Ailey Jessa Somers is HERE!!!
Skipping over loads of important recent events to bring you news of our new addition! This is Ailey Jessa Somers. Her first name is pronounced like Riley without the R; eye-lee. Her middle name is a combination of my brother Jesse and Brice's sister Melissa's names.
This little girl decided to wait all the way until her due date to be born, which is weird for us since the other kids were born 7, 10, 2, and 10 days early, respectively. But we are sure glad she did because now she shares her birthday with her daddy which we think is just awesome! She was born at home (love home birth!) on February 22, 2012 (2/22/12; cool birth date, no?) at 10:45 pm. She weighed 8 lbs 4 oz and was 21.5 inches long. She has the cutest round head--no molding at all, probably because she was posterior (facing my front instead of my back like babies normally do) until delivery.
I suppose I should start at the beginning. I'd spent a lot of time and effort with this pregnancy trying to picture it and how I wanted it to go. I even wrote out the entire experience ahead of time as I'd been seeing it in my head. My visualization pretty much nailed it except for the date. I was only off on the time by about 20 minutes (I guessed 11:05 and she was born at 10:45)! Anyway, I wanted to have the kind of labor where you have plenty of strong contractions in the week(s) leading up to the birth so that the actual labor itself would be super fast. So over the course of the last two weeks or so, my contractions had been getting steadily stronger and I'd had a few instances where I thought we might be getting somewhere only to have them peter out. I had one day of doubt where I was worried that the baby was stuck in a posterior position and couldn't get down into the birth canal (I knew her head wasn't engaged at all). But aside from that day, I was able to be really patient and relaxed about it. During this time, Brice got a job offer (YAAAAAYYYYY!!!!!) with a firm in Arizona. They want him to start on March 5th. That gave us 2 weeks to have a baby, pack our house, find a new house, and move. Kinda nuts, huh!! So with every day that went by without a baby, I was feeling a little more pressure to have the birth DONE so that we could move on to the next thing!
On Brice's birthday I had a prenatal appointment and I told my midwife that I couldn't even reach my cervix to check my progress because it was too far back. She asked if I wanted her to pull it forward. Though I'm typically anti-intervention, this one seemed super minor and appropriate given the circumstance. So she did and the contractions that I'd been having that morning that had petered out during the day returned. At about 7:20, after Brice's birthday dinner, presents, and singing "Happy Birthday" (I didn't even stick around for cake), I escaped to my room because, though my contractions weren't super intense or anything, I had a kind of mood shift and I wanted to just be alone. I turned on a Hypnobabies track and just relaxed for a while. When Brice came up after getting the kids to bed, I was pretty sure we were getting close. I still wasn't sure whether or not we were close enough to have the baby before midnight so the baby and Brice would have the same birthday since contractions had fizzled out so many times, but things were certainly more intense. At around 9:00, I checked my progress and guessed I was dilated to about a 5 or 6. Brice checked too and guessed 8. So we called my midwife and she said she'd pack up and be on her way and said she was probably an hour out. I chuckled, thinking she might not make it! Then I told Brice I wanted to go for a short walk.
He looked at me like I was crazy (I am). But I really didn't want to lose the progress! I wanted to have this baby NOW and not drag this out any longer! And we'd been hoping all day that she would be born on Brice's birthday. So we walked to the end of the block and back. I think I had three or four contractions on the way, during which I waddled more and just focused on breathing. Brice just looked at me and said, "See, that's why people don't think you're in labor!" I said, "What, cuz I keep walking? Isn't the breathing part a dead giveaway?" He said, "Yeah, for a normal woman dilated to a 2 or 3!" Okay, so I'm weird. But I think that pain tolerance is part of what makes it possible for me to birth unmedicated and at home, so I'll take weird!!! We got back home and things just kept progressing. We kept the lights really low and had candles burning and it was a really nice peaceful atmosphere.
I've been taking a pretty "out there" childbirth class that I love and we've talked a lot about what a difference it makes to the baby to be born without the assaulting lights and energy and suctioning and scrubbing that is so commonplace in American birthing today and I wanted to see how much of a difference it really makes. It sure made labor nicer and this baby has been SO peaceful! I didn't really hear her cry until the next day because her birth was such a gentle transition, I think. But I'm getting ahead of myself. So the first person there was the other apprentice who works with my midwife (I've been apprenticing with her for the last 6 months or so. At this point, since I took time off at the end of my own pregnancy, I'd say that this other apprentice has now seen more births than me even though I started a little before her) and she took a few minutes to just quietly watch and assess where I was at, then she started getting the things ready that I hadn't already had Brice do. I'd gotten him started setting up the room because I wasn't sure whether the midwife would make it in time. But she did! She came over and asked how I was doing and I said things were moving along and that I guessed I probably had a bulging bag of waters and was close to complete. She literally did the happy dance and said, "I LOVE these kinds of births!!" She asked if I thought there was time to set up the birth tub and I said probably not. She checked me and said I was right on with my guess; that I had maybe a bit of a rim of cervix left and that the bag was bulging. I was having more trouble controlling my contractions and pain level than I had with Landon and, while I obviously didn't have time to dwell on that, I was kind of frustrated by it. But I think that it was partly because of the baby's position which was giving me some back labor. A few minutes later I felt like things were really getting close and I wanted to be where I would birth the baby.
I really, really wanted to birth this baby in a true squatting position so I tried that and found it to be just too difficult. We don't live in a culture anymore where squatting is a normal part of life so our muscles aren't toned to hold that position for long. Especially when you weigh 25 to 35 lbs more than your usual weight. I was a little bummed about that, but consented to the birthing stool (a horseshoe-shaped low chair that supports your thighs but is open through the middle to let the baby be born). As soon as I was on it, my body was able to focus on birthing rather than maintaining that squatting position. I immediately felt the urge to push! Yes! I hate the labor contractions, but pushing is such a relief! No more pain, no more strict self-control! Just go for it! The first push broke the bag of water, the second brought the baby's head, and the third brought her body! Ailey was here!! Somewhere in there, she also turned herself around and was born in the normal anterior position, facing my back. I'd written that down as part of my birth visualization too. My midwife guided her to the floor and I picked her up (I'd wanted to catch her myself, but I couldn't hold my body in the position I needed for leverage for pushing and have my hands free to catch her, so my midwife just cushioned her mini fall to the floor and let me take it from there). I had made a flannel blanket to use to dry her off (softer than a terry towel) and I made another one of fleece to wrap her in afterwards to keep her warm and snuggly. I dried her off and helped her clear her lungs but she was already nice and pink and doing well! A minute or two later the placenta was born and we moved to the bed. Ailey wanted to nurse RIGHT AWAY! Our other kids weren't too interested for the first half hour but this little one LOVES to nurse! Ailey really didn't cry at all; a few little whimpers right after she was born and then nothing until early the next morning. I think that creating a peaceful atmosphere for her to be born into and not scrubbing or suctioning her really helped her to be born happy. It was kinda nice! She's been really peaceful since.
The midwives cleaned up, checked baby, and checked the placenta (yeah, this is totally interesting to me--I'm a nerd) which had the most amazing, thick veins on it. I think I might just have to post a picture. Sorry if it grosses you out, but I think it's fascinating! Scroll fast if you don't want to see it! :)
So, the midwives got there around 10:15, Ailey was born at 10:45 and they left shortly after midnight. My labor, start to finish, was about 3 hours just like I'd wanted/visualized it being! I like short labors!
Ailey has been a doll! Her siblings love her (oh yeah, Raelin and Ryker wanted to be woken up for the birth, so there were both there for the last 10 minutes or so before Ailey was born. Alaina had said she didn't want to get woken up but Brice went in and asked her anyway and she said no, she wanted to sleep. Funny little thing!).
She has a little bit of hair, not much. She has a cute little face and a perfect round head. She sleeps most of the time and eats for a half hour to forty five minutes at a time (way more than any of our other kids). She's really peaceful and sweet and soft! Feel free to come meet her if you want to! She's darling!
And now, with no time to rest, on to the next of life's objectives: moving to Arizona!!