Monday, November 3, 2014

The Birth of Emmalyn Faith-A VBA2C

In order to understand my journey to birth naturally after two prior c-sections, you have to learn where I've been. You can read about the unnecessary cesarean births of my two older children here.
    I awoke about 1am on the morning of October 11th with some mild contractions. I could tell these were the real deal because they started at the front and wrapped all the way to the back of my body, and they also did not subside with movement or position change.  The contractions were pretty tolerable and irregular so I did my best to sleep through them. I knew that if the baby would be coming in a day or so, the best thing I could do is rest. I woke up that morning around 730 and made my kids waffles for breakfast. I had a few instances where I would have to breathe through a contraction, but they still weren't picking up in frequency or intensity. My mom was here, and I tried to hide it from her because I really didn't want the pressure of a whole lot of people knowing that I could be in labor. I actually didn't tell anyone, even a text message to my closest friends until after the baby was born.
  I texted my midwife Sarah to let her know what was going on. She told me to make sure I was eating, drinking, and resting. I took a two hour nap after breakfast. Throughout the rest of the day and afternoon, the contractions had pretty much subsided. I figured I probably still had a few days or so before the baby would make her appearance. I took another nice nap in the afternoon.
   About 430 p.m. I lost my mucus plug. I knew that didn't necessarily mean that full-blown labor was imminent, but I couldn't help but be a little bit excited. I made dinner for my family and went about my normal routine.
. We put the kids to bed around 8, and I settled down to watch Netflix while Jeff worked on his homework. By this time, my contractions were about a minute or so long and about 10 minutes apart. They were much more intense, but I was still coping well and tried to sleep between them. We planned to stay home to labor before heading to the birth center. I was keeping Sarah up to date with frequent texts.
By 11pm, the contractions had grown closer together and more intense. I could no longer sleep between them because laying down was absolute agony. The most comforting thing was leaning over and surrendering all my weight on a large exercise ball. I took long deep breaths in through my nose, and then let each breath out slowly through my mouth.  The contractions grew more intense still, and I decided to take a shower. The hot water felt so comforting as it trickled over my body. Since the contractions seemed much closer together, I woke Jeff up so he could help me time them. He wasn't being a bum and abandoning me in my time of need. I hadn't awakened him because I was coping well by myself, and I also felt the need to be alone.  By now it was about 1am, and my contractions were really intense and 5 minutes or less apart. I decided that I wanted to head to the birth center since it was about a 40 minute drive. I texted Sarah to let her know that we were headed that way so that she and her supervising midwife Emily could meet us there.
     Lynsey wanted to be at the birth so we woke her up to let her know it was time to leave. I was really surprised at how alert she was for waking up in the middle of the night. She was so bubbly and chatty, but I'm sure it was because she was so excited. Jackson did not wish to go to the birth so he stayed home with my mom.
  The car ride was horrible. It was the longest 40 minutes of my life. It was during this drive that I really regretted that we weren't having a home birth. Unfortunately, I did not want to commit to that because I was unsure if the movers would bring our stuff in time for our house to be set up.  At one point during the height of a contraction, I demanded that Jeff run a stop sign. This is Mr. Law Abiding Citizen, and I could see the look of horror on his face when I said that. I blurted out, "It's 2 in the morning! No one is around!"  So he honored my request and broke the law.
  We finally arrived at the birth center, and the birth assistant Sterling took my vitals. Sarah asked me if I wanted to have my cervix checked. I was really conflicted about this. On one hand, I was really curious to see how far along I was, but on the other I was scared that I would be disappointed if I wasn't as far along as I thought I was, especially after dealing with such intense contractions. Emily and Sarah said it was my choice. They could check me and just not tell me how far along I was or I could just commit to not being disappointed if it wasn't what I expected. I decided to go ahead and let them check. I could tell by the look on their faces that it was favorable news so I wanted to know. They told me I was already dilated to 7cm! I couldn't believe I was that far along already. It was exciting to think that I could have the baby fairly soon. I mentioned that I may want to get in the shower, and Sarah told me that I was far enough along to labor in the birthing tub if I wanted.
     The warm water of the tub was so soothing. I can definitely see why it is referred to as the midwife's epidural.  The room was so calm and was dimly lit with candles. I continued breathing through each contraction. Soon, the room was more illuminated as the sun started to peek over the horizon.
Trying to relax through a contraction

Lynsey was such a trooper! She stayed up throughout my entire labor. She would come up and stroke my head to encourage me.

Before I knew it, it was approaching lunchtime. By this time, I still wasn't feeling any downward pressure and my contractions were becoming less intense.  Sarah suggested that I get out of the tub for another exam to assess the situation.  I was stuck at about 9 1/2 cm. The baby's head was asynclitic and my cervix was off to the side which is why I wasn't fully dilated or feeling any downward pressure.  Sarah suggested some exercises and other physical movements I could do to help the baby get into a better position. By this time, I had been laboring at the birth center for well over 8 hours. I guess Sarah could sense my disappointment because she asked me how I was feeling and what I was thinking.  I admitted that I was scared that I wouldn't be able to do this. She reminded me that I WAS doing this, and I was doing a great job at that. 
Understanding my need to recharge, she also mentioned that I could try to rest for a bit before diving into the work of repositioning the baby.  Rest sounded like the most attractive option to me. She put a TENS machine on me so that I could cope with the contractions, and I tried to lie down and get some sleep. I did still have some pretty rough contractions, but somehow I managed to get a good hour or so of rest. 
     When I got up, I told the midwives that I was ready to get to work.  Sarah and Emily suggested some exercises to help me. I did sets of lunges, and I also walked throughout the birth center doing high knees.  After working on the exercises, my contractions started to pick back up. Sarah told me that laboring on the toilet may help things really move along.
     I sat on the toilet facing backwards. Two pillows were propped up on the tank so I could lean on them during contractions. The contractions became VERY intense, and soon I started to feel lots of pressure and the urge to bear down.  The sensation was very odd, as I had an epidural while I labored with Lynsey and never felt any sensations. My body was pretty much pushing on it's own with each contraction. Soon I heard a large woosh and felt my water break and gush out. Jeff was with me in the bathroom and gave me a wide-eyed "what the heck was that?" look. I told him to let the midwives know that my water had broken. 
     Since things had picked back up, and I felt the urge to push, I got back into the birthing tub. The contractions were really intense. Sarah and/or Sterling would apply counterpressure to help me cope. I managed to stay relaxed and focused on my deep breathing. Sometimes when I breathed in, I would imagine that I was sucking the pain of the contraction out of my body, and as I breathed out, I visualized releasing the pain away from me.  I had always read that after laboring, pushing felt like such a welcomed relief. However, it did not feel that way to me. I actually hated the intense pressure. It felt so involuntary and like my body was going to split in half.  It was nice to take my body's lead , though, and not be directed to push or told what to do.   I threw up the first few times I decided to bear down with a contraction, and all I could think was that I hoped I wouldn't puke throughout the whole process. Luckily, since I was able to eat and drink thoughout labor, I still had plenty of strength to work on bringing baby into the world.

Letting the contraction do its job

     As I pushed, I was completely in laborland, unaware of who or what was around me. Jeff described it to me and said I was very quiet and very zen.  I tried to reach up and feel the baby's head, but she was still too high.  I really started going to work with my pushing. As I mentioned before, I hated the intensity of it so often I would just pray "Help me, Jesus. Help me, Jesus" over and over in my head to get through it.  I reached in again, and I could feel her head! It was right there!  That was just the motivation I needed to finish the job.  As I pushed, I would feel her start to emerge and then slip back up. I knew this was very normal, and it didn't discourage me.  I tried hard to focus on little pushes, as I knew that was important to do while she was crowning in order to try to prevent any tearing. However, I just couldn't seem to concentrate on that. It was like I had a little devil sitting on my shoulder telling me "Push hard! Just get her out!".  I briefly felt the dreaded ring of fire, but continued to push with all my might as the rest of her slid out of me.  I thought it was blatantly obvious to everyone that I had been pushing, but the baby's arrival actually surprised everyone in the room. I heard Jeff say, "Oh! We have a baby!".  He told me that I hadn't made a sound so it really was a surprise. Jeff caught the baby, and then Sarah held her as I reached back between my legs and pulled the baby up to my chest.

In the zone as I work hard to bring baby earthside

Lynsey and Jeff waiting patiently for the baby to emerge

Almost done!

She's here!

Emmalyn Faith arrived at 3:40 pm on Sunday, October 12th. 8lbs 2oz and 19in long.

Hello, sweet baby!

"I actually did it!"

It was love at first sight

Big sister cutting the cord

After the cord had stopped pulsing and had been cut,  Emmalyn was handed off to Jeff for some skin-to-skin contact while I got out of the tub to deliver the placenta.

Bonding time with Daddy

But all good things must come to an end...........

Em left a little gift for Daddy!

After I delivered my placenta, Sarah let me know that I would need some suturing(thanks to my explosive, little devil directed pushing).  I was still having some after pains so I decided that I did not want sutured at that moment. Jeff, Lynsey, and I had some private family time with our new family member and then had some dinner. I was famished!  
     After eating, I needed to be sutured so I suggested that Jeff take Lynsey home so she could get some rest. She had stayed up during my entire 13 hour labor! After the repair business had been taken care of, Emmalyn and I enjoyed a relaxing herbal bath together--which she didn't much care for.
   After being monitored for several hours and getting the all clear, Jeff, our newest family member, and I headed home.
    The births of each of my children are special, but the circumstances and memories surrounding each birth are very, very different. The birth of Emmalyn was so calm and intimate. I replay the events over and over in my head, and I am still on a birth high from the joy of it all. I finally had emotional healing I needed and the confirmation that yes, my body IS capable of birthing a baby naturally. 
     Most importantly,  I gave my oldest daughter a gift of seeing childbirth for what it really is-natural, empowering,  and beautiful.  I hope one day God will bless us with more children so Emmalyn has the opportunity to witness that miracle as well.

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