Thursday, May 26, 2011

Emi Lou's birth story

WARNING: This is a really long post. I personally don't enjoy reading verbose blog posts, but this post is more a record for me and Emi Lou than something I think other people will enjoy reading. Feel free to skip over the story and just look at the pictures :) Oh and speaking of pictures... these are pictures of childbirth, so you may not want to look at them if you are offended by too much skin. I tried to make sure there's nothing too graphic, but consider yourself warned...

Our sweet little Emilia Lucia arrived on May 19th at 2:42 a.m., and it was a magical, beautiful event!I’m pretty sure this sweet little angel was ready to arrive for a few weeks before she did, but she waited until mommy was ready.

As I mentioned before, we started remodeling the entire main floor of our house about a week before we decided we wanted a home birth. (I know I STILL need to post “after” pics of the remodel, but I figure this is a more important topic to blog about :) Here's a sneak peak though...)

The normal me has a hard time functioning in a disorganized, dirty house. The nine-month pregnant me, who was planning to birth at home, could hardly function in the mess that was left when the remodel was finished.

It took a couple of weeks, but on Tuesday, the 17th, I finally had my house mostly put back together.  I woke up the morning of the 18th feeling like I would meet my baby girl before I went to sleep. I washed the little outfit I wanted her to wear when she arrived and spent the day doing some deep cleaning.

Marco came home around 6 pm and was a little upset. He had been talking to our friends about how I had been measuring small for the past month and was worried that there was something wrong with the baby. He wanted to get an ultrasound, so I called the midwife and she agreed to set something up first thing in the morning.  I remember thinking that it would be a little weird to look at the baby in utero the next day, because I really imagined having her in my arms.

Around 9 pm I started wondering if my mind was playing tricks on me. I was feeling contractions about every 10 minutes, but they still felt like Braxton-Hicks contractions. I decided to take a bath and see if they went away (something which had worked without fail for the 6 months I had been enduring Braxton-Hicks contractions). They were still coming pretty regularly while I was in the bath and started coming about 5 minutes apart when I got out, so at 10:30 pm I decided to call the midwife, Melissa.

When Melissa arrived around 11 pm I still didn’t really feel like I was in labor, but when she checked me she found that I was dilated to 4 and fully effaced. She said that some people would stay at that point for days, but she felt like we should go ahead and set up the pool. So Marco and Melissa set up the birth pool while I went downstairs to try to put Gigi to bed.

I think Gigi knew something was up because even though she was really tired, she just wouldn’t fall asleep. I nursed her for at least an hour while we watched Word World, and although the nursing didn’t put her to sleep, it was at least helpful for moving labor along.

I got up at about 12:30 because the contractions were getting longer and stronger and were finally feeling like more than just Braxton-Hicks. I tried texting and calling the friends who had planned on attending the birth, but of course, couldn’t get a hold of anyone! I wandered around for a bit… said hello to the other midwife, Heidi, who had arrived, made sure the video camera and digital cameras were ready, and at about 1:30 am I finally decided to get in the birth pool. 

Just as I was getting in the pool, my friend Liz called me back to let me know she was on the way. I was so relieved! Liz had used Hypnobirthing when she delivered her daughter and had given me a few birth hypnosis CDs (including “Baby Stay IN!”, which I listened to every night for a month, up until May 17th :) I knew Liz would be able to help me stay relaxed and focused during birth, and I was glad that she would be able to help take pictures of the birth as well.

The power of Hypnobirthing!
After I got off the phone with Liz, I heard Gigi coming upstairs. When she saw that I was in the pool, she wanted to get in too, so Marco helped her put on her swimsuit.  I could hear her in her room saying something to Marco about Emi Lou coming in the pool :) She was so excited!

Gigi’s pool time didn’t last very long though. As soon as she got in, she decided she was ready for bed! It was perfect timing… I could see that she was completely wiped out and would be asleep in no time, and my contractions were still manageable… so after Marco put on her jammies, I got out and took her down to bed.

Even though I was wrapped in a towel and covered in blankets, I was shivering uncontrollably! Gigi giggled at me and said “Can you please stop that?!” Then she latched on and passed out.  

I was kind of amazed how quickly she fell asleep and stayed asleep... a couple of minutes after we laid down (before I was sure she was asleep) I felt a contraction come on and I remembered thinking “Oh my gosh, I feel like my water is going to break!” Sure enough, a second later, it broke with a gush. I was sure Gigi would feel it and freak out, but miraculously she just snored away.

I snuck out of bed and into the bathroom. I guess Marco must have heard me because the next thing I remember is being curled up in a ball on the floor with Marco trying to help me up. Somehow we made it upstairs and into the birth pool, which was sweet relief!

My beautiful midwife, Melissa

I can’t say enough about what a wonderful tool I think a tub/pool of warm is for a laboring woman. It is so relaxing and makes labor so much more manageable! And from what I’ve read, being able to stay relaxed is the key to helping your labor progress.

I know this pic is a little blurry, but I just love the intensity in Marco's face in this one.

So far, that has definitely been true for me. I remember I progressed really quickly with Gigi while I was in the tub, but then things slowed down when I had to get out to push. Since I was able to stay in the water for the entire labor and delivery this time, it took less than an hour from the time my water broke till my baby girl was in my arms.

I think the best thing about having a home water birth though, was how Marco was able to be so involved in the whole process. The midwives were so wonderful about assisting us in delivering our baby... they coached and encouraged us, and knew when to step back and when to get involved.

Emi Lou was born into all of our hands. I asked for help after her head and shoulders came out, because she didn’t slide right out like I had imagined she would. I’m definitely glad the midwives were there to help after she was born because she didn’t make a sound for a few minutes after she arrived… she just looked at me.

Honestly, it worried me a little, but the midwives reminded me she was still getting oxygen thru her umbilical cord. They were right there with oxygen immediately, and kept checking her heart and lungs with the stethoscope. She had good color, and it only took a minute or two for her to make a little squawk and clear her lungs. But after a squawk or two, she fell asleep and took over a 10 minute nap! I don’t know if that was a sign that her birth was exhausting or super peaceful, but it seems like I have another super mellow baby :)

After I got out of the birth pool, we moved into the bedroom so daddy could have some skin-to-skin bonding time and so she could have a chance to nurse. She latched on right away and has been nursing like a champ! (In fact, she weighed an ounce more than her birth weight when we visited the pediatrician 4 days after she was born, and I hear it normally takes a week or 2 for babies to get back to their birth weight!)

We did the newborn exam right on the bed, and I was able to hold her hands which was nice because it helped her stay calm. Official stats: 8 lbs 3 oz (after nursing :) and 20.5 inches long!

The midwives stayed for about an hour to clean up and make sure we were doing ok. After they left I called my mom, tried texting a bunch of people (only to find out that I can’t send a text to more than 10 people at once and I have no way of forwarding sent texts on my phone), and finally went to bed. I had planned on us all going to bed in the same bed, as a big happy family, but decided to sleep in the guest bed with Emi Lou so we could capture on film the moment Gigi met her baby sister. (Which I did, and it was beautiful, but that’s another post for another day…) 

So my home birth was everything I had imagined and hoped for. I don’t think it could have gone any more perfectly! We are all recuperating and adjusting to life as a family of four wonderfully. Gigi loves her baby sister (sometimes a little too much) and she is such a great big sister. Emi Lou is calm and mellow and makes it easy to still be able to spend lots of time with Gigi. Marco has been so incredibly helpful… cooking (he’s an amazing chef) and cleaning and helping out with the girls. I feel great, although I am a little sleep deprived because sweet Emi Lou spends a lot of time awake at night wanting to nurse and look around :) But I can’t complain… Emi Lou had a perfect birth and I have a perfect family! Life is good!!


Amber said...

YIPPPEEE!!! I'm so glad you had such a beautiful experience. I love hearing & reading birth stories. Even more so when they are allowed to go as planned. Don't you LOVE waterbirth? I was amazed at how relaxed I was during the whole process. Instead of focusing on the pain, I was actually talking in between pushes and could tell the midwives what was going on instead of them telling me.
You are so fortunate to have such a powerful story to tell your girlies. And, yes, you do have a beautiful family! I can't wait to see more pictures of little Miss Emi Lou.

Renee said...

Amazing! Beautiful story & beautiful pictures! So happy to hear such a wonderful, positive birth story!!!

Whit said...

You're such an inspiration! You're so strong! I would have lost my mind!!!
I can't wait to see her!!! The pics are amazing and so is she :)

Crystal Escobar said...

What an amazing story!!! Hope mine goes this smoothly :)
It was so nice meeting you today. Hope to see you again soon!

The Happy Hippie Homemaker said...

Oh yeah, it was so great to meet you today! You are in good hands, and that's the first step to having a great birth :) Let me know if you have any questions. And let me know if you want to borrow that book "Ina May's Guide to Childbirth." It really is such an empowering book!

Squirrlycellist said...

Such a amazing story. I'm 38 weeks along and am so excited, anxious, and nervous. I plan to be in the birthing pool at my birth center because I feel it will be more manageable for me. I've never done this before so I hope I have an ordinary birth as in no complications.


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