I needed to get all my thoughts out, so it's pretty long. The short version is Ali Elisabeth was born on Jan 30th at 4:57am. Labor was just under 2 hours and by far the most intense of my 4 children. She was born weighing 7 lbs 9 oz and measuring 19 3/4 inches long. She is perfect in every way and sweet as can be!
On January 29th Paul and I decided not ot go to church because he was exhausted from working overtime the night before and I was beyond angry with the world. I was 40 wees 6 days and since this was the longest I'd ever gestated before I was cranky, mean, and frustrated. It was for the benefit of everyone else that we didn't go. However, a wonderful woman in our ward, A, called to check in on me (though that was the last thing I wanted) and asked if she could stop by around 12:00pm. Thinking it was to bring me something edible and leave, I agreed. When she showed up with her bin and bag of pedicure supplies I was overwhelmed to say the least. How incredibly thoughtful of her to want to want to help me feel better with a bit of pampering! How much I did not want her to be in my house and just to go away! I woke up Paul and hid in my room, as I was embarrassed by feeling that way, and had him go out to talk to A. While they talked I began my second heaving meltdown of the day complete with outrageous sobbing and doubting my ability to birth and raise children. In hindsight, this was a fantastic sign! A woman at the end of pregnancy tends to break down like this. We'll call it "pregnancy transition". Anyhow, after a bit Paul came back to the bedroom and insisted we I allow A to help me, so I asked if she would watch our boys while Paul and I took a walk. It was during our walk that I began to really feel deeply connected to Paul. This was just the beginning.
After walking for about an hour across the neighborhood, we came back and got ready to head to his mom's house. Nothing excited happened then, so we'll fast forward to the night. Around 8pm I took one tablespoon of castor oil. No, it wasn't to induce anything, as this is less than the usual "induction dose", but since I hadn't done the "cleanout" one usually experiences within the last few nights, and I was afraid of repeating history after Trent’s birth. Then on with the night of putting my boys to bed and watching The Terminal (with Tom Hanks). By 11:30pm we were getting ready for bed and I noticed the return of Braxton-Hicks contractions. At midnight I was too uncomfortable in bed and decided to take a shower. This was nothing new for me as many nights I’d been uncomfortable and needed a shower and so didn’t think much of it. While in the water Paul commented that my belly looked way lower than it did even earlier that day. By 1am I was beyond tired and decided to fall asleep on the couch convinced I would be waking up at 8am still gestating. I was wrong.
At 3am I woke up with my entire belly feeling rock hard and the sensation of water leaking out of me. With all 3 of my boys labor didn’t start with spontaneous rupture of membranes and with Kade and Trent my water didn’t break until pushing or crowning; this was new. I got up and went to the bathroom and when I stood up from the toilet it was like someone had turned the faucet on and then off. Luckily I was standing on an orange towel and noticed white speckles in the fluid. It was definitely not pee. I called down the hall to Paul to bring me some clean unders and a pad (took a few times since he had to wake up) and from that point on the contractions were never less than 2 minutes apart or lasting less than 1 – 1 ½ minutes apart. I told Paul I needed the birth tub filled so he brought that to the kitchen and began filling that with the hottest water. While I sat on the toilet or squatted by the railing, I kept telling Paul this better be the real thing or else I’m going to be really angry. He just smiled as he prepared the boiling water for the umbilical string, knife to cut the cord, and tea for the Shephard’s Purse. About 10 minutes later I got into the tub and felt relief. I’m not going to lie, jets make it soooo much better, but laboring in the water is far superior to being out of the water. The contractions continued in strength and intensity, each time I would move forward on to my hands and knees, moaning low and relaxing my hips, sometimes rocking a bit. This was by far the most intense labor I’ve ever had. Each contraction was harder than the last, most were double peaking, and I became overwhelmed. I thought I was insane for being at home, that there was no way I could do this for hours, and that I just wanted to be done. The pressure in my tailbone and hips felt hot and crushing. I asked (begged) Paul to push on my hips and back, but each time I needed harder and longer and it was straining on him. He kept at it though. By 4:30am I started to cry and tell Paul I didn’t want to do this anymore. Around then Kade came out and found us in the kitchen, all the lights were off except for the light over the stove, and sat down on the kitchen chair. He wanted to talk at first, bit I told him that his sister was getting ready to be born and that he needed to be very quiet. Then he farted and amazingly, I found that funny and it took the intensity away for a few moments. That’s when the next contraction came and I started to grunt through it. It felt better than just relaxing and I could push against Paul’s fists that were firmly against my sacrum. So long as Paul didn’t move, I could manage.
I don’t know what time it was at this point, but it wasn’t long after starting to grunt during contractions that I was afraid these little pushes I was doing were causing my cervix to swell and that if I was only 6cm (I had no idea really, just a number I decided on) that these little pushes would make things so much harder and longer. My logical brain took over for a brief moment and I decided to reach down and feel if I had any swelling at my perineum. I felt some and gently felt inside my birth canal for anything, not sure what to expect. My baby’s head was less than an inch away from my perineum! I wasn’t 6cm! I was about to have a baby!! I quietly told Paul that I felt her head and my body just took over. I screamed like a tea kettle as I pushed, gentle at first, then fierce and desperate. Kade went running down the hall and woke up Braxton and Trent to tell them Ali was coming. Her head slowly emerged through the infamous Ring of Fire and I applied counterpressure around her head, waiting to feel if her head was posterior. She was facing down and I felt so relieved, then I felt for her neck and found her cord wrapped around it and gently slipped two fingers between her neck and the cord to create some slack. Another moment later and her shoulders were out and I gently brought her out of the water. I remember telling Paul, “She’s so small!” The whole actual pushing lasted all of maybe 5 minutes, but it felt like it was in slow motion. My sweet babe let out a cry and her body immediately pinked up, but her face was turning white. Paul came in front of us and I told him her cord was too short to hand her to him, then he noticed that no, it wasn’t too short; it was still wrapped around her neck. We lowered her to a bit (of course keeping her head out of the water) and he took the cord off and her face immediately pinked up and she began crying full, hearty cries. Paul grabbed the warmed towels and while she was against my chest we placed two of them over her. I looked up and saw all 3 of my boys were watching in awe at their baby sister and I in the tub. Again, a few minutes later I held our sweet girl and Paul helped us both down the hall to our bed (he’d already prepared it) so I could birth the placenta. I had called my mom before getting out of the tub and asked her to come over to help with my boys. She arrived shortly after my placenta came out. My mom says she was amazed at the peace on our home and helped in tying the umbilical cord, preparing the smoothie, and helping with our boys. Having her there was a deeply healing and loving experience.
Ali Elisabeth was born at 41 weeks on January 30th, 2012 weighing 7 lbs 9 oz and measuring 19 ¾ inches long. She is perfect in every way and loved so deeply by her brothers, Paul, and I. Paul continued staying vigiliant in my immediate postpartum care by monitoring my bleeding and preparing my placenta smoothie, cleaning up the birth tub, bringing me several cups of Shephard’s Purse tea, checking me for tears, and more. There is far more to the story, but there is no way to express every detail. Experiencing birth this way, in such a raw form, with just Paul and I has been incredible. After getting into the tub I asked Paul for a blessing. I know that by turning to the Lord, we were guided through. From the time I found out I was pregnant through the birth I continued to develop an ever greater testimony in our Savior. I knew that so long as I followed in faith, we’d be guided in faith. I also have found I am more in love with Paul than ever before. He is an incredible husband, partner, and father.
I am so in love with my family! Welcome to the world, my sweet baby daughter!