This was a blog about my adventures with Joe. Then, along came Nia. Four years later, along came Stage 3 breast cancer. Fast forward two years, and I'm now caring for my dad while he fights his own cancer battle.
In the last post, Corinne asked for more info on what I meant when I said I used my voice during contractions. Basically I said "Ohhhhhh" during each and every one
of my contractions as long, low and loud as I needed to. Sometimes I
had to do it four times with all the breath I had to get through as a
lot of my contractions were 90 seconds long, and then they were coming
two right back to back with very little break in between. This low "Oh" sound is something I've done with
doula clients and we practiced it in our childbirth ed class while
holding ice cubes for 60 second stretches. For me, it was the most
effective way to keep my mind from freaking out and analyzing the pain
and going to a "why me?" state of mind. The theory is, too, that it is
impossible to dilate a cervix with a tight jaw, so making the Oh sound
keep my mouth loose. Also, I was trying to direct the energy down,
which is why a low sound was better than high pitched wailing, which
would have totally worn me out.
I had to have Joe do the sounds with me on each and every contraction.
His voice kept me centered on my own voice, and also a lot of the time
I had my head on his chest and the vibration of his voice was very
grounding. Zomina was here during the labor, upstairs with Phil, Pam
and Anna. When she arrived, she heard us doing this Oh sound together
and asked Anna, "What song are they signing?" The next day I told her
it was the "Opening Song."
Born Tuesday, May 20th, 11:39pm at home with the help of midwife Roxanne Cummings 8 lbs, just shy of 21" long
Our birth story begins with our Tuesday afternoon prenatal appointment
with Roxanne. We requested a cervical exam and found, to our delight,
that our little one's head was quite low, the cervix was posterior and
quite effaced, and it was 1 cm dilated -- all of this was a HUGE change
over the week prior when all signs seemed to indicate the baby was
sitting tight for awhile. In fact, Joe and I felt sure our little one
was going to be a June baby! (I suppose this was her first lesson to us
in not planning or pretending to know too much!)
At the time
of the appointment I was not feeling any contractions, though had felt
that the Braxton Hicks were getting a bit stronger, and starting to be
felt mildly in my back (though by no means were they getting my
attention really). Nonetheless, Joe and I were very excited at the
findings of the appointment and were happy that our baby was on her
way. Still we had no idea how soon. So, Joe went off to work over the
hill in Cupertino and I came home to what I realize in retrospect was
some pretty intense nesting -- I scrubbed our two 8' wide sliding glass
doors and made out a list of several errands to run before the evening
prenatal yoga class (including, randomly, washing the car!). After the
cleaning, I sat down to a snack and shortly after felt a jolt in my
belly -- a sensation I can only describe as a water balloon popping
inside. It wasn't painful at all but definitely got my attention. There
was no liquid right away but after walking around a bit, my underwear
was soaked. This was at 4pm. Kelly, the midwives' assistant, came over
soon after to confirm whether the fluid was amniotic or not. It was. As
I was not feeling any contractions at that point, Kelly and I discussed
methods for getting labor going (a walk involving stairs, acupuncture,
etc.). I had tested posted for Group B Strep so it was important that
my labor start within 18 hours for me to be able to deliver at home.
She said that if labor hadn't started by 9pm, I should get a good
night's rest and then we'd try again in the morning.
Kelly left and Joe headed home from work to help me get the
contractions started. However, by the time Joe got to our home, at 5:16
(he remembers the time exactly!), I was in active labor! It just came
on strong and almost out of the blue. So much for all our plans of
early labor projects (making up the bed to be water proof, setting up
the birth tub in the living room, baking a birthday cake...)! My labor
was quick (7 hours, 40 min from when the water broke). Because of this,
the challenge of the labor for me was that I got very little breaks
between the contractions. The things that worked for me in staying on
top of the contractions were laboring on the toilet and then in the
birth tub, using my voice and hearing Joe sound along with me, and
having pressure on my sacrum. The water and using my voice along with
Joe's were the biggest helps, though.
I pushed for approx. 1 hour before our little angel was born on the
birth stool, as healthy as could be. I tried a couple of positions on
the bed, but found the most effective place for me was on the stool. I tore a little and needed a few stitches, but nothing bad. Within the first hour, Nia nursed and the three of us were just high as kites. I don't think Joe and I managed to fall asleep till well past 4am!
Most everyone knows by now that last Tuesday night we welcomed our little one into our arms -- our sweet baby girl, Miss Nia Beju. It is hard to believe that she's already a week old! Nia had her first outing today. She went to the pediatrician just to make sure everything was good with her since she'd never seen a doctor before. Joe and I were pretty nervous about the whole thing since it meant going in the car and being out in the world for the first time. Nia was a champ -- all wide-eyed and alert. After awhile she got a little tired of being undressed at the doctor's office, but who can blame her? She retaliated, though, by peeing all over the floor. :) Nia's stats: At birth she weighed 8 lbs. Now she weighs just shy of that at 7 lbs and 15 oz. The nurse measured her at 20.5" but our midwife clocked her at 20.75" so who knows how long she is. And, for what it is worth, her head is 14" in circumference.
But none of that tells you that she the sweetest little girl. She spends a lot of time eating and sleeping, of course, but she is also rather alert a lot of the time, too. Taking everything in including us, her Grandpa George, and her Bama and Baba. Really, she's been so very patient with us as we try to learn how to diaper her, nurse her, swaddle her, etc. We have so much to learn -- and there is absolutely nothing else we'd rather do!!
A huge thank-you to my sister-in-law, Whitney, for making our little one this gorgeous frog quilt!! We absolutely love it, and know the baby will, too! I can't believe that on top of a logging sports competition, college graduation, wedding planning, buying a house, and a car trip to CA (plus a million other things), you had time to make us this quilt! You're amazing -- thank you!
This week was pretty exciting in the front yard because we got our new flagstone path installed, and the old fence posts hauled away. (Notice our cute, little no-mow lawn growing away beside the path. :) ) Next, Joe and Pam worked to reposition a stubborn rock that came with the house (it is one of 5, actually)...
I've officially begun my maternity leave now, and what a relief! I kicked it off my having my friends Mina and Michelle bring me dinner last night, and then I slept for 11 hours! Today I'm looking forward to an acupuncture appointment and then visiting with Kyle and Whitney (here at my house -- sorry guys, pretty much everyone will have to come to me now, instead of visa versa!). What a relief to get to relax with my feet up!
I'm getting so curious! Earlier in my pregnancy, most everyone said they were getting a girl vibe. Now, lots of people are saying it's a boy. Even Zomina believes it is a boy (though she'd prefer a girl, she says). When the midwives check the little one's heart tones, the rate is in the boy range (boys are slower than girls), but both midwives were quick to say they've seen plenty of girls with heart rates in the boy range... I'm so curious!!This is so fun!
1 week to the due date; 2 more days of work till maternity leave...
Everyone has been asking me if the baby has dropped yet. I really had no idea, but a trip to the midwives today confirmed that the baby is still riding high in my belly --- so no dropping yet. (In other words, birth does not seem eminent.) I ended up being examined by 3 people today because at one point they were not sure of the exact position of the baby. The baby has been head down for months now, but today the midwives weren't 100% sure if they were feeling a booty or a head. But eventually they agreed that the little one is still head down. Phew! (In Santa Cruz County, the midwives don't do breach births at home.)
Nesting is in high gear around here. The baby's room is now bursting with anticipation -- piles and piles of clean, ready-to-use diapers and reusable wipes, clean and sorted baby clothes line the dresser drawers, supplies for the home birth are stacked and ready to go, toys and board books wait patiently for little hands, the teddy bear sits on the bed, a plastic bag lines the now-empty diaper pail... All waiting. In fact, I've been so on top of the nesting, that now I don't know what I'll do while I continue to wait for the baby. OK, stop. I take that back. I'm going to REST!! I am exhausted, and my ankles are oh-so swollen.
But overall I feel good. Getting anxious to meet this little boy or girl, though! We're ready for you, little bug!
(In other news, a big congratulations goes out to Whitney who graduated with honors this past weekend from the University of Montana, Missoula! Way to go, Whit! Can't wait to see you and Kyle this week!)