Joshua is 12 months old! Hard to believe it's been a whole year! But just as bad luck would have it, he's sick on his very first birthday. Yesterday evening he came down with something giving him a high fever. He was in good spirits throughout the evening until he through up before his bedtime. He went to sleep 30 minutes earlier than normal and needed to be rocked back to sleep a couple times during the night. He's broke his fever after his morning nap but still didn't feel good this afternoon. He lacked an appetite and wanted to be held all day. Luckily he doesn't have the symptoms of a normal cold (no runny nose, coughing, or sneezing) so maybe whatever it is will be gone by Sunday. Tonight I plan to wash and disinfect all of his toys.

In honor of his first birthday, here is my birth story:

Joshua was due on May 13th by everyone's guess, but that day came and went without incident. It was exactly 11:44pm on May 24th that I felt my first real contraction. Rusty & I had just laid down to go to sleep when I felt it. I wrote down the time on a sheet of paper. About 10 minutes later came another. Then 15 minutes later, another. I was so excited that something was finally happening! During each contraction I would breath hard, tighten up a bit. I relocated myself to the living room sofa so that Rusty could get a good night's rest. I knew I would need all his help the next day. I kept writing down the contraction times off and on all night then finally gave up in the early morning and slept through them. By around sunrise I was certain I would have this baby so I called my midwife to let her know I had contractions all night and that she should be prepared for us later that day. I also called my mom and gave her the good news. Last, I called Emily, my best friend who agreed to attend the birth, and gave her the news. Rusty got up early that day realizing I wasn't in bed with him. After learning that I had had contractions all night, he called in to work to have the day off be with me. We had breakfast (pigs in a blanket), picked up around the house and did a few boring routine things. Around lunch time we decided to watch Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. Since the last George Lucas film had recently come out, we wanted to watch the last three, er, first three, to finish the series.

Part way through the movie, a thunder storm rolled through. Taking a break from the movie, we looked at the weather on the Internet to learn that it was a small storm that would pass soon. We did other things to pass time while I continued to labor: Rusty played piano, we walked around the neighborhood after the rain passed, Rusty massaged my back, I packed the diaper bag and double checked the nursery to welcome our new baby. I remembered that I was scheduled for an appointment to check the amniotic fluid to make sure that was a healthy amount of fluid left. My midwife and I agreed that the appointment was irrelevant at this time. She suggested I soak in a warm bath to help slow things down and relax. Unfortunately, we didn't have enough hot water to fill our tub all the way so I abandoned that idea. We decided instead to go on another walk around the neighborhood and call Emily to catch the next plane out. This walk was cut short though when I felt a lot of pressure on my pelvis and it became uncomfortable to walk. We headed back home and I leaned over the dinning table for a couple of contractions. As the afternoon wore on and the sun began a slow descent, it was time to go to the birth center.

We left home around 5pm but since we were headed on small roads going opposite of rush hour traffic, we made great time getting to the birth center on Lover's Lane near Marsh. My midwife, Dinah, checked me right away to see where we were at: "Well, the good news is you're 100% effaced. The bad news is you're only 3cm dilated." She gave us three choices of what we wanted to do since I still had time- we could go home and come back later then contractions were closer together, we could stay at the birth center while she went home for a bit until we were further along, or we could all go on a walk around the neighborhoods behind the center and evaluated where we were after that. We'd been home all day so going back wasn't an option in our minds, and we didn't like the idea of being alone at the birth center so we went on a walk. A long walk! We played labor games alog the way, such, "Hey Sarah, do you think you'll have another contraction by the time we pass that orange truck?" and "How much do you think that house costs?" During each contraction, I would lean on Rusty or Dinah while the other person rubbed my lower back. When we got back to the birth center, I rested on the bed while Rusty went to the airport nearby to pick up Emily. Although he was gone only 15 minutes, I had three contractions while resting on the bed. When Emily arrived, we decided we still had more time so we walked down two blocks to a restaurant to order a quick dinner. We sat on the patio eating our dinner (I ordered trout and broccoli) and half way through our dinner I was hardly able to sit still. My contractions were increasing and getting stronger. We wrapped up the meal early and walked back to the birth center. I don't think I'll ever forget that two block walk. The weather was perfect, the sun was ripely setting, everyone was excited for what would happen that night.

When we got back, I tried sitting on a birthing ball but it wasn't big enough for my long legs. I sat backwards on the toilet for a long time while Emily massaged my lower back. Rusty ran to the store to get coffee while I sat there. My midwife filled the tub with warm water for me to relax in but it was too hot for me. After several minutes of adding cold water to cool it down, I was able to relax a bit and put in my contacts. I wanted to make sure I could perfectly see my newborn. I wasn't very comfortable in the tub though so I got out and labored on the bed. I didn't realize it at the time but my water broke while I was in the tub. As soon as I got out, things got much more intense and moved along quickly.

At one point, I could see the bump of a tiny little foot pushing on the top of my stomach during a contraction. I said excitedly, "I can see him pushing!" Hearing the word push got everyone's attention but I wasn't quite ready to start pushing yet. It was about 10:30pm when I finally felt the urge to push. Dinah listened to the baby's heartbeat to make sure it was strong and beating normal. I got up on all fours ready for a new position when a particularly strong contraction stopped me. Rusty came around to the side of the bed in front of me while Emily sat on a chair on the corner near us. I held on to his shoulders for support while pushing in an inclined position. Each push was very painful and I could feel the tightened of the cervix more and more. Luckily Mother Nature has completely blocked the sensation of that pain from my memory, but I know I was in pain laboring! I remember saying “O-O-O-O” during my contractions to signal their duration and strength. I also remember I couldn’t hold my breath- I was panting. Dinah held a mirror for me to see the head cresting but I wasn't able to look. I continued pushing a little more taking a mental rest and drinking between each push. During one break Emily spotted what she thought was a grass hopper on the window screen. I clearly remember yelling "I don't give a fuck about any grasshopper! I'm having a baby!" That broke the tension in the room as everyone laughed. That was also my only swear word! Turns out, what she really saw was a praying mantis- which some believe is a sign of good luck! Near the end of my pushing, I had what's called a transition. That's when women have a feeling that they can't labor anymore. Well my transition was a contraction or two before the last push. I remember telling Rusty "I can't do this; it's too hard!" with which he assured me I was almost done. I pushed a little more then out came the head followed very quickly by the rest of the baby! I pushed for only 40 minutes or so.

Whew! Labor pains were OVER! And there was our newborn! He was all purple and slimy and made this tiny little cry. I held him on my chest covered in a tiny blanket for nearly ten minutes just staring at him. I couldn't believe that just moments ago he was inside of me! Everyone paused to take in the moment. He was born May 25th at 11:08pm weighing 7 pounds, 13 ounces and 19 inches long.

The midwife cut the umbilical cord and I realized at that moment my newborn was no longer physically part of me. He breathed on his own and had all the normal reflexes of a brand new baby. He got a shot of vitamin K but no ointment for his eyes. Rusty and Dinah took the baby to the bathroom sink to clean him off while the midwife's assistant checked my pulse, blood pressure, and vital signs. After I passed the placenta, I was helped into a shower to clean off. I had a small tear that the midwife sutured with three stitches. Next, the midwife weighed and measured the newborn and got blood samples from his heals. We took our first picture of him held by the midwife on the bed- which was also his first pee! Merely three hours after the baby was born, we packed our things and drove home. That night, Rusty and I laid in bed listening to our new baby sleep between us. We were finally a family of three!

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