Thursday, January 21, 2016

Adelaide Kate: A Birth Story

Darling Lady,

Your entire 13 month existence has been a series of unexpected surprises. From learning you were coming, to our time together just you and me, to your appearance earthside, you have delighted us, scared us, and stretched us. Your arrival has made our family just that bit more complete and your never-ending supply of smiles makes us all feel as though we could conquer the world, fueled only by your grin. 

We did not think we would be bringing you into our family quite as quickly as you came and though it was surprising, we would not trade you, now, in this moment, for any darn thing on earth or elsewhere. 

My pregnancy with you was very different from that of your brother. I was much sicker in the first trimester, and in the third, I had quite a bit more pain in my sciatic. We realized in the last few weeks leading up to your birth that that was because you had cocked your head so that it was in my right hip, resting right on the nerves that activate that piercing pain. I was so nervous that you were going to stay that way, making giving birth at home, a little more difficult. Still possible, but more difficult. 

In our last month together, I was feeling all sorts of different stress, from the pain to my midwife and your grandparents all traveling out of town in our "window". I was terrified you would come and all of our support team would not be there. I started having Braxton Hicks contractions about two weeks before you finally came, while everyone was gone. They were so bad one day there was nothing for me to do but put myself on voluntary bed rest because I REFUSED to go into labor until everyone was home. Thank God for our friends Becca and Karla, who rallied to help watch your brother so Mama could rest with you and keep you safely in your little cocoon. We are so grateful for their willingness to drop everything and support us in that way. 

Finally, everyone returned home and I felt as though I could relax again. We had an ultrasound in that last week, just to confirm your position, and you had turned again so that you were head down! I was so relieved. Your Papa and I were ready for you anytime, though we did really want you to wait until AFTER our anniversary on September 17. Which you did. We thought for sure that as soon as we came home from our celebratory date, you would decide THAT was the time, but you didn't. You were kind enough to allow a few more days to pass, to put a little extra distance between the two events. :)

On Sunday, September 20, 2015, we dragged ourselves out of bed and got our behinds to church. It had been a few weeks since we'd been and I knew that if we didn't go that week, it was likely we wouldn't make it back for quite awhile. I also knew I needed to be refreshed and renewed at the Table of Christ before I would be fully prepared to bring new life into the world. I was feeling extremely uncomfortable that morning, and apparently, it was obvious. Pastor Leslie joked with me and predicted "You are gonna have that baby tonight!" She must have the gift of prophecy...

We came home that afternoon and Papa made the last of the freezer meals we wanted to have on hand to make post-partum easier on us. I painted my toes. We savored a few final hours as a family of three. We put Milo to bed and after Papa and I played a game, we decided it was time for us to go to bed as well. Papa had been asleep for about 10 min and I was *just* getting ready to settle in and relax to go to sleep when, at 10:58 PM, I felt the first of my no-kidding, real and true, contractions. It felt exactly the way it did when labor with Milo started, and I knew it was happening. There was no question. I sat up and nudged Papa awake and said, "I'm pretty sure I just had a real contraction. I'm going to the bathroom". Apparently, this is the first half of labor for me...sitting on the toilet. It sounds gross, I know, but it's the reality of labor, and your Mama is not one to sugar-coat that subject. Labor and birth is magical, but it should not be mysterious. 

With both you and your brother, I spent a good deal of time at the beginning of labor, on the toilet, with cramps that feel like the worst period cramps I've ever had times about 10, having what many will affectionately (sarcasm font) know as "period poops". It is the only response my body has to those initial body is preparing itself to deliver you, by cleaning me out and simultaneously opening me up to efficiently and effectively bring you earthside. A woman's body is a thing of great power and strength, don't you ever forget that, Adelaide, and don't ever buy the lie that your body is something to be ashamed of. 

We waited for one more contraction and then Papa immediately called Fawn, our midwife, while I called your Mamie and Papi. We knew, after the quick arrival of your brother, that you would be even quicker, so it was time to leap into action. About 20 minutes later (during which time, I managed to take a shower and Papa got the bed ready), Mamie and Papi arrived to pick up brother. I walked into his room to say my goodbyes to him and just as I bent over to pick him up out of his crib, I felt a little trickle down my leg. I knew it was my water breaking. I grabbed a towel and shoved it between my legs, while I said a quick, heartfelt goodbye to Milo, and then Papa went with Mamie, Papi, and Milo to load up in the car. I went back into the bathroom and sat down on the toilet, knowing there was more work to do there. 

Fawn arrived as Brother and Mamie and Papi were leaving, and she and Papa walked in the door at EXACTLY the same moment as my water broke with a gush into the toilet. How convenient. :) Fawn came in and immediately got out the doppler to listen to your heartbeat and there we were, me on the toilet, Fawn sitting on the bathroom floor, listening for you. You were doing great.

So fresh!
A few minutes later, I knew I was done in the bathroom and I felt a desperate need to get on all fours and rock. I crawled up onto the bed and buried my head in the pillows while I rocked and moaned through each contraction. At this point they were one on top of the other, with hardly a break between them. Papa was there next to me the whole time, alternating between giving me sips of water and patting my neck with a cool washcloth. Although, there was a moment when he disappeared and Jamie, the apprentice midwife, who had arrived at some point, took over rubbing my back. Papa apparently got a little light-headed shoved into the corner and needed a minute to regroup. I remember being very upset that he had left, but I had nothing in me to question it. All I could do was focus on making my contractions as productive as possible. He returned and came to sit on the bed next to me. A few times, I thought I wanted to try to turn over on my back, but I could never convince my body to move. We were staying on all fours and it became evident that that was how I was going to bring you earthside. 

Labor with you was much more visceral than it was with your brother. It was primal and animalistic and beautiful. Fawn and Jamie more or less stood back and let me do the work. I didn't need much was just happening. I was extremely vocal during labor with you and I still wonder if the neighbors could hear and what they thought. Home birth is so fun. :) The contractions were coming, fast and furious, and I remember thinking at one point, "HOW do women with 24 hr+ labors DO THIS??? THEY are the real warriors!" I also had the proverbial, "I can't do this anymore" moment, but I knew that just meant we were almost there. 

And suddenly, I was pushing. This was a bizarre experience. With Milo, Fawn asked me if I was ready to push and then we all prepared together for me to do so. With you, Adelaide, I had absolutely no control over it and there was no stopping it even if I wanted to. My body was just doing it, completely on its own, with zero input from my brain. It's hard to describe, other than simply, my body was doing it for me. Papa didn't even realize it was happening at first. Fawn and Jamie quietly and calmly encouraged me through each contraction, mostly just saying things like, "Good. Yes, slowly...gently." I have no idea how many times I pushed and I had absolutely no sense of how much time was passing.

Eventually, your head was born. And because I was on all fours, you were looking up at the ceiling. It took what felt like an eternity for the next contraction to come, so there we were, with you just hanging out (literally, ha!), staring at the ceiling. Papa couldn't believe how bizarre and surreal those few moments were (though it was likely less than a minute). With the next contraction, at 1:08 AM on Monday, September 21, 2015, I pushed one more time and the rest of your body was born. Jamie caught you and I immediately turned over and brought you to my chest. There were tears and laughter and I just kept saying, "Look at you! Look at you!" over and over. You had a FULL head of DARK hair, which was entirely unexpected. You were a little rattly in your breathing, so we rubbed your back to get as much of that out of your lungs as we could and Jamie suctioned you a bit. But you were perfect and healthy and beautiful, at 8 lbs even, 20 1/4 inches long, with a 13 3/4 inch head.

Bright-eyed beauty.
Fawn and Jamie let us be alone, just the three of us for about 30 minutes, and those moments I will treasure forever. This is why I love homebirth. We were in our own bed, comfortable and safe, and left alone to bond. That is an invaluable gift. They came back in and I delivered the placenta. We left you attached until all that good blood made it's way into your body and then Papa cut the cord. Beginning to end, labor was 2 hours and 10 min. Fawn and Jamie were only there for 5 hours altogether, which was less time than labor took with your brother. I didn't tear and that made all the difference in my recovery.

The three of us slept together in our bed and after awhile, Mamie, Papi, and Brother came to meet you. Brother fell in love with you right away and the two of you have been best buds since. You are never happier than when he is near and no one makes you laugh more than he does. Your relationship is already teaching me so much. 

Meeting Brother, Mamie, and Papi
Lady Kate, you have brought joy and peace to our home. You are so relaxed and and chill, which is such a nice contrast to Brother's constant motion. The two of you make a great team and I love watching the love and laughter blossom between you, with each passing day. We adore you with everything we are and our home is warmer, sunnier, and more alive with you here. Thank you for choosing us and thank you for letting us bear witness to your life.

All my love,


1 comment:

  1. Aw Ashley! I just found this post on your blog again :) You and I have not written in so long ❤ I hope we can both get back into it again! Love you lady and your sweet family too 😍