Saturday, May 2, 2015

mtn mama: welcoming waterbaby

In celebration of James' birthday back in November at the Oregon beach, I asked his favorite moments of the year.  Immediately, his answer was Eliza.  She was also on the top of our list as we reflected at New Year's, and turned one today.  I started this document shortly after her birth, and have been opening it every month or two since.  By publishing I'm just hoping to bring the whole experience more full circle and share her birthstory.  We are so in love with our little girl, now, and I was blogging more while pregnant with her, and shared about finding out I was pregnant, seeing our ultrasound, and preparing for a homebirth.

One of the first things I felt immediately after Eliza's birth is grounding.  I still feel that way with her. On Mondays, Josey has a day of learning and friendship at daycare, and I get to spend the day with the baby.  She is truly, like water in her personality.  Flowing, hydrating, enhancing... I can't help but wonder what that has to do with being a waterbaby and what can just be chalked up to her own God-given personality.  I know that her presence balances us as a family and I couldn't be more grateful.

Happy Birthday, Eliza May!

On May Day 2014, I was determined to have this baby.  After having contractions for over a week, and feeling like I could go into labor anytime, I was ready to incite the big change we'd been anticipating.  I had worked through the last day of April, my student-teacher/substitute Ceri had my classes dialed and I was starting to feel like I was just at work to answer to "no baby yet?" and "why are you still here?"  Leaving was a double-edged sword for me, because I had resigned from my postition and I knew that once I left to have the baby, things would never be the same at school.

Nonetheless, May arrived, and I felt ready to have this baby.  I called in to work, James took Josey to daycare, and I spent the day writing, stretching, walking, napping.  I could feel it was close and I was secretly hoping the baby would be born on May 1.  

Brushing teeth

Around dinner time, I lost my mucus plug, which didn't happen with Josey's labor that I noticed.  As we were getting J in the bath & doing bedtime routine, I was starting to have stronger contractions, but no consistent pattern picking up.  I had a strong urge to pick up the house- get everything in place as well as I thought it should be, contractions were about 10 min apart.  We watched Nashville, and as we went to sleep, I was texting Sheehan (my midwife) to warn her I thought it was happening!

Flossing with that big belly right before baby sis was born
I continued to have contractions in my sleep and woke up around 2am after a very strange dream: I had the baby in my sleep and the midwives didn't make it!  Dream-baby was huge and had a strange wire thing/ wig-like hair.  I was looking it over, and found it was a girl, and declared that "this isn't our baby!"  What?!  Maybe I knew that I needed to WAKE up and really have a baby.  In retrospect, I wonder if the wirelike hair was influenced by the painful contractions while sleeping?  I've always had such crazy dreams.  

I made some Baby Mama Tea (which has Red Raspberry Leaf for the uterus) and took a walk around the house, doing some lunges and making the neighbor dogs bark in the night.  I came in, and asked James to fill up the tub.  Moving quietly, my contractions were getting stronger and I called Sheehan. 

She suggested I get in the water, which did slow things down temporarily, but then I continued to have stronger contractions which made me feel like I had to go to the bathroom!  I alternated between bed/water/toilet for awhile.  Transition has to be the worst thing about giving birth.  Around 530, I called and asked the midwives to come.  I wanted them here to help.  I was in the water for awhile, moving from edge to edge, stretching. 

I was beginning to feel so tired.  The contractions were coming in bunches at this point- maybe a 10-minute break, then what felt like several waves riding on top of the others for about 20 min.  I had been reading Ina May's Guide to Childbirth throughout the whole pregnancy, and the idea of breathing into contractions (and thinking of them as rushes) was helping me a little.  Regardless, contractions really feel like they're wringing me out.  Things tense up and then release, and it is tiring.  

James and I laid on the guest bed together, I heard Sheehan and Gina out in the kitchen, quietly calling their families to make arrangements for the school day (it was Friday) coming up.  I felt guilty for messing up their day, then reminded myself that this was their job.  We got up and walked around the house.  Beautiful sunrise, birds singing, knowing we would have this baby soon.  We discussed plans for Josey, as her morning routine was arriving & so was her sibling. 

James got Josey dressed & ready, and took her to daycare (and surprised Miss Vickie by being so early to arrive- so funny!)  I became more full with the pressure of this baby, my water still hadn't broken.  I wanted it to.  Fortunately, when Daddy returned, nothing had progressed too much as I was still going through transition (worst part of labor if you ask me, not going to include these details).  I asked Gina to check my cervix, I wanted to know why this baby wasn't coming yet!  Fully dilated, but my bag of waters was a cushion for this baby about to come through.  I remembered when the nurse at Community checked me and felt Josephine's hair, after having felt her head at my tailbone for what felt like hours.

Full with the pressure of this baby, the bag of waters, this undeniable truth of a life change about to happen, I laid on the bed, looking out at the beautiful morning at one of my favorite views in the world, and the Bitterroot Mountains were shimmering.  I was filled with fear and anxiety and baby, and that feeling of when you don't want to do something hard, but you know you'll feel so, SO much better after.  I do believe I said the explicit version of "Let's do this __ thing," and James, Sheehan & Gina knew it was really time.  Haha!  I got back in the pool, determined.

The midwives made quick, quiet preparations, while James set the scene a little more, placing the Philip Aaberg record on the player.  I told them I just felt so tired!  They asked James to get me a spoonful of honey, which helped so much!  Gina talked me through squatting to break my water, she was such a calm coach, and once that cushion started leaking into the pool, I could really feel the baby, whose body had been so close, but so protected, the whole time.I began to hurt - more seething, intense pain.  I remembered my Grandma talking about the truck driving through you.  

Tears, keys, primal noises starting to come from me, leaning back, leaning in, squeezing James' hand as always.  Water.  Gina gently telling me to push again.  The piano music was gaining momentum, and we could sense a bigger poignancy to it all.  Our moment was happening, it really was surreal.

"Beautiful."  All three of them were cooing at me, and I could sense the awe that was filling the room as it does when miracles happen. 

I instinctively put a hand down there, feeling my second child's head of fuzzy hair.  Squeezing James' hand with the other.  

We waited for the next contraction, mentally, reminding myself it was ok- baby's mouth and nose were suspended in the only element known so far- water.  I pushed again, then feeling janky bumps, which as Sheehan explained as a hand/elbow.arm, followed by shoulders and the rest of the sweetness slipping out.  (Sheehan later explained that her hand being right by her face while I was in labor may have been preventing my contractions from picking up a regular pattern in labor)

8:34am our baby was born.  This sweet little soul was covered in a thick white vernix, and when brought to me, I was so excited she almost slipped out of my hands in the water, the midwives and James helping me recover into my arms.  Once stable, I just looked at this child, unbelieving that we had done it, it was over, but everything had just begun.

Peace enveloped us like a blanket and the three of us just looked at eachother.  The music now calm and serene, and this quiet gaze, from our new child was most grounding look anyone has ever given me.  James and I sat there, and I felt us, relishing that moment of peace, and a baby who was just looking quietly at us, no crying, just these sweet, deep eyes.  

We looked to see the gender.  A girl!  In those first few moments of peace, I thought 'a boy', but was delighted at the news of sister.  A sister with a very very long umbilical cord which was uniquely attached to the placenta.  Maybe because she loved moving so much in the womb.

First look at this grounding child

Father with fresh baby, taken from the pool

We named her  Elizabeth May, who we later serendipitously found out is my Great-Grandma's name (we called her Grandma May), and that they share the same birthday!  May 2!

My parents arrived about an hour after she was born, and the reality of accomplishing our homebirth had set in.  My sweet parents met working in St. Peter Hospital, and they worried over us doing this all at our house and not in a hospital (as did many of our family members).  It was relieving to show them that we made it, and their worries could ease.  For me, I felt better knowing that women had given birth to babies forever, having a woman come visit them and help them in this time, and didn't need the hospital.  I have rarely been comfortable at the doctor.
Newborn baby feets, weighing in at 8.2 just under her sis and I

Anyway, Sheehan & Gina did their midwife magic... I will spare all my physical details (which are thankfully becoming foggier and foggier).

Part of Eliza's exam was checking for the tongue-tie which Josey had.  Sheehan noticed it immediately and my eyes welled up when she told me this baby had one too.  We would see how nursing would go, but would be quicker to schedule a correction at the ENT like we did with Josey.  (I have had several friends since with babies born with tongue and lip ties.  It is genetic, and correcting it really helps with breastfeeding!)

We took a nap, I nursed her, we ate,  Eventually Josephine came home to meet her sister!

My parents had picked Josey up from daycare, and her life was forever changed when they brought her home to welcome her new baby sister.  I was happy that Josey was able to get to know the midwives, the growing belly, the birthing pool.  Even though she was only two, she had an idea of what was going on.  Just last week she asked me, "Momma! Remember when you had a big belly?  And then you had Eliza?  I'm pretending to have a big belly right now."  (one of her friends from Morning Melodies just had a baby so she is experiencing the wonder again.  So cool)

We had a beautiful celebratory meal that night, grilled steaks, asparagus and wine.  We said a prayer of thanks.  Eliza was so tiny and sleeping.  I felt myself sparkle into the idea of being mother of two, the experience of a different birthstory and meeting this new, completely different child of ours.  I have never felt so complete, Eliza May was the missing puzzle piece to us, and our family. 

I was thankful then, and I'll always be thankful- for the gift of being their mother, the gift of words and photos to document this life, which is completely different than what I pictured.

Thankful for James, thankful our babies and their Grandparents and relatives and all our ancestors.
These girls will hear these birth stories, as we've learned our own, they will learn of their family.

I'm thankful for Midwives, all of them and especially Sheehan and Gina.  For all their amazing visits before, during, and after the birth, for showing me love and knowledge of my body through pregnancy.  The experience of working with a Midwife is unique, and I'm so glad that we decided to go that route!

.....During this whole process, from morning sickness through postpartum, I drank Baby Mama Tea by Bija Body.  {My esthetician friend Melissa developed this and a few other beauty tea blends with Bija Body, an amazing tea & skincare line developed in Montana.  I shared about them in a post here.   If you are interested in Bija products, they are now only available only in bulk through this site.  

While we are sad that BijaBody is no longer on local shelves and easily bought online, Melissa and I are giving away a sealed tin of this goodness today!  I'm lucky enough to live in the same location as Melissa's new studio, Skin + Sky.  I took Josey in for a mini-manicure for their opening this Winter, and when I shared about publishing this story, and reiterated my love for Baby Mama Tea, Melissa nsisted I giveaway one of the last Baby Mama tins!  Yay!

This tea is a mellow combination of helpful herbs, from Red Raspberry to tone the uterus, ginger for queasiness, to notes of citrus, rosehips, and cacao (and many more beautiful ingredients to boot).  It comes in a beautiful lavendar tin, and is safe for pregnant & nursing mamas and their kiddos to drink.  I love it.  

If you'd like a chance win this lovely tea, leave a comment below.  I will choose a winner on May 17 and send the tea to you, or the person you'd like to gift it to.  Also, it is truly worth investing in BulkBija- I went in 4-ways on a gallon of anti-aging creme and have had extras to share and plenty for myself!  Amazing products.  


Thank you, as always, for reading here, and sorry for the sporadic posts as of late.  Hope you are all enjoying Spring and feeling revitalized in life!  I'll leave you with a poem a good friend (who is now a mama-to-be) shared with me while pregnant with Josey.  It was great to meditate on in labor, and I love to share with friends. 


Willow Tree
I am a willow tree,

Strong, yet fluid
I can bend with the wind,

but my roots are tough,
Opening to birth my child

is flowing with the wind:
from a soft and gentle breeze

to a stormy gale
back to a soft and gentle breeze.

My body is strong, but flexible.

It is my friend, it knows how to open.
I am a friend to my body

eating well, walking, and loving myself.
I shall birth safely, freely, openly . . .
among my loved and trusted ones.
I am the willow, flexible
beautiful resilient

endowed with the power of surrender
to the wind rustling through my leaves,
my branches.
My roots reach deep into Mother Earth

Anchored in Her strength
I bring forth life

In joy!

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