Warning, it is a birth story. TMI and all that, beware.
After having a 3 hour active labour with Clara and then 1.5 hour active – 10 day early delivery with Hugh I was a little paranoid this baby would come early and super DUPER fast, so when the 37 week mark hit, I was ready ready ready. Home birth supplies ready and waiting, car seat in the car, hospital bag packed (and in the car) and all the baby supplies, crib, nice clean folded baby boy and girl clothes ready and waiting, waiting, waiting. And I had to wait a lot of long weeks after that. My due date with my this pregnancy was September 29.
Well that day came and went. And I was a large, overdue, stressed out, miserable pregnant woman… but trying to stay positive!
On the first of October, a Thursday, I asked/convinced Brian to take the next day off so that I didn’t have to manage the 1 and 3 year old on my own, or was it so that he could enjoy his birthday at home, sleeping in (hah) and relaxing instead of being at the office. Whatever I told him to get him to use one of his vacation days up, it worked, and I was so happy we would get a long weekend.
Friday October 2, 2015
I had been having lots of regular Braxton Hicks contractions, enough to have a false alarm and call the midwives in the middle of the night at 39 weeks, but finally I had contractions that were getting painful (the “different” I was waiting for) and couldn’t sleep after 3:30am. So I did important things like pluck my eyebrows and cleared kids out of our bed and finally woke up Brian around 5am to tell him he might have to share his birthday, the kids started waking at 6, so we and had my parents come take them to their house and at 8 we asked the midwives to come.
Looking back, it was the most beautiful fall day. It was a vibrant fall with no wind or rain or snow (yet) to bring all the leaves down. The day was 20 degrees (72*f) and gorgeous! we even turned the heat off because it was getting so warm in the house.
We called my parents and they came around 7 am and picked up Clara and Hugh, and they asked when the midwives were coming and I had to admit we hadn’t even called them yet. Better get on that (I am apparently good at missing obvious labour cues) But I knew it was time for the midwives to come when I couldn’t talk and joke and carry on like normal through contractions and I knew it was push time when I couldn’t even pray through the contractions. Up until that time I had been silent but for moans and groans, interiorly carrying on in prayer with our Lord and Mary, saying that this was meant to happen, and this was worth it to meet the person who had been created for our family
Anyway yes labour was fast but not as fast as last time. The wonderful Midwife Julie was on call, I love her because she expresses total confidence in my ability to birth this baby. She suggested positions but then left me to decide and assured me that I did know what I was doing, she asked if I wanted to get in the shower, and I said not yet and she left me to my decision, she waited and listened from the other room and only offered suggestions, never telling me what to do, just helping me see what I was already doing.
Julie made me laugh during the most intense moments by telling me the story of an Amish woman who proved her wrong, she tells women “you can’t give birth with panties on” but this ever-so-modest Amish woman did, her baby came out the leg hole.
Julie arrived sometime before 9am and checked and I was at 6cm, yay! so she told me I was having the baby for sure, very nice thing to hear, but I still wasn’t in agony or anything. Brian and I were joking between contractions (which were not “textbook” at all…. 30 seconds long and random timing… But painful when they happened) anyway then the student midwife came and they spent a long time trying to find a vein to give me IV antibiotics. But my veins are bad to the best of nurses, let alone a student, so it took forever and I was getting more and more ….. Focused? Loud? during contractions, so the experienced midwife knew it was progressing, a lot. So right before they inserted the needle she asked if I wanted one more check to see if it was even worth it (if the abx aren’t in at least 2 hrs before delivery they really are pointless for baby) so she checked and said I was still 6 or 7 (boooo) but when an actual contraction came it pushed baby down and I instantly went to 9-10.. Then back to 6 between contractions. Tmi but you asked 😉
She suggested we walk up and down the stairs, to help baby shift into a better position, we did that three times maybe? Then she could tell by my guttural moaning or something that it was time to get off the stairs and basically into delivery position…. And then pretty quickly after that they told me they could break my water and baby would be out and I said no (???) Not sure why but I think I needed time to process even though I was dying for it to be over… Labour is CRAZY…
I remember being absolutely overwhelmed with relief and calm every time they held the Doppler to my belly and I could hear your heart beating. I prayed in thanksgiving that I had been able to keep you safe thus far and just prayed that you could safely be born and we could meet you. I was scared I was some how doing something wrong when Julie told me to stop pushing between contractions or pull back a little and not force it. I was just so desperately trying to do my best and do everything I possibly could to get you here. I couldn’t tell what was happening as much, there was no ring of fire and I asked Brian if your head had come out and if he could see you. It was only in that last contraction that my water broke and the warm wetness of relief and freedom from pain came over me. I had been in a kneeling position at the end of the bed, my head in my hands, and I Sat back on my ankles and saw you right away, grabbed you right away, and waited with the midwives and Brian, all of us holding our breath waiting what felt much longer than the few second it was to see your first breath, to hear your cry.
Waiting for your breath daddy moved your cord so we could see that you were a girl, I saw it before he even said it out loud and when I heard dads voice almost shaking with joy as he told the room “she’s a girl, she’s a girl!!”
When the midwives heard your cry I pulled you to my chest and you never left. I tried to let daddy hold you when I stood up but Tiffany wouldn’t allow the “golden hour” to be interrupted. You stayed right with me. They wrapped you in warm blankets and admired your beautiful cord. The placenta was easily delivered within minutes and daddy cut your cord when all its work was done. You and I moved up on to the bed and cuddled for the next few hours. You were latched on, on your own and doing what you do best, within 14 minutes of your first breath.
You stayed with me until around 1pm when Julie came back in the room to weigh and measure you. You were born at 10:46am, 8pounds and 14oz, slightly less than Clara had weighed and as long (21inches) as your big brother. Everything about you was perfect. Your colour and every tiny inch of your body. Your head full of dark black hair, your dark blue eyes that were starting to scan the room, calm and quiet you had been this whole time. No flinch when they gave you your vitamin K shot,
She is so tiny. I am trying to be 200% present with her so I can mentally capture some of this wonderful newness. I can’t remember if Hugh was ever this delicate like this, I think not. Tessa’s fontanelles are clearly tangible across the top and down the back of her skull. Her little cord fell off at 7 days, she has tiny thin arms and legs, no chub at all yet on her little limbs. Although the strength of her tiny muscles is impressive, she can lift and turn her head, and grab your finger with might! But when she’s being held she is a total ragdoll flop. Her body seems to just melt into you, no part of her is tense or pushing back or away, whether awake or asleep, and her soft delicate blemish free skin is warm and creamy against you.
No sight of a birthmark or blemish of any kind, no baby acne or scratches, even though her nail length at birth was one of her most noticeable features! Her breath is steady, and any noise she makes is so very girly! Squeals and squeaks and high pitched whimpers. Not in an annoying way (yet?) but it is also so rare to hear much of anything from her at all. She is still sleeping most all the time, and happy during the moments she is wide eyes.
The meaning of her name
Tessa (short for Terese) is after the inspiring Saint Therese the little flower who’s feast day was the day before (Oct 1) and we really wanted her middle name to Honour Mary, the mother of God, the name Araceli is a Spanish title of Our Lady, the “altar of the sky” pronounced air-a-chay-lee