Monday, November 19, 2012

{ this is the story of a birth }

Siena Grace is just over a week old!
I sat down to write the story of her birth and decided to share it. 
It's an au naturel story which is a fact that makes me both proud and question my sanity.
On the "natural" subject, 
I have to admit my husband is pretty much the largest factor in making my drug-free births possible.
Thanks, babe, for supporting me, coaching me through birth, knowing the right things to say
...and for letting me bruise your arm and pull your shirt 
...and indulging me in my ridiculous outbursts without making me feel like madwoman.
Love you and our babes.

If you want to read the story of Siena Grace's birth, 
click READ MORE below the pic of this cute gal. 
Warning: it's a long one but there are cute pictures involved.

Siena Grace’s birth story will forever be prefaced by a summary of Hurricane Sandy, the super-storm that hit our area in New Jersey on October 29, 2012, three days before my estimated due date. Sandy made landfall in Atlantic City, about two hours away from where we live... but we experienced its wrath for sure.

Sandy knocked down a large oak tree which fell between our house and our neighbors’. The top branches rested on our roof but thankfully none of the larger limbs caused any property damage aside from breaking parts of our fence. That tree took down power wires and broke the pole where the transformer was held. Because of that tree, our home was without electricity, and therefore heat, for 12 days.

Thankfully, we were able to take shelter at Phil’s parents’ home, which was only without power for three days. Then we moved into our friends’ vacant apartment the Saturday after the storm.

I was grateful and humbled to have so many people to count on but amidst feelings of gratefulness and humility, I also felt bitter, tired, frustrated, angry, and many other things. I was literally 10 months pregnant, past my due date, and living out of a suitcase with my toddler. All I wanted to do was to get home. In my head, I could handle letting my pregnancy go to 41 or 42 weeks… but I wanted to do it at home.

On Thursday evening, 10 days after the storm, we finally moved back home with a generator that friends lent us. There were extension cords strewn about and it was still kind of cold… but we were home. I was happy. A week and a day past my due date... but boy was I happy.

So happy, in fact, that on Friday, I went into labor. I woke up at 4am with mild contractions every four minutes. After an hour I woke up Phil and told him we’d probably have a baby that day. We turned on the tv and I sat on the birthing ball but they didn’t get stronger or closer together so I told him to go work from his parents house (because they had internet service and we didn’t). I would call him if anything changed.

I cleaned the house. Put stuff away. Taking breaks every few minutes to breath through the contractions. I played with Jacob… he wouldn’t be my only child for long. At around 2pm, my mom picked up Jake so I could labor or rest without worrying about him.

That’s when I called my doctor just to give him a heads up about my labor. At my check up the day before I had already dilated to 4cm without any active labor so when I called to tell them about my contractions, the nurse practitioner demanded that I come in to get checked before going to the hospital that afternoon. I was confused… I didn’t feel that I needed to go to the hospital because I could still manage the pain, but I decided to go in to see her anyway. I was curious to find out if I had made any progress.

Phil took a work call, I went for an hour long walk, packed last minute items, put the suitcase in the car, put some make up on.

When I got in, she checked, I was 5cm and completely effaced. According to her, I was headed for the hospital immediately. When she called my doctor to confirm that was what he wanted me to do, he asked to speak to me and gave me two options: go to the hospital, break the water, labor, and have the baby that night or go home to labor on my own. I chose the latter but he warned me that if my water broke I had to immediately get to the hospital. He knows me well… I’m so laid back I needed some stern warnings before he allowed me to head home.

When we left his office, Phil and I went to the mall for a walk and shared our last dinner out as parents of one child. We came home and, despite contractions that were ten minutes apart (they slowed down when I got to my doctors office… go figure), we went to bed. I was able to sleep through some contractions and in between others. Until around 3am… that’s when they got really real. At 5am I wanted to go to the hospital. Phil told me to hold off. He knew I wasn’t ready just yet. I told him I wanted to be there by 7am. He called the doctor on call at six and she demanded we get there as soon as possible.

I was happy to be headed to the hospital. I was going to have a baby that day and, even though it hurt like nothing I can compare it to, it was exciting to have an end in sight.

Inevitably, my labor slowed down and the pain became more bearable. It was probably the adrenaline. I knew I wouldn’t be able to eat anything once we got to the hospital so we stopped to get a muffin.

My point of comparison was the labor I had with Jacob, which remains the most trying thing I have ever done. Labor with him was almost unbearable. He was facing the wrong way, causing me to have back labor. He was also late and my labor extended over three days.

So when I got to the hospital to have Siena, I was still smiling and comfortable except for when those surges of pain came over me. Then I would stop talking, breathe, grip onto something. When they were over, I would continue the sentence I had just stopped.

The nurses asked if I was being induced. No, I replied, I’m in labor.

In the back of my mind I wondered if I would have a calm and collected labor like in the movies.

The doctor checked me once I was all suited up in those adorable hospital gowns.

“What do you wanna be?” she asked. Silly question I thought.

“Whatever I am.” In truth, I wanted to be 6cm dilated but I didn’t want to have my hopes crushed.

“You’re nine,” she said.

I jerked in shock. What the what?? It was really happening.

Once tests came back, the doctor came in and broke my water. Minutes later, any hopes of a calm and collected birth story went out the window.

At first I requested an epidural. Then I requested a c-section. When my husband and the nurse assured me that neither would be possible, I said I wanted to die.

I’m not sure if one can go through the transition phase so late in labor but I swear seconds after I said I wanted to die, I decided I had to push. The doctor was called in and she walked away when there were no signs of a baby. I still wanted to push, so I did. Two pushes later, the nurse dramatically yelled for the doctors. This time, the doctor was sorry she hadn’t stuck around. Let’s just say she didn’t have the appropriate attire to be catching a baby. I asked her to send me her dry cleaning bill. (TMI? Sorry. Birth is messy.)

It was scary for a moment when I was asked to stop pushing. Siena had the cord wrapped around her neck so tightly that the doctor had to cut it before the rest of her body could come out. Soon, though, I had a full bodied baby in my arms. Her face was blue and she didn’t cry. In my head I knew something was missing but I suppose the shock of giving birth didn’t let my thought process figure out what it was. The pediatrics team took her away and Phil said they did all the regular stuff and pumped some air into her. She quickly started breathing and turned a healthy shade of pink.

Siena Grace was handed over to me for good and I cried. I don’t know what I was thinking about. It was one of those moments when you think about everything and nothing and just bask in the amazingness. She looked like Jacob, that I noticed. Maybe I was thinking about all the joy that he brings into my life and knowing that she would be adding that much more happiness to our days was simply overwhelming.

I hold her now and I can't believe that she's here. I can't believe she was inside of me of nine months. I can't believe we grew a baby from scratch.

If she's not a miracle, I don't know what is.

I loved Siena instantly as much as I love Jacob. I wondered before if that was even possible and now I wonder how I could have ever doubted it. She's amazing. My kids are amazing. God is good.


Jillian said...

Congratulations! She's so precious. I'm so happy for you and your family.

Unknown said...

Awesome post Esther. It brought back precious memories for me. My youngest was born 16 years ago. :0)

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

God bless and keep you,

Dara @ Not In Jersey said...

a great story! you had the kind of birth I wish I had. congrats again!

Stone Cottage Adventures said...

What a lovely post! God is good! -Marci @ Stone Cottage Adventures

Unknown said...

So beautiful! I'm all teary!
She is absolutely adorable!

Southern Wifey said...

beautiful birth story. thanks for sharing. i still havent sat down to write my sons birth story and hes almost 6 months old lol.
the sweet life of a southern wife

thetwistedruffle said...

that was beautifully written! she is such the prettiest baby! enjoy the new baby smell. get some sleep!!

Jess said...

How wonderful!! :D

I admit that I giggled a little at the part where you wanted an epidural, then a c-section, then to die. I would never be woman enough to have a natural labor by choice so kudos to you!

She's beautimus :)

ladybug said...

such a wonderful birth story. It reminds me of Charlotte's labor in many ways. I think I do the same thing- go through "transition" at 9 cm. Its a blessing but a pain at the same time. And the nurses thinking you were being induced- yep, me too. You are amazing and Siena is amazing and I can't wait to hold her and kiss her. God bless!

Jelli said...

What a lovely story! You were right, there were some mighty cute photos to be seen. Way to go for opting for natural birth. Having been there and done that, I know it's no walk in the park. Congratulations. I hope your home and power are all fixed up by now.

Kirsten Oliphant said...

Glad she's here and that you were able to do the natural thing the way you hoped! Love all the details, but I totally don't think you should pay for dry cleaning! (I wasn't sure whether you really were serious about doing it.) The doctor should always be ready! That part did make me laugh. She's beautiful! Congrats! said...

so lovely and beautiful!! what a little miracle and gift from above!!


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