Here, she is, finally! Our lovely Anastasia was born on September, 24th, 2013 (a Tuesday) at 16:05, two blocks from my mother's apartment in Paris, on a beautiful, warm, and sunny Autumn day. She is so beautiful! She has big chubby cheeks and a heart-shaped mouth, dark hair and rather serious looking eyebrows. Her ears are masterpieces.
We decided that we could no longer afford to wait for her appearance as Levi's departure was closing in, we decided to induce labor. I had done a lot of research this time around, and I really wanted to have as natural of a birth as possible. I was even toying with the idea of having a home birth with the birthing pool, but I thought it would be pushing it, considering we are staying at my mom's and her apartment would not lend itself well to such a plan.
However, I was fortunate enough to be able to secure a spot at a very nearby maternity which happened to have a very good reputation. I had all my appointments, including ultrasounds and lab tests, which is extremely rare in Paris. You normally go to a different place for each of these and you have to book your appointments well in advance. Something interesting I found out - and frankly disturbing, is that they encourage expecting mothers to have 3 different ultrasounds, one for each trimester. When I asked the technician about it, she explained that in France, a woman is legally free to abort the pregnancy until the very end. So, if they detected the slight problem or raised concern about what they were able to observe during the ultrasound, the parents could choose to terminate the life of their unborn child.
Let's get back to more joyous subject: so, after Levi dropped Eve and Sophie off to school, we set off for the maternity after making sure that they weren't too busy that morning. We arrived before 10:30 and by the time we went through admissions, we were in the birthing room by 11. My midwife checked me and told me I was dilated to a 3. She explained to us the process of inducing labor: she would first break my waters, see if that would get the contractions going, then I would have an IV put in and the nurse would administer pitocin, starting with a low dosage and increase it every hour or so until I would be completely dilated and baby ready for transition.
I was confident it would go rather quickly as I had had contractions weeks before, from the time I was 34 weeks pregnant. Plus, during the last two-three weeks of pregnancy, I had been drinking red raspberry leaf tea and taken supplements of evening primrose oil (yeah, I was getting a bit desperate, but I had also done some research that revealed that both of these plants helped ripen the cervix and prevent tears and damage during labor).
So after getting set up, Fanny (my midwife), broke my waters and 20 min later, the nurse started the "wonder-drug". The nurse, named Claire, was rather sarcastic and at times I wasn't sure if I should lauggh or be offended by some of her puns. She was in charge of the least agreable part of the whole process: setting up the IV. I had a very unpleasant, almost traumatic experience with IVs during Sophie's birth, as the nurse made 4 attempts before getting it right...and believe me, the last thing you need when you are trying to concentrate through the pain of contractions is to be poked several times in both arms. So, when Claire's first attempt failed, I thought to myself: "oh boy, here we go again!" But she got it the second time around and I forgave her.
I was able to bear the contractions at the beginning: I had downloaded birthing relaxation tracks on my phone and they helped me get into the zone. By the 3rd increase of dosage (up to 60 ml/h), I lost my concentration and was finding it hard to focus on my breathing. Luckily I was able (and allowed) to move around despite the IV and the monitoring devices attached to me. The hardest part of labor last a couple of hours and I was ready to beg for the epidural - I could tell Levi wanted me to get it as he could not bear to see me in pain ( the poor dear, right?), but Fanny was very encouraging and persuasive. She kept saying that I was very close to having the baby. I think the worst of it all is NOT KNOWING how much longer it would be. I simply could not find a comfortable position, whether I was standing, leaning, bouncing on the birthing ball, crouching, and I seriously thought it would go on forever.
Finally when Fanny last checked me, I was dilated to an 8 and she confirmed that it would go very quickly from then on; all of a sudden, I lost my cool and got scared: I had never before experienced the real pain of labour as I had epidurals for both Eve and Sophie. Fanny told me that if I went to the bathroom, it would make room for the baby's head to come down. I told her there was no way I would make it to the restroom, so she brought a basin. As soon as I sat on it, I felt the urge to push - I thought I was just going to the bathroom when I realized that it was her head I could feel coming down!
Fanny exorted me NOT to push and I screamed back that I HAD TO push. In a last effort and upon her exortations to move to the bed, I raised myself up and off of the basin, but I could not make it onto the bed. Levi and Fanny helped lay me down on the floor and urged me to push, breath, push again, and she was out.
The ombilical cord was surprisingly short, so the midwife could not place Anastasia on my chest without cutting it, but she assured me it had stopped pulsing. As soon as I held her, I felt elated. I had felt no pain from the delivery and I just could not believe it was over. I was helped onto the bed whilst Levi held our baby in order to push the placenta out.
She weighed 3,920 kg or 8,65 lbs and measured 50,5 cm or 19,88 in: my biggest baby yet. She looked perfect, not at all like a newborn: she came out clean and hardly even cried. I loved not being incapacitated by the anasthesia and feeling my legs. It made my recovery much quicker, so this was by far my best birthing experience.I should add that during the last 3 weeks of pregnancy, I drank rasperry leaf tea and took evening primrose oil supplements. I really think that those helped make my recovery faster and easier.
We just could not agree on her name: I loved the names Catherine, Claire, and Lucie, but they were just not good enough for Levi. In France, you have 3 days to declare the baby's birth. So while I was still in the hospital, Levi went to the townhall with the best name we could agree on, but having second thoughts, he called me with a book of names and started going down the list. We didn't get past the letter A.
Anastasia is a tribute to my slavic origins (think of the Russian princess), but as I recently learned, it comes from the Greek and means "resurrection": I love it! I also love the meaning of Lucie: light. Levi was sold on it and we've agreed that we simply cannot have any more girls as we struggled so much to find a name for this one.
Her sisters absolutely adore her and want to hold her all of the time. She truly is a light and joy in our family.