Wednesday, June 19, 2013

elmer's birth

He's here.
i'm not very on the ball these days, but I want to blog his birth story before I forget all the little details that are already sifting through my fingertips like fine sand.
I carried Elmer past the ultrasound due dates...
We're having a baby today! 40 weeks 5 days.

I was comfortable and content. We had the due dates padded on my paperwork, and so I never felt rushed or that I was running out of time like i had when i carried Ephraim so long. Right before I hit my due dates, my joints decided to get ready to have baby and went all loose and made walking funny and awkward. I also got carpal tunnel in my hands - something I had never experienced before - and so the last tiny bit that I carried him, was a little more tender and ploddingly slow (but not unbearable by any stretch).
i'm not sure what day I first noticed that I might be leaking fluid, but since I've never leaked before, I pushed the idea out of my head. It continued though, and Tuesday night I noticed I was starting to get some contractions. They were very light and mild though and were easy enough to fall asleep in the midst of. I woke in the morning and didn't experience many more, but the leaking continued. I kind of argued with myself that if I was leaking, surely the few contractions would be enough to push me into real labour - as my labours have often begun with spontaneous rupture of membranes followed immediately by the onset of labour.
Neil had been travelling and was finally home on Tuesday night, so I told my body that it was ok to go into labour... that we could go now if all was ready. i knew he was going to be flying out early on Sunday morning, and i really wanted him to be there.  I had hoped that I would carry baby till he was finished his last trip - as I know how challenging those first post partum days can be - especially flying solo... but I had long ago surrendered the timing of my little one's birth to my Heavenly Father - and I trusted that He knew best.
Tuesday night and Wednesday i had lots of show, with only a few mild contractions. i kept thinking that one little thing could push me over the brink into real labour... but nothing ever seemed to do it. Overnight Wednesday night, i was leaking enough that i started to wonder in earnest if it really could be my amniotic fluid... and then i started to wonder if it was my amniotic fluid, how long had it been broken? i had tested GBS positive for the first time ever this pregnancy and the thought of having broken waters for days on end made me uncomfortable so i called my midwife in the morning and told her what had been happening. By then, (of course - isn't that how it always is?) the leaking quit - and she was concerned that because of the show, the test strips might not be very accurate anyway - but she wanted me to keep in touch if symptoms continued.
It ended up being a really busy day. My older kids had exams in Okotoks and Neil had meetings - i ended up being busy all day.  By the time i got home, i was feeling restless and a little frustrated. i sat down at the kitchen table to work on a tiny bench i was going to paint for our bathroom, and i felt another very tiny leak of fluid, so i picked up the phone and called my midwife again. She suggested we meet at the clinic and she would see if the swab came back positive for amniotic fluid.
We drove to the clinic - and i hoped furiously that my water was still intact and that i could just go home and wait in peace. There wasn't even enough moisture to require wearing a pad after all, and i really hoped that the restless unease was just the end of pregnancy jitters. When we got to the clinic, my midwife noted that i wasn't wearing a pad and gave me some hope that all was well, but when she swabbed, it immediately turned a deep blue confirming what i already knew deep down - that i had some kind of a rupture and that our little one was going to be needing to be encouraged to come sooner rather than later.
Discouraged, i looked at my midwife and sighed, "What now?"
i had been counting on avoiding the antibiotics by having one of my usual quick births - but now with the increased risk of ruptured membranes, i wasn't willing to decline the antibiotics any longer.
We talked about it, and i felt a ton of peace and trust - which is so rare for me - in taking the antibiotics and also an "induction smoothie" whose active ingredients are lemon verbena and castor oil. It was funny to run out to Neil's truck and tell him the midwife needed him to go get some supplies.
"Ok," he responded, turning the ignition, "What do i need?"
"She wants you to go to the grocery store and get peanut butter and orange juice."
"Um, for real?"
"Yeah... we're makin' a smoothie."
So he did - and then she made him mix it up too using their special recipe - and he felt very useful. It wasn't gross at all - lemon, peanut butter and orange juice make it palatable and i guzzled it down and watched the midwife start an IV for the antibiotics.
Within the hour (around 5:45pm), we were headed home with instructions not to wait too long. My midwife was as convinced as we were that with just the tiniest push, my labour would fly out of control and we wanted to be sure to have enough time to make it to the birthing center.
The one thing that made me kind of sad was the fact that it was the night of Sloanie's violin recital. We talked about going to the recital, and just leaving if we had to - or different ways that we could make it work... but in the end, we decided that we were just going to have to miss it. We called Sloanie and she didn't skip a beat - just assured us that it was fine - and she was excited for the imminent arrival of her sweet baby brother.
We arrived home, and Sloanie had fed her siblings as Cai had been at work until i called her and asked tentatively, "Think you could get out of work tonight and come with?" (Her friend George volunteered to work overtime so my chicky could come home, and so I owe a debt of gratitude to an employee of Dairy Queen who I haven't met yet).  Peyton volunteered to babysit the rest of our crew since she had come to Ephraim's birth and she said she would give Mollen a chance to come since she was my only daughter who hadn't been able to attend a birth. There was a bubbling excitement in the house as we made ready - but finally everything was done that needed to be done and we looked blankly at each other, "What now?"
i wasn't in labour - but the idea of travelling to the birthing center in the throes of hard labour wasn't all that appealing either, so i called my midwife and asked her if we could just head over since we were committed to having baby now anyway - and just count on labour kicking in once we got there. She agreed to meet us there so we packed our girlies and one empty car seat in the truck and headed out.

Took a bit of convincing to get Neil to add the second finger. He's bad. :)

i was getting some random, painless contractions on the way there... and i asked Neil if we could start listening to my birthy play list while we drove... i had made some good choices putting it together... and as i surrendered by body and my plans for this birth and even the tiny child within me into God's hands, the tears just flowed. The birthing center isn't that far from our city's abortion clinic... and as we drove past the clinic, i looked back. i saw the gate shut tight across the parking lot entrance - and i prayed for Life.
When we arrived, my midwife decided she might as well check me now (her previous exam at the clinic had been a speculum exam because she didn't want to give me a full pelvic exam because of my gbs status). At the clinic, i had been high and closed, and despite the fact that it hadn't been very long, and i hadn't experienced many contractions, i hoped for progress. As soon as she checked me, my water broke in earnest and i couldn't even hold in a huge sigh of disappointment to see that it was stained with meconium.
My midwife again, was the calm voice of reason and she told me that she's required to tell me that the recommendation with meconium staining is a hospital birth. i asked her how she felt and she told me she was perfectly comfortable where we were... i told her i was too... and we decided to stay.
i had made a little progress, but not much, and having checked the baby's position in the womb, my midwife wanted to try some different positions to see if we could get his little head turned into a better position for birth. Finally, she smiled at me, "We're gonna go do some stairs now..."

She had me going up the stairs with wide legs and deep squats. When a contraction would come, she would get me to take two stairs and lean into it for the duration of the contraction. My contractions were really too short and mild to be making much progress, but i did the stairs till i was breathless - and before we knew it, it was time for the second dose of antibiotics and smoothie. i sat at the table as they mixed the antibiotics and they plugged it into the little port they had left in my arm. i begged to have it taken out now that i had taken both doses of antibiotics, but they seemed to want to keep it in for the duration now that we had it inserted. As the antibiotics finished, suddenly i felt *another* pop and a gush - and my water broke again.
"Surely now..." i murmered...
My midwife was baffled at the extra rupture, but was pleased that this water appeared clear... It was around 9:45 when i had the second dose of antibiotics and downed the second dose of lemon verbena. Slowly, slowly, slowly... the contractions picked up in frequency, duration and intensity... It wasn't long before i asked to get in the tub, and my midwife said looking at my countenance was enough to tell her I had made progress, I was finally not laughing, so she told me to go for it.
The water brought immediate relief.
i wasn't sure if i had been making progress or not - and i was a little worried that the water would slow the progress since it had been so much work to get me going and that was unfamiliar to me. My midwife told me she wasn't worried though, so i just enjoyed Mother Nature's epidural and breathed and coped through the contractions and let the water soothe me and the music that Cai played bring me peace.
It wasn't long and the contractions were overwhelming. i didn't feel strong and fearless - & that's ok - you feel what you feel in labour, each one is it's own journey... This one didn't come to catch me, i ran looking for it - and met it... despite my weakness.
i felt his head descend inside my body and wondered if it was time to push. My midwife managed to check me without getting me out of the water and helped me get the last tiny lip of cervix out of the way.
i worked so hard. It hurt, and i pushed... i felt him descend even more... The room was very dark and i was more vocal - but not out of control. Neil squeezed himself into a tiny corner beside the tub - and when i cried, "i don't want another contraction, i don't want to do this..."
He wryly added, "Babe, i'm tired - i want another contraction... Let's do this..."
And no matter what either one of us wanted, my tiny one descended and my body pushed and did what it was designed to do and i reached down in the water and felt his head crown and slip from my body.
"His head is out..." i groaned to the midwife.
Strains of One Thing Remains in the blackened room... "Your love never fails, never gives up, never runs out on me... Your love never fails, never gives up, never runs out on me...
"Oh, it is?" She laughed softly and helped me to get in a better position to push out his body.
(I was going through Sloan's pictures after and I found a video that was pitch black... I was going to delete it, but I hit play... I heard my midwife's voice, "I think it's time to get the sisters".  There was the sound of the soft lapping of water and then my groan as he was born, and the midwife's gentle acknowledgement, "Intense eh?" to my pitiful, "That was such hard work..." Quite an amazing thing to hear... )

i pulled him from the water, and clutched his tiny body to mine. He was so peaceful, he didn't want to cry. He breathed and looked around, wide eyed, grasping tiny wrinkled fingers at the air - pressed close to his mama, half submerged in the warmth of the water, blinking in the dim light as we spoke in lowered tones and waited for his cord to stop pulsing.
"What a peaceful birth..." The midwives smiled at my son - and i thought in that moment that i was so grateful that even after the decades of midwifery experience between these two women, the mystery and magic of childbirth was obviously not old for them... i was so glad for the women who attended his birth.
It was 11:51pm when he was born, and we made it home by 2:30am - I insisted on stopping at McDonalds for a Big Mac on the way, much to Neil's dismay... he was exhausted after all the resting on the couch he had done and wanted to get home to bed. ;)
The next day, we chose his name:

And there are so many more bits and pieces and stories I want to tell and pictures of grace in the midst of the vulnerability of new life... but if I don't post this now, i'm beginning to doubt I ever will... Blogging became tricky for so many, many reasons in the past couple of years and i'm out of habit and practice... and it shows :)
Elmer, you are a blessing to this family. We are so in love with you already - and I pray (yesterday it was in a sobbing half shouted prayer in the privacy of the little orange car)...  that you will be a willing vessel for God to accomplish His good works through you.
Oh buddy, mama is just so blessed - in tearful gratitude for the precious gift of your life. I just know we're going to be special friends...

late night for miss mollen...

They added a banner stating, "It's a BOY" to the window a few hours after this picture was taken. Elmer was the third baby born at the birthing center that day...

"I need some support." "Oh? Could you come over here? I've got to check some emails..."

That's my bikini top clutched in my hand... getting ready to get in the tub..

5 days old

5 days old... precious pictures taken by Carey Stevens photography. You can see more HERE.


Carol said...

Congratulations! I was wondering if you had had the baby yet! Best wishes to you all.

Joy said...

Thank you so much for sharing your story of birthing him.

lovefam6 said...

I can't wait to hear all the other details that did not make it into this blog. I love reading your writing and so appreciate the time you fit in to do this. Let Neil know that he's obviously a pillar of strength for your home and how blessed he is to have such a home to help hold up. Although just between you and me and the rest of the world, I would have 'accidently' broke his phone as I leadned in against the man who was giving me strength to endure. Lots of love, prayers, and grace to you as you do what you do best my friend!

stephanie said...


Mindy said...

I am perfectly content after reading this. May God continue to bless your beautiful family!

Lola said...

Wow, I love birth. So amazing. Great job. he's so beautiful and so are you! And I chuckled at the picture of N checking emails while you hang on him :) He's so calm and collected. Mark has a tendency to hide, pale faced, in the corner.

Kali said...

Love it Paige...another beautiful birth story. Wee Elmer is so handsome and I hope you are resting & settling in this love to all!

Pink Slippers said...

Hi! I am a Mommy to 10 (13 and under). I just found your blog. I love finding other 'large family' blogs to read. I am a new follower of your blog. Congrats on your new baby. We just had a new baby girl (Tallulah) on July 8th.


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