Tag Archives: birth

She Says… Emmett’s Arrival

Before I launch into the story of how Emmett decided to come out and play, I want to thank you all for your amazing outpouring of love and support and congratulations. Benjamin and I are so thrilled to have the little guy on the outside of my body rather than the inside, and it is incredible to know there were/are so many people thinking of our family during this exciting time.

So. The story.

Well you all know where we were the night before the due date. I was at the hospital NOT actually in labor, despite the contractions coming every 5 minutes. I was angry, frustrated, embarrassed and generally aggravated at the world when we were sent home in the wee hours of the morn on my baby’s due date. After a few hours of sleep I woke up and felt horrible. I was crampy and uncomfortable and my emotions were running high. I decided to take a much-needed sick day from work, which I almost never do. To get my mind off of the labor-that-wasn’t, Benjamin and I decided to head to Ikea to pick up the last few things that we needed for the basement renovation. I figured I could walk this baby out in the air conditioning, if nothing else.


All of a sudden, while walking through the kitchen and dining chair section, I felt a contraction that stopped me in my tracks. I had been feeling them all morning, but this one was pinchier and sharper and made me stop and hold my stomach. Ugh, these “false” contractions really suck, I thought, and carried on with my shopping. A few (short!) minutes later, another one. Worse. And I was pretty sure I had just wet my pants. Spoiler alert — it wasn’t pee.

My water had just broken in Ikea.

Thankfully not the waterfall I experienced with Owen, but just enough so that I was 100% sure that’s what it was without leaving a puddle on the concrete floor below. Benjamin was in a different department and there was no cell service, so I kept shopping, knowing that we’d meet up at checkout. Well, I kept shopping in about 3 minute segments, and then I’d try to play it cool while I breathed through a contraction. Once I started timing them I realized shit was getting real FAST. They were 3-4 minutes apart. I abandoned our cart and told Benjamin we had to leave. Like, RIGHT NOW. The only problem was that we needed to pick up an order from a nearby warehouse. It was the whole reason we had driven to Ikea, so we decided to do it as fast as possible while I timed contractions.


I think my contractions must have rattled Benjamin, because he got lost on the way to the warehouse. On some REALLY bumpy roads. I would grip the car door handles, breathe through a contraction, and then read the timing aloud (1 minute long, 3:30 since the last one). The distance between the contractions was shrinking, and they were definitely getting worse.

Thankfully we found the warehouse and I told Benjamin to RUN while I called the doctor. I actually had an office appointment scheduled in a few hours, so I called to ask them if I should go to the office or the hospital (like… is it real NOW?!). I must have sounded really under control, because they advised me to come to the office and they’d check me there. About 1 minute after leaving the warehouse with our furniture in the trunk, though, I KNEW we were not going to the doctor. We were heading straight to the hospital. And all of a sudden I was a little scared about even getting there in time. I was thankful I had thought to throw the labor bag in the car “just in case”.

We got to the hospital and when the midwife checked me, the contractions were 2-3 minutes apart and felt like they were coming on top of each other. 5cm dilated, 100% effaced and head ready. And changing FAST. I was already making noises I didn’t recognize and having an out-of-body experience due to the pain, so the nurse immediately set to work getting me fluids so I could get an epidural. It seemed to take forever to get the necessary bloodwork done and questions answered in the antenatal area. I felt like the baby was about to fall out on the floor and I could barely breathe before the next contraction started again. Benjamin was stuck answering while I nodded and shook my head and thought I was going to vomit. By the time they put me in a wheelchair to take me from antenatal to labor and delivery, I was a full blown caricature of what a woman in labor looks like in the movies.

Once we got to the labor & delivery room things are a bit of a blur to me. I was completely blinded by the pain and it took every fiber of my being to squeeze my eyes shut, breathe/scream and focus on not breaking into a million little tiny pieces. I heard voices and saw faces, but all I could really hear in my ears was my own breathing (and the strange wails that were apparently coming out of my mouth, though they sounded nothing like my voice). After what seemed like another eternity, I got the epidural. In the next few minutes while we waited for it to kick in, my body decided it was ready to push.

Apparently I was going to experience the joy/beauty/pain/agony/euphoria/horror of natural childbirth without necessarily intending.

Prior to this experience, I would have thought that pushing was the worst part of all. The climax. The big finale. But honestly once I started pushing I was immediately present again. Laser-focused. Eyes open. Breathing. Kicking labor’s ass. It felt weirdly good, after all of the drama of transition. And I don’t think that was the epidural speaking, since it really didn’t have a chance to kick in at all.

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10 minutes later, Emmett Howell entered the world.

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Very purple and quite stunned by the speed of his arrival, but perfect in every way. The midwife put him right on my chest and Benjamin and I laugh-cried and stared in awe at this beautiful little person.

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Welcome, little one.

She Says… The Road to Recovery

First of all, I cannot thank you all enough for the amazing comments, emails, tweets and thoughts. I have only had a few minutes here and there to be at the computer over the last few days, and your words have melted my heart one by one. It means so much to Benjamin and I to know how many people out there are thinking of us! Little by little I’m coming back to earth, so more blog regular blog posts and tweets (and OF COURSE pictures of our little man!) are on their way 🙂

Since time is scarce when one is breastfeeding at least 12 out of the 24 hours in a day (and trying to eat/sleep/hydrate/possibly shower in the others), let’s cut right to the chase: Labor does a real number on your body. Although I’ve never been through war, I imagine it’s somewhat like that… but from the inside out. There’s pain so extreme you think you might just break into a million pieces and blood and guts like you’ve never seen before. It takes a crazy amount of determination and focus to make it through. But at least with labor, you get this incredible gift at the end. A prize that is undoubtedly worth the pain.

After it’s all over, you are left to pick up the pieces. So that’s where I’ll start. Right after I delivered little Owen, he was whisked away to the other side of the room to be checked out by the docs and cleaned (see the story here if you missed it). I kind of thought my job was over. I had just pushed a baby out! Couldn’t I relax now? Nope, apparently not. I still had to deliver the placenta, and then the rebuilding process began. Owen’s head, although tiny, was a bit bigger than my body could handle, and I tore a bit during the final pushes. After the labor Benjamin asked the doctor (while she was sewing me up) how much I had torn. Before she could answer, I blurted out: “I don’t want to know!”. I just didn’t want to talk about it. I figure I’ll heal the same way whether I know the details or not, and frankly I don’t plan on being one of those women bragging about what degree their tear was. Sidenote: Even with an epidural (albeit, one that had started wearing off awhile before this moment), I was pretty uncomfortable during the stitching. I could feel tugging and pulling, and I couldn’t really shake the idea of what the doctor was doing. Nonetheless, it was over in just a few minutes.

When the doctor said, “You’re all finished”, my legs turned to jello and began to shake as I realized it was all over. I had done it. I’m pretty sure that’s when the tears started. Well, they had started earlier when the baby finally came out, but at this point the tears were like body heaving sobs that released the tension I had been holding in since we arrived at the hospital. For me, this kind of uncontrollable tears has been a big part of the recovery process for me. Apparently it’s the way my body chooses to deal with the stress and anxiety and tumultuous emotions. Several times in the days right after delivery I found myself sobbing without good reason. I didn’t feel sad, and I certainly don’t think it has anything to do with postpartum depression… it’s just the way my body releases pent up energy.

The first time was when I looked at Owen’s circumcision the day after he was born. After his procedure, the doctor took us into the nursery and showed us how to care for it. A tiny blood vessel had been cut during the circumcision, and so they put this stuff on it to make it stop bleeding. Unfortunately, the stuff turns black and looks horribly scary. Owen was red-faced and crying (I mean really, who wouldn’t be?), and it was the first time I really heard him cry. I took one look into his bassinet and just lost it. I was sobbing my brains out. The nurses were all saying things like, “Oh honey, don’t cry, he was given something to numb the pain” and “He’s ok, he’s just a little stressed out”. The thing was, I’m not sure I was even crying about Owen’s little weenie, I was just crying to cry. Step one on the road to recovery… cry. A lot. Let it out.

Holy cow. Of course I knew that you bleed a bit after birth. What I didn’t realize is just much you bleed, and for how long. I won’t go into details for the sake of the family and friends who come here just to see cute pics of Owen, but let me just say that it looks like someone committed a murder in the bathroom whenever I go. And for the first few days your lady parts are so swollen and puffy they are completely unrecognizable. And you sit on ice packs because there is a constant, throbbing pain. The reality is, though, that although this is uncomfortable, it completely melts away when you look into your newborn’s eyes. Also, pain like this pales in comparison to the pain you just felt while giving birth, so it seems totally bearable even though it sucks. Step 2 to recovery… bleeding and soreness. My advice? Take time to treat yourself like they treat you in the hospital — use that squirt bottle with warm water, take a sitz bath or two (heaven, I tell you), and don’t be afraid to poop. Coming from someone who was terrified to “push” again, it’s not that bad (umm, provided you take those stool softeners they give you).

I thought I was thirsty during my pregnancy. But that was nothing! Now I have a water bottle attached to me at all times. Maybe it’s the nursing, maybe it’s the swelling and excess fluids working their way out of my system, I don’t know. All I know is that if I don’t drink anything for about 10 minutes, I am parched. And for me, parched leads to angry and frustrated and that leads to tears. See “Crying”, above. Step 3 to recovery… stay hydrated. Honestly, it helps everything else run its course.

Last but not least, sleep. One of the first question everyone asks me these days is, “Are you getting any sleep?”. The answer, in comparison to the amount of sleep I got pre-baby, is no. But to tell you the truth, I haven’t really noticed much. I seem to have some magical mommy hormone that is powering me through these long nights of waking up every 2-3 hours to feed Owen. I’m doing my best to nap during the day, but I’m not a very good napper. I have a feeling that’s a skill that I will acquire in the coming weeks and months. We realized very early on that Benjamin does NOT do well when he doesn’t sleep at night, and I seem to do fine with broken sleep periods and some naps during the day. So we’ve worked our “schedule” (and I use that word very loosely) around that. I’ll do another post on our schedule later, but the bottom line is that you have to sleep whenever you can. Everyone says “sleep when the baby sleeps”, and although I haven’t been able to do that successfully yet, I’ve been making a concerted effort to take time to rest. Watch tv, read a book, lay on the couch and stare at the ceiling, whatever quiets your mind. Step 4… sleep. No excuses, just do it. Or you’ll never be able to do the other things.

Amazingly enough, my body seems to be patching itself up pretty well. A mere 6 days after being split open and having my insides on my outside, I am beginning to feel like a normal person again. My swelling is going down (my feet are cute again — hallelujah!), the soreness in my lady parts is less and less each day, the tears are subsiding and even my nipples are surviving the daily biting, twisting and shockingly strong sucking that Owen dishes out. As bad as it seems in those few days right after birth… it passes!

He Says… Owen’s Birthday, on video

So being me, I took some video on the day of Owen’s birth.  Don’t worry, there is nothing gross here; I was preoccupied during all the time of active labor and pushing.  But I got some nice moments throughout the day, before and after his birth.  It’s a little fragmented because I didn’t shoot a ton, but when I put some of the clips together I thought it created a nice little piece.  I showed it to Kate last night and we both got teary-eyed watching it.  It really was such an incredible experience to witness, and the outcome is, well, perfect!

He Says… The fruit of our (her) labor

Let me just say, what I witnessed today was truly one of (if not THE) most amazing experience of my life.  I am so proud of Kate for her strength and poise through the entire delivery process.  She was truly a pro.  It’s been a long day for all of us and I think we are all rather exhausted, but just so thrilled to hold our baby boy in our arms.  It’s hard to believe that he is really ours.

So without further ado, I introduce our son, Owen James, born at 12:36pm weighing 7lbs, 5oz.

I’ll let Kate write more about the birth in the next day or two.  But thank you to every one of you for your kind words and support!

She Says… It Shouldn’t Be This Hard

Last week I posted about Cord Blood Banking. I thought that making the decision whether or not to donate, and whether to donate to a public or private bank was the difficult part of the process. Apparently not. Once I decided I would like to donate to a public bank and potentially save lives, I expected it would be pretty easy. After all, there’s no fee, and it should be as easy as giving blood. Right? Wrong.

Step #1 – First I called my doctor’s office and asked them about the procedure for donating cord blood. They told me to call the hospital where I would be delivering to check with their policy.

Step #2 – I called Mount Auburn, the hospital were I’m going to deliver, and after being transferred 4 times, the conversation went like this: 

Her: “We do the collection, but we don’t do anything with shipping the sample once it’s collected. You’ll need to work with an outside company to do that.”

Me: “No problem. Do you have any companies that you generally use for cord blood donation that I could contact?”

Her: “Uhh, no. You can look it up online, though.”

Step #3 – Commence Googling. It’s shocking how challenging it is to find information about DONATING to a PUBLIC bank when the websites are completely dominated by STORING your cord blood with a PRIVATE bank. I found another local hospital’s website (Brigham and Women’s) that advertises that they have a public banking process. Score! I thought. For sure they will take a donation from the next town over, right?

Step #4 – I called Brigham & Women’s. This person was very helpful and said that for now, they only accept donations from babies delivered in their hospital. BUT, she offered me two other phone numbers of companies that may be helpful. One of which was the New England Organ Bank, which collects umbilical cords after birth to be used in scientific research (to use as a last resort if I couldn’t find a public bank to donate to).

Step #5 – I called the other number that the Brigham & Women’s nurse gave me, for Cryobanks International. Success! They offer both public and private banking, so their website was a little confusing for someone looking just to donate, but the woman on the phone directed me to the place on the website where I can download the DONATION forms (after answering some medical questions).

The process: I will fill out the (extensive) forms, have my doctor approve them, and then send them back to Cryobanks prior to my 34th week of pregnancy. Cryobanks will then send me a collection kit that I will bring with me to the hospital when I’m in labor. From what I have read, the labor and delivery is not affected by the decision to donate cord blood, as the doctor can wait until the placenta is fully delivered, and the baby receives the appropriate amount of time with the umbilical cord still intact before cutting it and collecting the sample. After delivery, I will call Cryobanks and let them know I have a sample, and we organize shipping/courier pickup of the sample.

Once I got to the right person, it was easy to figure out how to donate. However, it really shouldn’t be that hard to get to that person. So anyone out there looking to donate who doesn’t know how (if your hospital doesn’t accept donations), check out Cryobanks! They are international, and work directly with your OB to collect the sample. And as far as I can tell, they may be one of only a few companies who accept mail-in donations.

Good luck to others trying to sort through this — it’s no wonder that the cord blood banks have limited supplies, it’s too darn hard to donate!