This is the story of how we met our baby. It’s not too gross (I left those parts out), but it does include Edward Cullen.
Everleigh’s Birth Story. A Home Water Birth.
December 13th 2010, four days before due date…
Preston and I complete our last childbirth class and we leave feeling excited and as prepared as we’d ever feel. We are officially ready for baby Chambers!
December 14th 2010, three days before due date…
Preston informs me that our unexpected houseguest (and at this point, quite unwelcome houseguest, hello, we’re planning a home birth!) will be out of the house along with his belongings by 10:00am tomorrow. I kept the thoughts to myself about all the bad things I’d do to him if he was still in my home at 10:01am, though I may have let a death glare or two escape, just to make my emotions be known.
December 15th 2010, two days before due date…
10:00am: I wake up to a guest-free house and feeling contractions that were averaging 6-7 minutes apart. At this point it was kind of exciting to be feeling contractions involving some discomfort since every practice contraction I’d felt prior to real labor consisted only of the tight, taut tummy feeling.
In our childbirth classes our midwife encouraged us (the ladies, of course) to relax and rest and eat as much as possible in early labor, (the gentlemen can be put to work at this point), explaining that reserving energy and resting whilst you are still able was a wise idea so your body has the strength it needs to get that baby out when the time comes. She revealed how many women attempt to clean, run errands, do their hair, and take care of last minute business during this time and that many of those women are then completely exhausted when it is time to push. I was one of those women. Thankfully, my “I must get this done now” mentality did not prevent me from having a successful, natural home birth but I am now quite aware of the benefits of reserving energy in those early stages of labor. Next time, I promise I’ll sit on my butt at the first signs of anything remotely similar to a contraction.
10:00am – 5:00pm: I cleaned the entire house. I wasn’t sure it was really labor, but if it was, I’d need a clean home to give birth in! The frequency of the contractions stayed the same, though the intensity steadily increased.
I vacuumed and paused for each contraction. I ate a sandwich, this time following the midwife’s suggestions about eating small meals to keep my energy up. I took a shower at around 4:00pm. I’d heard about the miraculous relaxation powers of water during labor but water was not helpful to me at this time.
Preston was at work that day and was checking in every few hours to see what was new. I didn’t have much to report but at 5:00pm I called him to come home, not because there had been drastic changes, but because it was really starting to hurt and I was feeling a bit crazy being all by myself. He suggested I put on a movie to help distract me, knowing full well I always fall asleep during movies. I put on “Twilight” and laid on the hard floor trying to get lost in the storyline I’d read about and seen on screen countless times before. The calmness I’d imagined I’d feel in early labor was missing and instead I felt like a neurotic, hyper mess. The flat ground felt wonderful on my back during contractions but the second I felt the next one coming I could not do anything but jump up and wiggle around until it passed. Imagine when you cut your finger, or hit your elbow, or stub your toe. Imagine when you do a dance, flapping your arms around until the pain subsides. It was similar to that and I probably looked quite ridiculous.
5:00pm – 9:00pm: Preston arrived home and started setting up our room for the pending birth, even though we didn’t know if this was really it. He hauled the tub upstairs and put the waterproof sheet on the bed. Ick.
The contractions occurred every 5-7 minutes, still slowly becoming more intense.
At our home visit with our midwife a few weeks prior, she had insisted I make a big batch of homemade chicken noodle soup and freeze individual portions, as well as making sure we were well stocked in good nutritious snacks and ingredients so we all had something easy to eat when we became busy with birthing. She called it “labor food”. I snacked on pistachios, pretzels and baby oranges knowing full well I should keep refueling my body. Of course, I was not hungry at all, but Preston knew it was time to thaw out that chicken noodle soup and eat us some labor food, because, probably, maybe, this was labor!
I forced a few bites of that chicken noodle soup as I watched “Twilight” then “New Moon” from the couch. Every contraction compelled me to tense up in a hold-your-breath type manner until it passed. I didn’t give a second thought to the breathing techniques we had practiced.
9:00pm: We spoke with our midwife, desiring her presence to establish what kind of progress I was making, uttering the magic words, “Sena, please come.”
10:00pm: As she promised she would, Sena came, followed by her assistant, Geneva. We learned that I was 100% effaced (smiley face!), the baby was very, very low (happy face!), but only 1cm dilated (sad face). Everyone was surprised that the baby was so low because I hadn’t felt any significant pressure like you’d expect. Even so, the conclusion was made that not much was happening right now and we prepared us for the fact that this might not be ‘it’. I even remember her uttering something about how labor could stop and start, maybe even stopping only to restart again in a week! A WEEK! If I didn’t cry on the outside, at this point I was definitely crying on the inside. How could this be?
With the contractions slowed to 8-10 minutes apart, Sena’s advice was to rest, of course. Rest, eat, relax, sleep and practice the breathing techniques we’d learned.
10:00pm-5:00am: I tried to follow Sena’s instructions. I tried to eat. I tried chugging a glass of wine to help me fall asleep. I tried to relax by focusing on “New Moon” and “Eclipse”. Somehow I ended up on Preston’s side of the bed. He napped while I wiggled in pain, waking to rearrange pillows, encourage me and feed me. It became apparent that I wasn’t going to get any sleep, the pain was just too intense. I clearly remember hearing Edward’s voice as I tried with all my might to relax and focus on my breathing and I consciously acknowledged about how ridiculous that seemed. Vampire Eddie as part of my labor story?! For real?
From this point on, all the way through the rest of my labor, I had it in my head what Sena had said, that this may not be ‘it’. I was in pretty severe pain, and being my first baby I had no idea how much worse it was going to get. The same thought kept repeating itself in my head, “If this isn’t ‘it’, then I’m not sure I can actually do ‘it’.” If this pain was not actually ‘it’, that it would get much worse, I had little faith that I could continue with the un-medicated birth. It was a terrifying thought, one that made me cry, outside and in. Was I foolish for thinking I could handle it?
5:00am: The contractions were so intense, I was anxious and scared and we once again uttered the words, “Sena, please come.” I say “we” but Preston made this call, though I remember the haste and efficiency in which the one-sided conversation went.
5:00am-5:40am: As we waited for Sena to arrive, we had a clear sign that this labor was real. I won’t go into detail because this detail is gross, but I swiftly panicked, cried and pleaded, “I’m scared, I don’t think I can do this, maybe we should just go to the hospital…”
5:40am: Sena arrived, followed by Geneva. From here the memories are blurred, but I have a good set of records and notes to fill in the gaps.
Preston took this time to leave my side to fill the tub. Something, I’m still not clear what, happened whilst trying to fill the tub. There were problems with water pressure. Or something. He and Sena disappeared for what felt like hours, trying to fill up the tub while I lay on my side on the bed, Geneva sitting on the floor at my side. I wasn’t sure I wanted a water birth but I knew I wanted the tub available. However, at some point I told Geneva that I was ready to tell them to forget it, just come back, right now! As if by magic, at almost the exact moment, Preston and Sena reappeared with some kind of tub-filling success stories. I could not care less.
7:42am-8:39am: Contractions were strong. Very strong and very painful and I was still scared to death that this wasn’t actually labor. I transitioned to the tub purely to ease the pain. Our backup midwife, Flame, arrived shortly thereafter.
I gasped by way through contractions that seemed never-ending, completely ignoring everyone’s advice to “breathe”. In the blur that it was, I have distinct memories of looking around the room and wondering why no one was paying me any attention. I had Preston by my side feeding my sips of Recharge between contractions. Geneva was checking her watch, making notes. Sena and Flame were conversing in the distance. No one was even looking at me! By now I had convinced myself that this couldn’t possibly be ‘it’ because my midwife wasn’t even looking at me. If they had time to talk or look at their phones or go downstairs to make breakfast, then surely this was not ‘it’. I was horrified, terrified, so confused. Was I really having a baby or was this a really torturous practice run?
It’s clear now that this is exactly what I had wished for in my birth. The midwives kept their distance, knowing that I was in control, giving me the ability to let me body do what it needed to. They were there for support, guidance and expertise if I needed it, but ultimately, this was a process my body was made for, prepared for and ready to tackle. My body did exactly what it needed to without much prompting. In fact it felt like I had no control whatsoever. I had no power, but all the power. My body knew exactly what to do but my brain was all confused. I had no idea what to expect, how much longer I had, what the next part would feel like…
I kept my eyes closed tight as I labored but I sensed the change from light to dark and back to light again whenever someone passed the small window in our bedroom.
8:39am: The water has broken (in the water)! There must be a baby on the way! Right?
8:39am-9:03am: Apparently, I felt “pushy” and “different”, according to the notes.
9:03am: Apparently I started to push. There were gasps and small squeals as apparently a baby started appearing down there.
“Oh my gosh, I see it!”
“Oh, there’s the head!”
“Geneva, Flame, it’s time to come up, we see some head!”
“I see some blonde hair!”
9:23am: Baby Everleigh Rose Chambers was born.
Like a switch was flipped, the fog of labor instantly lifted and I was finally able to open my eyes and view what was going on around me. I remember saying something to Sena, answering a question, I think, and realizing this was the first time I’d consciously acknowledged her presence since she arrived.
Suddenly everything was clear and I was present again.
9:23am-12:30pm: Preston caught the baby with the help of Sena. Apparently she was quite slippery! She was placed on my chest and we squished her and cooed… I delivered the placenta. Baby Everleigh was inspected for gender verification (she kept those legs closed tight!). I went to the bathroom to prove I could pee with Geneva to keep me company, but couldn’t. I do remember telling her I felt like a rock star, getting a baby out of my body and I think she agreed that it was rock star material. We climbed into bed as a family of three. Everleigh nursed as soon as she showed interest. I was checked over to make sure everything was as it should be. We had family time in the bed. We ate some snacks, a PB&J bagel and baby oranges! Preston cut the cord. The newborn exam happened in the bed right next to me. I tried again to pee, and this time succeeded (TMI?). The midwives cleaned up and left us snuggling in the bed with our new baby and the surreal memory of what had just taken place in our bedroom.
And that, is how we met our baby.
Everleigh Rose Chambers
Dec. 16th 2010 9:23am
20 1/4in long