Today is our baby girl Cecilia's first birthday. One year ago today she was plucked, screaming, all eight pounds of her, from my body.
Keith and I had chosen a home birth this go-round for two reason: to avoid my having a third cesarean and to try and limit as much of the delivery/hospital stay stress and fatigue as possible for Keith, as it exaggerates his PD symptoms. As we learned three years earlier during the birth of our first daughter, Rielly-Anne, Keith is extremely uncomfortable staying in the hospital, and the emotional ups and downs of labor and delivery are almost as tough on him as they are on me. So we chose to go with a home water birth, deciding on Leslie as our midwife for all my prenatal care and birth, and continuing to see Dr. K, the wonderful family doctor I saw for the pregnancy and birth of Rielly-Anne. Due to my two prior cesareans, I was considered special needs, and was given top priority above all other patients. Leslie and Dr. K spared nothing to ensure a healthy baby and mom. Though we were unable to fulfill our dream of delivering little Cecilia at home, we consider her birth to be a wonderful experience with minimal undue stress placed upon Keith.
At 4 p.m. on November 6, at nearly forty-three weeks along, my water broke. I called Leslie, our midwife, immediately. She told me to do whatever prep work I needed to do for labor, take it easy and get plenty of rest. So I cleaned the house, pulled from the freezer my pre-made wholesome chicken soup and casserole, and made sure the birthing kit was in order and within easy reach. I had been having very strong contractions since my twentieth week, so we all fully expected labor to move along. At that point, contractions were mild and sporadic.
Keith arrived home with a few extra supplies we still needed. We placed a call to my sister telling her to get ready to come over at a moments notice, then made another call to Leslie. She would be there whenever we were ready; she was fairly sure that true labor would begin in the middle of the night. She was right - around 2 a.m. contractions were so strong that I could no longer stay in bed. I got up and just paced back and forth in the bedroom, finally waking Keith around 5. We went downstairs and made it through another hour before calling Leslie. She arrived at the house around 8 a.m. and was able to confirm that my contractions were becoming stronger and more regular, and also that there was meconium in the amniotic fluid. I called my sister, who arrived within the hour. She set about making the soup, taking care of the kids, keeping the house clean, while Keith and I went for a long walk to try and speed up the contractions. The walk did nothing - by 4 p.m., twenty four hours after my water broke, my labor had completely stopped. Leslie did all the things midwives do to jump start labor, from giving me organic, labor inducing herbs to belly massage. Nothing helped. Finally, during a conference call with Dr K, we all unanimously agreed that it would be in our best interest to deliver Cecilia via c-section at the hospital. Before agreeing to that, however, I made sure several criteria of ours would be met. 1. Keith would accompany me in the operating room as I was prepped for surgery, 2. Leslie would be allowed into the operating room with Keith during the c-section, 3. Cecilia would not be parted from either Keith or myself at any time, including immediately after birth, 4. I would be allowed to have her with me as soon as possible, even while in the recovery room, and 5. I would use only cloth diapers on her during our hospital stay. Dr. K agreed to all our wishes, so off to the hospital we went. My sister stayed at the house with the kids.
I would like to say that everything went smoothly after arriving at the hospital, but that was not the case at all. We had already pre-registered as a precaution, so that wasn't a problem, but trouble began with the spinal. The anesthesiologist was unable to place the needle. She stuck my back five times before getting it into place on the sixth try. It took longer to administer the spinal than to perform the surgery. During the c-section something went wrong in getting Cecilia out. We still aren't quite sure what the problem was, maybe she was simply stuck, but they had to pump my chest repeatedly, so hard my head was bouncing on the table, just to get her out. She finally made her way into the world at 8:12 p.m., weighing a little over 8 lbs. Fortunately, there was no meconium in her lungs, and they placed her into Keith's arms. He carried her down the hall and into the nursery, and along with Leslie, stayed by her side while they warmed her, measured and weighed her. After about fifteen minutes they brought her to me in the recovery room, where I was able to nurse her for the first time.
Several days later we returned home to begin a new life with our latest addition, Cecilia Mae. We struggled with bladder infections, leg quivers, back pain, several rounds of strong antibiotics, and severe food allergies for the first six months. Rielly-Anne tandem nursed during this time, which I believe helped her transition from being the youngest child to becoming a big sister. All in all, while this first year had a bit of a rough start, we have all adapted well and continue to learn every day. Keith has done exceptionally well, stepping up to help with the child rearing duties during times I know he is utterly exhausted. While the disease is more progressed than when we had Rielly-Anne, Keith is actually able to do more now. His determination to be a great father amazes me! Our children are so blessed to have him!
Happy birthday Cecilia Mae! May you be blessed with many, many more! Mommy and Daddy love you so much!