Yesterday, the fam and I all ventured into Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP). It was pretty dang cold, but there was a lot of beauty to behold. It’s amazing how different the park looks in the winter as opposed to in the summer when we usually visit.
Julian fell asleep in the car, but the rest of us enjoyed seeing a couple large herds of elk. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many in one spot before. There had to be a few hundred. They were slowly making their way across the road as they migrated down to a lower elevation.
And Ava, Grandma, Grandpa and I took a little walk by a stream and Sprague Lake.
We saw this tree – frozen in time – on our walk.
After RMNP, we had dinner out, then stopped at Safeway where Julian was looking so cute in the shopping cart with his lil hat on, I had to take his picture.
The kids have been enjoying getting into things here at the resort. And when I say getting into things, I mean literally climbing into things. (Well, he had a little help getting into the sink.)
We have one more day to enjoy here, then it’s back home for us. We might visit the Stanley Hotel today and do a little shopping in town. Right now I’m missing out on a rousing game of Candyland in the other room, so I’m outta here. ;)
After packing everything but the kitchen sink (and I still forgot some things), and having an uneventful (no puking) drive, we made it into Estes Park yesterday. The wind was gusting all day and night and the temperature, with the windchill, felt like -4 degrees – proving to me that I could never live in the mountains during the winter.
The good news is that the cold temps kept us inside and gave way to some good family bonding.
With three other adults in the house to watch the kids, I figured I might sneak away into the bedroom to read “Pushed,” a book I have on loan from the library, but haven’t had time to read much yet. I read for about 5 minutes before Ava came in to ask, “How are you doing all by yourself in here?” I explained that sometimes people like to be alone, but she was not to be deterred. She was concerned that I was lonely and wanted to read with me. So we moved onto the bed and read our books together. It didn’t take long for Julian to come wandering in, requesting to join us on the bed and pretty soon it was the whole family together in bed, reading books.
Later, Ava made cookies with Grandma. And Julian was happy to partake in one.
We didn’t have the best night’s sleep last night and Jody is now coming down with the cough that Ava’s had for over 2 weeks now, but we are still enjoying ourselves (it’s so beautiful here) and have plans to stay until Saturday now instead of Friday, unless of course we continue to be unable to get some good sleep. Today we are planning a drive into Rocky Mountain National Park and perhaps dinner out at a restaurant.
It’s been just over a year since my baby boy made his amazing entrance into the world, and yet, I never posted his birth story on my blog. So here it is one year later – in it’s full, unedited (LONG) glory (altered only to change the midwives’ names to first initial) – for your reading pleasure. :) I think you birth junkies out there will especially enjoy it. :)
Julian Emerson’s birth story
Recorded on Nov. 29 and Dec. 11, 2006
My labor began around 1:30 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 23, 2006, (41 weeks to the day) when I woke up to a real contraction, not the typical toning contractions I’d been having for the past several months. This was the night after I went in for some serious acupuncture (with electronic stimulation) at the acupuncture college to bring on labor. I was excited when I had another and yet another contraction and it started to sink in that I was in early labor.
I mentioned that I thought I was in early labor to Jody when he came to bed around 2 a.m. He got me my HypnoBirthing Rainbow Relaxation c.d. sometime during the night and I listened to it with my headphones on to help me stay focused and relaxed. I went through most of the night sleeping in between contractions. When I did have one, I breathed through it and reflected on something I’d read on a Mothering.com message board. One mama said that each time she had a contraction, she thought of her body giving the baby a big hug. That thought made me smile when I read it and so I focused on all the hugs my body was giving my baby for the last time while he was in utero.
I woke up a bit before 9 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 23). Jody and Ava were still sleeping. I continued to have contractions though they weren’t really regularly spaced. I decided to go have some breakfast and watch TV. I had some yogurt, peanut butter toast and Pregnancy Tea and watched a bit of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade while I breathed through contractions. I found the TV to be a bit distracting so I turned it off and mostly lay on the couch. When I got up and moved around, my contractions picked up, but while I laid on the couch, they slowed down a bit. I was feeling pretty tired so I decided that hanging out on the couch was a good thing for now, to save up my energy for when I really needed it.
I called K, my midwife, around 10 a.m. and told her that I was in labor and what was going on with me. She said to check in every few hours – like around 1 p.m. – and let her know how I was doing. She also said she would probably come by to check on me later in the day and take my blood pressure and draw my blood so she could make sure that all was going well with me and there were no signs of HELLP syndrome (which I developed when in labor with Ava). In the meantime, she said I should go eat a big breakfast.
Jody came downstairs (and Ava soon after) and made eggs, turkey bacon and toast. I didn’t feel much like eating, but it tasted good and I slowly ate it all.
After breakfast and watching some of the parade on TV with Ava, I was still feeling really tired, so I decided to go back up to the bedroom and take a nap. That was around noon.
Before I went to sleep, I briefly talked to my sister Carrie on the phone and told her I was in early labor, but I had no idea if the baby would be born that day or when. I just wanted to give her a heads-up since she was planning on being here during the labor (once we needed her) and birth to watch Ava.
Again, I slept between contractions while I napped, but somewhere in that hour or so that I lay in bed, my contractions shifted significantly. They started to get very intense and I had to start vocalizing (or moaning) to get through them. I called out to Jody and told him that things were getting really intense and right around then the phone rang and Jody answered it. It was K (midwife) saying she was on her way by to see how things were going with me. Jody mentioned that it was good she was coming because I had just said that things were getting intense. (I later figured out that I must have been in “transition” during that time.)
I don’t recall if I asked Jody to apply counter-pressure to my back around that time or if he just instinctively did it, but it helped a lot to relieve the back labor I was experiencing.
K arrived around 1:10 p.m. She took my blood pressure, which was normal. (She never got a chance to draw my blood, but it turned out not to matter.) Then I had another contraction which I vocalized through and told her that it really hurt. She wanted to check me then to see how dilated I was. I was thinking that I hoped I was at least 5 cm dilated so that I could get into the birthing pool (which hadn’t been set up yet) or this was going to be a very, very long labor. I can’t remember if she said I was fully dilated when she checked me (though she later told me that I was complete), but she commented that the head was still really high. She felt around a bit more and then excused herself. (I found out later that that was when she discovered what she was feeling was limbs and that the baby was now breech. She excused herself so she could call A, the assisting midwife, and tell her to get to my house ASAP.)
K came back in the room and whispered to Jody that she had felt feet while she was checking my dilation. He didn’t quite realize what that meant at the time. At some point he said something aloud about the baby’s feet, which I heard and replied “feet??” (although I don’t remember this). And K said yes, the baby is breech, which I remember. I didn’t have any weird reaction to this news. I thought I remembered reading stories of babies being born vaginally in the breech position in “Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth,” so I knew it could be done. I wasn’t fearful at all. It was all just very matter of fact in my mind – the baby is breech and I’m going to have to get him out.
Somewhere in there, Jody called Carrie (three times) to come to the house. The last time he talked to her, she said she would be here in 20 minutes, but Jody said at the rate things were going that might be too late. So in the meantime, Ava hung out with me, K and Jody in the bedroom. She never seemed scared or worried for me and I think it helped a LOT that we had watched birth videos and read the “Welcome With Love” book (about a home birth) many times in preparation for the birth. In the book they mention that sometimes moms have to yell and scream and make a lot of noise when babies are born and I am thankful that it said that since I ended up making a LOT of noise myself – something I didn’t expect because I never got vocal while giving birth to Ava. At one point, K asked Ava if she could go downstairs and get her purse for her. Ava did it without missing a beat. She was a great helper.
Anyway, I think it was after K left the room to call A that I felt the first urge to push. It was a completely involuntary urge and I yelled out, “I need to push!” I remember K yelling back to go with whatever my body was telling me to do. I think it was on the next contraction or the one after that that my water broke, all over the bed. I had not planned on giving birth in bed, and because things had progressed so quickly at the end, we hadn’t even put a waterproof cover down. I remember thinking, “Oh no! I’m soaking our new mattress!” (Our mattress was only six months old. Thankfully, it cleaned up and dried out nicely.)
The baby’s feet were born first without too much pushing on my part. Jody left the room during that time and I yelled to K, “Where is he going?!” furious because he was no longer applying counter-pressure to my back. She said, “He’s getting the camera.” And I yelled, “I don’t care about pictures!” He did snap a few of the baby’s feet coming out, but only one turned out because K’s hand was in the way of the others.
Jody called the professional photographer we hired to photograph the birth around the time I started pushing, but got her voicemail. By the time she called back, the baby had been born. (We opted to have her take family pictures a few weeks later instead.)
Carrie arrived after his feet were born and took Ava downstairs since things were very intense in the bedroom.
After his feet and legs came out, K said I needed to move to the end of the bed, so that gravity would be on our side. I said, “No” emphatically, not wanting to move a muscle. K said I *had* to move, so she and Jody picked me up and scooted me to the foot of the bed. She then told Jody that we needed to get into a supported squat position, so he held me under my arms while I began to bear down with everything I had.
I started out pushing with contractions, but it didn’t take long for K to say she wanted me to push whether I was having a contraction or not. I’ve heard enough birth stories to know this meant that I needed to get the baby out ASAP, so I pushed and pushed, taking breaks just long enough to catch my breath.
While his body was being born, A (the assisting midwife) arrived.
I don’t remember birthing him as being painful per se, but it was really, really intense work. I vocalized through every push and couldn’t imagine doing it without making noise. I think I opened my eyes once and then closed them again so I could focus on pushing. I also remember moving my right hand to the top of my belly. It helped me feel more connected with the baby and the job we both were working on.
Once his body was born (but his head still inside me), at K’s urging I pushed with everything I had to get his head to come out. I remember wondering if I was pushing enough or if I would be able to do it, but his head emerged with one really hard push.
Our son, Julian Emerson, fully entered the world at 2:14 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 23, 2006, after about 13 hours of labor, only one of which was really intense, and about 45 minutes of pushing. It was approximately 1 hour after K had arrived to our house.
It turned out that Julian’s umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck three times. It is for that reason, my midwife and I believe, that he ended up turning into a breech position in the days or hours before he was born. It was as if he “knew” he couldn’t safely be born head-down with the cord as it was, so he flipped to a safer position – in an act of self-preservation.
Also, I later learned that his right arm was tucked back behind his head and K had to reach inside me and pull it down so that he could be born without damaging it or getting stuck. She also reached in while his feet were being born to make sure they both came out together and one didn’t get wedged in.
Julian scored a measly 3 on his first Apgar, then an 8 on the second one done 5 minutes later. A gave him a few puffs of air mouth-to-mouth to help get him breathing, while they encouraged us to talk to our baby. It didn’t take long for him to start breathing, and in the meantime, he was still getting oxygen from the umbilical cord that was left attached to the placenta until it stopped pulsing. Jody and Ava cut the umbilical cord together a little over an hour after he was born.
Julian weighed in at 9 lbs., 8 oz., was 22 inches long, and had a 15 inch head. What a big boy!
After the intensity of that birth and such a large baby, I ended up with only a first-degree tear, requiring four stitches. Not bad at all.
Giving birth to a baby in the breech position felt so different from birthing a head-down baby (as Ava was). With Ava, once her head was out, it felt like the rest of her just slid right out. With Julian, I felt like I had to work for every ounce of him to be born â€“ saving the hardest part – his head – for last.
It was an amazing, incredible and very intense experience, but, if you ask me, it could not have turned out more perfectly. We have so much to be thankful for. We have a healthy baby boy and I had a great home birth with our amazing midwife. It is a Thanksgiving Day our family will never forget!
Bet you were starting to wonder if I was going to get a post in today, weren’t you? Me too, but here it is!
Yesterday we did a little day trip to Estes Park to spend some time with my parents at their timeshare resort and we all went out for a late lunch together to this great restaurant called Poppy’s. If you are in Estes Park, check it out. :)
On the drive to Estes, I remarked to Jody that I once got carsick as a child while reading books in the car on a trip. And I wondered aloud if the same thing would happen to Ava who was, at the time, “reading” in the backseat. Not 5 minutes later, she threw up all over her shirt, and then some more into a washcloth I quickly hurled under her chin, and the some more into a Taco Bell cup also hurriedly shoved into her general direction. Oops. That’s what I get for putting that thought out into the universe.
I cleaned her up as best as I could while she was buckled into her carseat. After getting off of the two-lane windy mountain road, Jody pulled over and we were able to clean her up a bit more. At this point she decided she needed to go to the bathroom too, and I was so thankful Jody had the foresight to bring along a little potty with us. So she crouched in the back of the car and took care of business, as I rinsed her shirt off outside with my water bottle, and Jody sat in Ava’s carseat (LOL) to entertain Julian who had woken up from all of the commotion. What a sight we must have been.
Of course I hadn’t packed an extra shirt for her, but my parents had a washer/dryer at their place and Grandma got her shirt clean in no time. Thankfully, it did seem to really just be a case of motion sickness and not another round of the stomach flu (which Grandma and Grandpa both had on Thanksgiving Day this year).
Note to self: no more reading in the car on windy mountain roads.
We’re heading back up to Estes tomorrow for a few days of vacation and Jody and I are hoping to sneak out for a date or two. We actually got out tonight for a “date” of sorts while Grandma and Grandpa watched the kiddos, but it was only so we could go to another parents’ night at Ava’s school.
I’ve decided that I’m going to keep on blogging while on vacation. I really don’t think it will be that big of a deal. Between my mom’s laptop and Jody’s laptop and the WiFi at the resort, I should have no connectivity issues. I can’t promise anything extraordinary (though ya never know!), but I will be popping on. Oh, and tomorrow, at long last, I’m posting Julian’s birth story. :)
I took these pics (with a new point & shoot camera from HP that I’m trying out and will be giving away on my blog in the near future – woot, woot!) while we were up in Estes yesterday. The first one is the view as you are heading into the city. And the second one is about what our view of the mountains will be from our bedroom window.
Now I need to go figure out what all I need to pack for our little vacation. It seems like we are going to have to cram an awful lot of stuff (baby gate, fan AKA white noise maker, clothes, coats, hats, boots, food, kitchen sink…) into our Forester for a three-day trip. Wish me luck and a vomit-free drive this time!
NaBloPoMo – Day 26 Welcome to November’s Carnival of Breastfeeding sponsored by The Motherwear Breastfeeding Blog. This month we are reviewing books and videos that have to do with breastfeeding and/or parenting. Perhaps this will give you some gift ideas for people on your holiday shopping list. I’ve chosen to review the DVD “What Babies Want.”
“What Babies Want – An Exploration of the Consciousness of Infants,” a film by Debby Takikawa and narrated by Noah Wyle (of ER fame), is an amazing and eye-opening movie that explores the “profoundly important and sacred opportunity we have in bringing children into the world.” The movie takes a look at the birth experience and postpartum period through the eyes of the infant. It reinforces what we should already know – babies have feelings and can experience both pleasure and pain right from the start. “The experiences we have at our births sets up our perceptive neurology and influences the way we perceive the events of our lives. These early interactions shape our human ability to learn, to trust, and to develop relationships as we grow older.”
We often think about birth in terms of what would be best for the mother. What can be done to make mom most comfortable and minimize her discomfort? But what about the baby? We also need to consider the baby’s best interests and his/her wants and needs. The things that babies find soothing and calming during and following birth include their mother’s touch, voice, breast, soft lighting and soothing sounds. While the things that can cause them fear and/or pain are bright lights, loud noises, machines, and especially being taken away from mom and dad (to a nursery, etc.) and being denied crucial bonding time.
The film contains stories and remarkable personal experiences from infants, children and adults. Noah Wyle and his wife Tracy also share their son’s birth and postpartum experiences and their passion for “deeper understanding and awareness of what a baby truly is.”
Even though I saw this movie a couple of years ago, many of the images I saw and things that I observed stick with me still today. I remember fighting back the tears when I saw newborns in hospital warming beds, crying out for human contact. I also recall shedding tears when seeing an adult who had a particularly difficult birth when she was born, relive her birth experience and find ways to heal from it and move on. I believe we as a society underestimate just how powerful our birth experience is and how it can shape who we are for the rest of our lives. This movie really emphasizes that point. It made me want to explore the experience I had as a newborn (I was born via c-section, due to being frank breech, and kept away from my mom for several hours following the operation) and made me curious how that may have shaped who I am and the relationship I have with my mother today.
The good news is that there are ways of working through past negative experiences and healing and reestablishing bonds that may not have been formed after birth.
What babies want is to be loved, to be nurtured and protected right from the very beginning. They want to know they are secure and that they are wanted. Babies deserve to have a peaceful start in the world. In the case where a birth isn’t as peaceful as the parents would like, it’s important for them to be aware of that experience, because it will help shape who this little person becomes. If bonding the baby and mother was missed at birth, it can be picked up later in life. Of course the sooner, the better.
I strongly feel that this movie should be required viewing in childbirth classes because it offers such a unique perspective to soon-to-be parents by offering a baby’s eye view of what their own baby may experience during birth and how that experience can affect their baby for the rest of his/her life.
You can read more about the movie, including a detailed synopsis, here. As far as I can tell, What Babies Want is not available for rent on Netflix, but you can purchase your own copy here (it would make a great gift for an expectant mommy) or arrange for a screening among friends.
There are many other participants in this month’s carnival. Please take a moment to check out some of their reviews. (More links will be added tonight.)