Sam's Birth Story

It was Friday: a rainy, gloomy day as it had been for the past week. I was 41 weeks + 2 days pregnant, Jesse was furloughed due to the government shut down and we were very ready to meet our baby. Turner had been with my parents for a  few days, so Jesse and I went to my check up alone.  I had been having contractions since the night before, but nothing very regular.  At my appointment I passed the non stress test and my amniotic fluid levels looked great. I was 4 cm dilated, so my doctor did another membrane sweep (for the 3rd week) and we scheduled an induction date for the following Wednesday when I would hit week 42.

Earlier in my pregnancy I hadn’t thought much about how this baby would come into the world.  I figured this birth story would be pretty similar to Turner’s (water breaking, pitocin, epidural) and that is as far as it ever went in my mind. While spending our summer in Portland, Oregon, my views and opinions of childbirth began to broaden and change. I grew very interested in having an unmedicated natural birth and began watching documentaries, reading books, and reading positive birth stories. Jesse was so sweet to me while I struggled through my fears and doubts, encouraging me that I could do it. I changed to a new doctor in DC at George Washington University Hospital, hired a doula, wrote my birth plan, and waited.

So when we left the doctor that day, we felt anxious and frustrated. I was crampy from the sweep and contractions were starting to become more regular. When we got home, my parents and Turner were there with lunch ready.  As we ate, the contractions continued to come, lasting about a minute and coming every four minutes. I loved being home though, able to move around freely as I wanted through the contractions. Around 3:00 pm we called Tara, my doula, and decided we’d better head to the hospital.

This was it! I was very excited to be having regular contractions and very thankful that we only had a 15 minute drive.  My Dad dropped us off at the front door of George Washington University Hospital and Jesse and I made our way up to the 3rd floor to Labor and Delivery! I hadn’t pre-registered and had quite a bit of paperwork to fill out. Before admitting me to a room, they checked me (5 cm) and hooked me up to monitor my contractions. All I wanted to do was get up and move through the pain. Finally the doctors came in. We discussed my birth plan and they were supportive of all of it and very encouraging.

We had just been admitted into a room when Tara arrived.  As the nurse was setting everything up, we found out that the birthing tub in the room didn’t work.  I wasn’t set on getting in the tub, but I was interested in trying it, so thankfully the nurse agreed to having me moved to another room. I didn’t know it at the time, but having a working tub in the room ended up being a big deal for my labor. We moved right next door to a much smaller, but more intimate room. Tara totally took charge - turned the lights off, hung christmas lights, placed flameless candles around the room, and got me a yoga ball. Jesse turned on some relaxing music. I was able to have a hep lock for an IV as well as wireless telemetry. It was so awesome to be able to have freedom of movement during labor without being stuck in bed hooked up to a machine, but we were still able to monitor everything!

The doctors and nursing staff pretty much left us for me to labor on my own, which I really appreciated. Of course they came in to check on things every little while, but I was able to focus my thoughts and energy on helping my body and my baby do the work they were both made to do. In Ina May Gaskin’s “Guide to Childbirth”, she talks a lot about our primal instincts in childbirth, and most animals go away to a private place to give birth.  I know this sounds crazy (a lot of this story may sound that way), but that hospital room really became my birth cave.

I started out laboring on a yoga ball. It felt so good to be able to move on the ball. During each contraction, I would lead forward into Jesse, while Tara applied a hot rice sock and pressure to my lower back.  They both were so encouraging while reminding me to focus on breathing. I got sick and Tara rubbed something peppermint scented on my wrist to help with the nausea. At this point, the pain was getting worse, but was still bearable.  Contractions were like a wave, and the pain came as the wave was building, it was at its worst at the crest, and while still painful, it lessened as the wave descended.  Each contraction I thought, “if I can get to the crest, I’ll be good.”  After the worst of each contraction, Tara kept reminding me to “blow it away” and that the contraction was gone forever. Once it was gone, my body was able to completely relax and prepare for the next one.  So cool.

I continued to labor for a while on the bed before moving to the shower.  My contractions were getting more intense and the heat on my lower back really helped. The lights were off in the bathroom and Tara brought some of the candles in for light. I sat on the bench in the shower while Jesse stood in front of me and held the shower head on my lower back.  As the pain grew more intense, I closed my eyes, fully leaned into Jesse, and instead of just breathing through the pain, I started moaning through the pain.  As weird as it sounds, focusing on opening my mouth and moaning really helped me get through each contraction. Tara knew by the sounds that I was making that labor was definitely progressing, so she prepared the tub.

This was amazing. The soothing water helped to relax tense muscles and provided relief from the pain which completely wrapped around from my front to my back. I loved that I couldn’t feel my weight in the water, so I was able to fully give in to each contraction. I was leaning forward over the side of the tub where Jesse was supporting me, with Tara applying counter pressure on my lower back. After a while, my water finally broke and the pain was getting to be pretty unbearable. I started wondering why in the world I had decided I wanted to do this.  The contractions started coming on so intensely without much of a break between each one. I felt another one coming on seconds after one had just ended.

Somehow I worked through the incredibly intense pain. The low moans that I made in the shower grew in intensity and at this point were deep, (very) loud grunts, as I instinctively started bearing down and wanting to push. My doctor came in to check me; although I knew it was time, she confirmed that I was 10 cm dilated and ready to push. At that point, she told me I had to get out of the tub to deliver my baby.  I didn’t want to get out of that water.  My baby was coming and I didn’t want to move.

The nurses wheeled the bed close to the tub, we waited for a contraction to end, and then with the help of Jesse and Tara, I somehow managed to climb onto the bed to start pushing. This was at 9:04 pm. I was on my knees leaning over the top of the bed where Jesse was standing. He held my hands as I squeezed his, and I leaned into him through the pain. It was time. After a few pushes, everyone encouraged me to lay on my right side to push and shortly after the baby was crowning. They told me to reach down and touch my baby’s head. The pain and pressure were both so intense I really didn’t think I could do this, but feeling this reminded me that I was almost there! Once again, they asked me to move, this time onto my back. As soon as I did, our baby was born. 9:15 pm.  Instant relief.  A sweet, sweet cry. A BOY! I did it! I did it, and my baby did it! I knew that my baby boy played a big part in his own birth, because I felt his efforts and movements. And with encouragement and guidance, I had done the rest.

They immediately placed him on my chest for skin to skin contact. He was so alert. We stared into his eyes as the nurses cleaned him up. We waited for the cord to stop pulsing for delayed cord clamping. We had chosen to delay some of the routine procedures so we could have prolonged immediate bonding/breastfeeding, so once Jesse cut the cord, we were left alone to be able to snuggle with our son and had a successful first go at nursing.

We couldn’t believe that we had another beautiful baby boy. We were so happy he was finally here! We named him Samuel Cato English.  We have always liked the name Sam and Cato is my mom’s maiden name.  

Because he was born at night after Turner was asleep, my parents came the next morning to meet their new grandson and for Turner to meet his little brother. They let Turner in the room first when they got there to give us a moment.  Jesse and I both teared up when Turner walked in. I was holding Sam and Turner ran to Jesse. Our first moments as a family of 4 were so sweet.

Sam’s birth was SUCH an amazing experience!  I am so thankful that everything went smoothly and that we were able to have the birth experience that we had hoped for. I gained a great appreciation for the magnificent capabilities the human body possesses. I loved playing such an active role in his birth, but I could not have gotten through it without 2 people: Jesse, my rock and strength and Tara, my coach and encourager. Yes, it was painful, but the pain was temporary. Yes, it was hard work, but it was the most incredible thing I have ever experienced! I felt amazing afterwards. I feel very blessed to have had this experience and so thankful to the Lord for my two little boys.


Today is a good day.

Right now it is nap time at the English house and I'll admit that this is one of my favorite times of day. Is that bad to say? I absolutely love being home with Turner, but this is my "me" time. A chance to light a candle and relax, a time to catch up on some sleep, a chance to read a book or watch netflix, a chance to BLOG! Some days I will prep for dinner, clean, or do laundry... even though that may not sound like "me" time, I love checking things off the list, so it makes me happy.  Turner has been consistently napping from 1-4(ish) and I am LOVING it.  Really hoping this continues after his baby brother/sister is born... but yeah right, it's probably all going to change.

Today I am feeling rejuventated, optimistic, and refreshed.  Thursdays are such a treat for me because of my church small group bible study through Restoration.  We meet on Thursday mornings at a friend's home (with childcare provided!) so the moms can have a couple of hours to spend time together, take a deeper look at the passage that was preached on Sunday, and pray for one another. I am so encouraged, challenged, and blessed by this time and I learn so much from these women!

On our way home today Turner and I had a fun surprise lunch with one of my best friends here, Mickey and her son Dawson! Mickey is home from work today, so it was a real treat to get to hang out with them during the middle of the day.  I really do have the greatest group of friends here.  Over a year ago, I was really nervous to move to so far away from home, knowing no one, and being a stay at home mom to (at the time) a 4 month old.  It took some time, but I met one person, then another, and another and before I knew it I had this amazing support system of friends with kids.  Some days I feel guilty that Jesse is at work and I get to go spend our money (mainly at the grocery store...) and hang out with friends, but I am SO grateful for this wonderful community I have here.  Today is a good day.

Turner and Dawson hanging out at the playground.


Getting ready for baby!

We had a great summer in the Pacific Northwest, but there were a few things that made me so excited to get back to our little life in the DC area -- our friends, our church, but especially one little (growing) thing - our baby.  All summer long my appetite was growing, my body was changing, my mindset of childbirth expanding, but because we weren't in our home, I couldn't fully prepare for a new baby to join our family. Nesting is a serious thing and I feel like I haven't stopped since we got back!

Now Turner's room has been updated, we have a cradle and a glider in our bedroom, we've hung some new art, and we've reorganized our closets to make room. I've pulled out the infant carseat, baby bathtub, and Turner's gender neutral baby clothes have been washed. (I seriously forgot how small newborn onesies are.)  My mind is now racing through lists of things to get done and things to pack... thinking of how our lives are about to change... what is the baby's gender... what is the baby's name?!?!?

But the funny thing is with having a baby, even though you have this due date that you have been holding onto from the first doctor's visit, you never really know when this huge life change is going to happen! Tomorrow I will be 38 weeks.  My water broke with Turner the day I turned 40 weeks.  Technically, this baby is full term and could come at any time. I am feeling great -- wonderful, actually. I do get tired at the end of the day, but that is to be expected.  The weather here is gorgeous.  It is currently 67 degrees, sunny with no clouds in the sky, no humidity, and a cool breeze. 

This change of the weather signals a new season. I think we are ready... if you ever really are.  I'm not looking forward to the sleepless nights, the seemingly endless nursing sessions, allllll the diapers, but I am looking forward to experiencing the gift of motherhood again with a new baby.  I'm strangely looking forward to labor and I absolutely cannot wait to meet our boy or girl.


A trip back South

So, picking up where I left off... Next up in our crazy summer was a month long stay in Mississippi! Our time there started at the beach with my family, ended with Kelley and Trae's wedding, with little visits with friends scattered in the middle. 

 My Dad's family goes to Gulf Shores, Alabama every year for a huge family reunion. I haven't been able to go the past few years, so I really wanted to go this year! This is also one of the few times I get to see my sisters and their families all together, so I didn't want to miss out.  After our weekend getaway to Seattle, Mom stayed in town for a few days extra to be able to help me on my flight back to Mississippi with Turner.  I'm so glad to have had her help! We landed in Jackson, then 2 days later, packed up the car and headed to the beach.  We were there for a long weekend and it was so great to get to see all of my family.  It was so fun to watch my niece and nephews play with Turner.

Meanwhile, this is what Jesse and Maggie were up to...

One of Turner's favorite spots in Madison was the splash pad at Renaissance... so fun!

My sweet friends from college threw a baby "sprinkle" for me and it was so great to get to see everyone!  We had a great time at the sprinkle, went to dinner that night, and some girls spent the night. I miss these girls SO MUCH!  I am now one of 5 that are pregnant... and 2 more just had babies. I love being pregnant with my friends.

Lindsay and I together at the sprinkle with both of our babies #2!

I really enjoyed getting to spend time with my parents.  They are such loving grandparents and I cherish the times that we can be around them.

Another highlight of my time in MS was getting to go to Dan and Ameka's wedding!  Dan was my boss, but more than that, a WONDERFUL friend during my time that we were in Starkville.  I LOVED getting to be at his wedding and to see so many of my old coworkers. I sure do miss my Admissions family.

We got to spend a few days in Starkville and stayed with the Wardens!  Lindsay has since had her second baby, but we got to enjoy being pregnant together again with our #2s.  The week went a little differently than we had expected with their air going out, but we made the most of it and had a great time together!  Turner and Everett had so much fun playing together. A few weeks after I left, they welcomed sweet baby Hudson to the world.  I love experiencing motherhood with her.

After our time in Starkville, Turner and I made our way further north to Tupelo/New Albany/Memphis to get ready for wedding festivities!  We went to (I think) 5 showers over the next week leading up to the wedding day! One shower was a combined bridal and baby shower for both of us, so that was fun!  We went out with sweet friends for a little girl nights out the weekend before the wedding.  

Turner was so happy when Jesse joined us for the wedding!


Kelley and Trae's wedding day - July 20, 2013. Most of these pictures are from Facebook that Phil Van Zandt (photographer and friend) took.  To see all of the wedding photos, visit his website!

Kelley was a beautiful bride and the wedding was perfect! Welcome to the family, Trae! 

We had a great time in Mississippi and were so blessed to get to see so many of our friends and family. The day after the wedding, Jesse, Turner and I drove back to Jackson and caught our flight back to Portland.  We were exhausted but happy to get back to our little family of 3 and live up our last few weeks in the Pacific Northwest.


Seattle, WA

Goodness gracious I am behind!  We have been back in DC for a little over a week and I am finally finding the time to blog.  I've gotta get caught up before this baby comes!

So, to pick up where I left off in our crazy busy summer, just a few days after Mimi and Pop left, Gran and Grandy (my parents) came for a visit.  They were with us for just a few days before Jesse and I took a weekend trip to Seattle.  They kept Turner for us so we could take somewhat of a "babymoon." We took the Bolt Bus from Portland and within just a few minutes on the bus, we thought "wow, is this what it was like to not have a kid??" We could just sit there, talk, read, sleep, whatever and not have to think about anyone else.  The entire weekend was such a great break from life with a toddler.

When we got to Seattle, we checked into the Hilton downtown, just to find out that the air conditioner in our room wasn't working.  After telling the hotel staff we got upgraded to a better room! Woo Hoo! We got ready for the night and hit the town. That night we had dinner at a Nijo Sushi and then explored the city some. We ended the night at The Pie Bar with fantastic pie and drinks.

The next morning we hit up Pike Place Market and continued to eat our way through the city. Sadly I can't remember the names of everywhere we snacked, but if we saw something that looked good, we enjoyed ourselves! We took naps in the afternoon and then went to see The Great Gatsby that night.  We seriously considered going back to the Pie Bar... because it was THAT good. But as good as pie sounded, the bed sounded equally as good to this preggo.

On our last morning, we woke up, got coffee and breakfast burritos and checked out Freeway Park.  One of Jesse's favorite landscape architects, Lawrence Halprin designed an awesome fountain in this park.  We spent a good amount of time walking around Freeway Park and enjoying the morning. We thought we had a lot of time, so we walked around the city a good bit more, doing a little shopping, looking for some art, and just wasting time until our bus left for Portland.  Well, it's always a good idea to double check your travel details, because we had our departure time wrong and MISSED THE BUS! We frantically made it to the train station, with just a few minutes til departure, we bought tickets for one of the last trains to Portland.  We stood in the long line waiting to board the train just to find out that the train was having a maintenance issues and we would be on a charter bus back.  We were really bummed... after missing our bus and having to pay for another way home, we at least were excited to be on a train.  Well, we board the charter bus and wait..... and wait..... and wait..... and finally hours later, we get on the road back to Portland.

Jesse is obsessed with poke.

I am obsessed with flowers.

Isn't this a great picture?? Such a surprise when we were looking through our photos.  Sorry, dude.

The Bubblegum Wall

Overall, we had a great weekend getaway in Seattle.  We both had always wanted to visit Seattle and since it is just a couple of hours away from Portland we knew we wanted to get up there this summer. So thankful that Gran and Grandy were able to come keep Turner so we could go.  I think they also loved getting a weekend alone with him.  They went to Cannon Beach for the weekend and visited the Tillamook Cheese Factory (a local cheese factory that makes amazing cheese)! Getting back to Portland was nice, but one of the best things was the HUGE HUG I got from my Turner man when we got back to the apartment.  Because I am with him 24/7, its rare that I get one of those "I missed you so much" hugs.  He seriously wouldn't let go for a while.  So sweet.

Grandy flew back home and Gran stayed a few more days so that she could fly back with me and Turner for our month in Mississippi! ...but that is for another post.  If you ever get a chance to visit Seattle, do it! We loved our little weekend there.