Told by: Erin
I love birth stories. I love hearing the hard roads mama’s travel to bring their babies into the world, the stories are always exciting and loving. In honor of Esme’s due date (August 8), we have decided to share Esme’s (still)Birth Story. Our daughter, Esme Halyn, passed at 24 weeks 3 days. We learned during the pregnancy that there were several complications and she wasn’t expected to survive. When she passed, we began waiting for my body to go into labor. We actively waited 3 weeks; during this time trying acupuncture, herbs, etc., but finally decided we were ready to try more before it was medically necessary to go to be induced at a hospital. So, on Monday May 13 (our 7th wedding anniversary) at 9:51am I began taking Cytotec to induce labor. We desired to deliver Esme at the birthing center. That was her birth plan. That is where her sister was born. That is where we are comfortable and where we knew we would have the space and freedom to explore and love her as we desired after she was delivered.
The Cytotec began to take effect quickly. Within 10 minutes, I was experiencing cramping. When we returned home from our appointment at the birth center that morning, Joel got to work to finish up what he needed to and I packed our bags and played with Salem. Well, I tried to play with Salem but eventually we just sat and watched the iPad because I didn’t feel up for too much since the cramping was quickly becoming more strong. When Salem went down for her nap that afternoon, I decided to lay down as well and was able to take a little nap. Within 20 minutes after I awoke the uncomfortable cramping feelings turned to contractions and picked up speed quick, coming almost every minute for a while. During this time our friend, Linda, had stopped by and we ended up sending Salem on with her, as we expected the delivery to come soon. But unfortunately things slowed down, and I had to take another dose of Cytotec at 3:30pm… and we waited for labor to build again. My husband’s parents arrived in town at 5pm and we sat in the den chatting. Well, they chatted and I laid on the couch counting contractions and breathing through them. The contractions had built again to every two minutes, and lasting over a minute. We touched base with our midwife and the decision was made at 6:15pm to head to the birthing center. I wasn’t much help getting out the door since at this point I was needing to lean over to endure the contractions, but my husband, Joel, gathered our stuff (he even made a smoothie for me!) On the way to the birthing center, the contractions had built in intensity. At this point, I was having to squeeze the door handle and was groaning to endure the pain. We hit awful traffic on the highway due to a wreck, but thankfully it moved fast. I was aware, yet simultaneously oblivious to it, since I was in labor land. While on the drive contractions eased up enough for me to throw up, but returned with a vengeance at the birthing center (we arrived at 6:40pm). We made our way to a birthing room in the back and I took the liberty to try to make myself comfortable — yet to no avail. I tried laying on the bed, squatting on the floor, etc. The contractions were more painful than I had anticipated and it was more difficult to play the mind games and work through the contractions than with Salem’s labor because I couldn’t tell myself the same things — this process was not going to end the same way.
At one point I was on my hands and knees on the bed and just starting crying, “I can’t do this. Its harder than I thought. I just want to be done.” I eventually resumed laying on my side and squeezing Joel’s hand through contractions. They were painful and I was still having a hard time relaxing. I remember saying often, “I just want to push, I want this to be done.” Around this time I felt the contractions easing up and I became disappointed. Even though it was painful, I didn’t want it to end until it ended with her delivery. I did not want to have to take another dose of Cytotec. Christine, my midwife, had recommended that moving would help. I didn’t want to move, but a few minutes later I reluctantly decided to get up and go to the bathroom (Joel came with me, he was always with me). I sat on the toilet for a few minutes and as I stood up to wash my hands I felt something different going on and immediately hit the floor on my knees. I yelled to the other room, “something’s happening!”
Christine came to bathroom and Joel’s mother was sent to get the other midwife. I reached down and felt her and said, “she’s coming!” Christine laid an absorbent pad on the floor since it was obvious I was going to deliver her right there. I was able to give one big push and she was delivered. She came out in her sack (which is considered a blessing!), it was perfect. Esme Halyn was delivered at 7:16pm. We transitioned me and Esme from the bathroom to the bed where Christine opened the sack so we could get Esme out. We were mesmerized and simply stared at her. She was our daughter and she was perfect. We explored her tiny body. From her head to her toes. Her skin was fragile. She had finger prints and her open mouth revealed her tiny tongue. When wrapped in her blanket her lifeless body presumed the position familiar to us from the ultrasounds with her left arm crossing her chest and and laying against her cheek. She is ours.
For two hours we passed her around, holding her, staring at her, loving on her. It was a peaceful and loving time. I was surprised at my reaction. I thought I would see her and sob. But instead I had a “it is finished” feeling. I felt guilty at the relief I was experiencing, but more enjoyed the freedom to be there and adore her.
As I was laying on my side with her close to my chest (some time later), a man dressed in a black suit carrying a black bag entered the room. My sobs began. He was there to take my daughter away. Yes, she was gone, she had passed. But she was still with me. But he… he was going to take her and this would be the last I ever held her on this earth. We had prepared our hearts for this time (as best we could), so we said our final goodbyes and kissed her sweet face. When she left, we cried some more but then we packed up and left as well. And it was as hard as I thought it would be leaving the birth center without my baby. Esme’s labor and delivery was perfect to us. It is wild how similar Esme and her big sister’s stories are, and yet, how vastly different experiences they were. During labors with both girls, I napped while labor was gearing up, I labored laying on my side on our couch, and both girls were delivered quickly upon arriving at the birthing center. It is crazy, but it is such a gift to me that it was a bit of a shared experience. One of the hardest things since that day is the “I just want to hold her” feeling. We miss her deeply and long for the day to kiss her face again. Our unique daughter who is deeply loved, Esme Halyn.