I don't even know how to start this post... I'll just be honest, there are so many places to begin with such a story as the dramatic entrance of a child into the arms of their family, but Esmarie, that is our newest little bundle of joy had to make her entrance something spectacular.
Let me just preface this entire story with two facts, first you my reader along with everyone else in the world (save one amazing sonographer) had no idea that Esmarie was a girl, because we chose not to find out, and let me tell you, when you carry a baby inside you for nine months, hoping it is a girl but feeling strongly that it is a boy and then find out it was indeed a girl, it is quite a shocking ride, but we'll get to that in a bit. The other fact that I'll throw out there is that this was my longest pregnancy yet, Caeden was born 9 days before his 'due date', Sapphira was helped along and born 4 days before her 'due date', and Micah was born 1 day after his 'due date', This little lady was born a full 8 days after her 'due date' and I'll be honest I was so very done being pregnant in the weeks before she arrived.
Esmarie's story begins Monday August 22nd.
Helen (my mother in law) has been with us awaiting the arrival of her grandchild for 10 days already, things are going well but I'm getting impatient to have the baby, My mother is supposed to come for a visit on the 27th, but only if I've had the baby by then, and Helen wants to visit her brother sometime before heading back to California on the 30th. I'm feeling all these things and just want this child born already, the help of my mother in law after the birth is slowly slipping away the longer I remain pregnant. Another thing weighing on my mind is our home school schedule, I took 5 weeks off from school centered around the due date of this baby. I had thought to continue working even though the calendar said we didn't need to just to spare myself in case baby came late, but then changed my mind in favor of letting the kids spend the time with their grandma, they hadn't seen her since before Micah was born and I didn't want to steal that time from any of them.
After a week of hanging out with grandma and no baby I began to freak out about how little time I would have remaining to get used to having a new baby, recover from the birth, and regain my house and order back before school began, so August 22nd I decided to start up school work again. We did one whole day worth of school work while I contracted every ten minutes or so, but there was no hope of labor, the contractions were just too light to even consider it.
Caeden was having major concentration issues and finding it incredibly hard to do his work, Sapphira did pretty well, and Micah was entertained by grandma, when we at last finished I put the boys down for naps and folded some laundry and cleaned up a bit then took Sapphira to get a new pair of glasses, afterward I met Patrick at the chiropractors, got an adjustment, and followed Patrick to a Honda dealership to see if they could get his car in to be looked at, they couldn't do it that day so we scheduled a day they could and I picked up KFC for dinner and we all went home. On the ride home I began having regular, much stronger contractions. They were strong enough to think about, but not strong enough to call anyone over.
Once home we ate and got ready to take the kids to Karate, Helen wasn't feeling well so she stayed home, but I went to see Patrick and the kids do their thing, and Micah loves to watch so I went to let him see and keep him out of the way. During the Karate class I was still having pretty regular and strong contractions, they were doing so well at progressing that I even felt confident enough to tell my best friend's husband that when he got home he should warn his wife she might get a call from me later that night.
At home I read the kids their story and got them into bed, then took a shower, the shower slowed things down, but after laying down myself this precious little baby started moving with every contraction, and between the contractions and the movement things were getting pretty intense and I couldn't sleep. I decided to time things again and the contractions switched from being 5-8 minutes apart to being 3-5 minutes apart. I still wondered about the fact that they just were not super intense yet, but called the midwife anyway, I needed an opinion from someone that wasn't in labor.
My midwife said that the change in timing sounded like a really good sign and that she would head over. At that moment I was not entirely sure that was what I wanted to happen, but things seemed to be progressing at a good pace so I had no doubt in my mind that eventually I was going to call everyone that night anyway, so I didn't argue, and decided that having them drive while already awake was better than driving after they'd fallen asleep and were groggy.
When everyone arrived I experienced a bit of a slow down, which I knew in my doula brain was completely normal, but I needed to escape that anxious environment so I asked Patrick to walk with me outside. The moon was nearly full, and it was a nice cool evening. It was the first time in a long time that Patrick and I really connected, I leaned on him during contractions and he held my hand or supported my arm as we walked circles around the grassy place at the end our our road by the light of the moon. It was romantic...
And then I started getting sleepy. I came inside and everything slowed down again... I decided maybe a little rest would help, so I laid down, and then conked out completely, all contractions left, nothing remained of labor. When the midwife woke me and I realized this I was heart broken, but it happens, and I know I'm not supposed to feel guilty about false labor, but I did feel guilty, and disappointed.
They all went home, one of them suggested that Patrick and I maybe try being intimate and then they were all gone. After our romantic walk it wasn't hard to imagine being intimate, and I won't beat around the bush, we were (yup, that's part of the story people, they say what gets a baby in also helps to get them out).
About an hour later I was having transition type contractions, shaking, and vomiting, and feeling incredibly out of my mind with the intensity of the contractions that had flared up again. Patrick and I debated, or rather he tried to get me to engage in a conversation of whether or not to call everyone back, but I couldn't participate in the talking so he had to make decisions himself, but I was in my head debating the same questions. Do we call everyone back and chance that it is again too early, or do we just wait and possibly have this baby without anyone here? Tough call.
He called them back, they had only just arrived home, one had enough time to shower before returning, the others didn't. Everyone came back again.
When the first midwife arrived I was laying on my side in our bed with the birth ball propped under one of my legs and moaning and shaking... she even thought I was getting close, and asked if I was feeling pushy.. and I wasn't entirely sure I wasn't feeling a little pushy. But I said no (I think I said no).
By the time everyone else arrived everything had stopped AGAIN! They checked my cervix and discovered that nothing had changed, let me say that again, NOTHING HAD CHANGED, since the first time they went home, I was 5cm dilated and 80% effaced, so they went home again. I was given strict orders to stay in bed all day, do nothing to motivate labor, and rest. I was told I had an irritable uterus... the rest of me was pretty darn irritable too.
Tuesday I rested, all day I rested, I read the kids their bedtime story that night and rested more. Wednesday there was no sign of labor, not one tiny sign. We obviously didn't do school on Tuesday, and Patrick wanted to have his car taken care of so Helen, the kids and I went out on Wednesday to take care of the car and we had a good day. I was still pretty frustrated with my body though. Thursday still no sign of labor and I decided we'd already lost half the week in school anyway so I skipped it again, that night I went grocery shopping, mostly because I needed to get the fact that I was still pregnant off my mind, not because we actually needed groceries, I would have preferred to have been in labor. Friday I had another midwife appointment.
At my appointment everything checked out fine, and we made a plan for me to get an ultrasound done to check on baby Monday or Tuesday of the following week, the midwives gave me a tiny bottle with a few drops of Jasmine essential oil, and marked some pressure points on my ankles and the bottoms of my feet, and gave instructions that I shouldn't attempt to massage these spots or use the oil until I'd had a full night of sleep and a good breakfast. After my appointment I went to run a few errands, one of which was to pick out a birthday present for my best friend, whose birthday was the next day and my frustration from not having had a baby yet had kept me from being a good friend and being prepared ahead of time to give her a gift.
Patrick had to work Saturday, I let him go, not that I had a choice, but I just felt hopeless about having a baby, so it didn't bother me that he wouldn't be spending the day with me, his mother or the children. I got up at 7am, and pulled open my bible.
I've been reading in Psalm for awhile now, and when I started I remembered that I'd had Neva read Psalm starting at the 40th chapter when I was in labor for Micah. I recalled this and the thought that if I could make it to chapter 40 I might go into labor, but that seemed silly and superstitious so I dismissed the thought and continued reading as I had been. But then Saturday morning I'm looking at my bible and I stopped caring about superstition and looked at my current chapter, 30, and thought "I can do that, I'll read the next 11 chapters" So I did.
I read chapter 40, ending in verse 17, and then wrote this in my journal.
"As for me, I am poor and needy, but the Lord takes thought for me. You are my help and my deliverer, do not delay, O, my God."
You take thought for me, you are my deliverer, You will deliver this baby, you are thinking of me. I trust your word. I trust that I will go into labor now, I trust you to fulfill your promises to me. I trust in you to deliver this child. And I will even be so bold as to ask you to do it today.
Come Lord Jesus and bring the life you created inside my womb, out of it, bring it out safely, quickly, and in your love and peaceful protection.
I trust in you to deliver.
As per the suggestion of my midwives I decided to go and have breakfast and then proceed to rub my own ankles... I went to make breakfast, I cracked an egg and began to cook it, but before it was even half way cooked I had two very strong contractions. After all the disappointment of Monday I wasn't quite ready to call everyone in, but I did call Patrick and then the photographer, then my best friend who was out celebrating her birthday with her family at Waffle House. Then I decided to call the midwife, I knew beyond a doubt that I needed her, but I was still hesitant to ask her to come.
I shut myself in my bedroom, put on a skirt and slipped off my underwear, no one was going to need to cut them off this time. I used the toilet and drank some water, surprised at how thirsty I was with such strong contractions, I crawled across the bathroom floor moaning through the next contraction and feeling incredibly alone, I uttered "I don't want to do this alone!" and immediately I felt that God told my heart that I was NOT alone, and mid contraction, in my thoughts because I couldn't have done it out loud, I began to sing the song "I am not alone, I am not alone, you will go before me, you will never leave me...." and the muscles previously so tense began to release and relax into the intensity of the contraction. The next few contractions I spent this way, singing in my head and reminding myself that I wasn't alone.
Someone had opened my bedroom door so I was crawling to close it when my mother in law saw me and came in to check on me. I had thought I would have her exclusively taking care of the other kids, but no one else was there, so I welcomed her presence. She rubbed my back as I was waiting for those of my birth team to arrive. Patrick came first, and recognized that I was transitioning already, he thought he might have to catch the baby, and to be honest I thought he would too. Neva arrived next, and she and Patrick took care of things, At some point my water broke, it was a giant splash and covered the floor and the pad I had demanded someone put under me, I had to tell them where to find the bigger plastic table cloth that could go under me to catch any more, once the cloth was laid out I managed to get myself on top of it, and through some more contractions.
Not long after I started pushing, I knew there wasn't much time left, and still no midwife at my side. Later people asked me if I was nervous to deliver without the midwives, but I can honestly say no, I wasn't, I was working, achieving a goal, doing my job, there was no time to worry about whether a specific person was there to take the reigns, I knew if I could tell people what to do in the middle of such intense labor I could also give directions after pushing out my baby if need be, I was confident that everything was going fine.
I began pushing with vigor, roaring like a lion, I'd been making noise all along, but now my tones were fierce, and they were progressing that baby down, I could feel her head surfacing a few times, she was coming (keep in mind I didn't know she was a she yet), still no midwife... out and in again, intense burning and relief over and over as I brought her closer to the outside. And then Yvonne, one of my midwifes, she arrived, on a gust of wind, she got to work, and quickly, I hated the pressure she applied to me surrounding the baby's head, but I knew without a doubt that it was a good thing, so I bore it. Finally I had delivered my baby's head, and it was a relief, but still so very intense, and I knew that something was very different from when I delivered Micah, though I was in the same position. Yvonne told me to lean back to open my pelvis more and to push hard, that baby's shoulders were stuck. I listened and did as she asked, the work was hard, so much harder than when I had pushed Micah's shoulders out, it was intense and it burned, but I was focused and I was in the zone. I pushed her shoulders out and quit trying any more, I just needed a break, it didn't occur to me that I did or didn't need to continue pushing for the rest of my child to be born, I just didn't have much left. They all told me I still had work to do, I listened, I brought a baby into the arms of my midwife, and she in turn passed my baby between my legs and up to me, I was shaky, and weak, I couldn't really lift my child, I did see very quickly that I had delivered a girl before the voice of my best friend informed the room that the baby we'd all thought would be a boy was actually a girl. Even the midwife during the pushing had said "he" several times.
I cradled my baby's head and shoulders as that was all the energy I could give her at the time, and wondered about how many months I'd been thinking I'd carried a boy inside me, how I'd even mentally prepared for the eventual challenge of fitting another bed in the boy's room, but never once really tried to figure out how to fit a crib in Sapphira's room. I marveled at how attached I had gotten to the name Ezekiel Patrick, and how giving Esmarie the middle name of Joy had really been a last minute decision, one we were both happy with, but that had taken us so very long to come up with. All the thoughts flooded my head, we had a girl. I was immensely happy, but dumbfounded at the same time. We had a girl! Sapphira had a sister! This wasn't a boy. It came to me in slow increments, and I'm still three days later processing how incredibly wrong I had been. But wrong in a delightful way, Esmarie is a perfect addition to our family, God knew exactly what he was doing when he gave us this little girl.
Throughout my pregnancy I wanted to honor God in the birth of this child, I just couldn't figure out how to do it. It took me months to figure it out, and once I did I was still unsure of how it would play out, mostly because labor is so incredibly different every time for every woman, but also because I'd never set out to intentionally bring the Holy Spirit to a birth. I don't know if the perspective of others shows a Holy Spirit filled birth, but I do know that several times the Holy Spirit made his presence known to me. First in labor that didn't ended in everyone going home. I'd been praying for a time to reconnect with Patrick, and that night I had a very romantic evening with him, and while contracting I would sing "Holy Spirit you are welcome here, come flood this place and fill the atmosphere, your glory God is what our hearts long for, to be overcome by your presence Lord." and then continue to walk quietly with my husband in the moon light. It was a perfect evening for bonding with Patrick, even if it left me sad and discouraged about birth for the rest of the week, I wouldn't trade it.
Then when I labored alone a few things happened, first feeling alone and realizing I wasn't alone at all... I had a play list of songs that I prepared for labor, one of the songs continually didn't make sense to me, I had a huge birth team, why would I use the song that says "I am not alone" I didn't feel I needed that reminder, until I was alone, except for the presence of God, and it was suddenly a perfect song for my labor. And another thing that happened was with my mother in law. I hadn't wanted her in the room, I feared that she would freak out and be a distraction, but I had deeply wanted her to be there when my baby was born, partially because she had totally missed Micah's birth and consequently didn't meet him until this very visit when he is nearly 3 years old, and partially to show her that what I was doing, how I labored from home and delivered my children wasn't in fact dangerous, to give her the inside view of how sweet home birth could be. And then while I labored with Jesus she saw me, and came to be with me, she rubbed my back and we shared a moment I didn't think was even possible, but because of Jesus it was. She didn't stay in the room for the whole birth, but she was there when no one else was, and then she retreated to take care of the older kids and kept them from hearing their mother roaring out their sibling.
The presence of my midwife was also a bit of a miracle, as I was told she was doing 80mph on a road that cops are pull over happy for just 5mph over the speed limit of 45mph, and that she not only passed a cop but blew through a stop sign and was not pulled over or hurt, so I'm positive that angels were guarding her.
My other midwife arrived in time to help with my postpartum care which also turned out to be a God thing, because shortly after I moved from the place on the floor where I'd delivered Esmarie, to the bed where I was much more comfortable, Yvonne asked politely if I minded if she left me in Brandy's care so that she could make it to a 'religious conference' that she had already missed due to one birth, and by God's grace she could make it there this time, if I didn't mind... and of course I didn't, Brandy was with me, and I'd already done all the hard work.
Before Yvonne left Esmarie was weighed and measured and was determined to be my biggest baby by a whole pound!
Esmarie Joy was born at 10:18am Aug 27th, 2016 weighing 9lbs 7oz and was 21.5 inches long. She was born on my best friend's birthday, after a very intense 2 hour labor.
I am blessed.