Meet Olive Ann Fiala!
She came to join us on Sunday, February 20th at 4:45pm – five days before her estimated due date. We had a water birth at St. Joseph’s hospital in St. Paul, MN. She weighed 6 lbs 6 oz and was 19 3/4 inches long.
On Sunday morning I was woken up by cramps around 7:30. They weren’t terrible and they weren’t frequent but they bothered me enough to wake me up. I hung out in bed for a while wondering if these were real contractions (as I had barely felt a single braxton hicks contraction let alone a real one during the entire pregnancy). I had heard of a few things that people do that cause the contractions to stop if they are false and thought I would give those a try. I took a warm shower and attempted to go back to bed. I don’t recall if I slept but I know that the cramps did not subside!
Tyler and I decided that I should call the on call midwife at St. Joe’s and tell her how I was feeling. She told me to relax and start timing the contractions – this could be it or it could be false. I was to call again if they were 5 mins apart for at least an hour straight. We immediately started timing them and they were ranging from 10-7 mins apart. It was probably around 11 at this point. This is also about when the second large snow storm of the winter was just beginning. We were expecting more than a foot of snow which was causing us some anxiety as our hospital was approximately 20 minutes away via highway on a good day.
The contractions were becoming increasingly more painful. I relied on some strategies learned from my doula. She had showed me some ways that we could use a yoga ball during contractions and that inspired me to play around with different positions each time a contraction came long. I found that being on my hands and knees or being on my knees and leaning on my yoga ball brought me the most relief.
This entire time Tyler and I were debating what he should do. While it was a Sunday and he typically doesn’t work weekends he was on-call for snow removal and the snow had begun. Should he go in and try to feel his phone vibrate if I needed him? But would the roads be passable? Would he feel his phone at all? I think we unofficially decided that he shouldn’t go in.
Probably around 1 or 1:30 I had Tyler call the on-call midwife again because the pain was getting pretty intense and the contractions were around 4-5 minutes apart. They hadn’t been coming so close together for an hour yet but it wasn’t taking long for them to get closer and closer! The midwife again seemed not overly concerned but she did tell us to come in. Because of the snow and because of our distance from the hospital she told us to come in a little earlier than she would have otherwise. Tyler then loaded the car while I moaned “ow, ow, ow” repeatedly and tried to put on my coat. All the while our pup, Honey, was getting increasingly concerned with the situation.
We got in the car and carefully made our way to I-94 through the snow. I was sprawled out in the front seat with my eyes closed. While on the highway, about half way there, a car spun out in front of us. After Tyler said something suddenly and swerved slightly as I continued to moan “ow, ow, ow”, I opened my eyes just in time to see a car drifting toward the median, crash into, and stop facing the wrong way as we passed it. Yikes! Tyler called our doula, Christine, while we were on our way to the hospital. I had already given her a heads up earlier in the day via text message that this could be the day. While she typically waits until you arrive at the hospital and are dilated to a 5 she told Tyler that she would leave shortly as she figured I would go quick!
Tyler started to say how close we were getting as we approached the hospital. I kept thinking discouraging thoughts about how we may be close to the hospital but once we got there it would still take so long. We finally pulled up the emergency entrance (actually it only took us about 5-10 minutes longer in the snow!) and Tyler went inside to find a wheel chair because I was not in the mood to walk! He wheeled me in and I had to sit for what felt like an eternity until a hospital transporter arrive to take me to the maternity floor. The transporter also mentioned a multiple times that we were getting closer to the maternity area. Again my mind reminded me that this was just the beginning – oh no! It was about 2:30pm.
I was wheeled right into a room which happened to conveniently be right next door to the water birth room. Tyler called Christine to tell her we had arrived and went to move the car from the emergency door to the parking ramp. As he did this our wonderful nurse talked me through making my contractions more productive (like not saying “ow, ow, ow” in a rather high pitched voice) and she checked to see how much I was dilated. Ready? I was already dilated 10 cm!!!!!!! The tub was already being filled for me, I got situated in bed, and they wheeled me in the bed to the water birth room. I had a few more contractions in the bed as I was afraid of standing up to get into the tub.
I got out of bed and carefully climbed into the tub. My contractions immediately became easier to handle and I was told that I could push as soon as my body felt like it and that the contractions would then be easier to bear. Tyler soon came back to the room from moving the car to find me and the bed missing. He found us in the water birth room just as I was ready to push.
I pushed while laying in the tub through a few contractions and then Christine arrived. I don’t think I actually saw her as I had my eyes closed nearly the entire time, but I could hear her voice. It was wonderful to have her there to coach me along. The nurses and the midwife were wonderful but I found it useful to have one very familiar voice to focus on. Per Tyler’s suggestion I hesitantly moved to hands and knees position to pushed through some contractions. I was having a difficult time pushing for the entire count of 10 and wondered if this was even going to be possible! I then tried crouching at the side of the tub, facing Tyler and Christine (still with my eyes closed), with my hands gripping the side of the tub. These contractions seemed more productive. They could feel the baby’s head easily and knew that the water had broken by this point. The baby was quickly moving down the birth canal but I was still having a rough time pushing through the count of 10.
Someone suggested that I lay in the tub and hold my knees up. I got into this position and could feel that the baby was closer and closer during each contraction though I was having a tough time holding my knees and keeping my head down. In this position I think they prefer to have a little less water in the tub as every time I pushed I started to float away! Tyler, Christine, and the nurses did their best to support me in the water. I actually enjoyed that greatly as it allowed me to put all of my force into pushing. I noticed that while in other positions I was putting a lot of pressure on the tub and not as much in the push.
The baby started coming and I started getting louder! During one contraction her head was coming but the contraction ended. I had to float there waiting for the next one to start while having the most uncomfortable and awkward feeling I’ve ever experienced. I believe I told everyone that I didn’t like it, too.
The next contraction seemed to take forever but it finally arrived! I pushed as hard as I could and the baby came out! They helped the baby up through the water and put it in my arms. I looked down and saw that the baby was a girl!! We sat in the tub together, with Tyler right behind us, as they let the cord pulse. Tyler and I both declined to cut the cord but watched the midwife do it. It was 4:45pm.
The baby was passed to Tyler and he held her as they checked me on the bed. I learned that I tore and would need stitches and that I was hemorrhaging so I needed a shot of pitocin in order to deliver the placenta as soon as possible. The shot was given in my leg and I soon delivered the placenta. If I thought the baby’s head coming out was awkward I was mistaken – this was surely the most awkward and uncomfortable thing I have ever experienced. I was given a few shots to numb the area, was stitched up, and had my tummy pressed on numerous times to get all kinds of icky things out.
When everything was done I was given the baby so that I could breastfeed her. Tyler and I were able to stay in that room with her for a while after her birth. I fed her straight for an entire hour before being moved back to our room.
During the next few days Tyler and I ate an obscene amount of food, cuddled with our baby, discussed what her name should be, I took many warm baths, and we had some visitors all while enjoying the snowstorm that continued to unfold out our window.
We had a wonderful experience at St. Joe’s. The baby stayed in our room with us, she left only for a hearing test and a blood draw. We had many wonderful nurses and midwives. We ate so much food.
We officially decided to name our new baby girl Olive Ann about five minutes before we left the hospital. Olive weighed 6 lbs at her discharge. We bundled her up, put her in her car seat, and Tyler got our car. Olive slept nearly the entire drive home. We stopped for gas as our gas light was on while driving to the hospital (Tyler was right to withhold this information from me that day!) though our gas light goes on a lot earlier than it needs to. But it’s still concerning. While getting gas Tyler checked our tire pressure and one of the front tires was at 11 lbs! Nearly flat! As we later found out we had a nail in the tire and had a slow leak for who knows how long.
In conclusion, I started with crampy contractions that were rather far apart at about 7:30 am on Sunday, February 20th. We arrived at the hospital at about 2:30pm and our little Olive Ann was born at 4:45pm. Wow! We had the all natural water birth we wanted! :) I honestly cannot imagine having it any other way!
No one knew that we were having Olive before we did – we had no time to give a heads up to anyone, not even our parents! At the time of her birth my mom and Tyler’s mom were on the phone with each other. My dad was at a party to which he brought a jar of fancy Olives and met a dog name Olive. He was also asked if he was a grandpa yet and looked down at his watch to see that it was 4:45. Our friend, Ben, wrote a song for Olive the afternoon of her birth.
Here are some photos of our little love, Olive:
(photos are not edited, save for the last two, but I needed to get something up here!)
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. Psalm 139:13