Dearest baby Emmi,
Here is your birth story, of which I could tell over and over again. Birth is truly transformational, and yours was especially so.
John and I got married May 30, 2009. We decided that if God were to bless us with a baby, we would be perfectly happy with his decision! After months of not getting pregnant, I was getting really discouraged. I was still nursing my 2 year old, and wondered if that may have been why we weren’t conceiving.
February 13th of 2010, we found out that we were pregnant. Finally! After many months! We were overjoyed. The pregnancy seemed different to me though. I began spotting. I was anxious and scared, and in March, we found out that I was miscarrying. Devastated does not begin to describe how I felt.
After mourning the loss of our pregnancy, we decided to continue to try and get pregnant again, and in May of 2010, found out we were pregnant for a second time. A week later, I was spotting again, and knew that this pregnancy would not make it as well. I was heartbroken.
I am a pretty stubborn person. I’m also very impatient. My miscarriages taught me patience, and taught me that I do not have control over everything, even though I may want to.
A few months later in August, I became pregnant for a third time that year. I was nervous and scared, frightened really, and didn’t want to get too excited until we heard a heartbeat. At 9 weeks one day pregnant, we heard the heartbeat, and relief was instantaneous! I really believed that this sweet baby would stay.
Fast forward to Tuesday night (38 weeks 5 days pregnant), April 26, John and I got to bed late at 11:30pm. I woke up around 2 and 4 am. At 4, I noticed contractions that seemed a little different, but I had been having braxton hicks contractions for weeks so I didn't really think too much of it. At 7am, I woke up and needed to get out of bed as the contractions seemed slightly different and laying down during them was uncomfortable.
I got up and ate some cereal for breakfast, and went about my morning doing odds and ends, and showering and getting ready to go do some errands. We had an appointment at 10:45am...and earlier I had texted with my friend and doula Trisha explaining what was up. I had lost a little of my plug, but it didn't seem like enough to get excited about. With my first, my water broke, and I lost my plug after my water had broken. This time it seemed to be coming out a little at a time.
Trisha offered to keep Addi for a while so I could spend some time alone with John. I felt silly because Trisha canceled her plasma appointment and I felt like I probably wasn't really in labor. After our appointment, we dropped Addison off at Trisha's house. Addi wasn't feeling the greatest and had a cold so she was really upset about staying at Trisha's when normally she's very happy to be there. We left, and Trisha texted after 5 minutes saying Addi stopped crying, which made me feel a lot better.
We were going to go to the chiropractor, but realized they were closed between 12-2pm so we came home. I bounced on the birth ball and timed contractions and they weren't regular at all. For weeks I'd been having very regular contractions every 2 minutes apart...so maybe the fact they weren't regular this time should have given me a clue.
John made us both lunch. I had a turkey sandwich and some kohlrabies, and a few other things I can’t remember. I was petty hungry. We watched a show of Medium on Netflix and kept laughing about the fact that we had no idea if I was in labor or not and wondering if we should send John to work or not at 2pm. I texted with a few friends, to see what they thought, and one told me it really sounded like the real deal and I should probably keep John home. We decided he'd go and I'd just call him home as he's only 15 minutes away.
He left around 1:40pm and I decided to drive myself to the chiropractor since by the time I would get there they would be open. I called my mom on the way and she couldn't believe I was driving myself. I really didn't think this was it and I didn't have to breathe through contractions or anything so I figured if it was it, getting adjusted would really help.
I got adjusted, and got back in my car and immediately my contractions went to a timetable 2 minutes apart the whole way home. I got home and put dishes away and vacuumed my living room and hallway. I put some Christian music on and kept thinking how nice it was to be in my own house alone to just do whatever I wanted to do. I still wasn't fully convinced I was in labor, but it started to seem more and more likely. I texted Trisha and told her they were 2 minutes apart.
Around 3:20 pm, I decided to just call John home just in case it was the real deal. I figured he'd just have to use an extra vacation day if I really wasn't in labor. I still wasn't sure. A little before John got home I called my mom telling her to keep her night free as I still thought I may be in labor. The plan was to have her come and pick up Addison while I was in labor and take her back to her house. We had left it totally up to Addi on whether or not she would be home or not. Most of the time, she said she wanted to go to Grandma Peggy's to play because she didn't want to see the "icky, slimy stuff on the baby." While talking to my mom, I got super emotional and wanted Addison home. I felt badly that I hadn't spent much time with her that day and sad for her to not be our only child. I kept thinking about how much her life was going to change and that I hoped it would be okay with her. I remember telling myself that giving your child a sibling is such a blessing, and that made me feel better. My mom was nervous because I asked her to be quiet a few times and I was crying but I told her John would be home soon and we hung up.
John got home shortly after and as he walked in, I cried to him about really wanting Addi home. He held me and told me he would ask Trisha to bring her back. He called Trisha and she got things ready to bring Addi home and come over. John and I started setting things up, like moving our kitchen table and blowing up the pool, and doing the odds and ends around the house to keep me distracted. The contractions were totally manageable and I was doing just fine with them. I wouldn't even describe it as pain, it was just a tightening feeling.
Around 3:45-4pm, I was standing over by my pantry door, and I had a contraction in which I needed to lean against the door and concentrate more. After that one, I became convinced (finally!) that I was actually in labor. Trisha got to our house with Addison and I was so happy. I was also getting super excited. I wasn't really nervous or fearful at all. I was just excited. I hugged Addison, but didn't really get to spend much time with her as the contractions seemed to be changing slightly.
I remember calling and talking to my mom a few times and I know I let her know that I was indeed in labor and she should come up as soon as she was done working. She had some stuff to take care of, and said she'd leave around 430-445. It takes 45 minutes to get to our house from where she lives, but it wasn't a problem. Addison was happily playing with her toys, and John and Trisha entertained her well. Later on, John called her and asked her to pick us up a few things from the grocery store on her way over.
With each contraction, I stood with my weight on my arms as I leaned over onto our kitchen table which was in our living room. I was rocking my hips in a circle, then swaying them side to side and then back and forth. I just randomly walked around my house, occasionally pausing to lean onto my bed post, or a wall, or my bathroom counter, but most of all I seemed to like the height of my kitchen table. Trisha kindly remembered that I wanted to wear my birth beads that I received from my due date club ladies! We all choose beads to send to one another in order to make a necklace out of it. It was to give us strength and remind us that we were not alone and that millions and millions of women have done this before, and we could too. Trisha put the last hook on it and cut it and tied it off for me (it was already made) and I put it on.
After a while of being able to talk and laugh between contractions, and also not really knowing what to do with myself, I noticed that I was no longer able to sway my hips from side to side, and that I could only sway my hips (while standing) back and forth, as in front to back. Trisha rubbed my back a few times, and John tried to touch me a few times as well, and immediately I asked them both to not touch me at all. I never felt badly, or that I was hurting their feelings. I knew they'd understand. With Addison's birth, I had a lot of people rubbing my back and pressing my hips, but this time I wanted no one to touch me at all.
I decided that I wanted to jump in the shower and see if the warm water was comfortable. I got in, and had two contractions, and knew immediately I needed to get out. I couldn't spread my legs apart enough, and just felt extremely cramped. I needed to be able to spread my legs apart, so I got out right away.
I felt the urge to go to the bathroom, and I remembered that with Addison, I really felt comfortable just sitting on the toilet. I went into the bathroom, and shut both doors, and just sat on the toilet. I'm not sure if it was John or Trisha, but one of them came in and turned all but one light bulb out on the bathroom vanity, and lit the candle that was in there. It was so lovely being in the bathroom in the dark. I was getting irritated because there were no handles to hang onto and the wall my bathtub was on was too close and I couldn't spread my legs apart as much as I needed to. It was around this time that I had asked Trisha if she could get the doppler and we could listen to the baby's heartbeat. All this time I could feel the baby moving and wiggling, and I wasn't concerned that there was any problem. Trisha got the doppler and it took a little bit to find it, but I was never afraid as I know that babies move down so low that sometimes it's tricky to find. She found it and we listened during a contraction which I remember not being very pleasant, but I wanted to know how the heartbeat was doing during a contraction. The heartbeat was 130-140s, and that was all the reassurance I needed that things were going well. That was also the last time we listened to the heartbeat.
Occasionally, Trisha would bring me things to drink. I don't remember drinking as much as I did, but I drank quite a bit of coconut water and also some red raspberry leaf tea. At one point Trisha was just sitting in the bathroom very still, quiet, and calm. I had a contraction and afterword I said, "this is really really hard work." She told me it was, but that I was doing such a great job. She had a big smile on her face and her calmness was so helpful to me.
I sat for a while on the toilet by myself, mostly alone and in my own head. I remember praying to God that our baby be healthy and that everything would go really well. I never once felt afraid. Never. I was peaceful and I knew that everything would be taken care of. I remember logically thinking about the fact that I must keep my mouth open instead of tensing it closed. I consciously kept my mouth open so my jaw wasn't clenched. Apparently I had read Ina May's Guide to Childbirth and the sphincter chapter one too many times!!! :) I asked for the birth stool to be brought in. John put it in an awkward spot and I asked him to move it against our bathroom wall. They put some chux pads on it, and John helped me stand up and move to the birth stool. I had a big contraction once I stood up, and I hung onto John. I remember it being quite painful and I asked him to press my hips. He did, and that felt a lot better. As soon as the contraction was over, I made my way to the birth stool and I sat on it. It was much more comfortable, as I was able to spread my legs as much as I needed too, and also because it had handles for me to grasp.
John would come in randomly to just check on how I was, but he wasn't talking or asking me a million questions which I was so incredibly thankful for.
Trisha was sitting at the back of the bathroom at one point, and I remember asking her how far dilated she thought I was based on her doula training. She said probably about a 5. I remember thinking that maybe I was farther than that, but that it didn't really matter because with Addi I went from 6-10cms in 50 minutes. Shortly after we had that conversation, I looked at Trisha kind of confused, and told her that I felt kind of pushy. She told me to let my body do whatever I needed to do. Later, looking at her notes, she wrote down that she decided I was probably closer to 6-7 than 5. I think it was at this point that I started to moan. I remember getting really high pitched a few times, and knowing that I must not do that because it would make me tense up and make things hurt worse. Instead I focused on making a really low "ahhhhhh" sound. I had one contraction that seemed like it would not end. I was "ahhing" for a really long time. Afterward, I remember telling John and Trisha that it was a really long contraction. I even remember in the middle of it telling it to go away already! It was probably the longest contraction of the whole labor, and I was mad at it!
Trisha had gone out of the room and John was in by me. I told him I was going to just check myself and see if I felt anything. I checked my cervix, and there was nothing to be felt. I really thought I would have felt something.
Shortly after this, John looked confused and told me he thought he saw something coming but he wasn't really sure. It was around this time that my mom got there. She was going to take Addison home with her, but I was already feeling pushy.
I continued to feel pushy, and told him to go get Trisha who was greeting my mom. He went and got Trisha, and she came in and told us that she could see the bulging bag of waters. I was so confused. I felt the urge to push yet I didn't think I had been in labor long enough. I thought I'd be laboring for a lot longer before I felt like I needed to push. I looked at Trisha and said, "Well, I guess if I want to get through this, I need to just do it right?" And she agreed with me.
I started pushing with each contraction. I didn't have anyone counting to 10 and yelling at me to hold my breath and push for 10 seconds. I was able to totally listen to my instincts and my body, and push the way my body told me to do so. This had been a big issue for me during Addison's birth, because I felt like my control was taken away from me by them telling me what position to get into and how long to push. I started to feel the burning sensation and remember telling them that it burned and stung (something even Addison remembers very clearly!)! I remember continuing to be surprised that I was feeling like I needed to push, and that my bag of waters was bulging. They held a mirror up for me, but I couldn't concentrate on looking at the mirror, holding onto the birth stool, and pushing a baby out at the same time.
I closed my eyes, and just went with the contractions. It seemed almost like the contractions sort of stopped at this point, yet I still slowly pushed. I remember a little pop feeling, and then a squirt of water squirted out all over the mirror Trisha was holding and onto the chux pads in front of me. I think Addison was sitting there holding the flashlight. We all started laughing because it was really funny how it just squirted out.
I remember taking a big breath, and pushing hard, and I remember her head came out. I thought about resting, but knew I'd just feel better if I pushed hard again, and that she'd probably slip right out. I remember vaguely Trisha asking John if he wanted to catch his baby. He got down on his knees and asked her what he should do. She told him to just wait until the baby's head was out, put his hand down and that she'd just come right out into his hands. I pushed again, and out she flew along with a bunch of water all over the floor in front of me. John handed her right to me, and I was almost in shock. She came out bright pink and screaming. There was no question that she had good lungs! She cried for a while, and I just held her and looked at her and touched her. I didn't cry tears, per say, but I was sobbing with joy. She was completely covered in vernix. I called it "cheesy stuff" because I thought that sounded better! I just kept rubbing her skin and holding her, and then remembered that I didn't know the baby's sex! I looked between her legs and said, "it's a GIRL!" and was so utterly shocked! I REALLY thought she'd be a boy! After that, I realized there was a fan blowing on us and I shouted for someone to turn it off. I asked for a towel and just held Emerson and rubbed her skin and kissed her and loved on her.
After about an hour of Emmi nursing, I was getting extremely uncomfortable on the birth stool and I wanted to get into bed and get the placenta out. My contractions were getting intense and I had to concentrate through them again. Another one of our friends came over and then I walked into my bedroom with my bum hanging over the side of the bed to get the placenta out. John cut the cord, and I handed Emerson to him to hold as I couldn't concentrate on holding the baby and my contractions. Watching my stomach get smaller and the uterus shrink was pretty crazy. I massaged my uterus a bit, and it was definitely shrinking and contracting to get the placenta out. After a little while longer, it finally came out and I had SUCH relief. The intense contractions finally stopped. I ended up taking some IB profin as they were so horrible, and am glad I felt the need to only take it once. My after pains with Addison seemed to be much worse.
After the placenta came out, I decided to use the birth tub that we had prepared and filled. The water was still nice and warm and getting in and soaking in it felt amazing. I relaxed and we examined the placenta. Addi was able to put some gloves on and check out the placenta all on her own. She was so proud for holding the flashlight during the birth and so happy to be able to wear gloves and touch the placenta! My little midwife in the making!
John had cut the cord a bit long (on purpose) so we decided to have Addison cut it shorter. With some help, she was able to do that job too! I didn't want to stay in the tub any longer as I really wanted to hold my baby, so I wanted to get out. I got up and started walking to the shower as I wanted to rinse off, and apparently I bled a bit on the floor and everyone had to clean me up a bit. I got into the shower and Trisha stayed in the bathroom with me. When I got out, I felt ringing in my ears, and felt like my face was pretty warm and I may black out. I told Trisha and held onto her a bit. Then we got me into bed and I laid down and ate some grapes.
Trisha then started to prepare my placenta. She cut off a good sized chunk and made it into a smoothie for me to drink. I drank several glasses, and you couldn't even tell what was in it! It was so good! Next time I honestly think I'm going to do more smoothies. The rest of the placenta was going to be encapsulated the next day.
John threw a lasagna into the oven which we had prepared a head of time. Once it was done, I gobbled it up, though I don't really remember being very hungry.
Once in bed, after I held Emmi for a while, we decided to weigh her and measure her. She weighed in at 8lbs 2 ozs, and was 20.5 inches long. Her head measured 13.5 inches. I knew during my whole pregnancy that this baby would be bigger than Addison and measure at least 8 lbs and sure enough, 2 ozs over! :)
After we all ate, and had measured Emmi, my mom started getting Addison's things ready to take her home. It was 11:00pm by that time and Addi had hit her limit. She wanted to stay home so badly, but we knew she'd be better off at grandmas, and she'd probably fall asleep the moment she got into her car seat. After some tears, lots of hugs and kisses, she went with my mom, and sure enough, was out cold in less than 5 minutes.
After everyone left, it was just John, Emerson, and I. There was no one coming in to wake me up, take my blood pressure, wake the baby up, tell me what to do, or just plan annoy us! It was quiet, and peaceful, and John changed most all of the diapers. I was really quite sore from using muscles I hardly knew existed, and John helped me to the bathroom and held Emmi often, and was just an amazing father immediately.
Having a homebirth was incredible. Having a free birth was transformational! We did it on our own, in the comfort of our own home, with not a single stranger around. Everyone in our house loved us and cared for us, and Addison got to see what a normal, unhindered birth was like! With everything society puts out there through TV shows and movies, it is SO important for me to teach my girls how safe birth is, that pregnancy is not a disease, and that God created our bodies to give birth to babies. A quote from Ina May comes to mind…”Your vagina is not a lemon!”
I asked John if he’d ever have another hospital birth, and he said “absolutely not!” He was so involved. He was the first person to touch our daughter. He caught her in his hands. She breathed her first breath of life, in her very own fathers hands!! He listened and respected my wishes during labor, as I didn’t want to be touched. His simple presence in the room with me helped me feel safe and secure. His confidence as a husband and a father increased dramatically. I will never ever forget the look on his face when he handed me his daughter. He was so proud that he hadn’t dropped her (which he had been afraid of). When he got to hold her while I was delivering the placenta, he sung to her, and I felt as if they had an immediate bond. He had a bond with Addison after her birth as well, but it was different. It was his first, and he was more hesitant, and you could just tell this time that he knew what he was doing and he wanted to be as involved as absolutely possible.
Something I’ve learned while talking to friends about our different birth stories, is that there is no right or wrong way to give birth. There is no perfect birth. One birth is not “better” than another birth when discussing birth between mothers. Birth is simply birth. It’s a story. Each mother and child has their own separate story. There is no one right way to give birth for everyone. Everyone’s bodies are different. Emerson’s birth was not “better” than Addison’s, as Addison’s birth transformed me into a mother, and helped teach me what I needed to know in order to decide how I wanted Emerson’s birth to go. I could not have been comfortable with a freebirth during my pregnancy with Addison.
Both of my births transformed me. Touched me. Changed me. Changed my marriage. Changed my husband. Changed my family! I am so blessed beyond words, and so incredibly grateful to God for giving me this miraculous experience, my friends and family who supported me and trusted in my body, and to my beautiful Emerson, who chose us as her parents, and who came out bright pink and screaming. :)