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Welcome to the world, Jonathan Edmond!

Jonathan Edmond Moody was born 1:59 am, Friday, December 13th, en caul.

And we are so completely in love.

Before it gets too hazy or fades too much into the past, I wanted to jot out some of Edmond’s birth story. As a warning, it’s pretty long and some parts are graphic.

I started having contractions on and off as of my due date, November 30th. They were never very painful or intense, and would go back and forth between being super regular to nearly disappearing. This is the “prodromal” part of labor, and for some lucky moms like me, it can last weeks. While this was emotionally exhausting (Jonathan and I both thought true labor would kick in any minute), it was all-in-all a real blessing. I got lots of sleep, my mom and aunt and dad were all super amazing and kept me preoccupied so I didn’t go crazy while Jonathan finished up the semester, and as a bonus, I dilated to 3 cm with very little pain. Life during the last two weeks of pregnancy felt a bit like being in a holding pattern waiting to land. Joe was constantly unsure of whether or not he would be able to come in from Sewanee, Jonathan was constantly assessing and re-assessing his exam schedule, trying to have a back up plan in place, and my mom even missed the dedication of a waterfall her organization purchased (that the governor was attending, no less!) so that she could be on call in case labor started.

At 41 weeks anxiety started to build about whether or not induction would be necessary. That week, we had to do a few tests with the midwives to make sure baby was still doing okay and that we weren’t hurting him letting him come out on his own. I also started trying everything proven and rumored to help induce labor. The last of these efforts, castor oil and a second membrane sweep, seem to have done the trick, as labor started Thursday afternoon! (Much to our relief!! We did not want to be induced!!)

Thursday afternoon my mom really sweetly canceled a phone meeting at work so that she could be with me while I took castor oil and Jonathan wrapped up his last exam. After drinking the nastiest concoction imaginable (Champagne, orange juice, almond butter, and castor oil), I took a nap while mom finished up some work in the other room. By the time Jonathan got home and mom headed out, I was having stronger contractions at very irregular intervals. Over the next hour or two, they gradually increased in intensity. I got in the tub while Jonathan made dinner- macaroni and cheese and homemade mashed potatoes. Then, Jonathan and I tried to watch a movie as I worked my way through more contractions, Jonathan massaging my back when they hit.

We texted our doula, the amazing Jeannie Casey (nashvillechildbirth.com), and she recommended getting in the shower with the yoga ball on all fours since the majority of the pain was in my back. Contractions really started to pick up, and when Jeannie texted at 9:30 I let her know that I thought this was it and she said she would come over.

By the time she arrived, I was in a lot of pain, and I think I was also experiencing a lot of fear. Jonathan was being amazing, massaging me or holding me through each contraction, but as each one began I felt myself fighting the pain. Jeannie helped a lot to calm me down, which I think was really key in the end. She reminded me that I didn’t need to be afraid — the pain that I was experiencing was the power of my own body at work, doing what it needed to do. I think that reminder really freed me up, and I quickly found myself “in transition.” At around 11, we decided to head to the hospital, calling our moms so they would meet us there.

Jonathan says the car trip felt like a scene out of a movie. I was really letting go vocally through each contraction – I can’t sufficiently explain the volume – but Jonathan did an excellent job en route to keep me calm and productive. All the traffic lights were green, we managed to just miss a train, and we got to the hospital in ten minutes tops.

When we got to the hospital, there was another woman laboring in the ER as well. We ended up in the elevator with her on our way to delivery, and it was humorous the comparison between our behavior – she gave a very polite little moan when her contraction hit — I did my customary wail at the top of my lungs with my head thrown back seconds later.

When we got to labor and delivery, all of the labor rooms were full!! We managed to get one of the last triage rooms, thanks again to Jeannie, who was very assertive in stating that I was in transition and needed attention now. (I keep wondering what would have happened if we’d arrived a little later — would I have delivered in the hall?)

The midwife came to check me and asked if I wanted to know how far along I was. I said, “I don’t know, do I?” I didn’t want to be discouraged if I was only at 4 or 5 cms after all the pain. She smiled really sweetly and said, “I think you do. You’re at 9!” I was so relieved and excited! I knew I was mere hours away from getting to meet my baby.

The next hours are a blur to me obviously. I remember being incredibly loud. I was never angry or upset, and the contractions no longer scared me at all, I welcomed them and felt how productive they were and tried to sing and breathe the pain out of me. I remember eating ice chips out of my mother-in-law’s hand. I remember Jonathan saying to me, “Rebecca, I’ve loved you since you were 14.” I remember how proud my mother looked at me each time a contraction was over.

I started feeling the urge to push, I was rechecked and was told I was 10cm, and I began pushing, Jonathan coaching me through each contraction. (He was such an amazing help the whole time – it blows my mind.) I felt the notorious ring of fire, and knew after a few more contractions my baby would be born. I feel one of the strangest experiences of the whole evening was the time between his head coming out and the rest of his body. After delivering his head I didn’t feel the urge to push, and it felt like I waited an eternity for the urge to come.

My dad, who was sitting out in the hall this entire time, says that around now he heard my usual wail, but that this time he heard a chorus of voices urging me on. Then there was silence. Then he said he heard an even louder surge of voices, telling me to “push, push, push.” This moment was Edmond coming into the world.

Ultimately, Jonathan Edmond Moody was born at 1:59 A.M. on Friday, December 13. He weighed 6 pounds 9 ounces and was 20 inches long. Edmond was born en caul — which means that he was born with the amniotic sac of waters intact. This happens in fewer than 1 in 80,000 births and is rumored in Irish/Appalachian folklore to bring good luck and/or endow the “caulbearer” with special qualities including a sixth sense. Other folklores have their own version of what this phenomenon means about the baby (Edmond can even join a cult if he wants to– caulbearer.org– we hope he passes on that opportunity), but it is certain that he is a special baby.

Jonathan gets delivery credits as he actually helped pull Edmond from the womb, with the midwife guiding his hands. Jonathan announced that the baby was a boy (which I had intuited from the beginning) and then my handsome, squirmy, skinny son was placed on my chest, where he spent his first hour of life, surrounded too by his dad, two grandmothers, and grandfather Don.

Giving birth naturally was absolutely one of the best experiences of my life and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Unfortunately, my birthing story doesn’t really end with the birth. A part of my placenta was not delivered with the rest of it, unbeknownst to the midwife, and was still attached to the wall of my uterus. This is resulted in a uterus full of large blood clots, which prevented my uterus from contracting back to its normal size, and caused me to lose an enormous amount of blood over the 12 hours or so after birth. After forgoing all medication and intervention during labor, Friday afternoon I was hooked up to an I.V. while a midwife manually swept the inside of my uterus three times. This procedure, despite my being on pain medication, was far more painful and traumatic than the birth itself. All in all, I lost a third of my blood, and after passing out Saturday morning on my way back from the bathroom, was made to stay another day in the hospital while they monitored me.

This last experience, while horrible, is none-the-less the reason I am so grateful to have been able to deliver at Vanderbilt. I faced a true emergency, and was so glad to be able to be treated in our recovery room by such excellent nurses. It has made recovery a bit more trying, but thankfully my husband and family have been unbelievably helpful and supportive while I’ve been recovering. (A whole post will likely be dedicated to coming home and all the ways in which our families made the transition as easy as possible for us – we are so blessed!).

While at the hospital, we also had so many wonderful visitors. Edmond’s grandparents came every day, as did his Great Aunt Baba who brought lovely flowers and tasty treats and the world’s cutest baby hiking boots, his Gruncle Dale came, Michael and Merrill came with baby Genevieve, and Edmond got to meet his Uncle Joe who drove in from Sewanee just to say hello! He is already one spoiled little one. Not to mention all the visitors he’s had since being home.

Currently, I am nursing an extremely adorable three-day-old. Despite the fact that he kept Jonathan and me up all night last night, we already feel he adds so much meaning and purpose to our lives, and feel so completely in love.

Happy Birthday Jonathan Edmond Moody! We love you, son!

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We love our new little family!

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