Monday, November 18, 2013

Angelo Christopher Martinez’s Birth Story – Born May 27, 2013

My birth story is long overdue as my little man is now 24 weeks old. I wrote this as how I'll be sharing my birth story with him someday. Better late than never right!
Angelo Christopher Martinez’s Birth Story – Born May 27, 2013
My sweet Angelo, we had anxiously been awaiting your arrival but did not want to rush you in any way. There was talk of a full moon the Friday before you were born as it is believed that many women go in to labor during full moons. I did not feel that would be the case for you though, so I didn’t pay any attention to that. Besides you had to wait for Maria to get back in town!!! We knew you'd come when ready and were done cooking :-). You were due to arrive on 5/30/13 (right before my birthday) but decided to grace us with your arrival a bit sooner. I'm so glad you did!!!

Towards the end of my pregnancy I continued to stay as active as possible. That included going to Zumba regularly, taking many walks and keeping up with your two sisters. Dad and I were quite busy getting our home ready for you and clearing out as much clutter as possible. Here you are 39 weeks:
Our midwife Maria was away at a retreat that weekend and so I prayed that you wouldn’t come too early so that she’d be there for the birth. I remember saying many times that you’d come that Monday as she’d be back in town by then. I guess you were listening J. It was a normal busy weekend; the Saturday before you arrived I went to a bridal shower. Sunday I volunteered at a midwife class, where as many as 12 learning doulas felt you in my tummy. Now in retrospect I wonder if that got things going for you. It was such a beautiful day that we then headed over to the Palace of Fine Arts for a little stroll with your sisters.
On Monday May 27, 2013 I woke up around 2 am with a sudden urge to pee. I went to the restroom and nothing happened. Then again around 5:30 am. When I returned to bed, I felt mild lower back pain. This feeling was familiar and I had a feeling that perhaps it was early labor, I didn't want to get too excited just in case.

I figured I’d let your dad sleep as he’d need the energy later. I laid back in bed, but began timing the mild contractions in my head. They were irregular with some being about 15-20 minutes apart but very mild. My hands had been a bit swollen those last few days prior to labor and I had a feeling I'd get to meet you soon as I noticed some other changes in my body. That morning I went for a checkup with Maria at 8 am and it went well. You measured correctly at 39 weeks and I mentioned to Maria that I had been feeling the back pain and the contractions, though at that point I was not sure if they were just Braxton Hicks contractions or real contractions. Maria said everything looked good and that she may or may not hear from me later that day.

After the appointment I picked up some snacks and also picked up fresh bread and a pastry to share at home. I felt full of energy and in a great mood.

Then headed home and kept tracking the contractions. Your dad kept telling me to relax and rest but I just couldn't sit through the contractions. I kept getting up each time one came to breathe through them. Here you are that morning peeking through my shirt while still in my tummy:
I had promised your sisters that we'd have a family outing to Children's Fairyland that day since it was a holiday and there was no school. As the contractions continued I just knew there was no way I'd be able to spend the day laying around and siting through contractions. So I made sandwiches and packed lots of snacks for us to have at the park. Here they are. They were excited as they realized you’d come soon.
We picked up grandma on the way and off we went around noon to Fairyland (small theme park with lots of walking). As the outing progressed I felt the contractions coming and going and getting more intense and regular. Your dad called to check on me a couple of times and I assured him that the contractions were regular but not painful yet and that I may be in labor sometime that day. The contractions came and went and I stopped many times throughout the park to get through them with deep breathing. People would stop to ask if I was ok and I'd simply respond with: Yes, thank you. I'm just in labor J.

We made our way out of the park by 4 pm. Got through the bridge, dropped off grandma and made it home by 5:30 pm.

I walked in to find dad had set up the birth tub and it was ready to go (I got really excited; it began to feel real). The contractions were still pretty consistent with no changes so I began to clean house as I knew that we would be having company over soon. Your dad drifted off to sleep for a bit, and then suddenly woke up to one of my contractions as my breathing got louder and louder. I remember he asked at that point if we should call Maria or Krissi (your auntie and doula) and I told him it was not yet time.

6:30 pm came and your sisters got hungry so I began to make dinner while cleaning up and having some more contractions. I recall emailing myself at 7:47 pm as your sisters made me so proud. They had been playing so nicely with each other while I endured contractions all day.

Here is a picture of them playing dress up while waiting for dinner:
The contractions began to get closer together so I started tracking them with a phone app. They were about 7 minutes apart but not always 1 minute long so we checked in with Maria just in case. She said to call her back when they got to 4-1-1. This is what they looked like when I began to track:
So I kept tracking and trying to clean as I could not sit through the contractions. They were not painful per say, but rather intense. I mostly labored leaning over the kitchen counter, swaying my hips side to side and taking deep long breaths which really helped. I recall your sisters would come by as well to pat my back and smother me with kisses telling me I’d be ok. I managed to make dinner, but wasn’t hungry. Instead I drank lots of water and snacked here and there. At just about 9 pm dad went to drop off your sisters at tia Liana's house and pick up some last minute things. Your sisters Lila and Sophia were so excited. They knew that you were coming soon and couldn’t wait to meet you.

From that point on I had about an hour and a half of laboring on my own which was nice. I paced through our home, used the bathroom, tried different positions and took my breathing to another level. I hummed and took deep long breaths through the contractions (things I remembered from the breathing class Krissi and I took). By then the contractions got pretty close together. They were at 5-1-1. Dad had called a few times while out to see how I was doing. He later said that he could tell by my breathing that the contractions were stronger even though I was saying I was doing ok. So he called Krissi and asked her to make her way over to check on me. I had also been messaging with Krissi during the contractions. We thought it’d for sure be a long night and that I’d see her in the morning. I recall telling her that all I wanted was water and dark chocolate which was counterproductive to everyone’s advice to rest.

The contractions progressed so fast. I didn't think I needed to rush dad home. But right before he arrived I had a few contractions that were really close together. By now it was around 10:30 pm. Even when the contractions got really intense though, not for one second did I doubt my decision to birth you at home. It felt so right, so natural that I did not fight the contractions and tense up like I recall doing for your sisters’ births. Instead I consciously let my body do what it was trying to do and focused on breathing deep and long.

Here is how my contractions progressed:
So dad rushed home and as I was having an intense contraction he walked through the door. I could hear him reminding me to take deep breaths, that I was doing great and that it was going to be ok. He squeezed my hips to help with the pressure through a few contractions but still had to fill the birth tub. I had a few more contractions and they were now about 4-1-1. I guess I was waiting for more of a pattern before saying anything and within minutes as Chris was trying to fill the tub, I had a really intense and long contraction and my water broke right in our kitchen. Per the phone app this was at 11:10 pm. (good thing I was tracking). I could not believe it!!! Finally you were coming!!!

I was filled with joy as with each contraction I could feel you descending and making your way down. I was able to experience what the miracle of natural birth is. I remember thinking to myself: this is how it's supposed to happen. This is what my body was meant to do and this is what happens when you TRUST!!!

That's when we called Maria and Krissi to come on over. Maria had told me all along that since it was our 3rd birth that it would happen fairly quickly. She was not kidding!!!! From this point it all happened so fast.

I rushed over to take a shower and the contractions got more and more intense. I could barely move while in the shower and Chris reminded me (in a very sweet manner) that he was trying to fill the tub but couldn't while I was in there. These contractions were so intense that I could hardly move.
By the time I was coming out of the shower Maria arrived. I heard her cheerful voice and felt a sense of relief and excitement as she was there to guide us through.

I thought that at this point I'd be dilated to 7 or 8 and would still have time for the tub to get filled in time to give birth. Boy was I wrong!!! Maria made it here in about 13 minutes (she happened to be at another birth for a first time mama). By 11:30ish Maria checked me and said I was ready to push on the next contraction. I was in disbelief, shock and sooo excited. Of course though this meant no water birth since the tub was barely 1/4 of the way full. I recall breathing through the next contraction shortly after still in disbelief and not quite ready to push. We waited for the next contraction while I prepared myself mentally to push and greet you.

On the next contraction I could feel you descending and I reminded myself to let my body open (I kept picturing a flower blooming) and help you come out. It felt like I pushed with all my might yet it didn't feel like you had come out at all. Maria and Chris assured me they could see your little head.

A few minutes later another contraction came and I remember pushing, but it was rather a gentle almost effortless push this time. I wanted to ensure your transition from my womb in to the world would be as gentle as possible. Dad was holding my hand and taking video all at the same time to try and capture this special moment. I had closed my eyes and could feel the burning sensation and knew that was your head coming out. I was so focused on feeling you descend, pushing and my breathing that I didn't hear Maria the first time when she said to reach down and catch you. I did hear her the second time though. I looked down and I could see your head and shoulders. At that moment I reached down for you and pulled the rest of you out. It was surreal. I held you in disbelief and recall saying: my baby, my baby several times. I was now able to hold you in my arms and couldn't stop smiling while I looked at your sweet face. You were bright pink and just full of life.

Auntie Krissi heard me give birth to you right outside the front door. With all the commotion we did not hear her knocking, but she was there, present through it all and came in shortly after to meet you as well.

We named you:

Angelo Christopher Martinez
Born May 27th, 2013 at 11:45 pm
Weighed 7 lb. - 3 oz., 20 3/4 inches long

Words could not describe what I felt at that moment. I recall smiling from the moment I saw you for hours on end. I was on this amazing high knowing you were here as healthy as could be. You cried immediately, were bright pink and had tons of hair. I placed you on my chest where you calmed down. You looked beautiful, so peaceful, and just full of life. You nursed shortly after like a champ. Guess you were really hungry. We had wanted to keep your gender a surprise and it sure was. Papa Chris had to take a double look and confirmed you were a boy. Yes!!!!! We were so grateful for your arrival. Here is your proud papa:

One of my wishes when planning our home birth was to not cut your umbilical cord immediately and to have as long as possible to bond skin to skin with you. We got just that! I think it was at least 30 minutes of just us three gazing at each other. Papa was taking lots of pictures. We were in amazement of what had just happened. I didn't know birth could be this way. Our experience was so joyous, simple and natural. Shortly after, daddy cut your cord as it had stopped pulsating. Then daddy held you while I delivered the placenta.

I felt great and was ready to eat. Chris brought over some coconut water for me. It was delicious and auntie Krissi made me some scrambled eggs which I had with stewed meat and rice. Thank goodness for left overs. Chris spoon fed me while we talked for a bit. I thought that was so sweet!

Then Maria and Krissi stayed a bit longer to check on your vitals, observe you and ensure we were ok. You were weighed, had a vitamin K shot and got checked thoroughly. Having Maria and Krissi there before, during and after made a huge impact on our successful home birth. We will be forever grateful.
We eventually moved down to our bedroom and cuddled in our own bed with you and dad. I was too excited to sleep. I kept staring at you while also talking to Papa. The hour prior to your birth was so special for dad and I. We agreed to have made the right decision to have you at home. Although dad was supportive of any decision I would have made, he wasn't always on board with the idea of a home birth. However, after having experienced your birth he was convinced. The best part is that it was just us, no nurses or doctors in our room. No one was pacing in the hallway and checking on us every hour. I felt in such peace and quiet. It was pure bliss.

You slept swaddled for about 3 hours and then woke up to eat and be changed. Here you are just hours old unwrapped like the precious gift you are.
I would have liked for your sisters to be at the birth or there right after as we had watched a few home birth movies together to prepare them for it. However it was nice to have these moments to ourselves and enjoy you just like this.

Your sisters did get to meet you the next day once home from school. Here is the first time you all met:

That afternoon Maria came to check on you. Can you believe you were the 1110th baby delivered by her? AMAZING!!! I wouldn't change a thing about our home birth experience. It was wonderful to be surrounded by other mamas to be the months before you arrived; and also having Maria so involved with us after your birth as well. I wish I could do overs with your sisters and that I knew then what I know now about home birth.

Here you are with Maria at about 5 weeks old:

Angelo, you are a blessing to our family and have thrived since birth. I couldn't be a more proud mommy. So were and are so alert, aware and healthy. Here is the progress days after birth:

·         At birth 7lbs. 3oz.
·         The next day 6lbs. 15oz.
·         At 3 days 6lbs. 12oz.
·         At 10 days 7lbs. 5oz.

In retrospect, I recall being so much more present in this birth; being fully aware of what you and my body were doing as you got in position to meet us earth side.

I have been asked if I felt afraid of how a home birth could go wrong and how I could endure not taking any pain medication. I chose to have a home birth in my 7th month of pregnancy so it’s not like I knew all along that I’d chose this path. I did have a few moments where I did give in to the fear of what may go wrong. However, it was because of the wonderful people I surrounded myself with that I was able to push through and kept my birth choice. I knew it was the best for my family, myself and you Angelo.

What I’ve taken away the most from this experience is that breathing, tuning in to my body, trusting myself & my instincts made a world of difference. I wanted this home birth so badly for us that not once during labor did I consider going to the hospital at all.

I wish all moms to be were given the resources to learn as much as I did about home birth. Like I said before, I didn't know home birth could be this wonderful or that it is even an option. I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.

Here is Angelo today at 24 weeks old:

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