There are some memories in life that bring sweetness and warmth and others that seem locked until they are grieved. Resa's birth is a mixture of the two....Let me start with the plan:
Our plan was to have an all natural (no intervention or medication) home birth, preferably with a pool (aka water birth). We chose Spokane River Midwives as our support, Morgan as our doula, and Sue as our maternity, birth, and newborn photographer. These three choices were some of the best I have made.
Labor started out fun and silly!
Our good friend Wes needed a place to stay between flights so we were playing a rousing game of Catan. I would get a strong "whoosh" cramp like feeling as my turn approached that told me that it was FINALLY time after almost 42 weeks of waiting!
Wes went to bed around midnight & we began texting our beautiful Doula Morgan about our progress. She came when I began needing to really focus to get through the contractions in the early morning. Even after the contractions got closer together and a bit more difficult to breath through Morgan, Kyle, and I just spent our time laughing, talking, and snacking.
My mom and sister who live with us were ready and available. My mom had created a gorgeous assortment of snacks, as always, to munch. It was just a small group till the morning hours. I get goosebumps remembering the joy and excitement that was pulsing through Resa and I for her arrival!
Our photographer Sue Johnson (CDA Birth Photographer) came over a few times during the process to document and enjoy this process.
After lots of singing and breathing deep breaths, with a huge smile on my face, my waters finally broke! To our surprise, it had meconium (baby's first poo) in it.
What we couldn't have known was that Resa had, as many babies do, released meconium in the womb and then aspirated some (which means breathed some into her lungs).
Since the waters only broke partially, we called the midwives. They showed up right away with a couple student midwives to check on us. Around the time I finally released most of the "waters" I was ready for some pool time! The contractions got hard enough that I couldn't sing through them.
I was so set on a natural water birth at home that I actually prepared myself for the worlds most painful birth while also believing for an easy one!
It's a good thing I did. As fate would have it, Resa turned around to be what they call, "Sunny Side Up" or backwards, putting all the weight of her back and head on my spine. (OUCH!!!)
As soon as we realized her unfavorable positioning, we did stretches and postures to spin her, but she just wouldn't spin! (She may have even moved and then returned to that same position). And just like that, my labor was extended by about 10 hours.
To save you a very long read, I will tell you what I remember.
Warm comforting water, consoling me, as tremors came from within my body to squeeze my entire midsection.
Friendly faces asking me questions to which I had no answers apart from nodding.
Moving only when told, and the sun setting signalling a full day of labor and knowing that I was just getting started.
Information and options to go to the hospital, warnings, and checks for Resa's heart beat followed by relief as she was always doing just fine. I woke up over and over, which I realized was because I was falling asleep after each contraction. Each time I would wake, my gentle doula, Morgan, would morph into a three person army to get me through the fight. Sometimes she was a coach and I felt like a boxer in the ring. She was rubbing my shoulders and forcing me to drink fluids while rolling oils on me to help speed up the labor. Other times she was like a mother to me, reminding me that I was beautiful and sweetly suggesting I get some rest when I could. The best times where when she was my friend crying, singing, and praying with me or sleeping on my couch because she had already been there a full 24 hours.
Waking up in the pool surrounded by silence and darkness. Kyle was finally taking a break and all the other birth professionals who had come to help out were catching what shut eye they could. I was glad for the quiet, but felt another contraction on the horizon. Panic pulsed through me when I realized Kyle was not at my shoulder. I cried out silently to God for help, when who but my incredible sister would appear to breath with me and gently massage my shoulders.
Her skilled massage therapist hands instructed my body to relax when they only wanted to tense. They remembered her touch from countless massages and hugs and even playing together as children and obeyed. Shawnie and I breathed and cried together off and on as I slept on the bed between contractions. Even though Kyle was asleep next to me, he instinctively woke and reached over to me to breath with me as I woke to overcome more contractions.
And that is what I remember most and will treasure the rest of my life:
the loving warmth of Kyle's large hands as he held me for what felt like forever. His breath by my ear as we championed each contraction. His strong energy and love, feeding my will to keep releasing and surrendering to the process of bringing forth this new life. His words of sweet affirmation and tears of joy.
We worked as one person through the whole process and I was never once left to wonder if he would be there for me or if I could complete what we had started. He was well educated and confident of his role in the birth process thanks to the resources we had been supplied by Spokane River Midwives. He was my MAN.
On Easter Morning, we got our second wind!
We were coming up on 20 hours of active labor and the transition finally came. The real pushing began in the pool and moved to a birth stool where gravity and the midwife could encourage the baby to crown.
There were at least four women in front and beside me like a hand chosen cheering section yelling "GO GO GO! PUSH!" and then cooing like doves, "You are so strong and powerful. You are doing amazing. You are almost there." I imagine a choir of angels sounds a lot more like that than little children singing, because it was perfect motivation.
Kyle was of course right behind me, holding my weight and preparing for a miracle.
When Resa's little head finally started crowning:
My midwife Terri wisely instructed me to do what I call the "Bowling Ball Shuffle" into the pool to prevent further tearing (since I had already experience a tiny tear). I looked at her like, "Uh-no," but the "Choir of Angels" had already mobilized to either side of me, lifting me toward the pool. I made it! Just a few pushes more and Resa finally came out! I reached down, grabbed her out of the water as instructed, and she landed on my chest!
... But this was not the moment I was expecting. We had all held back our joyful tears for that beautiful moment where she took her first breath... that moment never came.
Resa was colder than I imagined she should be...
and very long and limp. She wasn't breathing.
My midwife must have known what was up because she smoothly and calmly scooped her from my arms (with permission) and unwrapped the umbilical cord which was wrapped once around her neck (very common) and began CPR (also fairly common). When she didn't respond immediately, the whole team began to get us prepped for departure, calling the hospital and paramedics.
The chaos began here and didn't stop for the 11 days
of Resa's stay at the hospital, for which I will have to be another blog, but there is one thing I can say for certain: she was fine.
We can all attest to the fact that even though we didn't get to have the rest that every mother and baby deserves after working THAT hard, there was a peace that penetrated each person's heart in that moment.
We knew beyond a doubt that the same God who made her and grew her, was very seriously in love with her and had a life for her to live that was longer than her brother Anthony's. After all, her brother Anthony couldn't breath at birth either. It felt parallel to me,
but this time after a nearly 23 hour labor on Resurrection Sunday, SHE LIVED.
Our rainbow baby lived to the glory of God!
And we missed church that day...
All the photos I share from this epic story will have been the loving work of Susan Johnson CDA Birth Photographer.
We chose to invest in birth photography because I knew so little about my own birth story and felt compelled to have a full report ready for our little Theresa when she becomes a woman. We chose Sue because she is a woman on a mission to give other families the birth they deserve and want and then help them to remember it! There are many great photographers out there, but she is the one I call my true friend.
All of this is in an effort to empower our Theresa Renee Craviotto.
When she asks me, "what is it like to have a baby?" or "what was it like having me?" I will tell her this:
Having babies is the most empowering, exciting, and difficult journey we have ever taken. It is the most nobel cause we could fight for. It was an honor to experience and a joy to participate in. It activated the oneness that Kyle and I have built and it integrated the whole of my being (Soul, Mind, Spirit, and Body) to accomplish. We found a community and we leaned into it for strength. It is AWESOME and so are you.
"Part 2: Bringing Resa Home" will be coming soon...
Thank you so much for reading, praying, and encouraging us!
For more information about Spokane River Midwives visit their website.
For more information about CDA Birth Photography visit Sue's website.
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God double bless.