11/23/2012 – The Birth of Ellery Rowan
My sweet little Ellery Rowan, you are three days old today. Snuggled in your unbelievably soft and warm woolens, sleeping in the loving arms of your Grandma Sherrie as I type this. Thank you so much for our amazing birth together. It was everything I had hoped and dreamed about for both of us. This is our story.
You were born on Tuesday, November 20th at 5:27 am in Spokane WA, but the story starts a little while before you made your appearance. The week I was 37 weeks pregnant with you, the week before Thanksgiving, was a crazy week for our whole family. Your papa was running like a crazy man around trying to keep Edie and the house and his work and you and me afloat, and I was just trying to get us through the week still pregnant. On Wednesday 11/14 I had my 37 week check up with Dr. Cathcart and she wanted to see how far I was dilated. She checked and I was just a fingertip dilated but 70% effaced. That evening I had some surges that were surprisingly intense and I became a little more convinced that you wouldn’t be waiting until your “due date” to join us. I was a little worried that evening though because I was making the final finishing preparations on my Radiology presentation that I was to give twice the next day. Eventually the surges settled down and I went to bed, woke up, went to work and gave my presentation (which went really well ☺) twice, came home and started the last minute studying I needed to do to take my IM shelf exam the next day! I went to sleep early, knowing sleep was so important for us, woke up to pee about 4 times during the night as usual, and then got up in the morning and took my exam and breathed a huge sigh of relief. Now although I wasn’t officially done with school, I had at least, finished the important obligations to pass the rotation. Then on Friday afternoon we drove to Moscow to hang out with Morgan and Sean! Papa and I were a little tired and feeling a little bit like we would like to stay home and get things ready for your arrival but we really wanted to spend some time with our friends too so off we went.
We had a wonderful weekend with lots of music, good food, games and conversation. Sunday morning we drove home with Sean who ended up missing his flight and staying the night with us. Sunday night I got worried because I hadn’t felt you move all day long. Finally at 11 pm when Papa and I couldn’t stop worrying about whether or not you were ok, we decided to head into the hospital so they could do a Non-Stress Test on you to reassure us. And reassure us you did. Your strip was reactive and you started moving the minute the nurse put the doppler on my belly. By the time we got home at 1:30 am, we were exhausted and Papa had to get up at 5 to take Sean to the bus station, then take your sister to school, then take me to work… we were both SO tired. Monday at work I was feeling a little bit uncomfortable and decided to take off a little early to go home and take a nap. Instead though, I went shopping and picked up the house a little bit and started some laundry and did everything but rest… I should have known you were coming soon! I was exhausted so I went to bed early on Monday night but I woke up around midnight to go downstairs and switch a load of laundry over to the dryer. When I got back in bed I noticed I was having a surge but then fell asleep. 10 minutes or so later I woke up again feeling like I had to pee but knowing I had just done that I rolled over and tried to ignore the feeling. I think I went to sleep again and woke up 15 minutes later not quite sure why I was awake. Then I noticed I was having another surge! I decided to “practice” for labor and do some breathing and relaxation through them. The surges then just kept on coming but I still didn’t think it could actually mean you were coming; just that we were practicing. I didn’t fall asleep again, and by 2 am I was rolling around in bed and my quiet breathing had turned a bit noisier. Exhaustion was still number one in your Papa’s book though because he slept through all of my movement and breathing in bed next to him. I woke him up by grabbing his hand during a stronger surge and told him I couldn’t do this alone anymore – and furthermore I couldn’t stay in bed either. So we decided to get up and go downstairs so I didn’t wake Edie up.
When I first walked downstairs is when I threw up for the first time and it dawned on me that this could really be real labor and that this might be the last few times I throw up in a very long time – HOORAY!! I sat on the toilet and breathed through a surge and then told your Papa that he should probably get some clothes and things together for Edie and then start working on a bag for us with your clothes, diapers, and our toothbrushes and other things. He got started and made quick work of gathering everything we needed while I labored on hands and knees on the carpet. At one point he wondered out loud why we hadn’t done these things a week ago when we talked about them… (I don’t think either of us thought you’d come as early as you did!) and I remember telling him things to grab in between breaths while throwing up in between surges. By this point I was vocalizing fairly loud (your sister thankfully slept through it all!!) and struggling to find a comfortable position during and between surges. I kept thinking I wanted to sit on our yoga ball but by that point saying the words out loud seemed like too much effort and there was no way I was going to walk to the other room to get it, so I stayed on the guest bed.
At around 2:45 or so I yelled to your Papa that we had to go to the hospital; that I couldn’t handle the surges anymore. I was feeling very trapped. I just wanted to go to sleep and have everything stop for a few hours so I could get some rest (remember that I hadn’t slept more than 4 hours the previous 2 nights…). I felt like I wanted a pause or ‘reset’ button. I didn’t want to be laboring right now! What was going through my head was – I don’t have anything ready! Your car seat wasn’t even in the car! This wasn’t how I wanted our labor to go!!! Zach got the big box with your car seat still in it and just put it in the trunk of the car, and went upstairs and grabbed Edie while I tried to talk myself into walking out to the car. The thought of putting a sweater on over my t-shirt seemed like too much effort so I just grabbed a blanket and threw it over my shoulders and walked out to the car. When I got there your Papa was buckling a very calm, happy Edie into her car seat and I told her that you were going to be born soon! She said, “I know!” I also told her that the low humming noises and deep breaths I was taking were helping you to come. We drove the 15 minutes to the hospital while I kept having surges in the car, and your Papa kept slowing waaaay down at all the blinking yellow lights and I told him to please stop slowing down so much!! It was at that point that I told him that when we got to the hospital I was getting an epidural – I think I said “I’m sorry but this is too much and I just wanted to let you know that I’m going to get one.” He (very wisely) didn’t say anything right away and then 5 minutes later, in between surges (also very wisely) he asked if I would be willing to just try some of our scripts and relaxation techniques before I got an epidural. I knew he was trying to help me do what I had said I wanted for us and our birth so I nodded.
When we got to the hospital I was in the middle of a surge so I told him to grab a wheelchair and then he took to long and I decided to get up and walk inside leaving your big sister in the car – telling her Papa would be there soon. Luckily as soon as I got to the desk there was a wheelchair waiting because another surge came and I was NOT comfortable. They wheeled me up to the Maternity center and stopped at the front desk where they asked me to sign some papers. I didn’t read a word on those papers and my signature was truly illegible because I was shaking and shivering so much and having another surge at the same time. As soon as we finally got into our room the nurses got to work asking me questions and getting things ready. The surges were coming every 2 minutes or so and they were very intense – I stopped answering questions and tried to find a comfortable position on the bed and kept making the low humming noises I had been making all along – although they were getting progressively louder and louder now. At one point someone asked me – during a surge! – if I wanted an epidural and I remember whining “I don’t knowwwww!!” It was then that I threw up again and the nurse named Ashley decided to check to see how dilated I was and if she could feel your head.
We had been doing some great work together, you and I little man, because I was already 6 cm dilated when she checked me! I was SOOO happy to hear that we were making progress and that I really was going to have you in my arms soon. At that moment I decided I didn’t need an epidural or anything else, I just needed you to be born ☺. It was then that they needed to put in an IV, which I was just fine with because I could feel I was getting so dehydrated from all the throwing up I had done. (Although, like my labor with your sister I really didn’t mind the throwing up because 1) I was so used to it by that point it didn’t really matter 2) I knew it would be the last few times I threw up for hopefully a looooong time to come, and 3) I know that throwing up really helps dilate the cervix so I was all for anything to help us meet you sooner!!) At this point Edie was in a comfy chair at the head of the left side of the bed and your Papa was also on the left holding my hand and giving me support during the surges and talking to Edie and making sure she was doing all right in between the surges. While they were trying to get the IV in and I was having a surge I was squeezing your Papa’s hand but I was leaning to the right side of the bed so I couldn’t see him. I just felt him raising and lowering my hand in an odd way so I looked over and saw him that sickly looking shade of white/grey/green that he gets and I knew he was going to faint! I think I said “Oh my gosh sit down! You need to sit down now!” And he did – before he fainted. (Asking him later what set him off, because I was getting my IV at that point and they had to stick me multiple times and I know I bled a bit…, he said that it was the ‘gravity of the situation’ and just realizing how intense things were really getting). From that point on, your Papa stayed with Edie, held her and helped her understand what was going on from the safety of the head of my bed while I squeezed the nurse’s hands and focused on birthing you!
I don’t really have a good sense of the time from here on out – I know it was fast but it felt even faster for me. At about 3:45 or 4 or so the nurse Ashley checked me again and said I was 8 cm dilated. It was quite painful because she was checking me during a surge but she wanted to feel if I had a lip of cervix left or not, and it was during that surge that your water broke!! I loved how warm it felt, and I was glad that it hadn’t gotten my knee socks wet because I really wanted to keep them on through the whole labor (which I did!) – At that point my lower body was SOO cold and my chest and shoulders were hot. Ashley looked at me and said, “You can totally do this – you don’t need an epidural! You’re doing SO well!” Even though I had already decided, and we indeed were doing it, it still felt so good to hear her say that. By the next contraction she said I was 9 cm and then I was complete!!!! We were working so fast together little one ☺
It was at the end of the very next surge that I heard myself changing my noises from low, and by now very loud, moaning to more of a grunt. It happened – just like that – I started to involuntarily push! I was so amazed and happy that you and my body knew just what to do to help bring you into the world. I’m guessing this must have been around 5 am or so. During those first few surges where my body was wanting to push the nurses were asking me to ‘blow it away’ and there was no way I was going to do anything of the sort. I guess I had a lip of cervix left but I think we just charged through it before it ever became an issue! My body did all the “pushing” in those first surges while you were descending and it really was the most satisfying part. From what I remember I actually did work at pushing you out for about 5 or 6 surges as you were crowning. At one point the nurses and the Doctor told me to put my hand down and feel your head and I obligingly did, but all I felt was squishy tissue. In my head I thought ‘oh, your head must have slipped back up because I couldn’t feel anything,’ which was a bit disappointing. Then with the next surge they told me to reach down and feel again and I realized that what I had felt last time had been your head, it was just all wrinkly from being squeezed! That was when I truly realized just how close we were to meeting you. This whole stage really went SO wonderfully fast. It was very uncomfortable when you were crowning and I could feel myself tearing, and not wanting to keep pushing you out because of that. At one point I thought the Doctor was doing something so I asked him to please stop but he said it wasn’t him – it was your head! Then with the next contraction as your head was emerging I just felt like I had to straighten my left leg and so I did (very forcefully, apparently and all the while yelling “No! no! no! …) and then I heard the Doctor saying, “Don’t kick me!” in an incredulous, surprised voice. I think, in straightening my leg I must have pushed him away from me right as your head was emerging ☺. One of the hazards of being the Doc, I guess! When your head was out the Doc used a bulb syringe to suck out your mouth a bit and you bit him and I heard him say, “this kid’s got a good bite!” With the next surge your body slid out and that was the best feeling of relief I have ever felt in my life.
We had asked everyone in the room that they not announce your sex, but rather that we let Edie do it when you were on my belly. Right after your body was born they put you up on my chest and we got to meet you. I so wish we had a video of that moment because it is all a blur of indescribable joy and intensity to me that I don’t really clearly remember many of the details of seeing you for the first time. But, I do remember that Edie said “It’s a girl!” and I saw the Doctor shake his head ‘no’ with a smile. Then when you were on my belly Papa brought Edie closer we had this conversation:
Papa: Edie! Is the new baby a boy or a girl?
Edie: It’s a girl!
Me: Edie what is this on him? (pointing to your penis… sorry teenage Ellery but this is what happened ☺)
Edie: It’s a penis. (In a slightly confused tone of voice)
Me: Do you have a sister or a brother?
Edie: A sister?
Papa: Are you sure?
Edie: He’s a boy!? (in a very incredulous tone of voice)
She just could not get it into her head that you were a BOY! She was so sure you would be a girl that I think it just didn’t compute when you were born with the parts she was not expecting to see ☺. Everyone in the room got a good chuckle out of that conversation. Even now, three days later, she still uses she/her when referring to you, and has been known to tell people “I have a new baby sister, he’s a BOY!”
After you had been on my belly for a few minutes the Doctor asked your Papa if he wanted to cut your umbilical cord, to which he graciously said “no” and I said I didn’t expect him to want to ☺. I wanted to make sure he stayed upright and didn’t faint while holding Edie, and with you only a few minutes old!! You stayed on my chest while the Doctor and the med student (she was a 3rd year from UW) stitched up my superficial tear. You were so alert and amazing – making great eye contact and nursing so wonderfully. I also couldn’t believe how small your head and face were! I guess I was used to looking at your sister, and you just looked (still do) so incredibly miniature in every way! Your hair was very dark (about the color of Papa’s) and longer than your sisters was when she was born, about an inch long! Your nails were long, and your skin was so pink and moist and warm. Even now, 3 days later your skin still has a tiny bit of that moist, fresh-from-the-womb feeling and I LOVE it. I remember looking at your tiny little mouth as you poked your tongue in and out thinking that you aren’t tongue tied and how easy it will be to nurse you! (and indeed, it has been dreamily easy – you eat often and long and my milk came in when you were only 2 days old!) You stayed on my belly for the first hour at least, and we had some wonderful family bonding time just looking at each other and getting to know you. Only then did they take you over to the warmer to weigh you. Your stats: Born at 5:27 am on 11/20/2012 at exactly 38 weeks gestation, 6lbs 1 oz, 19.5 inches long, apgar scores of 9 and 9.
So small, so beautiful, so amazing. I love finally knowing that it was you inside me for those 9 long, long long months my sweet little man! You were most definitely worth it (although I’m not so sure about subsequent siblings…). Your first few days have been filled with you snuggling in your woolens on Papa’s and my chests, rocking in the rocking chair with Grandma Sherrie or Grandpa Michael, having endless kisses and mostly soft and sweet but occasionally LOUD and rambunctious songs sung to you by your adoring big sister, and lots and lots of giving thanks for you and your wonderful and unexpected entry into this world! I couldn’t have written a better birth story for us and I feel so blessed, and empowered when I think about your birth. I am literally in awe at how well we worked together to bring you into our arms and we are all so in love with you little man!