Thanks to Tami for sharing the beautiful story of her HBAC (Home Birth After Cearean)!
Emma, yesterday for the first time in your life you stood up without any assistance and walked to me. You had a gigantic grin on your face, showing me all six of your teeth, and you laughed as you took each step, so proud of yourself. It amazes me that it's been a whole year, and that a year ago today you were engaged in the first great journey of your life.
Your daddy and I had found out around Mother's Day that we were expecting another baby and we were so excited! I immediately started searching for a midwife who would help me have my baby safely at home. After several interviews I chose Peggy Franklin and I felt very comfortable and peaceful about the idea of having my baby at home. Your brothers' births each presented their own challenges because of the hospitals and doctors, and I wanted to have a peaceful birth experience this time, and to give you the best chance of having a gentle birth. We expected that you would be born around January 20th. As that day came and went, I grew a little discouraged. Finally we decided that we would wait until Valentine's Day if we needed to (as if we had much of a choice in the matter).
The morning of February 1, I woke up at 4:30 and went to the bathroom. I felt fine, nothing unusual. I sat down at the computer to check my email and do some work before the rest of the family got up. Within a few minutes I started feeling contractions. I stayed at the computer for nearly an hour while the contractions got stronger and more frequent. By 5:30 I knew it was time to call the midwife and wake up your daddy. Daddy got to work getting the pool ready--he had a hose that he had planned to use to fill the pool, but it was frozen, so he drove to Home Depot to get a new one. I called Peggy, who had just left another birth, and we decided she should come right away. I set out towels and a washcloth for her so she could take a shower when she arrived at my house (since she had been at another birth all night). My instructions from Peggy had been to make up the bed for birth as soon as I knew I was in labor, and since I still wasn't completely decided about whether to actually have the baby in the pool or in the bed, I got to work on making up the bed. It took me about 45 minutes to make the bed! I would get a sheet on one corner, have a contraction, start to walk to the next corner of the bed, have to stop about halfway down the bed for another contraction, then get to the corner and have another contraction... I think I set a world record for the longest time to make a bed. Once the bed was made I put on my "birth clothes," a bathing suit top and sweatpants, and went downstairs to the living room and sat on my birth ball. Your daddy was home by then and turned on a HypnoBabies CD for me to listen to. My favorite blanket was a soft fuzzy blue blanket, so I wrapped that around my shoulders and just rocked on the birth ball. I threw up once or twice.
At about 6:30 Peggy arrived. She said I was making good sounds and went up to the bedroom to organize all the supplies that we had piled in a box. I continued to rock on the birth ball and threw up a couple more times. Peggy came downstairs and rubbed my back through a few contractions, then she offered to check to see if these contractions were causing any progress. I figured she would tell me I was at 2-3 centimeters, since it had only been a couple of hours. I was shocked to hear her say I was at almost 10 and the bag of waters was bulging. She suggested that I get in the pool if I wanted to labor in the pool at all.
About 7:30 I got in the water. It felt good, but I didn't spend much time just enjoying the water. Within a few minutes I sat straight up, leaning forwards slightly. I had my eyes closed so I lost track of time. At some point I heard the voice of Aimee, the birth assistant, and I felt relieved that she was there. Peggy and Aimee both rubbed by back through contractions. Meanwhile, the boys were waking up, and Daddy got them dressed and gave them breakfast. They came in the kitchen for a few minutes, then went to watch cartoons. We had planned for a friend to come and entertain the boys while I was in labor, but we couldn't reach her. Or the other 2 people who had offered to be backups. I heard Daddy on the phone telling my mother that Emma was on the way. I heard Peggy on her phone saying things like "how far apart are they? How strong are they?"--she had a third client in labor at the moment as well. About 8:15 I started lifting my body off the floor of the pool because I need to push! Peggy helped me move onto my knees, and then she felt like you needed more room to get out, so she helped me move one leg out of the way. I was leaning on the side of the pool and we discovered that the valve on the top ring of the pool hadn't been closed tightly, and it collapsed a little--water went all over the floor. But at that point we were all more focused on getting you out safely! I was pushing as hard as I possibly could and Peggy and Aimee were saying things like "that's right, millimeter by millimeter, do it slowly." In my head I was thinking, "that was just a millimeter?" At 8:29 the bag of waters broke and your head popped out. Suddenly I felt no more urge to push, and no more ability either. It felt like an hour but was actually only a minute, with Peggy and Aimee both telling me I had to push harder to get the rest of your body out.
Finally you were born! Somebody scooped you out of the water and I sat down to hold you. You didn't cry, you just sat in my arms breathing quietly. Since you hadn't taken a deep breath, Peggy gave you oxygen for a few minutes. You looked tired, but after a couple of minutes you woke up and were very alert. I delivered the placenta in the water and then got up to move to the couch. My back went into spasms and it was very hard for me to walk, but Daddy carried you, and Peggy and Aimee supported me, and we made it to the couch. Once we were there and I was comfortable, Peggy weighed you--10 lbs 10 oz! Daddy said "She's a perfect 10!" At 9:00 a friend showed up to take the boys for a pre-scheduled play date, which was perfect. She was the first person outside of the birth team to see you and she cried because you were so beautiful.
Eventually we went upstairs and took to the bed that had been so carefully made up earlier. I sent out an email message in the morning: "
Emma Jean Conklin was born at home this morning at 8:30 am. 12 days past her due date. 4 hours of labor, a good water birth, no problems or complications. 10 lbs 10 ounces, 21 3/8 inches long. 14 inch head circumference, 15 3/4 inch chest circumference. She's a big girl, considerably larger than her brothers! So far the hair looks red, blue eyes, a dimple in her left cheek. She's gorgeous and doing great. I'm doing pretty well too--tired and sore, but starting to feel like myself already. We had a fabulous midwife who did a wonderful job in the last few months helping us prepare for Miss Emma's arrival. We were the second in a string of back-to-back births she gets to help with today!"
And then we got down to the business of loving you and helping you grow up. It's still amazing how much you've learned and grown in 12 short months. We've had some challenges this year. Your Oompa got sick a few days after you were born and died when you were only 2 months old. But he did see you and hold you, and he loves you very much. You got to meet many of your relatives because of Oompa's illness and death, and every one of them raved about what a beautiful and sweet girl you are. Your brothers have been in love with you since the moment you were born. Sometimes it's been a challenge to keep you safe from their "love," but you're a strong girl and can handle anything that comes your way. Daddy and I love you. Happy Birthday Emma!