Hello Farmgirls near and far! Sorry I missed you for my previous post, but I was busy meeting the newest love of my life: Ava Maureen Wilder. She is the best thing! She was born eleven days past her due date on January 28 at 1:03 p.m. weighing 8 pounds 2 ounces and measuring a whopping 19 inches long. We are pretty sure she’s a genius already, scoring 9 out of 10 on her Apgar right out of the womb. Labor was long and laborious, but one of the first thoughts that came to my mind when it was over that I could do it 5 or 6 more times (that thought has since calmed down a bit)! The little munchkin is happily cooing and staring at her Grandma Gail right now, so come and meet her while I have a chance to write before getting drawn into staring at her beautiful babiness!
My labor and delivery weren’t what I had hoped for and expected…but then whose are? My water broke at about 1:00 a.m. the morning of Monday January 27. Unfortunately, labor didn’t progress very quickly from there (I was in early labor and having contractions about every 15 to 20 minutes) so I ended up at the midwifery at 2 p.m. to try to get things moving along. I drank some tasty castor oil tea and went home to wait for it to do its thing. By 5:00 p.m. on the 27th, contractions were coming quickly and furiously, so we headed into the midwifery to finally welcome our baby into the world! I was only dilated 2 cm and still not fully effaced. In the following hours I labored in the giant warm tub, on the bed, on an exercise ball, walking stairs, in the shower, sitting in a birthing chair and leaning against Evan. Alas, by midnight-ish I had only progressed to 4 cm, and my tired body was ready for a rest. My contractions had slowed down a bit, so we made a last ditch effort by using a breast pump to get them started again. By 2 a.m. I was still at 4 cm.
In Alaska, state midwifery regulations (or something like that) state that a woman has to be in active labor within 24 hours of the water breaking to give birth outside of a hospital. Because we had surpassed that time, we had to move to the hospital. I was slightly upset to leave the comfort and serenity of the birthing center (The birthing rooms are gorgeous with candles everywhere, the great big in-room tub and double headed shower in the connected bathroom…). However, I knew that this is what would have to happen in this situation and I had gone into the process just wanting a healthy mom and a healthy baby in the end. So, we switched midwives (our first midwife had been on the clock for a long time!) and headed to the hospital.
The hospital was fine, but it took a long time to get settled in. I was finally checked in and ready to rest in a bed by 6 a.m. They started me on some Pitocin to reinitiate strong contractions and I asked for a dose of Stadol to allow me to rest for an hour. The thing I am most upset about is the Pitocin–I had wanted a totally natural birth, and now I was hooked up to IVs and a fetal heart monitor. But at the time I was pretty laid back about everything…I am just upset in retrospect. I am proud of myself for insisting that they stop upping (and even lower a notch) the Pitocin once I felt like contractions were strong enough. I also didn’t have any other pain meds after the hour of Stadol for rest. I ended up spending much of the morning in the small tub in the bathroom attached to the room, with our awesome midwife and Evan showering me with the handheld shower head. Finally I couldn’t resist the urge to push and was moved back to the bed. After two hours of pushing Ava was born! She was a she! Almost everyone had expected us to have a boy, but we were all wrong! I am so excited to have a little girl to share this crazy and awesome world with.
There were some weird things that happened during labor–for example at one point I heard men’s voices in my room (I was in the bathtub at this point). I asked what it was, and was informed that men were replacing the computer in the room. Really?! This was when I was about 30 minutes from pushing and there were random men in the room. All I can say is that I’m happy I am me and not a woman who would have been easily set back in labor progression by that…
It turns out that Ava’s head was a little cocked to one side, so she wasn’t able to move down the birth canal very easily. She also had the cord wrapped around her ankle and there was a slight cord prolapse that caused her heart rate to dip during the later stages of labor. There were definitely parts of this birthing experience that I am bummed about, but overall, I am just ecstatic that we have this beautiful, happy, healthy little baby girl to share the world with.
At many points I doubted the integrity of my body, and I was disappointed in it. I’ve always had a lot of faith in my body, especially as a Farmgirl and educator who relies on my body for a large part of my livelihood! One of the midwives mentioned to me that labor is often difficult for strong women–it tests the limits of our bodies’ and minds’ abilities. I think this is something many Farmgirls can relate to both in farming and life. There are very long days and very heavy loads to carry into and out of the fields, there are major decisions that have to be made very quickly, and there are outcomes that have to be gracefully dealt with no matter how disappointing they are.
Again, all in all I couldn’t be happier with our happy little family right now. Evan was an amazing support person during labor and delivery (and all through pregnancy for that matter). he was even better as my maid/cook/gopher for the 10 days postpartum when I was bed ridden. I truly don’t know what I would have done without him!! We have spent days and days just staring at and loving this beautiful little bundle. We have been in our own little world of loving and cuddling in the cozy yurt. Our hearts runneth over! I know it’s a common effect of all of these great hormones, but I have cried with love and pride countless times over the last two weeks. Everyone says that the love one feels for their own children is amazingly powerful and pure, but it is so indescribable! What a fantastic journey this life is.
I already have plans of strapping this baby to my chest or back to work in some farm fields this summer. She comes from a long line of dairy farmers (from her daddy) and veggie growers (from her mama). Watch out agriculture! There’s a new female farmer in the making (or marine biologist? or veterinarian? or vagabond poet? or mountaineer? I guess she’ll decide when the time comes…).
Loving this adventure so far! Thanks for all of your support and good thoughts over the last months!
Sending you peace and love,
Alex, The Rural Farmgirl