For all of you who didn’t ask me about Deacon’s birth because you’d rather read it on my blog – which is most people, apparently – here’s the story. I say that in a bit of a pouty mood, because I’m periodically saddened by the amount we live our lives electronically. I would way rather have told you this story over coffee, but maybe you’re drinking coffee as you read. One can hope :)
I’ve read enough about birth to know about all the ways labour can start. This being my fourth baby, I still had no idea what to expect for my own labour. Would my water break? I guessed not, since it had been ruptured artificially with my previous births. Would I wake up in the middle of the night with contractions, or would it happen during the day? Would they start strong, or would I just feel crampy? Would I lose the mucous plug before anything else started happening? Would I be at home, or taken off guard while out of the house? So many questions! I had done this before, but waiting for labour to begin spontaneously was something foreign to me.
With all three of my other babies, labour began as a result of a chemical labour induction. Markus and Wyatt were both induced ten days after my estimated due date with Cervadil. They tried for four days to induce Bailey’s birth with Cervadil, and finally resorted to the Syntocinon drip. Each time I waited and waited for contractions, and once they did start, they were long, hard, and offered next to no rest in-between. So this time around, I was determined to have labour begin on its own.
As I’m sure everyone knows, I was planning to give birth at home. I’ve had my fill of stale smelling hospital, those awful hospital gowns, being stuck in bed with electronic fetal monitoring, people paying more attention to the monitor print out than they did to me, obstetric residents putting their hands where they don’t belong…I could go on, but I’ll stop. I was so blessed to get in with the midwives, and cannot say enough about the awesome care I received from them. I could go off on a huge tangent here, but I’ll try to stick to the birth story.
The day began as so many before it had. I was ten days past my estimated due date, and woke up to the thunder of three kids descending on our bed, wanting to snuggle before Clay had to get ready for work. Fitting three kids, a grown man, and a very pregnant woman into a double bed is not easily done, but we managed as we always did. The morning snuggle was cut short, as usual, by me running to the bathroom. You can imagine why.
This is where things were different than usual. I had a tinge of bloody show, which was incredibly exciting since I have never had any signs of labour in the past…ever! I told Clay we might be having a baby today, but didn’t feel different at all, so figured he better go to work just in case this wasn’t going to be baby’s day to arrive.
Some time after Clay had left for work, I started feeling crampy. Not real contractions, just a generally dull, constant cramp feeling in my lower back. I was making frequent trips to the bathroom because my bowels were loose. I’ll be clear and say it was not diarrhea…you’re welcome. I had been having issues with back and neck pain all weekend, and thought if I was going to have a baby soon, I better get in to see my chiropractor so I made an appointment for that afternoon.
We went out to the backyard – the kids played while I sat in a chair on the deck to rest. Our neighbours were working in their yard, and she asked how I was feeling, to which I replied I felt a little crampy and strange and thought this might be the day. We chatted while the kids did their usual climbing on the patio furniture to get a better view of the neighbours’ yard and so they could talk to their friend next door, and his dog. This lasted for a while, until the boys decided it would be more fun to go inside and run around “nudie” – in their underwear. Bailey and I soon followed them in, since she wanted to join in the fun.
While they ran around, I went upstairs to survey the bedroom, which was where I was planning on giving birth. I looked down at the floor and noticed how dirty it was. It could be weeks until this floor gets vacuumed if I don’t do it now! So vacuum, I did. Seriously. What would the midwives think if my floor was dirty? Haha! Come on, wouldn’t you have pulled out the vacuum too?
Once the nest was looking respectable, it was time to start thinking about lunch…and timing contractions. Really? Contractions? Yahoo! They were faint, but they were definitely there. I had installed a contraction timing app on the iPad earlier that morning, so I loaded it up and started timing: about 40 seconds long and 10 minutes apart. I called Clay to tell him what was going on, and let him know about my chiropractor appointment that afternoon. He seemed to think I should have someone drive me if I was having contractions (isn’t he so logical?) and I thought I’d be fine if they didn’t get stronger, but he insisted he would be home at 3:00 to drive me. I made us all eggs and toast for lunch, and called my mom. The plan was for her to be at home to watch the big kids while I was in labour, so I asked her to come stay with them while Clay took me to my appointment. She and Dad were thrilled to hear they might be meeting their newest grand baby later that day!
After lunch I made sure the birth pool was completely inflated so the pump wouldn’t wake Bailey up during her nap, then off to sleep went our little princess. I got Markus and Wyatt set up with a movie, and decided to go lay down and try to have a nap to get some rest while I still could. That lasted all of two contractions. They were so much stronger when I was laying down, so I got up and called Clay again and asked him to come home already. He and my mom both arrived around 2:00.
Clay called Debbie, my midwife, to let her know I was in labour. I probably should have called her two hours earlier, but I was in denial that this was really happening. She said to get the pool ready to fill, and call her again when contractions were closer together. I was pacing around the main floor of our house, walking through the contractions, and ten minutes later Clay called Debbie again because they were now 5-6 minutes apart. She said to start filling the birth pool, and that she’d be at our place shortly. He then called Lindsay (our friend, cousin, and Bradley Method natural childbirth teacher) who we were planning on having at the birth as well. He also called to cancel my chiropractor appointment. I guess I wouldn’t be getting that final adjustment after all ;)
Debbie arrived not long after, and sat in the living room doing some charting and observing me from a distance. She checked baby’s heartbeat with the Doppler, then went back to doing whatever she was doing in the living room. I was in another zone and wasn’t really paying attention to anyone else at this point. Clay was doing an amazing job coaching me through the contractions, reminding me to relax and breathe, and rubbing my back. I don’t know what I would have done without him!
Bailey woke up at some point, and Mom had been reading some books outside with the kids. She came in to see how I was doing and wondered if I wanted them to stay at home. I said it would be fine if they went to the playground for a while, and the little ones were excited at that idea. As they were getting ready to go, I was standing beside the dining room table and had a really hard contraction hit. I mumbled something about needing to go to the bathroom, and Mom thought I was talking about Wyatt so she said he did go already. “No, me!” I replied. I kissed my three cuties goodbye, and made a beeline for the toilet.
I had been staying on the main floor of the house because going upstairs was very ‘final’ in my mind. I’d go when things were getting more serious. I felt like if I went up, there would be no coming back down, and I wasn’t ready for that. So there I was, sitting on the toilet. Things felt different than they had times before, but I guess I wasn’t ready to admit that this baby was really coming so soon. My mind tried to pretend it was the same, my voice was proving otherwise, and I was brought back to reality when Debbie called to me, “Kim…are you feeling any pressure?”
“…Yes,” I replied, a mix of timid and panic.
She suggested we go upstairs so she could check me. This was it, I was going up, and I did not think I’d be coming back down to pace the main floor again. Upstairs I went to the bathroom and was taken off guard by another contraction. I remember leaning on the counter, moaning loudly, Debbie asking Clay to take my skirt off, and Debbie spreading blue pads on the floor – I’m sure she thought she was going to be catching a baby in that bathroom. Lindsay came up the stairs, and I thought to myself, “Here’s the lack of modesty we talked about in Bradley class – Lindsay just walked up my stairs and my naked bum is probably the first thing she sees, and I don’t even care.” When the contraction ended, Debbie said there was no point in doing a vaginal exam because the baby was coming. She asked if I wanted to stay in the bathroom or get in the pool. I figured after having the birth pool take up space in my bedroom for the last 3 weeks, there was no way I was not using it! So to the pool I went.
I remember Debbie saying Jessica (her back-up midwife) wouldn’t make it in time, and asking Lindsay to assist her with a few things. Clay was by my side the whole time, keeping me calm, reminding me to breathe deeply. Having watched videos of a few water births, I had hoped to be squatting when I pushed, and maybe even be able to catch baby myself; however, my midwife thought the best option for me would be to push in a hands and knees position, because of my fast labours in the past she said it would keep baby from coming too fast and reduce the risk of tearing. So when I climbed in the pool I went on my knees and draped my body over the side – there are handles on the outside that I grabbed and clung to for dear life. I kept hearing Debbie tell me to breathe through these contractions, when all I wanted to do was push as hard as I could, so then Clay would tell me to breathe as well. Breathe! The most difficult thing to do when you just want to hold your breath, but I knew she was right so I did my best. Debbie ruptured my membranes at some point during this time. She asked if Clay wanted to come catch the baby, and he asked me if I wanted him to, but I so badly needed him to stay close to me, so he did.
It was maybe two contractions, I’m not really sure, and his head was born. I just knelt there and caught my breath for a few minutes, and Debbie told me to push when I felt like I needed to. I nodded, then a couple minutes later felt the urge to push again. I am amazed at the gift of being able to catch my breath, thank you Jesus for that small rest. A couple of pushes and he was born! It’s such a crazy feeling to go from being so full to so empty. What a relief – I did it! I got turned around so I could sit down, and they handed me my baby. I heard Clay say to someone in the room that it was a boy. I didn’t stop to confirm, I just held his wet little body against mine. Wow! Words cannot describe this moment. The world around me ceased to exist – it was just me, Clay, and our precious little one. Deacon Isaac, perfect as can be. Deacon was wrapped with a towel, and we just sat there and took each other in. I could have stayed there for hours.
When his cord stopped pulsing it was cut (I think Clay did it this time), and he held Deacon while I stayed in the pool to deliver the placenta. Then I made my way to the bed. Details here are so fuzzy in my mind, it’s just a big mash of memories that all run together. Jessica arrived to assist Debbie, Lindsay brought me some orange juice, I nursed Deacon, I had to get a few stitches, Clay had sent my mom a text so she and the kids came back from the playground so they could meet their baby brother, and I was just deliriously happy.
I would never in a million years trade this home birth experience for a hospital birth. Everything went perfectly. My midwives proved themselves to be incredibly capable, as I knew they would be. And when it was all over, and everything had been cleaned up, we were left at home with our precious new baby. No nurses came to poke and prod me and my boy in the night, there was no trip home from the hospital. We were already home. Welcome home, Deacon Isaac. You belong here with us.
photo credit to Clay Bitner, Lindsay Bitner, and Tina Fehr