Hi UC Mamas,
Rosaline was born this morning on Christmas Eve, 2:08am (Beijing Time), unassisted at home. A very intense but good labor.
We are all doing well and are just loving our little girl. Her big brother wants to feed her cornflakes and hold her all the time, but isn't really that sure about her just yet!
I will post a birth story, but wanted to let you all know! And, my BP is already dipping back down, just 15 hours after birth.
I am thrilled to share this news and wish all of you a very happy Christmas and holiday season.
Rosaline’s Birth (Warning - Super Long! I don't want to forget a thing!)
I woke up after an exhausting and restless night of sleep. JM, Leo and I had gone out the night before and had a really festive and special dinner out at an expensive Western restaurant. Someone had given us coupons that expired December 31st and we figured we’d better use them! We went to dinner right after my last prenatal appointment, which had gone really well. I had gained a pound after a month and a half of no weight gain, and to top it off, my blood pressure had fallen a few points. The ultrasound looked good too. I was feeling good about our decision to birth unassisted at home, as was JM. Anyway, we all really enjoyed a special family dinner that night – and in hindsight, it was our Christmas dinner!
Having eaten hamburgers, fries, stuffed chicken and cheesecake, it was almost inevitable that I was up from about 1-4am with heartburn. I never eat like that in the US, but when in China, after a very long fast from Western food, all of those things sounded really good. It was worth the restless night.
Waking up at 8am the next morning was not fun; I came out of the bedroom bleary-eyed to find everyone else up and moving into the day. However, I felt this familiar crampy feeling in my lower belly, and went to the bathroom to find a big bloody show. I figured it might be today, but decided to wait and see if the cramps turned into real contractions. JM went to work, Leo went out with his Ayi, and I decided to finish a quick job I was doing for a friend’s website.
The contractions began while I was working, and so I finished up the job (rather quickly, I might add, nothing like impending labor to motivate efficiency), called my parents to let them know, and went out to run a couple of quick errands. I bought a ton of food and came home loaded so we wouldn't have to shop for a couple of days. The ladies at the store wanted to know how I was, and I ended up having a long conversation with them about post-partum practices in China. I got home and JM was already home for lunch and was excited to hear the news. We ate together, put Leo down for a nap and laid down ourselves. Leo was teething though, so no nap for him. JM got him up and they went out to play from about 3-5pm. I continued to rest, but couldn't sleep through the contractions anymore. One in particular got me out of bed, and I thought I’d better call our friends here to let them know Rosaline was on her way. Lisa and Wibke were both very excited and ready to help in any way. I told them probably we’d have the baby that night sometime, and that I’d keep them posted if they could help.
JM got home and was surprised by the progress I’d made. My contractions demanded my focus now, but I still had a bit of time between them (don’t know how much, because I never timed them). JM got takeout, and we were contemplating whether or not he’d take Leo over to his work Christmas party that night for an hour or so. Suddenly, I had a contraction that threw me to the ground, and it was really intense and really long. I have a feeling that was God’s way of saying JM should probably stay home.
We started hustling at that point, because we hadn’t set anything up yet for the birth. Leo also needed to go to bed. This part was a bit harried, as my contractions were waiting for nothing and no one at this point. I cleared off my desk and put a plastic cloth on it, and we set up all of our birth supplies, gloves, iodine, tinctures, medicines, disposable pads, Doppler, ultrasound jelly, hemostats, etc… we made the bed with a plastic shower curtain over our clean sheets and a birthing sheet on top. We heated the bedroom up considerably and put a heater in the bathroom. In the midst of this, I managed contractions and JM put Leo to bed.
Leo definitely understood that something was happening with me, as he and I danced around the living room for a while through my contractions and I used the birth ball to cope. He was super sweet and would give me hugs and kisses and even generously gave me the birth ball to play with all on my own (not an easy task for a boy who loves his big red ball). But he easily said goodnight and we did not hear from him until 7am the next morning. Yet another great blessing and act of God as I am not a quiet birthing woman.
We settled in to ride out labor at about 8pm. All along I had imagined baking a chocolate cake while in labor as Rosaline’s birthday cake. JM kept on suggesting that we move to the kitchen to bake the cake as a distraction, but my time for distractions was over. I had waited a bit too long to start baking. It finally became kind of a joke, as JM would say, “Let’s go bake that cake now.” in the midst of an intense contraction. JM put on Mozart, which was a great relief to hear something beautiful while experiencing so much pain.
We prayed together, and I asked the Lord to make this labor shorter than Leo’s 31 hours. I was scared to face that many hours ahead of me, and was hopeful that Rosaline’s labor would be shorter. But I asked that the Lord’s will be done and told Him that I knew that He would do the work in me and that I could do nothing without Him. We also read the Scriptures for the Mass, and the gospel reading was Elizabeth giving birth to John the Baptist.
At one point in the labor, Mozart switched off automatically on JM’s iTunes, and suddenly we were listening to “Paradise City” by Guns ‘N Roses. We laughed and jammed out to that.
Throughout the labor, I tried to just focus on the word “Open”, and worked to keep my body loose and my vocalizations low and productive. Then I started getting mad and felt I just needed to instinctually let my body take over and do what it needed to do to move this baby out. I roared like a lion, I mooed like a cow (that was funny and made both JM and I laugh), I got a little crazy, and I reached the inner-Amazon woman in me. I went primal, and became a bad-ass woman. It was good and it was effective, and I started to believe that I was doing it. I also heard Jesus speak to me through this. At one point, He just said, “I am not doing all of this work, you are. I have empowered you, yes, but you are made to do this, not me.” I felt emboldened by His words, and encouraged to move forward.
We never did any cervical checks to see how far along I was. This was in part purposeful, as I didn’t want any bad news (I had dilated super slowly with Leo), and I also felt I would know when Rosie needed me to push her out. My contractions were coming in constant, intense waves for a while, and as the pain never ceased, my own spirits and energies began to lag. JM, who had been by my side all along for every contraction encouraging and supporting me, was also eager to know, so we decided to check me out. We had to wait a bit though, as suddenly three huge contractions had me laid out on the floor on all fours. I cried out forcefully during those contractions, and I am convinced they did the last bit of work quickly before we checked my progress.
I crawled up on the bed and JM checked me. He felt Rosie’s head, still encapsulated in the amniotic bag of waters, and wasn’t sure what else he felt. So I washed my hands quickly, and checked myself. Indeed there was her head! And as I felt around, there was absolutely no cervix anywhere to be found. We were ready to push!
JM rushed around, readying the bed and his supplies for her birth. He asked me to try to wait to push to give him a bit of time, but finally I told him I needed him to just encourage me and that it looked to me like he was ready. I had to dig deep for the energy to push – I really just wanted her to come out nice and easy without any effort – I was tired . JM kept telling me I was doing great. My bag of waters finally broke as I was pushing and that was very encouraging as well. So finally I found it within me, and she came out quickly. As JM supported me and massaged me with oil so I would not tear, I felt the ring of fire and felt her head, and suddenly her head was all the way out. JM turned on the video camera, and rushed back to find me pushing her body out. He caught her, unwrapped the cord from around her neck, and handed her to me. Rosaline Muller was born at 2:08am on Christmas Eve!
She was really different from Leo right from the start. Whereas Leo had his eyes open and was just blissfully staring at me as I held him, Rosie had a scrunched up face, looked grumpy, and was hungry right away. I think she’s a lot like me – does not like to be awakened and needs to eat immediately. So we covered her up, put a hat on her head, and she started nursing pretty quickly.
We waited about 20 minutes or so for the placenta to deliver, and prior to its delivery, a huge gush of blood came out of me – at least 2 cups or more. We decided to call our midwife who delivered Leo (who was on call for us during labor) to talk it through. She said it sounded very normal to her, and so JM just gave me a few tinctures of Shepherds Purse, and the placenta delivered not long after that. The bleeding dissipated, and we felt my uterus to make sure it was shrinking and clamping down to below my belly button. It was, and that was a relief, as one of our biggest concerns about the birth was how to handle excessive bleeding. The placenta looked intact and complete, so we cut the cord. Our midwife Joni gave us some encouraging and wise words, and then we got off the phone with her – we were so grateful for her support from afar!
Our friend Wibke came over to help with the clean up. It was a joy to see her, and she was delighted to be awakened at 2am to help (good friend!). She cooked us eggs and bagels, got me water, held Rosie while JM helped me get cleaned up, and generally just assisted JM in bagging up all the messed up linens, etc. She took a lot of pictures for us too!
We finally settled in around 5 or 6 am to sleep for a short while. Leo woke up at about 7 or 7:30 and met his little sister. He was confused but happy about the baby in the house . Our Ayi showed up for work at 8am, and was astounded and delighted that the baby was here! We told her she just came too fast to get to the hospital. She helped get Leo settled with breakfast and helped JM with more clean up while I nursed Rosie.
We had such a peaceful birth at home and it was delightfully intimate to birth with just JM. I would never want to birth without him – he is truly my other half and I felt the pain dissipate to him as he supported me through the pain of labor. I truly believe that in our love our sorrows are halved and our joys are doubled.
Rosie is a delight – a big eater, a sweet little babe, and showing us her lovely little self more and more every day. I am feeling very well, remarkably recovered in a few short days. I’ve promised to rest at home for a couple of weeks minimally this time. I pushed too hard with Leo after the birth to get out and do things and I got sick, so I’m hoping not to repeat that. We’re happy to be at home together and Rosie’s birth blessedly coincides with JM’s Christmas vacation – so we are together at home this whole week. Leo loves his little sister and wants to hold her, kiss her, feed her, help me nurse her!, and help her talk on the phone. He is a gentle big brother (as gentle as a bouncy 28 month old can be), and is being very generous about sharing his mom and dad (so far ).
Our family is blessed, and we are just so thankful to God for such a beautiful Christmas!
Lizbiz, wife to my man who makes me smile, and mom to one bouncy boy (08/07), one sassy girl (12/09), and one sweet new boy (08/12).