The Birth Story of Ember Hope

As Ember is now 6 weeks old (holy cow, where did the time go?) I’m so glad that I’m finally getting around to putting up her birth story that I’ve had written for about two weeks. Ha ha. Hey, that’s how it is now and I’ve just got to go with the flow.

It’s crazy how each birth is so different and unique, and let me tell you, Ember’s birth was totally different from the other two. Totally. But, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me start from the beginning…

(image by my dear friend, Evin with EvinPhotography and PhotoMamas)

Thursday, June 8th, 2017

I head to my OB appointment and because I’m a few days late, they want to put me on a stress test for the baby to make sure the fluid levels are ok and her heart rate is good and whatnot. After sitting in their massage chair watching Chip & Joanna Gains on HGTV, they come back and tell me that her heart rate dropped a little at one point so they want to do an ultrasound just to make sure everything is all good.

On one hand, I’m not worried, because I know it’s totally normal for babies to come “late” (I think due dates are a bunch of crap anyway… they just serve to stress the mom out as the date comes and goes). But then on the other hand, the fact that they wanted to do an ultrasound because they are slightly worried made me slightly worried.

I head to the ultrasound and everything looks great. The technician even said it looked like she was a bigger baby – 8lbs and 7 oz. I asked what the margin of error was on those (both of my other two kids were not that big). She said she didn’t know, so I was curious to see if I actually would have a baby close to that size.

After a friend telling me to eat some pineapple, I head to Costco and grab two :) I go home, cut one up and take it to the pool with me… and I eat the whole thing. It was delicious. Good thing I like pineapple!

After the pool, I head to the chiropractor after making an appointment for Monday at my OB office (where they said if I haven’t had her then we’ll be discussing some options… which I did not want to discuss. Ha. I’m all about my body (and God) knowing when is best for her to make her entrance).

After getting adjusted at the chiropractor, I receive a call from our nanny that Jaxon is throwing up so I head home to be with him… We spend the rest of the afternoon/early evening just relaxing on the couch together chilling. Zach comes home at some point later that evening and we feed the kids, get them ready for bed and then set up Jax in our room to sleep so we could keep an eye on him.

9:30pm

I feel rather tired (nothing too new there), and a little queasy myself (I’m thinking I’m just psyching myself out after hanging with Jax) so I tell Zach that I’m headed to bed.

A little after 10pm

I get a Braxton Hicks contraction (where my stomach tightens and gets hard) and then they keep coming. I start timing them and they are lasting on average a minute long and are 4-6 minutes apart. I time them for an hour while dozing in between and then because they don’t seem to be significant contractions and getting closer or harder, I stop timing and let myself fall asleep.

Friday June 9th

At some point between 10pm and 1:00am, I make two trips to the bathroom myself and throw up… twice.  Fun fun. Meanwhile, I’m thinking it’s related to Jax throwing up… but I come to realize later that it probably had nothing to do with Jax and was my body prepping itself for labor. Who knows.

1:30am  (ok, 1:37 to be exact, according to my contraction timer)

I wake up to contractions and they feel a bit different and have moved down to my lower abdomen. They are about a minute long and coming every 4 minutes. I time them for about a half hour and I’m thinking that it’s pretty possible labor is near so I get up and take inventory of my hospital bag and make sure it’s all set to go, and then I head back to bed, stop timing the contractions and trying to sleep in between. (Ladies – once labor starts, the best thing you can do is REST REST REST! You don’t know how long or short your labor might go, so save that energy!!).

2:50am

I wake up as contractions have increased in their intensity, but they still don’t seem crazy-hard like labor is just around the corner. They are averaging about a minute in length anywhere between 4-8 minutes in frequency. I time them for the next 50 minutes and begin to find it hard to actually sleep in between contractions.

3:40am

Contractions are still lasting a minute long but now coming on average every 4 minutes. I decide to call the OB on call to see if they think I should head in or not. My biggest concern was to get to the hospital (a good 25 minute drive) and then have them send me back home because labor wasn’t far enough along.

3:45am

The OB calls me back and says there is no guarantee that labor would keep progressing, but it probably couldn’t hurt for me to go in.

At this point, this is super surreal for me. I’m thinking, “Is this actually it?? Is she actually going to be making her entrance here soon? Is this what we’ve been waiting for?” Crazy.

3:50am

I wake Zach up telling him that it’s time to go to the hospital. He tells his side of the story at this point sharing that I seemed ok enough and that he wasn’t really sure if we should head in, but nevertheless, he gets up, puts his bag together, we get the kids situated with Uncle Noah and our Nanny.

4:15am

We leave for the hospital! (At this point I’m laying down during the contractions to keep myself focused and most comfortable during the contractions which have gotten stronger, and on the drive I’m reclining in the front seat so I can lay on my side with my pillow between my knees – so much more comfortable!). On the way I’m texting my friend and photographer, Evin to let her know that we are headed to the hospital and once I get there I’ll let her know how far along I am.

4:40am

We arrive at the hospital.

I remember asking Zach to drop me off closest to the door so I could have the least distance to walk so hopefully I could make the walk in between contractions. He drops me off and I head in. I remember sitting on the floor (standing during contractions is no bueno) filling out the check-in paperwork thinking it’s so lame they can’t just see me but have to make me fill out paperwork first! Zach parks the car and arrives shortly after with my birthing ball to sit on (heaven) and just my suitcase (with full intentions to get everything else later once we get settled into our room).

4:55am

A nurse comes and takes me to a room and they check me and they tell me I’m at an 8! I’m totally floored. I was not expecting that at all. I mean, contractions were definitely not fun at that point and I’m having to really focus through them, but I was not expecting to be that far along!

You see, I think Jaxon’s labor really messed me up when it came to expectations of what the intensity of labor was like and the length. For those of you who are newer followers or haven’t read his birth story, we planned to do a homebirth and I labored at home for 40 hours before finally transferring to the hospital (where I labored another 10). Labor with him was bruuuuuuutal, especially the last half of those 40 hours. Contractions were intense and hard, and not fun and by the time we got to the hospital, I was barely a 6. ::insert weepy emoji face:: So I just have it in my head (I thought this with London too) that I need to be laboring reaaaaaaally long and reaaaaaaaally intensely to have even a BIT of dilation. Knowing what I know now and have experienced, I could have naturally birthed three kids with all the contractions and intensity I went through for Jaxon’s labor… See, what I mean for that birth totally messing with my expectations? Anyway…

Soooo, here I am at the hospital and I’m at an 8 already! Woo hoo! I text Evin and Zach and they finally let Zach back (so lame) and the nurses ask me if I want an epidural. Now, here’s the deal… I’m all about going natural. After watching the birthing documentary, The Business of Being Born I was suuuper pro natural and super anti-drugs. I think it’s best and safest for the baby and helps avoid the slippery slope, etc. etc. etc. … remember, we tried to go el natural with Jax and even wanted to rock a homebirth… but that experience kind of “ruined me,” to say the least. With his birth, there was no way that I would have been able to have the energy and stamina to labor further and then have the energy to push a baby out (his labor was 50 hours total, with over an hour of pushing). I was incredibly thankful to have the ability to get the epidural with Jax, which allowed my body to rest and recoup and then get the little squirt out! And it also allowed me to enjoy the birthing experience of him entering the world. The 40 hours laboring at home was not enjoyable.

At all.

So it was really a relief when we got to the hospital with Jax (and then London) and were able simply focus on the joy and excitement of bringing a child into this world! With that mindset (and thinking contractions were going to get even rougher and probably for a lot longer), when I was asked with this birth if I wanted an epidural, I said, “heck yes, please” and they started moving fast to get the bloodwork back in time.

The events that transpired afterwards are a bit of a blur as I was working on getting through the contractions. My eyes are now closed and I’m FOCUSED. I feel them start to wheel the bed to the labor and delivery floor (at a quick pace, mind you)… I hear them remarking on the fiery sunrise that they see outside… I remember feeling every bump on the floor on the way to the room.

5:15am (I know this timestamp due to Zach’s text messages to our friend and photographer updating her on our status… : )

We arrive at the delivery room and there’s a flurry of activity. I hear the staff asking about the status of my OB and how far away she is (she was notified and is on her way). I ask about the epidural and then I am told the news that it’s not happening. They tell me there’s not enough time and that this baby is coming.

Frick.

Talk about a huge mindshift. I wasn’t expecting this. Can I do this? There’s no backing out now. Here we go…

At this point I feel like my body is taking over and doing what it was created to do. The contractions are coming and I cannot stop my body from pushing.

5:21am

My water breaks. Contractions keep coming. Baby is on her way! My OB still has not arrived (nor my birth photographer) but good thing another OB was there :)

5:30am

I had always heard about the “urge to push” and that urge definitely was present. Ha. At this point, I don’t think you could have paid me to NOT push. There was no stopping this baby. Within 3 pushes she was out… well, she was almost out.

Her head comes out and then her shoulder gets stuck. We were later told this is called Shoulder Dystocia and can reduce the baby’s oxygen if she is not born soon, give her a broken arm or collar bone or result in shoulder, arm, or hand nerve damage. Zach will tell you it got crazy there for a bit as one of the nurses got up on the bed and started pushing down on my abdomen (yeah, that felt awesome) to get her shoulder dislodged.

After a bit of maneuvering, she comes out!

5:40am – One hour after arriving at the hospital

Our baby is here!

Sweet Ember Hope has made her entrance. All 8 lbs 15 oz (yes, that’s one ounce away from being a 9 pounder), and 21 inches long.

Holy cow. I did it.

Say whaaaaa? I think at this point I’m in a bit of dis-belief. Did this all really happen?

(ha ha! The look on my face here say it all! lol)

I just had my baby!

And wait a sec, I did this naturally and I survived! ;o)

As I’m holding our sweet little baby in my arms, in walks my OB with Evin, my birth photographer. I sheepishly smile at them… Oh well 😊

Evin immediately starts capturing our first moments together and my OB wishes us Congratulations!

Talk about SURREAL.

It definitely took a bit of time for my head-space to catch up with the fact that we just had our baby. I like to mentally prepare for things, and I had this idea that it would be like the other births…

::insert calm music::

We arrive at the hospital, get our music, birth plan, baby book etc. all out. I put makeup on (ha ha), we talk, we laugh and anticipate the arrival of our baby… and then it’s time to push. Pushing is relaxed, fun and we are excited and then baby comes!… … … yeaaaaaah, didn’t happen that way. At all.  It was like a train was barreling down the tracks and before you knew it – BAM – the train arrived at the station.  SURPRISE! Ha ha.

So as my head space is catching up to the fact that we just had our baby, we’re relaxing, resting, and spending time with our new little nugget for the next few hours.

 

Luckily, the rooms on the recovery floor were full so we got to stay in the more spacious delivery room most of the day. Woo hoo!

(For those of you wondering about my un-planned natural birth and how I feel about it – I’ll say this: It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be…buuuut I don’t think I’d elect to do it again. Haha.)

Later that evening, we had our nanny, Audrey bring the kids by to meet their baby sister. It was the sweetest thing ever, and we even had it professionally filmed by Kalimana Film Stories. When we get that back, we’ll make sure to share it!

(Image by Zach… one day old)

That evening, I sent Zach home to actually get a good night’s rest (no point in making him sleep on the extremely uncomfortable husband’s couches/beds they have) and so he could be at the house in the morning when the kids wake up. After getting a good night’s sleep and being with the kids during breakfast, Zach was back at the hospital with Starbucks in hand and we were home by 2:30pm! Yaaaay!

Ember Hope was officially home and a permanent member of our family :)

Here’s a little bit about her name, that we shared on our Instagrams (@ZachGray @JodyGray and @ItstheGrayFamily)…

From Zach’s account:

Her name means “spark.” Her name is part of her blessing in that when all love and Hope is gone, her Ember will remain. And that ember has the power to re-start the fire within others (and hers will never be extinguished).

From my account:

A few months ago as soon as Zach brought up the name Ember (and was on my favorites list from suggestions from our followers online), I knew that was to be her name. Even when it may seem like all is lost and the fire appears to be all but gone… all that is needed is one spark, one Ember, to get it going. There’s always Hope! May this little lady be the spark that ignites hope in the world and in the lives of others around her. …

I think it’s so cool that she was born at the start of a new day… born as the sun was rising, and not just any sunrise, but a fiery and vibrant one.

As of today, Friday, July 7th, we’ll have had Ember with us for four weeks.

Thank the Lord, Ember has been pretty easy. The first week she was barely awake at all. So much so that I almost got worried!  She is still sleeping a lot, but in the early afternoon and sometimes in the morning will have a little chunk of her being awake/not going to sleep. She’s on a 3-hour eat/wake/sleep routine during the day and at night she sleeps on average about 3.5 hours. We’ve gotten a few 4.5 hour stretches the last week and even one five hour stretch! Yaaaaay.

 

A tip for new mom’s out there – the best app EVER is BabyConnect! It helps keep track of feedings and diaper changes, and more if you want it! It’s super easy to use and a lifesaver! I’ve got too much going on in my head to try and remember those details. (I also have a blog post I wrote – The Top 10 Lifesavers for New Parents that has been pretty big on Pinterest. Feel free to check it out!).

I’m thrilled to report that the overall adjustment going from a family of four to five has been pretty good! The first few days home our nanny and Zach’s brother who lives with us were all sick, while London was running a snotty nose (arg), and Jax was showing a few sick symptoms as well, but Ember and I just sequestered ourselves in the room while diffusing Theives Essential Oil and we managed not to get anything (yay!).

(London seeing Ember for the first time at home. Iphone image)

Both kids have taken to Ember really well. Jaxon is SUUUUPER sweet to her and has even taken more interest in her than London. London likes to sing Twinkle Little Star and they both will rush to put her paci in if she starts crying. The biggest thing I’ve had to worry about with Ember and the kids is them not being gentle enough with her, but they are learning :)

(iphone image… blurry, don’t care #contentnotquality ;)

It’s also been really helpful with Zach letting me sleep in while he gets up with the two older kids in the morning. Having that extra bit of rest has been so great and needed.

I’ve already taken all three kids out by myself – and it was to Jaxon and London’s swim lessons. We survived and everyone made it out and then back home all in one piece ; )

I definitely feel more chill with kid #3. In my experience, it seems the more kids I have the less stressed out I get about stuff… and now taking only Jax and London out seems to be a breeze! Haha

My mom, younger sister, and grandparents have come and visited and my older sister and her family will be coming this week! Friends and neighbors have been bringing meals – it’s been so nice and such a blessing!

We’re so glad Ember is here and it’s crazy to think that we now have three kids!!

That’s it! Hope you enjoyed our birth story and image by the amazing and so sweet, Evin Photography  :)

Stay tuned for the video of the kids meeting Ember for the first time!