Emery Colette Smith, you were born at home and delivered by your Dad on January 30, 2015 at 6:32 pm, two days before your due date and Daddy's birthday. This is your story of the day you were born
On Thursday night, after I hosted a book club for the book Where Men Win Glory by Jon Krakauer, I began to feel some cramping in my low abdomen and back. At first, I attributed this to overdoing it. It had been a busy, full day with little time for rest. As I cleaned up that night, the baby became very active, especially between 10 pm and midnight. A little after midnight, I decided to take a shower to see if I could relax myself for sleep. I felt as though my labor was probably slowly starting, but the pain was more like cramps then contractions at this point. Around 2:30 am, I had a contraction strong enough to wake me up, but I was able to fall back asleep. Around 4:30 am, I had another contraction that woke me up. Throughout the night Latimer kept checking on me. I knew he was sleeping lightly because every time I moved around, he would ask if everything was okay.
The contractions came more regularly after 4:30 am. It seemed like I was having one every 12-18 minutes. At 5:20 am, I texted our midwife, Janae Sherman, to see what her thoughts were. She suggested walking around the house, drinking a lot of water, and taking a bath. I had been wanting to go for a walk outside but a storm had come in and it had been raining all night. So, I drank a bunch of water and started the bath water and walked around the house until the bath was ready. I started to time my contractions at this point. I had three contractions in a row that were 3-5 minutes apart and lasting 25-50 seconds. Janae had send me a text that said, "USUALLY labor will progress as far as timing goes. Contractions will get closer together... Keep watching them for a bit and see what happens. Take a bath. If that doesn't stop them then it's probably real labor. You can thank the storm." Once in the bath, my contractions moved further apart, about 7-8 minutes apart and a minute long. Janae asked if I was ready for her to come out, and I told her, "I'd feel good knowing you were on your way." I alerted my mom that I was in labor and asked her to get Reed from daycare when she finished her school day. I also let Jenny Chatwin know because she was planning to help us through the birth, and I let Jill Williams know so she could come and take photos of the birth. I sent a text to a friend in Jackson, WY, Corinne Roberto, to tell her that I'd be having a baby on her birthday. I also called my sister, Colette, who wanted to be at my birth. I had attended the birth of her son, Wyatt, just a few weeks earlier. She left her home in the Cold Springs Mountain Range, North of Las Vegas, with her baby and headed towards Kanab.
Reed was awake by 7:30 am. Lat and I had breakfast with him noticing that it had snowed lightly on Mansard. We also did Facetime with Mary and Henrie Bess. We got Reed ready for daycare, and we both drove him there. I had a hard time saying good-bye to Reed before Latimer took him in because I knew our relationship would change once we had another baby. I felt a lot of sadness but also excitement to add another member to our family. When we arrived back home, Janae and her assistant, Laura, were waiting at our house. Latimer and I both noticed that my contractions became further apart as we drove Reed to daycare. We told Janae this when we arrived home at 9 am, and she wanted to do a vaginal check to see where I was as far as effacement and dilation. It was one of the most painful vaginal checks of my life. She couldn't get back to my cervix at all. She said to me that I might be having false labor. This was very discouraging. She suggested that I walk around for a while. It was still drizzling outside, but I didn't want to do laps around the front room with the Janae and Laura watching, so Lat and I put on our boots and raingear and headed outside for a 2-3 mile walk. During the walk, my contractions became closer and more regular, about 3-5 minutes apart and lasting 45 seconds or so. They were intense, but I could continue walking and talking through most of them. When we arrived back home a little after 11 am, the contractions slowed down again. Janae suggested that Latimer and I eat and then take a nap. She said maybe we were both tired from an uneasy night's rest and maybe my body needed more rest before it would go into full blown labor. We went to bed around 12:00 pm after having some lunch. My contractions mostly disappeared. I had only one or two that were strong enough to wake me up. Around 2 pm, we woke up and reassessed with Janae. Janae decided to check me vaginally again. Again, it was painful, but she was able to reach my cervix this time. She said my cervix still wasn't soft enough, and I was dilated to maybe a two. "I could be wrong, " she said "but I don't think you're going to have a baby in the next eight hours." This was so frustrating to hear. Janae and Laura headed back to St. George shortly afterwards.
After Janae left, I had some food and called my friend Allison Davis, who just a few days earlier had told me about her labor with her baby Walt where her contractions had lasted three days and had similarly been irregular and inconsistent. After getting off the phone with her, I resigned myself to having weird contractions for the next 48 hours. The only silver lining I could see was that maybe the baby would be born on Lat's birthday after all. I called Colette and my sister Char to update them, my Mom and told her Lat would pick up Reed after all but that we still wanted to go out to dinner that night so she could come over at 6:30 to watch Reed while we went out, and Jenny and Jill to let them know that a birth was not going to happen after all. Colette decided she would still make her way to Kanab, but she would visit with Char and a friend in Hurricane on her way. Latimer really wanted to go to the gym and I encouraged him to go even though I was still having contractions here and there. I wanted him to feel like he did something productive after I had tied him up in an extremely unproductive day. He left for the gym around 3:45 pm with plans to pick up Reed from daycare on his way home. I decided to get in the bath because I thought it would help ease the pain of the contractions. For the first 15 minutes or so of my bath, I was reading some information about Early First Stage Labor. It said that sometimes a long first stage with irregular contractions can mean that a baby is posterior or that the baby is very large. I decided after my bath, I would do a lot cat/cow and squatting exercises in case the baby was posterior and needed to move around. Raphaela randomly texted me at 4 pm while I was in the tub and asked how I was feeling. I sent her a long text back describing my frustrating day. I also texted Colette to come straight over so I could see Wyatt before Lat and I went to dinner at 6:30. Then I decided to pass the time in the tub and watch the last Parenthood episode on the iPad.
Midway through my Parenthood episode, my contractions started to get more intense. I would put my fist between the small of my back and the tub to get through them. Towards the end, I was barely able to concentrate on the show, but I really wanted to see how it would end. As soon as the show was over, I drained the tub and went to the shower in our bedroom, so I could wash my hair. While I was in our shower, it seemed as though my contractions were right on top of each other. Several times, I hit the floor of the shower on all fours and moaned and groaned and swore and screamed through the contractions. I quickly got out of the shower and send a hurried text to Lat saying, "Please get home as soon as you can. It's too intense for me to handle on my own." The time was 5:19 pm. Then, I called my mom, which I don't even remember doing, and told her to come out so she could be with Reed while Lat helped me.
Latimer later told me that he could hear me groaning and moaning from the garage. In my mind, I had hours if not days of these contractions to deal with. I kept telling myself, "if I lay down, they will go away." So my focus after getting out of the shower was to get my clothes on and lie down in bed. When Lat walked in the room, I began giving him a million orders. Call Janae (call was made at 5:24). Call Jenny (call was made at 5:27). Push on my hips. Push harder. Get the birthing mats on the grounds. I don't even remember everything. I just felt like I needed so much. Everything hurt. This is where the progression of things becomes vague to me. I kept thinking I needed to lie down, so I was on my side for many of the contractions and Latimer would place his hands on my hips and push. Reed would come in and out of the bedroom and would ask "Are you okay Mommy?", and he would also mimic Latimer and push on my hips and say, "I helping." I wanted to scream and swear through every contractions, but I remember trying to hold it in whenever Reed was in the room because I could tell he was confused and scared. It seemed like he was trying to decide if it was scary to hear and see me in pain or if it was a game that I was playing. I remember wanting Reed to be feed dinner since it was after 5:30 pm. Around 5:45 pm Jenny, and my mom showed up. Shortly before 6 pm, Colette arrived. I remember Latimer put the birth mats on the floor in our bedroom. I kept moving from the bed to floor and back trying to find comfort through the contractions. My mom was trying to feed Reed dinner, but he really wanted to be in the bedroom with us. At 6:00 pm, I asked my mom to take Reed to her house, thinking I really had to conserve my energy to get through what I thought would be hours of contractions.
At this point I remember wanting to go to the bathroom a lot. I was moving between the bathroom, the bed, and mats. I had several contractions while sitting on the toilet and grasping at Latimer as he pushed on my hips. I remember wondering out loud how my mother labored through nine births without a supportive husband. I remember seeing bloody show each time I used the bathroom, but I never lost my mucus plug completely like I did with Reed. I remember a burning sensation. At 6:20, I was sitting on the toilet having a contraction when my water broke. I remember feeling so mad because I knew contractions became more painful if the water was broken. In my mind, I still had hours of contractions to handle. I kept thinking how Janae said I wouldn't be having a baby in the next eight hours, and how only four hours had passed since she said that. I kept thinking of my lack of progression and dilation. I wasn't seeing the signs of where I was in my labor, and I didn't having anyone telling me where I was in my labor. Someone called Janae at 6:24 to tell her my water broke. She was at the Jem Trailhead at this point, just at the top of the Hurricane Hill. After my water broke, I went back to the birth mat and then immediately felt like I needed to get back to the toilet. When I was on the toilet this time, I had another contraction. I felt a ton of pressure on my vagina and reached down to feel what was going on. It was then that I felt the head for the first time. I remember being SO relieved because I finally where I was in my labor. I knew the end was in sight, it was almost over, and I would soon be holding my baby. I told Latimer that I felt the head and that I need to get off the toilet. I asked him where Janae was and when I heard she was only at the top of the Hurricane Hill, I knew she wasn't going to make it. I had Jenny call Tara Timpson, our veterinary friend, to come help. She also called Jill to come take photographs. Lat helped me stagger back to the birth mats where Jenny had laid down a shower liner and bed sheet.
I laid on my back so Latimer could assess what was happening with the head. Latimer felt like the cord was over the head. I told him we needed to call Janae to figure out what to to do about the cord. Someone got Janae on speakerphone at 6:28 pm. Janae asked if it was a cord or just membrane and as Lat and Jenny looked at it closer they realized it was just part of the membrane sac from the water. Meanwhile, Colette and Jenny got the medical pads out and placed them under me. During this time, I kept my hand on the head. I had Latimer put olive oil on my hand, and I tried to lube up around my vagina and gently work the skin over the head. All of a sudden, without even pushing very hard, the head was all the way out. I could feel the face. The shoulder needed to turn and with another small push, the baby was out and in Latimer's arm. I heard the baby cry, and it was the sweetest little sound. It was 6:32 pm on Friday. I could not believe how fast it had happened--twelve minutes from the time my water broke until the baby was out. With Reed, the pushing had lasted much longer. We ascertained that the baby was a girl. She had short dark hair, milky blue eyes, and smelled sweet. Latimer put her on my chest and dried her off with a medical pad. Then, he put another pad over her and some blankets over the two of us. Colette got me some orange juice and called Mom to tell her to bring Reed back. Baby girl began to pink up. Tara and Jill showed up. Jill began to snap pictures. It was all very exciting. I was so happy she was here and so glad Latimer delivered her. He was perfectly calm throughout the whole experience. Janae stayed on the phone with us waiting to see if the placenta would come. She lost service after Colorado City, and I still had not delivered the placenta. I put baby girl on my breast and began to nurse her to help with contractions. Tara reassured us that it would not be a big deal if I didn't deliver the placenta before Janae came and that Janae could handle it when she got here. Janae got back on the phone when she reached Fredonia and told Latimer to gently tug on the cord while I pushed to release the placenta. With Janae and Tara coaching Lat and I through a couple pushes, the placenta came out at 7:09 pm. Shortly afterwards, Tara left to go home. Janae showed up within the next 15 minutes. Soon, mom and Reed came back. Reed immediately ran to the room to see me. He was so happy. I had the baby on me, and he kept trying to jump on me. I had to hold him back and this made him cry pretty hard. I felt really bad. Latimer took him to his room for a minute to calm him down. Then he was back at my side looking at his baby sister. He was very concerned about the blood on her head. He kept telling me, "She bumped her head." I told him, "Yes, she bumped it down the birth canal."
At 7:45, Janae clamped the umbilical cord and Latimer cut it. Janae checked out my tearing, which was minimal. She helped me get into bed, and then she began to assess our baby girl. While on our Middle Fork trip in September, we had decided that if we had a girl, we would name her Emery Colette. We had always loved the name Emery. It carries a bit of Grand Canyon history, and it's also a very cool county in Utah. I liked the thought of giving her the middle name of Colette. My sister Colette was the only one in our family who wasn't given a middle name. Colette and I also went through this pregnancy together. Additionally, she was the one who made it possible for Latimer and I to do our first post-baby trip together (running the Middle Fork) by watching Reed for 10 days. Our boy name, just for the record, was going to be Bennett Riparetti, the maiden names my mom and Latimer's mom.
Colette called Jesse and Jeanette and they came over and began making food for everyone. Janae gave the baby a bath. Jill took pictures. Jenny and Colette cleaned up the birthing after mess. Latimer and my mom worked on getting Reed ready for bed. We weighed and measured her. She was 7lbs 9oz and 20.75 inches long.
At our last prenatal visit with Janae, we had her go over things like catching a baby, red flags to look for, and when to call 911. We had also written down phone numbers of other midwifes that we could call in case we lost service with Janae at a critical moment. We felt well prepared for this scenario. After attending the home birth of my nephew a few weeks earlier, I wanted to be prepared to deliver without a midwife. My sister's midwife nearly missed the birth, and because service on the drive to my sister's house is spotty, we lost contact with the midwife several times.
So, my darling baby girl, this is my story of how you came into this big beautiful world. You are completely loved by your mom, dad, big brother Reed, and dog Blue.