So much more

Click the arrow below and enjoy this video of the sweet arrival of Emerson Isaac.

There’s so much more to birth than the moment the baby is born. Pregnancy can be such an intense time -a wonderful time- but, a time full of unexpected emotions and feelings as your body, mind, and family all change in anticipation of a new baby. This was my third pregnancy and third planned natural birth outside of the hospital. I’m a doula and childbirth educator, and had been to more than 200 births at the time of this birth. There were so many times throughout my pregnancy and labor that I thought, “how strange to be doing this for myself instead of a client!” One of the first times that occurred was at the second trimester ultrasound. I thought that I was 24 weeks pregnant and due at the end of November, and was hoping for another Thanksgiving baby like my first had been, but the ultrasound indicated that I was 22 weeks pregnant and not due until December 10th! That, combined with consistent fundal height measurements, caused us to reevaluate and agree that the due date really was in December.  I had a little conversation with myself about babies coming when they’re ready, regardless of a given date, God knew the date and time that this baby would be born, etc. etc. etc. – the same talk I’d given many others during their pregnancies .  We left the ultrasound appointment and I texted my mom about the date change; she had purchased plane tickets to come on November 22nd through December 8th, and the due date was now December 10th. “No worries,” I said. My other two babies had come before their due dates, so this one, I thought, would do the same.

There were a few times from 36 weeks on that contractions came and went, including one night with them six minutes apart and then four minutes apart, which kept me awake and ready to call my birth team. By morning though, when the intensity hadn’t changed and they started spacing out, I knew that this wasn’t “it” yet.  A few weeks later I awoke with contractions that were stronger than I’d had before, at seven minutes apart. I couldn’t get comfortable in bed and had to breathe through them. This, I thought, would progress into labor.  My husband left for work and the contractions stopped. It was then that I realized how frustrated I felt about needing to wait to have my baby until everyone else was ready – and frustrated that I felt like I was on a timeline (self imposed) to have a baby before my mom had to leave. I wondered if I was disappointing everyone who thought I would have had a baby at the end of November rather than in December.  So much was going through my mind! December 8th came and went and my mom cancelled her flight. I went to my last prenatal visit and we talked about checking my cervix, ultimately deciding not to unless I made it to 41 weeks, and talked about when we’d schedule a biophysical profile.  That never became necessary! 

On December 12th I was very uncomfortable and did several inversions to try and get the baby off of whatever nerve he was on that was sending shooting pain down my leg! I sat on the exercise ball and had some tightening sensations, but no major contractions. I took a bath and then headed to bed around 10:30 pm. It took a while for me to fall asleep and I began doing kick counts while lying in bed because I didn’t feel like the baby had been moving as much that day. I texted my friend Rachel and told her that I was doing kick counts and that maybe the baby would be coming soon since he was slowing down. At some point I fell asleep…and woke back up at 12:45 a.m. feeling a lot of pressure and like I had to pee NOW! I got out of bed and realized that some of the pressure I was feeling was coming from a contraction, and felt some water leak out. I hurried to the bathroom and felt a gush of water as I sat down.  I sat for a minute waiting to see if I’d have another contraction but only felt somewhat crampy, so I changed and put a pad on, and sent a text to Christy at 12:56 a.m. telling her that my water had broken. Her reply of, “Woohoo!” made me smile and relax, feeling excited that I was going to have my baby soon.  She then asked me some questions and gave some instructions and said to keep her posted when contractions picked up. I sat down on the bed and started to play a game on my phone , and texted my birth photographer. At 1:08 a.m. I had a contraction and opened the contraction timer on my phone to record it, thinking to myself again, “Wow, this is so weird to be doing this for myself instead of for someone else!” The contraction lasted close to a minute and then I woke Scott up to tell him that my water had broken and I’d just had a contraction. The next one came six minutes later, then another seven minutes later, then another 5 minutes later, and then the next one 2.5 minutes after that. Hmmm. Each one felt stronger than the one before, and I told Scott it was time to get up and get ready. The next contraction came 3.5 minutes later, and I thought that I should probably have the birth team start on their way, but questioned whether or not to really call everyone; I hated the thought of waking everyone up and wished that I could wait until the morning, but have had fast labors in the past and didn’t want to risk them not making it, either. I went to wake up my mom and then had another contraction on the way back to my room, 4 minutes from the last one. During the contraction I remember thinking to myself that this was going to move fast since the contractions already felt really strong. I texted Christy at 1:37 a.m. to say that contractions were four to five minutes apart. She said she’d be over soon and would call Kelli to head over, too. I sent texts to Lynsey, Ceci, and Rachel to let them know that it was time to come. Lynsey and Ceci headed over immediately. Rachel needed to finish up at work and then could come, too. Scott went to get me some ice and water and I continued to time my contractions, leaning over into the bed when I’d have one. As soon as I’d asked everyone to come the timing moved to less than 3 minutes apart for almost every contraction. Around 2:20 a.m. I felt the baby’s head move lower and asked (I’m not sure if I said it aloud or thought it to myself!) where Christy was, feeling like I really needed her there with me. I heard the alarm ding when the front door opened and was relieved and amazed that she came at that exact moment. She came in to the bedroom and put the bags of equipment down. Shortly after she came in Ceci arrived, as well as Kelli. Things in my mind become pretty disorganized as far as what order things happened in, but I remember thinking that I didn’t want to move or change what I was doing – I kept breathing through the contractions and trying to keep everything relaxed. Christy reminded me to relax my shoulders and Scott did counterpressure on my hips. I felt Christy put her hand on my arm through a contraction, and after it was over she took my blood pressure and temperature.  In between contractions I worried that everyone was going to be bored, and if I should have waited to have everyone come. Christy asked if I wanted an exam to know dilation and I said no, not right now. I felt like things were moving pretty quickly and thought to myself that I was probably 5 centimeters dilated. She needed to listen to the baby but I needed to go to the bathroom first, so I headed in there. I noticed that the fluid had some green meconium in it and told Christy. She listened to the baby’s heart rate and I asked Scott to get me the ball to sit on.  I think I only sat on it once, because I felt another gush of fluid when I sat down and then a more intense contraction right after that. Christy said something about getting in the birth pool if I wanted to, but I thought no, I don’t want to do that...because that means I’ll have the baby! I think I said, no, not yet.  I checked my phone and saw that Rachel had asked how things were going. I told her that contractions were about 3 minutes apart and that I was “doing good.” I was hoping she was coming soon so that she’d make it in time for the birth. Lynsey came in shortly after that. Contractions continued with me leaning over on the bed during them, and it didn’t seem like much time had passed by when I saw that Rachel had come in. Christy said some things that helped me feel like it was ok to let go and let the baby come, telling me that I was letting this happen, and prayed for joy with the birth of this baby. It was so perfect in that moment to hear those words; I really, really wanted my baby to be welcomed into a peaceful place with joy, not fear. Soon after that she mentioned the birth pool again and said that I should probably go ahead and get in. I agreed that I would (although in my mind I was still not wanting to!) and asked if she could have everyone go out for a minute. Christy and Kelli stayed to help me get in the pool, but before I did she spoke to me about being able to labor however I needed to, that it was ok to do whatever I needed to do…it made me cry to feel so accepted and loved at such a vulnerable time. She said it was good to have an emotional release and I said I needed to get in the water now; I could feel the baby’s head moving down more. The water felt good, but almost immediately I felt nauseous. I asked Scott to get the peppermint oil and he returned with the bottle of oil and an envelope that had a game in it that I use for childbirth classes. It seemed funny to me that we’d use something for class during my birth  . The nausea went away and I felt the baby move down again and really wanted to resist the next step of labor; the contractions were overwhelming and I didn’t want to keep going – I wondered why I was doing this, and wanted to fight away the contraction that was starting. I said no, wanting the contraction to go away, and heard someone say I was doing amazing, Rachel say that I was close to being done, and although I didn’t feel like I was doing amazing it was really helpful to hear! I started to feel my body pushing and wished that I could calm down and not feel like I was in transition at the same time as pushing. In between the contractions I said, “someone calm me down!” and thought, try to slow down, I can’t believe my kids are still asleep, and felt the head close to being out. I saw Kelli shut the bedroom door and felt another contraction start. I pushed again and felt like I was losing all control and wanted the baby either to go back in or come out now, because I didn’t like the in between! I heard Christy tell me to slow down and all I could get out was “no” because I didn’t feel like I could slow down or control pushing. Another contraction and I said that the head was out, but Christy said he was out to the brow. The next contraction his head came out followed quickly by his shoulders and then body. I heard Christy tell me to take my baby and I reached down to hold him. This was the most amazing thing; I LOVED being able to pull him up to me when I was ready to. It took a second to realize that I was holding onto him and could bring him out of the water up to me. The memory of that moment will always be a favorite of mine. I didn’t feel rushed to bring him up to me, and was so excited when I could take a breath first and then bring him up and hold him. This was one of the happiest moments of my life, and I’m so, so, so thankful that I was able to do that. 

I was immediately amazed by the amount of vernix on him and looked at his face, thinking of how much he looked like his sister when she was born! Christy told me that he had the cord wrapped around his foot and that I could unloop it. I asked Scott if he was ready to see if we had a baby girl or baby boy, and looked to find out that we had our second baby boy! I looked up to find Christy and she said, “You did it!” and I told Rachel, “it’s a boy!” and we laughed because she had been sure that it was going to be a girl  

The next few hours went by quickly and were blessed with getting to know our new baby, introducing him to his big sister and brother, nursing, taking the herbal bath, nursing, newborn exam, nursing…and nursing. 

So, from the time my water broke to the time my baby was here was about two and a half hours. Having a baby is hard work, mentally, emotionally, and physically, and although I could have physically had a baby without my birth team doing much, they made my birth a million times worth it and better by being exactly what I needed them to be when I needed it. 

Emerson Isaac

December 13, 2013

3:29 a.m.

8 lbs 3 oz, 21”

Christy Martin