Emery’s Belated Birth Story

It’s been almost a month, (holy cow!), so I figured it was time to get this birth story posted!  I wrote it about a week and a half after he was born, when it was still fresh in my mind.  Things are going well here, mostly good, with a few bumps along the road.  Mostly good, though:)

Without further ado, here’s Emery’s super awesome birth story!

On Wednesday, April 11th, Holden and I set about our day as we had all the other days leading up to Emery’s birth.  We tried to make the most of our time together, knowing that our uninterrupted time as mother and only child was drawing to a close.  In the morning, we attended a yoga class at our community studio.  During previous classes, I would participate with Holden, but during this particular class I was feeling too drained to skip around the room with Holden, so I pulled up a chair and watched as H practiced yoga with his instructor (we were lucky to be the only people who showed up for class that day, so H got individualized instruction!)

After yoga, we went to the library where we picked up a copy of Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder, and snuggled into the couch to read the first couple of chapters.  We went home for lunch, and in the afternoon, I took H out for ice cream as a special treat.  When ordering my sundae, I noticed that it contained some incomprehensibly large number of calories, like 1500 of them, but I reasoned that if I were to go into labor that night, I would likely throw up, so the calories wouldn’t really count.  So I ordered the sundae and promised myself that I would not feel guilty for eating the whole thing.  Holden would periodically take a bite of his ice cream, smile at me, and rub my upper arm while saying that he loved me.  Once our desserts were finished, we drove downtown to pick Rob up for our appointment with my midwife.  At my appointment, my midwife told me that my cervix was in a very favorable state for labor.  I was 4 days past my due date, and the midwife wanted to set up an appointment for the following Monday to check the placenta and the level of amniotic fluid, and depending on how things looked, talk about speeding things along somehow.  I asked my midwife if we could try stripping my membranes as a first attempt at getting things going.  I didn’t want to jump straight to pitocin if I didn’t have to.  With my previous pregnancy, I had my membranes stripped at 41 weeks, and I had Holden 2 days later.  So I figured that I’d give this approach a try again.  I had my membranes stripped at my appointment, and had a lot of bloody show.  I knew this was a good sign, and because I was also feeling a little crampy, I texted my neighbor to tell her to keep her phone on because I was thinking that I might go into labor that night, and we might need her to watch Holden.

That evening, we had curried turkey burgers with mango chutney for dinner.  We tucked Holden into bed after dinner, and I felt so tired that I just had to pass out by 9PM.  Around 1AM, I woke up with very mild cramps.  I had experienced cramping and contractions at night for the past 2 weeks of my pregnancy, so I didn’t get too excited about them.  I decided to just stay in bed and see what would happen.  I tolerated the contractions in bed for about an hour, but by 2AM, I was feeling like I couldn’t comfortably deal with them while staying in bed—I needed to move around.  So I got up and drank a glass of water.  I checked my e-mail.  I paced the living room.  I found out I couldn’t sit with pressure on my back, or lay down with pressure on my back.  I went downstairs to the family room.  The gas stove was on because it was a chilly night, and as soon as I saw the flames lighting up the room, I knew I had to move the ottoman directly in front of the stove, drape myself over the ottoman, and let the heat from the stove work on the muscles of my lower back.  I was having pretty regular contractions at this point, and I dealt with them by breathing through them, drinking water, and letting the heat work its magic.  The house was quiet.  The house was still.  Rob and H were asleep upstairs.  It was just me with my baby, alone, in the firelight.  I heard a freight train whistle on its way through town, and thought about how these moments of peace and quiet could sustain me through the rest of my labor, how these moments would set the tone for my baby’s entry into the world.  I decided to grab my phone and download a contraction timing app, so I’d have a clue about the timing of my contractions for when I called my midwife.  I timed them for almost an hour, while draped over the ottoman.  They went from 5 minutes apart to 3 minutes apart during that hour, lasting about 45 seconds each.  As I approached the end of my 1-hour timing, I decided that I had let Rob rest for long enough, and it was now time to get him up and get going.  I went to wake him up (at this point, it was around 5AM), and told him that I thought I was in labor and that we should get to the hospital.

His response was this:

“I need to tell you about my dream first.”

He proceeded to tell me about his dream:  A local pizza delivery business was pulling people over and forcing people to try free slices of pizza as one of their newest promotional tactics.  Apparently, we too, had been pulled over and were forced to try one of these free slices.

“Great story,” I said, “now let’s get going.”

We had time somehow to both take showers (I was planning on shaving in the shower, but wisely decided against it once I realized that my contractions were getting a bit stronger and closer together).  Rob ate breakfast and drank coffee.  I abstained from both.  We called our midwife and told her we were on our way and that we’d be at the hospital by 6:30AM.  We called our neighbor and had her come over to get H off to school that morning.  We hopped in the car, and chatted about who knows what, as the sun lightened the sky on the morning of April 12th.  I only had 3 or 4 contractions during the car ride, which was a good thing, because the back pain from my contractions was harder to deal with when sitting down.  We got to the hospital, parked in the garage, and elected to take the long walk to labor and delivery.  I had to stop every few minutes because of the contractions, but they were still manageable.  We arrived at labor and delivery finally, we got buzzed in, and I signed the paperwork.  I was calm and aware of everything through all of this.  We were escorted down to our labor and delivery room, room #5, which I am pretty sure was the same room where Holden was born almost four years before.  I changed into the hospital gown, and my midwife checked me.  I was 6 cm dilated and 100% effaced.

“Yay!” I said.

They poured me a bath and I got in and just let the contractions come.  In between contractions I was chatting with the nurses and midwife, telling jokes and stories.  As each contraction came, I would close my eyes and breath through it, and the staff would get quiet so I could focus on the contraction.  I concentrated on making my inhalations the same length and quality of my exhalations, and imagined the evenness of my breath soothing my muscles.  One of the nurses suggested that I try getting on my side (rather than staying on my back), but I quickly decided that position was painful in a way that was not productive to my labor.  My contractions were intensifying, and I was feeling pressure in my bottom with each contraction.  I felt like it was time to come out of the tub and stand up.  I got out of the tub, and had a contraction as one of the nurses was drying me off with a towel.  I remember that contraction was a turning point for the labor, because all of the contractions after that required a level of focus that turned me increasingly inward.

I walked out to the delivery room from the bathroom.  I labored for a time draped over the hospital bed.  I was getting more vocal, more rhythmic, groaning in low intonations, a gentle coaxing to my baby.  I imagined my baby’s face during this time, and the face of my older son meeting my new son for the first time.  I thought about the joy this would bring, and then the pain would ebb for a brief period, and then I could breathe and relax.  Then the pain would come on again, and I would turn again to thinking about my sons, their faces, and the love I have for them.  I stood up and announced that I had to go to the bathroom to throw up.  I went and sat down next to the toilet.  I didn’t throw up, but I could feel the room getting hot, I could feel sweat pouring from my body, I knew my heart was racing.  They brought me the birthing ball to lean on, and I rocked myself through each contraction.  The back rubs and words of encouragement from Rob and the midwife and nurses made me feel so nourished.  I soaked it up and let them sustain me through the tough moments, knowing that each tough moment would pass and I wouldn’t have to repeat it again.  Each tough moment dilated my cervix more and got me closer to meeting my son.  My midwife eventually coaxed me up from the bathroom floor and asked if she could check my progress.  I slowly climbed into the hospital bed, and my midwife announced that I was completely dilated.  I didn’t say anything, but I did give two thumbs up and cracked a smile at this news!

I didn’t feel the urge to push at all, but they told me that I should try to push with each contraction anyway, and that eventually I would feel the urge to push.  A nurse had me by one arm, and Rob had me by the other arm, and they both walked me up and down the delivery room.  We’d take 3 steps, then march twice in place.  It’s harder than it sounds.  And when I’d have a contraction, I’d have to drop down or squat and bear down with all my might while they supported me on either side.  I did this for several contractions.  Until one contraction—I beared down to push, and I had a sudden and excruciating pain in my sacrum.  I stopped pushing at once.  It turned out that my little guy was posterior, which was why I was having such trouble with having pressure on my back.  I kept thinking about how unpleasant the pain was, how I wanted it to end because I was tired, and wouldn’t it just be easier if I had drugs to take the edge off.  But of course, I was pushing, and it didn’t make sense to have drugs at this point.  And I had to face the hard fact that I was the ONLY person who could get me out of this situation.  No one else could do this for me.  I had to keep going.  There was no choice.  The nurses and midwife got me onto the hospital bed onto a hands and knees position, which was a much better way for me to push.  With each contraction, I’d go from hands and knees and bring my torso back towards my legs, almost like child’s pose.  I felt like I was harnessing a lot of power by transitioning from one position to the other.  I also was very vocal at this point, grunting through the pushes because I was working so hard.  After 50 minutes of pushing, I wasn’t certain that my baby was moving down at all.  And my water still hadn’t broken.  My midwife asked if she could break my water for me to help facilitate things.  Once she broke my water, my pushing became very effective.  I could actually FEEL my baby moving down.  I knew he was almost here.  My midwife had me move onto the floor.  I was on my knees on the floor, with my arms and head resting on the hospital bed.  I was able to push him out in this position, only 10 minutes after having my water broken.  I could feel his head come out, and once his head was out, I felt so much relief and I foolishly thought I was done!

One of the nurses said: “Here comes one shoulder!”

“Oh my God!” I thought, “I’m not done yet!”

But then both shoulders were out, and then his body was out, and I was done and holding him, him with the blinking, wet eyelashes and crying, and me looking at him, a stranger who I was sizing up in those first seconds, who would no longer be a stranger to me by the end of the day.  Just 4 hours after arriving at the hospital, Emery Stephen Friesel was born.  He was 8 lbs. 7.5 oz., 21 inches long.  He is lovely and perfect, and worth every challenging breath I had to take on the journey to bring him life.  I’m so glad he is here.

View from our hospital room on the day Emery was born:

Brothers meeting for the first time:

May 21st, 2012 7:06 pm

That brought tears to my eyes. What a beautiful story. I’m so glad for you all that you managed to capture it! That story should be shared with the world. You did it- rock on, Mama!

And he is so perfect. All your photos are beautiful. I love you guys!!!!!!

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