Monday, January 20

The Birth of Caeli Rose

It was difficult to wait for labor, but now that it’s come and gone I wonder why I was so anxious and impatient.  But the difficult part wasn’t the labor, it was not knowing when and what and how it was all going to happen.  
My last photo I took, somewhere around 41 weeks.

 We waited for 41 weeks and 4 days for our baby to be born, not knowing the gender and desperately wanting to know how labor would happen.  Although I’d had a perfectly healthy pregnancy, going past 41 weeks meant my midwives wanted me to do a couple of tests to make sure baby was healthy.  That morning I went to the birth center for the two tests- the first was a non-stress test which meant I was hooked up to a monitor to keep track of baby’s heartbeat and my (non-existent) contractions for about 20 minutes.  Her heart rate was perfect and I had no contractions during that time, but laying there was the straps around my waist and listening to her heart gallop made it a little surreal, like delivery was drawing even nearer and I hadn’t fully realized it yet.  The next test was a bio-physical profile, which was basically an ultrasound that checked her placenta, fluid levels, and movements to make sure everything was still in good working order.  It was all perfect, except it was confirmed by my hunches that she was in a posterior position, which means her head was at my left hip, facing my belly button instead of my back.  Her back was along my right side, with her little bottom under my right rib cage.  I felt pretty confident that this was her position because of her movements, but learning that she was posterior gave me a reason to rely on as to why she probably hadn’t decided to come yet.  Also, peek at her squished little face on the ultrasound made me feel like I was somehow cheating, seeing her in a secret place, intruding on her privacy.  I was happy to learn she was well.   I consented to having an internal check- I was already 4 cm dilated, slightly effaced, -1 station,  but my cervix was still a bit posterior.  I asked to have my membranes stripped again (to try to induce labor, the previous attempt 2 days before hadn’t worked), and Ryan and I left the birth center.  I decided just to go home to have some lunch and take a nap.

That evening, I decided to go to confession and adoration at church, since it was Wednesday night and I hadn’t been to confession recently.  My mom and I went together and I was able to relax, meditate, and have an honest conversation with the Lord about all of this.  I was anxious, ready, and impatient.  I knew this was something out of my control, and of course being me it was hard for me to figure out how to exactly “let go.”  After all, God created me to be the person I am- He created me a woman, to procreate, and made my body, heart, spirit, and mind to be a mother.  He knew I would have a hard time surrendering but on the other hand He also knew that’s how He made me.  I was having a hard time grappling with this paradox because I sort of felt like in order to truly let go, I needed to not be the person God created me to be, which didn’t seem right either.  Maybe I just needed to justify the Type A control-freak within me, but whatever the case I left adoration not feeling completely sure of what was being asked of me or what would happen next.  I was happy to receive the sacrament of penance and spend some quiet prayer time though.

My mom and I stopped by for Dr. Pepper on the way home and once we got home, we settled in with Ryan for another quiet evening.  We were chatting and each looking at our own electronic devices (I was looking for schooling inspiration on some blogs) while kneeling and leaning over a chair, trying to encourage baby to turn around.  (I had done a handful of inversions and lots of hands-and-knees time all that day in a poor attempt to flip her around.)  I had a contraction but didn’t think anything of it, because it felt like all of the million other Braxton hicks contractions I’d already had.  Another one came a few minutes later- that one didn’t hurt either, but I thought it was odd that I’d had two so close together.  Another one came, maybe a tad bit harder, and I decided to excuse myself to go take a shower.  In the shower I had several, but they weren’t really painful, but I sort of thought this might be it since I’d had a handful of them so close together.  They didn’t stop, and once I got out of the shower I turned on the tv to some sitcom re-runs to distract myself.  They kept coming.  Finally I had a hard one and decided to tell Ryan and my mom that I thought this was it.  We texted my midwife at about 10 pm to let her know things were starting.  For about an hour I sort of watched Seinfeld reruns while Ryan ran around the house getting everything ready to go, stopping to help me when I felt like I needed his support.  Sometime after 11 pm I had a pretty hard one, and he said he wanted to go to the birth center.  I was fine with that, so we called her again to meet us there and we left.  

We got there around 11:48 PM and I made my way inside.   She checked me- I was 7 cm, 50% effaced, and baby was about 0 station.   At this time I would say my contractions were hard, but they weren’t totally unbearable.  I was definitely uncomfortable but they weren’t coming too fast for me to handle.  The car ride wasn’t too bad either- Ryan told me later he made it in 11 minutes, which must’ve meant he was going a little faster than he should have been!

They immediately drew the bath for me to get in, because when I heard I was 7 cm I was ready to get this show on the road, I thought it would be no more than an hour until delivery.  When I got in the tub my hips and back started to hurt, so Ryan got in with me and applied counter-pressure on my hips.  It felt really good, but he was stuck doing it for over an hour while I labored.  

 My midwife checked me again about an hour later and I had an anterior lip still (I was about 8 cm mostly), so I decided to get out because I was cold and I knew in my doula head that an anterior lip meant I should spend some time laboring on the toilet because it would help that problem resolve.  I tried to sit down on the toilet but I just couldn’t- it was an awful position and it hurt so bad, so that didn’t work!  I kept thinking how all I wanted was to take a nap- I was soooo tired and I just wanted to be done.  So I said I wanted to get in the bed, so they propped me up in a good position (on my side, leaning more forward, with my legs propped up with pillows) and that felt pretty good.  As I lay there, my contractions either felt less painful or I entered sort of a half-awake, half-asleep stage.  I was definitely aware that they were happening, and I heard everything around me, but I did doze off a bit because I felt myself jolt awake once or twice.  I think I was on one side for 20-30 minutes, and then I switched to the other side for another 20-30 minutes.  As I was drifting off, I heard Ryan say he needed some coffee, and I heard him leave for a few minutes to go make coffee.  Later after the birth he told me it took everything he had to not crawl into the bed next to me and go to sleep!  He said that “break” for me was a good chance for him to grab coffee and revitalize himself, so I’m glad that he got to have a little break too!

After I had been in that position for 20-30 minutes, I felt her move.  Oh boy did I feel her move, she came down and it buuuuuuurned a nerve on the inside of my left hip.  I also think I told the midwife that I felt a little “pushy,” I may have had a couple of small pushes at that time.  That was the game-changing move, after that I was really ready for this experience to be over.  We drew another bath and I got back in the tub and I don’t know how long I was in there before I decided to try another push.  It actually felt good to push, which I thought was odd because in all of my other labors that was the part I hated the most!  But I wasn’t feeling an intense urge either, and the pain on my hip was so intense that I couldn’t decide if I’d rather have the pain of labor or the pain on my hip.  I finally decided that this had to end.  I was whining that I didn’t want to do this anymore and Ryan kept telling me, “It’s almost over, you’re almost done,” and I said, “You’ve been saying that this whole time!”  At some point I opted to push, even though my body wasn’t doing it involuntarily.  I had a few good pushes – I had to apply intense pressure on the inside of my left hip/groin in order to get through the pushes- and I felt her move down even more, and I decided I was done and I just wanted it over with.  So I really gave it my all and I felt my water break, the pain in my nerve was gone, and all of the sudden I think she was crowning?  I’m not sure because I wasn’t looking (ha!) but I just followed the directions of my midwife- she was all I could hear at that point.  She told me to stop pushing and breath through it- so I did- and the doula in me knew that I was pretty much done- but the laboring mama in me was thinking- “How come this isn’t hurting as bad as last time?”  That “crowning” phase is pretty much the worst pain I’ve ever been in, but I guess her presentation made it a little easier?  It all happened very quickly but also very sowly.  I heard my midwife say, “Pull out your baby!” I looked down and there was a little body under the water, face up.  I scooped up the baby and put her on my chest, and I can tell you there is NO other feeling in the world than the feeling of simultaneously knowing that the pain is over and you have birthed a soul, and the thing you grew in your body for the past 42 weeks is now laying on your chest.  And it’s OVER.  I think the first thing I said was, "Hi baby!  You're so little!"  At this point I was in a sort of ecstasy and wasn’t ready for the surprise to be over, so I sat there with this baby in my arms and enjoyed the moment of being done.

After a few minutes, I am honestly not sure how long, we asked the birth assistant to grab the camera to take a picture of our faces as we found out the gender of our baby.  I lifted up a leg and declared, “It’s another boy!” Ryan was thoroughly confused, and I picked up the leg again and said, “Oh, it’s a girl!”  I blame my half-delirious state and a poorly-placed umbilical cord on my initial incorrect announcement!  Oh the joy and surprise- another girl!  “Beth will be so happy!” Ryan and I both said!  I knew this little girl was the child I felt I knew I would have, the little girl that had been a deep desire of my heart that the Lord knew about.  “Hi Caeli Rose!  You’re here!  I’m so happy you’re here!” I said.
The moment we realized she's a GIRL!
We met our second daughter, laughing about having another girl, for what felt like 10-15 minutes.  Finally, Ryan cut the cord.
Ryan is a pro at cutting cords now.
Caeli was given to our birth assistant then back to Daddy, while I delivered the placenta in the tub.  Our midwife noted the unusual shape of the placenta- sort of oblong instead of round- which our encapsulation specialist later told us probably meant it was just a little more spread out than usual, because it wasn’t quite as dense.  I have no idea if this means anything, but it was a good healthy placenta that wasn’t showing signs of deterioration.  Caeli, on the other hand, was “dated” at 41 weeks, partly because of her peeling skin.  I am so thankful she wasn’t huge- she weighed in at 8 lbs 4 oz, my exact guess!  But that was at nearly 2 weeks overdue; I wonder what she would have weighed had she come on my due date?  She most likely would have been my smallest baby yet!

8 lbs 4 oz!
I was moved to the bed to clean up and nurse Caeli- she immediately latched on and nursed for about an hour!  It was amazing at how simple it was.  All of my babies have been good nursers but she was by far the easiest to get started.  It was like she’d been practicing!

I was overjoyed to have another good nurser.
We sat and nursed while the birth assistant checked our vitals, she and I were both declared in perfect health.  Several weeks earlier we were all slightly concerned about the possibility of me losing too much blood due to several risk factors, but my body knew what to do and it wasn’t on the radar at all, thank God.
Caeli was examined by my midwife.

After the birth and our first nursing session, she and I took an herbal bath together to promote the healing of our bodies.
Very proud Daddy
Putting her in the car seat for the short drive home.
 After about 3 hours, we felt like we were ready to leave.  Ryan packed us up and I locked her in her big brother’s car seat, and we pulled into our garage a little before 8 am.  Ryan and I snuck into our bedroom to hopefully catch some sleep before the big kids even realized we were home!  After a short nap, Ryan got Beth, Luke, and Jack, and brought them in to our bedroom to be introduced to their new baby SISTER!

Beth was ecstatic!  Luke’s face was priceless, and Jack still called her “Baby Gumbo!”  It was such a sweet reunion, such a neat introduction as the older ones realized that the baby was real, and she was here in my bedroom.  They admired her for a bit before they were ushered out again so Caeli and I could rest some more.

Our first morning at home.
The rest of that day was sort of a blur to me.  I was on a high from actually being done with labor and delivery, and Ryan and I were both exhausted from being up all night.  I honestly don’t remember much except that Ryan’s parents came to meet Caeli, we all had a big brunch (I was starving!), our placenta encapsulation specialist came over and started preparations, and I slept and nursed.
Overall I can honestly say I am happy with the way her birth went.  We chose to not hire a doula because I just wasn’t sure about it… I felt sort of like a hypocrite in a way since I am a doula, but I also know that in the past I have been a hands-off kind of laborer.  During Jack’s birth, I didn’t want anyone to touch me- and since that is a HUGE part of what I do as a doula, I just wasn’t sure that I wanted to hire someone.  On the other hand, I know how unpredictable birth could be, so I was concerned that I wouldn’t have enough support if we had a problem or needed to transfer to the hospital.  In the end, I had a sweet doula friend who offered to help me if I needed it, so we left it at that, and for her support I am grateful.  I did sort of get into my own head during labor, and despite teaching Ryan several “moves” I do think it could have been useful to have had someone there to take turns with him .  He provided counter-pressure on my hips for probably over an hour and I remember thinking in that moment, “He’s probably tired of this but I need it.”  There were some things I wish that could have happened, or that someone would have said (things I say to my clients), so I was saying them to myself.  I don’t think I had a typical “transition” but I do remember saying, “I don’t want to do this anymore!” and thinking- I wonder if this means I’m almost done?  And when I was vocalizing, I remember telling myself to keep my moans low, and my throat open… Again, more things I tell clients!  

So far she is the sweetest little thing, perfectly healthy, a wonderful nurser, and she’s definitely got a little set of lungs on her!  Her name is "Caeli Rose." "Caeli" is Latin for "heaven," and is pronounced "Chay-lee." Rose has so many meanings to me, primarily that my birthday falls on the feast day of St. Rose of Lima, we love St. Therese of Liseux,and a rose is Our Lady's flower.  Her name had been chosen for years, though I can't explain it, but I'll try: I can't even remember when it happened, but even before my loss in 2011 I had it in my heart that the Lord would give us another girl and that her name would be Caeli Rose.  I have no idea why this name was pressed on my heart but after my losses, little roses would pop up here and there in my life, and it would always be a subtle reminder to me that my family wasn't complete.  We craved this pregnancy and I feel like my soul knew this baby from the very beginning.  However, I was also in denial because I didn't want to feel disappointed (for lack of a better word) if this baby was a boy.  I wouldn't have been disappointed in the traditional sense of the word, I would have felt like maybe I didn't know my body after all, if that makes any sense.  And we had several beautiful girl's names chosen, all names that I love, but when it came down to it there was never another name for her.  She was always my rose from heaven.

We are all enjoying her so much and I keep saying how happy I am to be on this side of labor- it’s just such a relief knowing that it’s behind me.  However, I do already feel like she’s growing up too fast (and she’s not even a week old yet!), and I just want to hit “pause.”  I am taking it all in and reveling in her smells and little baby sounds- even the sleepless nights are a little easier because I have done it three times already and I know that it’s just a phase, and one day she’ll be in her own bedroom (or in Beth’s room, as Beth wants!) and won’t need me the same way she depends on me now.  We are all so in love and so thankful that God blessed us with another soul that we got to meet, and I depended on the intercession of her two older siblings in heaven to get me through the worries and anxieties of “something going wrong.”  I’m still worried to a certain extent, because I know what can happen in our broken world.  But for now, she’s mine, and I’m going to love her and hold her tightly for as long as I possibly can!  Thank you Jesus, for this miracle!  We are beyond blessed!


nicole said...

Love this birth story! Beautiful baby and family!

Neen said...

Heaven is that feeling, it must be. That soul to soul, I love you with my life, look in eyes can only be described as Heaven. Why not name her that? Beautiful birth story. My favorite part, as with all birth stories, is the introduction to the siblings, to the live long friends! This is one lucky lady to be born into such a loving family. Congrats mom! You did great.

Anonymous said...

"It all happened very quickly, but very slowly.."

It seems all of life's momentous occasions are like slow motion, dripping with significance and then, in the blink of a eye... just a perfect memory.

She's a beautiful little girl, congratulations!

Michelle McClane said...

Aww,,what a beautiful birth story, you and Ryan did awesome!! She is very blessed that our Lord chose your family for her and your family likewise. Can't wait to meet her and see her all wrapped up and bundled on momma. You are such an inspiration and gotta say that I could almost feel that moment baby was on my chest all over again while reading your story,,you write beautifully my friend! Love and hugs--Michelle McClane

The Zajicek's said...

So happy that everything went well for the delivery of your sweet baby girl! We are so happy for you guys and can't wait to meet her in person!

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