Tuesday, May 3, 2016

The Birth of Olivia Marley de Hoyos

It's funny that the last time I posted to this blog was when I wrote Ammon's birth story. I think Olivia deserves to have her birth story written down just like the other three, even though it is probably going to be much shorter and less detailed than the others... But better now than later, since I will just continue to forget the little details as time goes on!

It all started around 2:30 am on Wednesday, April 27th, 2016. I had just started to fall asleep when I found myself woken up by a somewhat uncomfortable contraction. I was 8 days overdue at this point, but I didn't want to get too excited because of my experience with multiple false labors in my last pregnancy. Even in this pregnancy, I had already experienced a couple of nights of wondering whether labor was starting or if it was a false alarm, so I tried to fall asleep and not think too much of it. But sure enough, 10 or 15 minutes later, another uncomfortable contraction came. And then 10 or so minutes later, another one. I was timing the contractions on my phone just in case it was the real deal. After about an hour and a half of this (at around 4 am), my contractions were starting to get closer together, more like 6-8 minutes apart. I called my mom to let her know that I thought I might be in labor and she may need to come get the kids soon. We decided to wait just a little bit longer before she came over to make sure that the contractions continued to get closer together, since there was still a big part of me that was worried it was all just false labor again. Sure enough, my contractions continued to come closer together, and a little under an hour later they were coming between 4-6 minutes apart, sometimes even 3 minutes apart. I called my mom again and she headed over to take the kids.

The contractions didn't seem to be quite as consistent with this labor as my previous two labors, though. Soon after I called my mom, I had a space of almost 8 minutes in between contractions. Then 6 minutes, then down to 4 or 5 minutes after that. I had made the decision previously that I wasn't going to call my midwife until I was having contractions 4 minutes apart for at least a few times in a row. Between 5:40 am and 5:58 am, that happened, and I sent a text to my midwife letting her know she may need to come soon. Shortly after, she called me and we decided to have her come check me, but not call the other midwife or her apprentice until we knew for sure that I was making progress and really in labor.

Well, only a few minutes after I spoke with her on the phone, my contractions came further apart again. First 5 minutes apart, then 6 minutes, then 3 minutes (?), then 10 minutes. This should have clued me in to the possibility that this labor would be a bit different than my previous two... but here I was, almost 4 hours in, and still hoping for that short 5 or 6 hour labor that I had been lucky enough to have with my other home births.

My midwife arrived probably 20 minutes later, and I had been having contractions between 7-10 minutes apart. My heart sank a little bit at the thought that this may not be real labor and I was going to have to wait even longer for our little girl's arrival. After getting some things set up, Sherri (my midwife) checked me and said that I was dilated 7 cm. Whew! That's a pretty good sign that something really is happening and we really are going to have the baby soon. I had just read that it's best to wait until you are at least 5 cm dilated before you get into the bathtub (especially if you are hoping for a water birth) so I went ahead and hopped into the tub shortly after and started to relax. Since my contractions had become a little unpredictable, I was hoping the warmth of the bath would release any tension I had and would help my contractions start up strong and steady again, and that I would be holding my baby before too long.

I got in the bath around 7 am and stopped timing my contractions on my phone at this point. But what happened soon after I got in the bath was disappointing. The contractions practically vanished. They slowed down to every 20 minutes or so. Soon after this, the other midwife and Sherri's apprentice showed up, and I felt so silly. Here I was, just chilling in the bath tub with hardly a contraction to get excited about. They were so far apart, and sometimes they were even mild - hardly noticeable. I can't say exactly how long this went on for- it seemed like probably 2 or 3 hours. It got to the point where I felt scared to do anything to get the contractions started up again because I had become so accustomed to feeling like I wasn't in labor anymore - I was scared that it would suddenly hit me so strong and I wouldn't be able to handle the sudden intensity of labor that I would be thrown into. Sherri checked me a couple of times while I was in the bath, and somehow I continued to (slowly) dilate another centimeter or two, until I was about 9 cm dilated... yet still only having contractions 20 minutes apart.

I wondered if I was going to have to somehow push the baby out without any contractions to help me? Sherri assured me that wouldn't be the case - we would need contractions to start up again, especially because contractions are necessary after birth in order to keep the bleeding to a minimum. So we waited, and waited. Nothing was happening or changing, and I was starting to get tired of it. The other midwife attending the birth, Eva Price, had an herbal "tincture" (I think that's what they called it) that was supposed to help contractions start up again - so I started to take that every 15 or 20 minutes. It seemed to help a little bit, but still nothing to get excited about. Sherri suggested I get out of the bathtub for a bit and try laying down. Maybe the baby wasn't in the best position for birth, and we could try a few things to re-position her and get things started again.

So, as much as I wanted to stay in the calming bath, I got out and laid in bed. I got in a certain position on my side that was suppose to help turn a posterior baby. Contractions still came about 20 minutes apart. Only now they felt more intense and difficult to withstand. Sherri suggested that, as soon as I felt the next contraction coming, I turn over into the chest/knees position (with my bum up in the air, chest on the bed) and she would check me during the contraction and try to push any remaining cervix out of the way. Super fun, right? ;) But it had to be done. Sure enough, the contraction came, I switched positions, and Sherri was able to push the remaining cervix out of the way (it was just a tiny little bit left anyway) and she encouraged me to try pushing. What? I felt absolutely no urge to push at this point!

The contraction was intense and painful, and I found myself repeating "I can't, I can't, I can't" -- even though I had determined earlier that I wouldn't say that this time! That's how you know you are in transition and about to have a baby (at least in my experience) -- you lose your cool, you lose control, you lose your ability to maintain any calm disposition you were attempting to maintain previously, and you say and do whatever your brain stem decides to say or do. Anyway, still in this same contraction - I started to try to push the baby out. Again, with no urge to push. This was probably around 11:30 or 11:45 - 9 hours of labor. I had been awake since 2:30 am, and Sherri was worried I was too tired and would run out of energy unless we took advantage of gravity to help me push the baby out. Also, after having that strong contraction where she had moved the cervix out of the way and I had started to push, the contractions came back, stronger and closer together than ever. She had the birthing stool set up on the floor at the foot of our bed, and everyone (Jared, Sherri, Eva, and Sherri's apprentice Felicia) helped me quickly transfer over to the birthing stool. Immediately as I was sitting down on the stool, another contraction came, and I felt like my whole body was shaking and I could feel the contraction through my entire body, from my toes all the way to my head. Almost like electricity running through my body. I remember saying "What do I do, what do I do??" as I sat down, because I felt so unprepared for the intensity of the contraction and I had never sat in a squatting position through a contraction before - I felt so unstable and out of control. In response, everyone quickly stabilized me and put pressure on my knees and hips through the contraction. Sherri encouraged me to push again - still having no urge to push - so I had to find it in me to somehow push despite my fear of what that would mean. I think with my last two births I developed a fear of pushing because I know it means a huge amount of pain. Even though the pushing phase is usually pretty short, it is so insanely intense for me that I had to really force myself to push - especially with the lack of any urge to do so. So I pushed, and felt that lovely ring of fire... :) I finally felt some slight urge to push when she was crowning, and when the next contraction quickly came, I became very determined to make this phase end SOON and pushed with all the effort I could muster up. And finally she slipped out, and all the pain and out-of-control feelings vanished and I held her to my belly (she had a short cord) -- and met little baby Olivia for the first time.

Olivia Marley de Hoyos
Marley being a combination of Marlene and Shirley, her two amazing grandmas!

So, 8 days past her due date, after about 9.5 hours of labor, 2-3 hours of that being stalled labor, and a sudden and very intense pushing phase at the end, she was finally born. 7 lbs 6 oz, 19 inches. And just as cute as can be. She has been a great eater, a great sleeper (especially during the day - haha), and such a sweet blessing to our family. We are now a family of six! It's hard to believe that a little over 5 years ago we were wondering whether we would ever be able to have our own children. We are so grateful for our 4 little miracles. Life has been quite the adventure over the last 5 years, but we are loving it. I know they grow up so fast, and we will be missing the days when these little hands were holding ours before we know it. But we also look forward to seeing them grow up and become mothers and fathers of their own little families. Just not too soon... time can slow down a bit and I wouldn't mind. :)

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Birth of Ammon Jonas de Hoyos

Note: I started writing this about 5 months ago and then never really finished it like I wanted to. But I just need to post it so it's finally up on the blog, and I may (or may not) edit it and add to it a bit whenever I get a chance. Having 3 kids that are so young means I really don't have time for blog posts anymore! So here goes...


Well, Isaac and Eva both had their birth stories shared, so I figured Ammon deserved to have his told as well. :)

One of the things that made this experience different from the last two was the multiple false labors. False labor is such a party pooper, seriously.

We went to Jared's parent's house on June 17th to celebrate Isaac's 3rd birthday, and by the end of the night I was starting to have some intense pressure. I wasn't having actual contractions yet, but the pressure was getting to be so intense that I began to think something might be starting. After all, I was 2 days past my due date, so it was a perfectly reasonable time for things to be starting. As we drove home that night, I noticed that I was having contractions. They were about 12 minutes apart. I wasn't getting my hopes up just yet, though. And for good reason, because as soon as we got home and settled down, they went away. It was a little bit of a bummer, but I remembered that I had been having mild contractions the whole day before I had Eva, so maybe it just meant that true labor would be coming very soon.

The next morning, I woke up around 6 a.m. with contractions again. I was having contractions that were about 15 minutes apart. Two hours later they were still 15 minutes apart, so I decided to ask Jared to come home from work. Even though the contractions weren't really close together yet, it seemed like they were consistent enough to assume/hope that I was in early labor. My mom took the kids, and we started cleaning up a bit in preparation for a home birth. I sent a text to my midwife letting her know that I was having contractions 15 minutes apart, and that I would let her know if the contractions started to get closer together. They did get closer together as I continued to prep our home for the birth - even as close as 3 minutes apart at times. They weren't as consistent as they should be at that point, though, so I decided to lay down to see if it was true labor before I notified my midwife. Sure enough, the contractions slowed down and were now 30 minutes apart, and sometimes even further apart than that. I texted my midwife letting her know that things had slowed down since I laid down, and asked if I should still come visit her for an appointment we already had set for later that day. She told me to take a nap instead and "rest up for a birth tonight". I told her that would be nice, and that I hoped she was right! My mom brought the kids back home for a nap, and we all relaxed for a few hours at home, waiting to see if anything was going to start up again.

Contractions continued, but they were far apart and irregular. Around 7 p.m. that evening, they started up again. They quickly grew closer together, averaging about 5-6 minutes apart. I called my mom and asked her to come take the kids again. About 90 minutes into this, I texted my midwife and let her know that I had been having contractions that were 5-6 minutes apart for about 90 minutes. She texted back ":) Let me know when you need me." I think Jared and I were kind of hoping for some guidance at this point, so we laughed when we got that response. I think my midwife trusts that I will know when I am in real, true labor and figured I would call her when that point came. I texted back, asking her if it would be a good or a bad idea to lay down again to see if the contractions would continue. She responded, "I think you should lay down and rest as much as possible." So I did. And... can you guess what happened? Yes indeed, they slowed down again. They started to range from 10-30 minutes apart. Yet another "false alarm". Of course, I'm sure these false labors were helping my body prepare for true labor and were probably causing me to dilate a bit, etc., but it was pretty frustrating nonetheless. My mom kept the kids for the night with the hope that labor was just around the corner. That evening, I ate a bunch of pineapple, took some extra Red Raspberry Leaf capsules, etc., hoping that something I did would encourage my body to get the show on the road already!

I continued to track my contractions that night whenever I noticed them, but around 2:30 a.m. I fell asleep and got a good 2 hours of undisturbed sleep. It was around 5 a.m. that I noticed the contractions were getting closer together - about 10-15 minutes apart. I had made the decision at this point, after a couple of false alarms, that I wouldn't get my hopes up unless I had contractions that were getting closer together and more intense all while laying in bed. No more standing up and walking around until I knew for sure that I was in labor! I stayed in bed as Jared got up to start working from home that day. We were lucky he was allowed to do some work from home that day so he didn't have to take time off of work if I continued to have false alarms. I stayed in bed and noticed the contractions get closer together.

(This is where I took a break from writing, and now I am continuing to write it like a month later... and of course, I have forgotten even more details now, so forgive me if the rest of this is lacking as much information and detail.)

I finally let Jared know that my contractions had been getting closer together and stronger as I laid in bed. I told him I may need him to come in the room, even if just for his company so I didn't have to be alone. I decided to kneel by the bed and lean on it to see if I could get the contractions to come even closer together. As soon as I was kneeling by the bed, my contractions went from 10-12 minutes apart to 3 or 4 minutes apart, and sometimes even closer. This was at around 8 in the morning. I wish I could remember how soon after this we called my midwife. I would guess it was within 30 minutes. We let her know that we were pretty sure that I was finally in labor. I initially approached the call with the attitude of... 'let's just call Sherri and see if she can come over and maybe check on me and see what's going on....' because I was so hesitant to believe I was in labor for real this time. But deep down, I think we both knew this was the real deal. While we waited for Sherri to arrive, Jared applied pressure on my back and hips during contractions, and I remember thinking it was magical. That was the word that I kept thinking of to describe it -- my contraction would come, things would start to get painful and as soon as Jared would apply that pressure on my back... boom. There were times that my contraction seemed to disappear. I would have my head down, bracing myself for the contraction, and then he would apply pressure and suddenly I wasn't feeling anything anymore. I'd look up at him like, 'Uh, am I still having a contraction?' It was that magical. Other times, I could still feel it there, but most of the pain and aches would be minimized to the point where I could feel totally calm and relaxed through the rest of the contraction. Seriously, female readers who may have children in the future, have your husband apply pressure on your hips/back when you are in labor. It is magical. At least it was for me, with this particular labor. :)

It took Sherri about 30 minutes or so to arrive. She came in and started to get all of her things set up. I was still leaning against the bed on my knees. It was starting to get uncomfortable - I felt like I was having to hold my body upright when all I wanted to do was relax all of the muscles in my body and make that my focus. But I was so scared of laying down and having my contractions slow down again, so I stayed kneeling (and occasionally standing up, walking around, going to the bathroom, etc.) Sherri came into the bedroom and asked if she could go ahead and check me to see where I was. I laid down on the bed for just a minute or two, and she found that I was about 5 cm dilated. [I think when you've had children before, you can go from 5 cm to fully dilated pretty quickly, though, so I didn't read too much into it. You can also be dilated to a 4 or 5 for days, so I've learned to not pay too much attention to where I'm at with that.]

I went back to kneeling next to the bed and Sherri asked if I'd like to get into the bathtub. I told her that of course I would love to get in the bath tub, but that I was worried my labor would slow down if I did. She said it would only slow down if I wasn't in true labor, and that it would actually speed the process up if I really was in labor because it would help me relax even more and allow my body to do it's job without any kind of tension interfering. I said I would think about it... (as much as I wanted to believe her, I was still super paranoid that everything would slow down if I got in the bathtub and I would be disappointed all over again)... but only a few minutes later, I told Jared that, yep, I was going to get in the bath. I think this was probably around 9:30 or maybe a tiny bit later, because I stopped timing my contractions at around 9:30 am.

Getting in the bathtub was soooo nice. It always is. The one thing I don't like about being in the bathtub is that suddenly I can't have any pressure applied to my back like before. Technically, you can still try to apply pressure, but it's just not nearly as effective. I know Jared and Sherri (and the other midwife, Eva Price, that showed up a bit later) tried to apply pressure during my contractions in the bathtub, but it just didn't work nearly as well as it had been working before, if it even worked at all. But the warmth and relaxing effect of the bath and the floaty-ness of it kind of helps alleviate the pain and achiness a bit, so the pressure isn't needed quite as much anyway.

So I'm really kicking myself that I didn't write this all out earlier, because it really is a big huge blur now. I'll do my best to remember as much as I can...

Anyway, back to the birth! Labor definitely sped up, as Sherri said it would, once I got in the bathtub. There was a moment where Sherri was in our kitchen getting some things ready, and it was just Jared there with me, and I started to feel really nauseated. We knew this would probably happen once I hit transition, and so we had a bowl right there ready to go. I threw up when I had Eva, and I almost threw up when I hit transition with Isaac as well (but didn't). So, sure enough, I threw up. Jared let Sherri know, and she came in to see how I was doing and check my progress. She told me I was fully dilated (yay!) except for just a tiny bit of anterior lip. So we would wait a couple more contractions, and start pushing soon!

I remember some time around transition, I was so surprised when suddenly the contractions slowed down, and when I did have a contraction, they weren't very intense. In fact, sometimes a contraction would start up and then just sort of dwindle off, like my body changed its mind in the middle of it. It was so strange because you'd expect the contractions at transition to be the most intense of the whole experience, but they were so not intense. I wasn't about to complain, though! I saw it as my body giving me a little bit of a break before the REAL show started. As in: the pushing phase. Ohhhh the pushing. Some women like pushing the baby out. I'm not so sure I like it. I was very hesitant to start pushing after remembering how it felt when I had Eva. Sherri kept encouraging me to start pushing when I felt like it, but I was holding back. I really didn't want to feel that again. But Sherri coached me through it so well. I remember that I was having a hard time controlling my vocalizations, yet again (same as last time). This time I kept saying "I can't, I can't..." as I rammed my head into the bathtub wall... haha. Okay, maybe not rammed... but apparently I was pushing my forehead into the wall of the bathtub, because I discovered that I had a small bruise on my forehead after the whole ordeal. They even tried to put a washcloth in between the tub and my head at one point. I thought they were trying to cool my head off or something, but no, they just didn't want me to injure myself... hahaha! At least I can laugh about it now... kind of... :) I knew that I could do it, so I wasn't saying "I can't" in that way. I think it was more like saying, "I can't handle this pain, ahhhh, what the heckkkkk, this hurts so muchhhhh, just get this over with alreadyyyyyy.... I can't believe how much this hurtsss, what was I thinkinggggg, holy cowwwwwwwwww!!!... etc." But all I could get out was "I can't.... I can't..." I think everyone understood, though. At least that's what I like to tell myself!

So after a few pushes, (it's all feeling very intense and impossible to feel in control at this point), Sherri tells me that the baby is starting to come out. She encouraged me to reach down and feel the baby's head, still in the bag of waters at this point, and I did for about a millisecond. I could definitely feel that the baby was still in the bag of waters - it felt much slimier than a baby's head would probably feel. :) A push or two later, Sherri said that the bag of waters was bulging out of me, basically (it still hadn't popped), and encouraged me to feel it again. I think some people can probably keep their cool enough to do that, but for me, at that point, I didn't want to think about or do anything other than push the baby out, so I declined as politely as one can while pushing a baby out of their body. :)

The bag tore open soon after, and I pushed through a few more contractions, delivering the head (wait, the baby still isn't out? I still have to push more???? AHHHH!), and then the rest of the baby! The whole pushing phase (for me) is just one big intense feeling of please-get-this-over-with-now-oh-my-gosh-I-feel-like-I'm-about-to-split-in-half-and-the-world-is-spinning-all-around-me-and-I-can't-even-process-any-thoughts-except-for-holy-cow-holy-cow-holy-cow. And that still doesn't quite describe it... Not to scare anyone away from having a natural birth, of course, because I personally feel like it's totally worth it in the end. But just be prepared. And also know that, when you are at this point in labor, it is going to be over SO SOON and you will have your baby in your arms before you know it. Just hold on a tiny bit longer! And as soon as that baby is born, all of the pain vanishes and you feel amazing. The endorphins kick in and you have all the energy in the world, and your body feels fine and dandy. Seriously. Well, until the after-pains start up, of course. Those are pretty horrible. But that's where pain medicine comes into play, for me at least.

So back to the birth of my little baby Ammon... (sorry, I get on tangents very easily when it comes to talking about birth!)

He was beautiful! Sherri said he came out swimming. (He sort of wiggled his way out on the last push.) I know this is TMI for some of you, but there were 2 things that I was really hoping for with this birth. 1) That I wouldn't poop. It happens, we all know it. But I didn't want it to happen to me this time. And 2) That I wouldn't tear. And both of those wishes were granted. I was so happy. And recovery was a million times easier this time. No stitches needed. It was grand.

He needed just a tiny bit of suctioning, but he pinked up really quickly and was the beautiful, healthy little baby we had been praying for. I worried a lot about this baby, for some reason. It seemed like he was constantly changing position, even during the last month or so. He was breech when I was 37 weeks along. I did everything I could think to do. I even took pulsatilla (a homeopathic that my midwife recommended) like the hippie that I am. I did forward-leaning inversions. I prayed and prayed. I never sat in a reclining position.... etc. etc. I did whatever I could to get the baby to flip and to stay in a good position. And somehow, something I did worked, thank goodness. A random side note: He had a "true knot" (basically, a tight knot) in his umbilical cord! He moved around so much during the pregnancy that he made a knot in the cord! Is that not crazy? We are so glad it didn't cause any problems and he came out healthy and well.

I feel very lucky to have had two safe and smooth home births. I know that it isn't for everyone. We have approached our home births with a lot of prayer. I wouldn't recommend taking the decision to do a home birth lightly. But for some people, it is a better option. I actually feel safer having my babies at home than I do at the hospital. We are still open to having our babies in the hospital, though, if that's what feels right. So, if you are a religious/spiritual person and you are considering home birth, definitely pray about it and do what feels right to you. If you are going for it, find an experienced midwife that has a lot of happy clients. My midwife has 20+ years of experience. She knows all the warning signs to look out for. I trust her completely, and she really does know what she's doing.

So there ya go! The birth story of Ammon Jonas. He is a sweetie and we love him beyond words!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

It's Been a Long Time

Well, it has been quite a while since we've updated this thing. I guess there's something about taking care of 2 babies that sometimes leaves you with less free time. Sometimes when Alisa and I are talking, we kind of laugh to ourselves and say, "Do you remember what it was like when we had free time?"

To be honest, it's kind of hard to imagine that sometimes we used to just hang out, and go on vacation and other things. So to refresh my memory I went looking into old pictures on this blog... I thought I'd post some in memory of the good'old days... Enjoy:

Yup, there was a lot of this :p

We were cool before it was cool.

I still didn't iron my clothes that much though.

Again... cool before it was cool.

We used to spend time thinking about deep things with butter-knives

One time we hung out with some ducks

Other times we took awkward photos

And Alisa took really good pictures.

We took post-marriage engagement photos

And hid in bunkers

and then the game changed...

... and it changed big time...

Yup, I wouldn't change it for the world. :) 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Birth of Eva Noelle de Hoyos

As you probably all know by now, she's here! Eva was born at home on Monday, December 24th, 2012 at 7:31 a.m. weighing 8 lbs 8 oz and measuring 21 1/4 inches long. She was born 12 days late according to my schedule, but right on time according to hers. :)

I thought some of you may like to hear the birth story, so I will do my best to recall how it all went down (it's already turning into one big blurry memory in my mind!) Luckily, I have texts and chats to help me remember some of the timeline. If birth stories are TMI for you, feel free to stop reading now. :)

The day before her birth, I had been having noticeable, semi-uncomfortable (but nothing I would call painful) contractions all day that were around 30 minutes apart. I had experienced a few false alarms in the previous week or two, so I wasn't allowing myself to get too excited. I tried to go about my day as usual, and we even went over to Jared's parent's house for dinner that evening. I texted my midwife at 7:30 p.m. to let her know that I had been having mild contractions all day, and to set up an appointment with her for the next day if I hadn't gone into labor before then.

We got to bed pretty late that night, and I still hadn't really gone to sleep when, at around 1:45 a.m., Isaac woke up crying. Jared went in to get him back to sleep, and I remember realizing around then that I probably wasn't going to be going to sleep since the contractions had started to get just painful enough to keep me awake. They were also around 15 minutes apart. I started to time my contractions at this point and just laid in bed, trying to relax. I figured that if I really was going into labor, I probably still had at least 12 hours or more ahead of me so I might as well rest.

At 3:00 a.m., I texted Sherri my midwife: "Quick update, for the last hour or so they've been about 10 minutes apart. Can't sleep." About 30 minutes later, I lost my mucus plug and texted Sherri again to let her know. I hadn't gotten any response from her, but I was still thinking that it would be a while before she even really needed to come, so I wasn't going to call her and wake her up quite yet. Around this time, I woke Jared up to let him know that I was pretty sure I was in labor and we should probably call his parents and have them come pick up Isaac. We got in contact with Jared's dad at 3:56 a.m. and he headed over right away. We woke Isaac up and I tried to enjoy those last few moments I had with him as our only child. It was really bittersweet to say goodbye to him, knowing that things were about to change - big time - for all of us!

I spent the next hour or so moving around in between contractions - from laying in bed, to the bathroom, to kneeling by the bed, etc. I was trying to use what I'd learned with Hypnobabies to focus on total relaxation and to help me breathe through the contractions. I remember at one point that the contractions were getting so intense that I had to start moaning through them. For whatever reason, it felt better to make some noise instead of trying to silently breathe through them. Jared was trying to get some more sleep at this time (we both thought it was going to be a longer labor since my last one was 27 hours).

My mom started chatting with me on Google Talk, through my phone, at around 5:30 a.m. For those of you who don't know, she and Karl are currently serving a mission in Slovenia, so that would be around 1:30 p.m. their time. I had emailed her a couple of hours earlier telling her that I thought I might be in the early stages of labor, so she wanted to know how things were going. I told her I was definitely in labor. About 20 minutes later she asked when the midwife was coming. It was about 6:00 a.m. and I replied that I hadn't called the midwife yet but I probably should. I remember around this point, I was feeling shaky and almost cold/shivery. I was definitely struggling to stay totally centered and focused through the contractions and my moaning was getting a little less calm-sounding. :) I told Jared he should probably call the midwife and let her know my contractions were around 7 minutes apart. He did, and she said she would head over. She hadn't woken up from my texts and was very glad we called when we did.

Around then, my mom asked me how I was feeling - excited, scared, nervous? I replied that I was mostly feeling very overwhelmed and nauseous, and that I probably couldn't chat with her anymore. I knew that feeling shaky and nauseous is usually a sign that you are in transition, but I had a hard time believing that I could already be at that point in labor, so I told myself that I was probably only 4 or 5 cm dilated if I was lucky, and to try to stay patient as it could still be many long hours before it would be over.

I think Sherri arrived around 6:30 a.m., and I had thrown up sometime between the point that we called her and she showed up. When she arrived, I was in the middle of a contraction, kneeling at the bed. The minute she arrived she was such a huge help - immediately giving me tips to get through the contractions, to open up, how to vocalize (lower, controlled moaning rather than the sort of panicked high moaning I was doing), and applying pressure to my pelvis during the contractions. It was so nice to have her there, guiding me through each contraction and giving me the reassurance that I needed.

Almost as soon as she arrived, my contractions went from 5-7 minutes apart to being practically right on top of each other. Sherri wanted to check my cervix and listen to the baby's heartbeat, but whenever there seemed to be a chance to check me, another contraction would come and we would focus on getting through it. Probably 15 or 20 minutes after she arrived, she suggested that I get in the tub to help with the pain of the contractions and to see if she could check me that way. Her apprentices and the birthing tub were still on the way, so our bathtub would have to do for now.

It felt great to get in the tub! I don't know whether it decreased the pain or not, but I definitely think it helped me relax more. I also think it helped decrease any straining, aching feeling I felt in my back. I had a contraction almost immediately upon stepping in the tub. Soon after that contraction, Sherri was able to check me. She didn't immediately say how much I was dilated - she said she was going to continue to check me through the next contraction. It really worried me when she said that, because I thought that must mean that I'm hardly dilated, and she wanted to see if I would dilate more during a contraction or something. But lo and behold, when the contraction was ending, she said, "You're going to love hearing this -- you're complete!" Ahhh, I was sooo relieved to know that all I really had left was pushing the baby out and it would be over! I couldn't believe that not even an hour after my midwife arrived, and the first time she checked me, I was fully dilated!

She had me wait just a little bit before pushing to get everything set up as her apprentices arrived. At this point, I was so overtaken by the contractions and the pressure of the baby pushing down that I was having a really hard time staying calm and collected... the best way to explain it is that I was operating out of my brain stem. I wanted so badly to just be calmly moaning through contractions (like all of those crazy women on YouTube that are practically silent as they push their baby out!), but I was making all sorts of noises and I couldn't look at anyone - I just faced the wall and closed my eyes and my instincts took over. At that point, there was no way I could stay quiet and breathe calmly through my contractions. I admire women who can somehow pull that off, but apparently that is not something I am capable of. I didn't scream or yell out profanities, mind you -- it was just far from a silent birth!

I felt myself start to push the baby out naturally - it didn't take any concentration or thinking on my part, my body just knew exactly what to do and took over. It was like night and day compared to how I pushed with the epidural. My water broke around the time that I started pushing. Sherri gave me some tips as I was pushing as well, and before I knew it... I felt the infamous ring of fire! Oh boy, that is some intense feeling indeed. It's one of those things that you can't really explain -- you just have to experience it and then you'll get it. It's crazy, yo. It seemed like forever, but it also all happened so quickly at the same time. It was maybe 20 minutes of pushing when - whoosh - she came out and all the pain disappeared, just like that. (Of course, the contractions continue for days afterwards but they aren't nearly as intense once the baby is outside of you.) And there she was - the baby I had been carrying around for 9 months. She was perfect!

Sherri helped Eva to start breathing right away, but apparently there was a little more fluid left in her lungs/throat/nose than usual so Sherri patiently worked with her for a few minutes, making sure that Eva could breathe perfectly. She shortly started to pink up beautifully and I held her skin to skin with a warm towel over the both of us. It was all over in 5 hours, and I had a healthy little girl in my arms. I was able to breastfeed her right there and she latched on beautifully. It was a very happy Christmas Eve morning!

We waited until the placenta was delivered before getting out of the tub. I think we were actually in there for about an hour before I finally decided to get out! It was just so nice to lay in the warm water and bond with my new little girl!

Sherri later told me that Eva came out with both of her hands up by her face, and that she sort of pushed her way out with her arms. :) Because of that, according to Sherri, I did tear (2nd degree) -- my midwife felt that I probably wouldn't have tore much, if at all, if her hands hadn't been up by her face. The good news is that Sherri had lidocaine and numbed me really well to stitch me up. I actually felt less pain being stitched up this time than I did last time. My epidural had started to wear off last time and I felt every single stitch. Ouch! (Funny to say that after having a baby without any pain medication, right? Haha.) And I think she did a much better job than the doctor did last time as well. (I didn't heal as well last time as I did this time.)

For those of you who are wondering about the name, she is named after my Grandma. It is pronounced Eve-uh, not Ay-vuh. However, if you want to pronounce it Eh-vuh (the spanish pronunciation), that's fine too. :)

4 hours old

I am so happy that I was able to have such a quick, smooth and safe home birth. This was a decision we made after lots of research and prayer. We were lucky to find a very experienced (20 years of experience), amazing midwife, Sherri Price, that I would highly recommend to anyone considering a home birth in the area. I just love her... I could basically cry just thinking about how great she was and how much I appreciate everything she did for us. Obviously, home birth isn't for everyone. I have experienced both ways, and I am pretty sure I will continue to have home births as long as it continues to feel like the right decision, but I also know the magic of the epidural and being able to SLEEP through labor. :)

Also, for those of you who are pregnant or planning on having babies in the future... I am now a big believer in Red Raspberry Leaf tea. This was given to me by my midwife, and it is supposed to help tone the uterus, which may contribute to a faster labor and less bleeding after you have the baby. If anyone wants more info, let me know. I really feel like this tea is why my labor went so quickly this time compared to my last one. I know that labor is usually shorter the second time around anyway, but going from 27 hours with the first labor to 5 hours with the second is pretty dramatic in my opinion. More info is available here, too.

Would anyone be interested in hearing my thoughts on the difference between the hospital birth and the home birth? I think I may post about that next, if anyone is interested... let me know in the comments if you are.