I can’t help but relive the days leading up to Emmy’s birthday this time each year. I finally wrote this story down last year and shared it on an old neglected blog. I edited it a little to share again this year as she approaches :5: in a couple days. Have I really been a Mom for five years??
So, first, allow me to take us back in time to five Julys ago….I had just turned 23 that Spring. That now seems so young to me!! We had just a month before celebrated our 1st year of marriage.
We lived in somewhat of a ramshackle of a first home: a fixer-upper Lancaster City home my husband bought the year before we met. He converted it into a two unit apartment, and fixed up the first floor and rented that out. He lived on the second floor, thinking he’d live there and remodel it at a leisurely pace- amidst a life of traveling and working and being a single guy doing whatever he pleased with his time and money. He never guessed he’d be raising a family in that half-finished second floor apartment before too long!
We had our mattress on top of a box spring, which I didn’t know was weird at the time. I was just glad to be married to Bron, in that dusty old row house. He had started a new job before we got married and money was tight, but we did budget for good quality bacon. 🙂
I had been a vegetarian from age 16 till right before I met my husband. While I was no longer a vegetarian, I still wasn’t a meat lover. However, pregnancy changed that in me! I craved meat like crazy. It also helped me stay on track with my “pregnancy diet” of at least 100 grams of protein we were required to track for our Bradley class.
We took an 12 week course of Bradley Method natural birth classes with a Mom from our church, and both of us were quickly really into the natural childbirth idea. I still am, but! It’s just funny to remember how passionate we were. Everysoften, Bron would find himself engrossed in a conversation about the benefits of natural birth, and realize all the men had left the room and he was chatting it up with the ladies. It was sweet.
So, there’s a little background: still kind-of-newlyweds, somewhat of a ramshackle home, nitrate free bacon, and natural childbirth passion.
Emmy’s due date was July 5th, and whenever someone in the grocery store learned that about me ,they’d say with a smile, something along the lines of: ” Well, Maybe you’ll have a little firecracker!” Hehe. To this day that makes me smile. Like most first time Moms, I thought every ‘Braxton Hick’ was a true contraction and that I would definitely have my baby early, or at least on time ! In those last couple weeks leading up to my due date, we went to a park after Bron got home from work. We took walks like crazy, trying to get the baby to want to come. But, of course, none of those contractions were true labor.
I was pretty disappointed when July 4th came, and it didn’t seem like we were going to get that Firecracker. I actually told my parents in the weeks leading up, that we wouldn’t come for the 4th of July celebration at their house. I was thinking I would have a baby by then! or at least be in labor that day ,or close to it. But, alas, I was neither in labor ,nor close to it on the 4th of July.
4th of July came and went, and so did my duedate, the 5th. We went to the Birth Center that day and they had me do a stress test to make sure all was well. They were not concerned, which was comforting ,yet not, hehe. They scheduled an appointment for me in 1 week, saying sweetly “But I think we’ll be seeing you before then !” How I hoped they were right !!
However, That week came and went, lots of walking ,and crying, and bacon. 🙂
Looking back, I am a little disappointed with myself with my bad attitude through it all! I remember friends reaching out with sweet messages through text or Facebook, and I ignored the majority of them. Sorry ,sweet friends !!
Much to my hugely-pregnant-chagrin, I was there for that 1-week-late appointment as scheduled! I had another stress test and they kindly reminded me of their policy that once a baby is 2 weeks past the due date, I would have to be induced at their sister-hospital. Then, they told me to come back in 2 days.
So, I have natural-birth-loving-friends who would fight that 2 week policy, and just trust their body’s ability to go into labor. While I respect and admire that sentiment for the most part, I am not :that: passionate. I do not particularly enjoy being pregnant -especially the last month! So ,if there was anything natural we could do to speed things along, especially 3 days till my 2weekspastdue date, I was all for it! And I was all for being done with pregnancy A.s.a.p.
Finally, when I was 3 days to my due date, I wholeheartedly agreed to some natural induction stuff, and so they tried a “foley balloon”. I won’t go into details ,but it was supposed to help things to dilate. They sent me home again and told me they would do another balloon the day before my due date if it wouldn’t work this time. I prayed it would! But it didn’t.
We were back , early in the morning, the day before my due-date. They did another stress test ,and another balloon. The midwife told me that if the balloon didn’t fall out by lunchtime, then to take (the dreaded) castor oil. And if the castor oil didn’t help within an hour, to take another tablespoon. (“And if that doesn’t work, see you tomorrow at the hospital”. She didn’t say that, but that was my inner dialogue. )
Again, I won’t go into details – but from what I understand about castor oil – it helps induce labor by moving things around quickly in the stomach, and therefore make a uterus move around too, and hopefully get the baby out of there. Layman’s terms. 🙂
So, Bron went back to work for a couple hours, if I remember correctly. And I busied myself around the house, wearing that nondescript balloon thing, making muffins and cleaning; praying that I wouldn’t have to be induced the next day, but feeling like it as inevitable.
Bron came home for lunch at noon, and in keeping with my pregnant lady motivation, I freshly juiced some carrots and added a tablespoon of castor oil to have before we sat down to eat together. Nothing happened, as Bron and I ate our lunch, and I was beginning to get a little cranky about everything. Another hour passed and I took another tablespoon, with no results.
I remember just crying and laying in bed, and Bron tried hard to comfort me but it was no use! I had fully embraced my crankiness , and my supposed fate that I’d be induced the next day. I had some Braxton Hicks contractions while we laid there, and was just totally annoyed that they weren’t real! Hehe.
But then one came, that felt a little different, -but I was so tired of getting my hopes up for the past 4 weeks, and I didn’t tell Bron. But then another came, and I sat up and wiped my tears and said, “That might have been a real one,..but I don’t know !”
It was about 1:30 in the afternoon. And suddenly I didn’t feel like being in our room anymore and I went downstairs to lay on the couch. I remember kind of ignoring Bron , and he lit a candle to help me relax and cleaned up lunch, what a Sweety. I was really restless and wasn’t comfortable on the couch at all ,and the sound of the air conditioning in the windows really annoyed me :for some reason:. I didn’t know it yet, but I was finally in labor!
I told him, as he scurried around, sweetly serving his wife, that I had to go to the bathroom. And when I got there, the balloon fell out, which meant my cervix was dilating. (Sorry, I hope this is all women reading this! ;} )
So, because my labor had to start in the bathroom- I sort of didn’t want Bron in there with me, if you know what I mean. My contractions were immediately 5 minutes apart, and I had probably labored for about 30 minute before he called! He was talking to me from behind the closed bathroom door. (Cute newlyweds.)
I couldn’t believe how painful it was !!!! And suddenly I decided I didn’t care if Bron as in the bathroom with me, and he quickly obliged. The midwife called back and Bron explained to her what was going on, and she said we should “Come now !” So, Bron ran and gathered our things and went out to the back parking lot, and pulled the car our front.
It was summertime, and our Lancaster city street was a bit more bustling that time of year. There are always plenty of people sitting out on their front porches, and being somewhat loud and rowdy; they had to have known what was going on! We had a fairly lengthy staircase to climb down to get to the front door, and the car was running for a bit because I kept having contractions, and wanting to stay still for that minute. I asked Bron for a pillow to hug [which has become my favorite way to get though contractions – if I have to have a favorite way;) ]. Somehow Bron finally convinced me to run downstairs and out the door, and down the front porch steps and into the car.
I remember as soon as I got into the passengers seat, Bron had barely shut the door for me , and another contraction came ! I hugged my pillow and was able to maintain my “quiet ” Bradley Method labor fairly weIl. Bron got in his seatbelt quick as a flash, and started down the road. I remember being aware that people were probably watching, and trying not to care!
Our Birth Center was about 45 minutes away, and the quickest drive is right through the “Tourist Trap”, as my husband likes to call it. It was summertime in Lancaster county, which is tourist season and traffic season in certain areas. He took some short cuts, but it was still a long drive ! Actually the drive was the hardest part for me ! (It is one of the main reasons I chose a home birth with Sadie, so we didn’t have to do the stressful transition to the car ,and driving an hour. )
I remember this hard contraction moment as we drove through farmlands that I realized “Hey, wait a second…I can make noise!” One of the main things about the Bradley Method of Natural Childbirth is the idea of relaxing through the pain and trusting your body’s ability to go through labor and delivery; breathing and taking one contraction at a time, and not freaking out and screaming about the pain, like how birth is usually portrayed in movies and tv.
And while ,of course I wanted to take one contraction at a time, and relax and all that …I needed to make some noise! Natural birth is no joke !! So that’s when I started making noise, and as a person who is more on the quiet side, my husband was a bit surprised at how loud I was ! I was too. But it hurt so bad ! As I frequently let Bron know for the rest of the evening.
So, when we finally made it to the birth center, they ushered us into the birth room through the side door. I was glad to see the midwife on duty was one of my favorites ! Karen checked me and I was at 6 centimeters, and asked if I wanted to her to fill up the tub. I had signed a waiver weeks before saying I wanted to have a water birth, just in case I wanted to use the tub- but I actually wasn’t necessarily planning on a water birth ! I signed it just in case, thinking I probably wouldn’t like being so far away from Bron. But, when she asked me , it sounded like such an amazing idea! Hot water and jacuzzi jets were like the kindest thing anyone could give me at that moment !
I labored in the tub for quite a while, and I was kind of in my own little world. The midwives had to keep reminding me to keep my voice low. I wanted to be like “Yeah, I know, I read the Bradley book, but I’m over it!”
They eventually had me get out of the water for some reason of other, I can’t remember why honestly. But I remember I was sad about this idea. I remember they had me lay on a big exercise ball, which offered some comfort, but nothing compared to Jacuzzi jets!
I was glad that I was at the Birth Center, because I would have definitely accepted any offers for medicine!
Eventually, I don’t know if it was just my body missing the relief of the hot water, but the contractions were just driving me crazy. The midwife told me they had some shots of saline water that can help with back pain. I did oblige to getting a shot of it in my back – but half way through the first shot I asked her to stop because the needle hurt so much !!! She was like “Really?!” And I was like “YES!!”. I yelled at her!;) I really don’t like to yell at people, especially non-family members who I barely know.
Looking back, I think that was my body transitioning to get ready to deliver that baby. I labored a little longer on the ball, and the small half dose of saline water didn’t make a difference at all. I told the midwife I had to go to the bathroom, and also that I wanted to push. She checked me, and I was not quite at 10cm yet, but she was able to press a little to get me there. (Again, I hope this is only ladies reading !!)
By this time there was some midwife turnover, and it was my other favorite lady- MerryLee. I did a couple pushes in the bathroom, but then I thought “Wait a second, I don’t want to have my baby on the toilet !” I asked if I could get back in the tub ,and was overjoyed that she said it was okay.
It was a comfort thorough it all, as Bron counted by tens, through each one minute long contraction. The first 30 seconds were hard, and the last 30 were terrible !! But it was a comfort to have his voiceover in all the blur and pain of 12 hours of labor! I pushed for about an hour . Pushing is not easy, and very painful of course, but it is so nice that you can do something with the pain! No more counting, just finally being able to push and Lord willing, be finished with it all soon, and meet your baby.
When she was almost there, with her head/shoulders out ,MerryLee knew it would be my last push and said : “Liz, reach down and grab your baby!” I hadn’t at all planned to be the one to do that, but I was! And it was pretty awesome! One last push, and I reached down and pulled her up out of the water and onto my chest. And so, Emmylou was born around 2:30 in the morning, making my labor about 13 hours total.
Because we didn’t cut the chord right away, and maybe because of the easier transition of womb to water, she didn’t cry right away. She literally opened her eyes and looked up at Bron who was right behind me . Of course who knows how well infants can see, but her eyes were open and just looked like she was trying to figure out what was going on.
It was just crazy! 30 seconds before, I was in major pain and anguish and it was loud;) . And then she was here, quietly on my shoulder , “looking” around. Bron told me she looked like my Dad. We just looked at her and couldn’t believe how little and how pretty she was !! I was so glad it was over and so glad Emmylou was here with us ! MerryLee splashed her with water to get her clean, and I said “I can’t believe how loud I was !!” She laughed, “You weren’t that bad.” Oh, but I was. 😉
Some people don’t like the idea of water birth, because then after baby is born, you’re in there with all the after-birth stuff;} But truly, I have no memories of that ! When I look back on this moment, it’s just me and Bron and baby Emmy looking at each other and being so happy. I can’t remember what the water looked like. Sorry, weird note to end on perhaps?
In John 11 it says, “When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world.”
That moment in the tub ,after the hours and hours of pain! and how it was suddenly just gone. I was holding that sweet baby, seeing her face for the first time, and all was truly so joyful and peaceful. God brings that picture to mind often. When hard things come and they just go on and on, and lay us low and last for months and months, or years and years! The tears and the prayers; the anguish: It won’t last. On Earth, if the Lord allows. If not on Earth, in Eternity when we shall see His face.
Of course, friends who have had babies and enjoyed epidurals can still relate to this! And I have friends who have desired natural births and were not able to experience it. And I have friends who lost babies, early in pregnancy or late in pregnancy. So this pain for hours and hours that was suddenly gone ,and made sweet and fruitful is not a perfect picture. But it is a picture we can all know in Christ. All of our anguish will be a distant memory one day. All will be worth it when we see His face.
Even if I got out of the tub and into the reality of life with the newborn- shocked at how hard recovery was for me! I was shocked with how hard nursing was, and how the lack of sleep everyone warns you of really is true. And how hard everything in life becomes when sleep deprived and hormonal and feel like you have no idea what you’re doing!
But there is so much joy that outweighs it all, and there is the sweetness of God’s help through the transition. For me the Lord has used that picture often as a reminder and encouragement to my heart throughout these last 5 years as a Mom.
A few pictures of our sweet girl in those first days: