So I am currently 6 weeks away from my little girl's due date. I couldn't be more excited to welcome another child into my home. Preparing for her arrival, I have contemplated my sweet little Emerson's birth and decided to go back and re-read his story. He turns 3 on Tuesday (tomorrow!) and so I thought that I would share his story once again here in this space.
written: august 7, 2011
It’s Sunday morning and I’m sitting at my computer for the first time in what seems like forever. It’s time to write down the feelings in my heart before these feelings fade into new feelings and experiences. I don’t know if there are words to adequately express exactly how I feel at this moment- but I will attempt to do my emotions justice. I am still on a euphoric high from all of the events of the past few days. My whole world smells of newborn and I’m so in love with everything that has to do with my little boy. He’s perfect in every way and I couldn’t be a happier mom.
Thursday was his due date. I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t anxious to get him here. I really just wanted to have him out of my body already, to meet him, to kiss him, to get to love him. 40 weeks inside is a long time and I was getting super impatient! It seemed that every other mom around me, who was due basically at the same time, had already had their baby. I wondered if he’d ever come out- or if he was content to just stay in there forever. I was beginning to have my doubts. But, regardless of when I wanted him to come, I was forcing myself to be patient and reminding myself that he would come when he was ready. It was his birthday, after all. Britton and I had done oodles of preparation throughout the pregnancy and we wanted, more than anything, a completely natural, unmedicated birth free of any interventions. That meant no induction. He was going to be born at home and it was going to happen when he was ready for it to happen. So when Thursday rolled around and there wasn’t any serious signs of labor I was even more anxious and ready. I decided to stay as active as I had been up to that point. All week long I had been going for morning walks, averaging 45mins. The fresh air was nice and the sunshine felt so good. Thursday was no different. I woke early and went for a 30 minute walk. I spent the rest of the day around the house finishing up the laundry, the cleaning, prepping, working on my computer etc... (Earlier in the week my desktop harddrive had decided that it wanted to crash and so we had just installed a new harddrive and I needed to download software/updates- not the most enjoyable thing to have happen, but fortunately I have a computer wiz for a husband and he fixed it all up for me. I’m such a lucky girl).
With evening approaching and still no real signs of labor, I decided to just continue about doing what I could to stay active and to keep my mind on other things. Our landlord had just brought over the lawn mower and so, at 9 months pregnant, on my child’s due date and at 3pm in the afternoon, I ventured outside to mow the lawn. Call me crazy, but it really needed to be done and I had the biggest desire to do it. So I mowed. And then, right after I finished, a storm rolled in. I showered up and then sat down and thought “tonight could be the night... tonight really could be it.” Not long after, I began to get very uncomfortable. I sent Britton a text wondering when he was going to be home from work. I needed him here. I just knew that I was really going to need him. By the time he got home I was rolled over on a birth ball in the living room, trying to relax. Things were starting. I made dinner, we ate and then Melody (our midwife) came over to check on me. I had been keeping in touch with her throughout the day, sending her questions and updates. One thing that had concerned me was that I had a continual flow of mucus tinged with blood throughout the day. I had to check just to make sure that that was ok. She listened to his heart tones, said that things seemed great, made up some hotpacks, put them in the oven and then left- telling me to let her know whenever I was ready for her to come back.
All this time, Britton was moving around the house like an excited little boy, getting all the final things ready, so excited for a grand adventure. He was very ready and very excited. He called over his long-time fried, Dan, to see if he could help him move the couch from our bedroom. They got the birth tub situated. And then Britton and I decided to enjoy some quality couple time. We sat down and turned on our tv... one last time, just us two. We watched a standup comedian on Netflix. I really didn’t have any particular desire to watch one thing, I just wanted something to make me laugh as the contractions increased. Afterwards, I was so tired and we decided to try and get some rest. By this time the contractions were roughly 6 minutes apart and lasted anywhere from 30-45 seconds. We laid down and tried to sleep. Unfortunately, it was really hard to get a good amount of rest. We would need it later too... but it wasn’t meant to be. Melody came back around 1:30am and Britton helped her finish getting the tub ready. She really knows her stuff and the whole process was down to a science. It was obvious that she was set to do exactly what we had entrusted her to do. It felt great to know that she was there to support and to help bring our baby into this world. Reflecting now, upon it all, I am even more convinced that she was the right person to help with the care and delivery of our baby boy. At around 3am I ended up calling my mom, and Alisha (Stamper) and Christine (Olson). They all headed on over and got there around 4am. Alisha and Christine were so good to just drop everything and come be my support team. Together we are part of a tight-knit group of photographers, we refer to ourselves as F/8. I really strongly value these women and my relationships with them. I knew that I wanted my labor and delivery documented and I feel so fortunate to have such awesome friends willing to do so! Having my mom here was also super special to me. She kept us all fed and cared for.
Anyway, I continued to labor, so excited that I was going to meet my son before the day was through...
We all were quite tired though and so after a couple of hours, everyone laid down for some needed rest. This little amount of rest really helped, although it was hard to sleep through the contractions. The whole time I had Britton by my side. He was such an invaluable support. He made a huge difference in every way. I honestly couldn’t have done what I did without him right there. I am incredibly blessed and such a lucky woman. (For the record we have documented proof of the lapse of time. Britton set up our brand new HD camcorder and took some time-lapsed footage). Things continued to progress and the morning came. Labor was hard and painful and to be perfectly honest, I progressed much slower than I wanted to. That was one of the more difficult parts about the whole thing. Our birth plan dictated that there were to be minimal checks and Melody was great about honoring that request, but hours into labor, there were things that we needed to know- just to gauge the progress and to move forward. It wasn’t fun hearing that 12 hours of contractions had only put me to a 5. But I pushed through it and tried to focus even more on my hypnobirthing relaxation techniques and visualizations. I knew that my cervix could open more and wondered if my aversion to the pain and discomfort was holding me back. So I focused more and moved into the birth tub. Labor picked up from there and before I knew it I was at a 7... then an 8 and then a 9. By this point, Britton had moved into the tub with me and Melody had shown him how he could reach up and feel our baby’s head. While up there, they actually helped try to stretch me during my contractions. This was a painful addition to the throbbing of my uterine muscles, but it seemed to be making a difference.
Britton was such a solid support. I know that I’ve written that multiple times already but I really can’t say it enough. He helped me breathe through all of the contractions with coaching and counter-pressure. The team of midwives that Melody had at the birth made a significant difference too. One that especially was great was a woman from Canada named Terri. She was staying down at the Birth Suites in Pleasant Grove, while waiting for her Canadian certifications to come through. Since they’re government employees there things take a bit longer. She was right with me through the hardest part of labor as well and had read the birth plan which I had given Melody. She was definitely on the same page and really contributed to the overall progress and positive experience of my labor.
Time passed and then it seemed that I hit the wall. I was exhausted in every way. I was so tired of feeling the contractions, so tired of breathing them down, so tired and I honestly thought that I couldn’t do it any longer. I didn’t really have any other option though- I had to finish and I wanted to finish and I needed to meet my baby.
My little boy was so low and engaged for so long that, as Melody checked his heart tones, she found that they were starting to drop. This was a concern to her and so she told me that it was time to step up the game and to get my baby out. All along I had envisioned that I would have this calm water birth where my baby would basically roll out of me and into the water, but this wasn’t to be. The exact reason why would later be seen since all things happen for a reason. At this point though, I was still in the birth tub. I had changed positions a few times- had moved to the side of the tub to be able to use more of my legs to push against. When that didn’t work, I moved onto my hands and knees, which also didn’t work and so I was back to the side of the tub trying with all my might to push my baby out. At one point I opened my eyes and felt light headed so they gave me oxygen and continually reminded me to breathe deep and in through my nose. I was focusing with all the energy I had left. I had to just breathe my baby out. I knew that there was so much power in my breath and in my body. I was basically on auto-pilot and in the birth zone. But regardless of what I tried, Melody’s instincts knew that that wasn’t going to cut it and so she had me get out of the tub and onto the birth stool. At that point she told me that I was holding things back and I knew she was right. I had to embrace the pain and focus more deeply on meeting my baby. This focus took every ounce of energy I had left and I honestly can say that I felt empowered by all of the love and support in the room. I was now on the birth stool, breathing with the oxygen, focusing with all my might and trying as hard as I could to get my baby out to meet me. This was when things really started to get crazy...
This was when things really started to get crazy...
And honestly, this part is all kind of a blur to me but I remember saying outloud and to myself “baby come out!” Throughout labor, as I would breathe, I focused on the word “out” and so the reiteration of this word helped me once more to truly believe that he was coming to me and that he was going to be ok. Things were stressful and hectic as it drew near to the time when my son needed to enter this world, but I can say that amidst the stress I felt total peace.
Melody was positioned right next to Britton. They were ready to catch my baby. His heart-rate was dropping and it was time. At this point, Melody said to me “You’ve got to get this baby out in the next push. I really don’t want to give you an episiomoty!” And that’s when my last ounce of strength kicked in. Episiomoty was a dangerous word. I didn’t want it and Melody knew that and so I breathed deep and felt the overwhelming burning that comes from the crowning of a baby on his way out. It burned hot, like a total ring of fire, and I let out a cry and pushed with every single ounce of energy in me. His head came out and then I took a deep breath and the rest of him followed.
Britton was right there, hands out to meet our son. Melody was there too. I was in shock and awe with what I had just experienced and felt. Seconds after though, there was a little bit of panic (this is the reason why- in hindsight- moving out of the tub was necessary). As my chord untwisted it actually tore. This rarely happens and required immediate action. As soon as it was noticed, the chord was clamped and cut. Sadly, this was not part of our plan. We had studied and knew the benefits of leaving the chord attached until all the blood and nutrients had passed over to the baby, but with a torn chord and blood squirting out- blood loss was more of a concern. All of this was a big blur to me though. I was just sitting there, breathing, holding my new baby and he was more than perfect. He let out a little cry and I was instantly overcome with more love than ever before. I had my husband right there with me and now my son and I felt so blessed. My system was in shock with the hormonal overload. (Just as an update- our midwife was extra cautious in the days following Emerson's birth, making sure he didn't loose too much blood and that all his vitals were where they should be. They were. He's a perfectly healthy baby).
My placenta just dropped out of me and I moved up onto my bed. For the first hour or so of our son’s life, it was just me, him and Britton- bonding, loving, learning, connecting. It felt so good to hold my baby close. So incredibly good. I fed him a little bit and had some amazing skin-on-skin connecting time. It was surreal and amazing, like heaven had descended into my bedroom and gifted me this amazing experience. I couldn’t believe that I had just done what I’d done. I remember looking at my baby’s face and knowing that I’d do it again to just hold him (but that it was honestly the most painful thing I had yet to experience in this life!). I was so overcome with love for him and for my amazing husband. Gratitude filled me completely.
Minutes prior the room had been swarming with activity and now it was just Britton, me and our baby. When I was ready, the midwives came back in to check me out and to weigh/measure our son. He weighed 6lbs and 12oz and was 20 inches long. Britton actually was the one to weigh him. He had beautiful kissy lips and long fingers. He was so alert and happy. It was awesome.
Unfortunately, I tore a little bit (a slight 2nd degree tear) and so I needed some stitches. Melody stitched me up, and while she did so Terry continued to check out my baby’s vitals. He was constantly kept close to me though and I held his hand while I was being stitched. It hurt like crazy, but my baby was close and so I bore it happily.
Reflecting now upon this singular experience, I am so grateful for every single sensation that I felt. For everything thing that I experienced. It was empowering. I’m amazed that I struggled through 20 hours of labor, but knowing that I did it feels so good. We have decided to name our son Emerson Locke Beckham. I am so in love with my sweet little Emers. He’s a peaceful, alert, and happy baby. I am so blessed and so very happy.