July 31, 2012
They were wrong about the second baby coming early (as you all know), but ooh boy. They were right about him coming fast. Want to hear the story? Of course you do! We all love a good birth story, don’t we?
It was Tuesday morning, I was finally giving in to the obvious fact that I would be the first person to be pregnant forever. Despite having contractions for 3 nights in a row for an hour or two, they’d stopped, and Sunday and Monday night I’d felt nothing. Hrrrummpf. I spent Monday hanging with my brother, having a long late lunch at Gjelina. And Tuesday, via Instagram because it’s just that awesome, made plans to have lunch with Liz while she was in town, also at Gjelina. One can never have enough Gjelina, I say.
And now here somehow I’d made it to my post-40 week appointment with the midwives. So dutifully I went, whined that I was still pregnant, made an appointment for a non-stress test the following Tuesday (horrifying thought… that’s I’d still be pregnant 7 days later), and was sent on my way.
Before lunch I stopped by the pool for what I was hoping would be my last swim this pregnancy (I’d been saying that the last 5 times I’d been to the pool, mind you). It was glorious, as swimming always is. Especially while 40+ weeks pregnant. (I’m seriously missing time at the pool right now, as a side note.)
And then it was time for lunch with Liz. Which was as delicious as any lunch can be. We said our goodbyes and as I turned to walk away from the front door of the restaurant… POP! My water broke. Again! That’s two babies and two labors starting with my water breaking. Apparently that’s how my body prefers to do it. As you can imagine, I was like UHHHH, now what?? Luckily I was not actually sitting in the restaurant. Can you imagine? “Um excuse me, waiter? I’ve just leaked amniotic fluid all over this chair and the floor under our table.” No, there may have been a few drips that hit the sidewalk, but luckily I was wearing a long, dark skirt and no one could tell what was happening but me.
I spread my pool towel on the seat of the car, got in, and called Brock to give him the scoop. As I drove home, I called our doula, Joanne, to let her know, and then called my parents to tell them to grab their bags and head up to LA so they could stay with Dashiell.
It was all very exciting, and also such a relief to be able get things in order that afternoon. I was so hoping that I would know during waking hours that I was going into labor, instead of being woken in the middle of the night with contractions. It just seemed so much easier to be able to plan during the day, rather than in the middle of the night. And I was so glad that we could tell Dashiell that we’d be gone in the morning and that he’d know that my parents would be there with him instead of us.
SO. That all happened at 3-ish. About 5-ish, I started to feel mild contractions. We went on a walk around the block with Dashiell and Brock’s sis Jess, who was there to hold down the fort in case we had to leave before my parents arrived. (We’d been warned that second labors can pick up and progress very quickly by multiple people, so we were prepared.)
My parents arrived, we ordered take out Thai for dinner, bags were packed, and by about 8 pm I was started to feel my contractions enough that we decided to time them for a bit (there’s an app for that, BTW). The confusing thing was that they weren’t really that long, only about 40 seconds, and came every 3 to 7 minutes. So I was sort of thinking we had a while to go still. Don’t they say they should be 1 minute long and 3-5 minutes apart to indicate active labor? Apparently none of the rules apply for second timers.
We all sort of hung around the living room, watching Wimbledon, and waiting. I’d talked to the midwife on call by then (Shadman, the women I wanted to deliver this baby, yay!), and she was cool with us staying at home for a bit since there wasn’t meconium in the water when it broke, and that my first labor had started the same way. My mom went to bed and my dad stayed up with us until about 10 (both urging us to just go to the darn hospital already!), when I made the arbitrary decision that we would leave for the hospital at 11. I talked to Shadman again who told us to call her on our way in. Her last (knowing) words were, “Okay… just don’t wait too long.” Contractions were more intense at that point, but no longer and no closer together. Brock packed the car and I synced my iTunes on my phone. And then suddenly it was 11 and it was time to go.
As I stepped off the porch and headed towards the car it felt like things started to change. At the last minute I grabbed an extra pillow from home for the car ride. Best decision ever. I rode to the hospital laying down in the back seat this time, unlike last time where I for some reason thought I had to sit in the front with my seatbelt on like a normal person. The plan was to call Joanne when we’d checked in to the hospital and have her come then. Why we always wait to call her until the last minute, I have no idea. I never think I need her until I REALLY need her and then I have to wait for her to arrive. But as we drove to the hospital I stopped talking or answering questions, and Brock made the executive decision to tell her to get in the car and come immediately.
I had a moment where I thought I might throw up in the car, but I kind of couldn’t believe I was that far along, and frankly didn’t want to get my hopes up. I was really really feeling the contractions at that point, but I was also doing a much better time visualizing each contraction opening my body to the birth of my baby. With Dashiell I definitely fought the pain as opposed to surrendering to it, which it turns out really does help you get through each wave. It’s the craziest feeling, being in labor. It’s so intense and so hard, but somehow you just DO IT.
We pulled up at the hospital, grabbed our bags and made our way up to L&D. I had to stop every few minutes for a contraction (again, glad I had my pillow to lean on!), and I couldn’t help but find it a wee bit funny that the orderly still had to follow us with an empty wheelchair even though there was like ZERO chance I was going to sit down in it.
By 11:45 we were checked into our room, and I dutifully laid on my side on the bed for 20 minutes of fetal monitoring. Laying on the bed was definitely not where I wanted to be, but the other option was to stand and that was out of the question too. The one bright part was that our nurse was just amazing. She was young and kind and helpful and totally on my team, and knew when to tell other staff to give me space. Which was really really more than I could have hoped for.
Our doula Joanne arrived shortly after we did and together she and Brock rubbed my back and squeezed my hips through each contraction. The one thing I did know what that I had to be touched at all times. Joanne rubbed my lower back continuously during breaks from contractions and if she let go of me it felt like I might just lose hold of the world. Something about having another person’s hands on my kept me from falling into pieces. And as much as I didn’t want to keep going, I knew that I couldn’t admit it to myself or to anyone. I was still unsure how much longer I’d be in labor and to admit distress felt like I would lose what little control I had of my body and my mind.
After fetal monitoring was over, an OB resident came in to do an ultrasound to make sure the baby was head down (even though he had been since 30 weeks) and to check the level of amniotic fluid left. They’d somehow lost my pre-admit forms so I then had to hear all the complications that could arise and the measures they’d take in those cases and sign a handful of forms. Which took another 20 minutes or so. She asked if I wanted her to check my dilation and while I was curious, I declined. I knew that I couldn’t hear that I was 4 or 5 centimeters at that moment, and keep my shit together. And with Dashiell they didn’t check me until I was 9, and that was awesome. Not knowing somehow made it easier.
All the while my contractions were building and at that point coming two at a time, instead of a more civilized one every 3 or 4 minutes. I’d have a really big one then a 30 second break followed by a slightly less big one before I’d have a moment to rest. The only thing I could do was hold onto the bar on the side of the hospital bed and breathe as slowly as I could manage.
At this point it must have been nearly 12:30. A second nurse came in to put in my heplock (it’s always a nurse in training, I swear), and it took her a few minutes to find a vein that would work on the top of my wrist. Just as she’d decided on a vein, I had a set of contractions that were different. The second one of the pair in particular felt like what I can only describe as the sensation of a bowling ball starting to descend through your pelvis. I felt the same thing with Dashiell, and remembered Jen feeling it during her birth. But I couldn’t believe that I was that close to having my baby. We’d only just arrived at the hospital after all. After that contraction, I looked up and told everyone that the last one was different. As in things were changing.
Before the nurse could start the heplock I was like, “Ummm I need to go to the bathroom before you do that. Like, right now.”
Which is basically code for, “I’m about to push a baby out”, but I didn’t have that sensation with Dashiell’s birth so I wasn’t really thinking about it. I was just like, get me to the toilet ASAP.
I started walking to the bathroom and made it halfway across the room before another huge contraction came. Luckily there was a rocking chair to hold onto right where I stopped because before I could even think I was pushing. And by pushing I mean the kind of pushing they talk about that feels like throwing up in reverse. Like there’s nothing in this world that can stop you from doin’ your thing. At that point (obviously) everyone in the room mobilized. I should mention that I was still wearing my clothes. Running shorts (because they have a liner so I could wear a towel in the to catch more leaking water) to be exact. And I heard someone say, “She’s pushing with her shorts on! She needs to come back to the bed!”
To which I was like, “NOOOOOO. I CAN’T!!!”
And I think our nurse said, “Yes you can, Kristina.” And our doula said, “Stay in control, Kristina.”
And I was thinking, control? I am not in control. I have never been in control of this experience. I’m just holding on tight and letting my body do what it needs to do!
But what I said out loud, because I was having another contraction and pushing was, “FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCCCKKKKKKKKKKK.”
Yep. I’m always so classy when I’m in labor! There were a lot of expletives starting at this point folks. It was just so crazy and so fast and so so so intense. Intense is not nearly a descriptive enough word. And clearly I didn’t have the vocabulary at the moment to adequately express myself. I just kept saying “Oh my god oh my god ohmygodohshitohmygod.”
See with Dashiell, I don’t really remember the pushing part being that crazy. I mean I’m sure it was but my labor was so much longer and by the time I was pushing I was sort of maxed out on feeling. This time it all happened so fast that I felt everything.
So they did manage to get me to the bed, to get my shorts off, and luckily called the midwife in time. For some reason they hadn’t told her when I was on my way in (I had called from the car), nor when I arrived in L&D. And she didn’t have any other patients so she was sleeping in the call room. But she did arrive. As did a baby nurse and a few residents and maybe some more people too, I can’t remember and didn’t care.
And then once I was on the bed, someone checked me and it wasn’t a matter of dilation at that point. I was plus 2 and his head was practically already out. At that moment a little face peeked around the side of the bed and was like “Hi! I know this is sort of an awkward way to meet, but my name is James and I’m an OB resident here and I’m going to help deliver your baby if that’s okay.”
Uhhhhmmmm. I can’t imagine the look I gave him. Like um, guy. My baby is literally coming out right now. I DON’T CARE who is here and who isn’t! Poor James. I think it might have actually been his first birth ever.
In between one contraction Shadman guided my hand down so I could feel my baby’s head and know that I was actually making progress. Do you know what? Baby heads are SQUISHY! They do not feel like head at all. Very weird.
And then on the 4th push at 12:46 am, I heard Shadman say, “That’s too fast, too fast!”. But there was nothing anyone could have said that would have made me stop pushing. Nothing. And he came flying out, screaming just like his mama. Sorry bud! Don’t they say that the birth experience informs the temperament of the baby as a newborn? Oops.
It was insane. That’s the only way to describe it. But it was fast and then it was over and that was awesome. They laid him right on my belly and I asked if he was a boy or a girl. Last time Brock was so anxious to find out who we were having that he called it out practically as Dashiell was entering the world. But this time he was more concerned with making sure everyone was okay and in one piece. So the nurse said, “It’s a boy!” And I said, “A boy. Of course he’s a boy!”
And then I said, “I’m sooo glad that’s over.”
Followed shortly by, “If we have a third, I’m getting the epidural.”
I got two stitches and then everything was golden. It was amazing to be so unconnected to everything. No IV, no heplock, nothing. Just me and my baby laying on the bed. They did end up giving me a shot of pitocin in my thigh to help with bleeding, but that was so much better than being hooked up to the IV, which they probably would have done had the nurse had time to get the heplock in. I totally get why people go to such lengths to keep things as minimal as possible. With Dashiell the actual birth felt like a procedure. I had an IV for fluids, I had oxygen, they used a vacuum. It felt very medical. But this time I could have been anywhere, I just happened to be in the hospital. Aside from the insanity, it really was perfect.
And now here we are. One month gone already and to be honest, my birth story seems kind of insignificant compared to our new life as a family of four. But that’s a whole different post that I’ve been thinking about a lot. I think I would like to share, because I know there are people out there who would love to hear another mama’s experience. But we’re taking things day by day at the moment so we’ll see when I have time to write another post. This one has taken two weeks, after all.
We are well and settling in to a little routine and while there are have been ups and downs, I’m trying to remember that before I know it things are going to be awesome. MORE awesome, I mean.
See you all soon.
July 27, 2012
Baker & Olive CobranĂ§osa. I’m convinced. I’ve been all but drowning my salads in it as of late. It’s grassy and nutty and just all around super yummy. Do you know Baker & Olive? I bet you San Diego peeps do. It’s an awesome little shop in Encinitas that makes you want drop everything and just cook and create and live a delicious life. And also buy everything they sell.
I came home with a few olive oils and, ready, an ESPRESSO BALSAMIC a few months ago. And suddenly the CobranĂ§osa is the apple of my eye. I think it’s my favorite olive oil I’ve ever tried. And probably the first that I feel like I can’t possibly live without. Which means I’ll be ordering a large bottle soon because I’m almost out.
And the espresso balsamic is divine too. Vanilla Haagen Dazs, strawberries, espresso balsamic. Yep.
July 10, 2012
As most of you have probably seen on Instagram… he’s arrived! He snuck in 2 weeks ago after a short and intense labor in the very early hours of June 27th.
2 weeks! They flew by. Apologies for the huge delay in announcing things here. I’ve been in computer hell since then with a nasty iPhoto issue that’s just been finally resolved. Which means, I have pictures!
And he does have a name:
Forrest Henry Meltzer
Born June 27th at 12:45 am
A bit under 8 pounds, a bit over 20 inches long.
I can’t believe we have another little buddy in the house all of a sudden. More soon… the birth story, perhaps some thoughts on welcoming a second. It’s more than I imagined it would be, in lots of ways.
(Rocking the newborn hospital shirt! I apparently saved no newborn clothes. Oops.)
For now I am so incredibly happy to have him here and healthy and perfect… and also that I’m not pregnant anymore. That relief was nearly instant, I have to admit.
Here’s to a warm summer around the house. Hopefully with fall comes a new rhythm for our family. We’re figuring it out and I’m reminding myself what so many more seasoned mamas have told me… that this level of sleeplessness and disorganization is so incredibly temporary. And that my second little guy will only be a teeny baby for a few short weeks. It’s time to majorly lower expectations around here and enjoy.
Thanks for all the love, you guys.
June 21, 2012
Okay, 39.5 weeks. Not that I’m counting the days or anything. I’m a proper pregnant lady in waiting at this point. Yesterday I hit the pool in the middle of the day, got a pedicure, went to the market… you know. Today is reserved for yoga and perhaps cleaning out the linen closet? I think this means I’m ready.
Couldn’t resist a few photos with my little guy. Could be his last day as an only, after all. He was a little uncertain about the tripod and camera timer, but then of course he wanted more once I’d put everything away.
My dress is from the nice people at Seraphine, (thank you!). It’s really sweet, very reasonably priced, and guess what? It’s supposed to work nicely as a nursing dress too, which I’m really excited about. Last time I was woefully unprepared for nursing. Not the act of nursing, that was fantastic. But the wardrobe! I had nothing that worked for nursing any place but my bedroom. This time I’m going to be such a chic new mama.
So here we are. Just a few days before my official due date. A word to those of you expecting your second… all that stuff they tell you about being early instead of late? Don’t get too attached to it.
Though I have to say I’m kind of savoring these last few days with nearly nothing to do. It almost feels like vacation.
PS. Three posts in three days. Gold star!
PPS. Why do little boys always have to have a cut/scab on their noses?? We are in a perpetual state of new boo-boos, it seems.
Dress by Seraphine Maternity.
June 20, 2012
Not mine! Clearly you would have seen word on Instagram had our little one made his/her appearance last night. This is the birth story of Lillian Rose (Lily) and Emily, a friend and one of the ladies behind Once Wed. Most of you probably know Once Wed, right? It’s a gorgeous wedding blog/site/magazine, that I’ve been reading since I started this blog before I was married.
It’s such a beautiful treat to be able to share another woman’s story here, especially as I wait for mine to unfold. And this one comes with photos from the exceptionally talented Jesse Chamberlin of Our Labor of Love.
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Quick back story: 3 weeks before I gave birth, my father passed away unexpectedly. Our relationship was very complicated. About 5 years ago he came to live with my husband and I because he could no longer take care of himself, so for most of my adult life our roles have been reversed in terms of a traditional parent/child relationship, but he was still my dad and it was earth shattering when he passed away. He was looking forward to becoming a grandfather for the first time, so the timing of everything made it especially heartbreaking. I had spent so much of my pregnancy mentally preparing for birth, and losing my father suddenly set everything into chaos for me mentally and emotionally.
My official due date was February 27th, but I was certain I was going to be late. First babies are always late, right? So when good friends set their wedding date for the 25th, we didnâ€™t hesitate rsvping yes. At this point I was huge and only one dress fit, but I knew this would probably be the last event weâ€™d attend before baby came and we were looking forward to celebrating after how heavy the last few weeks had been for both us after losing my father. When we got to the country club for the reception I began to experience what I would describe as pressure in my lower back. I didnâ€™t think anything of it because even women who experienced back labor felt contractions in their stomach and I was feeling absolutely nothing in my stomach, so I thought this could possibly be the back pain some women complain about later in pregnancy or I had to go the bathroom. So for the next 3 hours the pressure remained and I probably visited the ladies room 30 times thinking my body was telling me I needed to use the restroom. I didnâ€™t mention it to my husband because I didnâ€™t think anything of it and he didnâ€™t notice my frequent bathroom trips b/c Iâ€™ve been peeing every 30 minutes for the last 9 months. As we got closer to the sparkler departure, I began to question whether this could possibly be labor because this â€śpressureâ€ť began to turn into waves of pressure and even though I was only experiencing everything in my back – I knew the wave sensation could be an indication of contractions.
We arrived home around 11:30 when I began to time these â€śwavesâ€ť which were happening every 7-8 minutes. At this point I was pretty confident I was in the beginning stages of labor, but knew how crucial saving energy was in early labor since the average first time labor is 19.5 hours. Even though the waves were uncomfortable(like back cramps when youâ€™re on your period), I was able to rest through them and eventually fell asleep. Around 2:00 am a very intense back cramp woke me up. I tried to go back to bed, but at this point was unable to sleep through the pain of these waves which were now around 5-6 minutes apart lasting 30-40 seconds and becoming much more intense. My painful groans woke Brett up, but I told him to go back to sleep since I didnâ€™t see the point in both of us being up. The pain was getting pretty bad, but I was receiving a break in b/w contractions so I was working through each one by focusing on the upcoming relief which followed each contraction.
For the next 2 hours I tinkered around the house trying different positions…rocking on the birth ball, walking, lying down, etc. I was doing lots of cat cows trying to move baby. I was worried because I was experiencing all the pain in my back the baby wasnâ€™t in the optimal fetal position which can slow labor down and make it more painful(I was right and it did end up stalling things later on). Around 4 am my contractions started getting closer and more intense – lasting around 1 minute and happening every 3-4 minutes. Walking around and rocking on the birthing ball wasnâ€™t really doing anything for me anymore, so I decided to try the shower which is where I stayed for the next 3 hours. I laid towels down on the floor of the tub and got on all fours with the hot water running over my back moaning through each contraction. I was in a lot of pain at this point, but was glad progress(or at least I thought) was being made. I told myself I couldnâ€™t call our doula, Teresa, until 7am. Iâ€™m not quite sure why I made myself stick to this timetable, but I called Teresa around 7 and she said to go lie down on my left side for an hour in hopes we could turn this baby. She was heading to church, but was going to call me afterwards if I didnâ€™t call her beforehand. l lay there while Brett rubbed my lower back as hard as he could during each contraction which brought a little relief(it was a drop in the bucket, but it was something!). I talked to Teresa again around 11ish and she suggested I call the midwife to see if I should go to the hospital or not. The midwife on call was Kimery which ended up working out great because she was also the midwife I saw the most during my 6 months with Intown Midwifery. Kimery asked me to stay on the phone with her so she could hear me work through a contraction before deciding whether I needed to come in. After hearing me vocalize a contraction she told us to head to the hospital, so Brett threw the bags in the car and we were off. Thankfully, the hospital is only a 5 minute drive from our house. I was still contracting 3 minutes apart and they were lasting a minute or more, so I was confident I was in active labor and when I got to the hospital they were going to say I was at least 5 cm.
We arrived to the labor floor and Teresa walked into the room right after we arrived. The hospital policy states the baby has to be monitored for 20 minutes while the mother lays still on the bed before letting her in the tub. I was prepared for this and knew it was going to be rough, but it was only 20 minutes and then I could get up and move around again. Teresa helped me stay centered during this transition by placing her hand on my chest and encouraging low breathing during each contraction to save energy.
Kimery checked me and told me I was 100% effaced and only 1 cm dilated. Not something a woman who had been laboring for the last 12+ hours wants to hear (6+ of those being really intense). Kimery and Teresa both told me the baby was facing posterior which could be why I hadnâ€™t dilated more so Teresa immediately swooped in and proceeded to try and encourage the baby to turn by gently placing her hand strategically on my stomach and back during each contraction (reason #367 why I adore this woman). It was the craziest feeling. Her touch was so gentle, but the placement of her hands encouraged the baby to turn. Everyone in the room couldnâ€™t believe it including the midwife, but the baby turned. They saw it and I felt it. Amazing.
I was able to get off the monitor because baby was doing well. Although I was disappointed about being 1 cm, I was confident we would begin to start seeing some serious progress since the baby had turned. So for the next 2 hours I sat rocking on a birthing ball in the shower leaning over Brettâ€™s lap while he applied pressure and hot water on my back. I was still contracting every 3-4 minutes lasting at least a minute like I had been for the last 7 hours, but I was continuing to receive some relief in b/w contractions and hoping each one was dilating me a little bit more.
A little over 2 hours had passed since my first check, so I asked to be checked again b/c I was excited to see how much I had dilated. The baby had turned and I was still laboring really hard, so progress was definitely being made, right? Wrong. Kimery checked me and I was still at 1 cm. I immediately broke down. I hadnâ€™t cried once in labor (I cry pretty easily so this was big deal), but I felt soooo defeated. They warn you not to do â€ślabor mathâ€ť b/c every labor is so different, but you start calculating time in your head and you figure if it took me 12+ hours to get to 1cm its going to me 100+ hours of labor to get 10 cm and I donâ€™t think I can take 4 days of this. Everything about my body was saying active labor, but I wasnâ€™t dilating which is a problem because even though my midwife practice is very pro-natural childbirth they arenâ€™t going to let me labor intensely for hours on end with no progress which means pitocin could be in the near future. Yikes, not pitocin. Please no pitocin contractions.
Both Teresa and Kimery suggested I try therapeutic rest which is a combination of a bag of fluids to hydrate, a sleeping pill to rest, and small amount of morphine to help you relax (it doesnâ€™t take the contractions away, so you still feel everything but it allows you to relax some while receiving fluids). Iâ€™d been laboring for almost 16 hours and sweating in a hot shower for a lot of it, so exhaustion and dehydration could have be the cause of my slow dilation. It wasnâ€™t the 100% non intervention birth I desired, but I trusted my team and since they both thought it was the wisest choice to help me get to my end goal of waterbirth with a healthy baby and mommy – Brett and I agreed to it.
And it worked…within 3 hours I had dilated to 4 cm and 2 hours later I was at 8cm. Hallelujah! At this point everything had worn off and I was back to feeling every. single. contraction. They were coming fast and hard, but I was 8 cm and I knew the end was near which was getting me through the pain. Rest and hydration is apparently exactly what my body needed to start dilating.
Thing started to move quickly. The nurses started filling the tub and Brett was texting family and our photographer, Jesse, that we were close. Music was playing and Teresa had turned off all the lights and strung christmas tree lights (isn’t she incredible!) to create a soothing atmosphere. I tried a few different laboring positions in the tub, but leaning over the edge with my arms dangling over the tub with Brett applying pressure on my back during contractions felt the best so itâ€™s where I stayed.
After an hour in the tub, Kimery checked me again and I was 10 cm. Time to push. So for the next 2.5 hours I proceeded to push and it was the most intense experience of my life(my water broke in the tub after about an hour of pushing). Some women feel relief during the pushing stage, but I didnâ€™t. I would take contractions over pushing any day. Pushing was soooo hard. I had been awake for most of the last 24 hours and was completely delirious from the pain. All I really remember Teresa applying cold wash clothes to my head and chest while Brett fed me water through a straw. Brettâ€™s mother, grandmother, and Jessie all arrived around the same time, but I donâ€™t remember seeing them until after the birth. I went into a different world during pushing. Brett later told me Iâ€™d fall asleep snoring in between contractions and would immediately jolt awake with pain of a contraction, push, and begin to drift back to sleep. There was only one time I cried out in fear during labor. After about an hour of pushing, I screamed out in pain telling Teresa â€śIâ€™m scared and I donâ€™t think I can do this any moreâ€ť. Teresa responded with something funny because I remember laughing, but canâ€™t remember what she said.
I donâ€™t think much progress in those first 2 hours of pushing, honestly. I remembered reading the word â€śsurrenderâ€ť a lot in birthing stories, but I truly didnâ€™t understand what women meant until this point in labor. Looking back I think I was resisting pushing really effectively because 1) it hurt like hell and 2) I was scared. I had never done this before and we all know how scary your first time at anything can be. She also had a huge head (97.9% head circumference) which I think contributed to my difficulty in pushing.
Around midnight after 2 hours of pushing, I finally surrendered to the pain and started pushing hard. Like really hard. Instead of resisting the pain of a contraction, I was embracing it and using it with all my might to really push through each contraction. Iâ€™d already tried pushing in almost every position in the tub …on all fours, leaning over the tub, squatting, on my side, but holding my thighs close to my chest and curling into a c-shape felt the most effective. I felt baby moving and it hurt sooo bad, but she was finally descending into the birth canal.
Teresa switched places with Brett whoâ€™d been behind me feeding me water/pushing hard on my back during contractions, so he could go in front and watch our baby being born. The last 30 minutes of pushing I did away with the low breathing I had used during labor and was really â€śvocalizingâ€ť through each contraction. I just focused on Brettâ€™s face the entire time which was a combination of utter excitement and complete terror(after all his wife was in front of him pushing a baby out of her…Iâ€™m sure it was a sight to see). Iâ€™d read towards the end of pushing you should do these short, grunt type pushes to help expand the skin so you donâ€™t tear, but at this point in labor I was so ready to be done with pushing I let out one massive push and her head came out. The cord was wrapped around her neck so Kimery told me to wait before pushing again to make sure it wasnâ€™t wrapped too tightly. It wasnâ€™t and with one last massive push baby came spiraling out.
And I reached out to grab baby. I immediately brought her to my chest and everyone asked â€śWhat is it?!?!â€ť Oh, right. I pulled her out in front of me and it took me about 15 seconds before I announced her sex b/c I kept looking for a penis(we both thought we were having a boy) and was so delirious from pushing that I kept confusing the umbilical cord for a penis and it took me a moment to realize the reason she doesnâ€™t a penis is because sheâ€™s a girl. And I let out in an excited cry â€śItâ€™s a girlâ€ť. A sweet, baby girl. My dad had said it was a girl all along and as I looked at her I saw so much of him in her. She had his cheeks and almond eyes(I have them, too). This little person we had dreamed and prayed about for so long was finally here in our arms. Gosh, it doesnâ€™t get any better than that. Time stood still for those few minutes as we locked eyes with our baby girl for the first time. It was so surreal finally holding her. This â€śtiny, bald, little boyâ€ť I was expecting to meet ended up being a beautiful, big (almost 9lbs!) little girl with a ton of hair and she was perfect. It felt like my heart could have burst in that moment.
During labor, I remember thinking I am never doing this again, but the morning after giving birth and holding our baby girl – I knew I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. I donâ€™t know if itâ€™s because I forgot the pain or the reward was so immensely incredible it made every contraction worth it. Probably some of both.
I once read someone describe parts of their birth as painful, but not a painful experience which I think is so true of my birth. Yes, there were absolutely moments of intense pain, but in no way would I ever describe the overall experience as painful. Becoming pregnant, carrying our daughter for 40 weeks, and giving birth naturally to her was such a privilege. Lily is the most precious gift weâ€™ve ever received.
And I could never have done any of this without the devotion and support of my incredible husband, Brett, who has shown me an unconditional love I feel so inadequate to deserve especially in these last few weeks. He has stood by my side through so many uphill battles.
A few lessons I learned along the way…
- Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate especially if you are laboring in a hot shower like I did. I will definitely make sure Brett is helping me drink a lot of fluids next time around.
- How important it is to pick a doctor or midwife who is supportive of your birth wishes whatever they may be. When youâ€™re laboring the last thing you want to have to worry is whether the team you have in place is really making the right decisions by you and your baby. Iâ€™ve read birth stories where husbands were arguing with nurses and doctors over the care of their wife and baby. Labor is difficult enough without all this added stress. Never once did we worry about whether the options Intown Midwifery presented us were the best for baby and me. There was no hidden agenda on their part. They supported my desire to give birth naturally and only intervened when they were worried we wouldnâ€™t reach our end goal of a healthy delivery in the water.
- How valuable it was to have a doula by our side. Besides choosing Intown Midwifery, both Brett and I agree hiring our doula, Teresa Howard, was the best decision we made when it came to our birth. If you are hoping to have a natural birth, I cannot recommend hiring a doula highly enough. I am married to a very patient and loving man. He is rarely rattled by anything, but even with how wonderful Brett is under pressure – we both felt so much better having Teresa by our side. She never doubted in my body’s ability to have a natural birth even when I did. She rallied around Brett and I the entire time while anticipating so many of our needs without either of us ever having to ask. If we are blessed with another child (yes, please!), asking Teresa to be our doula again will be the first call we make after we see those 2 pink lines.
Images by Jesse Chamberlin of Our Labor of Love. How can I put into words how grateful we are to her for capturing this incredible moment in our lives.
* * * *
June 19, 2012
I’m going to be straight with you all. There hasn’t been a whole lot of cooking going on around these parts as of late. Occasionally something gets made, but mostly not so much. I’ve been inspired to make lots of things, and even buy the ingredients sometimes, but when it gets down to the standing in the kitchen… I usually opt for something else.
However, a few things I can share:
Beautiful apricots from Frog Hollow Farm… visiting at the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market for only a few more weeks. Their bing cherries are almost too sweet. I swear. Totally worth whatever they want to charge me. And the apricots are delicious, though I did intend to make apricot-lavender jam with them. Ask me if that’s happened yet.
Roasted tomatoes and yummy lentil salad from new fave, Plenty.
Delicious rhubarb rosewater syrup from 101 Cookbooks, plus salsa verde (of the Italian variety) inspired by An Everlasting Meal. Which is a beautiful book, btw. I haven’t finished it because it seems a waste to read such inspired writing on food when one has no interest in cooking. Maybe towards the end of the summer.
Simple, roasted spring veg… delicious with the salsa verde.
And the last of the fava beans from our garden. Definitely growing them again next year… but for now I’m kind of excited about our first cucumbers and zucchini coming in. And basil. When you haven’t had basil for months, it really is a revelation.
And I’ve been religiously making almond milk, of course. And did manage to make ginger scones this morning.
Looking forward to not being so large.
June 12, 2012
It’s been such a while since we’ve had a Dashiell update around here, hasn’t it? I’ve been meaning to share one forever, but as well all know, I’ve been meaning to do a lot of things and they just don’t seem to be happening as quickly as I’d like.
Two. Actually 27+ months. It’s really become a joy. I’m likely going to eat my words next week, but “terrible twos” just doesn’t seem like a real thing to worry about. Sure, there are moments when we’re all frustrated and it’s not as easy, but in general having a two year old is amazing. Listening to his language really develop and the way he puts together thoughts is so endlessly fun. He’s such a sweet and funny and silly and joyful guy.
His little smiling face is such a treasure that it nearly breaks my heart every morning when he gets up, and every afternoon when I’m done with work and he sees me come in the back door (from my newly remodeled garage-office), and says “LlegĂł Mommy!”. Listening to him learn and truly speak Spanish is crazy and fascinating and makes me weirdly so proud of him already.
He runs and jumps and practices hopping on one foot, and climbs the furniture and leaps between the coffee table and couch (probs not the best game to allow, but I can’t help it. He loves it so). He can ride a scooter! He gives big kisses and hugs and he tells me about who he spent his day with at the park. He likes to keep tabs on everyone in his life and talk about when he will see them again or what we did the last time we visited.
It goes something like this, whilst climbing on the (brown) pouf in his room:
“Jillian has a blue poof.”
(Yes, Jillian does have a blue poof!)
(Probably at home, buddy.)
(Liam is at home with Jillian.)
(Scott is probably at home with Jillian and Liam too.)
(Judah is with Laura.)
(Laura and Judah are at home. They live in Georgia. We’re going to see them in a few months.)
(Jordy is probably at home too.)
(Jess is at home, like Jordy.)
“Jess went to work.”
(Jess did go to work, and then she went home.)
“And Daddy goes to work.”
(Mmmm hmmm. Daddy goes to work.)
“And Damma and Dampa are coming to see Dashiell!”
(Grandma and Grandpa ARE coming to see Dashiell! This weekend they’ll be here, and we’ll go to Pitfire.)
“And have mac and cheese and pizza pie.”
Or we might be outside in the garden and we will have a similar discussion about the chickens and fava beans and spiders and berries.
It’s so dear, it really is.
He plays with his truck collection for what seems like hours on end. He reads books to himself in his room. He helps me in the kitchen, sometimes. He counts in English and Spanish. He sings songs with his daddy. The list goes on. Trying desperately to cherish these last few weeks (or days?) while it’s just the three of us. Even though I know it will be endlessly more fun when there are four, I can’t help but feel a teeny bit wistful of my time as a mother of one.
June 6, 2012
A whole month. Really? Really. But look, I’m posting! Thank you all for your nice comments and emails. We are doing great over here, not to worry. Just busy busy trying to get ready for bebe, wrap up some work, spend some time outside… you know.
It occurred to me that some of you must not be on Instagram. How is this possible?! Or if you are and you don’t follow me, that’s probably a better way to see what’s going on regularly than my blog at the moment. Belly shots and food and pictures of Dashiell have been happening over there even when there are just crickets over here. I’m “kristinahm” if you feel like joining up.
Now about that pregnancy thing… 37.5 weeks as I write this. We’re getting pretty darn close! I can’t seem to be bothered to get dressed or put on make up anymore, which is part of the reason for the lack of photos. You’ll notice the above has neither make up nor a photo worthy outfit included, but we’re all friends here, right?
I’ve been thinking lots of things about my current state recently, but now that I’m sitting down to write, I can’t remember them. Dashiell and I had a nice afternoon on the couch watching baby’s foot move around in my belly and talking about what will happen when baby comes. He does seem to be warming to the idea… just when it seemed like things were not going in that direction. I’m giving large amounts of credit to my old Cabbage Patch baby that my mom sent in a box, wrapped in a swaddle a few weeks ago. He really does love having a baby of his own.
Had our final prenatal with our doula last night. I’m starting to feel less nervous about labor and more pumped. It’s about to be go time. Which is pretty darn exciting.
More soon, I hope!
(Mexican blouse from, well, Mexico! and OLD OLD OLD shorts from Abercrombie – the only ones that still fit.)
May 8, 2012
Bigger every week, people. Whine whine whine whine. I feel like the most whiny pregnant lady this time. I can’t help it though. Things are just not as comfortable. But I am starting to get super excited about who will be coming to meet us soon.
We have our first appointment with our doula tonight, which is also exciting. It means we’re getting closer (and I won’t be pregnant for much longer!) and it means that we can start to put a little focus into the birth and our new baby and all of the things that I spent so much time on the first time… but that seem to have been largely over-looked this time around.
I’ve started to fall into the trap again. The trap where I start to fantasize about all the things I’m going to be able to do after the baby comes. Which, as we all know, is laughable. I want to cook and garden and stand on my feet for long periods of time. And since I can’t do that now, I seem to think that I will when I have a newborn. Help me.
Also I realized how amazing a water birth would be. And now I feel sad that I won’t be having one. When we were in Palm Springs, I was having a particularly uncomfortable afternoon, lots of pressure and achy-ness and things, and then I got in the pool and it went away. It was like a miracle. And all of a sudden it clicked. Hrrrmmpphff. Why do they not have tubs at UCLA?
Now I’m starting to think of crazy things like going to the public pool when I go into labor. Or at least a friend’s pool? We’ll see.
I think we’ve come pretty close to settling on names. Last time we had like 3 or 4 for each sex because we wanted to wait to meet our baby to decide. This time, I think we’ll have one for each. And that’s okay too.
How are the rest of you doing? Tick tock, tick tock.
Striped maxi dress by Aqua, from Bloomingdales. Shima teardrop earrings (which you can’t really see, but you should because they are cute) from Misa Jewelry.
May 7, 2012
I haven’t done one of these in a while, have I? I was suddenly inspired to take photos this weekend. Let’s see what we did. Or at least what I managed to take pictures of…
Dashie and I hit up the garden with his new tools and cart. We got the cart! Our friend Carol sent it as a belated birthday present. We love it. (Thanks Carol!)
Picked lots of favas.
I started with a little light nesting… which was attempting to remove milk stains for all of Dashiell’s newborn things. Half a day soak in OxyClean and they’re pretty good, for those of you in the same boat.
And went through the little pile of things I’ve collected from various consignment stores and online sales over the last year. And then resisted the urge to buy millions more things because it will be way more fun after we find out who’s coming to meet us.
I love watching my little guy play in his corner by himself.
Made my favorite fava bean puree + salad for a get together at our neighbors’ house on Sunday eve.
Where Dashiell learned all about popping water balloons.
The weeks are speeding up, people. I swear they are.