Born at home, July 27, 2012 @ 8:00am
8 pounds and 20 inches
I don't know why it always takes me so long to write my birth stories, but once again, here I am almost six weeks later and I have yet to write a word! Well, today is the day! Brace yourselves- this post probably isn't appropriate for men or children.
So, Thursday the 26th of July was just carrying along, 8 days overdue, annoyed and uncomfortable. We had had our niece from California spend the night on Wednesday and that afternoon I was taking her and my boys into town to meet the other cousins and Grammy at a trampoline sports gym (my mother-in-law had all sorts of fun things planned for the entire two weeks she was here- all of which had to be dependent on my birth). We got to the gym at 4:00 and I was stunned that they didn't have air conditioning! I mean, holy hotness! Talk about taking my 9 months+ discomfort to a whole new level! All they had were massive fans that just swirled the sweltering air around! And the kids tickets were for TWO WHOLE HOURS!
Around 4:30 I had a contraction, which was fairly typical. I had learned to write off any kind of action I would have in the evenings because it always petered out and I figured that I would likely go into labor early in the morning as I had with both the boys. Things carried on that way for most of the evening, every 20 to 30 minutes I'd have another contraction, nothing I couldn't deal with, and then I would just carry on with my business.
A little after 11:00 Jeremiah and I were just sitting on our bed watching some TV (Deadliest Catch, to be exact) and I had a few contractions that were a little more serious, a little higher on the pain scale. I breathed through them just fine though and still thought it was just one more night of false labor. However, around midnight I went to pee (a common occurrence at that point) and noticed I was having show. That is the moment I knew I was actually in labor and it caught me a bit by surprise! I came back into the bedroom and told Jer about it and he asked me if I thought I was in labor. I told him yes, I was most definitely in labor so we needed to go to bed and get some rest. He looked at me a little cockeyed and asked if he should be getting things ready (like filling the tub) but I told him no, we needed to go to sleep! It was midnight, after all and we needed to at least get some rest before things kicked into high gear! I called my midwife to give her the heads up that I would be needing her at some point and then I went to bed.
Now, admittedly, it did take me quite a while to fall asleep. Even though the doula in me urged myself to take advantage of whatever sleep I could get, my anxious heart couldn't put to rest the fact that I was about to have my baby! So, I prayed… prayed for sleep and a smooth labor, and around 12:45 finally fell asleep. About every 20 minutes I would still have a contraction but I was able to kind of handle them in a half-wakeful state and continue to rest.
By about 2:20, however, it was too uncomfortable to lay down through the contractions so I decided to get up and get some last minute things done. I went downstairs and finished putting out my birth “party” supplies and food, did the dishes, made lemonade and ate some peanut butter & jelly toast (my typical go-to labor food).
As I bustled around things really picked up and my contractions started coming about every 5 minutes. At around 3:30 (I think) I started making calls, in between contractions, to my midwife and doulas. Since my midwife lives about an hour and a half away I asked her to head on in and just sleep on our couch until I needed her since I didn't want to cut it too close and have her not make it. I asked my doulas to come around 5:00am or so.
I continued to keep myself busy until about 4:20 when I finally woke up The Carpenter. Things had been coming hard enough that I wanted him awake and getting his end of the prep-work finished. I ended up laying down shortly after this and by 5:00 when my midwife arrived my labor had all but stopped! My contractions slowed to about every 20 minutes again and I began to wonder if I had been mistaken and I wasn't actually in labor. I felt really bad that I had called my whole team over and then it appeared that I wasn't in labor at all! As much as I felt badly, however, I also just really wanted to rest since I had been up most of the night.
My midwife assured me that I was in labor but my body was just resting up for the harder work. She said that she often sees a plateau when women are around a 7, so I should just take advantage of the break while I had it. After she checked mine and the baby's vitals (blood pressure and heart rate- she doesn't do vaginal exams, thank the Lord!) she headed downstairs to sleep for a bit and I continued to lay on our bed, mostly with my eyes shut. About that time my doulas also arrived. As I laid on the bed Jen did acupressure points on my ankles to see if things would get rolling again. I did have a couple of contractions but for the most part I just made light conversation interspersed with trying to tune everyone out so that I could rest.
The Carpenter and Sharon (one of my doulas and dear friends) helped me through contractions.
Around 6:00 The Carpenter and Jen convinced me to get up and get moving to see if that would help make things more active again. I sat on the birth ball for a short bit and then decided to go for a walk with Jer. I put on some sweats and one of his old sweatshirts and we headed downstairs. We hung out in the kitchen for a little bit and I weathered some more intense contractions. I then decided I was ready for the walk so I went in to pee first. Well, wouldn't ya know it? My water broke as soon as I sat down on the toilet! Thank you Jesus! No mess to clean up- it couldn't have broken in a better location!
When I came out I let my band of birth ladies and Jer know that the walk would not be happening and that it was time for me to get into the tub. After another contraction we headed upstairs and I got in the water. After a few contractions in the tub I felt like I needed… eh ehm… some alone time in the bathroom, so I had everyone leave the room and I weathered a few contractions on my own. After a couple of minutes, however, my midwife could hear me beginning to push. I think she asked me something along the lines of, “Are you pushing in there?” To which I answered, “Maybe…” She pretty much came right back in at that point and helped me get back into the tub where I tried to find the most comfortable (haha!) position to push in. One contraction reclining let me know that I really just wanted to be on my knees. So I knelt in the pool leaning with my head against the edge.
This was also about the time that Roman woke up and came in the room with Jer. Now, we had planned for my sister-in-law to be there with the boys (in another room), but everything was happening so early in the morning and they had been asleep, etc, etc, so basically we weren't able to get her there in time. So, when Roman came in to say “Good Morning” I wasn't at all sure about him being in there and figured that one of my doulas would have to go downstairs with him until my sister-in-law got there. He, however, insisted on staying! I asked him if he was sure and told him I would probably be getting pretty loud (which I had prepped the boys for ahead of time- I told them that it was painful but it was a good pain because it was bringing their sister into the world), and he still insisted that he wanted to stay. He told us that he wanted to make sure that Emme was ok and didn't get hurt. A protective brother right from the get-go! I had overwhelming pride even in the midst of labor!
Roman with Dana, my midwife
Anyhow, Roman ran back to his room to get dressed and I continued to labor in the tub. The pushing contractions came hard and long and for some reason felt much more intense to me than they did during Judah's birth (I pushed so long with Roman and it was such a different experience that that labor is hard to compare with my homebirths). Within 2 pushes her head was most of the way out but I honesty thought she was stuck. I felt like I flat out couldn't do it and they were going to have to haul me out of the tub and pull her out. Everyone reassured me that I could do it though, but I was hesitant to believe them! I distinctly remember reaching down and feeling her hairy head- I just kept my hand right on her crown and waited for the next contraction as I heard the sounds of everyone else discussing what was happening swirling around me in an almost other-worldly sort of way. I think some of them may have even asked me questions but I did not respond (although I did possibly yell- “I can't get her out,” “I think she's stuck,” “I think I'm going to split open,” and “Get her out!” ;-). On the third pushing contraction I delivered her head completely and on the fourth she was all the way out. Her head had been facing a little off center and she had her hand on her chin, which probably accounted for why it felt so much more intense!
The Carpenter caught her and then they somehow helped me to turn around and sit down so that I could grab her. The overwhelming emotion of that moment was so powerful, and different than with the boys- no less loving, just different. I was finally holding my very own daughter in my arms! And I had survived another labor, in my home, without drugs! Our beautiful Emmerson cried and squirmed and began to adjust to her new life outside the womb! I was instantly in love with her.
The redness you see is actually the reflection from the hideous pink window blind, not blood- I had almost no bleeding at all!
At almost the same moment as she was born, Judah awoke in his bedroom and began crying, loudly! Someone went in and brought him into our bathroom and Jer whisked him away into our bedroom to calm him down (he often awakens with crying and in a bad mood, so I don't think it was linked to the birth in any way, although he was later jealous of Roman for being in the room when she was born!). He soon calmed and Jer brought him in to really look at his sister for the first time. It was so precious seeing all three of my guys taking her in after she was born, in fact, I still love watching them look at her and hold her!
One funny little note though, that I just have to add here, is that shortly after Jer took Judah into our room to calm him I said, “She is a girl, right?” and took a quick peek between her legs just to make sure that the ultrasound tech hadn't made a mistake! Indeed, she was a girl. The really funny part, though, was that as soon as Jer came back into the room with Judah the first thing he said was, “She is a girl, right?” We all got a good laugh out of it!
Within minutes of being born Emmerson was sucking on her hands and looking for a target to latch onto! She quickly began nursing and doing it well- something I am very thankful for! After helping many mamas with nursing difficulties I am even more grateful for the ease with which my babies have taken to breastfeeding! That's not to say that the first few weeks aren't painful, ya know, sort of like someone putting your nipples in a vice grip and dragging it across the room every time they latch on! But the pain subsides (usually right in time for your afterbirth cramps to kick in!) and it is worth it… even if it doesn't start to feel like it until you are about 2 weeks in! She has continued to nurse successfully since birth and we are easily able to nurse through the night, sleeping side-by-side and affording her, daddy and me the maximum amount of sleep possible with a newborn!
But back to the birth! You didn't think I would leave out the gory details of delivering the placenta did you?!? I mean, we've come this far, why sugarcoat things now?! So yeah, I was sitting there nursing in the tub and growing increasingly uncomfortable because I hadn't delivered the placenta yet. Dana, my midwife, figured it was because it had probably detached and was sitting sort of on my tailbone. So they had me get up on my knees while I continued to hold and nurse her. Eventually, after probably a half an hour or so, I was able to push out the placenta and that felt much better! The Carpenter was then able to cut the cord (which was indeed a two-vessel cord) and hold her for the first time while I got out to get cleaned up. I was able to get right into the shower (which was SO nice) and start to feel a little more human again after that whole process.
While I was in the shower my sister-in-law arrived and was able to meet our precious little girl! She then took the boys downstairs and took care of them for the afternoon- SUCH a help! She even brought craft supplies so that they could each make Emmerson a big card! It was so sweet and they were so proud! I'm so glad she was there for the boys- they just adore her (especially Judah!).
After my shower I came down into our bedroom and Dana checked me over to see what kind of damage my girly bits had endured (which she didn't think was much because I had very little bleeding). Well, praise God Almighty- I didn't have one single tear! Not a scratch in the slightest! Wow- what a difference from my first two births! It turned out that taking those three whole contractions to deliver her head was actually the best thing that could have happened because it allowed me time to stretch! My recovery felt entirely different because of this and I am SO thankful!
My mom says we both look like monkeys in this picture!
Once Dana had checked me over I was able to admire and nurse my little love-bug some more! After a bit I was brought some food to snack on while Dana checked her all over, weighed and measured her and The Carpenter put on her very first diaper. She weighed a good amount more than either of the boys (they were 7.2 and 7.6, respectively) coming in at exactly 8 lbs (the same as me when I was born).
We soon began to have family pouring in to meet are precious new addition! They were all so excited to see her and hear how everything went.
Grandma (my grandmother, her great-grandmother)
Grammy (The Carpenter's Mom)
Pappy (The Carpenter's Dad)
Natanya (our niece)
After a few hours of streaming family members, my in-laws took our boys for the weekend and we were left just the three of us, Emmerson, Jeremiah and myself, for a little bonding and resting. The rest of that night is pretty much a blur. I think that by then I was so tired that my brain mostly shut off! Oh, I guess we did watch the opening ceremonies of the Olympics, but I think we mostly oogled over our little girl!
My labor wasn't picture perfect. It wasn't how I dreamed or expected. I yelled and even got a little angry at points, which wasn't what I wanted. There are things I would have changed if I had been given the chance and things I'd like to better prepare for next time (such as reminding The Carpenter that labor isn't the time to decide he wants to become a stand up comedian! ;-), but the result was perfect! I couldn't have asked for my body to end up in any better shape than it did, and well, the baby… she's perfect. She is exactly how I dreamed, everything I'd hoped and prayed for since I was a little girl. The overwhelming pride and joy I have over having a daughter is just indescribable! The elation I felt the moment I swept her into my arms just cannot be matched!
Thank you Jesus for answering so many of my prayers! Thank you for this beautiful and healthy baby girl who has ushered so much peace into a time of such chaos. When I look at her I see your grace spilled out on my life and I will never stop being grateful for it!