oh baby :: emma's debut

a birth story.  

i had always planned on writing down my birth stories but never did.  why would i want to?  so i can share them with my children, and so i can remember them myself.  especially since each one was so different.  and now, with the birth of our 3rd child quickly approaching i really think i should probably get on the ball about writing them down.

so i begin with our first born.  the writing may not be eloquent, but it has been almost 5 years so some things do get a little blurry (this is why i should have written it down earlier!).


emma was originally due on the 20th of June [2006].  from what i had read and been told, babies of 1st pregnancies don't usually arrive early or on time.  but they do tend to arrive fashionably late.  so i had planned on her arrival a few days after the 20th.  
in fact, i was out of town (1.5 hours away) from the 10th-11th of june.  i had not experienced any braxton hicks through out my pregnancy, so i really believed that this baby was going to come later than expected.  the morning of the 11th, i had experienced a few minor tightening sensations but immediately dismissed them as braxton hicks.  i had a few more later on in the day, but after that everything was quiet.  i remember feeling excited that i finally got to experience some sort of pre-labor signs since i hadn't had any throughout the tail end of my pregnancy.

well it's a good thing that we came home that sunday.  i woke up around 4:30 a.m. on monday to some serious abdominal cramping.  i mean serious.  holy moly!  this was not the same experience as yesterday?  are braxton hicks supposed to hurt this bad?  and i was 8 days before my due date.  there's no way i could be in labor this early.  no way.

aaron was out, and i didn't bother waking him because i wasn't even sure if these were the real deal.  i had read many birth stories to help me prepare for this birth, and i remember reading about how a few 1st time moms were sent back home because they weren't dilated enough despite the contractions.  our hospital was 30 minutes away, and i wasn't about to pack up and go at 4:30 in the morning to drive half an hour only to be turned away and drive another 30 minutes back to the house.  or what if the hospital checked me in and my labor slows down?  i had also read some experiences where mothers ended up having a medicated deliveries because they were now on the hospital's clock.  if labor doesn't progress enough, what if i got pressured into taking something to speed up labor when i had really planned on a natural delivery?  i had a midwife who supported my natural birth choice, but what if she caved under pressure of hospital politics?  i didn't want to risk that either. nope.  i'll ride it out and then go back to sleep, because surely this was not the real deal anyway. 

i remember barely falling asleep only to wake to the same pain half an hour later.  i decided to grab a notebook and pen, in case this was “the real deal,” and notate how far apart the contractions were.

6:00 a.m. and i was back up with more contractions.  the contractions were pretty regular as soon as they had started though they were about 7-10 minutes apart. i did try to wake aaron up at this point to let him know that i was having contractions, but he only mumbled and went back to sleep.  nice.  i thought the husband was supposed to play a supportive role in all this?  this was not how we practiced at all.  on the plus side, the contractions weren't anything i couldn't handle on my own.  they were painful, but never excruciating.

i decided to try a warm shower since i couldn't go back to sleep.  the warmth of the water helped, and i spent some time in prayer and meditated on some of the memory verses i picked out to give me encouragement through the laboring process.  i remember, after praying that a warm, tingling sensation came over me, and i was overtaken with a feeling of peacefulness.  it was a surreal experience and at that moment i knew that the Lord would be with me through this whole process.  

7:00 a.m. and i was convinced this had to be it.  i was finally able to get aaron up so he could notify his parents to watch ty while we were in the hospital.  for some reason, he didn't sense any urgency in me because after he made the call he decided to shower and shave.  i remember overhearing ty ask aaron, "can i take a bath after your shower?" and me thinking, "NOOOO.  no time for bath. why are you showering?  and shaving?  i'm in pain and you're showering?  no bath!"  aaron told me later that it didn't look like i was in pain at all, so he thought it wasn't a big deal to shower and do his regular morning routine (ha, ha...maybe next time i should start screaming?).

8:00 a.m. and it was evident that the pain was increasing.  we decided to call the hospital since the contractions were 5 minutes apart and increasing in frequency. i made aaron call for me, but the lady on the phone insisted that she speak to me (didn't she know i was in to much pain to speak coherently?  how am i supposed to focus working through my contractions when i'm being asked 3 times to spell out my last name over the phone?).  after some unsuccessful attempts at getting the details she wanted from me (did i already mention that she asked me to spell my last name 3 times?  t.h.r.e.e....while i'm having some serious contractions) i told her she needed to talk to my husband. it was determined that i should come in and get checked out.

8:30 a.m. and the 3 of us piled into the car (aaron's parents hadn't made it down yet so they got re-directed to the hospital) and began the 30 minute drive, in rush hour traffic, to the hospital.  the drive sucked (for lack of a better term).   i just being REALLY uncomfortable and the pain increasing EVEN MORE than half an hour before.  the worst part was that i had no. where. to. go.  i was stuck in a car.  in rush hour traffic.  all the cars seemed like they were driving too SLOW. and we weren't going fast enough, even though aaron was speeding.

during the pregnancy, i had envisioned myself walking on my own when the time came to check into the hospital.  it was going to be lovely and beautiful and i could work through all the contractions that way. 

unlike my vision, once we arrived at the hospital i couldn't even walk.  it seemed like every second i had a really painful contraction.  i felt like crawling.  how was i going to make it to the labor and delivery floor when i couldn't even move my legs to walk?  the wheelchair came to my rescue and we made it to our destination.

9:00 a.m. and everyone on the labor and delivery floor was very calm, despite the fact that i was feeling very frantic that this baby was going to come out at any minute.  i coudlnt' understand why everyone was so calm.  didn't they know this baby was getting ready to come out, now?  right now people!  move it or lose it.  stop asking me all these questions.  get me to a room, stat!

they didn’t even put me in the actual birthing room yet, and had me in another room to change my clothes (which I could barely do on my own with the frequent contractions) and take my vitals. then i said the magic word. "pressure."  yes, ms. nurse, i was feeling some serious pressure.  is it time to push yet?  because i'm ready.

after that, the mood changed.  the attending nurse went from calm to rush, rush, rush.  more nurses came in. one asked me a bunch of questions, another checking my vitals, and another prepping the heart monitor for the baby, etc., etc.  

aaron's aunt (who happened to work in the same hospital i was delivering in) came in to pick up tyler since aaron's parents hadn't arrived yet, but i barely remember that.  my [super-awesome, amazing] midwife ellen was called immediately and she told me I was 100% effaced and 10 cm dilated! what?!?  because things were happening so quickly, she had to take care of her patients (her office was just on the 1st floor) and would return as soon as i was ready to push.

after the protocol 15 minutes hooked up to the electric fetal monitor (EFM), i was unhooked and was able to move around.  the rest of the time, they would monitor the fetal heart rate via a good, old fashioned stethoscope (yes, it is a bit more time consuming for the nurses to do this, but with the encouragement of my midwife it was a better choice if i wanted to remain mobile through the remainder of labor).  

aaron's mom arrived soon after (i think) to help with the labor process.  it was game time.  i remember ellen breaking my water since it hadn't happened yet, but i didn't notice the contractions being that much more intense.  i think it just became more frequent.  the birth ball was heaven.  i was very thankful that i had freedom to move since i wasn't hooked up to the EFM or an IV.  they didn't even have time to do a hep-loc on me. 

i don't remember the specific details of the rest of the laboring process.  i remember there was another midwife present observing (she was doing her residency) and she offered to take photos.  she was wonderful and full of support along with aaron and his mom.  i remember getting lower back massages as i worked through the contractions.  i remember aaron cracking jokes about my tea being ready each time the timer would go off on the baby warmer.  i remember laughing, and i remember experiencing some intense internal focus.  i remember aaron trying to get me to do the breathing techniques we learned in birth class and me throwing it out the window and deciding in the midst of labor that it was stupid and didn't work.  there was no screaming.  there was no crying.  there was no writhing in pain.  
 i couldn't recall the memory verses anymore at this point.  all i could do was remember that the Lord would see me through the end.  what also helped me through this last part of labor was remembering that the pain served a purpose.  it was my uterus changing to prepare for the arrival of the baby.  it was a natural process.  God's perfect design and his amazing engineering of a woman's body to give birth to another human being.  

the baby was coming.  when emma crowned, ellen grabbed my hand so that i could feel her head. it was very exciting and encouraging at the same time.  

10:26 a.m. and with 2 pushes she was out.  the cord was wrapped around her neck twice, but after assessing her health our 6 lbs. 15 oz., 19 in. long baby was immediately handed over to me. they cleaned her up while she was on my belly. how amazing it felt to have the baby immediately in your arms. another surreal, indescribable, magical moment.  when ellen said she was a girl, we were surprised even though we had kept the sex of the baby unknown.  we had been certain she was going to be a boy.  but girl or boy, she was a blessing none the less.
ellen said it was a textbook birth.  and i suppose being in labor for 6 hours wasn't so bad either.  the hospital experience was great.  the attending nurses were fabulous and they were all very respectful of my birth choices.  i think that the respect given to us, coupled with our openness to change plans if medically necessary made the whole hospital experience pleasant.  

before my 1st baby, i used to be fearful of giving birth, because of all the “horror” stories i heard and how birth was often portrayed (inaccurately) in movies.  but there is no fear when you know that childbirth is a natural process.  and there is no fear when you know that God is always on your side.


meg said...

okay. i sobbed while i read this...what a privilege and a blessing to bring sweet emma into the world!

Katie said...

ahhh.....I love beautiful stories, especially when they are real and heart-wrenching!! Thanks for sharing :)

Christine said...

Wow, lucky you! 6 hours and early for a first baby? My first was 2 weeks late and 18 hours. I always love hearing birth stories, thanks for sharing yours!

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