Svea Rebecca Liv was born at 3:22 PM on Tuesday, September 21. She weighed 7 lbs. 11 oz. and measured 19 1/2 inches long (a few days later she measured 20 1/4 inches so probably somewhere in between). Svea is such a peaceful baby and so beautiful. I like to call her our water baby because she was born in the tub at the birth center. But I'll start from the beginning. My contractions started while sitting on our couch talking with Jedd and Grandma Joan late Monday night. I labored throughout the night with contractions about 20 minutes apart initially and then 10 minutes apart by 5 AM. At that point I woke up Jedd for support and asked him to time them. We met my midwife, Julie, at the birth center at 9 AM and I was 5-6 cm dilated. She advised that I didn't go back home (Somers is 35 minutes from North Valley Hospital in Whitefish) but she also said I didn't really need to be there yet. So I said, "I'm hungry. Can we go have breakfast?" and Julie thought that was a good idea and my nurse said "this is a woman after my own heart!". Julie said she'd meet me back at the birth center at noon to see how I was progressing. So we had an amazing breakfast at The Buffalo in Whitefish and then spent an hour at a great bookstore picking out books for the girls and ourselves. My contractions were rather intense but I found walking through them really helped. My goal with both Sonna and Svea was to stay away from the hospital as long as possible. (When I had Mara I went to the hospital too soon and it resulted in lots of interventions that ultimately slowed labor down. In retrospect, I should have been sent home rather than starting Pitocin but in the end, it all worked out and beautiful Mara was born. No regrets.) Back to Svea. I would say this was a labor of movement/motion. This seems fitting since my pregnancy was one of near constant movement while keeping up with the girls, especially this summer. By noon I was dilated 7-8 cm and decided to take a shower. I hadn't washed my hair in a few days and wanted to get that done. My nurse looked at the student nurse at that point and said, "This is not typical of a woman in labor at 7 cm". I was able to hold the railings in the shower and point the shower head directly on my lower back for pain relief and that felt good for a while. Then suddenly the contractions got harder, longer, and more intense. I then labored on the birth ball while leaning over Jedd and breathing deeply. He was a fabulous support. He even washed off his deodorant when the smell was bothering me. :) Somewhere in here my midwife broke my water to help move labor along. I got stuck at 9 cm and was exhausted. I got in the bed for a little while and then recognized that it wasn't helping me to be in the hospital bed. I said, "This isn't working. I need to try something else". My midwife said, "You're right. Let's try the tub and maybe you'll have your baby in the water". I was open to anything at that point and had been interested in a water birth ever since seeing an empowering video of women giving birth in the Black Sea. Julie had several patients at the office who had already been rescheduled from the day before so she called her partner, Jeanne, the other midwife and she came right away. I was completely in my zone at that point. I was also starting to wonder when this baby was going to come out and how much more pain I could handle. This was a normal size bathroom bathtub. Jedd was at my head, Jeanne at my middle, and Jill reaching over securing my shaky legs. Jeanne had to help my body get to 10 cm and then it was several pushes later that Svea's full head of dark hair emerged. I was in the water the last 45 minutes of labor. They put Svea on my chest right away and she was amazing! Jedd was so proud and happy and loving. He cut her cord and held Svea as they suctioned her nose and mouth and helped me in the hospital bed. Such a beautiful sight and sound to see her and hear her first cry. It is a wonderful thing to be part of such a miracle, from conception through pregnancy, labor and then delivering this precious little life! I feel tremendously blessed to have experienced this three times and have our three girls. I am also immensely blessed to have shared the whole experience with my Jedd.
*I went back and forth about whether or not to include the tub picture. I'm fully covered but still . . . I wanted it to be in Svea's book once I print out the blog and I don't plan to be famous so I decided to post it.
I treasure these pictures because they represent the joy and blessings of Svea's birth. The days following her birth felt very sacred to me. Our hospital stay in the birth center was very peaceful and quiet. While I know the rest of the world continued to race around in spite of Svea's birth, my world slowed down so I could treasure our little baby girl. And that is a rare gift.