Melia Gives Birth

Melia had her first baby using pain medication- I can’t remember the details- hopefully she will share them in the comments… She then took my childbirth class and hired one of the LOL doulas and had a home birth. This time she hired a local doula- an excellent one I might add- and took the Birthing Again classes that I teach. They chose to give birth at Athens Regional using the wonderful midwifery group that supports women there. I read her birth story and asked if we could please post it here to share with you. She happily agreed!

The Birth of Della Ruth Digby

I sit here with my four day old daughter on my shoulder, sleeping peacefully. The mere thought of her still seems very surreal to me. I have a daughter. Della Ruth. Oh, how I love her and know her already.

Her birth story really begins in October 2008. For the years following her brother Erick’s birth, her pop and I had always felt we were done having children. We had two beautiful, wonderful boys. It was enough. Or so we thought.

One afternoon in October, I was dancing in my bedroom holding young, 2 year old Erick in my arms. We were listening to. “I called my daughter, called her by her little name…” and I had this overwhelming sensation, this knowing, I have to have a daughter. In that moment, I believe, Della Ruth and God called to me, and I answered.

I called my wonderful husband, Rick. I said, “I want a daughter.” He said “We’ll talk about it when I get home.” And we did. He walked in the kitchen. We hugged and kissed like always and I said again, “I want a daughter.” He said, “It might not be a girl.” I said, “We have to try.” And the miracle of it was, he said “okay.”

Never before had we been in this place regarding another child, and so to both be there, at the same time, well, I knew…this child is meant to be.

We spent the next two months almost giddy with anticipation and love. And on Christmas Eve, around midnight, I took a pregnancy test. And it said “pregnant!” I just stared and stared at it. I was on the phone with my sister, Lindsay, when I took it and we were so very thrilled together.

That next morning (I could barely sleep that night!) I gave pop an ornament with the date 9.09 on it along with the positive pregnancy test. Oh, how thrilled and excited we were!

The pregnancy progressed (oh how sick I was!) and at 20 weeks, we chose not to be told our baby’s sex at the ultrasound. We had found out with the boys, and I wanted this time to be different. Also, a part of me knew that I would love love love my child regardless, and rather meet my child and find out than be told by a technician. Everyone seemed to say “boy” (strangers, coworkers, etc) based on how I was carrying. I didn’t really know. I trusted, though, that whoever it was, Della or Seth, it was the child who called to me. So it didn’t matter.

My due date was September 5th, and that came and went. On Thursday, the 10th, my irregular Braxton Hicks contractions seemed to have more pressure to them, and began to involve my back. It was late, about 11 pm. Rick and I were watching television. I got up and told him that I thought I’d be having the baby in the next day or so. I went to the bathroom and before I even removed the toilet paper, I knew it would show some indication of birthing, and it did. Bloody show. How exciting!

I called Lindsay and told her to plan on coming in the morning. I texted my doula, Alexa, and told her I’d call in the morning. All night I woke up every 10 minutes or so with contractions that felt similar to menstrual cramps. They were quick and easy, but they kept me awake for the most part. I listened to some Hypnobabies and tried to rest. In the morning, we woke the kids up around 7:00. I told Lucas first, and he was so excited (about the birth and about missing a day of school!) How they had been waiting for this day! I woke up Erick and he wanted to come with me, to stay with me. We got him excited by packing his book bag full of books to take, and I got a picture with the boys cuddled with me. Our last picture together before Della. Rick took the boys over to Grandma Rosie and Grandpa Johnny’s condo. They were very excited to go, as they are usually completely showered with gifts and attention there. I was really ready to build a nest to birth in, and was ready to focus on that, so I was thankful the boys had somewhere good to go.

I set myself up in the baby/Erick’s room with my birth ball and Hypnobabies. I found that during contractions, it felt good to lean back and recline- less pressure on my cervix, I guess. I was moaning through them, yet they were still only about 30 seconds or less in length, and probably 10 minutes or so apart.

Rick came home and cleaned the house and brought me water and anything else I needed. Lindsay got to our house around 8:30. I was so happy to see her! Early on I had a contraction and began to moan, and she started to co-chant with me, and I started cracking up and then so did she. She said, “well, I thought you weren’t going with it, I was trying to help.” (co-chanting was a big part of John Ross’ birth)

This laughter, this fun, is what I most wanted for this birth. I wanted to *enjoy* giving birth. To be present, and birth in awareness. I wanted to talk and laugh and bond.

I showed Lindsay some fun, new things around the house, including the bathroom with large tub that Pop was redoing for me and the birth. We then went downstairs and watched a movie that I recorded called “Shag.” It is a movie that she and I both loved when we were young, and it was so fun to watch it together. We knew a lot of the cheesy lines and were cracking up at how silly the movie seemed now, while remembering how “cool” it seemed to us in our youth. During the two hours of the movie, I’d have contractions, go to the bathroom, and ate some graham crackers with peanut butter. Pop watched the movie with us, and basically just waited on me hand and foot.

After the movie, we decided to go for a walk, to see if that would help things progress. It wasn’t comfortable to walk, and I felt rather vulnerable out in the day light with neighbors driving by. With every contraction I felt the need to pee so badly. We just walked a little ways, very, very slowly, and then came back home. I laid down on the couch and actually fell asleep between contractions.

When I woke up, I felt kinda embarrassed or guilty for things not progressing faster. Here I was with Lindsay off work, Alexa’s kids in childcare while she waits for me to tell her it’s time to come over, and Rick off work and “ready.” I voiced my feelings and got reassurance from Lindsay, and especially Rick. I called Alexa and asked her if she thought I should be actively trying to get things to progress (walks, nipple stimulation, etc), or if I should just rest and hang out. She recommended I just go with the flow, and enjoy the day. To balance activity with rest. So, with that, I said, let’s go to lunch!

Lindsay, Rick, and I went to eat lunch at Panera. I was actually really hungry and ate the entire meal. I was having strong contractions, although by being out in public, I realized that I didn’t have to moan through them. I would just look out the window, or put my face in my hands and breathe. If someone were to watch me, I’m sure they would have known I was in labor. The contractions remained about the same in length and intervals.

After lunch, I didn’t want to just go home and be bored; I wanted to have fun on this day with my sister and my husband! I said, let’s go see a movie! We went to the theater and picked a light comedy, “”Extract.” Walking into the theater was slow, with small steps. Basically, whenever I changed positions (from sitting to walking) I’d have a contraction in addition to the regular ones I was having. We went to the bathroom a few times while we were there. So much pressure! There were a few other people in the theater, so during the contractions, I’d lean forward in my chair and just breath in and out slowly and audibly. I’m not sure what those people thought if they could hear me! Then, I’d go back to watching the movie. The contractions were getting stronger, it seemed. After the movie, we slowly walked to the car, and I kept my eyes on the ground the whole time, so as not to make eye contact with any passerby.

When we got home, I got into the bath. Oh, how nice it felt to be in the warm water in the big bath my husband made just for me, for this day. My hands could relax and float at the surface of the water. Limp and loose. I listened to my hypnobabies CD. I could pee with every contraction without having to get up and move! Heaven. Rick ran to the store to get me different headphones because the ones I had kept falling out. Lindsay laid on the bed checking email. It felt very relaxed and safe and simple.

I didn’t know when I wanted Alexa to join us. I didn’t feel like I “needed” her per se, and I was worried that another person joining the little nest we’d created would throw off the balance. She called Lindsay to check in on us, and I had a contraction during their conversation. She heard me chanting/moaning and told Lindsay that it sounded like I was in laborland and she’d like to come on over. I agreed, although it still seemed early to me.

She got to our house around 6:00, which turned out to be perfect timing. I was still in the bath. The water had become cool, but it still felt so good to be in there. Alexa and Lindsay sat in the bathroom with me, chit chatting quietly between contractions. Rick went to shower and shave and change into the soft blue shirt I had chosen for him to wear. I started to feel nauseous, so Alexa gave me a washcloth with peppermint oil on it to sniff. I held that cloth up to my face and just breathed…breathed. After awhile, I decided it was time to get out of the tub and change things up a bit. Oh, it was hard to get out of that water! Lindsay and Rick dried me off from head to toe, stopping while I contracted. Getting underwear and clothes back on me was so exhausting, as they stuck to my huge, awkward, damp body. Finally I was dressed. The plan was to go sit on the birth ball again, but I didn’t make it that far.

I stopped in the hall bathroom to sit on the toilet and I realized that it was starting to feel very intense. I could barely move without another contraction coming on. I told Alexa that I wanted to save some energy for the walk from the car to the hospital, and questioned whether she thought we should go or not. About that time, the contractions seemed to be coming one after the other, and calmly she said that she thought I seemed ready to go.

Rick began loading the car with the bags I’d packed, the quilt my best friend Amy had made for me, my ball, my sign, my birth plan…

Getting down the stairs was no easy task. I went so slowly, with the support of Lindsay and Alexa. I stopped every 2 or 3 stairs for another contraction. Finally at the bottom, I looked around the living room in what felt like slow motion for any last minute items, and spied my water on the fire place hearth. I walked over to get it and put my hands up on the mantle for a real hard contraction. Alexa came behind me and rubbed my back. When it was over, I went out to the car.

It felt surreal to be outside. Strange that it was daylight and the world was going about as usual. I felt a million miles away from everything outside of my people and my contractions. I tried to sit in the front seat and it was like a torture chair! I immediately got out to finish my contraction- there was no way I could sit in that chair! Alexa, thankfully, recommended I sit in the back seat on my knees, leaned over the back. So, that is what I did, with the support of Lindsay in the backseat with me. Rick drove us slowly and smoothly to the hospital, while Alexa followed behind in her car, calling the midwife Toni, to tell her we were on our way. I felt so much pressure during each contraction. It is likely that this was transition, based on when Della was born. I felt nauseous, and couldn’t hold it back any longer. Thankfully, we had remembered to bring a bowl, which Lindsay held lovingly for me, eventually passing it off to Rick where he dumped it out the window at a red light. What must the other cars have thought?!? Rick drove as slowly and smoothly as he could, and still it felt like I was trying to survive the car ride. Contractions would come so forcefully, pushing all Della and my energy down down down, and then my body would be bouncing and turning with the car. My feet fell asleep. I tried to wiggle them awake, but eventually had to change positions and lie on my side to allow the blood to flow. I was exhausted.

We pulled into the hot parking garage at 7:30 and everyone got out. I just sat there- completely drained and on a different spiritual plane. Looking back, it is like I was in a dream. Alexa asked me how I was, and I just stared at her, finally saying “tired.” Rick got all the bags out of the car, and I wrapped one arm around Alexa and the other around Lindsay. We walked slooowly through the parking garage. I kept my eyes closed and my hypnobabies turned up loud so as not to have to have any interaction with or knowledge of other people in the garage. It was so hot. I felt sweaty and clammy. I vomited three times as well walked from the car into the hospital. Oh, that air conditioning felt amazing as we walked in through the automatic doors! We turned to get on the elevator and I noticed a man behind us. Like an animal in her cave, I did not want an outsider to enter. I told Rick, and he asked the man to wait for the next elevator.

We got up to the third floor and Rick checked me in. While I waited, I was aware of other people in the waiting area, but I closed my eyes and acted as if they weren’t there. A registration worker approached me at one point just as a contraction was beginning, and Lindsay kindly said “wait just a minute” and then she moaned in perfect harmony with me so that I would not feel awkward. It felt so good to know that she was supporting me and “had my back.” I felt safe.

We were given a room number and continued on to find it. As soon as we got into the room, I went straight to the bathroom and sat on the toilet. It felt good to sit and to pee. Rick gave the nurse a copy of our birth plan and answered any questions she had. Toni, the midwife, came in to see me. She asked me how I was and told me that she wanted to put me on the monitor to listen to the baby. I asked if I had to move, and she said that yes, I’d need to go to the bed. Well, that wasn’t happening, and Lindsay intuitively knew it. She asked Toni if there was a way we could do it in the bathroom, that she would hold the monitor in place. Toni said okay, and shortly after a tiny little box the size of a pack of gum was in Lindsay’s hand, listening to the baby. Toni had also said that she wanted to check my cervix for dilation, but again, not happening.

I had a few contractions on the toilet, and then Alexa told me that it was normal, but that the baby’s heart rate was starting to drop a little, and she wanted me to change positions. She knew that this is often a sign of the baby descending lower preparing for birth, but just to be sure, she recommended I get up. I’d do anything for my baby, of course, so I stood up, took two steps toward the door, and then dropped to my hands and knees for a contraction, still in the bathroom. Lindsay and Alexa reassured me that it was okay. I felt a lot of pressure in my bottom, and decided to just go with it. I started to push (between 8:40 and 8:45). I realized I was pushing, but I really wasn’t sure at first if I was going to have a huge bowel movement or a baby! It became obvious to Lindsay and Alexa that I was pushing, and through frantic whispers they alerted the nurse to find Toni. I still had my pants and underwear on. I occurred to me that if I pushed the baby out into my pants that would probably not be good, but I couldn’t stop pushing and I couldn’t focus on getting my pants off. During a push, my water broke (8:43 pm) with a pop and a gush. I calmly said “my water broke” and kept pushing. My waters got on Lindsay and myself. Alexa told the nurse and Toni, and they wiped some up with a towel to check color (the lights were off in the bathroom). Toni said there was a little bit of meconium. I started to feel my baby’s head in my birth canal, and then soon through the parting lips of my vagina. I was basically sitting on my knees, so Toni told me that I needed to lie on my side. She told me a few times, and so I did. Lindsay held my weight under my arms, and I laid across her body. Rick went to wash his hands and then joined Toni in front of me so he could catch the baby. I put my hand between my legs and felt the baby’s head stretching my perineum. It stinged and I tried to put counter pressure against the head so as to slow down its exit, hoping to allow my skin enough time to stretch. Toni had some lubrication gel and kept asking me to move my hand so she could apply it, but I felt very protective and didn’t want anyone touching me for fear that it would cause more pain. Lindsay kept telling her just to do it around my fingers, and I think she finally did and I moved my fingers a bit.

And then into my hand the head was born. It really didn’t hurt that bad. It’s so surreal when just the head is out, but the body is still in. The baby is here, but not quite. They don’t cry yet. It’s like time just stops. I remember the baby’s head felt so small in my hand. So wet. Toni used a stern voice to tell me to move my hand. The umbilical cord was wrapped around the baby’s neck 3 times. She unwrapped it, and I pushed again and out came the rest of the baby. The cord was also wrapped once around the baby’s body.

I don’t know if it was something I actually saw, or because of how dark it was, or if I was just in a dream and saw what I expected to see, but I thought I saw a pinky sized penis. I said “it’s a boy!” No one thought to question me, and the baby was all curled up so it wasn’t easy to see. The baby wasn’t crying (apgar of 5, then 9), so Toni was rubbing and trying to stimulate the baby. Lindsay said “talk to your baby,” and so I did. I talked to Seth. I called him by name and professed my love and pleaded to Toni to make him okay. Toni handed Rick the scissors to cut the cord, and Rick reminded her that we wanted to let the cord stop pulsating before we cut it. Toni said that the baby needed oxygen (which would be administered in the actual room, not on the bathroom floor with me), so the cord needed to be cut. Looking back, I don’t think the baby really needed oxygen; I think it was personality not to cry.

Toni and the nurses took the baby into the birthing room, and I told Rick to go with the baby. I remember feeling great and amazed that it was already over. I looked out at the nurses and saw one of them say something with a confused expression, and then immediately I heard Rick shouting with the most joyful voice, “IT’S DELLA RUTH! IT’S DELLA RUTH! HONEY, IT’S DELLA RUTH!” Lindsay said “it’s a girl, that’s your daughter!” and I just started wailing with tears and emotion. I will never, ever forget that moment. The cry was of thanksgiving from deep within my heart and soul. I had a daughter. Della Ruth. It was so unreal.

I love that there was a time when we thought it was our third son, to have been named Seth Leon. In that moment, I loved my child- boy or girl- didn’t matter. It was the unconditional love of a mother. But to find out that it was my daughter, just felt like an answered prayer because I think deep within I knew it was Della that was supposed to be born.

I was helped to the bed in that big, beautiful birthing room. Outside it was dark and I could see cars driving by down below. I was handed the beautiful, blanketed Della and fell deeply, heavily in love. Rick said, “honey, we have a daughter” and he started to cry. She looked right in my eyes. Oh, she was beautiful! I kept remarking on how tiny she was compared to her brothers. All her little features were perfect. Her little ears, nose, mouth…breathtaking. I took off my top and bra and put her to the breast. With her eyes locked on mine, she began licking my nipple. It was the sweetest thing ever! Like a little kitten she licked and sniffed my nipple, finally latching on and sucking perfectly. Dear God, how thankful and happy I was!

Della Ruth Digby sprang from my heart to my arms- 9/11/09. 8:54 pm. 7 pounds, 8 ounces. 21 inches.