Saturday, June 9, 2012

Tenley Sue McMillan: 7 pounds, 10 ounces, 20 inches long

43 Weeks! (This pic was actually taken on Father's Day!)

Wow, so where to begin??? I just reread my last post from June 6th.  Hard to even remember a time BT (before Tenley)!!!

So on that day, Wednesday, the 6th,  I had the acupuncture done.  The doctor had told me between 12-24 hours labor would start and sure enough...   At about 2am Thursday morning, the 7th, I was woken up with what I'm considering my first "real" contraction.  Little did I know at that time that FORTY EIGHT hours later, Miss Tenley would arrive!!!  I was able to fall back asleep for the rest of the night, but I was mildly aware of the contractions which continued coming all night.  I woke up around 8am and started timing my contractions again.  The intervals were all over the place, between 9 and 20 minutes apart, and they didn't seem to be getting any more painful than they had been, but they were definitely REGULAR.    These contractions continued all day, and I did my best to just rest and nap and try to relax and take it easy!  We watched Hugo and I made baked Brie!  That's really the only thing I remember doing on Thursday.

Thursday night, by about 10pm, they were still coming, and getting much closer together, between about 5-10 minutes apart, but the intervals were still all over the place!  7.5 min, 14 min, 9 min, 5 min, 11 min....   It was crazy!  According to my App I was in "Active First Stage Labor"!!! I couldn't believe this was really it though because I'd been having contractions for days, but these did seem more "real" I thought!  I was texting back and forth with Carol and just keeping her posted on our progress.  She asked if they were getting stronger, and they were, over all, but some were still pretty mild, in comparison to others!  I was feeling good at this point, and I was excited, but I'd been having so many contractions for so long, that I didn't exactly BELIEVE that this was really it!   We were planning to stay up and watch a movie, but Carol told me I needed to head to bed!  Sure am glad I listened to her!!! ;-)  Lord knows I was going to need all the rest I could get!   I was up most of the night breathing through the contractions that continued to just roll through my body!   Becca and Caitlin were too excited to sleep! They ended up going to Walmart for art supplies and staying up all night making my Birth Affirmation signs that I never got around to making!  At about 4am, they realized Luke and I were awake, and came in our room to show us the signs they'd made.  They were AWESOME and I was so happy that they'd made them for me.  Made it even more special! They were so excited, and kept encouraging me to call Carol, but I just wasn't ready to believe that this could really be it!  We hung out for like an hour or something, and at around 5:30, I had to get up to pee, and being upright made me really grouchy!!!  I told them we needed to TRY to go to sleep and that I would plan on calling Carol at 6 or 7 or some time that seemed more reasonable than 5am!

Becca:  Everyone went to bed around 10 or so on the Thursday night before Tenley arrived, everyone except for Caitlin and me.  Em wanted these quotes posted all around the room so that she could see them while she was in labor.  Caitlin and I decided to get crafty.  We went to Walmart, Walgreens, and then back to the house for an all night event.  : )  We made about 30 brightly colored posters with quotes and decorated them with stickers.  While doing so, we watched Chicago and the Little Mermaid!  Around 4 am, Caitlin and I went “to bed”, although we were certain we would not sleep because we were so anxious waiting for Tenley.  Not long after we realized that Em and Luke were up and moving, so we checked in on them and the labor progress.  Em seemed uncomfortable, and was anti-call Carol at that point, so she decided we all needed to go back to bed.  I stayed awake until 8 am, and then re-woke when Carol arrived for the first time that day.  The photos that I took, are the best way to keep up with the timeline.  

9:29p Thurs.  6-7-12

5:07a   Fri.  6-8-12

On Friday the 8th, I "woke up" around 8ish, but really I'd been awake to some degree all night! I texted Carol around 9am, telling her I was having crazy heartburn that nothing was helping, and that I'd been having contractions all night and that they were "really hurting" (ha! I didn't know what the word "hurt" meant yet!) at that point! Luke called her around 10ish and told her I was getting really ouchie and that we were ready for her to come by and perhaps check me and see if I was getting dilated at all.

Becca:  Carol got to the house between 10-10:30am on Friday, 6-8-12.
Luke: When Carol got there I met her outside and the first thing she asked was "Did she get any sleep last night?" And I said that Em hadn't slept that well and much at all because of the contractions and Carol's facial expression read something like "Oh boy, she's going to wish she would've slept!"
Em: It's not like I didn't TRY! lol

                                                       10:27a Fri. 6-8-12

(Keep in mind that I had only had one vaginal check prior to this point, which was on the Tuesday before, the 5th.  We let Carol check, but asked her not to tell us what, if anything, I was dilated to, just because we didn't want to psyche ourselves out either way, if I was actually dilated a little or especially if I wasn't dilated at all,  I knew that would be discouraging to me after enduring allllll these contractions, so I didn't want to know! BUT we figured, if Carol knew what was going on, she could at least advise us on a plan of action, which she did, including that huge list of things on the last post I made, and we "curb walked" a lot, where you walk with one foot on the curb of the street and the other foot on the road... Can't imagine how crazy an almost-42 week preggo looks doing that!  Luke and my mom were sweet enough to do it with me at least! )

So, even though I really didn't want to know what I was dilated to (or not), I was motivated by and excited about blowing up my birth pool and getting it filled, but I knew I had to be at 5cm before I could get in the water so that it wouldn't stall out my labor!  I was hurting quite a bit at this point, had only gotten out of bed to pee.  I just wanted to be laying down, in the comfort of my own bed, with my own pillows and my own husband near by, and I wanted to be left alone to drift in and out of consciousness as I tried to sleep through the waves of pain wracking my body.

Carol showed up a little while later and did the exam.... Good news and Bad news.... I was 100% effaced already! Yay!  But I was only dilated to a TWO!!! Talk about a blow to the ego!  After suffering through all those contractions for the past several days, I was SURE I would have been farther along than that!  But no.  Someone, ever the optimist, pointed out that it meant I only had 3 more centimeters to go before I could get in the pool!  But to me, at that time, that seemed like it'd be eons away.... Exactly the kind of discouraging thoughts that kept me from wanting to know in the first place!

Before she left, Carol gave me some nasty herbal drink that was supposed to help me sleep through the contractions, but instead it made me puke.  She said that the puking probably earned me another centimeter at least! ;)  So much for that idea!

Carol left at that point to go run some errands, and told me to try to get some rest.  ha! She came back later, mid-afternoon, and  this is where things start getting a little bit fuzzier for me...  Time kinda loses it's sense of meaning after all this time sleeping and hurting! Sleeping and hurting and sounding out my contractions, sleeping and hurting and sounding out my contractions.  That's pretty much how the rest of Friday progressed in my brain.

Becca:  From 10:27am-3:32pm I do not remember anything, and for whatever reason there are not any pictures during this time.  It is possible that we were all cooking/cleaning/napping/waiting during these few hours.  

Luke:  I think this is when Carol pretty much said that Em needs to rest, and she's going to have a hard time resting if there were a bunch of people standing around staring at her and talking to her, so everybody except for me left. During these few hours I'm pretty sure Em was in the bed the whole time and we all alternated taking care of her. When Carol came the first time she introduced the concept of having hot towels in the crock-pot. Em would relax in between contractions, then when it was time for a contraction, she would let us know, and we would get the towels ready, one for her belly and one for her back.  There were usually 1-3 people in the room at any given time, and we all pretty much swapped out on towel duty. 

Carol came back around 2pm I'm thinking maybe.  I never did put my contacts in so I couldn't see the clock!  Which is funny, because if you remember my "Birth Plan" from a while back, being "allowed" to wear my contacts (if we were to end up at the hospital) was one of the items on there!  We had prepared sooo many things for my labor...  Becca planned to braid my hair so it'd be out of my face, I'd put together an awesome "Labor Playlist" of music to listen to, I had the Hypnobabies recordings and relaxation exercises in a playlist on my phone too, we had tons of relaxation scripts to read dog-eared in books, plus my awesome affirmations posted all around the room, plus I had planned out this great smorgasbord of "Labor Food" that I never even THOUGHT about once I was actually in labor, much less ventured into the kitchen to eat!  Never got around to doing or using any of that! Crazy!

Caitlin: We sure enjoyed the food though! And when I say us, I mean ALL of us…especially Champ  (the diabetic kitty) who had rolls of ham in his mouth when we walked into the kitchen!

 I never even left my bedroom from Thursday night at 10pm, til Saturday morning sometime.  This labor was progressing much differently than I expected, based on all the sweet homebirth stories I'd read and imagined for myself.  I pictured walking around the house, we bought and planned to watch "We Bought a Zoo" to distract me from the early contractions.  My family had already seen this movie, and they loved the little girl in it so much, they said she made them imagine that's how Tenley might look and act when she was 5 or 6!  (One can hope, b/c she IS adorable!) I even planned some "Labor projects" including a cross-stitch bib, ha! Unfortunately, my hands were too swollen and carpal-tunnely to cross-stitch anything! lol

Oh, and we were sooo concerned about how I was going to make it through labor without a snow cone!!!  My sister tried to get Mike, the Snow Cone stand owner, to sell us some Cheesecake flavored syrup so we could make our own, but he couldn't do that, and in the end, we bought a JUMBO snowcone and put in the freezer to save.  I had ONE spoonful of it, around midnight maybe, and let me just say that is probably where I got the strength to go on from! ;-)  But I definitely wasn't as concerned about my snowcone as I expected to be. Or anything else for that matter.

The contractions completely took over my mind and body, much more entirely than I'd expected.  I had envisioned being a lot more coherent during my labor than I ended up being.  Especially after watching so many other home birth videos, those women who can pop out a baby in silence while looking so serene and calm and peaceful..... Yeahhhh that wasn't how it went for me! lol.  Now, to be fair, I think it's safe to say that "most women" who choose to have a home birth do so AFTER having a baby in a hospital.  Not all, but I bet "most" is a safe assumption.  So perhaps that's why it looked a lot easier on the videos, because most of them were not *first* births.  Here's hoping my next births can be more calm and peaceful!  (But I still doubt it! haha!)  And I'm hoping for QUICKER!  And maybe too much to hope for, but, less painful!?! lol

So for the next 6(?) hours or so, seriously, all I remember is hurting, and trying to cope with the pain and then during the breaks between contractions feeling normal, which is so odd, to have that kind of pain, interspersed with feelings of normalcy... I'd get up to go to the bathroom and then I'd have a contraction on the toilet.  That sucked.  When Carol came back, she got some towels put in the crockpot filled with hot water, and she'd shown everyone how to put a hot wet towel on my lower belly where I was feeling the contractions the worst and on my lower back during each contraction and that seemed to help and felt really nice.  

Luke: Like I said above, I'm pretty sure this happened when she came in the morning.
Em: See, I have no concept of time, whatsoever.  lol.

The towels also gave me something to focus on instead of the pain, finding my voice at the beginning of a contraction to TELL someone, them getting the towels wrung out and placed, and then by the time they'd cool off, the contraction would be over.  Wash, Rinse, Repeat, ad nauseum, ad nauseum.....

At some point, mid-afternoon-ish, I went to the bathroom and noticed that my mucus plug was finally coming out!  (Good thing I didn't wait for it to come out before I called anyone to come, seeing as how it was only a few hours (10 maybe?) later that Tenley arrived! That had been my original plan, little did we know Tenley had a perfect plan of her own!) It was the weirdest thing that had ever come out of my body, (thus far!) lol!  It was clear and gooey stretchy and there was a lot more of it than I expected there would be!  It was kinda gross and kinda amazing what our bodies know how to do!  To create this goo in the first place that keeps the cervix plugged up, and that our bodies know how and when is the perfect time to get rid of it! God is truly the Master Creator of all things!  Our bodies, the ability to grow humans and then FEED them the perfect food.... wow.  Just wow.

                                       Suffering through a contraction sitting in the shower.
                                                                3:32p Fri. 6-8-12

I labored in a million positions, if/when someone could convince me to move. I was really pretty convinced I just needed to lay in bed and try to pretend this wasn't happening! I labored on the Birth (exercise) Ball, sitting on it and leaning on the bed, on my knees on the floor leaning over the ball,  backwards on the toilet leaning on a pillow, frontwards on the toilet leaning on my poor husband.  Laying in bed, sitting in the shower, leaning against the wall.  Standing up made it hurt soo much worse.  Gravity!  Argh!  I knew with my mind, that being upright would help speed things along, but at the time it HURT so much worse, I just couldn't stand it.   That proved to be a running theme throughout the rest of the night.  Must be hard to be a midwife and KNOW that the mommy could speed things along and meet her baby quicker if she'd only just listen and follow directions, but yet, the mommy is hurting so badly she can't be rationalized with!  lol.   That would take some PATIENCE for sure!  ;-)

Leaning on the Birth Ball   3:42p Fri. 6-8-12

3:43p Fri. 6-8-12
(I always thought when I saw other home birth pics, that those people had such messy houses and I was so glad that MY HOUSE would never be so messy in my pictures.  HOWEVER, you need a lot of STUFF to have a home birth! lol!!!  I now realize that a lot of the "crap" laying around is actually necessary for the birth!)

Luke, my sis Caitlin, and Carol our midwife, probly putting a towel on me!
3:47p Fri. 6-8-12

3:55p Fri. 6-8-12

Everyone is smiling here BUT me, I think it's safe to assume! lol  4:05p Fri. 6-8-12

FINALLY, at some point, Carol told me I was at a 5 and that I could get in the pool.

Becca:  It was 5pm.  I remember thinking to myself, so I could remember, “she’s a 5 at 5”.  And then I had the radical notion how neat it would be for the labor to progress like that for the next 5 centimeters.  LOL.  Crazy thought, I know.

We (and by "we" I mean someone, and I have no idea who!) got it all blown up and filled up and ready, but Luke tells me that I didn't want to get in it right away.  He says that's when we decided to try the shower first.   All sense of modesty had gone out the window too at some point.  I'd changed clothes several times and by this point, I think I was pretty much wandering around in a bikini top and not much else.   When we finally did decide to get in the pool, I remember liking it, but it was too hot, and I felt weird after a little while so I got out.  Later on, we realized we could just scoop out the water with a bucket and then use the hose to fill it with warmer or cooler water or whatever I happened to think I wanted at the time.  

 Getting the pool filled up and ready! 5:36p Fri. 6-8-12

I leaned against Luke (yes he was brave enough to get in the water with me!) and I just focused on sounding out my contractions.  If this doesn't mean anything to you, basically, you breathe in through your nose and then breath out with a long, lowwwww pitched moaning sound.  The point is that if you're making long, low noises, your face and vocal chords are relaxed and if that is true, it helps your cervix to relax and dilate, as opposed to being all tensed up, fighting against your body while it's trying to do what it needs to do!  Plus, it makes you focus on getting a good breath in, which gives both you and the baby lots of good oxygen.  It's basically like the opposite of lamaze breathing, ya know that "hee hee hoooo" crap. lol.

Caitlin: Em did a great job at doing low moaning sounds. At one point I was in the living room with Luke’s parents and brother while she was having a strong contraction with a really low moan and they all just slowly turned their heads and looked at me with wide eyes. It was quite entertaining!
Em: I remember when I talked to Kim and Mark the next day, Mark told me that the noise I was making was really similar to the noises that cows make in labor.  O.o  (one eyebrow raised face!) lol

It was getting late, and I was getting really really tired.  I was definitely ready to be done with the contractions and the pain and all I wanted to do was sleep for more than 3 or 4 minutes at a time between contractions!  You wouldn't think it would be possible to doze off and actually fall asleep between contractions but it IS! It'd be so peaceful for a few minutes at a time, and I'd completely forget that I was going through the worst pain of my life, and then I'd wake up in the throes of a contraction and be really annoyed by it!!! Every so often, I'd open my eyes and see my mom and grandma, Becca and Caitlin all sitting around me, smiling and just watching.... In hindsight, I feel like that must've been awfully boring, sitting there watching me lay still and then writhe in pain for hours and hours.  Not to mention making that noise for so long!  I think that would've gotten on my nerves! lol

Caitlin: It wasn’t annoying at all! We all loved being there supporting you and helping you in any way we could so that you could bring that precious baby into the world surrounded by love!
Em:  I do love the fact that there was NO ONE present for her birth that didn't already love her completely!

Everyone did an awesome job taking care of me though, helping me try to stay relaxed, reminding me to sound out my contractions, trying not to "run away from the pain" (yeah right!) and even feeding me little tiny bits of food.  I was starving, and my tummy was growling, and I recall being really annoyed that they were giving me like, 1/4 of a cracker at a time, and 1/2 inch pieces of bell pepper, but it never even occurred to me to say, "Just give me the whole cracker!" Haha!  Like I said.... really not coherent.

Luke: You said, "You're giving me Indy (our chihuahua) bites!"

Caitlin: I think we were all afraid that you would forget to chew!! ;-) 

I guess it was probably good, in hindsight, because during the Transition stage, I did throw up again.  Guess I'm grateful they didn't give me all the food I thought I wanted at the time!

Sometime after midnight, around 12:30 or 1am I suppose,  I started feeling.... strange.  In hindsight, I guess I was feeling "pushy" but at the time it was just strange!  The contractions were coming right on top of each other at that point.  Some of them were literally piggy backing right on top of each other, back to back, with NO break in between.  I was really annoyed by that, feeling that it was so unfair!   I was realizing that I could usually do about 4 breaths/moans per contraction and that when each contraction would end, I would have one single hiccup, and then feel the heartburn that I'd been feeling all day.  Then I could sleep for a few minutes before the next one, but then these Piggy Backers kept coming and I was so mad!  I really didn't want to be in labor any more at that point, but ya know what, there's no turning back!  I guess my noises were starting to sound different, grunty, as I was beginning to feel the urge to push, because at one point, I remember Carol saying "What was that?" and I said, "What was what?" and she said, "That sound you just made.  What was that?"  I guess she knows the sound of one becoming "pushy"!!! LOL!

She checked me again, to see if I was fully dilated, but I had a lip of cervix that was refusing to dilate, so she told me NOT to push until she checked me again.  That was rough, but I just tried to focus on getting through the contractions!  I think at some point, Carol tried to help the lip ... go away? In my sleep deprived state, I can't think of a better term than that! lol.  FINALLY she told me I could go ahead and try to push!  But she said once I start pushing, I have to keep going.  That kind of freaked me out..... and I made the mistake of admitting out loud that I was scared.  Carol jumped all over me at that moment and said, "Let's talk about that real quick. Why are you scared?" and I replied because I was afraid I wouldn't be able to do it!  That was when everyone started reminding me of all my Birth Affirmations that were so helpfully posted all around!   I don't know if it was helpful or not, at the time, but ready or not, my body was ready to start pushing!!!

Luke: Em told Carol "I think I'm feeling pushy..." and Carol said" That's ok, don't push, just breathe" I think just making the point that pushing is something that will overcome you, not something that you have to try to do.

I tried for a few contractions to push while still in the water but I was having a hard time figuring out that whole "Pushing" thing!  Carol kept telling me to push WITH the contractions, but oddly enough, I couldn't really tell anything about the contraction at all after it got started.  I couldn't tell when the contraction was over and so therefore I couldn't tell when I should push or stop pushing or anything!  You would think that pushing (especially without any drugs!) would be something that would feel so obvious, err, natural? that it would be easy, errr, no, definitely not easy, at least obvious,  but no, not so much.   I pushed and pushed and I didn't feel like I was accomplishing anything!  Talk about frustrating!  Carol wanted me to try to squat flat footed, and lean/hold on to the edge of the pool.  I didn't think I could even MOVE from the reclining position I was in laying in the water.  Everyone tried to encourage me to get up and try squatting but I just couldnt!  I remember at one point, Luke tried to gently and sweetly encourage me to move into an upright position to help things along, but I must have been mid-contraction and I'm pretty sure I told him to "shut up"!!!  (Sorry honey!!!) But eventually I just made up my mind and at the end of one contraction I just surged forward super fast, well, as fast as someone who is almost 42 weeks pregnant who has been in labor for 48 hours and is completely and utterly exhausted can move! And I got in the position she wanted me to try.

Becca:  She flew out of the “relaxed” position she was in, and I we all looked around at each other, with what I would say were “wow”, “holy crap look at her move”, “she is determined” faces.  I knew that she could do it, regardless of how tired she was.  

UNFORTUNATELY, I never did heed the advice I heard/read/was told everywhere which was to stay active, do squats/lunges, etc, during the pregnancy, and boy oh boy do I now realize WHY they tell you to do this!!!  I'd heard that "Labor is like running a marathon, you need to be in shape to do it!" but unfortunately, I didn't listen.  And I paid for it during the pushing stage because I couldn't maintain the physical postures that would've been the best!  My leg muscles simply couldn't support me staying in that squatting position!  I tried out a hands/knees position but the water at the time wasn't quite deep enough to be safe if I were to birth Tenley in that position.

Carol was checking Tenley's heart rate every few minutes and at some point it dropped a little and Carol seemed worried.  so we decided to try to get out and see if I would have any more luck pushing "on land."  So Luke and I both got out and tried a few different positions which included Luke supporting me in various ways so that I could focus on pushing.  It was exhausting!  I still can't believe or understand why I couldn't feel the contractions any more because I do think that this is part of why it was so hard to push.  Those contractions that had been rocking my world just minutes ago, now were mysteriously absent! lol.  Go figure!!! 

I tried squatting flat footed, like Carol wanted, with Luke holding me up behind me.  I tried standing up and just bending my knees a little, but that felt weird.  I do remember at some point thinking that I peed all over Carol and everything else, but I *think* that was actually when my water finally broke!   I may or may not have also shared another kind of excrement with everyone present... :-/  Good thing Luke told me months ago that he'd love me even more if I did poop! haha!  I think that conversation went something like this:

Me: But what if I poop!? Will you still love me if I poop?  Cuz that's gross.

Luke:  I will love you no matter what, especially if you poop.

HA!  TMI, yes I know.   But I think that sharing honestly and openly is important, so people who haven't had babies yet know that it is normal. ;-)

Becca told me the next day that she fully realized how hard a midwife's job is when she saw Carol's nose about 6 inches away from my butt while I was pushing away with all my might! lol

I remember at one point that Carol, in a stern voice, told me that on the next contraction I needed to "get serious" and push this baby out!  I remember feeling like, "Are you freaking kidding me??? "Get serious!?!?!"  I've BEEN serious for the past 24 hours at least! Argh!

At some point, Carol suggested Luke sit on this ottoman we had in our room, and support my weight from behind, while I squatted down facing towards the pool, and that was where Tenley eventually came out!

Caitlin: Luke kept asking me if I could see Tenley’s head, which is when Carol suggested we get a mirror! 

Someone handed us a mirror (Becca's makeup mirror, I believe! lol) And I think it was supposed to be for Luke to see, but I stole it! lol.   I watched Tenley's head begin to crown, and Carol had me reach down and touch her head.  It felt so bizarre to be touching something, some ONE inside me that wasn't actually ME!  Then I seem to remember closing my eyes and screeching at the top of my lungs while I pushed with all of my might!  I remember everyone in the room encouraging me, and telling me they could see her head and to keep going!  Carol was "helping" and it felt like she was going to rip me apart! In my mind's eye, it seemed like she was ... I don't even know how to describe it without a gesture! I picture that she had her hands in me on either side and was literally pulling me open/apart for Tenley! It SUCKED but I'm glad she helped!  I needed all the help I could get at that point!  I think I was even mentally ready to go in for a c-section! ha! "Just cut this baby out!" 

Finally, after lots of pushing, finally, FINALLY, eventually Tenley's head was out!  I wish I'd been able to reach down and touch her whole little head while she was half on Earth and half still in utero! Like I said, I did get to feel her head a little while it was still mostly inside, but in my next birth I'd like to be more "hands on" so to speak!  Once we made sure there was no cord around her neck, with one more push she was out!  I don't remember how long it was between the head and the shoulders.  I believe usually there is a few minutes between the two, but since I wasn't really feeling the contractions, I don't really know if we got that little break or not.  I was totally out of it, I feel, remembering in hindsight.  I was afraid the shoulders would've been harder than they actually were, but luckily she came right out!  I finally caught a break! ;-)

Caitlin: Carol had a hand in helping with the shoulders. She explained to us that baby necks are like rubber and are stretchy to help in the birthing process, so when she ended up helping Emily by pulling on her shoulders that it was a perfectly safe and normal thing! 

I don't know if Luke pulled me up on to the ottoman with him or what, but the next thing I remember is  sitting with my knees together and Carol putting a baby on my lap!  She was kindof whitish, and she wasn't making any noise.  Carol covered her with a tucks pad and told us to rub her! So we rubbed and rubbed, and I was trying to focus my brain around what was actually happening!  It was all happening so fast!  Not at all how I necessarily pictured it!!!  I'm kindof sad to remember that I was pretty out of it at this point, and I don't feel like I reacted in a way that I expected I would.  I dunno, maybe it was just such a relief that she was here and out, and we'd DONE it!

Carol said her eyes were open, as you can see in the above pic, and she was looking around but she still wasn't making any noise!   We rubbed and rubbed her, and finally, FINALLY she let out her first tiny squeak and then a little cry!  The most beautiful sound I'd ever heard!   She was very alert and looking around from the very beginning!  Everyone kept commenting on how wiggly and alert she was.

Carol said I could pull her up to my chest but I felt like the cord was pretty short and I didn't think I could pull her up that far, but we were able to turn her over and hold her and see her pretty face!   At some point, Carol said I'd feel more contractions and that I could push the placenta out.  I was dreading that part, but I only felt two more light contractions and it was MUCH easier to push out something with no bones!!!  Once the placenta was out, she prepped the umbilical cord for Luke to cut!  It was a little bitter sweet to be separated from this tiny life that had been in my womb for the past 10 months!

I remember the first time Tenley heard Luke talking to her, she turned her entire head to look at him!  You could see the recognition on her face of "Hey, that's my daddy!  I recognize his voice!"  It was soo sweet!

We eventually got her all cleaned up and wiped off, and Luke had to ask me if he could hold her!  I immediately felt bad that I was hogging her!  Such is life with just one baby, (thank God!) huh??? lol.

OH I almost forgot to mention that right after being born, Tenley passed the biggest meconium poop in the history of the universe!!!  IT.  WAS.  EVERYWHERE!!!!!!  

EVERY.  WHERE.  I don't think there was a single person in the room that didn't have Tenley's poop on them somewhere.  It was incredible.  I don't know how it happened, but yeah.  Everywhere!!! That took a while to get us all cleaned up.  Unfortunately too, that meant we ended up with meconium (which doesn't really wash out!) on lots of the cute little blankets and things that we'd intended to use for her, not expecting them to get stained!  Boo.  Oh well, it's still worth it! ;-)  Too bad I didn't pick my least favorite blankets and such! haha

I eventually was able to get some clean clothes on and get situated to try and nurse her for the first time.   It's true what they say about babies with no drugs in their system, I was just trying to hold her up on my chest, but Tenley was able to inch worm her way over to my breast and was a champ at trying to eat right from the very beginning!  I was so amazed at how it was totally instinctual for her to find my breast all on her own.  

After a while, we measured and weighed T and I got a minute to catch my breath.  It was soo great to know that T never left my room or my sight.

So in the end, it wasn't the sweet and romantic birth I pictured in my head.  I don't feel like this birth story will bring tears to peoples eyes the way other birth stories I've read make me do!   But we DID it.  It was hard.  And I wanted to give up at times.  But we made it!  It was the most amazing thing I've ever accomplished.  I think I had to earn my way into Motherhood, for sure.  But the cool thing is, I know that after accomplishing this amazing 48 hour labor, drug-free home birth, I feel confident to tackle the challenges of parenthood! ;)

And you know what else I find interesting? I don't know that Tenley is necessarily going to be an "easy" baby either! She's stubborn and OPINIONATED!  Impatient and outspoken!  I'm afraid she may come by that naturally! ;-)  But that's ok!  I wouldn't want her to be any other way!

Caitlin and Becca ALSO made these fabulous shirts in the wee hours of Thursday night, and they surprised me with them as encouragement before I started pushing!  I think y'all look pretty awesome, considering it's like at least 4am here! Love you guys so much!  Thanks for being there to support us and meet Tenley the night she was born!  <3

IF you made it all the way to the bottom, leave a comment for me so I'll know somebody actually read this novel! ;-)


  1. Emily,
    You may not think it was beautiful, because it is still kind of fresh on your mind. It wasn't traumatic enough that you ran for the C-section or plan to have a hospital birth next time! I like how you said, "Everyone who was there already loved her," or something like that. It was special and beautiful in it's own way. Congrats again! I enjoyed getting to read the whole story!

  2. I read it! Lol :)

  3. I have been WAITING on this "novel" for so long! So glad you wrote it! Thank you so much for sharing Emily! What an amazing story you and Luke will always have to share! I am SOO PROUD of you! God Bless you both and sweet Tenley! Can't wait to meet her!

    The Reinbergs

    PS I am so excited to be the first to post!

    PS again...can I pin this post? Totally fine if not but what a cool story to share and contrary to what you did bring tears to my eyes :)

  4. ok so maybe I wasn't the first but no one had started commenting when I started to read it!

  5. yay some people actually read it! lol!

    Lindsay, thanks for your sweet words and I'm glad you enjoyed it! And sure you can pin it! ;-)

  6. Love your story and have been waiting to hear all about it! You are amazing and so strong and lil miss T is so lucky to have you as a Mommy!!! Congratulations!!!

  7. Loved the story and I am so, so proud of you and Luke! Way to go!

  8. It may not be the "story" as you imagined, but it's YOUR story!! You (and Luke) did an AWESOME job - as did the support crew!! Can't wait to meet this princess!! Congratulations again!! I love you all!!
    Oh- and I love the periodic pictures of you guys!! Really puts into perspective the dynamics of what was going on and Luke's involvement in it ALL!!

  9. Wow Emily! This is amazing! I know you probably don't know (because you mind was on more important things, I'm sure) but Becca text me around 11 AM on 6/8 and asked me to pray for you. She said you were doing great but she wanted me to pray for continued strength for you. I remember texting her throughout the day to check on you and she kept telling me how well you were doing and that you were trucking right along. I prayed off and on for about 12 hours and I text her around 11:30 that night and she said you were almost there. The fact that you had friends and family surrounding you that love you like that is beyond amazing. Being able to have a home birth with no get 2 thumbs up, 5 stars, and a pat on the back from me! Most women wouldn't even attempt that now days and you successfully accomplished it without a hitch. I hope your story inspires others to do the same!

  10. I read it all! I absolutely loved it! Thanks for sharing your amazing story.

  11. So glad to get the whole story!! Finally!!! :) haha. Proud of you girl!

  12. Your story IS beautiful! I am in awe of your strength, as well as honesty, and am so proud that you were able to accomplish your goal of having a home birth. You are an inspiration!!!

  13. Awesome! Congratulations to you and Luke! Not much of any of our life stories goes the way WE plan. Thankfully, God's plan always trumps ours and is infinitely better.

  14. I read every word!! So proud of you!

  15. So happy to read this! So proud of you! My birth was similar, 24 hours of spaced out contractions that wore me down and was only a 2 at the hospital when my water broke! And I also had a lip of my cervix on the baby's head and that, is no fun! What I didn't have was a room of supportive people and I'm sure that was so awesome! Looking forward to my husband having more of a clue this time, and having a doula. Telney is so beautiful! I love the pictures also- incredibly beautiful. Remind me it's all worth it in 7 weeks! I'm counting on second labors being much faster!

  16. I'm so glad it worked out exactly as you planned it! Girl, I don't know how you did labor for so long, AND took a walk, AND got sick, AND still had the energy to push! You're amazing and I'm so proud. I think if I had started vomiting I would have been done, lol. And maybe I'm weird, but I could not stand to lay down through my contractions; it felt better for me to stand, so I was standing through my whole labor, pretty much. Maybe that's why mine went so ridiculously fast!

    Love you, T and Luke!