"Life is change. Growth is optional. Choose wisely."

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The birth story and more pictures!

Warning: This birth story is very, very long. I apologize. The exciting part is near the end... and there are lots of pictures after the story. So - enjoy skimming, reading, or just skipping right to the pictures! :)

I keep waiting for an ample amount of time to write the birth story of my sweet Sophie, but am beginning to realize that there may never be enough time to do the story justice. And, as much as I long to expound upon the beauty of childbirth and all of my deepest feelings regarding the miracle of bringing a life into the world, of necessity I will forbear. Suffice it to say, I have never wanted to numb or mute the experience of giving birth in any way. I wanted to experience it fully, be aware and in control, and trust my body to do what it was perfectly designed for by my Creator.
In the beginning of June I began to feel extremely irritated by my responsibilities which seemed unreasonably overwhelming for a woman that needed to be focusing on the all important even that was approaching. Other than taking care of my family, everything in my life was a nuisance. Mostly, I felt a sudden urgency to begin preparing my mind and body for giving birth again, because I knew what a huge and life altering event this can be. I am grateful for the desire to prepare, because it proved to be vital – and allowed me to have the beautiful, empowering experience that I longed for.
I had a homebirth with Weston, and in retrospect, I think I was a soldier. It was l o n g and extraordinarily difficult near the end. For some reason I felt disappointed at the time because I thought I didn’t do a good job – like I hadn’t handled the pain and exhaustion well. Even though I was disappointed in myself at first, I immediately knew that I wanted to do a natural birth again. But this time, I wanted to feel a sense of satisfaction about the experience right away – not just months later in retrospect.
I started by re-reading my two favorite birth books, to refresh my memory and get myself focused on birthing a baby! One of these books, Hypnobirthing, has a chapter on affirmations. Somehow I had totally missed that chapter my first pregnancy! Almost every night after everyone else had gone to bed, I took a soothing bath and read my affirmations. It really helped me to focus on having a peaceful birthing experience. That was my goal. After all, when birth is traumatic for mom, it can’t very well be good for baby either.
I decided to have the baby in the hospital this time, even thought it was a little scary for me to think of it… somehow, that just seemed like the way to go this time. Dr. Harter (my doctor) is amazing. I couldn’t hope for a better one. I wrote up a detailed birth plan including everything I wanted - it was like a list of demands! He agreed to every one of them, signed the birth plan and gave me a number to reach him on if any of the nurses did not honor my wishes. I wanted to do a water birth again, and he is the only doctor in the entire hospital that allows you to deliver in the water. So, everything was set – and the birth was going to be perfect. I had planned everything – including music to listen to, aromatherapy to create a calm atmosphere, food and drinks to keep me going, the birth tub that would be delivered, and a myriad of other details.
My due date was August 14th. It was a Friday, the day of Jason’s grandpa’s funeral. After it was over, we figured Sophie would come within a day or two. After all, our schedule had cleared, so the timing seemed just right! (If you ask me, the timing would actually have been just right a couple weeks earlier :)
Well, the weekend passed uneventfully. I didn’t quite know what to think. After all, with Weston I had gone into labor on my actual due date. I felt discouraged by Monday - discouraged and miserable. In fact, I don’t think I realized just how incredibly miserable I had felt for the past couple of months until Sophie was born. I was just so massively huge and hurtey. (Yes, hurtey IS a word.) The Vegas Summer heat is pretty close to unbearable in my opinion, but far beyond it while pregnant. Those last 6-8 weeks were just a matter of survival. People began asking when I was going to induce labor. It seemed like 30 calls a day came in (mostly calls to my mom) asking if the baby had been born yet. All day long I could hear my mom on the phone saying, “Nope, no baby yet! She’s just going to wait… no, no, she doesn’t want to induce labor. We’re just all trying to be patient!” But even in my impatient, uncomfortable state, I still felt that I should wait until the baby was good and ready to come.
I guess it was good to hold off, because I was right… when she was ready to come, she was READY!!
Tuesday the 18th I woke up feeling better than I had in months. I don’t even know why. Maybe I actually slept that night. I was refreshed and energized. Then, to make things better, my good friend Stephanie dropped by. She didn’t just drop by… she dragged her three kids across town in the horrific heat simply to bring me flowers! Two dozen roses to be exact. It absolutely made my day. She must have been inspired, because I don’t think anything could have brightened my day the way those roses did – and her visit, of course! So the good feeling lasted, and I even had enough energy to go to Trader Joe’s with my mom in the afternoon. We did some major grocery shopping and on the way home I began to feel mild contractions. They were mild and very far apart, but I began thinking to myself that tonight just might be the night!
Jason and I went to bed around 10:30 Tuesday night. At exactly 12:25 I woke up with real contractions. I began to time them, deciding not to wake anyone for awhile. They were about 5 minutes apart for an hour, so I finally woke Jason up around 1:30. He drifted back to sleep sometime after that (with my permission of course) because I was resting quietly in between contractions and the poor guy was sleepy. If I would have known what was to come, I would have told him that I needed him awake, but at the time I figured it was better for him rest up since I was going to need his strength 12 or 16 hours later when I was finally pushing. (These were my thoughts because I had been in labor for 21 hours with Weston.)
Around 3:00 I got cold, and woke Jason up to help me get a jacket on and go sit on the birth ball. He kept saying, “don’t you think you should wake your mom up?” to which I kept replying, “no, no reason to wake her now.”
But finally at about 4:30 I went into her room to tell her I was in labor and to bathe in her luxurious spa tub. My thought was that since I had so much time to go and I was already tired, I should probably try to take a warm bath to slow labor down and get some rest before the big work ahead. I had been hungry and eaten a few bites of an energy bar before the bath, which made me nauseated. I thought it was strange that I felt like throwing up. When I was in labor with Weston, I ate and felt fine. In fact, the food is what gave me much needed energy to keep going! So, the bath did make the contractions a little further apart. I slept in between contractions which was nice, except that I still felt like puking. And though the contractions were further apart (like 8-10 minutes), they were going from fairly intense to very painful.
After an hour in the tub, I got out and laid on my mom’s bed for a good while. She timed contractions some more, and finally I just couldn’t take lying there any longer. I got up with a start and informed her that I was going to wake up Jason (who had been snoozing on the couch).
By this time it was 6:00, and Weston had woken up. I told them I thought we should start getting ready to leave in the next while. Jason tried to encourage me by commenting that I might be half way done with labor already! I sure hoped I was more than half way done, but recognized that he was probably right, and I guessed I should be glad about it. With Weston awake, mom starting fixing him breakfast. While in the kitchen, I was straddling the toilet seat (one of my favorite positions for labor) in the guest bath room listening to snippets of her conversation with family members who she was calling. (Jason was showering and getting ready to go to the hospital.) I heard her call my grandma, my brother, and my Aunt Karen. She told my brother that she figured we’d try to be at the hospital around 8:00, and that hopefully we’d have a baby by noon! I remember thinking that sounded pretty accurate… at least I hoped it wouldn’t go longer than that! She kept asking me what I wanted for breakfast, and I told her that I couldn’t even think about eating – the thought of food made me want to vomit!
It seemed so odd to me that I couldn’t eat. Then, I began to wonder why labor was getting so powerful already. At “this point” in labor with Weston (as though there was any way to determine what point I was really at), I was walking around the block, just pausing for contractions. I was carrying on conversation, and while it hurt, I was able to move. I started to wonder if maybe I was further along in labor than I thought. When Jason got out of the shower I told him I wanted to get going to the hospital. But I was starting to really worry – not about labor itself- but about being able to endure a 35 minute car ride while contracting so hard. The way I cope with the pain is by moving. I don’t think there is any way I could do natural childbirth lying down – or sitting in a chair with a seatbelt on for that matter! Gee, why hadn’t I thought of that sooner?
Because everyone was rushing around trying to get ready to go, I was experiencing the worst part of labor – transition – pretty much alone! I needed the emotional support of someone by my side, but no one (including myself) realized how far along I was. By 7:00 the pain was breathtaking, and I was pretty much climbing the walls. I wasn’t completely alone, but mom was dealing with Weston (who was getting upset because he could hear me in the other room, obviously in some kind of distress) while Jason was frantically throwing toiletries in a bag. At about 7:10 I told Jason to hurry and bring me the trash can because I had to throw up. Once I threw up, the reality hit me that this baby was coming, and she was coming soon! With Weston I threw up only a few minutes before I started pushing. It’s hard to remember exactly what order everything happened in, but I know that at 7:15 Jason called his boss and told him that we were on the way to the hospital, so he wouldn’t be coming in to work. Right after he got off the phone he started insisting that we get in the car immediately. I just kept saying “no!” I told him I had to wait until there was a break in the contractions so that I could move… the problem was, there WAS no break in contractions! I was in transition, and while it didn’t last two hours like my first labor,there was absolutely NO break in between contractions for a good 15 minutes. It was insane!
Jason’s urgency seemed to be increasing, “you HAVE to get in the car!!!” My response was the same, “No! I’m not going anywhere!! I can’t move!” Then a strange but familiar sensation hit me, seemingly out of nowhere.
“I feel like I have to push!” Could it be true? I was almost in disbelief! Less than a half an hour earlier I had been hoping I would be lucky enough to have this baby by noon.
Once Jason heard me say that a couple of times, he opened the door and yelled out to my mom, “Ruth, call 911! We’re having a baby!!”
I know most people would have been all freaked out and terrified in this situation – it certainly was dramatic, untraditional, and a little crazy – but I was just so thrilled that I didn’t have to get in the car! I wasn’t afraid of giving birth, and in fact I was happy that I felt like pushing… that meant that labor was almost over and our baby would be with us! It was exciting!
I guess my mom handed Jason the phone because next thing I know he’s talking to the 911 dispatch lady, and telling me to take my pants off. Again, I kept saying no, until I realized that it was a pretty rational request considering the circumstances. I guess I had said no because I was focusing on making it through the never-ending contraction.
As soon as I took off my pants I realized that the baby’s head was engaged and moving down. I hardly even remember pushing, but as I lay down on my side and put my hand down there, I was surprised and thrilled to feel the top of a soft little head! Holy cow. When I pushed Weston out, I was terrified to feel the head of the baby. This time there was no fear. It was truly exhilarating.
Meanwhile, there’s a conversation going on between Jason and the dispatcher, and me and Jason… it went something like this:

Dispatcher: Make sure she is laying on her back
Jason: Michelle, you have to lie on your back
Me: NO!!
Jason: You need to lie on your back!!
Me: NO WAY!!! (Duh, doesn’t he know that is the single most painful position to push a baby out? I mean, hasn’t he given birth before!?!?!?! Oh, yeah………)
Dispatcher: Is she on her back?
Jason: Yes, what next…

Actually, I remembered that Julie gave birth on her side, and that’s what felt comfortable to me. So I lay down on my side and pulled my top leg up toward me. The lady on the phone kept instructing Jason on what to do, which wasn’t much because by the second push her head was already out. I remember thinking, “well, I can rest a second, wait for the next contraction and push the rest of her out, or I can just do it now.” I went with the second option. Actually, the only reason I even knew her head was out was because I heard Jason tell the lady on the phone that the head was out. Yes, he delivered our daughter with a phone between his ear and his shoulder!
Jason instinctively positioned his hand to hold up her neck as she came out, immediately checking to make sure the cord was not wrapped around her neck. (Fortunately it wasn’t.) So out she came, and we knew everything was alright because she cried right away – just enough to let us know her lungs were working. She calmed down very quickly when Jason wrapped her up, and moments later six strange men came rushing into my bedroom! The only thing I remember from the time she was born to the time the paramedics arrived was checking between her legs to make sure she really was a girl.
The paramedics were very kind and calm, and let me tell you – I felt like a million bucks! Once Sophie made her grand entrance into the world, I felt great. It was a peaceful, wonderful birth that I certainly would never have planned, but that was more perfect than I could have imagined. My poor mom couldn’t wait to see what had happened, so when the paramedics arrived she had one of them entertain Weston and show him the fire truck for a few minutes. Weston came in a couple minutes later too. He was so happy! His instinctive reaction to seeing his sister for the first time was to kiss her on the face. It was so precious!
So that’s the story! Time of birth was 7:25; exactly 7 hours after labor began. Off we rushed to the hospital in the ambulance where Sophie and I got all checked out. I didn’t need stitches or anything, and she was in great shape too. It was beautiful, fulfilling, and had a very happy ending… which is really only the beginning. That was two weeks ago today, and I am just overjoyed to have my two precious kids. Part of me can’t wait until Sophie gets a little older so they can play and so we can all get to know her, but the other part just wants to cherish every moment of her tiny perfection!
These are the beautiful roses Stephanie brought me
Princess Sophie (that's what daddy calls her), fresh from the womb
Here's the paramedic that entertained Weston... you can't see it because the picture was snapped a couple of seconds too late, but that was right after he saw and kissed his little sister for the first time.Shortly after arriving at the hospitalFeeling pretty great about life!
Weston's visit to the hospitalDr. Harter came and checked on us a few times while we were there... he was disappointed that all he got to deliver was the placenta. I am so grateful to have him as a doctor. He LoVES delivering babies, and treats his patients with more respect and kindness than any doctor I know!The first few days at home:
Loving grandma
Sleeping beauty!
Daddy... admiring his little ladyWeston can resist those pudgy little legs no more than we can!I love this close up! I haven't seen that many pictures of myself as a newborn, but I think there's a resemblance other than the extremely chubby face! :)


Adriane said...

Amazing!!! What an incredible story...You are such a good story teller...felt like I was there! She is beautiful and I hope that someday soon I can meet up with you and your family. Miss you and hope everything keeps going so well!

Megan said...

Holy CRAP, Michelle!!! I was on the edge of my seat the ENTIRE way through your stroy. My thoughts:

1) I am SO GLAD you know that "hurtey" is a word. Because it IS!!! I used it just yesterday: "I shut my toe in Camryn's closet door and now it's all hurtey."

2) I am so impressed that you're in such control during labor. I was doing all right myself for most of it (I began with a bang at 2:30 in the morning, contractions 5 minutes apart from the get-go) but I had excruciating back labor and such bad panic attacks that I was relieved to get the epidural. It made recovery a lot harder, though--I had a really hard time walking! We'll see how the next labor goes...

3) I would rather DIE than go through labor lying down. Oh. My. Gosh. Even sitting wasn't an option for me after awhile! I kept marching around, huffing, and begging Karl to mash a tennis ball into my lower back as hard as he could. Our conversations went something like, "Owww! Harder! No--really, harder than that! Owww!!! No, I'm not saying 'ow' to YOU! HARDER!!!" I wonder if you could rig up some kind of harness and hang from the ceiling...I'll bet that would feel the best!

4) Looking at your sweet daughter's face makes my heart hurt! She is so incredibly precious--and I see so much of Weston in her face. He is going to be such a good big brother! Camryn will probably torture her younger siblings--I'm not sure why I think that, but I swear it'll come true!

Congratulations again--you're one amazing woman!

Megan said...

Okay, I just read the story again and Jason needs a big red Superman cape RIGHT NOW!!! What a hero. Oh, my gosh, Michelle--what a great story.

Sarah said...

I am speechless. What an amazing story! You are incredible.

Jill said...

What a fun story! I love it.
Yay for you not having a big old long labor again! She is beautiful and I do think she looks like you.

Amy said...

Awesome stor, Michelle! What a great way to bring a baby into the world. I am sure Jason jsut cherished every moment of it. I am so happy for you!

Mary said...

Oh my gosh Michelle! Amazing! Isn't it wonderful how our bodies work. I'm so glad everything went well and that she is here!

andrea said...

Thank you for sharing your story. I had no idea it would be so exciting. She's adorable.

Courtnie said...

You deserve a super woman cape too! You and Jason are obviously good together and work well as a team when it really counts. I loved the story. I felt empowered after giving birth too!

Isn't motherhood and childbirth so inspiring?


Marcie said...

What an amazing story and you are wonder woman! Congratulations on the birth of your second baby! Email me at if you'd like to be invited to my blog. :)

LillyBug Jewelry and Accessories said...

WOW!!!!! that's really all i can say! WOW!!!!!! CONGRATS on your beautiful bundle of joy!!!!

i said...

I'm soooooo glad you got to have your baby at home. :) Things work our wonderfully, don't they!

Great story! I sure do relate. I remember w/ Anna just waiting for it to hurt more/ take longer etc....but it never did. :) So happy for you. :)

Lynette said...

Love all the details to her birth story. She is just precious! I'm so glad I got to come see you and hold her! You are so amazing!!!!

I posted a sneek peek of the pics on my photography blog...
I'll get them all to you by next week. Let me know what you think.

jenica said...

you are a freakin' rock star.
two babies born at home now! hehe. that's seriously so awesome. john delivered our 4th, but not under such incredible circumstances. ;-D


Rachel H. said...

So my husband Mark Howard sent me a link to this post, which I am presuming he is linked to you through facebook, I recognize your face from the old institute days, so I hope it's not too weird to know that I am reading this. But I can't help but say that I love Dr Harter too. Hate his office, but endure it because I adore him and the wonderful doctor he is. I too was surprised how much faster and easier my second labor was, congrats on a beautiful healthy baby girl!

monica said...

MICHELLE! What a story. Congratulations on the baby, the no stitches, the shorter laboring & the feeling like a million bucks post baby. You are such a birthing Diva!!!
Seriously, it's just so wonderful to remember that #2 baby was such a quicker and less post pain experience.
Yay for you and your sweet little girl!

Angie Larkin said...

Oh my gosh! The moment you all realized it was too late to get in the car...GASP! I love birth stories. I should collect them all from my friends and publish them! I love hearing the different experiences. Congrats on a beautiful little girl. P.S. I would have done the gender check too! :)