Erin Berit Ridgway
Erin = Gaelic name for Ireland
Berit = Old German name meaning glorious (popular in Sweden and Norway)
Born: 29 August 1996
Weight: 11 pounds!
Height: 23.5 inches
Head: 15.25 inches
I might update this when I have more time to add details--check the last-modified date at the bottom
I was a little over a week past due and I had been plagued with false labor for 3-4 days before real labor began. I would have 3 or 4 contractions in a row, sometimes 10 minutes apart, but they never progressed. I also felt very crampy with lots of low pressure. On Thursday, I asked Terry to stay home because I wasn't feeling very well. We went out for lunch later that day and ran some errands. I was feeling a bit better as the day went on.
I was watching President Clinton's acceptance speech about 7:00pm when the baby's membranes (bag of water) broke. It was just a little leak, so at first I wasn't sure about it. I had 3 or 4 contractions about 10-15 minutes apart, so I thought labor was going to be slower this time (with Devin, contractions started less than 2 minutes apart). I had called the midwife and left a message that labor started. I then called my sister, who wasn't home. I called my friend Sonya, who was a wonderful help taking care of Devin. Terry called my mom. After the 3-4 manageable contractions, I had 3 of them less than 3 minutes apart. I was really surprised at how quickly they changed and became very painful.
I felt sorry for my husband, Terry, who was trying to take care of both me and Devin. Devin, who's now 2 1/2 years old, was a little apprehensive. He knew I was in pain and that the baby was being born, but he still wanted lots of reassurance from dad. Terry gave him the occasional hug, but Devin wouldn't get lots of reassurance until grandpa and grandma showed up (for the last 20 minutes of the birth).
Elizabeth, the midwife's assistant, arrived first. She started preparing her equipment and making sure we had all the supplies we needed for the home birth. She said we were well prepared. Yelena, the midwife, arrived at about the same time as Sonya. Sonya was then able to take over watching Devin while Terry came back to help me and the midwives. At this point, I was so glad someone was there to look after Devin. I was also amazed at how quickly labor was progressing--the contractions were less than 2 minutes apart and becoming harder to manage.
I got in the shower for a minute. This was really relaxing, but because the house was so hot, I was taking a cool shower, which didn't do much for helping ease the contractions. Yelena did her first internal exam and said I was about 8cm dilated. I was so glad to hear that! The downside was knowing that I was entering transition, the hardest part of most labors.
The next contractions came one after the other, so incredibly close that I couldn't tell when one ended and the other began. At this point, the low cervical pressure was so intense that I thought I wasn't going to make it through. I got some good encouragement from Terry and the midwives. I couldn't believe that in less than two hours, I was already feeling the urge to push. I wasn't that aware of time, though. The pain sort of kept me in this odd state of consciousness where things seem sort of blurry.
Anyway, I started pushing with some of the contractions. At first it was a relief to push, but once the baby's head was out of the cervix, I didn't feel like pushing anymore. I got on the birthing stool (this chair that's framed like an open toilet). Yelena said she could see about a quarter-sized area of the baby's head. This completely surprised me. She asked if I wanted to look in the mirror and see the baby, but like Devin's birth, I kept my eyes closed through most of it. After about 3 or 4 contractions on the bithing stool, the pressure was so intense and I was so uncomfortable that I had to move, but I wasn't aware at that point that the baby was crowning (that is, her head was nearly out). Somewhere during this time my sister arrived. I thought about going on my hands and knees, but that hurt too much, so I just sort of flopped over the bed on to my side. This is a little ironic because earlier in the day I was talking about women delivering on their sides and I said I didn't understand how they could do it--it seemed to awkward.
Poor Terry was trying to support me, but neither of us was in a good position, so after another contraction, we got a bit more confortable on the bed. I started feeling a sharp stinging pain. At this point, the baby's head was nearly out. I wasn't pushing with the contractions--just letting them happen. I had my hand on the baby's head. This is really a weird feeling because it's hard against all of the soft perineal tissue. The midwives used hot compresses and lots of oil to keep the area soft and prevent tearing. I was rubbing the baby's head and helping with the massaging.My mom arrived, but I wasn't aware that she was there. The next thing I know, I feel this little urge to push with the contraction. Everyone in the room said the baby's head was out. I had my eyes closed most of the time, but I kept my hand down on the baby's head. It was a relief to get that part out! I got a good break from the contractions, but everyone else in the room was anxious to see the baby.
With the next contraction, I puffed, puffed, puffed while the baby slid out. Yelena eased the baby onto my belly. I opened my eyes and saw Erin for the first time! She was so little (to me) and her cry was so sweet. I sat up and held her for the longest time. I don't think I let anyone hold her for the first hour.
I was in labor for less than 3 hours, but it was an incredibly intense experience. Even though Erin weighed in at a whopping 11 pounds (I still don't believe it), I didn't tear at all. My recovery with this birth has been soooo much easier. With Devin (a hospital birth), I was given an episiotomy (a cut made to enlarge the vaginal opening). Going to the bathroom while trying not to tear stiches or feel too much stinging was more horrifying than his birth (which lasted 7 hours).