Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Birth Story

The story of our third daughter's arrival begins a few days earlier than her actual entrance into the world. On Wednesday, I had a check up with my midwife. She checked my dilation and told me that I was at 3 cm (gaining just one cm from the last week), but the check really hurt which made me suspect something was transpiring. After that appointment I started having cramps, contractions, and bloody show for rest of the day. The following day was the same, but the contractions never got closer than 10 minutes apart, and though they hurt, they wouldn't hold me back from anything. I suggested to a few people that they pray for the baby to come, just because this vague sort-of labor thing was starting to wear my patience!

Thursday afternoon, with my house practically spotless after weeks of go-go-go, my friend Bethany and I sat down to "finally" have a little fun with this pregnancy. Our four daughters (combined, between the two of us) watched on with great intrigue as she transformed my prego belly into a "weaving from the 1960's" (Eric's words). I had zero contractions during the two hour ordeal, but the baby was kicking all over which added a little comedy to our routine!
Bethany, a former art teacher and painter, took to my stomach free hand with henna dye. Truthfully, we're always talking about ways to keep our lives out of the trenches of the mundane, and this seemed like a fun approach! These were the last pictures we took of me pregnant... wish we would've had the presence of mind to take one or two standing up and see just how far out baby girl was hangin'. I also didn't take any pictures of the finished product; all you can see here is the belly with the dye still on. It did turn out really cool though.Thursday night I had a few hard contractions, but nothing regular. I woke up in the morning suggesting to Eric that today would be a good day to have a baby, but I wasn't "feelin' it." I putzed around the house that day, doing some small tasks and blogging about our October money plan. When it came time to put phase one of the plan into action, the girls and I donned our rain coats to walk around the block to the gas station ATM. Wouldn't you know it, just as we were heading out the door, I thought I wet my pants (just a little). So, I changed my pants, put my jacket back on, and we made the short trek. As I stood in line to pay for the two doughnuts we had picked out (now, that's prenatal nutrition for ya!), I wet my pants again (just a little). We meandered back home, and I started to make lunch. When I sat down to eat, I knew this was for real. Though I had been suspecting a small leak after our walk, my water broke in earnest and I knew it was go-time!

I called Eric at work, telling him that my water had broken but I wasn't having contractions... just plan on coming home from work on time, OK? Then I started to call our battalion of childcare providers. The girls were supposed to be cared for at our house by Eric's sister-in-law and nieces, but it turned out that they had a really busy weekend at their house. We started making alternative plans. Since they would be coming a small distance to watch the girls, we thought we might need to drop them off at a friend's house to wait. I started calling all our pre-arranged options, but no one was picking up! Within a few minutes of my water breaking, contractions had started, so now I called Eric again to tell him that he better come straight home. He was home within a half hour, and by the time he got there I was having very frequent, very painful contractions. We still hadn't heard from any of our babysitters, so in desperation I called a neighbor who we barely know. She had been to our house a few times for play dates, but I still I would've called them acquaintances. In a conversation that lasted 15 seconds (no kidding, I checked my phone log), she agreed to watch the girls indefinitely and immediately.

Eric was gone for about 7 minutes dropping the girls off, in which time I threw some necessities into a suitcase and plopped down on the couch to wait. He came back, loaded me into the car, and we were off. We sat in traffic for a bit, but were to the hospital within 20 minutes. By the time we arrived, I knew that we didn't have a lot of time and I was thinking about the Group B Strep issue... wanting to have enough time to do a round of antibiotics.

We valet parked the van, "hopped" out, and started a 26.2 mile walk to the labor and delivery floor. Wouldn't you know, the hospital is under construction, and you literally follow a yellow line of masking tape through many, many miles of tunnels and "secret" corridors. Thankfully, we happened on a labor and delivery nurse along the way who served as our guide. I stopped with each contraction to hold onto the wall, cursing the ridiculous nature of this situation. I remember saying, "man, if a woman was about to have a baby this would be horrible" about 10 times during the journey. Upon arrival, a glassy eyed nurse gawked at me and repeated 15 questions that I had already answered until a very nice young nurse led me away while Eric fielded the questions.

The labor progressed like they did with the other girls, constant and steady. I was thrilled to see my favorite midwife - the midhusband - was on call, and he had the best possible nurse with him as well. We felt truly blessed to have such a relaxed, natural birth loving team. After a few minutes, the midwife checked me and said I was at 8 cm. I was already feeling some back labor (a sure sign of transition, for me), so I wasn't surprised at all when he told me it wouldn't be worth it to do the antibiotics. He had a short conversation with Eric explaining why I shouldn't have the IV (an incomplete round would do more harm than good), then he stepped out for a few minutes.

He told me later that he was at the other end of the hall when they told him to RUN because I was pushing! Literally, I think I had about 5 back labor contractions before I rolled over on my side, yelled, "I'm pushing this baby out NOW," and pushed. After the first push, I looked down and saw a little round head full of thick, black hair. Since our other girls were totally bald, it was so fun to see something different. It totally distracted from the pain, and after one or two more pushes, she was lying on my chest screaming.

Our friend Bethany, pictured above in the "tattoo parlor," had come to record the event for us. Amazingly, she was able to pack us a lunch, drop her daughters off, and be there for about half of the labor. She taped and snapped a lot of pictures, but I probably won't be putting any of them on this family friendly, public blog :). We had invited my mom to come as well, but sadly she didn't make it until a half hour after the baby was born. After it was all done, Eric was the timekeeper: I called him to come home from work around 1:30. We got to the hospital at 2:43. Baby girl came barrelling out at 3:34. This was one fast labor! We joyfully admired baby girl and celebrated a happy, quick arrival. The rest of the hospital stay was pleasant... the girls and Dana and Hannah came to visit shortly after dinner. My sister and Jon and Levi came around the same time. The next day we only had a couple of visitors, all in all it was a low key time. We spent much of it deliberating over the baby's name:After the bustle of comments about the Group B Strep issue, I'm sure some of you are curious how that turned out. I felt great peace about not doing the IV antibiotics, as if God has planned the timing of the labor to eliminate a few decisions for us. They did a slew of blood tests and extra vitals on the baby and have declared her "good" for now. She did struggle in the first few hours to keep her body temperature up, but that resolved naturally and wasn't a real sign of infection so soon after birth.

Eric and I marvelled over and over at how happy we were with the birth. Labor with Eva was chaotic for a variety of reasons, labor with Hope was very similar to this one only an hour or two longer. Somehow though, the tone and the pace of this labor felt so ideal. I was able to relax through most of the contractions (really... Eric spent most of his time in the delivery room on the phone or chatting with the midhusband), and the pushing actually felt like a relief- aside from the severe burning sensation :). We are thanking God for a simple, uncomplicated birth. And, I'm considering that my intense intake of raspberry leaf infusion really helped to have my uterus and mind nourished and ready to go. Even recovery has been easier than the other two (so far...) with little bleeding, less cramping, and a noticeable lack of lower region soreness. Thank God! Now don't get me wrong, I'm still tired and my body is certainly recovering from an intense workout... it's just that it could be way worse than it is.

Now we're home and after days of indecisiveness about a name, we've finally decided. Actually, I thought we had decided earlier in the day today, but Eric said he took one last vote at a men's meeting at church tonight. The vote was evenly split, and I'm sticking with our previous decision. We had a lot of names that we kind of liked, but nothing that really grabbed us, so it was hard to narrow the choices. Normally I am indecisive and Eric makes his mind up quickly, but this time even he couldn't decide. Our final two candidates were Metta Jane (Metta after Eric's great grandmother and Jane after my grandmother) and Esther Hansen (Hansen is Eric's middle name and his mom's maiden name). Now, after forcing you to read this super long post just to find out the name, I introduce to you:

Esther Hansen Patenaude


Rebecca S. said...

Thankful prayers and blessings for baby Esther!

Mike and Karly said...

What a wonderful story. I'm glad you have it written down to remember all those tiny little details that God orchestrated! Welcome to the world, Esther! :) Blessings to you all as you adjust to a new little one in the family. She is beautiful!

rob said...

Love it all! What a story!

Love, Katie

Sarah said...

Esther!! Welcome to the world! Can't wait to meet her! Congratulations Patenaudes!!

Jessica said...

Great story Becca!
Welcome Esther--can't wait to meet you!

ps. You could've called me to take your girlies!!!

Anonymous said...

Yay! Congratulations! I love the name! :)


Ehlan said...

How wonderful! Congratulations!

The Mrs. said...

Hooray! I love the name... I even labeled the picture I took "Esther" before I knew the name... ;)
She's beautiful!

Laura Suel said...

She is beautiful! So happy to hear that it was fast and Everything went smoothly!

AKat said...

LOVE the name and the story. What a beautiful baby girl Esther! Your family is precious, Becca.

Nedra said...

Hooray! Welcome little Esther!

Sara said...

It was fun to see her and hear the story. Glad to hear we are not the only ones who have troubles making name decisions.