Saturday, October 4, 2014

The (very long) birth story of Summer Eliza

I wrote this a few weeks ago, figured I should post it!

Maybe it's hormones, I don't know... but I am just so thankful for this beautiful life and family God has given me. I am so crazy blessed, it's insane. Actually, it's not hormones, it's the real deal. Because my life is always wonderful and I have everything I want, desire, and need.
Beware: this is going to be a super long post. I don't usually read birth stories because really, I don't  care to be involved in the whole giving birth thing unless I have to. Which has been twice now. I'm writing this out just to remember, and then figured I'd make it a blog post because a) I know a lot of my friends would be interested to read it and b) because I want to be another testimony that preparing yourself mentally for birth IS a huge deal!
I did not write out CJ's birth story because it really did scar me mentally. I could not talk about it without feeling physically scared, however melodramatic that sounds, for about a year. It made me sad right away whenever I thought about it, because it was truly the most horrific experience of my life (except for of course whenever he was out and in my arms, that was fabulous).  I can recall perfectly that dark place I was in my mind for the last 6 hours or so, and the insanity I felt the last 2 hours when I was trying to push him out and he just would not come. I had my head buried in Clint's lap and was rubbing my head back and forth (let's just say I had quite the hairdo after...) and he was leaning over me telling me he loved me and just in so much shock himself with tears running down his face. It was horrible! I plan to never go back to that mental/emotional place ever again. The pain was so unfathomable, I don't know how a human body can tolerate that, but I'm still alive somehow.
Fast forward 2 years and I am pregnant with our second baby. We absolutely did not plan on CJ, he just kind of happened. :) But this time, we did not want them to be too far apart or too close together, so we "let things happen", and lo and behold, a baby was due in August.
It sounds bad, but I was "more" excited about this baby than CJ. With CJ, we had gotten married only months before and were planning on waiting 2 years on kids. He was quite the shock, but I would never return him, he's my little friend. I cannot imagine if we had missed out on him! God knows what he's doing even if it was not in my original plans.
Anyway, the pregnancy was different than CJ, but of course all was smooth. My belly was pretty small and shaped kind of funny, measuring about 7 weeks behind. I cannot tell you how often people would say "are you sure everything is alright", "are you sure your due date is correct", and worst of all "I KNOW your due date is incorrect! That baby isn't coming till October". Ugh. There are many, many reasons why this last one bothered me, the main one being that I knew my due date was correct, and that due dates are never acurrate anyway. There's a two week 'allowance' you give a due date. It's not like the baby is on a timer. And who are you to say my due date is not correct? Anyway, I can get very carried away on this one so I'll stop.
Everyone referred to my belly as "CJ's sister", and we all kind of assumed it was a girl given the small size and very different way I was carrying. Clint and I didn't have a preference about the gender. Two little boys together is always a good thing (or is it? ha). But a little girl would be fun because we didn't have one.
Because of our bad experience with CJ's birth, I did a serious amount of reading and research this time, specifically Hypnobirthing. My friend used this method with her fourth baby, and her and her husband swore by it. The only reason I gave it any real consideration was because I knew her to be an extreme realist and she was definitely not in the "birth is beautiful" gang. She agreed with me that birth was quite hellacious, and that was that. But after her fourth was born, she practically begged me to buy the book. So I did.
I am a horrible procrastinator and so I did not study the book and practice everyday, but I did read it and do my best to believe it, and practiced the visualization and deep breathing. I even put myself to sleep once doing the visualization practice. I read a lot of natural birth stories where the mother was positive and peaceful her whole labor (which are usually the new-age types), and did my best to completely revolutionize my outlook and to absolutely not feel any fear about my impending doom. I had to choose to not be scared out of my mind, however hard that was. I did not know if it would work but I knew it did not hurt to try. I mainly did this by just not thinking about CJ's birth, but rather focusing on the flowery positive affirmation stuff that I would usually roll my eyes at.  We bought a blow up pool on Amazon to use, and I reasurred myself daily that this would be better being a second baby, and that I was so much more prepared. I was.
My due date rolled around and the baby was not here. CJ was three whole weeks late was I was feeling a little down that the baby would sit in there forever, meaning I had to feel huge for extra time in the humid summer, and I knew a few people would say "I told you so". Immature, I know, but that would've been annoying.
I had a ton of deep, borderline painful Braxton Hicks the two weeks leading up to her birth. I would use these to try to relax completely and just focus.
Clint had bought a truck from a friend up in Ohio. He had been looking for a good deal on a diesel because he needed a more powerful truck to haul heavier loads, etc, and plus he just wanted an upgrade. He had been delaying picking it up for about a week because it would simply just be too far for him to leave with us having a baby any time. The guy wanted him to come get it but it would just have been not the smartest move to go on a 14+ hour trip. Also, my parents were coming in on the 31st and staying 8 days, so I really wanted the baby to be born so they could actually see it, since that is why they were flying all the way across the country. The baby just needed to come!
Fast forward to Tuesday August 26th and all this was weighing on my mind and I just prayed and prayed all day whenever I thought about it, that God would just send the baby that night so we could solve these little issues. I was also starting to feel very reclusive and not wanting to go anywhere because I just felt so big and easily worn out, and my ankles were swelling due to the thick, gross weather. I just didn't feel my greatest and was SO done with being pregnant (I never want to be pregnant in the summer again!).
I woke up in the middle of the night that night for my 30th pee trip thinking, 'well scratch that idea! The baby isn't coming tonight, oh well, it has to be born sometime'. But around 4:30 am I woke up with stomach pains that did not feel like contractions, but rather round ligament pain. But they were contraction-like in that they lasted about 40 seconds, were too painful to sleep through. I really didn't think it was labor because it just did not feel like a contraction. Clint was getting up at 6:15 to leave for work and I knew I had to know by then if this was it.
At 6:15 his alarm went off and he woke up. I told him I might be in labor, and he said he needed to know by 6:45, because his plans had changed and he could sleep a little longer. So I got up and started cleaning up the house, hoping I would know. They were getting more painful to where I would pause while they took their toll, but they were still not that period-cramping I had the first time.
At 6:45 I went back in bed and said I was pretty sure this was it, because it was just too consistent and too painful to not be it. He had to know for sure though, because he had a guy bringing materials out to the job (which was an hour away), and that guy needed to know if Clint would actually be there. I was scared to say YES STAY because what if was just pre-labor and it stopped? Then I would have totally ruined a lot of people's day. Clint works for himself so he can leave whenever he wants, so he was delaying leaving by sending his guys to get some other materials from our local metal company. I finally told him I was for sure in labor, and to just stay home. He wasn't quite sure because I wasn't screaming yet (haha). But at that point they were painful enough that I had to stop and be quiet to get through them.
I got up again and began getting stuff out (electric kettle, pots, bowls, towels). I texted my mother in law who would be bringing my midwife (who is her mother in law!). CJ woke up about 9 o'clock and we told him the baby would come today. He did his typical "OH!". It was weird because I felt pretty happy and positive in between all the contractions, which was polar-opposite of my first experience. When one would come, I would go in our closet and put my hands on the rod and kind of lean out while it happened. It seemed to help the pain. CJ started talking to me during one and touching me, hugging me, asking me why I was sad. It was extremely distracting to have him talking to me and I could not relax my body through them while he was there.
So Clint drove him over to his parents house (about 15 minutes away). I knew I would be just fine alone at this point. I got in the shower after he left and sang to myself through them (which I know sounds so silly, but it helped). The hot water felt amazing on my pained belly and it really helped me cope. I didn't want to get out but all the heat was making me feel dizzy.
Clint got home and kept asking me if I was totally sure I was in labor. He was extremely skeptical because I wasn't freaking out or moaning through contractions or even laying down. I managed to make him a plate of chicken quesadillas in between contractions (so weird thinking about it now!). I would go run into the closet whenever I felt one coming on. After I got him his food I laid on the couch with him and drifted in and out of sleep in between contractions (again something that did NOT happen the other time). I got about an 8 minute break between them, and I was feeling pretty happy about that until I remembered that long breaks meant a significantly higher level of pain. Oh great. It was close to 11 at that time and the contractions were pretty awful. I would relax through most of them and then once they reached the peak I SO badly wanted to yell out or rip something up or bite something, but I forced myself to keep my hands and feet and face relaxed. It was ridiculsouly difficult to do this, but it helped me stay in a normal mental place. Clint did not even know I was having contractions because I was so quiet. Every once in awhile he would say "do you still think the baby is coming today? It just really doesn't seem like it". I would tell him UM YES, I'm just not freaking out.
Around 11:30 I asked him if he would go blow up the pool. Our actual living space is on the second level of our house, and the bottom part has a bunch of rooms and a bathroom, but it's unfinished with a concrete floor. Clint blew up the pool and came back up and said he really did not think it was going to work to bring it upstairs, because how would we drain it. So he left it downstairs and filled it up while I stayed laying on my side on the couch.
While he was gone, the contractions were getting so wicked I started to cry (which is something I had been fighting for hours). The baby would literally move around during the contractions, which was a whole new level of awful. It felt like she would go down and then push herself up. So eventually I thought maybe I needed to stand up so she could just drop down. I stood up and boy did she drop down! I started to feel that things were going to be happening soon (don't want to be too graphic here!). I could hear Clint pouring buckets of water into the pool downstaris and I called to him and said could he please call his mom because I thought the baby was coming very, very soon. He went outside and called and then came back up the stairs and hugged me for a little while. I was getting emotional at that point because the pain was increasing rapidly. He went behind him me and wrapped his arms around me while we went down the stairs. He helped me into the pool and it felt so cold, it took me a minute to get in. He started boiling water and dumping it around me. He had used up all the hot water trying to fill up the pool, so he had to boil it in increments. In between it boiling he would come and stroke my face and my hair,  put water on my face and put his hands on my belly (which felt amazing because his hands were so warm). I was shaking violently at that point, not due to the cold water but to going into transition. I couldn't control the shaking and the pain was getting so bad in my back I started to cry a little and moan because I got that horrible feeling of needing to escape, but being unable to. He kept pouring hot water in when it was boiled. He was such an angel, helping me relax and kissing my forhead, making sure I was comfortable, just being his amazing self. At that point I would have gone nuts had he been gone. He is such an amazing man, so understanding and compassionate. His compassion is a trait that originally attracted me because it was just so uncommon in a young guy, and he still has it in a big dose. He was putting towels behind my neck and head and telling me to try to relax. I was impressed with how wonderful he was during CJ's birth, given the fact that I did not prepare him for it AT ALL. And this time, I only mentioned once my plan and that the way he could really help me was to keep me calm. Seriously... the guy is a natural. He went above and beyond. I am once again SO impressed with him.

He left again to fill up another bucket, as the water heater had refilled. He would leave and it felt almost instant like the pain got just so much worse. It was amazing though to go through the hardest contraction stage at the end in the water. I could move myself around with not much effort, unlike with CJ when I could not move at all. It helped the pain significantly, at least in my mind.
I started to feel some (ahem) pressure, and was hoping that Rachel would bring the midwife soon so Clint did not have to deliver the baby. It seemed like it was taking forever for them to get there.  I was calling Clint and telling him that I was going to need to push this thing out soon and he was pretty surprised. I kept thinking... why the heck am I here again? Why am I not at a hospital chilling out with the pain juice? Why am I pregnant again...? Why?! This is so STUPID.
A few minutes later Clint said they were here. Rachel and Mary came in and I never opened my eyes to look at them. Right away Rachel started rubbing my arms and my hair and telling me what a good job I was doing, and Mary was rubbing my legs and telling me to keep it up. I never looked at them until the baby was born because right then it seemed the pain had jumped up a few notches right as they came in. I lost it emotionally and starting crying and moaning and just freaking out, and told them the head was right there and the baby was coming now. They started running around in a flurry. Clint was gone in the bathroom again filling up a bucket when things started really happening. I started freaking out that he wasn't there and began calling him and calling him and sticking out my hand where he was supposed to be. I felt him grab it and then he put his face up against mine and I started pushing the baby out. It lasted only a few minutes and I felt re-shocked about how horrific the pain was. It was just sick! I started screaming and surprised myself with how loud I could scream (ha!). I looked at Clint and then shut my eyes again. He was gripping my arm and I don't know what else because my mind just kind of left for awhile. After some time (I'll spare you the pushing details) the baby slipped out and again, my body was just in shock with the relief. It's really the wildest feeling to be at such a high level of pain and then within half a second, it's just gone.
Clint went "OH MY WORD!!" and we were both smiling at each other and kissing and the baby cried for a couple of seconds; Rachel had the baby laying on it's side on a towel on the side of the pool. I saw right away it was a girl and Clint and I sort of whispered at each other that it was (I don't know why we were all quiet about it). I started shaking again and I was crying but there were no tears. I couldn't stop for some reason and I felt bad because I was truly very happy, and did not want him to feel like I was still upset or something. Clint was smiling and laughing and I felt just really weird, like I couldn't stop shaking and doing this weird crying thing, even though I was just so happy and relieved. I think my body was just in shock from the relief of the pain, and then the coldish water.
Mary and Rachel were drying off the baby and doing who knows what else (I didn't really pay attention). They said, "should we see what this baby is?" and Clint and I laughed and said it was a girl. They finally gave her to me wrapped up in a towel and we both said right away that she looked so much like CJ did. We were just amazed at how perfect she was. Seriously, she did not look like she had just been born. Everything was smooth and beautiful on her little face and her teeny little  head was perfectly round. I guess from being born in the water, she was very clean. We sat there for about 15 minutes before getting out. Mary had clamped the cord and then given Clint those funky little scissors to cut it. Once again it was a little weird seeing him cut it because it seemed like it should hurt the baby, although of course it doesn't. I'll stop there, but basically (among other things) the rest involved Clint carrying me up the stairs, laying me on the bed, and myself getting majorly fussed over (and me apologizing to him that I was heavier than usual... haha!). They weighed her and measured her and I took pictures from my perch. :) We named her Summer Eliza. She was 7 lbs 12 oz  and has been just a beautiful bundle of sweetness ever since.
Although at this point I still do not want to give birth ever again for the rest of my life, it was SO much less horrible than CJ's birth. I know that second babies and beyond are always supposed to be "easier" (HA), but I know that what kept me calm, in control, and avoiding another freak-out screaming saga was the relaxation practices I did. To anyone who thinks "it's going to hurt anyways"... it is. But practicing relaxation through pain, however silly it feels or seems, is totally worth it to keep you in a better mental and emotional place and not leave you with lasting hateful feelings toward the whole experience. Also to spare your husband of having to feel so helpless and sorry for you for hours and hours upon end. ;) It's hard on the guys when the woman they love is travailing for so long. And although I was miserable, staying calm I know spared him for growing some gray hairs, for which I am thankful. I did not have to drag him down to that depressing dark place with me for the whole 8 hours.

And now for a few photos. Because... what's a blog post without photos? I'm sure most of you have seen the photos on Facebook of right after she was born and that day. Those are on my in-law's camera so I don't have those. I just have what is on my phone. I need to get some professional photos done of Summer while she is little soon. I'm such a procrastinator.

First photo I took of her, about 2 hours after birth. 

Clint ran into town and brought this beauty back for me as a surprise. I imagine labor burns an ungodly amount of calories, so I ate it without any qualms. 

Summer's first night with us. 

My little ball of pink chub!

You know how they say that men holding babies get a lot of female attention? There's a reason folks... a good reason.

It is so precious how CJ's nurturing instincts have kicked in since her birth. He asks to old her, and immediately starts softly patting her belly, kissing her head, looking at her tenderly (like below), rubbing noses, and talking in a soft, high pitched, girly voice, saying "Summer 'wiza! Such a cute little gorl! So little!"

For some reason CJ desperately wanted to have a (clean) wipe on his head with his beanie on top, and then he tried to blow up this popped balloon for awhile. Summer was amazed, apparently. 

I thought CJ was little until Summer came... now he seems so massive. He is, I guess!

First stroller trip. CJ was very upset she was in his stroller. 

Thumpity thump goes my beating heart...

Hopefully I'll manage to get some higher quality photos soon. She is five weeks old now and her face has developed differently. She is so adorable, I can't help but laughing sometimes when I'm holding her because her cuteness just hits me hard.
 For those who are wondering about her name...
When CJ was a baby I heard the name Summer, and thought it  sounded adorable paired with CJ. I asked Clint if he liked it, and he didn't. So I forgot about it. We did not get an ultrasound while I was pregnant with him. So our girl name was Eliza, and a boy would be named after Clint (aka CJ).
While we were mulling over names for months and months while I was pregnant this time around, I suggested the name Summer. " I love that!" he said. Seriously? I thought he hated it. Turns out he doesn't. Over the many names we considered, we kept coming back to Summer (especially Clint). I felt pretty iffy about it just because I knew most people would not like it. It's kind of unusual, but not in a weird way. Paired with Eliza, it sounded so beautiful though... after she was born there was no question that was her name. I love it more and more everyday! Sometimes I call her Summer, sometimes Eliza, just because I just love both names.
Anyway...'till next time.