Anaya will be 5 months old on the 19th of September, and I have still not journaled or blogged one word about her birth. How awful is that? I’ve been meaning to, but it never seems like the urgent thing to do. Tonight it also doesn’t seem like the urgent thing, but I’ve been in a reflective mood and wonder if tonight’s the night to write about it.
WARNING: This post contains a DETAILED birthing story.
Throughout my pregnancy with Anaya, I thought surely I would have her early. Asante and Aly were both a week early and Ada was 2 weeks early. Much to my surprise, my due date rolled around and STILL nothing. At my next doctor appointment, I asked the nurse practitioner to check me to see if I had progressed. I maybe had a little bit, but nothing to call home about. At this point, I knew I needed to do something. Because labor with the other three kids never really started until my water was broke (either by the doctors or on its own), I asked if they’d be willing to break my water. She was doubtful that the midwife would do that, but she said she’d ask the midwife on duty to see what she thought. Ten minutes later she comes back to the room and cheerfully told me that the midwife was comfortable with it.
Jake and I went downstairs to the birthing rooms to talk with the midwife about how the day would go and what “progress” needed to happen and by when. We went home, packed our bag, kissed our kiddos, and headed back to the birth center. Most of the day I standing at my computer, working (I didn’t want to have to take one of my few maternity leave days if I didn’t have to!). We’d walk around outside- went to a thrift store down the road, got some food at different points (ah, yes, that’s right, I got to eat whatever I wanted while in labor!)- but 5:00 came and still no real progress. The midwife said that by 6:00, if my contractions weren’t becoming more regular, we’d need to do something….like castor oil.
Jake and I then went for a long walk outside, hoping and praying that something would start to pick up because I was already feeling kinda sick, and the last thing I wanted was castor oil to make that worse. During our walk, I noticed that the contractions were getting closer together. Yay! I thought. Around 6p, we came back into the birth center, and the contractions were getting a little bit painful, so the midwife agreed to give me another hour or so. Around 6:45, all of a sudden the contractions starting REALLY coming. I ended up laboring a lot standing up, which was unusual for me, but surprisingly not too bad. During transition, I laid down, thinking that there was no way I could do this (which is what I always say at this point). I was laying on my side and felt like with every contraction, Anaya’s head was pushing into my hip bone. I told the midwife this, so she decided to check me at this point, and I was SO disappointed when she said I was 7 cm dilated, 100% effaced. Only 7 cm? She suggested that I get on my hands and knees and see if that helped with the pressure on my hips. The first contraction after getting into that position, I started to feel the baby coming. Oh no, I thought, I’m only at 7cm. I’m gonna tear if this baby comes out now. At the same time that I’m thinking this, the midwife is like, “uh, I think I see a head coming. Tiffany, don’t push. I don’t want you to tear. But do what your body is telling you to do.” During the next contraction, Anaya came out all at once– and no tearing! Looking back, this does make a lot of sense– when I was laboring with Aly, I went from 7 cm to Aly being all the way out in about 10 minutes. Apparently my “7cm” is actually “10cm”.
I really loved the birth center experience. The midwife and nurse were really good. They were supportive, but also left us alone, which I liked. One thing that still stands out to me is that the midwife and nurse were very quiet during the birthing experience. They were there when I needed them, but otherwise stayed out of it. The silence that was in the room in between those hard contractions was absolutely sacred. They respected the experience and I couldn’t have asked for something better.
I must admit that I was not a big fan of only staying at the Birth Center for 12 hours after giving birth (their rule), and also not a fan of keeping Anaya with us afterwards. Sure, I wanted to nurse and cuddle her and look at every speck of her body. But I also wanted to get a good night of sleep before going back to our crazy, rambuncious, non-sleeping house. Surprisingly, I was so ready to go home when they came in at 8am the next morning. I wanted to introduce Anaya to the kids and cuddle the big kids at home!
The first night at home with her was awful. She barely slept. She cried a ton. We tried all of our tricks but could not calm her. My milk had not quite came in yet, and I could tell that she was actually hungry. I called the Birth Center the next day, and they suggested that I give her some formula to fill her little belly until my milk came in. That was an amazing idea, because that was absolutely the problem! I think this is the first baby that we’ve had that was actually hungry that early on.
Up until a couple weeks ago, Anaya has been a pretty challenging baby. She has been fairly discontent, not liking (and unable, really) to sleep during the day, not very smiley (her first smile wasn’t until she was THREE months old). She is only just now starting to laugh, and even then, it’s not really a belly laugh. Thankfully she has slept really good at night (around 7 or 8 weeks she started giving us 6-7 hour stretches), and now she typically sleeps about 10-11 hours straight at night. Interesting fact about Anaya is that she STILL does not like pacifiers (despite our attempts to make her like them- many brands, etc.). She doesn’t suck her thumb very much, but every now and then she does when she’s trying to put herself to sleep.
Anaya has fit right in with the rest of the family. The kids love her, and I think Aly has especially taken to her. Every morning Aly has a routine where she comes into our room and talks to Anaya in her crib (if she’s awake in there) or in our bed (if Anaya has just finished nursing). Anaya loves this routine and is eager to “talk” to her. All the kids are super helpful and I’m thankful that no one has really gotten jealous or been mean to Anaya.
I think she first rolled over (belly to back) around 3 months, and a week or two later, from back to belly. At 4 months, she can roll back and forth pretty easily and has been doing that fun “spinning in circles” thing to get things (and people) she wants. Currently, she is fascinated with the eating and drinking process and imitates our chewing when we’re eating near her. This week she has been a totally happy baby, and it’s been so nice!!
It’s funny, you’d think with the 4th kid, those things like rolling and smiling and imitating wouldn’t be a big deal–but it totally is! It is just amazing how babies can grow so fast and it’s a joy to see them develop new skills and grow into their personality.