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Dahlia Sabine Leffert-Koltz

posted Sep 29, 2015, 11:55 AM by Lisa Baracker

I could easily write volumes and volumes on the details of her birth, but I’ll try my best to keep this a reasonable length.  I had gone to the gym on the morning of January 12. Her due date wasn’t until January 18, so I figured it wouldn’t hurt any to get in some good cardio and do a few weight machines and yoga positions to keep my body prepared. My mother is convinced it was that trip to the gym that got things going...

I had just gone to sleep a bit after midnight when I woken up just after 2:00am to what I call a Braxton-Hicks-Plus. I had had a few of these contractions in the past on random occasions – a Braxton-Hicks mixed with a little menstrual-crampiness. They were always isolated, so I didn’t think much of it and went back to sleep. But it happened again about 5 minutes later, and again. I started pacing up and down the hall, wondering if this was it. I called Cathy, who said “Yes, this might be the start. It might also not be. Call me back in a few hours if anything changes”. They were happening about every 10-15 minutes now, and had started to include much more pain in my lower-back, but I was still able to breathe through them. The back pain got worse with each one, and I knew I needed a hands-and-knees position. I woke my husband, and we set up a yoga mat on the floor with some folded blankets for softness around my knees. I had him push on my lower back with all of his body-weight during each contraction, and helped a LOT. So did a little cat-and-cow in between. The counter-pressure on my back and my breathing technique worked awesomely for the next few hours.

Around 6:00am I had a VERY intense contraction during which I felt faint and dizzy and nauseous, and toward the end of it, my water broke and flooded all over my pajama pants, and the yoga mat and blankets. Now the contractions were much MUCH more intense and painful, and I couldn’t just breathe through them. I needed to make noise. Luckily, Ina-May’s book came to the rescue and I made low, mooing noises which got me through much of what was to come. I also remembered everything my prenatal yoga instructor said about the importance of resting in between, without thinking about the last or next contraction.

I started feeling scared because of the intensity, so we called Cathy again. She came over around 7:30am, and Lisa was able to come, too. I totally lost track of time at that point, and started receding into my “labor zone”, where I was completely oblivious to most of what was going on around me. Lisa and Cathy really encouraged me to get in the shower, but I needed to be on hands and knees, so we moved a few yoga mats and towels to the bottom of the tub and somehow I got in there. The next few hours were increasingly intense. I remember someone trying to feed me a banana and get me to drink some water, but I felt nauseous with each contraction and was scared I would throw up. The intensity seemed to grow exponentially with each contraction, and I was feeling scared and overwhelmed. At some point, I screamed “I CAN’T FUCKING DO THIS ANYMORE!!!” and Lisa's sweet voice responded “but Robin, you ARE doing it.” They figured I would be laboring in the tub like this for a while longer, but apparently there was a significant gush of blood and when they looked between my legs, someone said “it’s time to go.” 

I have no idea how they got me out of the tub and dried off, but somehow I had my robe on and “between contractions” I made it to the car (I put that in quotes because by now, even when I wasn’t actively contracting, there was so much pain and pressure on my pelvic floor that I couldn’t relax at all). I remember the clock in the car saying 10:34 – it had been just over 6 hours. The 10-minute ride to the hospital felt like it took an eternity. I spent about 3 minutes in L&D triage, where it was determined that I was 8 centimeters and moving fast, so they rushed me to a delivery room. I remember someone asking me something about pain medications and my mouth responding “no” without even having to think about it. It simply didn't occur to me that I should take them.

At this point, I was feeling the urge to push but couldn’t because I still needed 2 centimeters. This is when I started to totally lose it. My breathing was getting shallower and my moaning was getting more and more high pitched. I kept screaming about needing to push, and about being scared, and about not wanting to do this anymore. Lisa got up in my face, practically nose-to-nose with me, and told me to look at her. She then somewhat sternly said “Robin, you need to slow down. Slow your breathing down, and blow through it.” This was the only time I remember looking at anyone’s face through the entire process. I couldn't handle any more stimulation than what was happening inside my body, and looking at people would've been way too much visual stimulation! But looking at Lisa's face and listening to her take control of the situation helped me to re-center and calm down when I felt like I was losing it.

It must have been about 11:30ish when someone finally checked my cervix again and said I was ready to push. Someone got a squat bar, and Lisa wrapped a sheet around the middle for me to pull on. The first few pushes felt like a relief, but they pretty quickly got painful. I noticed that I would consciously initiate each push, but then my body would take over about halfway and take it farther than I could have thought possible. My legs were braced up against the squat bar, and my husband told me later that he could see every single muscle in my body popping out and quivering with each push. No wonder the next few days had me feeling like I had climbed Mount Kilimanjaro! The pushes weren't as effective as they needed to be, so Lisa and Cathy coached me on how to focus the energy downward and outward.

At 12:25pm, I had a push that felt like it was on auto-pilot with no plans for ever stopping. But it did, and Dahlia was there. I heard someone say “it’s a girl”, which I could hardly believe. I had had hundreds of people (family, friends, co-workers, and strangers alike) all tell me I was having a boy for sure, based on the size and shape of my belly. Don’t believe what they tell you!

She came straight to my chest, and stayed there for the next hour and a half. The placenta came just a few minutes later, but it took a while for the doctors to stitch me up (a 3rd degree tear – ouch!). Everyone stood around in disbelief at what a “large” baby she turned out to be. We were all expecting a 5-pounder!

To wrap up, those 10 hours were the most painful, intense, difficult, yet amazing hours of my entire life. I really was on another dimension in another world the entire time. I had no idea what to expect from labor, but what happened was definitely not what I expected! I remember feeling afraid, but not for the reasons I thought I would be. I definitely could not have done it without Lisa and Cathy -- AMAZING in every way! No matter how scared I was, I somehow knew deep inside that if they told me I was doing alright (which they did, repeatedly), then everything must really be fine, even if it didn’t feel fine.

Dahlia was born on January 13 at 12:25pm. She weighed 6 pounds, 10.5 ounces, and was 19.5 inches long.