The Birth of Genevieve
Genevieve Margaret’s Exciting Entrance, the short version...
I had a couple weeks of prodromal labor that was very tough mentally, plus long, irregular contractions that were painful and crampy. We had no idea when labor would start and did not know that the 22nd was the day until baby was almost here. It’s a good thing we planned for a home birth because we wouldn’t have known when to leave for the birth center!
Monday, December 22, 2014
Through the night and in the morning, my contractions were intense and painful but still not at regular intervals. I texted Terry the times and she said to try to eat and nap and keep her posted. She was still at another birth but she did not think I was in active labor yet. The contraction times were still varying wildly.
Michael made us breakfast while I rested in the living room and listened to our birth playlist. I didn’t think the baby was coming any time soon. Things got progressively more uncomfortable and I lied down in the living room timing and trying to relax through contractions. The hardest part was that the painful cramping never stopped and the contractions were still very long.
Michael and Claire helped me relax some and Michael made us egg salad for lunch. We never really took a step back to look at the big picture and ask if I was in active labor or not, so I didn’t really realize how miserable I was getting. Contractions still looked crazy.
I felt really nauseated and threw up. I knew it was time to call Terry to figure out what was going on. I was starting to believe that this was the real thing. I threw up twice in labor with Claire during transition. I had no idea where I was in this labor, but I knew that things were getting serious. I wanted to get in the tub to relax, but we were hesitant to commit to filling up the big birth tub before checking with Terry, so Michael called her and asked her to come over and check on me. She had just gotten done with the other birth but said she would get here as soon as possible. He also texted a warning to our photographer and babysitter saying that I was probably in labor and to get ready.
I asked Michael to start filling up the tub because I needed to get in there and relax. I was not in a good state mentally and felt like I was getting my butt kicked by this labor.
Terry arrived at our house and she told me later that she knew something was going on because Claire greeted her with a big smile at the door, Michael barely acknowledged her and then got back to work filling the tub, and I didn’t greet her at all. I was facing the wall on the couch and instead of saying hi, I said loudly, “I don’t want to do this any more!” She came over to me and I told her that I had been throwing up and was miserable. Terry asked me if I thought I maybe had the flu. I didn’t know if I should laugh or be offended, but I replied, “No, pretty sure it’s not the flu.”
We agreed to have her check my cervix to see where we were at. I was praying that I wasn’t still at a 2 or something but could tell she was pretty shocked by the look on her face. “For all intents and purposes, you’re complete,” she told me. WHAT??? I was at a 10? I felt so validated that I wasn’t making it all up. “I knew there was something going on!” I told her. I was so happy to hear that we were close and also terrified that we were so close because I felt like I was failing at this labor.
Terry, Michael, and I had a quick discussion about filling up the tub. I told them there wasn’t time for the big tub and I wanted to try to get to our smaller tub in the bathroom. I also told both Michael and Terry that I needed some mental encouragement because I was not in a good spot. They told me I was doing well, but I think they were both too distracted by their tasks to give me more feedback than that at the moment. Michael went to fill up the small tub right away and put extra water on the stove since we had used a lot of the hot water in the big tub. Terry apologized for not being here sooner and I told her I was just glad she was here now. I got up to walk to the bathroom and immediately felt some little pushes. “I’m feeling pushy!” I told them and we rushed to get me to the tub. Terry sent out a text to all the other midwives to see who else could come to help ASAP.
I got in the bathtub and tried to find a comfortable position. I settled on squatting, since I knew I would be pushing soon anyway. I started pushing almost immediately and found myself vocalizing with loud ooooooohhhhhs to help with the intensity. After a couple pushes, I felt a pop as the amniotic sac broke and we saw bits of vernix in the water. Then it felt like bone started pushing my hip bones apart as baby descended. I wanted her out and to be done with the whole thing and I yelled to please get her out. Terry got my attention and calmed me down so that I would slow down to keep from tearing. She instructed me to direct my energy down instead of out with my breath. This helped and I felt like the pushes were very productive. I felt very primal and out of control. My body was going to push this baby out whether I wanted to or not and I knew it would be done soon. I asked if her head was out and Terry said almost. I tried to control my breath and pushing and soon her head was out.
Before I knew it, a baby appeared on my chest and I felt relief and exhaustion wash over me. I looked at Genevieve as I caught my breath and took Michael’s hand. I told Michael and Claire, “This is our baby!” and we shared our first moment as a family of four.
While I was pushing, I kept seeing more midwives poking their heads in as they came to help. Mary, Rosetta, and Elezya all had arrived and were busy taking care of things. At some point, Michael texted the people on the call list that baby was here, so our photographer, Krystal, our babysitter, Kourtnie, and Michael’s parents knew to come over to join the celebration.
The midwives recorded the apgar scores for baby and Michael cut the umbilical cord. Mary and Terry helped me out of the tub and got me and Genevieve warm and cozy in bed. I felt so joyful and relieved. Michael and Terry would later tell me that they loved the atmosphere of pure joy in our home after Genevieve was born. Krystal arrived to take photos and Kourtnie came to be with the brand new big sister, Claire. Conversation was light and happy as the midwives performed the newborn exam and checked me out to stop my bleeding and make sure I was getting back to normal. I loved how I knew all the members of the birth team personally and felt so comfortable and safe with each of them. Things got even better when Michael’s parents arrived and we had a delicious meal for everyone to enjoy.
We had a little trouble breastfeeding at first, so Terry called Dr. Kristen to come adjust Genevieve. The baby would only latch on one side briefly, but after Dr. Kristen saw her, she magically latched on like a champ and hasn’t stopped nursing since.
Genevieve was born at 38 weeks, 6 days, eager to arrive early like her sister. She weighed 8lbs, 1oz, more than two pounds heavier than Claire, and measured 20.5”. We’re not sure when exactly active labor started, but I pushed for 20 minutes to bring her earthside.
I didn’t get the peaceful labor by the Christmas tree surrounded by my parents, best friends, and birth team. I didn’t get to slowly sink into my zone of focus and concentration as I tapped into my inner motherly power and bring our baby into the world. I didn’t get a chance to call our videographer and Michael didn’t get a chance to bring in the camera we had set up on a tripod, so we missed our opportunity to video the experience. We missed the chance to get photos of the labor and birth as Genevieve made her entrance. There was no time for someone to make a birthday cake with Claire to celebrate Genevieve’s first birth day like I had dreamed about. I missed out on some bonding with my husband before and after the birth, since it was more chaotic than we had anticipated. I’ve had to digest and let go of these expectations and realize that it is all okay.
I did get to labor at home, birth at home, and stay in my own bed snuggled with our sweet baby after her arrival. I had my husband and daughter there to support me and witness the birth, along with the help of our fantastic birth team. I was not as controlled and relaxed as my birth with Claire, but I was able to labor to 10cm while dealing with the uncertainty and pain on my own. When I didn’t think I could handle it anymore, I was able to breathe and vocalize while pushing quickly, effectively, and without tearing. We did get some snapshots of Genevieve’s first moments in the world and I got an experience that I will never forget, even if we don’t have video or photos of the early parts. (I never brushed my hair or put on makeup, so maybe it’s for the best anyway!) Even though I was not mentally at peace during the whole labor, Michael was there for me unquestionably and unwaveringly for the birth and afterwards. I am so grateful to have his children and be his wife. Claire was with me the whole time, learning to pat my arm and stroke my hair while my tummy hurt, and then had a front row seat at the bath tub. She is the proudest and best big sister we could ask for and she retells me the story every few days of how Terry and Daddy helped Baby Genevieve come out of mommy’s tummy and she’s a big sister now.
But most importantly, we were blessed with a beautiful, healthy baby girl who has changed our family and our lives forever. Welcome to our family, Genevieve Margaret Victory!