Eliza Lily birth story:
On Thursday, last week, I started really having early labor contractions. I had five hours of regular contractions each day, and they would intensify each day. I was starting to wonder if I would even take labor seriously by the time I needed to. It was frustrating and emotional for me.
On Tuesday night, Jason went to sleep right around our older kids’ bedtime. It ended up serving him well to do so! Gideon and I stayed up a little later. By the time we laid down for sleeping at 10pm, I was feeling the familiar tugging of contractions. I opened my eyes just to read the time each time I would get a tug. I noticed that they were ten minutes apart. After an hour of just observing and feeling them out to see if they were intensifying or not, I just went to sleep.
On Wednesday morning, I was startled awake at 2am with more intense tugging which I wrote off as being mostly related to the potty break I needed. I couldn’t sleep after I came back from the toilet, so I just laid there next to Gideon for the next 2 hours halfway sleeping. Each time I had a contraction, I would open my eyes just to notice the time, and I would try to go back to sleep. Each contraction was deep enough for me to breathe and rock a little, but I was still able to rest. At this point, I knew I was so close to being pushed over the edge into full-out laboring, but I was also in this grey area of thinking it could stop at any time.
By 4am, I was tired of the ten-minute contraction range, and I was wide awake. Not in pain, just alert and wondering what I could do with myself at this point of the morning without waking the household. I decided to wake Jason up to ‘celebrate our anniversary’ and maybe keep the tugs going or even speed them up. (wink, wink) Then I went downstairs to do some computer work: clean up old files and work out some low-memory problems on the computer. I had some breakfast. I listened to some music, did my busy work, noticed the times from the computer, and rocked and breathed through the contractions. Closer to 6am, I noticed bloody show when I wiped after using the toilet, and I figured that I’d go ahead and assume I’m in labor. I still felt, in the back of my mind, that the labor could stop.
I woke up Jason and told him to let his teacher know he wouldn’t be coming into class that day. I needed him to lay with Gideon while I took a hot shower. I didn’t want my 2yo to wake up upset and looking for me. The shower was a nice change of scenery and helped. We decided there were some things we wanted to do before things got rolling (if they even did), so we started getting to work.
Jason made coffee for himself. I showed Jason what I had in the birth boxes, and we set them up in a convenient place. Jason moved the furniture around to get things ready for the birth pool. The kids started waking up for breakfast slowly. Kyler is almost 7 y.o., Suzanne is 5 y.o., and Gideon is 2 1/2 y.o.
By 7am, Gideon was up and starting to bother me during contractions. At this point the tugs had become intense enough that I needed to lean over something, focus, vocalize, and rock through them. Kyler and Suzanne were great, but Gideon couldn’t understand that the small noises and movements from him jumping up on the couch with me or leaning on me were hurtful and distracting. So, I called my friend, Rachel, and asked her to come pick him up. I still had no idea how quick things were going, and I packed a bag for Gideon including a toothbrush, his jammies, another change of clothes and his bedtime loveys. ha! She picked him up sometime before 8:30am.
I was really having hard contractions, but because everything was so normal in between the contractions, I didn’t seriously believe I could be as far along as I was. By the time Rachel picked up Gideon, the birth pool was all blown up and being filled with water. I was getting through the contractions by kneeling over my birth ball in the TV. room while listening to Pink Floyd’s A Momentary Lapse of Reason coming from my husband’s laptop in the other room. The best songs for me were “Learning to Fly” and “On The Turning Away”.
I think it was about 8:30am when the tub was filled. I got in, drank some pregnancy tea, and hung out with my kids in between contractions. They did fairly well while I moved and groaned through the tugs. I loved laboring in the tub. It was so peaceful. The living room was as perfect a place as I had imagined it to be when I picked that birth spot. On one wall, I had my kids’ collage frames of their first year baby pictures. On another wall, I had the view out of my full windows into our gardens and trees in the back yard. Also, it was a gloomy day which really gave such a nice dim light through the window and made me feel like having tea and cuddling up.
At some point within the next hour, the contractions became more difficult to work through. I was getting much louder as they hit. The kids asked to watch a movie in the other room, so Jason put on Ariel’s Beginning. When I would have a contraction at this point, I felt like my noises were pushing at the same time. I felt like the noise I was making was pushing my baby down, and I wondered if this was true or not. I felt inside just out of curiosity. The baby’s head was not even an inch inside. I could feel the dilated edge of my cervix outlining the edge of the baby’s head. I could feel the water bag if I pushed at all on the middle of the head. I thought about how amazing this is, that I am this close from giving birth to my baby, and I could be so clear-headed between contractions. I felt like it was just a normal observation that I was making as an outsider; not a woman in laborland. I said to Jason, “wow, I could push this baby out, like, right now, but I don’t think I want to. I’m just going to let it come down on its own.” So, I did. He thought I was nuts! She thinks she could push the baby out but she doesn’t want to? what is she crazy?
Well, during those contractions, I steadied myself, focused on keeping breathing even, and occasionally would slightly and very gently push just a little. The amniotic sac burst during one of those. I felt the baby’s head move further down, and I remember a point where I had a bit of deja vu. I yelled out, “ohmigod! ohm, I was wrong about the size of this baby!!” I felt the familiarity of the difficulty I had in pushing out Gideon’s humongous self. At that point, it was too late to turn back, but it was the only time in the labor where I thought I had changed my mind. In that moment, I didn’t want to go through with it anymore. Jason brought the kids in and sat them on the couch, but I had to have them leave. I had to get loud with my pushing to get the energy to push and keep my focus, but it was so loud that my kids had their hands on their ears. I couldn’t handle opening my eyes to see that, so I told them to leave. Oh well, I felt more demanding pushing urges after that, and I pushed through 3 contractions just to get her head out. I felt like the front would split open. I had kept my hand down the entire time as her head lowered and came out. I was sitting Indian style for some of this and moving to my hands and a really low squat. I also sometimes looked like I was doing a sitting down hurkey or something…like a cheerleader. As soon as her head was out, I was peacefully recovering my breathing between contractions, and I felt very distinctly the shift of her body and shoulders inside me. It was so cool! I love that I had her head in my hand and could feel her body (on the inside of my body) preparing itself for birth. With the next contraction, she was out, and I was pulling her up.
I kept her in the water for a small amount of time. I wanted this to be a sort of ‘Leboyer bath’ experience. I wanted her to have that gentle transition onto land instead of the violent force of adjustment most babies get. Once I pulled her up onto my chest, I saw that she was a girl and announced it, “I was right! I knew it!” Jason grabbed a towel and helped me wrap her up. Soon after that, Jason asked me what her name was, and I said “Eliza Lily”. She wasn’t breathing for a small period of time. She was clearing stuff out a little, and then she still wasn’t breathing. I turned her sideways on my chest and rubbed her body. She cried a little. She gurgled some more stuff out. She took some breaths. She still seemed clogged up a little. I just kept rubbing her and talking to her. Jason got me the bulb syringe, and I cleared out some mucous. During her first nursing session a little later, she turned blue again with mucous coming out her nose and mouth, but we got through that too. She cleared it all out with sneezes and coughs, and she started pinking up real nice after that. It was a little nerve wrecking to me, but even while it was happening, I knew that really she was okay and her body was taking care of it.
Suzanne had come running into the room as soon as she was born. She was so excited to have a baby girl! We had thought it was a girl the whole time. The first thing Kyler said to Eliza was ‘You are as cute as a mouse.’ with a big grin on his face. Then, he started saying all the many things she was as cute as….”a cupcake”…”a muffin”….”the dot at the end of a sentence”…lol, It was too funny. He also was very interested in making eye contact with her and saying, “Eliza, I’m your big brother.”
After a short time hanging out in the pool after the birth, I felt pressure and assumed that my placenta was detaching or had detached. I got up and went to the mattress we had prepared and ready near the pool. I kneeled over a chux pad and got the baby diapered, dressed, and blanketed. Unlike with Gideon, this little girl had a really long cord, so it was easy to do all of that without having to cut it yet. I had wanted to do this with Gideon, but since his cord was so short, I was unable to manage it. Anyway, with the baby all wrapped up and warm, I checked to see if I could push a little, but the placenta wasn’t ready. I called my mom instead. I was so excited to tell her that the baby had come.
While I was on the phone with my mom, I felt a strong urge to get that placenta out, and I set the phone down near me so I could concentrate. I used a little traction on the cord and coughed the cord out. I didn’t really have to push that much at all. I was surprised by the size of the placenta. This one was really small and oblong-shaped compared to my last two babies. I wrapped it up in the chux pad and moved onto a fresh chux pad so that I could sit with the baby and nurse. When I got back on the phone, I explained why I took so long to get back to my mom, and I think she was tickled that I took a break to deliver the placenta and got back on. It was kind of funny, like how normal birth can just break itself into our day.
I didn’t cut her cord until I was ready for us to get cleaned up and moved into another room. It was about an hour and a half. By that time, the cord was limp, cold, and had no blood moving through it. Jason held her, and I just cut it down by her feet so we wouldn’t have to disturb her blanket. It was about twice the length of her body, so that was still a good ways away from the placenta too. I double-bagged the placenta for the placenta lady to take and encapsulate for me.
Around 12:30, Rachel brought Gideon home. Gideon ran in and started calling her his “baby sissy”, rubbing her head, kissing her, and holding her hand.
My sister missed the birth, but she and her husband got to my house around 3pm that same day. They still got to experience some of the wonders of homebirth with us. They got to see how it really is just like any other day. They got to see us just laying around relaxing on the couch with the baby instead of strangers running in an out of the room to do exams and poke and prod. They got to see how it really wasn’t a huge mess to clean up. Instead of dealing with policies, records, and testings, we got to just focus on the baby. That’s the biggest difference I notice when I have been at hospital births and visiting friends after, and I’m glad that she got to have that experience anyway, even if she didn’t get to see the actual birth.
Another fear I had along with the fear of my sister missing the birth was the fear of the labor possibly being so quick that I wouldn’t be able to keep up and manage the level of intensity. It wasn’t like that at all. It was quick, but I enjoyed the ride. It was by far the most peaceful yet exciting birth I have experienced. I feel so content and satisfied.
Since the birth, my afterbirth cramps have cut themselves in half or more with intensity. My bleeding is down so much more than I ever have experienced at this point. While I usually have hormone issues after a birth, I feel like normal. I really do. Of course I still have a uterus the size of a large orange in my lower belly, some cramping and some soreness, but I feel like myself pre-pregnancy besides that. I’m calm, capable of handling my older kids while working out nursing issues with this one, and am holding my temperature well. Usually I have hot flashes and mean streaks after a birth, but not so with this one. I may not even have to ingest placenta to maintain my sanity after, so I’m really thankful for that. I attribute this to the stress and adrenal supplements I took with the chiropractor. That’s what they were supposed to do, and I really didn’t think they would work.
I can’t believe I worried so much in the beginning about an increase of hemorrhage with this being my 5th pregnancy and all. I was expecting there to be clots and lots of blood in the pool, and it wasn’t like that at all. The bleeding has been minimal since the birth.
I didn’t tear. I didn’t really think I would tear though since I never had before. I might have scraped slightly on the front, but it wasn’t enough to matter. I haven’t needed the peri-bottle to pee with since the first day.
Its funny how after overcoming nursing challenges in the other kids, I’m able to just be so laid-back about this nursing challenge we had. Eliza only really nursed once in the first day. She would root around and then lick me. She was just not interested. She was interested in sleeping. 🙂 It didn’t bother me, but I was thinking how much it could bother someone if it was their first baby they were breastfeeding or if I was in the hospital and having people freak out over the baby having a specific number of feedings or a specific number of diapers used. She didn’t really start nursing much until she was in her third day of life, so yesterday. She has had a low amount of pee and poor diapers, but she got all her mec out and has moved onto the seedy breast milk poo. I know I would have been discouraged and second-guessing my nursing relationship with her if she was my first or second baby. I was a lot less confident then. I think it’s sad that women might interpret their baby to not like breastfeeding or become so scared that their baby might die if they don’t eat in the first couple of days that they give up altogether. I’m glad she was my fourth with her little picky ways. 🙂