Clarke and Cheryl+Liam and Zuri

Clarke and Cheryl+Liam and Zuri

Friday, September 25, 2015

The Birth of Zuri James

Zuri James Holdaway was born on Sunday, September 6 2015, at 11:46 AM.

My guess date was September 1 and at my midwife appointment on that day, I was 2 cm dilated and 50% effaced. I was already planning on her coming past her due date so I wasn't particularly disappointed or in a hurry. I  spent that week going on little dates with Liam- to the zoo, to get ice cream, to pick out a present for the baby... Just soaking up my one on one time with my little buddy. It was the perfect way to pass the time.
On Friday I was having some pretty awful back pain. Liam was posterior and it caused some major back pain during labor and I was very scared of having to deal with that again. I called my (awesome) doula, Rachelle, and she gave me some guidance for positions to try to get baby in the ideal position and alleviate the back pain. I spent all afternoon doing rebozo, on my knees, walking around, and napping. By evening the back pain was gone! She had gone back into the ideal position. I was so relieved.
The next morning (Saturday) I woke up feeling crampy. Like a bad period. By 10 AM, I could tell that this was early labor. I wasn't convinced that it was really going to progress into the real thing yet. I took a nap and woke up at 1 PM to a much stronger wave than I had been experiencing. I started timing the waves and they were coming consistently about 10 minutes apart. I gave Rachelle a heads up that this was maybe it. I was still unconvinced though. 

By late afternoon I was pretty sure it was happening slowly but surely so we had a friend pick up Liam. Then we wasted some time cleaning, taking a walk, and...ya know.. doing it (That's right we did IT while I was in labor. We just had to take a little break for contractions), all in an effort to get those contractions to pick up. 

Around 10 PM, my doula, Rachelle, arrived and helped me get relaxed and comfortable. We did a sage burning, she gave me a relaxing massage, and we decided on a plan. I decided to try and get some rest so Clarke and I went into our room and laid down. I put on my hypnobirthing track and fell right asleep. I would half wake and breathe through waves ever 10 or so minutes but I was able to stay so deeply relaxed that I drifted right back to a deep sleep. I am so glad that I put in the time to practice my hypnobirthing because as soon as Lauralyn's (hypno instructor) soothing voice came on, I was able to relax so completely. 

I woke up to a much stronger wave and felt the need to move around at about 2 AM. I woke up Clarke and Rachelle and these stronger waves were about 4-5 minutes apart. We decided to head to the hospital. When we arrived I was checked and was almost 5 cm. They wanted to hook me up to a monitor for a bit so that limited my movement which I hated. My body was telling me to squat and sway and dance and MOVE. So I was very happy when the monitor came off and the tub was ready! I got in that beautiful, warm water and was in my happy place. Birthing in the water is THE BEST. So relaxing... maybe too relaxing... we noticed that my waves had slowed down to about 10 mins. apart again. At this point it was around 7 AM and I was TIRED.

Rachelle suggested I try taking a nap and eating some food, so I got out of the tub and into bed and turned on another hypnobirthing track while Clarke and Rachelle went to get some breakfast. My amazing midwife, Lindsay, stayed with me, applying counter pressure and helping me breathe through the waves that brought me out of my deep sleep into that hazy halfway sleep every 10 or so minutes. I slept though! And woke up feeling refreshed and ready to go. 

I ate some yogurt and juice and Clarke and I decided to get things going already! We started walking the halls. This helped get the waves closer together and stronger. At about 10 AM, we decided to have Lindsay check me again. I WAS STILL AT 5 CM! I was shocked. And slightly dismayed. But then she said I was so stretchy and soft that if I could just get baby's head down to put pressure on my cervix, she was sure I'd progress really fast. She offered to break my water but I said I wanted to try a few things first. 

I got on my birthing ball and, feeling so determined to move that head down and break that water and get things to pick up, I DANCED and SWAYED and BOUNCED and SPIRALED through that next wave with all my energy and might. Clarke was steadfastly applying counter pressure to my hips through these waves and he thought I was finished with this one before I was. He held a cup of water out to me and I accidentally knocked it out of his hand and all over me! It was ice cold and so shocking and not a second later, my water broke! As Clarke apologized profusely for spilling cold water on me, I yelled excitedly, "It's fine! MY WATER BROKE!" Well, he didn't believe me at first cause he thought I was confusing my water with the water he spilled on me. (*Rolls eyes*) Trust me, when your water breaks, you know it. 

Lindsay, Rachelle and the nurses came back in and I got back in the tub. Well, Lindsay was definitely right! As soon as my water broke (around 10:30 or so) things went FAST. The waves were stronger and I moved intuitively through them, swaying my hips. The water helped relieve a lot of the pressure. I was surrounded by loving hands holding me up, squeezing my hips, massaging my arms, holding my hand. I felt so incredibly loved and supported. I was surrounded by peaceful sounds. I had a hypnobirthing track on that helped me sleep between these powerful waves even when I was nearing transition. Rachelle was drumming quietly, the methodic beating bringing me deeper and deeper into relaxation. 

I was starting to get nauseous so I knew I was getting close. Lindsay asked if I wanted her to check me again and I said yes. I was at 9 cm but there was a forebag of water that hadn't broken. She asked if I wanted her to break it and I practically yelled, "YES!" I was ready to meet my baby after over 24 hours of labor. 

As soon as she broke it I felt the most intense pressure and felt this fight or flight instinct kick in. I launched myself toward the edge of the birthing pool trying to escape somehow. I let out a loud yell. I felt an intense burning. They said, reach down and see if you can feel her head. I did and I could! Her head was part of the way out already and I hadn't pushed or anything! I started asking, "what do I do? Do I push?" My wonderful midwife and doula said, "You don't need to do anything. Just breathe." I breathed through that wave and felt her move down further.

 (This was that moment when I felt her descending and freaked out for a second! I love how Rachelle and the nurse are just smiling like, "This is all ok. It's ok that you're freaking out. That means baby's coming and everything will be fine in just a couple minutes." They're old pros at this, clearly.)

Before the next contraction came I took a moment to feel her head and in my head and heart communicate to her how excited I was to meet her and invite her to gently come out and greet me and her daddy and the world whenever she was ready. The next wave came and I breathed through it just as I had every contraction I'd had so far. I didn't even push! I had my hands on her head still and felt it come out. I couldn't believe it! She was out already! The rest of her body slid out and I lifted her out of the water and up to my chest. I cuddled our sweet baby and looked at Clarke in shock. I couldn't believe how quickly she had come! She was so perfect and beautiful!

They let the cord finish pulsing and then needed to get me out of the tub and get the placenta delivered as I was bleeding a little more than they'd like. Clarke got some skin to skin cuddle time with Zuri while I got settled on the bed and delivered the placenta. Then he laid her on me and she immediately started looking for my breast. I brought her to it and she latched on like it was the easiest thing in the world! This made me so happy as breastfeeding was such a struggle for Liam in the beginning. I nursed her and stared at her beautiful face and kissed Clarke again and again thanking him for this gorgeous baby, while they stitched up the two tiny lacerations I got (way less stitches than I had with Liam!) and gave me a shot of pitocin to stop the bleeding. In a half hour or so me and baby looked good so everyone left and Clarke and me and Zuri got an hour of alone time. She was glued to my breast pretty much that entire time. This girl is a champ at nursing.

Rachelle, my doula, had arranged for our birth to be filmed for a birth documentary about birth workers. So we were lucky enough to have the whole experience professionally filmed and photographed.I am so grateful for these photos and video footage so we can always remember this incredible experience.

I honestly had the birth of my dreams. I had the support and love of my husband, doula, and my whole birth team and that carried me. I felt like I could do anything with all the love and positive energy that was present in that room. It was a really long, tiring labor and then a really, really fast delivery. I am so grateful for Clarke's love and kisses and tireless support and love. He saw me in a new way that day and it allowed me to see myself through his eyes. I saw myself as strong and powerful and vulnerable because that's how he saw me. So grateful for him. So grateful for my doula who helped me through each wave and helped me relax and rest between them for over 12 hours! So grateful for my midwife who supported me and Zuri by taking care of us medically but also being an amazing emotional support. I had an incredibly supported, empowering, gentle birth.

Clarke and I didn't have her name completely decided on until about an hour after she was born. We knew the middle name would be James (which I know is unconventional "for a girl" but it's Clarke's dad's name and Clarke's middle name and we love it :) but were still deciding from a list of 3 names. Clarke read my mind and said, "I think it's Zuri." I was about to say that!

So Zuri James Holdaway entered our lives and made us indescribably happy.