Posts Tagged: birth

Oct 12


I was looking back over the pictures from Lilith’s birth this morning and I noticed something that I hadn’t really clued into before. In those first few pictures, the ones where I am holding my new baby and smiling in that ecstatic, joyous way, I see that we (both Adam and I) are bringing Anna into this first moment of new life in our family–we are reaching out to her, making eye contact. We are including our firstborn in the birth of our second born. This was one of my fears before Lily was born, that after the birth Anna would feel immediately slighted, that our joy over our “new baby” would make her feel unimportant and not a part of it. But instead of the triad of baby, Mama, Daddy, with Anna on the outside, I see in these pictures, instead, an inclusion. I see a family of four and I see my beloved reaching out to make sure that we are all a part of this most wondrous moment. What a special thing, that Anna could be there for the first moments of her sister’s life! I am full to bursting with love, then and now. How did I get so lucky?

Family of Four

Oct 10

Four Years Ago

I looked like this:

The evening of Halloween 2006, I started feeling the first contractions signaling that Anna’s birth was imminent. I was excited…nervous….thrilled…!

What an adventure parenthood has turned out to be, from that very first moment I sat right here on our blue couch in our living room answering the door to trick-or-treaters. (And just–ha! JUST!–46 hours later, on November 2, 2006, Anna was born!).

Nov 06

verbal snapshots from Anna’s birth

Two sleepless nights

Pacing, walking, bouncing, swaying, slow dancing in the hallway

Loving eyes looking into mine: you are doing great, you can do this

The endless internal rhythms of pain, taking over my body
The fear—can this be right? How can I do this?

The candle burning, all day and all night, providing a single point of light and focus

Moaning, sighing, humming, singing…noises to open up and birth my baby

Exhaustion, hesitation, fear, worry, pain

Intense inner focus

Hard work…laboring in and through and with the pain

I can’t imagine this ever being over

Why am I doing this again?

Guttural animal noises…roaring, grunting

My body takes over and pushes

One last heave and head and arm emerge—I touch the dangling arm, amazed

Body slithers out into Adam’s waiting arms

Baby crying—It’s a baby! It’s a girl!

I kneel, hold the slippery, wet, warm body

We cry, holding our baby girl, tears of happiness

Nov 06

Anna’s birth (not for the faint of heart)

We had been out of our house for about 2 months, staying with my parents, due to home construction stuff (new windows, remodeled bathroom, new interior paint). I was getting so antsy to get back into the house. It was absolutely killing me that I was getting closer and closer to my due date and yet I still could not be nesting. I had been having tons of Braxton Hicks (sometimes strong enough to wake me at night and prevent sleep). Baby had dropped way down low in my pelvis, making it difficult to walk (and meaning that I pretty much always had to pee).

Finally, Tuesday, October 31 (Halloween), all of the inside construction and painting was done. Finally! I hired a couple of cleaning women to help me clean out some of the dust and get the house back in order. I am so glad I did! We worked hard for several hours that day. Tuesday late afternoon I went up to my parents house and loaded a bunch of stuff into my car; I was so excited that we’d finally get to spend the night in our very own house again. I picked up some candy for the trick or treaters and a few things from the grocery store on the way home. Adam met me at home; we unloaded the cars, ordered a pizza, and put in a DVD to watch (Seinfeld, season 1). My brother Jeff came over for a little bit on his way out with some friends downtown. It felt SO good to be relaxing in our home. At about 7:30 pm, I started having some pains. They were very different from the Braxton Hicks contractions: the kind of pain that makes you sit up and take notice. The pain started in my back, radiated towards my front and down the fronts of my legs. I noticed that these pains started to come regularly, about every 15 minutes apart or so. I called our midwife Dawn, who said that I should try and get some sleep, if I could. It might be early labor, she said, or it might be that I had overexerted myself during the day. Either way, rest would be good for me. I got ready for bed and laid myself down. I was able to sleep, but only in 10 to 15 minute increments. The contractions woke me up over and over. They were painful enough that I was having to breathe through them and moan. I got in the bathtub a few times to try and relax. I would fill it up as far as I could, then roll my belly down into the water. It didn’t make the contractions go away or even make them feel all that much better, but it was something, at least, I guess. I was moaning through it all. The pain through my thighs was excruciating. Adam slept through it all, though I did try to wake him a few times. I don’t believe that he actually thought that this was “it” for real! He just would tell me to relax and try to get some sleep. This happened all through the night, until 6 or 7 am, at which point, Adam woke up to me making noises. He asked me to tell him when a contraction would start and stop. The contractions had gone from 10-15 minutes apart, to 8-10 minutes apart, to 3-5 minutes apart. After timing a few contractions, Adam got on the phone and called the midwives and my mom. Pretty soon after this, my mom showed up, then Dawn. The contractions were painful, still, at this point, but I was able to totally recover between each one, laughing and joking around a bit between and feeling in pretty good spirits. We were listening to music, I was bouncing on my birth ball, walking around, and eating and drinking. The contractions seemed to space out a bit then. Dawn showed up and congratulated me: “Today is your baby’s birth day! Today—November 1!” She checked me and I was at 2 centimeters. She encouraged Adam and I to take a walk around the neighborhood. Adam and I walked around for about 45 minutes. I would stop and grab onto a fence or onto Adam every time I felt a contraction. We laughed a little bit about how funny I must look to people walking or driving by. We got back to the house and I continued to labor. At some point I got checked again and was still at 2 cm. At this point, I was starting to get a bit more serious, I think. Liz showed up, Carol showed up. I think that each of these people spent time with me. I walked around, lay on the bed, took showers and baths, bounced on the ball, moaned and made animal noises. I had my first round of antibiotics at some point. All throughout this time I was eating and drinking, though this slowed down a bit as it got into the next day and I was feeling much more nauseous. I was checked again at some point and was only at a 5 or so, I think. It is a bit fuzzy. There were a couple of times that Dawn tried to stretch my cervix during a contraction, to encourage it to open. It seems that this did work (?). I was so discouraged, though, when it became apparent that my baby would not, in fact, be born on November 1, as the day came to an end. The sun went down and I was still experiencing strong contractions, so strong and painful, but there was little progress to show. The “team” (Adam, mom, Carol, Liz, Dawn) took turns sleeping wherever they could get comfortable in the house (the couch, chairs, rug on the floor in the nursery) and coming in to support me. Adam was probably up with me the most. It was a miserable night. The pain in my legs must have been the worst part. It got so that the leg pain did not leave, making it difficult for me to tell, often, when one contraction had stopped and the next started. It all started to blur together into a horrible conglomeration of pain. I started hallucinating that night, staring at the candle burning on the dresser, thinking that it had burst into flames several times. As weird as it sounds, in some ways that candle was my saving grace. As I got up and stood next to the dresser, holding on to it and swaying my hips side to side through the pain, I would focus on the candle and what was written on it. It seemed to give me some strength and determination that I did not know that I otherwise had. The one statement that meant the most to me, I think, simply said “YOU ARE DOING THIS.” This was so powerful at times when I thought “I can’t do this!”

The next day (Thursday, November 2) dawned. Still no baby. Still horrible painful contractions. I had to really really work hard to keep my sounds low and open, instead of high pitched and screaming. I know that I had cried a fair bit by this point. It just all felt like way too much to be able to handle. I just wanted it to stop. That morning, I thought that I must be close, given how long it had been going on and how much pain I was in, but I still had a ways to go (can’t remember how many centimeters by this point…still at 4 or 5, I think?). I was trying everything to try and encourage my body to continue to dilate, even things that were so painful that I had been wanting to avoid them (like bouncing on the ball, which up to this point had become so awful that I wanted to avoid it more than anything). It just didn’t seem possible at this point that a baby would actually get born. It just seemed all about the pain, nothing more and nothing less. I showered (which was awful), I bounced (equally awful), I walked around the house, I laid in bed. It all hurt. I was pissed off and just wanted something to change. I think that it was about noon when they checked me again and I was at 8. They asked if I wanted to try and have them stretch the cervix open more. I okayed it. It hurt like hell, worse than any of the other hurt, but it did seem to do the trick. Seems like the next thing I knew, I was being told that I could try to push.

At first, I wasn’t sure how to connect to the pushing. I couldn’t really get my head around where and how to do it. At one point though, after Dawn had checked me and declared the baby’s head very very low (as it had been all along), I stuck my fingers up there and felt the head for myself. That was amazing. There was this bony head preparing to work its way out of my body! It was mid afternoon when I started to push. At some point, the pushes became different. It was like my body just took over and didn’t let my mind or my will or anything else conscious have a part of it. I was making these horrendous animalistic grunting noises, roaring so loudly that I had a sore throat for the next few days. It was so weird to have the sensation of beginning a contraction, getting set up (this would differ depending on my position—I spent some time lying down on one side, sitting up in bed, lying on the other side, squatting, etc), starting to make my body push, then having my body decide how to do the pushing. It just happened. It also hurt like hell and was very very exhausting. I was so tired by this point. I wanted more than anything for it to be over, and I felt somewhat encouraged that it would be over soon. My famous comment at this point, that made everyone laugh, was to question, “there’s only one head, right?” Somehow, I needed to verify this to encourage myself that this was the last great hump to get over, just one big part and then it would end.

I pushed for over 2 hours, I think. My mom, Carol, and Adam were the main ones to help support my legs and to apply a warm washcloth to my perineum. (Adam did the best at this, I think, knowing where exactly to put it and with what amount of pressure; though I did get annoyed because he kept checking under the washcloth to see what he could see and/or feel). I remember seeing Dawn’s face at the foot of the bed, just quietly watching, waiting. I just loved that patient look of concern and peace that she had. They kept encouraging me to drink water, pee, change position. I didn’t want to do any of these things, but I did. After I’d been pushing for quite some time, when I could really feel like the baby’s head was getting closer, Dawn encouraged me to go to the toilet and try to pee and maybe even push for a bit on the toilet. I didn’t want to, but somehow hobbled down the hallway with my entourage. As soon as I sat on the toilet I started to panic because this felt big time different from what I felt before. I knew that the baby’s head was literally right there (I could feel it bulging) and I was terrified of tearing (I could feel myself starting to tear, especially in the front). I think I was yelling “I’m tearing!” I stood up in the bathroom and it seemed that everyone was in there at the same time. Dawn asked “do you want to have the baby here in the bathroom?”  and I whimpered back, “No!” so we all somehow hobbled back to the bedroom, me holding back the bulging bag of waters and the baby’s head. They quickly spread out towels on the floor (Adam’s lucky beach towel took the brunt of the abuse, I’m afraid). I stood up by the foot of the bed, gave a couple of pushes with some huge groans and grunts and moans, and the head was out. Apparently her head was born in the intact water sack, which burst as soon as it came out. She had the cord wrapped around her neck twice (which Dawn unwrapped quickly) and her arm and hand (right) were up by her head. I reached down and felt her arm between my legs—it was all so surreal at that point. I pushed again and Adam caught her in his hands, her slippery, wiggly, screaming body. He passed her forward between my legs and I kneeled down. I thought I saw a penis so I said “it’s a boy!” but quickly realized that it was swollen little girl parts I was seeing (oops). “It’s a girl!!!” I said. I was kneeling, holding her, Adam holding the two of us. There was blood and the cord was still attached to the placenta inside of me, but I didn’t care one bit. I was crying, Adam was crying, the baby was crying. She was so beautiful. I couldn’t believe that I’d actually done it, that our baby girl was actually out of my body and that she was there and she was alive, and she was perfect. I think everyone was crying by now. I think I was babbling nonstop: “it’s a girl! My baby! Our baby is here! Oh my god!” I said, “who are you, little baby? I know you, you are Anna Elizabeth.” Then I looked at Adam and said “I hope that that’s ok,” realizing that I probably shouldn’t just name her without his agreement. =) He said “that’s exactly what I was thinking, too.”

We got back on the bed so that I could deliver the placenta and they could check the baby and me out. I delivered the placenta (no bones! Yay!) with a push. Adam was sitting next to me and we were just reeling from all the excitement, examining our baby girl. She was just so perfect. I had some tearing, which Dawn stitched up (with Adam holding the flashlight and observing–yikes, brave man). My sister cleaned up some of the blood on my legs. My dad and brothers came in sometime after this to meet Anna and Dawn showed us all the placenta and the amazing tree of life on the inside, the cord, and the attached membranes from the bag of waters. Anna sucked on the breast soon after this (like a little piranha! Ouch!). We had some food to eat, drank a little champagne, then eventually settled in for the night, with Anna in bed right between Adam and I. It felt so perfect. Adam and I kept waking up and smiling at her and smiling at each other. Our perfect little Anna. She makes the most amazingly cute little noises when she sleeps and we fall more and more in love with her each day.

Welcome to the world, beautiful, perfect, amazing Anna Elizabeth Gray!

Nov 06

Life is forever changed

Our beautiful baby girl, Anna Elizabeth, was born into her daddy’s waiting hands on Thursday, November 2 at 5:30 p.m., after 46 hours of labor. She weighed 6 lbs, 5 oz and was 20” long.

We are so happy!