On November 18, 2007:

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

********************Noah's birth story****************

There is So Much to Say. Where Do I Begin?

How about at the beginning? My water broke at about 5 p.m. on Saturday night, the 17th. It was funny, because I really wasn't SURE that's what had happened. It felt mostly like I had peed a little, but without any control over it. Kinda awkward. So I let it go for a moment, deciding to wait to see if it happened again. Well did it ever!! For the next twenty minutes or so I kept feeling these little trickles (never a gush), and finally (after consulting my nurse hotline AND Katie) woke Joe from a pre-work nap to tell him we should probably go to the hospital. Thrilled to call in to work, he got up and we calmly tied up a few loose ends around the apartment, adding a few things to our pile already packed and ready to go. We called our families to tell them we were headed in to check if it was REAL labor, and then headed out.

We got to the hospital around 6:15, checked in, and got to our delivery room. The nurses determined pretty quick that this was indeed "real labor" and got me hooked up to monitors and IV. The room was comfy (for a hospital delivery room), and we settled in for a long night. I had begun feeling mild contractions in the car, and they stayed pretty mind for a few hours. I had also already been dilated to a 3 at 80% effaced all week, so the early labor work had been done. We decided to hold off on Pitocin and the epidural for the time being, just to see what my body had in mind for the evening. The pain wasn't really unbearable. Joe's sister Mary arrived to lend some support and she hung out with us through the early waiting phase.

After nearly three hours of waiting, however, I was still a three. We reluctantly agreed to the Pitocin and she started it REALLY lightly at about 9:00 p.m. At about 9:30 p.m., some REAL contractions began, and I managed them by sitting on the birthing ball and clutching my belly while Joe rubbed my back. We hung out that way for 30-45 minutes, and when the nurse checked again, I was at a 4. She said we needed the contractions to be closer than 4-5 minutes apart, so she upped the Pitocin a bit more. Within minutes, the contractions got harder and more frequent.

At this point, my coping mechanism involved a weird focus activity-- I found that if I said the 50 states alphabetically, rhythmically, sometimes picturing them on a map, sometimes picturing unique features of each one, I was able to NOT go crazy with the pain. I mean, even at a 4-5 dilation, these babies were HARD! Yikes!! When the nurse popped in at about 10:30, she checked me, said I had made it to 5, and asked if this was the time for the epidural. YES YES YES YES, please. I was done. I'm a bit embarrassed to cave at only a 5, and am AMAZED at all you non-epidural women, but WOW. It was time. She said he was just down the hall and it shouldn't be more than 15 minutes or so, and you better believe I watched that clock between "Alabama...Wyoming!!!" and the next chant. And it was more than 15 minutes, let me tell you.
Joe was AMAZING. He was calm, responsive, not annoying, soooo sympathetic, and very willing to push that massager into the small of my back-- HARDER, JOE!-- when I barked at him to do so. He was right there for me until the epi guy showed up a bit after 11:00 p.m. After one failed attempt (blood in the catheter means he nicked a vein), he smoothly got the epidural in while I sat on the edge of the bed, hugging a pillow, humming, and rolling my feet in circles to keep from crying out from the contraction pain. The epi pain was NADA. No biggie. By 11:30, the epidural was working, a Foley catheter was in place, and the blessed numbness was letting me take a much needed rest.

My parents and sister Beckie showed up at 12:30 a.m. from Columbia, MO and they and Mary took turns coming in to chat while we watched the baby heartbeat tape and contraction tape record their findings. We were fascinated by the contractions especially, since they would rise and fall steadily without me feeling an ounce of pain. My family would sometimes tell me when a big one came along, 'cause I didn't know. The nurse came in around this time and took my blood pressure. It was REALLY low, due to the epidural medication, and she immediately upped my fluid IV and put me in an oxygen mask. I never felt any different, but this low blood pressure became the issue of the night. At one point, it got down to an 86/46 and she had the epidural guy come in and give me a shot of something to help my pressure go up. This happened twice between 12:30 and 3:00 a.m. My two other sisters, Sarah and Kirsti, arrived during this time and I still felt fine so we all chatted for a while. Throughout, the nurse would keep coming in when my pressure dropped and check the machines and my fluid. I stayed on oxygen for most of the time. She said it was because she didn't like how my baby's heart was responding to each contraction. She told me it wasn't cause for alarm, but we needed to perk him up. Reassured, I was able to stay so relaxed and peaceful throughout all of this late-night stuff. I even got a good little nap between 3:30 and 5:00, when I was woken by a new doctor, a heart specialist, telling the nurse that she wanted the fetal heart monitor inserted for a more accurate read.

At this point, nearly 12 hours after arriving, I was dilated to an 8. The heart doc told me that they had been monitoring my baby's heartbeat all night and were concerned by the distress it was showing. She told me that the little monitor that was being inserted into my baby's scalp was to determine more accurately if we needed to do something more immediate to relieve the baby's distress. She said it was very possible we were heading into C-section territory. Still a bit groggy from my nap, my heart froze. I had never considered this to be a possibility. While the room was clear of personnel, I asked Joe to get my dad so I could have a blessing. I still felt that Noah could come on his own. The blessing was sweet, and brought me peace, but immediately afterward, my on-call OB came in to say that they had decided the surgery was best and explained the procedure and got the preparations started. There was no sense of EMERGENCY, just an efficient process that would help my baby have a smoother entry into the world.

I cried a little with Joe. This wasn't how I had pictured things. I was sad that after all that time and work, we would have to "give up" and let them do it their way. I was sad that the whole "movie scene" wouldn't play out the way it should. Still, we wanted what was best for our baby, and so we took a deep breath and readjusted our ideals.

The epidural was cranked up to high, the bed was wheeled to an operating room, Joe was put into disposable scrubs and a blue sterile curtain was hung in front of me to block the surgery from germs and my horrified eyes. Everything moved so fast at this point, and before I knew it, the cutting had begun and Joe was holding my hand, helping me through it. He got the camera ready and within minutes Joe was saying "there's his head!" and the surgeons were saying "Oh he's a BIG one!" and the sound of suctioning and crying filled the room. Joe took photos (including the REMARKABLE one at the top of this post) and then watched in awe as they carried our screaming son to the warming table to my right. I looked and all I saw, honestly, was this FAT, PURPLE, CONE-HEADED UGLY thing. I thought, "Darn it... I guess I'll have to get used to him." (Isn't that AWFUL??) But within minutes he had pinked up, a hat was hiding the cone, and his angry cries were too irresistible. I loved him. Joe just stood and watched, took some photos and video, and I finally asked him if he had even touched him yet. Joe looked surprised, said no, and I told him to get over there! It was comforting to know that even if I couldn't hold him just yet, Joe could be there instead.

Finally, FINALLY, after what seemed like hours, but what was really probably only ten minutes, they let Joe bring him over to me. For the first time, Noah stopped crying and I reached out to touch his face. I couldn't speak and the emotions flooded in powerfully. (one of the most meaningful photos Joe took was this one:)

I spent more time with my new son in the recovery room, where we got a little skin-to skin time as I practiced nursing. He then got taken away for his bath and other things, and I got settled in my room for a nice. long, post-C-section four-day stay.

So. Wow, that was lengthy. But it's a story I want to remember, and it is a relief to have it down now so I know I won't forget the little things.

Yes, it was unexpected and sad for me to have the surgery... but ultimately, I don't regret a single moment of my time in the hospital. It was the most peaceful, affirming experience i could have had, and we left, nearly a week later, rested, informed, practiced and ready to try real life.

Now, what y'all were REALLY looking for, this whole time... More photos!!!!

{right after delivery}


{getting weighed}

{Dad's moment}

{Family moment}

{bonding in the recovery room}

{a quiet evening moment with Dad}

{they're so irresistible when they sleep!}

{look at that face!!}

{a favorite one... taken by Joe!}

P.S. That cone head thing went away within hours, and I honestly think he might be the best looking baby ever. Am I biased? Never.

(and aren't you impressed to learn that Joe took most of these?? I love it!)
{reprinted from my November 23, 2007 entry}

And to finish, a video:

And that's my memory. My most important journey so far in this life. Thank you for letting me relive it here. I'm off now-- to go enjoy my sweet son on his birthday! There are toys to be played with, people!!

Joseph Noah Southerland
Born: November 18, 2007
Time: 7:22 a.m.
Weight: 8 pounds 5 ounces
Height: 20.5 inches


  1. What a wonderful birth story. I'm so glad you shared it. Little tiny Noah was just adorable. It made me tear up a bit reading your experience and thinking of my own.
    Happy Birthday Noah! You're one lucky guy!!!

  2. Beautifully written! I am glad that even though you didn't want surgery it still went well! :) He is such a cute kid, just think next time you can schedule the birth whenever you want! Lucky! :)

    My favorite things about the birth posts is to see the old looking/wrinkly/chunky babies turn into cute one year olds! (just like yours) :)

  3. I love birth stories!!!

    I had a c-section with my boys (it was planned although I prayed for them to rearrange themselves so it wouldn't be necessary, but it wasn't meant to be) and a VBAC with my youngest. It was a wonderful experience. So I can understand your disappointment with the way the delivery happened. The story is so beautiful, though, and so is Noah! He was a really cute newborn, and is a really cute big boy! HAPPY BIRTHDAY NOAH!

  4. Wonderfully written as always. I am not sure I ever knew that Noah was a Joseph Noah. Love the name even more!

  5. Happy Birthday my sweet, first, wonderful nephew.

    Em, thanks for the went by so fast...

    I remember walking back to see you after. The first time I saw my brother as a father, the first time I saw my friend & sister as mother, the first time I became an heart is so full when I think of those first moments.

    Give those boys hugs for me.

    Noah- you are our Sunshine.

  6. I found your blog through Baby Center's Nov. 07 Mommies. I have checked in from time to time to see your sweet family. I LOVED reading your story. I cried and laughed. Thanks for sharing it. Reading your story and thinking of my own makes me think I want to have another one already--Shh..don't tell anyone!

  7. oh man, Em. . . that was a great story, and what AMAZING photos (Go Joe!!) I'm so so glad Noah made it into this world a healthy little munchkin. Aren't we lucky that we have the OPTION of surgery, and that our babies can come into the world without endangering us or them, when necessary? Awesome.

  8. What an awesome story! I'm so glad you shared! Now I'm wishing I would've written a little write up for Noah's birthday. :)

  9. These are sooo sweet!

    All my babies were born via c-section. I'm not allowed to have natural birth. :(

  10. Ahhh Emily! That is a beautiful story! Thank you for sharing!!

    Happy Birthday Noah!!

  11. what a wonderful birth story! thanks for sharing!!! happy birthday to noah!!!!!!!

  12. Such a wonderful story and beautiful pics to go along with it. Although things rarely go as planned, your story shows that you can still have a happy ending! Happy birthday Noah!

  13. I've seen that photo of you & Noah a hundred times, but it still makes me cry.

    Love you, and your beautiful family!

  14. I still get the chills when I think about the fact that you and I were laboring at the same time. Even though our stories are so different, its kinda bonding in its own way. (plus the fact that our boys are named after their daddies, but with different middle many coincidences!) I love reading his birth story, and feeling like I'm right there with you. Hats off to Joe for the awesome photography! And hats off to both of you for being such awesome parents!

  15. Thanks for sharing, Emily. And look at what an amazing and wonderful mother you have become over this past year. Noah and Joe are so blessed to have you in their lives.

  16. Congrats to you for a beautiful birth story and a blessed first year. Just so wonderful!

  17. Emily, I am crying right now after reading this because your personal reflections that are so honest and unguarded make me remember my own birth stories with such vividness it aches.
    Both my sons' births were "less than ideal" but gave me the most beautiful gifts that I would take the pain 100 times over again to have them in my life. Your story reminds me that I did not take the time to write down my feelings and thoughts as you have just done and that I should do it now before they fade too far from memory.
    Happy birthday to Noah, a wonderfully adorable and inquisitive-looking fellow that I would love to meet. And Happy "Birth"day to you. It has been one year since you have joined the world of motherhood and I know, like me, you will never look back :)

  18. Happy Birthday, Noah!
    And thanks for the "shout out" Mrs. S! ha ha

  19. Awww I can't believe he is one!! Remember how we were talking to each other on the phone and planning to do something the next day and then you called me back about 20 min later and said uh nope lol! Congrats one the big one Noah!! He is adorable Emily.

  20. How precious! I understand what you mean about doing it the way you see in the movies. I as well had a C-section. It stinks while you are going though all of it, but what a wonderful little baby you get out of all of it. Thanks for the pics and the video. Poor little cries. How fun!

  21. Happy Birthday Noah! Thanks for sharing the story of such an important day with us.

  22. Have I mentioned lately how thankful I am that among the tragic - and frustrating! - parent/family situations I encounter on a regular basis (the ignorance, the selfishness, the conflict, the lack of a firm foundation...) it is a blessing to come back to your little family and feel some of my hope and confidence restored.

    And I am so thankful that my nephew gets to have such sane parents (and I mean that in reference to the rough patches, as well - if you didn't have those, it might be because you didn't care enough... and that's even worse)

    Thank you for sharing so much of your journey with me/us, and thank you for being such a good mom.

    Happy Belated, Noah!

  23. That is so great Em, I'm glad you got it down. I wrote Ellas but not Claires and my memory of hers is fading, so this is a good reminder to get my thoughts on paper before I completely forget.

    Noah IS a beautiful baby!

  24. Emily,
    That was beautiful. Thanks for sharing it and happy birthday Noah!


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