From the category archives:

thoughts on pregnancy

Birth Story from Emily Frame

September 21, 2011

Note from Design Mom: After a 7-month pause, the Growing-a-Family series is back! Twice a month I’ll be posting stories about pregnancy, birth and adoption. I’m not pregnant — I promise. I just miss the stories. : ) First up: A birth story from Emily Frame.

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I think most first time moms can agree that we are prepped and primed to believe that our first go at pregnancy will last for 42 weeks and labor will take at least 36 hours before we meet our bundles of joy. I most definitely believed it and with a month left in my first pregnancy my husband found a great deal on about 1,000 square feet and a project seemed to be the perfect solution. Who wants to bring a newborn home to the peaceful sounds of nail guns, sanders, and toxic stain fumes? Not us. So he got started ripping up our existing tile, carpet and wood flooring and later that afternoon we headed to our 36-week appointment.

Click here to read the rest of Emily’s story.

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Note from Design Mom: While I’m busy with the move to France, I’ve got a crew of talented Guest Moms filling in for me. Today’s post is a birth story from Jennifer Richardson. Enjoy!

I am not sure even where to begin with this. There is so much that I want to express and I am not really sure how to get it all out in written form. There is so much more to the birth of your child than you can really ever express to someone. It is a moment in time that will always stand still as its own very magical moment in your life. No matter how tough it is, as soon as its over and you are holding your little one the experience cements itself in your brain as this very surreal time frame that really can’t be explained in full detail to anyone that wasn’t there with you.

That’s how I feel anyways.

Click here to read the rest of Jennifer’s story.

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Sara’s Adoption Video

October 27, 2010

Ever been curious about adopting a child from another country? Sara recently grew her family from four people to six, when she adopted two beautiful babies from Ethiopia. She made a video about the experience here.

From Sara of Enter From the Exit.

P.S. — Here’s a sweet gender surprise story from A Chow Life.

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Note from Design Mom: throughout my 6th pregnancy, I posted advice, memories and stories about pregnancy, childbirth, adoption and growing a family on Wednesdays. My baby has now arrived — here’s her birth story and her newborn photos — but the series has been so popular that I’m continuing it indefinitely. You can find all the stories in this series by clicking here. Have a story you’d like to share? I’d love to read it. You can send it to me at gabrielle@designmom.com.

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Birth Story from Robin

October 20, 2010

“And from your lips she drew the Hallelujah” —Leonard Cohen, Hallelujah

G was my third baby, and my third winter baby. My oldest, a January girl, was born without a drop of weather interference. Our second child, a December girl, was born on a bright, sunny day. And then there was G, who was due Friday, February 5th, 2010. We live in the suburbs of Washington, DC, and February 5th was the day the blizzards began. Based on my doctor’s opinion and exam, I’d been expecting to go into labor ‘any minute now’ since February 1st. We were nervous.

Where we live we typically see 14″ of snow per year and we were expecting more than double that amount over the weekend. As the first snows fell and the state of Maryland declared an emergency and shooed everyone off the roads, we made the calculated decision to move in with our friends for the weekend. That way we wouldn’t have to worry about our two daughters having someone to care for them if/when we figured out how to get me through the snow to the hospital. We believed we were making the responsible decision.

Click here to read the rest of Robin’s story.

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I was one week over due. Seven days tired of reminding myself (and being reminded) that our son’s womb days were numbered. When I woke up on Saturday, I knew our Doctor, William Parker, would be on-call until Monday morning so my labor needed to start as soon as possible. When Saturday’s sun set I took my Doctor’s only advise for natural induction and commanded my body to start producing contractions of significant and regular value. Much to my surprise my attempts worked- contractions started! I resisted sleep and sat up on the couch jotting down the times of each contraction peek in my current read, Omnivore’s Dilemma. At five minutes apart my contractions were lasting anywhere from 30-90 seconds yet I wasn’t entirely sold that I was in labor until I sat, feeling, for nearly two hours. When two hours came and went I decided that I had better start checking off my short list of last minute to-dos: shave legs, put bag by the door, make an ipod playlist…

At 12 pm I joined Cade in bed surrendering to the possibility that this was it- my body actually knew how to invite a baby into the world all by itself and I needed to get some sleep. At 12:30 I was jolted awake by a feeling that a thick senseless balloon in my gut had just been jabbed with a dull knife. No pain, just breaking water. My arm reached across to Cade while my lower half remained motionless, and I said, “My water just broke.” Then with one swift nearly graceful movement I turned my awkward pregnant protrusion and I stood. The gravity flooded water to the carpet and immediately my contractions went from moderate to serious. Water seeped out with every step, every word, every laugh. Laugh? Yes, laugh. Laughs of relief, laugh of joy, and laughs at Cade whose response to my water-broke declaration was, “Should I call the ambulance?”

Click here to read the rest of Ashley’s story.

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image via Mary Ruffle (it has nothing to do with the post, but I thought the soda cans were so pretty!)

THE SHORT AND SWEET:

Baby girl was born on April 22, 2009 at 9:42pm, after a half hour of labor. Place of birth was marked by the large stain on the antique oriental rug in our living room. Time of birth was estimated by the 911 operator who received our call at 9:44pm, just after the birth. Mom and baby were transported to the hospital to recover, where they were met by dad (after he dropped off big sister Mira at the grandparents). Mom’s recovery was complicated by blood loss, and eventually involved five days at the hospital, two blood transfusions, a CAT scan, loads of IV fluids and iron, a visit from a neurologist, and gobs of painkillers. Eventually the headache has come under control (with the expectation that it will go for good in a few days), and we all went home a happy family. No babies or moms were ever in any serious risk during the above proceedings.

THE GORY DETAILS (not for the faint of heart!):

THE BUILD-UP: Only existed in retrospect, but was not obvious at the time. For the week prior, mom had been feeling fairly uncomfortable, but not painful, Braxton-Hicks contractions, at regular 10 minute internals, on and off. After the first day we packed everything for the hospital, fully expecting to go in the middle of the night. Of course mom slept like a log, that night and every night that week. The next doctor’s appointment was Thursday, April 23. Official due date was April 28. Click here to read the rest of Rebecca’s story.

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My Dear Emma,

I have never been a brave person. In my entire life, I can probably count on one hand the number of actual risks I’ve ever taken.  Anything I’ve done that people might say seemed brave or required some courage is probably just a matter of perspective- it likely didn’t seem hard or scary to me, or I wouldn’t have done it.

But all that changed the day I met you. You, my beautiful, amazing second daughter, were only with me for 36 weeks.  And saying I met you is something of a misnomer; your precious little heart had stopped beating probably 16 hours before I delivered you.  But your presence in my life, for those wonderful 36 weeks and the ways that you still impact me on a daily basis, changed me in profound, surprisingly wonderful ways.  You made me be brave; I had to find courage in the worst moments of my life to do all the things required of me after losing you.  And I’ve had to be brave to keep living, keep loving, keep moving forward since you left.  Someday I will be able to thank you face-to-face for making me a better person (and I cannot wait for that day!) but for now, this letter will have to do. Click here to read the rest of Kara’s letter.

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image by Miles of Light (via Design Crush)

After two years of marriage, a heart-wrenching miscarriage, and a delightful year of “trying”, my husband and I found ourselves on the squealing end of the at-home pregnancy test.

I work full-time in business. Demanding, but whose career isn’t? Determined to work as hard as I did prior to being nauseous and tired, I found myself a bit stressed and hurried but somehow hopeful that things would settle down. For a few weeks, they didn’t quite and I was actually kind of okay with it. That’s how I rolled.

Then I fell. The baby was fine. But the non-alcoholic beer I was holding at the time fell as well and my knee somehow found its way to a shard of glass that cut the Patellar tendon. I didn’t know it at the time but a nurse at the party (of course it had to happen at a party) insisted not only that I go to the emergency room, but that I allow the slight but strong elite runner hosting the party, and another friend carry my 5 1/2 month pregnant arse to the car. Humiliated, I let them.

By the way, non-alcoholic beer smells the same as regular beer when you’re pregnant, soaking in it and sitting in the emergency room.

Click here to read more about Sharon’s adventure.

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THEATER OF LIFE

Act 1: Getting Started
In the wee hours of the morning, I woke because my cotton panties had soaked through. Nothing more than that; no dramatic gush; but they were wet. I managed to go back to sleep for a bit, but excitement had its way with me and I headed downstairs at three AM.

This was Friday, June 11th, and my baby, gender unknown, had a due date of Saturday, June 12th. This was my first. My pregnancy had been a beautiful, blissful, trouble-free one. We were expecting an equally smooth delivery at our home with the help of midwives from Choice. We felt like our entire community was almost as excited about our baby’s arrival as we were. I had a few more projects I needed to pass on to the office before I took maternity leave. I barely finished my email before I had to head back upstairs and wake Chris, my husband, to time suddenly intense contractions (or surges, as we had learned to call them in Hypnobirthing, our birthing method).

We had been told to call our midwives once my surges were ten minutes apart, so they would have as much notice as possible to join us. However, once we began timing them, we discovered to our amazement that they were already only four minutes apart. Chris immediately called one of our three midwives, and we let them know we were doing fine but to come as soon as they could.
Click here to read more of Sommer’s story.

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In December in Budapest, it’s cold. I mean, really cold. And on December 5th 2001, the roads were snowy and ice hung from the trees. I was 9 months and 10 days pregnant with my first child. A girl we had named Reagan. It was a good pregnancy. I took yoga, ate well (and plenty), and loved being pregnant. But like all overdue moms, I was ready.

Click here to read more of Jade’s story.

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Eight months old.

I remember the moment I knew that I was pregnant. It was late January of last year and I was in Atlanta with my husband and our then 2 year old daughter, Adriana. We had gone for the weekend to take her to the zoo and aquarium. I must have only been 3 or 4 weeks along, but I remembered that sick feeling in my stomach and I just knew. I kind of laughed about it with our friends that had joined us but I’m not sure if they believed me and I think my husband was in denial. I had no idea that the next time we would go to Atlanta would be when our new baby was only 7 weeks old….and we would be taking her to see a specialist.

Click here to read the rest of Jessica’s baby story.

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I enjoyed a blissfully smooth pregnancy. I was spared morning sickness and food aversions, gained a healthful but modest amount of weight, and swam laps up until two days before I delivered. Everything was going wonderfully to plan; I couldn’t help but assume that my delivery would follow suit.

Which of course meant that it didn’t.

Click here to read more of Christine’s story.

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June’s Birth Story

June 7, 2010

My hospital ID bracelet. I'm officially in labor.

Today, Flora June Blair is one month old. I can hardly believe it. What was our family like before June arrived? I don’t even remember. To mark the day, I wanted to write down her birth story before I forget the details.

Click here if you’d like to read June’s story.

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Two weeks ago, between photoshoots in New York and Australia, Wendy from Blue Lily flew in from California for a photoshoot with June.

Wendy is all about color. And I’m a color addict too. So it was a good fit.

Wendy came in with armloads of props and equipment, assessed the light in the house and got right to work. She picked up June and rocked her to sleep. She kept a white-noise app at the ready in case the baby woke. She was super speedy. And clearly a master.

We have never had newborn portraits taken before so I was fascinated with the process. Plus Wendy herself is super-interesting so I kept chatting her up. Finally, I had to hole-up in the office because I was afraid of distracting her while she worked.

While I was keeping busy in the office, Wendy finished up the backdrop shots and tried snapping June in various colorful places around the house. She kept these shots a surprise and it was so fun to see them when she sent the finished photos. This bookshelf shot is terrific.

What do you think about this image? June is so embryo-like. And that bowl was a gift from Ben Blair. It’s my favorite bowl.

Just as Wendy finished clearing up all the photo-shoot-accessories-and-equipment, the rest of my kids came home from their various schools. Although it was really just a Baby June shoot, Wendy graciously snapped some photos of all the kids together at my request. The all-kid shots are so full of energy. Ben Blair and I can’t stop grinning at them.

This last one is perfection — I think it totally captures the craziness-but-happiness that is our household:

What do you think? Will June survive this big family? Have you ever had a newborn photoshoot?

P.S. — If you’re hoping to have a newborn photo session, try to get it scheduled before the baby actually arrives (I highly recommend Blue Lily). I hear the shots are best if taken within the first two weeks of the birth. And don’t worry if it seems too overwhelming to have a photographer at your house when the baby is so young. I was totally in my pjs during the whole shoot. Wendy didn’t mind at all.

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Birth Photos. Sort of.

May 28, 2010

Did I tell you we had a photographer arranged for June’s birth? And did I tell you that the first time we met in real life was in the hospital room while I was mostly naked? And I did I further tell you that the birth was so speedy that the baby arrived before the photographer?

It’s true. It’s all true.

The photographer’s name is Michelle. She’s one-half of the talented husband-wife duo that makes up Revert Photo. Michelle sent the birth photos yesterday (I guess technically they are the after-the-birth photos). I think they turned out wonderfully and I’m so glad we have a record of that night. I’m including a few of my favorites here.

Glistening eyes after receiving eyedrops.

Why am I still in agony? Because those after-birth contractions hurt like the devil. Like. The. Devil.

We’ve never had a photographer at a birth before, and thought it was great to have someone there recording everything so that Ben Blair and I could love on the baby and experience what was happening. What about you? Did you have a photographer at your child’s birth? Would you if you could do it again?

P.S. — Michelle is a great photographer. If you’re in the Denver area, you should totally hire her — she will put you at ease instantly. I can’t wait to work with her again. When I’m fully dressed.

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Baby Girl

May 17, 2010

I can’t get enough of this baby girl. I am in love.

On Friday night I had a tear-filled freakout — a week had already passed since her birth and despite my best efforts time was slipping away from me. Patient Ben Blair (who is as used to up-and-down hormones as anyone is likely to become) calmed me down and took more photos of June. She’s maybe 7 pounds now (still super tiny), but I can visibly see her growth and it keeps making me cry.

Things June is really good at:
Nursing & pooping
Randomly flinging her arms about
Startling
Furrowing her brow
Generally looking like a very concerned old man

Do any of your babies have that old man look? I find it charming. Every time I have a baby I think: Wow. He/She looks just like my Dad! And then I remember that my Dad was bald, chubby and wrinkled and that many new babies look just like my Dad. : )

June is a little reincarnation of Mike Stanley, if only for a little bit or from a certain angle. My Dad didn’t get to meet my kids — he passed away when I was pregnant with Ralph, my oldest child. So it’s nice to be reminded of him and feel connected to him after each birth.

Yay for babies!

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image via Robot-Heart and Mary Ruffle

It was just like on TV. Between each swell in pressure, each overwhelming urge to bring my daughter into this world that very moment, I contemplated my situation with the detached fascination of a spectator. Laboring mother barricades herself in the bathroom until harried father drags her into the front seat of a blue Buick. We have time, he insists. She shrieks in protest. The grandmother pops up in the backseat and the three begin a sensible debate about speed limit laws, punctuated by an occasional wail from the mother. Cue the laugh track.

I had just made a wisecrack about police officers when another contraction jolted me back to reality, back to the baby who was determined to make her entrance. I can’t fight it anymore. She’s coming. She’s coming. The world faded away as I reached down to cradle her head emerging from my body. Beside me, my husband was careening through the streets. I could hear my mother talking to him, perhaps asking me a question — I wasn’t sure. Come to me, my child. Her body slipped into my hands, and I brought her into my embrace. Why hello, my daughter. My beautiful, perfect daughter. This moment is for us.

We were five minutes away from the hospital.

When I tell others that my second child was born in the car, they never know quite how to respond. Oops, they joke, or else they pat my arm pityingly. I am not sure what to say either. Should I tell them it was one of the proudest moments of my life? That I would not have had her any other way? Am I allowed to admit this?

My first labor was the complete opposite experience. My husband and I had planned a tranquil, intimate homebirth and had hugged each other in excitement when my water broke with a gush in the middle of the night. But the contractions fizzled out too quickly; and after days of prayer, anguish, and fervent discussion with our midwives, we transferred to the hospital. By the time I entered my laboring room, I felt defeated: my body had given up on this birth story, and so had I. I lay there, numb both physically and emotionally, and waited for my firstborn to make her appearance.

My hemorrhage shortly after her birth was a woefully apt finale to the 72-hour labor. I was grateful to be in the capable hands of doctors; and yet even as they reached inside me, scrubbing me out, working frantically to save my life, I could not help but think: My body is no longer my own. I have no dignity left. I have nothing. I felt foolish for ever thinking I was capable.

In time, however, I realized that this birth story was every bit a worthy initiation into motherhood as the one I had envisioned. Whatever patience, whatever sacrifice, whatever loss of body and dignity I endured during labor were merely my first badges among many, and I proudly added more: sleepless nights, endless hours spent simply staring into my child’s eyes, countless kisses and hugs and tears. Becoming a mother, I discovered, demanded more love, pain, joy, and tenacity than I’d even fathomed possible. And so when I learned I was pregnant again, I resolved to treasure every moment of this child’s birth no matter what the circumstances.

True, I hadn’t expected those circumstances to be quite so unusual — and yet somehow, they were exactly right. As the car pulled into the hospital parking lot, I brought my new daughter to my breast, marveling that I had been given yet another tale to pass down to my children. My first child was borne out of my weakness, my second out of my strength, and both experiences are equally precious in my eyes. I can no longer tell one story without also telling the other, for together they answer my deepest questions about motherhood. What can I expect from becoming a mother? Disappointment. Frustration. Surprise. Joy. Love. Love. Love. Do I have what it takes? Sometimes yes, so much so that you will astound yourself. And sometimes no, this job will ask for more than you can give. What does it cost? All of you. And you will never regret it.

From Kristen Frantz.

PS — I love this writeup from Jennifer Torres Siders. And this pregnancy survival guide by Go Go Abigail (submitted by Jill Skousen).

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Note from Design Mom: throughout my pregnancy, I’ve been posting advice, memories and stories about pregnancy, childbirth, adoption and growing a family on Wednesdays. I just had my baby and am taking a blogging break for a week or so. I’ve received so many wonderful stories and thought it would be great to post as many as I can during this little “maternity leave.” You can find all the stories in this series by clicking here.

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My pregnancy happened by surprise. I was twenty-five, dating my boyfriend for a little over a year, and getting ready to finish my BA. The last thing I planned on was getting pregnant. But two little lines on a pregnancy test abruptly changed my life FOREVER. When I saw the results my heart sank, and I uttered “Oh my God…” All these thoughts came rushing at once: What do I do? My life is OVER! How do we tell our parents? We are not financially prepared for this! And then there was a thought. The thought. I could get an abortion. And yet, despite my liberal views I knew I couldn’t do it. I knew abortion would be something I would regret my entire life. And I am so glad I chose her. Not a day goes by that I am not thankful for my daughter.

Unfortunately in the last four weeks of my pregnancy I was diagnosed with pre-eclampsia. My doctor prescribed total bedrest and a scheduled induction at thirty-nine weeks. At that point I was so swollen, tired, and uncomfortable bed rest seemed like a three week spa vacation!

The night before my delivery her father and I could hardly sleep. All I could think was, “Tomorrow you will meet your baby! Tomorrow you are going to have an actual human come out of your body! Holy crap! Come. out. of. my. body.  ACK!”

At 6AM, November 11th, 2002 I was induced. Some parts were good (hearing the gallop of her heart beat.) Some parts were not so good (the attempts to place a catheter between her head and my uterus before I got my epidural. YOWZA!)  But then I got the news from my doctor, my baby was showing signs of distress. They would have to attempt the fetal catheter again to monitor her heart rate more closely. And just as they inserted the catheter it happened. Her heart rate dropped, and continued to drop. That heart beat that I found so soothing before was now bringing me to tears. It was so slow. That gallop had turned into trot.

Alarms were buzzing, people rushing into my room, my doctor yanking wires out of monitors to transfer me into the operating room for an emergency c-section, and all I could do was sob and think, “I have come too far to lose my baby!”  Her father stood there in shock as a nurse shoved a smock into his hands so he could join me in the OR. My mom, a nurse, tried to soothe me words of encouragement. My dad just burst into tears.

My doctor, God bless her, stayed calm through the entire ordeal. And after what seemed like forever my new daughter was pulled out from my stomach at 1:40PM. All I could think was, “Please let me hear her scream. Please let me hear her scream. If she screams it means she’s breathing.” And scream she did! The baby that was so distressed scored a ten on her APGAR. She was healthy; she was perfect. And she was a blessing. She may not have been planned, but my little Madeleine Kay was one of the best “things” to ever happen to me. For that I am thankful. Thankful for her and thankful I didn’t make a different choice.

From Yvette Shaheen of Home Sweet Home.

PS — Natalina wrote a sweet letter to her son on his first birthday. And here’s a letter from Clara to her daughter at one-month-old.

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Note from Design Mom: throughout my pregnancy, I’ve been posting advice, memories and stories about pregnancy, childbirth, adoption and growing a family on Wednesdays. I just had my baby and am taking a blogging break for a week or so. I’ve received so many wonderful stories and thought it would be great to post as many as I can during this little “maternity leave.” You can find all the stories in this series by clicking here.

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image via Not Martha (go see, there are directions to make these pretty felt flowers)

It was June of 2008. Zuzu’s due date came and went, which was fine with me, frankly, because we weren’t ready. We didn’t set up her crib until three days after her due date, and five days after her due date we did a cathartic attic and closet cleaning. I wasn’t really all that uncomfortable, even though it was my third pregnancy. The most uncomfortable thing, really, was when people would ask me when I was going to be induced, and then would be shocked and dismayed when I told them I didn’t have any plans for induction, but would let her be born when she was ready.

Saturday, June 14, ten days after her due date, I lay in bed at 5:00 a.m. and realized I had been having regular, mild, contractions for a while. I got out of bed half an hour later and started doing the puttering that needs to happen when you’re going to have a baby that day, like making sure to pack my eyeglasses and a comfy pillow. I called our friend and neighbor Susannah, who would be watching the boys, to tell her that today was finally the day (the waiting had been much worse for Susannah than it had been for me, who had been afraid to leave her house, worried that she’d miss my call).

At 8:00 we walked over to Susannah’s to drop off the boys. I was still feeling fine; the contractions were regular and stronger, but not bad. Susannah said, “You don’t look like you’re in labor, you look like you could go out and have breakfast somewhere!” We walked back home, got to our front step, and Dave turned to me soberly and said, “Um. Jul? I was thinking of putting a coat of varnish on the floor on the back porch.” Which might sound crazy, but made perfect sense to me. We had been renovating our back porch, Dave had sanded the floor, and it seemed like the day when we’d all be out of the house all day would be the perfect day to put on a coat of varnish. I occupied myself by grabbing a mason jar and some scissors, since I had noticed there were some flowers in the garden in bloom that would look nice in a vase. While I was out there, wading through the greenery, Adriane, another friend and neighbor, walked by.

Julie: Today’s the day!
Adriane: What? Really? What are you doing? Shouldn’t you be going to the hospital?
Julie: I’m putting some flowers in a vase.
Adriane: Where’s Dave?
Julie: He’s putting a coat of varnish on the back porch floor.
Adriane: [walks to the back porch, sees Dave through the open window] Dave! There’s blasé, and there’s blasé!

Which is still one of my favorite memories of that day, because it reminds me of how much I love our neighbors and our neighborhood, and how relaxed and happy the morning was.

We got to the hospital at 9:30, and then: well, nothing. I had contractions, and they got stronger, but didn’t get any closer together. Henry’s labor had been 6 hours, and Eli’s had been 3, so I really had been expecting the third labor to last an hour or so once we got moving along. I really concentrated on opening things up during each contraction, but I was 6 centimeters dilated, and two hours later, I was “almost 7.” We called Susannah at noon to tell her things were taking a while. In the meantime, between contractions, Dave and I got to talk to each other in a way that never really happens (that is, we talked without children climbing all over us in the middle of the conversation). We talked about work, about the boys, about Henry starting kindergarten, and about what color to paint our house. I took a nap.

At 3:30, Leah, my midwife, checked me and I was 7-and-a-half centimeters dilated, and frustrated. A nurse mentioned something called “AROM” which stands for “artificial rupture of membranes,” meaning they would break my water for me, since it hadn’t broken yet and the thinking was that, once that happened, the birth would be fairly quick. They left Dave and me to think about that, but we both felt pretty strongly that we wanted Zuzu to be born on her own time, like we’d let the boys be born, and it didn’t seem fair to speed things along just because we were worried about the boys, and because I was getting tired of being in labor. At this point Dave also said, “You know, you seem to be doing a lot better when everyone leaves you alone.” So when the nurse and Leah came back in, I told them we didn’t want to do AROM, and that I also wanted to be left alone.

They left, and I looked at Dave and said, “Ok, I’m going to make this happen.” I went into the shower, relaxed, and did what I could to move things along naturally (i.e., what is commonly known as “nipple stim,” an awkward but effective method of speeding up labor). I wasn’t really aware of what was happening, but Dave (who was in the other room) realized the contractions were coming very fast now, and he got up to go get a nurse. At which point my water broke, and, for the first time in all my births, I really felt the urge to push – but I knew that I couldn’t, because I was standing up and couldn’t bend over to catch her. So I held her in with all my might, and screamed, “Dave! Water broke! Baby coming NOW!” (Or, at least, that’s what I meant to scream, it probably just sounded more like one long shrieked vowel.) Dave was there instantly, and I have such a strong memory of his giant hand under me, ready to catch the baby. Then there were a million nurses in the bathroom, and Dave got out of the way and turned the water off.

“I have to push!” I yelled, and I did, and her head came out. Seven nurses yelled in unison, “Where’s Leah?” and someone else said, “She’s coming!” Then Leah was there, saying, “Let’s get you to the bed.” A nurse said, “The head’s out.” “Oh!” said Leah. “Can I just push her out?” I begged. And Leah said yes, and I did, and Leah caught slippery Zu and handed her to me, and I waddled with her to the bed so I could birth the placenta.

Dave looked shocked and amused. He leaned in and whispered, “That was exactly like that scene in ‘Monty Python’s Meaning of Life’ where the Catholic woman gives birth while doing dishes.” I nodded and whispered back, “I know!” Zuzu was clearly quite pleased with herself, having her birth just the way she planned. She was calm and started nursing right away. I asked if I could tell people it was a water birth. I noticed how nice and clean the bed was compared to my other births – it’s definitely tidier to have your baby in the shower.

It was a long labor, but a very short birth: the time from when my water broke to when she was born was probably about 40 seconds. I still don’t know how all those nurses got there so fast. And now I’m pregnant with my fourth and I don’t know what to expect for this one’s birth, but I do know that I want to let her be born the way she chooses to, just like the others.

From Julie of World of Julie.

PS — Here’s a great story with a super short labor, a birthing skirt and some mooing from Rebecca Blythe.

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Note from Design Mom: throughout my pregnancy, I’ve been posting advice, memories and stories about pregnancy, childbirth, adoption and growing a family on Wednesdays. I just had my baby and am taking a blogging break for a week or so. I’ve received so many wonderful stories and thought it would be great to post as many as I can during this little “maternity leave.” You can find all the stories in this series by clicking here.

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A Difficult Pregnancy

Since I was young, I’ve always dreamed of my pregnancy. When I was little, I planned to get married at 25 and have my first child at 26. And, oh: I also wanted to have a cute black pregnancy dress. But little did I know that it doesn’t always turn out as you plan.

I finished school at 26, but after working for a year I felt like I needed a change. So in February 2008, I got a new job.  The same week that I got the new job, I learned that I was pregnant and that my father had pancreatic cancer. They gave him 2 months to live. He lived for 3 ½ months. Needless to say, my pregnancy was going to be rough. My fiancé and I were supposed to get married in Fall 2008, but because of my pregnancy and my father’s condition, we decided to move it to June 2008.

The whole time my father was sick, I was sure he was going to get over his sickness; after all, he was still young at 55. He was also very determined to live, so I thought that he was actually going to be in the 5% of survivors. But since he had a bypass surgery (that we later learned wasn’t supposed to be done), his only chance to live normally disappeared and his sickness became worse. During his fight with cancer, I was in denial of his possible death. I thought that he would get to meet my baby and that his sickness would just turn out to have been a nightmare. Every time it got worse I thought that a miracle would come…but it never did. He died on Father’s Day in June 2008, just 6 days before we were supposed to get married. We postponed the wedding one month earlier because of my father’s condition.

All the while he was sick I blocked out my emotions because I didn’t want my baby to feel my sadness. It only worked when I saw my father, though, as it was only in front of him that I didn’t cry. Needless to say, my first black pregnancy dress was for my father’s funeral. I then spent the rest of my five months of pregnancy grieving my father with my mother, two sisters, and my brother.

Delivery Time

The delivery came one day early. I wanted to have a natural childbirth and I was prepared for the pain. Although I have to admit, it was much harder than I thought! It started at 2 A.M. with mild contractions. At my doctor’s appointment that afternoon, they became stronger. Since it was her last shift of the week, I was determined to deliver that night.

5 P.M.: My fiancé, my mom and I arrived at the hospital where they confirmed to me that I was in labor and 2 cm dilated. On my delivery plan, I asked to be able to move freely. Do you know what I did with my freedom? I took a bath as a pain reliever that didn’t work, but instead just distracted me for half an hour. Then I did these two things: I lay on my left side on the bed and sat on the toilet because my baby was so low that these two positions were the only ones that worked for me.

10 P.M.: I needed to push. The same nurse that told me earlier (on the phone, when we were on our way to the hospital) that I wasn’t in labor and to take a bath and a Tylenol told me that I was 9 cm dilated…I was so relieved because I couldn’t take any more pain. But when my doctor came with the delivery team, she told me that I was only at 6 cm…

Gosh…this is the first time I was considering epidural, but I told myself I would continue a bit longer, even if I couldn’t take it anymore. About 5 hours later, I was finally able to push. Oh! What a relief to push! At that point I couldn’t feel anything: no contractions, nothing.

5 A.M.: After 1 hour of pushing, I delivered my baby at 5:00 in the morning, 27 hours after my first contraction.

My baby came out, but also not as I had planned. He was immediately taken to the respiratory station because he couldn’t breathe. He had swallowed almost ½ cup of a mix of his meconium and amniotic fluid. During that 1½ minutes or so that he couldn’t breathe, I didn’t understand what was happening and I couldn’t see anything since I was on all fours and my doctor told me not to move. I remember asking several times: “Can I turn, can I see?” but with no response. I realized then that something was wrong. I looked at my mother and fiancé and both of them looked really worried. I asked my mom if my baby was a boy or a girl and she said: “It’s a boy, but he needs to breathe”. That’s when I asked my father for help: Please help me, I can’t take it anymore, I cannot lose somebody else. During that 1½ minutes I told myself that even if I had to lose my baby, it wouldn’t affect me, just like I told myself when my baby was inside of me and when my father was sick…That terrible thought passed after that terrible minute.

When he was relatively stabilized, they showed me my son, lying in his clear box, but so quickly that I don’t even remember seeing him. He was then gone for further examinations. When it was finally time to meet him, he was in the nursery room. I was so happy to finally see him after all this time. He stayed at the nursery for about 24 hours, but it felt like a week. Two days after delivery, my baby was healthy and even if it took a long time for my stitches to heal, I’m so happy that my son is healthy now. I love him very much and I believe he has at least ¼ of my father in himself. I have been with him everyday and I cannot imagine my life without him.

From Frederique Doyon-Thibeault of Frederique ID.

PS — Here a really neat series on adoption from Bekah Ray. And here’s a waterbirth story from Emily Nevius.

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Note from Design Mom: throughout my pregnancy, I’ve been posting advice, memories and stories about pregnancy, childbirth, adoption and growing a family on Wednesdays. I just had my baby and am taking a blogging break for a week or so. I’ve received so many wonderful stories and thought it would be great to post as many as I can during this little “maternity leave.” You can find all the stories in this series by clicking here.

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