Juliet's Birth Story.

November 17, 2014

I just couldn't believe I had never posted Juliet's birth story.  Let me fix that right up.

The story really began 9 months before her birth (HA).  No really.  You see, we had just closed escrow on the house we are living in now and that very week I found out I was pregnant.  We had decided to undertake a major remodel before moving into the house and everyone told us it would take a year, year and a half.  We had never as much as changed a faucet before, so we had every reason to believe those people.  My husband, however, being who he is, decides we are going to be finished with the house and moved in before baby's arrival.  And so that is what we set out to do.  We made lightening quick decisions on contractors, tile choices, window placements, kitchen design and about 1,000 other matters.  I meanwhile, never feeling anything but ravenous hunger during my pregnancy with Charlie, was morning sick morning/noon/night.  A toddler and morning sick mama is tough, let me tell you.  Plus back and forth to the new house and all that everyday.  I just remember wanting to close my eyes and lay on the sofa all day long.  Pretty sure that didn't happen ONCE.

Fast forward 8 months.  Pregnancy is going great (nausea ended at 12 weeks just like clockwork) and house is in the home stretch, but about 50 things still going on.  It was definitely not in a livable state but we could see the finish line.  I had been almost 2 weeks late with Charlie and I figured I had at least until my due date, and probably after, before this baby (gender still unknown!) was born.

Meanwhile, back at our old house, our things were mostly in boxes.  One afternoon at the end of my 36th week, I went in to my kitchen, squatted down to reach into my pantry to pack a few more things and a gush of water came out.  This was how things started with Charlie so I knew exactly what was happening.

I burst into tears.  I was so unprepared for that moment, truly believing I had another month before the baby would be here.  Enough time to move into our new house, have things tidied and set up….you know, a sweet little nursery and mobile and stacks upon stacks of clean receiving blankets.  Instead, I had a house full of boxes, no idea where even the car seat was, let alone a mobile and those stacks of receiving blankets.  I didn't have a hospital bag packed, heck I didn't even know where a pair of clean yoga pants were.  This was most certainly NOT my vision of how this baby was going to come into the world.

Luckily, my mom was around and she went into damage control mode.  We ordered my dad and brother in law to move all the boxes out of the house so we would have a nice livable space to bring the baby back to, and somebody better find that car seat!!  I think I took a shower and tried to drum up some courage to face what was ahead.

In Emilia's birth story, I probably went on a bit much about my doula Ann.  But my experience then was colored very much by my experience with her during Juliet's birth.  Here's how it all went down.

I called my doctor's office and of course, they told me I needed to come in so they could cheek the amniotic fluid.  I took as much time as I could to ready myself, hug and squeeze my little boy (Charlie was just 2!), walk, stretch, chant, basically anything to get contractions started.  And…the contractions just didn't come.  I went to my doctor's office, of course she was out of town so I was seen by her partner.  They sent me over to the hospital and told me, albeit unofficially, I would need to have the baby within 24 hours of my water breaking.  (The fact she was 1 day shy of 37 weeks was of some concern to them.)  So, I headed over and checked in, met Ann, and started climbing stairs.  I went up, down, all around the hospital, parking lot, adjoining parking lots, anywhere we could find that didn't take us too far.  It was 7 p.m. and dark by now.

I was trying to hide my disappointment over the doctor on call.  She seemed competent and all, but very….Western.  My own doctor had natural childbirth with her own two children and ran a birthing center years before.  She understood what I wanted and what I had done with Charlie's birth (lest you forgot, I was transferred from a birthing center to a hospital but delivered naturally after a very long, difficult, dare I say traumatic, labor).  I wanted so much more from this birth, and doing it without medication was super important to me.

The doctor checked me at 8 p.m. and my contractions were barely showing up on the monitor.  I was so bummed, although I knew I wasn't feeling anything so I wasn't surprised.  She told me they would have to start pitocin.  For the second time that day, waterworks.  And not happy ones.  My brain went straight to negative-ville (wish it would never, ever, ever do that again by the way!!) and all I heard was unbearable pain, then epidural, then c-section.  As if my body didn't matter anymore and the doctors were coming in to take over.  I know some women would be all "what's the big deal? don't you just want to get that baby out?" but I can't explain it if you don't understand it.  HA.

Ann asked the doctor to leave.  She's good like that.  She is as comfortable in a nearly-unassisted home birth situation as she is in a hospital setting.  She's attended so many births at all points on the spectrum, it's as if nothing phases her.  She looked at me and held my hand.  I told her my fears.  She said she understood but she didn't think it had to be as bad as I thought.  She said I should ask for the lowest dose of pitocin possible.  I'm all, "you can do that?"  Of course you can.  You're paying for this.  If they can say yes, they will.  And you know what?  The doctor said Yes.  We can start her on 1 unit instead of the normal 15.  So we started low and I couldn't feel a thing.  Yet the contractions were happening, we could see them on the monitor.  I told Ann I could go higher, and then higher.  She was the perfect liaison between me and the doctor.

From about 8:30 to 11:00, I had no discomfort as they gradually increased the dose of pitocin.  B, my mom and Ann chatted and laughed and told stories and talked about baby names.  We still didn't know the sex and we had a list of several boys and girls names we couldn't decide on.  Somebody jokingly said, "how about Romeo if it's a boy?" (my mom maybe?) and then B looked at me and said, "Juliet."  Yes.  That would be the name if we were lucky enough to have a girl.  He's good like that.

At 11:30, I had reached 11 units of pitocin and I was contracting hard.  But managing.  I wasn't close to asking for an epidural.  I was riding the waves and in my own world.  This went on for about 2 hours. My mom later told me I was having crazy long 2 and a half minute contractions with only 30 seconds of rest (it's usually flipped if you aren't being given pitocin).  At 2:15 a.m. I was ready to push.  With Charlie, this had been a very problematic part of the labor.  I pushed for THREE HOURS, and still he was stuck.  Heart rate dropping with each contraction.  It went on so long and was pretty demoralizing. I was hoping this time would be different.

And boy, was it ever.  Three quick pushes and down she slid.  Easy peasy!  And there in my arms, a girl, a baby girl.  I realized at that moment I had been fooling myself during my whole pregnancy that I didn't care if it was a boy or a girl.  Of course I just wanted healthy, but deep down I craved a girl.  I think because deep down, I KNEW it was a girl.  Juliet, I said, it's Juliet.

She was one of the prettiest babies I have ever seen to this day (and I know what you're thinking, yeah, yeah, that's a mom for you, but have you heard me say this about my other babies?  Er, maybe not…..)
Anyway, pretty or not didn't matter, but she did feel other-worldly to me.  Like a beautiful alien, mysterious and compelling.  I had a different feeling with Emilia….knowing and familiar.  (With Charlie, I was just in awe and overwhelmed by the whole experience, I think.)

She weighed 7 pounds 6 ounces, my smallest baby, but full-term size even at barely 37 weeks.  This girl has always marched to the beat of her own drum, and done things one her own terms.  And so began our journey with this spirited, strong, loving little creature.  She continues daily to surprise us and challenge us and make our hearts ache with love.  We are so blessed to be sharing our lives with her.

{my hero, Ann}
{sweet, fresh baby}
{one of the first times he held her}
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