Monday, July 23, 2012

Pics or It Didn't Happen

After almost 2 weeks of prodromal labor, Tuesday July 17 I started having some contractions that seemed more business-like. Time for the last belly shot.

two days shy of 40 weeks
And a last minute trip to the library to stock up on reading material. It takes a lot of novels to nurse a newborn. My mom arrived just before dinner time and after the kids were in bed I made her go walk the mall with me while Brad manned the homefront. I contemplated calling and telling him I'd had the baby in babyGap and had thus won us free clothing for life but I thought that might be a little far-fetched. A girl can dream though, right?

When we got home I debated about whether I should take a Tylenol PM and drink some wine so I could rest up before the show got on the road, but Brad and my mom were nerrrrrrrvous about how last time had gone down (insta-active labor+no midwife=my mother catching Dominic while I stood at the bathroom sink) so I agreed to call the midwife. She said she'd start driving my way and rest on the couch so I would have no pressure to produce a baby but Brad and my mom could breathe a little more easily.

I went to lay down for a little but was having trouble sitting still during the contractions when my water broke at about 11 pm. I tried to get Brad to get me a Chux pad but he spent the time while my water dribbled out wandering around muttering things about who invented Chux pads, who is Chuck, where are they, are they inside something, etc etc while I called out to him that he was "too late, you're too late, I'm sloshing water all over your floor!!" After we got things mopped up I changed into my labor gear. And grabbed a popsicle. We were in business.

I thought. I labored a bit poolside while waiting for the water to cool down and eventually my constant yawning got me sent back to bed. After trying to sleep a bit and feeling like I could not relax my way through the contractions I went to see if the tub was ready. And gloriously, it was!

I labored in there but I was still able to talk and laugh in between my contractions, so I figured that I still had awhile, even though the contractions themselves were getting more and more intense.

I had a few contractions that seemed to come right on top of each other, and I once again experienced a splitting of my part of me was in the throes of labor while the other part was observing in a rather detached but interested manner. The observer watched the laborer and thought, "She is wimping out. Ten minutes ago she was still chatting in between contractions and now she thinks she's in transition, but it's clearly too early for that."

Guess The Observer was wrong, because during the next contraction I announced "I cannot do this any.more! I can't! I can't!" At which point I saw Brad grin at my mother and say, "Better go wake up Gianna, it's baby time!" Apparently I've become predictable.

couldn't have done it without the turtle. And Brad.
After that I experienced a strange popping sensation that I am still not sure what it was...maybe the baby's head moving wayyyy down? Not sure. At any rate, in that moment I felt a lot of pressure and felt that I absolutely, one hundred percent, would die if I did not get to the bathroom and push out the baby. So I did.

As I marched myself to the bathroom and parked on the potty, I heard my entourage trailing behind me and my mother saying, "She's getting on that toilet again!" (Right before Dominic's precipitous arrival I kept sitting on the toilet...a sure sign I was getting pushy) In nothing short of a miracle, everyone managed to get into our teeny tiny bathroom with me. My midwife knelt next to the toilet, gently saying, "I see you are feeling pushy....." Despite having not checked me a single time, she had her gloves on and was ready to catch....she truly knows her craft.

"Tell me I'm almost done!" I demanded. She replied that yes, in fact, the baby's head was right there, did I want to reach down and feel?

"NO! I just want her OUT!" I said while simultaneously reaching down and feeling the unmistakeable sensation of the soft, wet top of a baby's head. Our midwife started to voice concern that it was chilly in the bathroom but Brad was already plugging in the space heater.

As I stood up and grabbed on to the bathroom sink and pushed I was being rather noisy...let's call it a tribal yell. Later I asked Gianna if she was glad she got to see the baby come out or if it was too scary and she said, "Umm a little bit scary but mostly proud."

I think I pushed for less than ten minutes, but really I didn't push as much as I just submitted to what my body was already doing. In that moment, the rational part of me was thinking I should try to slow things down otherwise I would surely tear but the rest of me could only think "GET.BABY.OUT. Then we can snuggle up in bed and SLEEP." As the baby came sliding out, my mom reached in and unwrapped the cord from around the baby's neck and I heard the baby squawking so I reached down and our midwife handed her to me up between my legs.

I was so thrilled to be finished with labor and to be holding our new baby...there is nothing in the world that compares to that moment you first get your arms around a warm, wet, wriggly baby. I kept saying "She's here, she's fine, she's fine" as our midwife piled towels on top of the baby to keep her warm. Meanwhile Brad was trying to dig under the towels, saying, "How do you KNOW?? I need to see...boy or girl???" When he finally got to the bottom of the pile and peeked between the baby's legs he said, "Oh my gosh...a girl!!! What???"

We moved the party to our bedroom where I was able to sit on my all-important birth sheets and wait for the placenta.

Other than the truly awful after-pains, the first couple of hours passed blissfully as the baby nursed and Giaana and Dominic marveled over their new sister while I enjoyed my desired post-partum meal (sesame bagel with cream cheese and a glass of apple juice). I am still amazed (and very thankful) that I did not tear at all despite the quick exit.

Finally it was time to cut the cord (my mother did the honors after Gianna backed out...Dominic jumped at the chance but the thought of a two year old wielding sharp scissors near my new baby was a little concerning) and get length and weight measurements. I am very, very glad she arrived a day "early" as she was 9 pounds 4 ounces and 22.25 inches long...just a quarter inch shy of Gianna's mammoth 22.5 inches.

another big bebe
I am once again filled with joy as I look back on such a peaceful, safe, lovely birth. It is truly a grace and I am so thankful to God for the blessing of being able to welcome our babies at home. We took our time with her name, wanting to be sure. We settled on Pia Catherine, Pia being the feminine form of Pio, after Padre Pio. "Pia" means "loving" and is one of the three attributes given to the Blessed Virgin at the end of the Salve Regina (Hail, Holy Queen.) Catherine after St. Catherine of Siena.

ready to turn in
Gianna keeps exclaiming, "Mom!! It's a girl! It's the best surprise!" and Dominic has become quite proprietary, informing me, "Stop! You walk with yo new baby!" if I so much as try to go the bathroom without her. I realize that we are totally honeymooning right now; my mother stayed for the first few days, running the house in her very capable hands while I rested and nursed non-stop. Brad's family came bearing gifts and lots and lots of food over the weekend and friends have stopped by with more food and well-wishes. Brad is off from work for a glorious two weeks.

big brother

 Eventually, real life will hit and the kids will get cranky and slightly jealous and the baby will develop some sort of strange rash that will compel me to cut out strange dietary elements with the fervor of Captain Ahab and the house will get semi-trashed and Dominic will all but completely forget to use the potty but for now, I am just basking in the new baby glow (and gobs and gobs of prolactin) and feeling incredibly, incredibly blessed. Thank you to all who prayed for us and sent their congratulations!
snug with Grandma
O clemens, O pia, O dulcis, Virgo Maria!
Ora pro nobis sancta Dei Genitrix,
Ut digni efficiamur promissionibus Christi.

(Oh clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary!
Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God,
That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ)


  1. Congratulations! She is beautiful!

    Your second stage labor sounds exactly like mine...the consuming thought in my head is always "GET IT OUT GET IT OUT GET IT OUT." :P

  2. I burst out laughing at the caption with the turtle!!|

    Amazing birth, and lovely family <3 Congratulations.

  3. WooHoo! Well done! She is beautiful (and you look marvelous, even immediately postpartum). Also, kudos on getting the birth story posted so quickly whilst taking care of a newborn. I am quite impressed!

  4. hmm how weird is to join Gianna and say I'm proud to? very? whatev.

    amazing. you are seriously incredible.

    I might have to reread later bc I'm a weirdo.

    So many congrats!! Hopefully no dietary hell to follow ---- LOVE her name. I'll try not to steal in the coming years. try.

  5. Congrats! I'm sliiiiiightly to moderately jealous of your homebirths. And love love love the name.

  6. Awesome, awesome, awesome! And I'm totally jealous of all these photos you have of the process. I am photoless until the after "party".


  7. Congratulations! Beautiful family and love your new little girl's name.

  8. Grace sent me over and I must say, after reading this incredible birth story, you are my hero. Congrats to you and your beautiful family!

  9. Also traffic from Grace's. :)

    I was captivated by your home birth story. It sounded so uncomplicated and unhurried. I really, really want to try it next time. Which brings me to this: we are apparently neighbors of a sort. I'm a Westsider. I'd love to hear more about your midwife. Like who she is, and how you got hooked up with her, etc. Some day when you've time between nursing, that is.

    Congratulations to your family! The name you chose is just lovely.

  10. Found you from Grace's blog too. Am so impressed by your birth story, and yes also by the fact that you somehow manage to look incredible in labor and immediately pp. so NOT fair. It's a good thing I don't know you IRL bc I'm due with #7 around Christmas and am in LOVE with your daughter's name. Padre Pio is One of my fav saints.

  11. Love your beautiful, blessed and real birth story. May the good Lord bless your adorable family this Christmastide and New Year.
    Pax. Lena

    1. p.s. i birth at home with gregorian chant, too. ;) i'm a new follower. i look forward to browsing around.

  12. What a beautiful birth story! Makes me think I might be able to do a second one someday if things can go like this! :) (My birth story took about 70 hours to play out... posterior baby, no fun!)