Well, I had SO much fun celebrating Sophie's birthday that I had no time to post on the actual day... then I was gearing up for having my family in town and a party the weekend following, and so I still was too busy... and then it had been so long I insisted I not post a thing til I had time to get a good birthday post in for my girl!
We had a beautiful day; Dashing Daddy stayed home from work. We all got up together (not even too early) and went downstairs to discover Sophie's new bike! And we went out to breakfast, then all went to playgroup at the park. Sophie had lots of fun running around with Daddy, playing in the sand, and splashing in the fountain. After that it was time for a long nap, and later that day we went out to the toy store to get some birthday presents from far flung family who had sent checks, and new shoes. Then we went to another toy store to wait until it was time to meet up for dinner with Grandma and Grandpa, and then back home for some cupcakes and singing Happy Birthday.
It was an amazingly sweet day.
Sophie really enjoyed the weekend, too, because there were lots of people over at the house the whole time, and Nonna took her for walks a million times a day and let her play in the "soil" and taught her about birds. Everyone decorated party cups and hung crepe paper streamers and hauled out the alcohol, and viola, a birthday bash! Sophie loved spinning around hugging all her presents! My family had a yummy brunch on the gorgeous beach the next day, too. The only downside to the whole thing was when Sophie kept asking for Nonna for the next several days!
Well, that's a very abbreviated account of all the fun. Here's a much longer story: Sophie's birth story. I have been wanting to share this and I thought her birthday would be a good time. This is just the unedited ramblings of a sleep deprived new mom, so bare with me. I also used word's find-and-replace to change out people's names so that's why it says "OurDoula" for instance, lol.
So without further ado... The fully natural birth of Sophia Ann:
So I FINALLY just finished typing out Sophia's birth story. I sort of just typed out all I could remember (writing at intervals a week and more after her birth...) and it's sort of for my memory years from now as well as sharing online. So here it is!
Sophia Ann’s Birth Story
Around 3am (was it 2:30? Did I nod back off for a while? Let’s say around 3am), Monday morning I got up. Not unusual at this point in the pregnancy. But after using the rest room, I found myself unable to get comfortable and go back to sleep. I started chastising myself for keeping myself awake with the excitement that it could be birthing beginning, thinking it’d be nothing and I’d just end up having to nap all morning while I had errands to get done. I felt sort of crampy like a period or like an upset stomach, but multiple trips to the bathroom didn’t yield any improvement. I tried going online but could not get comfy in bed. I tried sitting on my birth ball, leaning onto the bed. I probably dozed a short time before 6am when DH’s alarm was set to go off. By this time I had started checking my toilet paper and there were streaks of pink showing. That was what assured me this was not just an upset stomach. I still felt unsure about how “real” this was going to be, as I had never felt any Braxton Hicks or anything. But when DH woke up at 6, I was beside him in bed, and pulled him over to me. He was a bit surprised at my pushiness but nuzzled up behind me, and I told him I didn’t think he could go to work that day. He had pleaded the previous Friday for the birth to come so he wouldn’t have to return the next week, and he got his wish just in time! I wondered if he should go off anyway, but we decided even if the birthing petered out for the time being, he wasn’t going anywhere!
We both took showers and shaved, preparing for perhaps a long day and lots of pictures soon! Around 8am we called our doula, (OurDoula), to let her know that things were getting started. She suggested we take a walk, so we did, just around our block. It was a beautiful day; it had rained in the night, and now the sun was out. Everything was glistening and fresh. Back at home, I did some Hypnobabies CDs and we even watched a DVR’d episode of House. DH got me the muffins out of the freezer and helped me drink lots of water. I was going to the bathroom to pee pretty nonstop, and I found that sitting on the toilet was my favorite place, whereas I was surprisingly uncomfortable sitting on the birth ball. I liked leaning/hanging on DH, too, so we sort of hugged/danced frequently. We went for another walk around 10. Things continued like this until around noon (DH was keeping track of my waves and even checked my cervix a few times, and he reported that things were getting more regular and frequent and moving along by around noon). Indeed, it was around this time that things got more intense. DH called OurDoula again at some point, I suppose, to let her know we were really doing this, and she suggested a bath to help me relax. DH drew my bath and it was very nice (funny, as that is very similar to how this whole pregnancy started…). At a certain point, DH suggested I really try to do my light switch (from HypnoBabies) so I sat in the green comfy chair and sort of managed to sleep and use my light switch to relax a while. Things were getting more and more intense, so I had DH call OurDoula and soon she was coming over. When she got to the house, I was kneeling in the nursery, leaning over the birth ball. She did some massaging and checked me out, and she said she thought I was at transition because the waves seemed to be getting erratic. I decided I wanted to go to the hospital at this time. DH got everything ready and OurDoula and I hung out upstairs, doing the same. He must have called Dr. B’s office to let them know the baby was coming at some point, too. Then DH drove me to the hospital, as I did my CD. It was nice to see the ocean as we came over the hill on Rancho Santa Fe, as waves were a major image for me in birthing, for birthing waves (contractions), waves of relaxation, visualizing waves on the beach relaxing me, the ocean and a forest on the shore as my safe special birthing place….
When we got there, it was so cute how he pushed the button and told them we were there to have a baby. We got in, had to do some paperwork at the counter (yikes! Glad we preregistered to avoid even more!) and then went to my room. I went to the bathroom and got into just my nighshirt and I could hear DH and OurDoula moving about the room setting it up, drawing the curtains, etc. DH went to park the car. I moved around the room, trying to decide where I was going to get comfy. I got on the bed and hung over the birth ball, and they ran a strip monitoring the baby’s heartbeat for about 20-30 minutes. It was only towards the end of this that I wanted to move, as I was tired. OurDoula was massaging me. So they said I was done and I lay down on the bed, on my side. I figured I’d rest a moment, but OurDoula would make me move around before too long. But in fact, I ended up staying right there for about two hours, and I basically slept my way to full dilation and effacement! The birthing waves were very intense at this point, and I had been vocalizing pretty loudly since before leaving home. So while I lay there, I would be fine through two or three waves, just going with them, and then there would be a big one and I’d vocalize, and even hang on to the bed handle, and OurDoula would massage my feet, which helped a lot. She also did this thing where she’s press in on my hips, which helped a lot at first, and later I’m sure it was still taking the edge off. But the feet being touched was a huge help for focusing down and out past my belly. I remember getting very cold and not being able to say I needed a blanket, worried I was tensing up from the cold. I finally got out “cold” and they got me one. DH was sitting at the side of the bed facing me. He and OurDoula told me later, since I didn’t know really what was going on, that I had pretty much been asleep for those two hours. Thank you, Hypnobabies! Also, OurDoula noted later that the nurses were using the handheld Doppler, not insisting that I move so they could use the belly belt to check on the baby, something she says she’s never seen them do before.
So OurDoula suggested at some point that I could push if I felt like it, and I tried it out, even though I didn’t feel an urge and wasn’t sure what I was doing. But I discovered that it could help take the edge off of the birthing waves, so I kept at it when I felt like it, and gradually I think I did feel an urge. They checked me to be sure it was okay to push, and I forget if Dr. B came in at some point… anyway, at some point he came in and checked me (again, not asking me to move but going with the position I was in, which OurDoula was impressed with) and told me the baby was right there and I could go ahead and push. I remember asking how long this part normally takes, just to get my head in the game for what was next (and OurDoula said while it varied, normally 1-3 hours). So I started pushing with each wave, and gradually the waves changes so that it was more an urge to push, not discomfort in the belly anymore. So I focused more and more on pushing. And the nurses gathered around—there was a shift change so I got two new ones but Julia stayed as well, so nice of her! (And the new nurse, Jaley --don’t know how to spell, it-- was SO nice and the next night mentioned how much she loved how we were trying different things….) And everyone was saying how strong I was and relaxed, and OurDoula was saying how I was trusting my body to do what it knew to do, and it got very dark and there was a spotlight just waiting for the baby’s entrance into the world, and it was very tribal and cavelike and magical, and I would open my eyes and see DH smiling at me, so happy. And also if I looked at Dr. B’s face I would be reassured that he was tuned in and all was well. Soon everyone was saying how much hair the baby had. So that gave me a sense of where we were—I had no idea the whole time if the baby was about to slide out or if I had a long way to go. It felt funny when Dr. B massaged me, I think, but hooray for no tearing! And everyone said I’d feel a lot of pressure and stretching, but really I just remember this tremendous overwhelming sense of the urge to push, and it was more like having to take a flying leap into a chasm, not pain or worry about stretching like I had imagined. I did feel at times I would turn inside out, though. And everyone encouraged me to breath, deep long breaths, since I guess I was not doing that too well, and to push longer and harder, but it was just encouragement, no counting. And the nurses and OurDoula held my left leg up to one side, and I even rested my foot on Dr. B’s shoulder, and it went on and on and at one point they told me to feel the baby’s head, and I have a vague impression of seeing curly wet hair, and later finally Dr. B told me not to push but just breath, and then the head came out, and the whole body, and they made me help pull her up on to me, and told me to do skin to skin, so I threw up my nightie, so now all my pictures have my boobs showing in them, and the baby was on my chest, and it was amazing, and then someone asked what it was, but I couldn’t tell as it was face down, and we wanted someone to really look and tell us so we didn’t get it wrong, and they checked and it was a girl! I said, “Sophie!” or Sophia or the like. And DH and I just looked at the sweet baby girl we had made.
I hung on to her, and I birthed the placenta in one push. Dr. B had me feel the cord to see it had stopped pulsing, and DH ended up cutting it. And before long I sat up with some help (maneuvering with Sophie on me) and we had our first nursing, with help from OurDoula especially. Dr. Biter had noted that we should have a Shakespeare quotation for the birth announcement, since it was Shakespeare’s birthday (and he knew that was totally awesome to us), but all I had was an e e cumming quotation from a poem, “I love you much most beautiful darling” that goes “sunlight and singing welcome your coming” but then I did say how about “like spring to the earth you are welcome hither” and we all just enjoyed how Sophie had come on the perfect day. Julia the nurse and Dr. B and then OurDoula took their leave. DH stayed close with Sophie as she was bathed and checked over. The nurses exclaimed that she basically stood up on her legs as they held her up, I remember. And then I heard that DH’s family was outside and so we should see them before moving rooms. It turned out they had been there for hours. So they came in and had two gift bags with balloons, one for a girl and one for a boy, and they asked which we wanted! It turned out Dr. B had seen them in the hall but he was careful to wait to tell them what it was, although he told them all was well with us. So we told them it was a girl and they looked at her, and DH called my mom to tell her the news, and I talked with her, and it’s true what I told her, that I couldn’t have done it without her example she had set for me; I trusted that it could and should be done this way because she had done so before me. Then I rested, and DH’s family held Sophie. Then they left to get us some food and get DH’s things that he had forgotten at home, and I got up and got cleaned up a bit and then sat in a wheel chair while the nurses finished some more things with Sophie, while DH stuck close to her still, and then we all went down the hall to our room, which thankfully was ours alone (no roommate!). So I settled into my bed, and DH brought everything of ours into our room, and we just enjoyed Sophie in her little bed.
And there begins a much longer story of our beginning times with Sophie… suffice it to say here that some of the details above may be a bit mixed up after such amazing experiences, and that we just love our little girl so much our hearts are bursting. Right afterwards, I was relieved that birthing was over, and elated at the accomplishment at the same time. Seriously, it was an empowering, awesome experience I am so grateful for, and looking back, I cherish it (it’s not nearly as scary as people say it will be or show it on TV! It is SO very much something different…qualitatively different). And it’s amazing to be on the other side of that experience, to own it, because a woman can’t really get it until she had lived it. Ultimately, I’m both grateful and feeling sort of “of course” that the whole thing went as smoothly as it did; I stopped to be grateful afterwards, but in the moment, it seemed natural that I was deemed ready to push when I felt ready, and that things progressed well, and that Sophie emerged just fine. It was a both a sublime (as in overwhelming, tremendous, awesome) and a wholesome experience, like I was just walking a path that was strangely familiar, that all the women before me have walked.