The Birth of Helena Gabrielle

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I love writing my children’s birth stories. This one has so many options on how I could begin. It could begin with the conception of baby #4, but you can read about that Epic Road Trip here. No details of the actual conception are not recorded, that would be too much information, but I can say that Minot, North Dakota….the place to get pregnant!

I could begin the story at a very unexpected place for

those that haven’t read my blog much, but for those regular long time readers, this story’s beginning will come as no surprise.

Every pregnancy, I’ve suffered with hemorrhoids. I know, I know, too much information, but it really is important to the story. Normally, as I near my guess date, the weight of the baby starts causing very uncomfortable flare ups. This pregnancy, I had been nearly symptom free, that was until this past Sunday, February, 15th. I took a nap after church and woke to that all too familiar feeling. Normally, during pregnancy this means, that the baby would be here in about 2 weeks after a big flare up. In the past, the hemorrhoids would appear, I would lay down a lot, go get acupuncture or just cry and pray and eventually they would go down in size and I would go into labor.

Well, February 16th was my guess date. I knew I could handle a longer pregnancy, I just wasn’t sure if I could handle how painful these hemorrhoids were. I do not wish them on anyone, okay, well maybe a few mean people, but generally, no one should have to deal with them.

Now the great thing about my guess date was, very few people knew that it was close. I kept it secret, many people assuming that I did not know my “due date” because I wouldn’t share it with them. Remember, Epic Road Trip, I knew exactly when I got pregnant, but when people don’t know your dates, they don’t constantly look at you like your belly is about to explode. I got a lot fewer comments about, “you haven’t had that baby yet.” I didn’t have people telling me that I should have my baby on their birthday, etc. It was great and it really helped keep my sanity.

So back to the birth story. So Monday, February 16th. Snowpocolaypse 2015 was predicted for the middle Tennessee area. Weather forecasters were predicting 4-6” of snow for our area, bread and milk was being cleared off the shelves and the entire Nashville area was preparing to shut itself down. I was hunkered down at home with plenty of food, three noisy boys and was just trying to deal with the pain in my behind. The snow storm turned into an ice storm and made the area sparkly and a little treacherous on the roads. We lost power Monday night and with every trip to the restroom that night, the baby’s head felt so low that I joked with Damon, my husband, that if I pushed two times, the baby would fall out. The power came back on during the middle of the night, allowing me to take a nice bath to try to help ease some of my discomforts.

Tuesday, my husband, went into work after staying home Monday. I continued to lay around on the couch, watching too much television with the boys and knitting. I ventured outside only to check the mail and Liam my oldest played with icicles and enjoyed the winter wonderland outside.

Our winter weather continued Tuesday night, into Wednesday morning with freezing rain and tree limbs falling around our yard due to the ice. Around 3am Wednesday, Ash Wednesday, I went out onto the couch to try to sleep some more. We had all the kids in our bedroom that night since it was so cold in the house. That made our bedroom steamy with all those sweet little boys breathing, so I needed some cooler air to sleep. As I was laying on the couch, I had my first pressure wave. I was excited to feel it. I had told my husband a few days before that I could not remember what a pressure wave felt like (pressure wave is Hypnobabies speak for contraction, I teach this type of childbirth class.)

I continued to have pressure waves through the night, I would wake with one, say the word “Peace” to myself and breathe through it. Then I would fall back asleep. At 7 am, I decided that I needed to take another epsom salt soak, I think that was my 7th or 8th one since Sunday. I filled up the tub and texted the birth photographer that it looked like I might be in my early birthing time. Just as the tub was filled, the power went out again and I shouted, “Oh No….(it might have been Oh, shit… I don’t remember.) I hopped in the tub and prayed that if I was meant to have a water birth, that the power would come back on when I needed it to. While in the tub, the birth photographer texted me back

saying that she was iced in at her home and had been for a few days. It would take her potentially hours to get out. I replied back that she I understood that she more than likely wouldn’t be at the birth.

I called the midwife after my bath, didn’t get an answer. I laid in bed for a bit and about an hour later, I called my midwife again. Her husband answered and we chatted for a moment. I figured she was out doing chores on her farm but he said, no, she had been at two births and was sleeping. I asked him to let her know that I was in early labor, and that I would call back if things picked up.

I decided to go into the living room. Damon was staying home again for me as I was having a decent amount of pressure waves, and I really wanted to find an acupuncture clinic open to see if they could help relieve the hemorrhoid situation. We called a few places and most were closed due to the icy conditions. One place, I left a message and she called me back about 20 minutes later. She happened to have an opening at 10:30 am, but she was at her West End office. I told her I would take the appointment and we arranged for the kids to go stay with my step-sister Sam while we drove downtown.

We gathered the kids together, and they were excited to go hang out at Nana’s house with my step-sister. We drove two vehicles over there, so that we could leave the van with all the car seats in case the baby started to come faster. Damon made me smile as we prepped to leave the house. He asked me to bring one of my baby carriers. I asked why, he replied, well in case we have the baby on the way, then you can strap it to yourself since we don’t have a car seat in the truck. I giggled and obliged but knew that the baby would not be born on the way to the acupuncture appointment.

It was so nice to be out of the house. It was beautiful outside and I didn’t realize how much I needed to get out of the house until we were driving.

I had a great session at the acupuncture. I got to relax on the bed and I don’t think I’ve ever had that many needles in me at one time. During the thirty minutes that I was laying down, I dozed but also had 4 pressure waves. Once I was done, I texted my husband to come pick me up and then texted my midwife to let her know that the waves were getting closer together.

We drove back towards home, stopping at Chick-Fil-A to get some lunch. We ate in the car since the restaurant sitting area was closed due to weather, they just had their drive thru open. We then went and picked up the boys. They did not want to leave my mom’s house and were in surly moods. I did not do my best at keeping my cool with my four-year old but we got him home and I went and laid down in my room for a while.

The waves kept increasing in intensity, but their duration was never any longer than 45 seconds or so. I kept in contact with my midwife and after I had a wave that forced me out of bed, I told her that they were starting to take my breath away. She lives pretty far away, and by around 4 pm, she started getting ready to head my way.

I laid on the couch, watching episodes of Friends, knowing that the pressure waves were getting closer together as I was having between 4-7 waves per 22 minute episode.

My midwife arrived right after 6pm with her apprentice. I was folding laundry in the living room and was having a wave when they walked in the door. I was kneeling next to the recliner and Sheryl came in and rubbed my back to let me know that she was there.

We chatted for a bit, them getting the baby’s heart tones, palpating my belly to check the baby’s position. They were there for about 20 minutes or so when Sheryl mentioned going to a nearby restaurant to get a sandwich. I was still very chatty in between waves and thought it would be a good idea, suggesting a few restaurants.

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She asked if I would like to have a vaginal check. I wasn’t sure as the last exam I ever had during birth was during Liam’s birth. She told me she didn’t have to do one if I didn’t feel comfortable with one. I tried to convince her that she had plenty of time to go get a sandwich but she didn’t want to leave in case it was really close to baby time. I decided that I would have her check me, but I didn’t want to know my dilation. She asked if I was sure, she didn’t have to do one, but I said, why not, just as long as I didn’t have to know the dilation.

At this point, my mom was also at our house, having brought dinner for the boys. While they all ate, Sheryl, her apprentice Rebecca and I went into the bedroom. I laid back on the bed and Sheryl started the exam. Now this part still makes me laugh.

She barely had her hand inside when she quickly pulled her hand back out, snapped off her glove and said, “I’m not going anywhere.”

I laughed and said, “What, why?”

As I stand up, she smiles and says, “Check yourself!” So, I proceed to awkwardly feel my cervix while standing up.

I said, “I never check myself, I don’t know what I’m supposed to be feeling.”

She replied, “when you feel that hard thing, that’s the head.” I put my fingers in and a huge smile popped onto my face as I felt my baby’s head only about 2 to 2.5 inches in. Now Sheryl didn’t tell me how dilated I was at this point. She asked me if I wanted to try and feel the cervix myself and try to learn how to assess my dilation but I didn’t really want to. I was just to excited to know that there was a head right there. After the birth, she told me that I was around 4-5 cm dilated but the head was extremely low. This was once again, around 6:20.

I was pretty giddy at this point, knowing that I had at least called the midwives for a reason, but I still wondered if I had hours to go. I had jokingly said the week before that I thought the baby should come on February 19th as all my kids and anniversaries end in the number 9.

I continued to move around the living room for a bit as Damon started to fill up the birth pool. A short time after this, I had a wave that made me pretty vocal and Sheryl asked, if I thought I was ready to get into the tub. “Ummm, yeah,” was my reply.

The water level was not very high yet, but I went ahead and got in. The water felt great, although a bit hot. As the water filled, I chatted with Sheryl and Rebecca (the apprentice). We laughed and joked, I told them about how my friend Kate had sent me a text that afternoon about dreaming I had my baby. I told them about a great many other friends that all of a sudden seemed to know it was time to reach out to me as I got about four or five private messages during the day on Tuesday and Wednesday with people checking on me.

At one point, I was sitting with my legs to the left and I felt the baby move down involuntarily. I’ve always had to consciously push the babies down, but I told them, “Woah, the baby just dropped and I didn’t do anything.”

I started to get a little more vocal during the waves, but still very tame for myself. Rebecca continued to check heart tones and I complimented her on her gentle doppler use and even got a lesson on how doppler works better when used with a gentle touch. I loved how present I got to be during this birth, learning and laughing with these midwives during the birth. Damon kept coming in checking water levels, moving the hose between our two different water sources so that we had enough hot water to fill the tub. Yay for buying a duplex so that we had enough hot water!

I felt like I was in the tub for ever, and realized that in fact, it was only 7:25pm after I saw the apprentices wrist watch. It felt like the midwives had been there for hours, but they had only been there for about and hours and 20 minutes.

I had a few powerful waves and then Sheryl moved herself so that she was positioned behind me. She is incredible because she squeezed herself between the wall and the inflatable tub so that she was in a good position to support my body. As I was sitting there, I got the urge to eat something. Damon scrambled to get me some Ritz crackers. He brought them back, but just when he was about to hand them to me, I got a wave of nausea and said I was going to throw up. My body heaved itself onto the side of pool, me feeling like I was going to pass out. I could hear Damon scrambling to get me a bucket, but then the nausea passed and I yelled that I really didn’t need a bowl.

My body at this point had my legs extended back towards my midwife, my head against the side of the tub, and in affect I was in a side lying pushing position. It felt like the right place to be and I knew it would be the best position to help protect my perineum this time and for Sheryl to help support the wonderful hemorrhoids.

I had a huge wave come over me and my body began to push with all it’s might. I could lie and tell you that I calmly eased that baby out, but in fact, I started yelling so loudly. To the point that the midwife was reminding me to have low tones. The baby’s head came pretty quickly, my body remembering that sensation all too well. Her head popped out and everything in me was screaming to just get the baby out, the midwife had her hand providing counter pressure on my hemorrhoids, reminding me to slowly ease the body out, I looked down and saw the back of the head, covered in hair. I reached down and touched it while still yelling loudly. Sheryl said the baby needs to rotate and then she sees that the cord is around the baby’s neck twice.  She eased one of the nuchal cords and Damon got into place to catch the baby. My body is pushing with all it’s might at this point and I could feel burning upwards in my vagina.

Then with another push or pull or something, I don’t even know what, the body was out, Damon was bringing her to my chest. The baby was quite purple although it didn’t worry me. Baby was moving, and the cord was incredibly long so baby was able to go high up onto my chest.

I reached down a little as someone said to check if it was a boy or a girl. Damon, said, “it doesn’t matter what it is,” in a tearful excited voice. Both of us cooing over the baby. I then felt again and didn’t feel a penis. Then lifted the baby and we could see that we had a girl! A GIRL! I did not believe that we would have a girl at all. I introduced her name as Helena and asked Damon if he preferred Gabrielle or Gabriella for her middle name. He said Gabrielle and Sheryl said, that would be my vote too if I had a vote. I laughed and she was named.

Her back was covered in vernix but the rest of her was pinking up as she gurgled on my chest. The midwife gently pulled a little spittle away from her mouth, we didn’t even have a bulb syringe used on her. They brought us a towel and we just curled up keeping her warm for a few minutes.

My mom snapped a few photos of us in the tub. We called Nick in to help cut his baby’s sister’s umbilical cord. Liam got to cut Grant’s so I thought it would be cool if Nick got to cut Helena’s. He asked if it would hurt her and we told him no. Damon assisted him cutting all the way through the cord. The other two boys came in and greeted their sister. Liam beaming and Grant smiling saying “my baby.” We decided to get out of the tub and head back to the bedroom. I pushed the placenta out shortly after while sitting on the bed.

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So that is Helena Gabrielle’s birth story. She was born at 7:59 pm on February 18th, 2015 (Ash Wednesday), weighing 8 lbs 10 oz. Her head was 13 inches in circumference, the smallest head of all of them, but a nice barrel chest of 14.5 inches. She was approximately 20 inches long.

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This was the first birth where I did not tear at all. I’m pretty ecstatic as you can read in some posts after Grant was born. In the first two births, I had 2nd degree tears that were sutured back, with Grant’s it was a borderline 1st/2nd degree tear that I opted not to have stitched. It ended up not healing together, but I’m now very thankful for that because I think it helped me not tear this time.  My healing may be a little slow still as the hemorrhoids are going to take a while to shrink in size but we are taking it easy. Hanging out in the bedroom.

I am so thankful for how this birth went. We had a healthy baby, birthed into a room with people that were loving and caring. God sure likes to make each of my children’s births a unique story, and I’m so grateful that it went as smoothly as it did despite the power outages, snow/ice storms and everything else.

Friends that are reading it, you warmed my heart yesterday. I see how many people love me and my family. You brought so many smiles to my face yesterday with your love, support, gifts of flowers and food. Thank you all so much. It is great to feel so many people’s excitement and support of our family of six.

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5 thoughts on “The Birth of Helena Gabrielle

    thevfamily said:
    February 20, 2015 at 3:19 pm

    When I read what Damon said, I started to cry! So glad your little one is healthy, and that now you get to experience the goodness of a little girl. Congrats to your family.

    Heather Taggard said:
    February 20, 2015 at 4:00 pm

    Tears of joy!!!!

    Traci said:
    February 20, 2015 at 4:58 pm

    So excited for your family! Such a great birth story!

    Trisha said:
    March 26, 2015 at 7:22 pm

    What a beautiful story LeighAnn!! I’m so happy for you guys! It sounds like it was just perfect!

    […] Tomorrow, one year old. Our last baby is having her first birthday tomorrow. Every child’s birthday brings back a flood of memories for me. Last year this time, I was really uncomfortable. Baby was so, so low in my pelvis. My hardest pregnancy ailment was in full-fledged flare up mode (hemorrhoids…not my favorite at all.) We had an ice storm happening. Power kept flickering. Every time I went to the restroom, the pressure seemed like baby was going to just fall out. I wasn’t sure when Helena would make her arrival. I figured it would be soon and kept praying that the power would stay on. Around 3 am, on February 18th, I knew that she would be coming soon, and probably by the 19th. I was correct and the birth went so well. If you want to read it: Helena’s Birth Story. […]

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