Esther's Birth Story

Thursday, August 06, 2009

When I wrote the post entitled "41 weeks and 5 days..." on Friday morning, I had no idea that 8 hours later I would be holding my newborn. In fact, I was dressed in a pretty dress and the kids were wearing party clothes because I was assuming that we'd be going to a dance planned for that evening after all.

The contractions of Thursday night had lessened, but they didn't disappear. I talked to Mom about what was going on and called Dr. Ed on her recommendation. Both said to try and get some rest and keep them posted. Shortly afterwards I went to the bathroom (a frequent occurrence) and was encouraged to find a bit of "show." Maybe all these contractions were doing something after all!

At 1:00 I put the kids to bed, ate a light lunch, and laid down. But there was no sleeping through these contractions. Each one came over me like a rushing wave and I felt like I was facing a charging bull. "Just grab the bull by the horns," I kept telling myself. Just when it felt like the bull would get away from me, the pain would ebb away and I could breath a sigh of relief. But they were still around ten minutes apart.

After about two or three hours a really strong contraction hit and I sat up suddenly feeling nauseated. A wave of emotions flowed over me and I felt like weeping. The moses basket was near at hand and that precious sight brought tears to my eyes. This felt familiar. I remembered feeling just like this during transition with both Joshua and Lucy. Suddenly the time seemed right to get people coming.

Barely able to talk without crying, I called Mom and Eli. Confident that help was on the way, I finally got out of my party dress and into a cotton nightgown. Then I turned on a soothing CD of our favorite classical pieces and settled into the recliner to wait. Though it was nearly 5:00 the kids were still sleeping.

Eli arrived and began filling up the birth pool. My mom arrived and the kids woke up. After a call from Eli, Patti and Dr. Ed were soon on their way. My good friends Hannah Payne and Hannah Roach were going to come as well, but since they were going to be at the party only a few minutes away, we waited to call them until we knew how far along I was. People moved stuff here and there getting everything set up and I sat in the chair breathing and trying to stay relaxed.

It must have been around 5:45 that Dr. Ed was ready to do the first check. I was pretty certain that I couldn't be dilated more than 4 cm and both Dr. Ed and Mom agreed that we still had plenty of time before the baby would be ready to be born. Patti thought I looked more done than that and she was right. Dr. Ed's face looked a bit suprised when he announced I was at 8 cm and the baby's head was nice and low. In fact, he said I could pretty much push any time.

What a flurry of activity came next! Everyone hurried to get the pool to the right temperature, warm up the receiving blankets, gather towels and bowls... Someone called my friends and told them they'd better hurry.

So at last it was the real thing. I really was in labor and soon I would be holding my baby on the outside instead of the inside. I don't think it ever really sunk in.

"Thank God for water births," I said as the warm waters of the pool surrounded me. I laid back to relax. A contraction came and I leaned forward. During the next one I could feel the baby's head pressing down and I knew it would be time to push soon. My mom held one hand and Hannah and Hannah held the other. Eli was ready to hold my hands when I leaned back, but I was never able to move. About three contractions later she was crowning. "This is the ow part," I said. It took a couple contractions before her head was born and a couple more for her shoulders, but then her wet body slithered out. "I love that feeling!" I exclaimed as I turned around to hold her. There she was! She was born and I was delivered!

She made a couple of good squawks as we marveled at the miracle of another new life, but she didn't start breathing regularly. I just cradled her and stared at her, confident that Dr. Ed was keeping his watchful eye on everything. When he checked with the stethoscope, her heart rate was 60 so he gave her some puffs of oxygen and that helped her pink up. Then she started crying. Eli cut the cord and we wrapped her up.

She was not happy about being born. Her cries sounded stressed and afraid. Reclining in bed, I held her skin to skin assuring her by my pressence that all would be well. She nursed a bit and got weighed and measured and dressed. While I took a shower, Nanni held her safe and secure and she fell asleep at last.

By the next morning she was reconciled to her new life. Soon she discovered the pleasures of eating and she's been pretty happy ever since.

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