A Baby Story

When it comes to parenting, we aim for simplicity. We believe in natural birth, breastfeeding, cloth diapering, co-sleeping and baby-wearing because these are all practices that come most naturally to us. We will strive to raise our baby in a loving, colorful and mindful home; to have an open heart and an open mind; to recognize the value of hard work and gratitude, and the importance laughter, truth and a full tummy.

This blog is a baby book of sorts, to share our life and milestones with our family and friends, and to celebrate the goodness that exists in each day. 

Curious about Lily's birth story? Here it is...

On Tuesday, June 21, I was 38 weeks and 6 days pregnant. That afternoon, I left work around 3 p.m. to make a 4 p.m. doctor's appointment. Right before Carl, Ryland and I left our apartment to head to the appointment, I used the restroom to find that I had passed my mucus plug. I text our doula, Tina, and she reminded us this did not necessarily mean labor. Alarmed, but knowing it could still be up to a week until true labor began, we headed to see my OB.

At the appointment, I was 1.5 cm dilated, totally effaced and the baby was in position. Our doctor decided to sweep my membranes, but assured me it could be a day to another week until I delivered. Carl had a law school final in evidence the next day at 8 a.m., so we left hoping our baby girl would stay put for just a bit longer...

That evening, as Carl studied and Ryland played, I began to review a labor video Carl and I like and revisit natural birth stories I had read in Ina May Gaskin's Guide to Childbirth. Although labor hadn't yet begun, we knew it was imminent so I double-checked our hospital bag, gathered all important documents and we all settled in for an early bedtime. 

Around 11 p.m., the Braxton-Hicks contractions I had been experiencing for weeks began to grow stronger, as did the the week-long ache in my lower back. At the same time, I began to hear and smell rain outside our bedroom window...ending San Antonio's two-month long drought. Carl shot awake and we decided he'd better use the next few hours to review for his test, just in case. While he studied, my contractions grew stronger still, almost in sync with the thunder crashing outside our apartment. I did my best to breathe deeply as I contracted, recalling the "waves" I had read about in my natural labor books. 

The next morning, Wednesday, June 22, my contractions were more frequent but still manageable, so Carl headed to his final and our babysitter arrived to accompany Ryland for a few hours. While they watched Little Rascals in the living room, I washed dishes and then labored on our bed, trying to catch a bit of rest between contractions, which were now around four minutes apart. Soon after, Carl returned from his final, the babysitter left and our doula, Tina, arrived. 

The rest of the day, Carl, Tina, Ryland and I rallied together and labored at our home.  Carl would massage my lower back and apply pressure to the area with a warm rice sock, which seemed to mitigate the contractions for a bit. We put our immediate family on alert and my sister and her son began to travel from Dallas to San Antonio. Carl and Tina took turns accompanying me on slow walks around our neighborhood, where I inched along and leaned on him or her for support during contractions, swaying my hips and coaching myself to keep my breaths deep and my jaw slack.

I remembered the many birth stories I had read and how important it was to stay calm and relaxed. At some point, I began to emit what I can only describe as deep, guttural cat yowls, which drew on throughout the labor.

Around 8 p.m., after many walks and warm showers, we decided to go to the hospital. I had labored for nearly 24 hours at that point, and I was sure I would be delivering at any moment. Ha! Little did I know what was still in store for us...

At the hospital, we discovered I was still totally effaced, and contracting every one to three minutes, but to our horror, was only TWO centimeters dilated. I should have known by the simple fact that I was able to have a coherent conversation with our nurses. Our doctor, knowing about our natural birth plan, suggested I labor for two hours at the hospital and if I hadn't progressed, to return home and continue on our own. If we were to stay at the hospital at that point, they would likely administer Pitocin to speed up my contractions and that was not what we wanted. So, after speaking with Carl, who encouraged me and reminded me of our nine months of planning for this moment, I knew returning home was the right thing to do. 

We returned to our apartment at midnight, and I continued to labor. Carl and Ryland rested a bit, and although I was instructed to do the same, my contractions grew increasingly more painful and even closer together. I was tired and hungry and thirsty and sure I was losing my mind. I tried to labor in bed and on the couch, where I writhed in pain and prayed for relief. I spent the next four hours alternating from the couch to the bathroom, where I labored over the toilet and in the bathtub, and even on the bathmat on the floor. For some reason, sitting on the toilet made the pain slightly more manageable and when I would feel short urges to push, I gritted my teeth and did so, visualizing our little girl inching her way through my body. From the bathtub, I laved in the hot water and in between contractions, perched my chin on the side for support and a minute of rest. 

Finally, at 6 a.m., I began to feel desperate. After 30 hours in labor and a discouraging trip to the hospital and back, I wasn't sure if my contractions had gotten doubly painful, or if I had just lost all ability to manage the pain. I was howling at this point, and after speaking with Carl, we decided to head to the hospital once more, half-expecting to be met with the same news. When we arrived at the hospital this time, however, I was in so much pain that I couldn't walk to the labor and delivery floor and instead had to be wheeled in. 

To our great relief, I had, throughout the course of the night, dilated to 7 centimeters! At this point, I could barely speak and the nurses informed me I would be delivering the baby--soon. When the nurses asked if I was planning to get an epidural, I muttered, "no" and I heard them say good, that there wouldn't be enough time to administer one anyway. 

Afew minutes later, I was in the delivery room, with Carl on my right hand side, holding my hand and  Tina on the other side, massaging my back. We were fortunate to have a lovely Indian woman named Jeanie as our nurse. Apparently, she had worked in India for many years, where unmedicated births are the norm, and spent the next hour offering encouragement and advice on positions and breathing. 

The short respite in between my contractions offered a few moments to seek comfort from Carl, who, with ever squeeze of my hand, gave me the courage I needed push toward our goal. Suddenly, I began to feel an overwhelming urge to physically push. "I feel her. She's coming," I remember saying aloud, and Tina called for Jeanie, who called for our OB, Dr. Gee. I could feel our baby girl making her way into the world, and suddenly I knew we were on this journey together. I felt strangely comforted by the pain coursing through my body, knowing that it was the pain I felt that would deliver her to us. I also knew that there was a beginning and an end to each contraction, and that it was only a matter of seconds until the one I was enduring at a particular moment would come to a close. 

Within minutes, there was a delivery setup at the foot of my bed and my legs were propped up. I began to push, push, push through my contraction, and draw deep breaths in between. I was all at once hot and cold, scared and full of strength, laughing and crying, and I could hear the doctor say I was a good pusher, and I could feel her hands reaching inside of me. I focused in on Carl cheering me on, telling me to push, baby, push,  just a little bit more this time, here's her head, we can see her head, push, push, push, c'mon Cass, push!

And finally, at 11:04 a.m. on Thursday, June 23, after 36 hours of unmedicated labor and nine months of planning and praying, our sweet Lily Aviv DeKoatz was born into this world and into her daddy's arms.

lily aviv, minutes old
6 pounds, 9 ounces
18 inches long

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