Tuesday, May 3, 2016

A Final Birth Story

On Thursday we finished raking and seeding the yard.  We planted a couple of ornamental trees, hostas and other perennials, a few petunias for instant color and hung planters above the front porch.

On Friday morning my water broke.

It was about 10 o'clock in the morning and I was wandering around, looking at the freshly planted  greenery. My heart was happy, knowing that huge job was done and I could now focus on getting the remaining tasks wrapped up to prepare for our baby.
I was in denial for the first few minutes, after all, I was still three weeks early!
I went into the laundry room to start a load of laundry and by the time my sandals were filled with water and there was a puddle on the floor, I had accepted the truth of the situation.
Panic set in.  I laid on my bed and contacted the necessary parties.
Though I wasn't having any contractions, labor usually goes quickly with me so we didn't mess around.  
Thus began a day of fruitless waiting.
And waiting.
And waiting.

This is step one in the Heavenly orchestrated event.
I needed time to transition from panic and fear of labor and delivery, to understanding that whatever the price, I needed to have the baby.  It became more important that she come out, than that she stay in.  
Our midwife wasn't going to get concerned until the next morning.  
We took walks, I did some yoga stretching, I drank hot raspberry leaf tea, Mom massaged my feet, I took a hot shower, all to no avail.
Through the night, I was up every 45 minutes, had several strong contractions thinking, "This is it!" 
But those contractions had no follow up.

By morning, I still was not in labor.  The baby was moving a lot, so I wasn't terribly concerned, but I knew time was no longer on our side.

We went to the birthing center and got settled in.  The midwife, Inga, checked my cervix--high and firm, only dilated to maybe a 2.  I was discouraged, knowing how long it could take to get from a 2 to a 10.  But, there we were and I knew we couldn't mess around.  The midwife threw every trick at me: a castor oil smoothie, regular doses of black and blue cohosh, massage, stirring things up in the uterus, so on and so forth.  I got a dose of penicillin, just in case, since infection was the worst threat to our baby at this point.  Then, saying she didn't want me to feel like a watched pot (THANK YOU!!), she left.  She only lives about 5 minutes from the birthing center, so she could get there quickly if it was necessary.  We knew we had plenty of time.

The birthing center is a Craftsman style farmhouse built in 1907.  We were in a bedroom with a comfy full-sized bed, antique dressers filled with medical equipment, a birthing tub, and a large window overlooking trees and the fresh spring greens, and filling the room with natural light.

By 10 o'clock, 24 hours after the membrane ruptured, every old trick had been administered and the midwife was gone.  Since it was a Saturday, Justin and I had the place to ourselves.  We cuddled up on the cushy bed together (instead of me being on the horribly uncomfortable hospital bed and Justin on the squeaky vinyl chair) and we watched a few old Seinfeld episodes on his tablet.  Eventually, he got hungry and decided to go grab some food at the nearby grocers.

After he left, the first rounds of caster oil took effect.  
I had my first small contractions.
By the time he got back, about 11:45, I reported that maybe we should start timing contractions.
In the hospital, there are wires and devices that measure a multitude of things.  One of those is regularity, duration and intensity of contractions.  Since we didn't have those devices, Justin deftly took on the role.  His scientist mind went to work as he pulled out his stop-watch app, kept figures and worked on charts.  It was quite adorable--and completely helpful!  Knowledge is power, as they say, and having bits of facts to gauge progress encouraged me.

By 12:30, I was confidant that I was in active labor, but knowing I had to get from a 2 to a 10, I figured I had a long way to go.  We snooped around and found a big exercise ball.  I labored on that for a long time, hoping it would help bring the baby's head down, which would in turn soften and open up the cervix.  

Eventually, I moved to the bed, contractions getting harder, longer and closer together.  At 1 o'clock, I told Mom she should probably head over, knowing it would take a good 30 minutes for her to arrive.

Laboring away in the pretty room.
Inga, my cute midwife, came back at 1:35 to administer a second dose of penicillin. I knew my progress was good, but that pessimistic starting point still had me cowed.  I told her it would be a little while yet (in my head, I thought 20-25 minutes), but that I didn't think I had time for antibiotics.  Ever obliging, she wanted our experience to be what we wanted it to be.  Since we were clearly in labor, our first concerning issues were resolved.  Baby's heart rate and other signs were good. She headed downstairs to wait for us to holler.

She didn't make it down the stairs.

The next contraction came long and hard . . . 
then that tell-tale pressure.
Everyone came running, gasping at the suddenness of it all.
(The other midwife and an assistant happened to come into the birthing center for something just minutes beforehand.)

This, I am sorry to say, is when the panic returned.
I knew what to do, but I didn't know what to do!  You know?
"What do I do?!  I don't know what to do!"
What I really meant was, someone tell me to calm down, collect myself, and push because it was time to deliver that baby.  Frantically, I looked at my husband for guidance.
"You know what to do!  Push!"
So I did.
Twice; once for the head and once for the rest of her.
Justin was able to catch her.
It was 1:47.  About a two hour labor.

"I did it! I did it! Oh, baby girl, we did it!"
That constitutes most of my communication over the next two or three hours.
I did it.

The midwives were trying to get the baby up on my chest.  Justin had never been able to catch the baby before, so he knew he had to give her over, but he did it slowly so he could savor that precious moment.

6lbs 6oz, 19.5 inches--fits in perfectly with my other babies, and not even our smallest!

So fresh.
There is no describing that laughy cry,
but I was in the middle of it when Mom arrived.
I honestly felt so bad that she had missed it.
It is the only sad thing of the day!

Isaac was in San Antonio, but we were exchanging information all day.
We got him on a video call as soon as we could.
Justin went to pick up the other kids after I was cleaned up a bit.

As you can see, she has been a hit!

There is more to the midwife/birthing center story, but that will have to come another time.

The most important part is that she is here, safe and sound.

We are all won over, without a doubt.
A beloved daughter and sister.

I did it.


  1. I love happy birth stories!! And the happy tears that come with them! I'm so glad for you and for your family. And (not to take anything away from hospital births, but) I do love newborn baby family pictures that reflect home.

  2. What a wonderful story to welcome your little girl. You did it, Emily!

  3. What a great experience. The birthing center...I wish there were one like that in my region. The "home" feel of a birth without having to do it at home! Yay for you and your sweet girl.

  4. Idk why but this made my tear up with happiness����❤️