Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The Long Awaited Birth

It was a beautiful fall day in October. I was due with our third baby, and was just praying that Jellybean (that was our nickname for him – we didn’t know if Jellybean was a boy or a girl, but instead of referring to the sweet, living babe in my womb as an “it”, we decided to refer to him as a “he”) would stay put until at least the day after I was “due”. I had so much going on and was taking my Lactation Counselor Certification exam the next day. I had been having contractions for weeks so far, so honestly wasn’t sure if I would make it.

Well, my estimated due date came and went. I made it through my exam (while having prodromal labor) just fine. In fact, I made it through the next two weeks just fine – lots of prodromal labor and contractions, but nothing regular or progressive.

On my 18th day as an “overdue” mama, I drove up to my OB’s clinic (about 45 minutes away) for a Non-Stress Test to make sure baby was still doing well. I asked Randall to stay home with the kids because I just needed some alone time. As you can imagine, being 18 days over can get quite stressful and emotional. Every single conversation in person, by phone call and text was something about the baby. “Any contractions yet?” “How are you feeling?” “That baby is gonna come out walking!” “Still no baby?!” It was understandable but maddening.

I called a couple of my good friends who are also doulas because I needed to be “doula’d” at that point. I was on the phone most of the way to my appointment and felt super refreshed by the time I got there. I knew I would be meeting our sweet baby soon. Even if it was still a day or two away I could wait. I could trust God and the way He designed my body to birth my baby at exactly the right time.

My NST went pretty well. Baby was doing ok, but not great. If something didn’t happen soon my OB suggested that we consider induction by the weekend. Since I was planning an unassisted homebirth, the thought of changing to a medicalized hospital birth did not excite me in the least. I decided to let her check me just so I had an idea of where I was at. Baby was engaged, I was 3 cm and 80% effaced. So I felt I was in good shape and left there feeling pretty good and confident that something would happen soon.

On the way home I got a phone call from another dear friend who is a doula and we chatted about a lot of things (not all baby!) and I thoroughly enjoyed the drive.

I walked in the door at home and my sweet husband asked me how I was doing. I told him I was having some contractions but nothing to get too excited about…..I’d been having contractions for the past 2 months, after all.

Once home I sat down and did some work but couldn’t concentrate much. At about 5:30 pm I got up to start making some supper…I was beginning to wonder if maybe I could possibly be in early labor. I just didn’t want to get too excited and honestly didn’t want to get all ready and then have it not be it. My emotions couldn’t take that for sure.

As I was in the beginnings of preparing some supper for us my youngest brother called me and we chatted for quite awhile about many things NOT related to the baby. At the end of the conversation he told me that he called me purposely to talk about anything and everything except the baby. He figured I got enough questions and opinions from everyone else and wanted to give me a conversation free of the “you’re still pregnant?!” questions. It was one of the sweetest and best things I could have gotten at that point. What he didn’t know is that I was having contractions through the whole conversation. Not that I believed that I was really in labor or anything.

But that changed pretty quickly.

When we were about ready to eat (6:30ish), I suggested to Randall that he might consider starting to fill the birth pool soon. I didn’t want him to start quite yet in case it wasn’t actually time but just maybe get ready (as if he hadn’t been ready for the past month – ha!). Well, in between him starting to get the pool ready and us starting to eat I was beginning to need some support through contractions. I decided it was time to call my sister so she could make it in time to take some pictures, and then not long after that I called mom to come too. This was it! Finally! We were gonna meet our sweet baby that we had waited so long for!

We all ate supper together (in between my contractions), then cleaned up the kitchen. Randall buzzed around getting things ready and I got into some comfy clothes. I felt ready. I was handling things nicely and had just the perfect amount of support to make it through. I was in the bathroom during some of those early contractions before I needed a lot of support and all the sudden I heard music. I thought Randall had turned some on but when I asked him he said he hadn’t. I had been preparing the perfect Pandora station for months….somehow it just started playing through my phone. It couldn’t have been better timed….I’m 100% sure God had something to do with it! J

When the pool was all filled up we covered it to keep it warm for later and I got out the birth ball and sat on that while leaning into the couch during contractions. Randall gave me counter-pressure on my back, and the kids were amazing supports - they would rub my arms and whisper to me how well I was doing. It was such a special time.

I gave Vienna the job of giving me a drink of either water or labor-ade after every contraction. She took it very seriously throughout my entire labor. She was my perfect little doula and I am so glad she was there!

Eventually I decided it was time to get into the pool. My mom and sister had just arrived and labor was most definitely progressing. As with my previous delivery, the water was just “delicious” and I couldn’t figure out why I had waited so long. At one point I had to get out to go to the bathroom and decided that was a pretty stupid thing to do…….labor on land sucked compared to being immersed in the pool.

Contractions were getting much stronger and at about 10:30 I needed some serious support. I requested someone in front of me as well as Randall’s strength pushing super hard on my back. It was intense….definitely not the gentle labor that my previous experience was. I was in my labor zone and just working through each contraction as it came. I reached a point where I really didn’t think I could do it, and requested mom pray for me. She did, and after a nice 10 minute break it was go-time.

My body began pushing and made me move into the strangest position of ever. I seriously don’t think I could have done it if I hadn’t been in the water. I was in a very weird squat-lunge-kick. It was the only way that felt right to push.

Within a few minutes, our sweet Jellybean entered the world completely in the caul (bag of waters) at 11:31 pm on October 20, 2014. My bag of waters didn’t break until she was completely out. It was so awesome! Porter had fallen asleep while watching Frozen in our room by that time, but Vienna was awake and though she left for about one minute during pushing (it was a little intense for her), she was back within seconds of the baby arriving. She got to find out along with Randall and I that she had a new baby sister instead of a brother, and it was just amazing. Ember Aileen DeWitt had finally made her appearance.

I got out of the pool pretty quickly after delivery so we could move to the couch and she could do the breastcrawl and we could just get to know each other a little bit. It didn’t take her long to latch on, and I kept marveling that I couldn’t believe she was finally here. It didn’t seem real.

It was a precious time with my awesome husband right by my side and helping carry me through, Vienna as my doula, my sister capturing the whole event on camera, and my mom being such a blessing with her prayerful and strong support. Porter was also a great support until he got too tired J. He woke up about 1:30 am or so and came out to greet his new baby sister…..as with everyone else, it was love at first sight.

I had a great team and the knowledge that I could trust my body to do exactly what it was designed to do and give birth safely and at the perfect time. I wouldn’t have wanted to deliver her anyplace else or at any different time. It was completely perfect, and after everyone else had left for the night to get some sleep, we all snuggled in for a long rest and life with our sweet precious girl began.

Friday, October 2, 2015

It's Been a Year

Wait. What?!

Exactly one year ago today I was "due" with our precious little "Baby Bo" (that's one of her many nicknames around here)

Oh, it was still 18 days until I had her (yes, I said EIGHTEEN), but I remember my due date so very clearly.

I was sitting in between two very dear friends of mine (Shelly, also very pregnant with Kate, and Niki) at our week-long Lactation Counselor certification course.

(Cuz that's how I do....sign up for a week-long course all about breastfeeding the week that I'm due).

Meh. I figured I would go past that date. I wasn't worried.

I certainly had plenty of contractions that week....but honestly there couldn't have a better place for me. I was surrounded by other women who have a passion for babies, I was with good friends, and DOULAs.

Did you catch that? I was with THREE other doulas (and friends) all.week.long. At 40 weeks pregnant. Seriously - if you ever have a chance to be surrounded by doulas (who are just naturally nurturing and caring and know exactly what you need) when you are 40 weeks pregnant - for 5 days straight - TAKE IT!

Anyway, I obviously made it through the week with no baby....in fact I had almost 3 whole weeks left before we got to meet our sweet babe.

When I saw this cartoon I had to smile. I've SO been there ;)

One of my favorite things about being so "overdue" was seeing people's faces when my answer was "2 weeks ago" to their well-meaning "when are you due" inquiries. And then came the "Oh, you poor thing. They are letting you go that long?!" type comments.

Ha! I usually responded with something like "Oh, they aren't letting me do anything. I call the shots" ......or you know, something similar.

I loved being able to expand people's minds with the idea that midwives and doctors don't have the final say in maternity care....that we, their CLIENTS do. (Note I didn't say patients? Pregnancy is NOT a sickness!)

Anyhoo, sometime in the next few weeks I'll be posting our little Ember's birth story....I can hardly believe it's already been a year!!

And if you happen to be nearing the end of your pregnancy - don't worry - I can promise you with certainty that you won't be pregnant forever (I wasn't, though in those last days I certainly felt like I would be the first woman in history to be)! Hang in there!