Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A Name and A Birth Story

We finally decided on a name. Our 7 year old daughter, Abigail, was getting quite distressed that it was taking soooooo long. But we did decide....please meet our baby girl, Elsa Ruth.

Now for the story of how she was born (hint, hint- anyone who doesn't like birth stories can quit reading now)

My due date was Feb 18th. I have always delivered late except with Abigail (and I suspect that she was up in heaven asking "Can I go now? please can I go now? why is this taking so long? Can I go NOW???" and they finally let her come a week early) but anyway, I wasn't expecting to have this baby early. Three days before my due date, however, I woke in the middle of the night shaking. I pulled the comforter up over me and tried to warm up, but still I shook and shook. Then I realized I wasn't just cold, this was birth hormones- I'm starting labor! So I tried to relax and get just a few more minutes of sleep before contractions started. I fell asleep and woke the next morning still pregnant. Darn. The next night I had some contractions, but they didn't progress to labor and the next night the same thing. I was starting to get anxious and my children were feeling the effects of a nesting mommy. We cleaned the playroom, they did ALL their chores, I spent a day sewing a new pad and bumper for the moses basket (which meant they had lots of free time, but ate cold cereal for breakfast and made their own pb&j for lunch) we mopped floors, and we also made cookies at the end of my due date day to celebrate.

So I was pretty sure once my due date had come that this baby would be born but the next several days I had some contractions but nothing very strong and nothing that was regular. Wednesday night I woke up shaking again but still I didn't go into labor. Finally on Thursday I went to see my midwife. She did an internal exam, stripped my membranes and sent me home.
That night I woke up just after midnight with some stronger contractions. I started shaking (I hate that part- its worse than contractions) I started timing contractions. They were only about 10 minutes apart, but not very regular- sometimes 10 min apart sometimes 20 min. But they were getting stronger. I paced around a lot in the quiet house wondering when things would get more intense. At one point I laid down and slept for half and hour (meaning no contractions for that long). What is going on I thought? Am I progressing or not? Then I started shaking again. I decided to call the midwife. I told her that the contractions were irregular but about 10 minutes apart and getting stronger. She told me to call her in an hour to report again. I started thinking...is this going to be a long labor?

About 15 minutes later I had another contractions and in that instant I knew the midwife needed to come NOW- this was not going to be a long labor. As I turned on the tub water I told Mike to call her and tell her it was time. It is about a 25 minute drive from my midwife's home to our home. I started to wonder if she would make it in time....things were picking up speed. Mike was there with back rubs and water (thank you thank you) but he didn't know I was beginning to wonder if he might have to catch this baby. I knew I was starting into transition when she finally got there because my contractions were one on top of each other. I was trying to relax- trying to let the pain wash over me like waves, trying to imagine a flower opening, trying to relax my shoulders. At this point the sound of people talking was grating. Mike was chit chatting with the midwife as she set up her equipment and I was thinking "Shut up!" But even forming the words would have taken too much energy away from trying to concentrate on these contractions. I was starting to feel panic- like a nightmare of a wave pool where the waves are too big and you think you are going to drown. I was on my knees leaning on the side of the tub, hanging on for dear life. Then all at once the intense waves at the wave pool stopped. I was calm, I sat up, "Ooh, I'm glad transition is over!" I felt like I was me again. Mike and the midwife laughed "Ok, I'm going to push on the next one." I gave a push and I felt my bag of waters pop. Then on the next contraction I pushed and the burning ring o' fire began. That is always the point they tell you to slow down. Slow down? I want to get this over with! The baby's head was out. I pushed again through that ring of fire and heard a baby cry. But all I could do was pant and say "Ow! Ow! Ow!"

Of course then it was all worth it as I took that sweet baby girl in my arms.

And that is how Elsa Ruth was born. 5 hours from start to finish.

I am very grateful that the birth went smoothly. As Elsa emerged the midwife unwrapped the cord from around her neck about three or four times. She said that I was lucky my water hadn't broken until the end because it kept the cord from getting compressed. Otherwise I may have had to transfer to the hospital for an emergency c-section. Scary.

Abby had requested to see the baby with the umbilical cord still attached- so Mike went to wake her up. She came in rubbing her eyes and watched as the cord was cut and the placenta was delivered. (She officially declared that the placenta is gross.) Then we woke up Marah, because she had requested NOT to see all that. She came in and met her sister. Then we woke up Amelia so she wouldn't feel left out. We let the boys sleep.

Since her birth Elsa has had nearly a constant shower of kisses and a constant line of eager arms to hold her. I think we'll keep her!


sarah said...

ash, you are amazing! i admire your courage to do home births. i on the other hand have enjoyed my medicines to help me through. :) i love the name and i love the pictures!! keep them coming! i can't wait to meet her!

Erin and Cliff said...

Congratulations Ashley and Christenson family!! And welcome little Elsa :) She is beautiful! And she looks very happy to be here. So glad that she is here safely. It really amazes me how every single labor/birth is different and unique. Loved reading your story Ash!

jenlinmin said...

Yay! Beautiful girl! Beautiful name! Beautiful family! We are so happy for you and thank you for taking the time to write the birth story. I always love a birth story! Hugs and kisses from San Francisco!