Thursday, March 10, 2011

Eleanor Desta has arrived!

We welcomed our daughter, Eleanor Desta, to the world on March 7!  She sure took her sweet time in arriving but as she is such a sweet little baby, it seems appropriate that she made such a wonderful entrance.  Ellie kept us guessing about when she would come right until the end--well, she kept me guessing until the end.  Everyone else who was here seemed to know a lot sooner than I did :-)

I started having the contractions that ultimately led to her birth at about 11 a.m. on March 6, while I was waiting for Patrick's Sunday school to end.  We got home around 1 p.m. and I told Jason that I was having contractions about 4-5 minutes apart and had been for a couple of hours.  "So, just another Sunday?" he asked.  "Yep, pretty much," I told him.  I'd had contractions like those multiple times in the last few weeks.  One of those times they were like that for 22 hours, so I didn't read anything into them.

They started getting the tiniest bit stronger and around 3 p.m. I decided to take a nap.  After laying in bed for about 15 minutes, I had one and actually felt downward movement from the baby, so I thought I'd call my midwife and give her a heads-up that something might be happening (this will be a recurring theme).  I had a contraction while on the phone and apparently my midwife said to herself "Oh yeah, she's in labor."  She called her apprentice to let her know. 

I got up since I didn't like being in bed anymore and just hung around downstairs for a couple of hours.  My midwife called back around 5:30 to see how I was doing and said she and her apprentice would just come over and see what was going on.  They came around 6:15 or so and listened to the baby's heartbeat, asked how I was doing, etc.  Around 8 p.m., we'd put the kids to bed and everyone started bringing equipment in from the car.  I called my friends who were coming and told them that the baby would probably come that night.  Mind you, I didn't believe it but figured that if my midwife was bringing things inside, it was a reasonable thing to do.

My friends got there within the hour and we all sat around waiting for something to happen beyond the contractions. And waiting.  And waiting.  They were pretty regular and certainly stronger compared to earlier, but I didn't buy it.  I did get into the birth tub at one point but my contractions basically stopped after that, so I got back out and went back to what I'd been doing.

I did a lot of laboring like this.  Jason was an awesome coach, of course.

At around 1:30 a.m., I decided to lay down for a while.  I was tired and nothing seemed to be happening, so Jason and I went upstairs to take a nap.  I slept until about 4:30 a.m., then Jason suggested we walk around downstairs for a while.  We did that for a little over an hour and the contractions picked right back up.  I still thought it might fizzle out again, but my midwife's apprentice watched me labor for a while and called my midwife to come back (she lives close by and had gone home to get a bit of sleep so that her apprentice could use our guest room).  It was a good thing everyone else believed I was really in labor, because I certainly didn't!

Still, we kept on all morning.  I spent some more time in the tub, more time laying down, a little more time sitting.  I was able to eat and drink as I needed.  The kids were awesome--they watched videos on iPads and played upstairs and read some stories.  My friends Rachel and Lovisa were fantastically helpful--making coffee, entertaining the kids, helping me with whatever I needed, keeping me entertained between contractions.  We talked a lot and it gave Jason the freedom to help me emotionally and physically.  He was the one always there wherever I was, to help keep track of how things were going, giving me lots of excellent massages, encouraging me every minute.

I'm not sure when I got back in the tub for the last time but I was in there through Ellie's birth.  I'd been having really powerful contractions--the last of which actually had me in tears--but when I got back in, they became so manageable!  I could still feel them but they didn't hurt much anymore, even though they were clearly just as strong as they'd been.  It was wonderful.  I was able to eat some lunch about an hour before she came.

Everyone else knew what was happening.  I, despite being the one actually in labor, didn't really believe it was going to happen.  At 3 p.m., we heard Patrick's bus come by and Jason remarked that Patrick could have gone to school that day.  I said "No, the baby will probably come today so I'm glad he stayed home."  And immediately, everything picked up.  I went into transition and had a couple of contractions that had me sobbing.  My midwife checked me because I felt like I wanted to push and said "There's the baby's head."

Me (now sobbing semi-happily): "Oh, I'm so glad.  I was afraid you'd check and I'd be like 5 cm."  Everyone else laughed but I'd been serious--that's how much in denial I'd been all day.  (Mind you, it was the one and only time I was checked.)

Push #1 was at 3:02 and was so intense that I felt there was no way I could do it (I yelled a lot more this time around than I did with Patrick).  My water broke with push #2.  I could feel the baby's head with push #3--that was when the kids came in and I told them that it was OK if I yelled, it was hard work but I was OK.  Push #4 had the baby's head out.  Push #5 brought our beautiful baby out into the world at 3:18 p.m., screaming and pink and perfect and chubby.

I asked Patrick whether he had a brother or a sister and he said "Brother."  Then someone moved the umbilical cord and asked if he wanted to look again, and he said "It's a girl."  We told him her name so that he could share it.  Melkamu came over and touched her head, smiling the whole time even though he'd said he wanted a brother.  I said that she was so big and thought she was around 8 lb--my midwife said "Maybe 7 1/2 or 8 lb."  And I said "She has hair!"

We didn't weigh her for several hours but when we did, we found that she was actually 8 lb 14 oz.  I can't believe I grew an almost-9 lb baby girl to 40w2d and delivered her naturally at home!  (For reference, Patrick was born at 37w5d weighing 6 lb 11 oz.)  Her head is so perfectly round because my water didn't break until minutes before she was born, so she was cushioned the whole time.  I look at her now and wonder how she could possibly have fit inside me!

We are incredibly lucky to have her.  She is a cluster nurser and will nurse basically every hour for several hours, then sleep for about the same number of hours.  She only cries when she's hungry or needs to be changed, and has been much more alert today.  Her name, Eleanor Desta, is a very special one to us--she is named after Jason's grandmother Ellen.  Her middle name is an Ethiopian name that means "Happiness", which honors Melkamu's firstmom since her name, although different, means the same thing.

My blue eyed, dark-haired baby girl.

I can't tell you how my heart filled with happiness when Jason said "Hey, how are my girls?" as I nursed her the other night.

The boys really, really love their baby sister.

A lot.

Jason could not be happier to have a daughter.

She's been out for fewer than 60 hours but has already helped make our family even more complete.  Welcome, my Ellie.  We've been waiting for you for a very long time.


KC said...

Aww, Erin, what a beautiful birth story and family! Congratulations to you all and welcome to the world, little Ellie!

Rachel Inbar said...

So sweet!

I love the "how are my girls?" :-D


trmills said...

I love, love getting to hear your story. It's just beautiful. Girls. I'm teary!

Bubbi said...

The pictures are just beautiful and the "story" is wonderful. We can't wait to see her, and our boys, too. Oh, and you and Jason :)

The Nolte Family said...

beautiful birth story and gorgeous family. How fabulous that your boys could stay home to see the birth of their sister.

Anonymous said...

Awww, I am smiling through such happy tears! I think the waterworks really started when I read the meaning behind Desta. How beautiful and special!!! The birth story, the "how are my girls", the pictures of those gorgeous and sweet big brothers. And your closing welcome about waiting for her for a long time. It's all so touching and wonderful and I am so happy for you I am barely coherent!

Love to you and your family and thank you SO much for posting this wonderful blog update. I have been stalking FB and this blog for news and I know how busy you must be so thank you for letting all of us near and far share in this wonderful and happy time!

And speaking of coherent, YOU are the one who just had a baby and I am all kinds of impressed by your eloquent post!!! Beautiful memories and something so special for your family to have!

So much love to you and yours,

Nicole said...

What a beautiful story. She is precious! Enjoy every moment with your newly expanded family!

Marcy Pett said...

I'm sitting here just balling my eyes out. What a wonderful experience. Can't wait to meet Ellie!

Valarie said...

Awww! I just had a really happy cry reading this - what a beautiful birth story, what a wonderful family :) I am floored by the sentiment that went into her name as well. I am so very happy for the five of you!!!

Seestor said...

DAMN YOU, MORREY! I just read this, and when I got to the picture of Kamu kissing her on the forehead, I lost it. And I'm AT WORK.

But I'm so ridiculously proud of you and Jason and the kids that I *guess* it's OK.

DD said...

I think I actually grew a worry wort for you in the past couple of weeks and I'm SO glad it was all for nothing (the worry part - as she is definitely not "nothing"!)

Congratulations!! How very special that the boys got to be part of their sister's birth and old enough to remember it. Very, very special indeed.

Shifrah Combiths said...

So happy for you!! Beautiful story, beautiful girl, beautiful family! I would love to give birth at home and I know - from two experiences - that water is the best "epidural." =) Let us know if you need anything at all; we live really close to you.

Jess said...

Love the whole thing!! Every bit of it!!


Sara said...

Congratulations! I love this post! Thank you so much for sharing. She is beautiful! What a tough mama you are, too!

Brea said...

Thank you for sharing, Erin. It sounds like everything went beautifully. I was encouraged to hear what you said about getting in the water making things bearable again. Good work, Mama! Can't wait to meet your sweet baby girl!