a little bit of foreboding. I kept asking, "Why is she so blue? She's so blue." At one point I felt a serious, serious gush and I asked Chris, "Am I okay? Why am I bleeding so much?" Everything was fine. Thank the Lord, it was all fine.

"Well, are you ready for us to take her so we can do her measurements?" asked The Nurse. "Not yet," I told her. "I want to wait." After a little while she asked again. Finally I let them take her, still crying, to get her weight and length. Everyone was so curious to know how this little girl with IUGR (who didn't really look that little now that she was out) would weigh in. Turns out, she was my biggest baby yet. Chris was crestfallen as she told me.  But I laughed. "It figures! My biggest baby yet." At that point, I had my healthy baby girl and I was done. I couldn't have asked for anything more and I certainly wasn't going to sit there and pout. I would rather she had been my biggest baby than be concerningly small, having to undergo a blood sugar protocol every few hours. Brian crowed, "I knew it! I knew we should have been allowed to deliver in the birth center." What could I say? I just had to trust that God had a plan.

(That big king size bed would have been really nice during postpartum recovery, though. Later, when Tracie came to visit me, she told me she was so frustrated with the medical staff for not letting us transfer to one of the birth center rooms to recover, even for just one night. I shrugged. I wasn't expecting that. Looking back, I'm so glad that I remembered what was important and what wasn't. Instead of being a huge disappointment, this just became a funny little part of the story.)

I hate to say it, but I was relieved when my mom and Erin took her from me, and my mom covered me with warm blankets, and I could finally sleep, deeply, knowing that Mom and Erin were taking care of my precious girl. I couldn't have slept otherwise. I woke when they finally left, probably around 3. That good solid 45 minutes of sleep was crucial for the next day or two. Thank God for that.

The rest of the story is the same old wonderful story it's always been when I have a new baby. I just fall madly in love. And it's been no different with Neva. One thing that helped with this was that we were in the hospital for two days (NOT by choice) which is standard for postpartum there, but not standard for me! After Will, we were ready to go home five hours later. With Barrett, I had to stay 24 hours and barely survived the boredom! With Neva, I WANTED to leave early, but I couldn't. They had to test this and that, and some tests she failed so we had to stay. (Ultimately, she passed them all.) With nothing to do but eat and hold my new baby, we settled in. Later, when I got home, I felt so much longing for the peaceful time in the hospital holding my sweet girl for hours. I took a look at her in the swing while I was busy with one of the boys and I just started to cry... I missed her. I am SO thankful we were made to stay. From now on, I will enjoy that time in the hospital with a new baby (if we're blessed again!).

Some photos of the birth of my THIRD baby! (I still can't believe it!) and my FIRST DAUGHTER!

My mom is essential. Essential!

Erin has become a fixture during labor.

She was excited to be there, and I was excited to have her!
Maybe right now she's saying, "You brought Cliff Bars! I love Cliff Bars!"

Around 11:30, labor started getting more intense.

Pausing for a photo. At this point I was thinking, "I'm not supposed to be able to smile right now. This labor is going to last FOREVER." 

Wonderful Chris.

"Maybe... I mean, should you check me? I don't know."

It's "push time!" So Mom, who feels like she might be coming down with a cold, insists on strapping on this surgical mask to protect the baby from germs. I tell her I won't push the baby out if she doesn't take it off! Chris tells her it's ok to remove it.

Trying to work up the courage to push.

My perfect girl, fresh into the world.

Welcoming Neva.

Holding her for the first time.

Thanking God!

Brian sees his daughter. 
I love this picture of Grandma and Neva!

Dazed and tired and happy.

Auntie Erin

I love this picture. I don't know what they're looking at, but to me they look like brother and sister. : )

They had to take her to measure and fuss with her.


Who does she look like? Is she pretty? (Normal parent thoughts, I hope?)

Finally back with me.

Sweet girl is still crying.

She looks SO MUCH like Barrett, here. I was shocked - I thought she'd look like Will. She's actually growing more like Will than I originally thought, but of course she's going to have her own little look.

Finally calm.

Mom wrapped me up. I was so tired.

"I can sleep, knowing she's in good hands."

Becca visited us the next day!

Faraway visitors! How special this was! 


  1. Loved your story - you are so precious! It is a blast watching you with your children!!! Love, Debbie

  2. What a beautiful story Maegan. Thanks fir sharing! ❤️ Allison

  3. You guys are so sweet. Thank you.