Saturday, October 27, 2012

A New Song

Evelyn: "beautiful bird"

{image of 9 day old Evelyn by Emily Crump Photography}

I realized I never posted about Evelyn - her birth story, anything. Typical third child treatment, as I've come to realize.

But seriously...this sweet child has changed our family in ways I didn't know a baby could. She's the perfect combination of cuddly and daring.

And my pregnancy carrying her changed me too. It's taken me 8 months to figure it out enough to tell the story.

{Disclaimer: While this isn't a very graphic birth story, it's still a birth story. Read at your own discretion.}

Even though I have longer than average pregnancies - Katelyn was born at 41 weeks and 4 days, and Ember arrived at 41 weeks exactly - nothing could have prepared me for Evelyn. She was born at 43 weeks and 1 day (or 42 weeks if you go by my midwife's adjusted estimate). It's a good thing she's cute.

20 weeks:

30 weeks: 
33 weeks:
 39 weeks:
40 weeks:

Birth tub practice run:

My midwife, Natalie, giving me a prenatal checkup at home. 

40 weeks. January 27 came and went as we expected. I had Psalm 27:14 on my heart as we watched and waited.

Wait on the LORD; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the LORD! 
Dane started paternity leave that week, so he could help with the kids and be an emotional support to me during chiropractic visits, midwife appointments, and long (gentle) walks. I was ready to meet my baby, but honestly, I wasn't climbing the walls or anything.

41 weeks:

As we hit 41 weeks, I was beginning to get a little stressed. Well-meaning acquaintances at church or on Facebook sort of bombarded me over the weekend, and I was getting induction suggestions right and left. I started avoiding everyone but a couple of close friends. I was visiting my midwife every other day or so, and she finally checked to see what the heck my cervix was doing (nothing). After pouring over my chart, she saw that Evelyn measured small on my first ultrasound. That, and a couple other pieces of information gleaned from my chart, allowed her to scoot my due date back 8 days.

42 weeks:

42 weeks. (I'm sticking to the original dating for clarity. Also, it makes it more dramatic.) I was officially worried. I had been induced twice already in my two hospital births, and avoiding another induction was one reason I wanted a midwife attended homebirth. In between chiropractic adjustments and midwife appointments, I mostly stayed home in our cocoon of an apartment and cooked and cleaned. I snuck in the back entrance of church and left early to avoid the questions. I had Dane screen my calls and texts. I knew I was a walking timebomb...I didn't need the reminders! By the end of the week, I was an emotional mess. That Thursday afternoon, we drove across town to see my midwife. After another painful membrane sweep/cervix stretch, we sat down on her couch to talk. She had to call the physician that partners with the birth center, to have him take a look at my case and make the call about a hospital induction - the one thing I desperately wanted to avoid. We decided as a last-ditch effort to see another chiropractor (the third I'd see this pregnancy) who does a special labor-inducing adjustment. We made an appointment for the next morning.

43 weeks (aka the most pregnant I've ever been. aka the most pregnant anyone has ever been...) and about to leave for the chiropractor to be "induced":

Friday. 43 weeks. We dropped the kids off at my best friend's house and met my midwife at the chiropractor's house. She needed to monitor Evelyn and any contractions I would have during the two hour-long process. Since it can be intense, the adjustment is broken up into four 15-minute sections with a 15-minute break in between. Another patient from the birth center was there at the same time, so we rotated turns on the table with strolling around the block. Of course, that only lasted about 30 minutes, because she literally went into labor after the first adjustment. Yep, there she was, leaning on her husband, contracting, swaying and moaning, and I was...jealous. In her defense,I found out later that she felt really bad for me and she and her husband prayed for me to go into labor. So I forgive her now. Anyway, they left to go to the birth center, and I finished up the adjustment. I think I had some light cramping, but that was an everyday experience at that point.

Back at the birth center (if you're still with me, I promise I am getting to the labor part of this birth story soon...I just don't want to forget this precious, crazy time leading up to it), Dane, my midwife, and I circled up and prayed together. She called the OB and left a message, and sent us to lunch. We went to TGI Fridays, Dane's favorite (I'm wondering now why he got to pick...?) and went to the mall to walk and talk. As we were exiting the mall through Bass Pro Shop, I had a contraction. Like a real, stop and lean on Dane, breathe through it, OWOWOW contraction. Afterwards, I was so happy I was giddy. I might actually get to have my homebirth!

It had been cloudy all day, and on our way back to the birth center for the third time that day, it started to rain. We crashed on one of the beds and Dane napped while I used the breast pump for a while, to try to keep the contractions going. They slowly faded away, along with my confidence about going into labor that day. The good news was that the OB was out of town until Monday morning, and since Evelyn was perfectly fine according to the ultrasound a couple of days earlier, he was ok with me waiting until Monday to be induced. We picked up the kids and went home. I went to bed early, hoping to be woken up by labor...

43 weeks 1 day. Her birthday. ...And...I was! After going through a few contractions in bed, I decided that was a terrible idea and went out to the den to rock on the yoga ball. After things died down AGAIN, I went back to bed. Around 4am, I was awakened by the real thing. I was officially in labor. It was still pouring rain, so Dane went ahead and called Natalie, who decided to come over with another midwife to assist. By the time they arrived, my best friend was there. I was laboring in the bathroom, leaning over the counter in the dark. I remember one of the first things Natalie did was flash a huge grin and tell me, "I told you you're not broken." (A common rant of mine.)

This is where time and details get fuzzy. I know Dane filled the birth tub soon after everyone arrived, because I was in it before the kids woke up around 8. Dane joked that we'd discovered the way to make them sleep in: "make a whole bunch of noise." After they woke up, my mom and mother-in-law came over to help with them, and my friend Samantha (8 months pregnant and planning her own first homebirth) arrived to observe and take photos. They watched the Babies documentary in the den while I labored in the tub in the dining room.

The next few hours are a blur. I really did NOT like the contractions. It was hard to find a good position to labor in, and I was fighting them. Honestly, looking back, they kind of didn't feel right. And mentally I wasn't in a great place either. I didn't really believe I was having a baby that day. Looking back, I think my attitude is the biggest thing I would change.

Transition was quick, just like with Ember. I had two contractions on top of each other, and I thrashed and yelled through them. Then I threw up. Then everyone was all smiles and joyous because it was getting closer except me because HELLO! Transition!

The contractions slowed down to the point that I fell asleep between two of them, sitting up in the tub. I think that may be when a red light went off for Natalie. She sent my kids, mom, and mother-in-law away and had me move to the bed. We started an IV for fluids (I was disappointed I wasn't going to get through this with no needles - another goal) and Natalie checked me. I still wasn't dilated enough!! What happened next is all jumbled up in my head, but it turned out Evelyn was sideways in the birth canal, which was slowing my contractions and keeping me from dilating completely. (I KNEW those contractions felt weird!) So Natalie manually dilated me the rest of the way. That sounds way less painful than it was. It was excruciating. I'm kinda surprised I didn't kick her. I begged and pleaded for her to stop. I had super strong contractions the whole time. I think this was when someone asked if I wanted to move back into the tub for a water birth. If it had been possible to get there without walking, I might have said yes, but at that point I wasn't moving until that baby was out of me. After she was done, I had a contraction, my water broke, and I got the urge to push all at the same time. Evelyn spun around and faced the right way. Good girl!

Here's the last part. I was exhausted, emotionally spent, and worried about Evelyn. Getting through the last few minutes of that labor was so difficult. I know I yelled more than my first two deliveries combined. I nearly gave up during pushing - something that never even occurred to me during my first two. I felt out of control, which is normal for labor, but my bad attitude made that a bad thing. Anyway, I pushed miserably and desperately for five minutes, and my beautiful, perfect, very late daughter was born.

Natalie caught her and passed her under my belly for me to hold her, but on the way, my 5-seconds-old kid grabbed my darn IV and wouldn't let go. Everyone was telling me to pick her up, but since I had just given birth, I couldn't articulate that I literally couldn't pick her up. Someone gently pried her fist away and...I...held...her. All the pain, the emotions, the all hit me at once and then was washed away with pure Birth High. AKA the greatest feeling ever.

Looking back on that experience still brings back raw emotions, both good and bad. That's why I've put off typing out this story. It's like I still don't know exactly how I feel about it. If we ever have another baby (I hope we do) I will 100% do another homebirth with Natalie. The level of care - medical and emotional - was even better than I had hope for. Her professionalism, talent, and passion completely erased any concerns Dane had about homebirth. So that's not what the issue was...or is. I hope that when I get to do it again, I'll be able to lean more into the Lord during labor and delivery. I think I may have felt out of control because I was trying to be in control. And obviously, childbirth was out of my hands. It has taken me this long to even start to understand that.

So all this to say: Evelyn. My darling, chubby, cheerful, milestone-busting baby. I am so glad she's ours.

{Me and 9 day old Evelyn again. Image by Emily Crump Photography}


1 comment:

  1. Great story babe. So happy and honored to have shared it with you.