Thursday, April 4, 2013

Avila's Birth, Part 2 - Rocky's Perspective

The Birth of Avila Grace - from Rocky's Perspective

It was a long night, Gemma kept waking up, 11pm, 1am, 3am -fine,  you win Gem!  I decided it would be easier if I just brought my pillow in and slept with her to get a wink of sleep. Sometime before 6am, I hear the door crack open and my beautiful wife’s head is poking in sharing “I’m awake, you can go sleep in our bed” – “aww, thanks hunny” I think as I stumble into the comfortable normal-sized bed.  I hear CA moving around and think to myself – something is not right and now I am awake. “How are you doing CA?” she looks at me and says “I'm pretty sure I'm in labor, been having contractions since 2am” – OH… Great! Thanks for the heads up… actually, thanks for the sleep – doesn’t seem like I missed much! Then I see her bend over and breathing really hard. She says “we should head down stairs and begin timing the contractions." Cool, I’ll make a pot of coffee – it’s going to be a LOOOONG day!  She called Bettie, one of the midwives, after seeing a lot of blood during her latest trip to the bathroom. She comes downstairs, and has few painful contractions and then together we decide we should call Bettie back! CA tells Bettie the contractions are happening faster – Bettie says, “time a few and call me back.” We time a few as CA runs to the bathroom  she is yelling “Start – Stop – Start – Stop” and I can not tell what she is saying as she is starting to moan in pain and groan under her breath. CA comes out and says, CALL BETTIE! I call our lovely midwife who says “Hi, CA, how is it -" “Ya, Hi Bettie, it's Rocky, ummm, Contractions are going 1 min, 30 sec, 1 min, 30 sec” The whole time CA is moaning and being loud! Betty says "that is good and normal, can I talk to her?” I look at CA and say “NO, you should probably come” – She agrees and we hang up…

The next contraction was different – it was LOUD and I could feel the pain and CA yells “CALL LAURA” (the other midwife). Well I am terrified and say “Hi Laura, when are you coming?” she replies “I’m leaving now, be there in 20 minutes” …it is about 6:45am.
Now this whole time, I have had another thing going on in my mind – the time bomb that CA is not caring about and shouldn’t have to – our lovely 2 year old GEMMA. I texted one friend at 6:15 asking if she could be on standby – no response. Then at 6:30 I contacted our neighbor and friend Katelynn, who did not realize what an integral part she would be playing in today’s event! At 6:50 I tell Katelynn to be ready to run over as soon as Gemma wakes up and pondered if I should wake Gemma up, but after every loud contraction I realized I could not leave CA’s side. 

7am - CA is loud and starting to cry saying  “I don't think I can do this. I cannot handle this if it goes on much longer” and I am thinking – me neither, where are our trusty midwives? CA goes from leaning on the couch down to her hands and knees, primitive style and yells, “WHERE IS LAURA?” and I grab her phone and think “YEAH. What the hell!?” but say “she will be here any minute, I will call her – you’re doing great hun!” Laura says “I will be there in about 20 minutes, there is an accident” and I think “What the heck, seriously, you said 20 min like 20 min ago… you little slacker, you got coffee or something huh!” but told her I would call her back and keep her updated if something happened. CA SCREAMS one more time 7:05am “Rocky, I think the baby's coming” – Oh sh-t! I think or say aloud and grab CA’s phone because I don’t have their numbers and say “Laura – I think the baby is coming – I am going to keep you on speaker phone.”  She agrees and says to make sure CA breathes like a horse – What the!? - Whatever man – “Hey baby, can you breathe like a horse?” – her look almost made me laugh as I was thinking the same thing and for the life of me could not tell you what sound a horse makes at this point. I can’t get CA’s phone on speaker and begin frantically trying to type the number into my phone – did I mention there is blood everywhere because stuff is happening down there and I have no doubt we will be having a baby soon. My hands are shaking as I mess up the number like 3 times and finally call her back. “there, you’re on speaker – now what do we do!?”

7:10 - WAAHHH, DADDY? Where are you? – Really!? Now, RIGHT NOW GEMMA!? I grab CA’s phone and call Katelynn and say, "get here now!" as I am running upstairs like a rocket. I sweep her up gently and say “Baby Avila is coming today and you need pants – do you want chocolate milk – Great – anything else – TV – no problem – Katelynn wants to watch with you" – Unlock the door – Katelynn smiles her joyful smile – “Hi Rocky, is CA -?" Ugghh “Here you go, bye” hurl Gemma into Katelynn’s arms, no shoes, no bag, chocolate milk and pants – SLAM! 

7:11am - Where were we –  “AHHHHHHH” oh yes – “Hi Laura, I'm back .. I see something weird back here… It looks like a foot or something” I think some of these things, but only say the appropriate part (you do NOT say foot to anyone when birth is happening- I knew this because of the amount of time CA spent trying to turn the baby so the head was facing correctly). It is growing- and it is not a foot, my wife’s area I cherish is now growing hair – lots of it and I yell with full knowledge of what this phrase means in pride, joy, fear and nausea “Laura, we’re having a BABY!” She says “You can do it” and as I want to black out and fall to the ground I think – if not me, then who? And snap into SUPER ROCKY – HERO OF THE WORLD and Doctor Rocky, MD of Birthing. “You’re doing great baby, push – Horse lips, horse noise, NAAAYYY – PPPBBBBSSSSHHHH!” Yep, it’s a head (Do not yell push unless you want to see something wild happen). That hairy thing shot out some more and now I see a forehead coming out. “I see the Head! push PUSH!!!”  Now I see the nose, “PUSH!!!” There is now a head hanging out of my wife in something not far off from Ace Ventura and the Rhino Scene! The baby is not breathing and I get scared but don't say anything (I never learned about any of this in any special class, but I assume we will be okay, maybe the baby is holding its breath like a fish out of water, right!?) Laura says “Rocky, get the shoulders out” I try to pull but do not want to pull the baby’s head off so I yell “PUSH!!!” Blood shoots out as the shoulders come and I have my hands ready to grab and move. Shoulders pop out and CA lets out the primal “AHHHHHH” and just like the Ace Ventura Rhino/ City Slickers Calf/ every movie ever- The baby shoots out and into my arms and I say “It’s a BABY!!! We have a BABY” I am in absolute shock and think – “Oh crap, now what!?” as I look around and see blood everywhere (on pads, not the carpet…mostly) Looks like the scene after a 300 battle. I start to smile as I hold our new baby and want to do the Lion King Presentation-  “I need to hold her!!!” Oh ya, my wife. I go to hand Avila to CA and the baby is stuck to a cord – Doing! -kind of funny as CA stands and tries to jump rope over the umbilical chord to hold our new child (and succeeds)… Mission accomplished, CA's laying on the floor with her joy and I go to sit back and think – what do doctors do at a time like this? – they check the time – I run in to look at the clock on the stove – 7:18am – Awesome. I check my pajamas to see the damage on my white shirt and shorts – NOT A DROP! Laura walks in at 7:25 and smiles, congratulates us and says “Rocky did you change?” – Nope –The miracle of birth – I’m still wearing the same clothes as I write this story – actually – had to change my shirt because I wiped my iphone screen  to clean off all the blood that got on it. Mission Accomplished – Rocky Rhoades - Hero of the World – Call me if you need any pointers!

All joking aside, this was one of the greatest experiences of my life. It challenged me  which always makes a man come out stronger and proud. I could not believe that by 11am all 4 of us (Gem, Avi, CA and myself) were snuggled up at our own home, healthy, happy and not in a hospital bed waiting for CA to go pee or Avi to go poo before someone would "let" us leave. I can not imagine anything else but a home birth for any future babies and can not wait to use the exact midwives. I know home births sometimes get a bad rap and people worry that it could be dangerous, but if you heard my side of Gemma's birth you would understand exactly why I am so thankful for this. The greatest part of the home birth was that it let me be involved in the experience instead of sitting to the side as a spectator (not that I knew I was going to be THAT involved!). I would never say yes to anything that would put my family in danger and never once did I feel danger near us. I felt God with us. Looking back, this was the most natural thing ever, women have been birthing since forever. It was amazing and incredible and I am beyond proud of my wife. We are so blessed and I just can't stop thanking God. Life is good.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Birth of Avila Grace

I figured it would be best to write this birth story now while everything is still pretty fresh, as I know details get hazy VERY quickly :)

It's hard to think about this birth story without comparing it to Gemma's birth. If you've read her story, then be prepared for basically the exact opposite this time around! Although there are a few funny similarities. Labor with both girl began around 2am, and both girls were born a little after 7am... the difference being, with Gemma, there was a FULL day between, whereas this little one barreled into the world in just five hours!

So here it goes. (As with most birth stories, it's long... with some tmi details, so fair warning!)

I had been having prodromal labor for about two weeks already. (I lost my mucus plug, and would have contractions on and off.) There were three particular episodes of contractions that I thought were going to lead to true labor for sure, but each time, the action stopped completely and left me very disappointed. I think I could have handled waiting a little better if my body weren't playing so many tricks on my mind! But I guess all that "practice" labor really prepared my body well, because once true labor kicked in, it was show time.

I had gone to bed around 10pm on April 1st, and was actually grateful I hadn't gone into labor that day because I wasn't in love with the idea of an April Fools baby! haha So I slept for four hours, and woke up to a contraction. "No big deal" I thought, as this had happened to me SEVERAL times in past two weeks. So I went to the bathroom, and dozed back off. At this point, I was in the bed alone, because Rocky had gone in to get Gemma back to sleep at some point, and fell asleep with her there. So for the next few hours, I laid in bed and felt contractions every so often, but I was mostly able to sleep through them. I figured this was just more Braxton Hicks and that they'd go away eventually. By 4am, they were picking up in frequency, but I still felt that the intensity of them was not that bad. So I still laid in bed, trying to rest. I had the thought that if my body was going into actual labor, then I'd want as much rest as possible to be able to get through what I imagined being many, many hours of labor!

5am hit, and I could no longer lay comfortably through the contractions, so I got up. I went downstairs, had some water, walked around a bit. I started to keep an eye on the clock to see how often the contractions were coming, and when I observed they were steadily hitting every four minutes, I realized I was definitely in labor at this point. Yet, the intensity still was nothing to put me over the edge. I had to breathe through them and really concentrate a few times, but generally, my management of the pain was not a challenge at all.

I decided to let Rocky know he could go move back to our bed if he wanted a few more hours of comfortable sleep. Again. I imagined we would be dealing with a long day of labor, so I wanted him well rested as well. I went into Gemma's room, and told him I was in labor but that he could move to our bed to sleep a bit more if he wanted. So I went into our TV room and heard Rocky walk to our bedroom. About two minutes later, he joined me. "Yea right am I gonna be able to sleep now" he said, knowing that I was in labor.

(tmi warning!)
I went to the bathroom, and saw a LOT of bright red blood. I knew to keep an eye out for "bloody show" but this seemed pretty excessive to me. So it was at this point that I first called to check in with my midwife, Bettie, just a little before 6am. I told her about the blood, and that I was having steady contractions. She listened to me through one contraction, which I mostly just breathed through, but I definitely could not talk to her through it. She said to put a pad on so we could measure how much blood I was losing, and to call her back if I filled a pad.

Within ten minutes, my contractions went from perfectly manageable to very, very intense. I went to the bathroom to check and had almost filled that pad, but noticed that the blood had slowed almost to nothing, so I wasn't too worried. I called Bettie back, updated her, and told her my contractions were getting really intense and that they should probably come soon. So she said she'd let Laura, my other midwife, know and they'd be on their way. Laura lives about 20 minutes away, and Bettie live closer to an hour away.

The second we hung up with her, I got hit with the most intense contraction of my life. It was SO strong and so long!! I was kneeling on the floor, with my face pressed into the couch. I was definitely vocalizing very loudly at this point, though it was muffled by the couch cushion. (Yes, Gemma was still upstairs, asleep!) Once that contraction ended, I looked up and said to Rocky "I don't think I can do this!" because I literally thought this was just my labor getting more serious, but that were were still a long way from delivery. I could not fathom how I was going to handle much more labor at that intensity level. And before I knew it, I was hit HARD with another contraction. I had hardly any rest after that last one! This one was just as intense but not as long as the previous one. (Looking back, I can now identify that as a double peak contraction, and my body's official signal that I was now in Transition). Once that contraction was over and yelled to Rocky "Call Laura and make sure she is on her way NOW!"

As he got her on the phone, my next transition contraction hit and again, I did not think I was going to make it through. It was just SO intense. I was vocalizing really loudly and remember kind of crawling down the length of the couch, still with my face smashed into the cushions. It felt like I was trying to crawl away from the pain! It subsided down for a moment, then the double peak hit once again. Laura was in the car, on her way but said there was an accident so with traffic it would still be another 20 minutes probably. Rocky put her on speaker so she could hear me and he said to her "Laura, I think we're gonna have this baby!"

After one more really intense contraction, all of a sudden I felt it. The urge to push. "Oh my gosh" I thought, "I can't believe we're about to be one of those stories!" Thinking of how amazed and amused I've always been of birth stories where the midwife didn't make it and the husband had to catch the baby!

So with my next contraction, almost without my consent, I moved onto my hands and knees, and my body just started pushing! Laura was on the phone with us still and she could hear the difference. She knew I was pushing. Right then, Gemma woke up. Awesome timing. Rocky texted our friend (who thank the Lord, lives right next door!), ran up to grab Gemma, and handed her off to our friend through the back door. She tried to ask Rocky a question and he pretty much was like "I gotta GO!" and slammed the door. (Sorry, Katelynn!) He was gone from my side for a total of like 90 seconds, during which time, I had another pushing contraction, and could hear Laura on the phone asking Rocky what he was seeing. He laid down the absorbent pads from our birth kit all over the floor and under me.

He got back to my side, and told Laura he could see the head starting to come. She was talking me through the pushing, trying to get me to blow horse lips and keep my pushing as gentle as possible. I tried. Oh, I really tried. But mother nature is strong. And there were a few not so gentle pushes on my part. So, sometimes primal screaming, sometimes calmly blowing horse lips, I was officially in push mode. My body was working VERY efficiently because before I knew it, Rocky was telling Laura "Okay I see the hair... now the forehead... there's her face! The head is out!" My body rested for a moment, and Laura said the next contraction should push the shoulders out. And she was right. Through the next contraction, I very gently pushed and could feel the rest of her body slowly moving out of me, and then with a huge gush, she was out. It was 7:18am. She was there!!

"Ho. Lee. Crap. She's here!"

^^^That's all I could think!

I think I only pushed for maybe five or six minutes total. Our baby girl came out, Rocky caught her, and laid her down gently between us. She was so pink, and so slippery! She didn't even cry at first, just kind of wiggled and we heard her make a little gurgle, so I rolled her to her side a little and she coughed up some stuff and then let out a few cries. I laid down next to her and brought her close. She latched on pretty quickly and started nursing right away. So we just laid there peacefully for a few minutes. Just us. Mommy, Daddy, and our little baby girl. Laura walked through the door about 7 minutes after she had been born!

Once she was there, she checked on the baby, who was happily nursing and doing great! I delivered the placenta shortly thereafter, and we got all cleaned up (I'm gonna let that phrase cover a myriad of activities that went on). They did the newborn exam; we all guessed her weight and my midwife Laura got it spot on - 7lbs, 6oz. 20.5 inches long.

Reflecting back on the whole experience, I think the reason the midwives "missed" the birth was because we were all so confused. Mostly me. I didn't realize when I was in active labor, which was while I was still laying in bed. I was so used to having contractions through the night, that I didn't take it seriously, and to top it off, I was just handling the pain so well that I also thought, "Surely this can't be active labor, I remember it was so much more painful last time." Well... last time, my water broke before labor started, so I had no fluid to "cushion" my contractions, and I was having crazy back labor due to posterior positioning, AND I was on pitocin for most of my labor. Any of those circumstances would cause labor to be more painful, and I had all three compounded on each other. So I guess now I know what labor feels like when everything is normal - and comparatively speaking, it is really not that bad! Had I known I was truly in labor at 3 or 4am, I would have called the midwife then! And even when I did finally get on the phone with her, I was handling the contractions so well that even she didn't suspect how far along I was. And then before anyone could get a grip on reality, I was already in transition and it was pretty much go time. Even then, I didn't know I was in transition because LAST time, I had an epidural through the transition and pushing so I had no clue what it felt like! So here I was thinking "Well, I'm definitely in active labor now, and if this is what labor's gonna be like for however many hours, I do NOT think I'm gonna be able to handle this!" Little did I know, I was already so close to the end!

Through it all though, there was just no fear. No anxiety. I felt God with me the entire time and especially once we realized our midwives weren't going to make it for the delivery, I felt Him covering us with grace to handle the situation. Which brings me to the final point I wanted to discuss in this post... our baby's name.

Avila Grace

We chose her name, or I'd rather say, her name was chosen for us, many months ago. From the moment we knew I was pregnant, St. Teresa of Avila started hounding us. In a good way! :) Everywhere we turned, she was showing up to both Rocky and I in our spiritual lives. People would give us books by her, send us quotes by her, novenas to her, etc. Before we even knew the gender of our baby, we knew that St. Teresa of Avila was clearly going to be this little one's patron! Once we knew we were having a girl, we chose to name her Avila in honor of her patron :)
---for those wondering how to pronounce it - it starts with emphasis on the first A, which is short, as in "apple"and ends with "villa" as in a cute house in the country :) So... "AV-illa" Hope that makes sense!  --

For her middle name, we wanted to primarily pick a name that honored Our Lady. So Grace became a top choice, being that Our Blessed Mother was hailed by the angel Gabriel as "full of grace". God was also so faithful to us in providing the means to provide a home birth experience for me, which was something I desperately wanted since my hospital birth was so unpleasant. The name of our midwives' business is actually called "Full of Grace Birth Services" which is just another reason we knew God had his hand guiding this whole pregnancy. There were so many moments throughout my pregnancy, too many to recount, that were just covered with God's abundant grace, and I am so thankful! Right to the very end, through my labor and very special delivery, we were just covered in his grace!

We are so, so blessed and filled with gratitude to God, and all our friends and family who have shared our joy in this and carried us with their prayer and generosity! Today, we've spent a lot of time snuggling our newest bundle and playing with our sweet Gemma! I kind of feel like I was hit by a truck (was I this sore last time?? I don't remember!). It feels like I did a hardcore, full body workout yesterday... every muscle in my body aches! Rocky is a champ, waiting on me hand and foot, and man, did I already mention how grateful we are for our friends out here? We have some AMAZING friends!!

Time to go get some more rest! Thank you all for your love :)

.... if you'd like to Rocky's version of this experience, check out his post
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