E is a tiny little package that contains a big personality. He is our youngest and pretty much has everyone falling all over him when he flashes his perfect toothy smile. He has everything he could need, but the one thing I have yet to share ~ his birth story.
I was determined to have a VBAC since this was my sixth birth and I had already had 4 perfect vaginal births (two of which were planned home births). It was 11 days past my due date and it was really no surprise that this little person had yet to arrive, but I was definitely emotionally ready to finish this pregnancy journey and have him (or HER, because I thought he was a she) safely in my arms. Physically, I was finished and felt I had hit a wall with my patience and stress as well as tried lots of techniques to ensure he was in the correct position because I was very worried after #5’s surprise c-section (for presenting breech). I also knew that this baby was probably our last and I wanted to have a beautiful and empowering birth to finish my child bearing journey. I needed to feel that I had control. I also had limited resources to help watch our children and unfortunately, depended upon the wrong person to help us in our time of need. This person gave us every assurance they were able to be here day or night, whenever the baby decided to come. But as every day passed, we were starting to believe that unless we had the baby soon, our plans for our children would be undone. And this is part of the reason we decided that it was time to get things going.
We arrived at the hospital at 8 pm after dinner at our favorite Indian restaurant ensuring that I ate vast amounts of curry and spice to help the labor along. We met our midwife who agreed that we could use the a least invasive method of induction (Foley cath) and after checking in, chatting it up a bit and meeting our nurse, we started the induction at around 10pm. The insertion of the Foley was supposed to be a very slow method of dilating and irritating the cervix so that labor would begin. My midwife even planned to go home and come back in the morning, because we thought it would take about 10 or 12 hours for labor to kick start, since I had shown no effacing or and minimal dilation at that point. And yes, even with this being baby #6 we knew my history of going post date was also in the consideration of it taking some time. Honestly, I even started watching TV and told Steven to go ahead and set up the room with all my artwork, candles and music since we would be spending the night and were thinking the baby would be born the next day. Well, he was . . . born at 3:30 am only five and a half hours after the induction.
I got about 40 minutes of small pangs after my midwife left and at an hour exactly after the induction, labor began. It was really quite beautiful. I vaguely remember telling Steven to turn off the TV and that we should rest and I could not get in a comfortable position, so I just maneuvered my hips and essentially rocked the baby as I did what felt good as I lie in bed, trying to rest. And not long after that (I never remember time when I labor) I told Steven that it was time to tell the nurse about labor. She was just as sweet as can be and so respectful of our wishes to be left alone, so she suggested we go for a walk around the floor. It was hysterical because I walked with the end of the foley coming out and only my labor gown and robe to cover me. Thank goodness it was late (probably midnight) and there were very few people around. I think we walked around for about 30 minutes or so and decided to go back to the room. The nurse asked if she wanted me to get Laura (our midwife) and I thought that was an excellent idea. Once Laura arrived and checked me, the foley was easily pulled out and I remember asking her for a birth ball. It was then that everyone thought it best to move to the labor floor.
It was pretty clear my labor was strong and steady. I believe we were already at about 3-5 minutes between contractions. And so we made progress to pack up the room and go down to the labor floor. That is the one thing I wish was different, because it is no picnic having to transfer rooms when your contracting. That is what I love about home birth, no procedures or moving. The nurse brought a wheelchair to move me and I declined saying that I wanted to walk and let labor do the work along with gravity. The walk was slow because every few minutes I had to stop for a contraction. I also remember getting into an elevator and facing the back wall and griping the rail tightly, all while closing my eyes. And when I did open them, Steven was looking right at me and reminding me to relax and let my body do the work.
Once we got to the labor room, Steven set about getting things for me to focus on and I got busy on a birth ball. The time between arriving to the labor room and when I was ready to push is a bit foggy. Probably because almost a year has passed, but also because when I am in active labor, I zone out.
There were moments that I labored on the bed on my hands and knees, and I do remember Laura asking me if she could check me. I had a cervical lip (which is pretty common with me) and she requested that I labor on my back for a few contractions because most of my labor was standing and walking as I leaned forward, putting the greatest pressure on the front of my cervix and the back didn’t efface as well. So, for three excruciating contractions I counted and swore a bit and then I declared I was finished lying down and got up again. I think this is around the time Laura left the room to go and chart and literally I remember holding the side of my bed and started pushing. I briefly glanced at the reflection of me in the window as the darkness outside told me it was still early morning.
I was all in my head and kept telling myself to ‘open’ ‘relax’ ‘push’ ‘baby is here soon’ and all sorts of affirmations while Steven applied counter pressure on my lower back and spoke aloud the affirmations he always does when I labor. We were quite a team.
As we were in sync with one another, our nurse realized I was pushing and ran from the room to get Laura, who barely made it. Once I started pushing, it took about three minutes. Steven caught Emerson with Laura’s guidance and our nurse helped me steady myself through pushing, because I was half squatting as I still held the side of the bed in a death grip. I think I screamed “BABY GET OUT” as the pain was intense and fast. And once he was born, I literally fell forward on the bed to catch my breath. Which was really only a few seconds and then I got back on my feet.
Everyone was behind me or next to me, so I felt very alone in the process which is pretty much how I always feel giving birth, because no one can do it for me. And there was a brief moment of relief as Steven tried to pass him around my leg and Laura told him that the best way was to pass him through my legs. I needed help holding him because I was so spent and slippery that I was afraid to drop him. And I vividly remember looking down between my legs at his face for the first time and I was desperate to hold him. I cradled his head and back and then moved my hand to his bottom and immediately felt his scrotum and announced that “It is a boy!”.
I was helped into bed and the rest is a total blur. I remember transferring to another room and in the morning, a Pediatrician showed up to evaluate him and told us that his O2 was low. And pretty immediately after that we asked lots of questions and decided that it was best if he was sent to the NICU. The horror of already loosing a baby and Emerson’s breathing issues pretty much colors the rest of next few days as well as issues we had to deal with regarding the care of our 4 children. And I realize now that this is why I have waited so long to document his birth story, because although his birth was beautiful, the time afterwards were filled with moments that I would rather forget.
And now, as we celebrate one year with our little boy, I am able to let go of some of the anxiety and hurt that unfortunately overpowered the good parts of your special entry into the world. So, my sweet little one, I remember all the beauty and love that surrounded your birth and how amazing it was to bring you into the world with your father.