The "Family" Home/Waterbirth of Ever
One day old w/ me in photos at top
Video stills of the birth below
I haven’t read my other birth stories in a while, so I am sure there are some of the same thoughts and feelings expressed here.
As I lie here, 2 days after giving birth, sleeping babe by my side, the house is quiet (everyone went out to eat) and I figured this was the perfect time to write out my birth story.
From the beginning I was pretty sure I was going to do it unassisted again or rather with just family. But I was certainly opened to having someone here, anyone really, if I felt led. I was talking to a midwife on the phone the other day and she called it a “family birth”, she liked the term better than unassisted. I kind of like that term too. Because really, we are not unassisted, I mean even if I was completely alone God is always with me. And He, being the creator of this whole amazing miraculous process of growing a baby, birthing a baby, the whole way our bodies work in creating life . . . He is the ultimate midwife, the ultimate doula etc.
OK some may think that just because you have given birth before, or given birth a certain way before (whether it be unassisted, homebirth, natural birth in general etc.) that it makes it easy to do again . . . well . . . not always so. Each pregnancy, each labor, each birth and each baby are all so different. Just because things go one way one time doesn’t mean that they will not go a different way a different time. It is all a mystery, one we will never figure out or understand completely. Just because we had done it ourselves once, didn’t mean I didn’t still have the same concerns or fears about it again. In fact, the simple fact that we have done it successfully before, that we do have healthy children, can give reason to doubt, reason to think “can my luck hold out?”. I have great faith in Gods design of our bodies, I have great faith in birth and in my God given instincts etc. But I also know that Gods plans are not always our own and I take great responsibility for every decision I make. So I am sure these decisions, like every decision I make, will always weigh heavily on me.
I really felt completely unprepared for this labor. The pregnancy was very planned, I mean shoot, we even thought it would be fun to “try” for a girl this time (since we had 2 boys and 1 girl already). Of course, like I said, Gods plans are not always our own, and we love the little boy we got (like we always knew we would). Anyway, I think maybe it was because during my pregnancy, we found and bought our first house, we moved (and had and still have tons of work to do here . . . tons!!) and had both Thanksgiving and Christmas (not to mention the business to deal with, sewing etc.). I think that, plus the fact that I was chasing around 3 little ones, one who gets into everything (my Arah) left me feeling pretty stressed and with little energy. Though despite that, I still loved being pregnant and cherished every moment. As usual I was hoping to go late, and my other 3 had been 10, 6, and 4 days late . . . so I was completely taken aback when at 3am on the morning of the 10th, 4 days before my EDD, I noticed blood on the tissue when I wiped. It was just 4 days before that Charlie had finished building a shed so we could move some boxes off our porch that had been there since we moved . . . 2 days before, that Charlie had blown up the birthing pool (the one we used with Arah) to check for holes, and just like the day before that I had washed the baby blankets and diapers. There was still tons to do around here (we was planning on cleaning the carpets, organizing closets, finish some painting, build a bench for the table, etc). But it was not to be.
I had noticed a couple days before that my BH contractions were getting a bit crampy. I mentioned it to my chiropractor (because usually that happens a few days before labor) and he said I needed more Zinc because my copper levels were high, so I tried it and it actually worked, for ½ a day, but apparently these were becoming more than typical BH’s. Then that next night I noticed the blood. I believe I said “oh crap” as I ran to the bedroom to tell Charlie that he needed to get up so we could do the belly cast. I knew that the blood meant that labor was going to be sooner than later, and I was feeling very nervous, and I was not going to stand and have a cast of my belly made while having intense contractions. Also, the pool needed to be cleaned out, it was filthy. So he got up and we did the belly cast and ended up going to bed around 5am. When Charlie woke for the day, he cleaned the pool then went out because he had some appointments. I was able to stay in the bed till noon (fortunately Arah was very tired and he slept that long, and the older kids just played). I knew if labor was going to happen soon, I would need my rest.
When I got up I was having crampy contractions again. Not too uncomfortable, though by afternoon I was unable to walk or talk through them, I had to concentrate. I had an upset stomach the day before (which I also knew could be a sign of something happening) and I still felt that same feeling. I wasn’t sure if it was butterflies in my stomach because I was nervous about the events ahead (mostly the act of pushing a baby out again), or if I still had that upset stomach. Well, I think it was both. I was nervous. Like I said I didn’t feel quite ready. A couple days before, after organizing the baby stuff I finally felt like, if it did happen, I would be at least partially prepared, and I was beginning to prepare myself mentally for it as well, even coming to terms with the huge task of pushing out another baby, I even remember saying to myself “I am strong, I can do it again, bring it on”. But I really wanted some more time to spend praying, reading birth stories, and really just getting my mind focused on what was ahead, especially since I had been so busy this pregnancy that I had done very little mental preparation (no relaxation practice, very little reading, I hadn’t even hardly used my birth ball). I spent most of the day pacing around. I found I couldn’t concentrate on anything. The house was a mess and needed to be cleaned but I couldn’t bring myself to clean it. My mind was racing, I felt sick, nauseated most of the day, and I was, like with Arah’s birth, at odds with my feelings, with my thoughts, with what I knew was happening. Meanwhile my contractions were very sporadic, very spaced out, but they were gradually getting stronger to the point where they were definitely labor contractions that I couldn’t walk or talk through. This birth was very similar to Arahs in many ways. I was also having bloody show all day, so I knew something was happening.
My friend offered to come over, she wanted to be there, but I wasn’t sure that I needed or wanted someone. I love company, but felt like, again, I needed to spend time with myself, with God, talking to the baby etc. However, that said, I was so grateful that she was willing to come and help out with anything I needed, and if I had needed help with the kids, or felt led to have another person there outside of family, I would have called her in a heartbeat (and would never ever rule it out for any future birth).
Don’t get me wrong, I was excited to meet this little one!! I just had many doubts to work through. I had read some negative birth stories that were sticking with me, I was dreading pushing again and all the “what if’s” were burning in my brain. I had just wished I had spent more time thinking and preparing for this birth, and I was a bit frustrated that I didn’t have another week to do so.
I felt nauseated so I didn’t eat much. I mean I can handle the regular contractions, they are intense but I don’t even find them painful, however, the upset stomach and feeling of nausea, that is what drives me crazy. I would have waves of chills come over me and the shakes etc. Charlie came home and made supper, I didn’t eat (though later grabbed a piece of pizza) just hung out by myself as I had most of the day. Remember this was not like a normal labor. This was like a contraction, then 10-20 minutes of me pacing around, piddling on the computer etc. While they were eating I was folding baby clothes, hanging up laundry etc. Getting some of the birth supplies together (though after the birth I realized I didn’t have everything as organized as I would have liked, LOL)
But as the contractions were getting stronger and as the day went on, I found myself mentally getting stronger. The time spent reflecting, coming to terms with things, it is all about faith and growing, accepting that not everything happens in our perfect time (again, like Arah’s birth). I wondered why I was having to deal with these things again. I mean didn’t I learn these things with Arah’s birth? I knew I was strong, why was I worried? I knew I could handle anything and that God was with me. The baby was moving like crazy the whole time, he was strong, the heart beat was wonderful every time I listened. I found some of the contractions of the day actually enjoyable, knowing they were doing their job.
I was still unsure as to what was going on (though that didn’t bother me a bit). I told Charlie that I thought the contractions might stop when we went to bed, then start up again in the morning. I had read about labors like that. Shoot, things were so irregular and ‘odd’ that I figured I could labor like this for days. Thankfully, that was not to be.
We got the kids in bed, I nursed Arah to sleep. I hate having contractions while lying down, but I had managed to take a nap already and nurse him and deal with them just fine (it was annoying, but I was able to handle it). I ended up falling asleep for about 2 hrs. When I woke Charlie was getting ready to go to bed. He was wonderful, the house was a mess and he had spent most of the evening cleaning up, fixing supper etc. The house looked great!! He asked if he should go into work tomorrow. I said no. I mean even if I wasn’t going to have the baby right away, if I kept contracting I would want him here to occupy the kids. He had been gone most of that day anyway, despite the fact that I had been having contractions all day, most of them I could not walk or talk through, but I had to concentrate, even ooh through. I remember one contraction I was hanging on to the book case going “ahhhh” through a contraction and I had Xian in the bathroom next to me calling me, Piper standing on my other side calling me “mommy” and Arah was under my belly, looking up at me calling me, LOL!!! I was able to tune them out till it was over but it was a bit humorous (and not something I would want to happen with each contraction that is for sure).
I went to bed around 3am I believe. I fully expected things to stop and me to sleep but that was not to be. In fact this is when things really picked up. I can’t say how long my labor was this time, it was so odd. It was like it lasted all day, but at this point, things got more intense. I had about 5-7 contractions while laying down that were extremely intense, I don’t know how I was able to lie there. My body was shaking between them, I was very uncomfortable, so I finally realized that I was getting no sleep that night and I got up and went to the bathroom. I knew these contractions well, they were my moaning contractions. These are the ones I would typically feel in transition, if my body did transition like many people (with contractions one on top of each other). They were that intense but were only 5-10 minutes apart. I alternated sitting on the toilet with standing for them, and of course, I had to moan because that was the only way I can keep my body relaxed. I was shaking too, as I had been off and on all day, only worse now. As usual, I kept a towel between my legs and I would pee during and between each one. I simply cannot relax that area completely without peeing. I feel I was mentally ready now, my doubts and fears were pretty much gone. I was actually enjoying some of the contractions despite their intensity. I knew that the baby would be born today so I washed my face and put on a bit of powder and mascara between contractions (as usual, putting on make up in labor, just because if I am going to have pictures and video, I want to look presentable, LOL). As I looked at my watch it was close to 5am. I said to myself that I hoped baby would be here by 7. That was positive thinking on my part, and I am not sure that I really believed that it would be that soon, but I wasn’t far off.
I was waiting till I felt a bit pushy before I woke Charlie. Then before I knew it, it happened, I got that one contraction where my moan turned into a grunt as my body started getting pushy, and I woke him up. Of course it took him about 15 min to get out of bed, LOL!! I told him that things were happening and we needed to fill the pool (our hot water heater was acting squirrelly and I didn’t want to use up too much hot water too soon, so I hadn’t even taken a bath that day, though I did shower). It took him till about 6 or so to start filling the pool. We hadn’t gotten around to getting an adaptor for the faucet (though thankfully, he picked up a new hose at the store on his way home) so we hooked it up to the hot water for the washing machine. Then he dumped large pots of cold water in to get it the right temperature. By this time I was having complete pushing contractions and I was really wanting to get in the water. Unfortunately, I felt the all too familiar back pain during one of them and knew that it was going to be like the last 2 times, when I had horrible back pain while pushing. Charlie had to stop what he was doing to apply counter pressure to my back while I pushed. I was leaning over the counter in the kitchen. This happened for several contractions before the pool was ready for me. I hopped in and took a position on my knees leaning over the side. With Arah’s labor, I spent a long time standing and pushing, because Charlie could easily reach my back that way, and it wasn’t until I got on my knees in the water that the baby moved down to be born. So I had told myself that this time, I was going to get down asap, in hopes that the position was a better one for moving the baby down (same reason why I sat on the toilet through some contractions earlier, even though I really hate how it feels during contractions).
The water was very warm and felt really good. I explained to Charlie that I was going to need him to stand over me and apply pressure to my lower back/hips while I pushed, as he had done with last time. I don’t recall how many contractions I had in the pool like that but with each one I knew baby was moving down, I could feel increasing pressure in my rectum etc.. But I won’t forget that back pain. The first true pain in labor, like the last time, it was paralyzing. I don’t like to rely on others but honestly, I don’t know what I would do without Charlie there to apply the counter pressure! And thankfully, like last time, the kids were asleep so that we could both focus on what needed to be done for this, the most intense and demanding part of my labor.
I am sure I have said this in each of my birth stories, but pushing for me is horrible. It feels very violent. My body wells up and all I can do is go with it. I don’t scream or yell or even breathe . . . I simply grimace and grunt and if you could see my face, it has the look of someone doing the hardest work of her life!! I have seen people push slowly etc. I simply cannot do it, believe me I have tried. My body doesn’t work that way. It is like if you start to vomit then try to hold it back, or try to not lean over and let it out. You simply cannot do it. That is how pushing is for me.
I couldn’t have been in the pool more than ½ hr or so, though remember, my contractions were very spaced out. Then I got the mother of all pushing contractions and I felt that the head was now on the perineum (it had come down gradually, unlike with Arah, where it came down very fast). Meanwhile, Charlie was standing above me, and I had my arms wrapped around his legs and my head between them. I felt like my body was convulsing out of control, and I was clinging to his legs to ground me, to support me. Of course usually when I feel that way I don’t look that way, but that is just how I felt, completely out of control.
I figured it would stop, with about a quarter sized piece of the head showing, then I would push through another contraction. But that didn’t happen, it kept going, so I kept going, and next thing I knew, the head was ½ way out. So I stopped, knowing it is best to let the head sit and stretch the skin to help prevent tearing, I started panting, still clinging to Charlies legs, assuming that, like my other births, I would sit there for a few minutes till another contraction came and then I would push the head out . . . but that was not to be either. As soon as I stopped to pant the urge to push came again, and I was like . . . OK, so I went with it, and managed to push the head out in like 3 huge pushes during one contraction (something new for me). The moment the head was out I said “go turn the camera on and wake the kids”. We hadn’t turned the camera on yet because the disk only holds 30 min and we weren’t sure how long I would be pushing (since it was 2 hrs last time, this time only an hour) and we didn’t want to waste all the disk on labor and then have it run out when the birth happened. I was planning on having him turn it on when the head came to the perineum, but because of how I pushed I didn’t have that chance.
The time between when the head was out and when the shoulders came was several minutes. Like I said, contractions were spaced out. The kids came in, I had them stand on the side of the pool, told them what was happening, explained that the head was out to which Charlie replied “really?” He hadn’t realized. Then I felt around, I could feel little ears etc, but I realized the head hadn’t turned, I think it was only just barely out, so I gave another little push and then there was room for his head to turn. At that point there was also a huge gush of fluid. My water had broken earlier in the pool as I was pushing, and everything looked clear, but apparently his head was plugging a huge part of the waters, because there was a huge gush, in which lots of stuff came out. I felt for a cord, didn’t feel anything. It was so funny because he was just a wiggling. He was wiggling his head, I could feel his shoulders, arms wiggling, his legs. He was trying very hard to help me, trying hard to wiggle his way out, LOL!! I moved around to try to make another contraction come, got a wimpy one and pushed hard, but no budging. Then about 20-30 sec later, I got a good contraction, gave a little push and out he slid into the pool. It was approx 7:11 am on January 11, 2007 that Ever was born. After laboring sporadically all day the day before, and approx 4 hours after things had really picked up and become more regular.
My friend had told me about her waterbirth back in the 80’s, how she let baby swim around in the water for like 1 min or so before pulling her up. So I decided not to rush it. I left him in, oh, maybe 10 sec. while the kids looked at him over the edge of the pool. But he was acting like he wanted to come up, so gently, I lifted him out of the water (face down so everything could drain) and onto my chest. First thing I noticed, he was covered in vernix and he looked EXACTLY like my other boys!! He was perfectly pink like my other babies had been but he wasn’t breathing. One of my fears was a baby that wouldn’t breath right away, and though I know it can take a while to get them started, I still was paranoid about it for some reason. I think it was the look on his face. His eyes were wide opened, fists clinched, and he looked at me with this look of panic in his face like “help”. I held him to me, talked to him, rubbed his back. I didn’t have a bulb syringe handy so I tried to suck the mucus out of his mouth, but that didn’t work. So I held him to me again and talked to him again, then he sputtered and cried. This was all the matter of like 10-20 seconds or so, not long at all and perfectly normal. After that he was quiet. He was very ‘wet’ (which has nothing to do with the waterbirth, it has to do with the fluid that must be expelled as they are born). So I just watched him. He was grunting, breathing but with a bit of trouble. If we were in the hospital this would give reason for them to take him away from me, use intervention, probably with him ending up in the nursery for observation. But I just held him. Talked to him, he went to sleep and eventually his breathing regulated more. Charlie was a bit worried, he asked several times if he was breathing OK and he was determined to find that bulb syringe for me, which he did find and I did use to suck some of the mucus out. I noticed that the pool water was covered with vernix and I noticed that he had some green stuff in his hair. I wondered if there wasn’t some mec in the waters that I hadn’t noticed. So I called my friend to come on over and check us out (which she was going to do anyway). By the time she got there though he was completely fine and normal and nursing well. I checked out well too, with hardly any tearing (just a few skid marks) another first for me!!
I ended up sitting in the pool for ½ hr or so till the placenta detached. That was cruel, I actually got a couple pushing contractions, complete with back pain, to push the placenta out (though not quite as intense as the previous ones). I then stood and was pushing it out as Charlie went to get the bowl, but he couldn’t find the bowl (did I say we weren’t prepared? LOL) so I am trying to hold it, ½ in ½ out, till he did. Finally it slips from my hands and plops into the pool, at which point I have to squat down real fast because I know it is attached to baby and I don’t want any pulling etc. Kind of funny. We left it attached for approx 6 hrs. Had that time recommended by a Midwife on my homebirth list and figured, hey, there is no rush (I have never cut my cords before an hour anyway). Even still, he cried when I cut it (didn’t clamp or tie, just cut it) as if he sensed something that has always been a part of him was leaving. It was an extremely important, but he didn’t need it anymore, it did its job, time to move on.
The kids had been very sleepy when they came out to watch the birth. They were very quiet, just looking on, not saying much. But a few minutes after he was born they were starting to wake up more, act more themselves, ask questions and were getting really excited. Piper just wants to help, with everything. Xian gets this very proud look on his face and talks about how cute he is, and Arah just loves him so much I can’t keep him away. And they are all concerned about me, wanting to make sure I am not in pain as I recover, that I am comfy etc. They are very sweet. And Arah is more than happy to share ‘nuk’ with his new baby brother.
My friend brought her scale when she came, we weighed and measured him 7lb 12oz 22”. Same weight as Arah but 1” longer (none of my kids were under 21” at birth). He is perfect in every way. And looks just like the other 2 boys did when they were born, especially Xian. In other words, he looks like his dad (a Mason) though all of the boys seem to have my mouth. His head was 13 ½” chest approx 14. Smallest head of any of mine so far, so maybe that is why I had an easier time pushing it out in one contraction (that and the fact that his is the 4th head I have pushed out, LOL!!).
My thoughts on the birth. I wonder why my 2 “family births” were so different from what some consider ‘normal’ labor. No typical pattern, sporadic contractions, etc. I wonder if it is me, do I have some mental block preventing things from getting more ‘regular’ or is this just how my body happened to do it these 2 times? If I had someone else here, a supportive woman or anyone with me, would things be more ‘regular’? And is it a bad thing? I mean I hated the nausea and upset stomach and the shakes, but the overall labor was very laid back. Just like Arah’s was. It is like going about your day, checking e-mails, doing laundry etc. then having a baby that night. Like it is just a normal part of your everyday life, because birth is normal. A more intense birth would have taken more time away from things that needed to be done, like caring for the kids. And I am not sure that I mind things being drawn out, if they are laid back like that. Charlie said it seemed quicker than Arah’s birth, and it was. It was also a bit more laid back and positive, I didn’t doubt myself in the end like I did with his, I accepted things as they came (and thankfully they came faster). This birth was wonderful, actually all my birth were wonderful for what they were and for what I needed to learn from them. Though the beginning of my labor was full with issues I needed to deal with, in the end, it had a more positive ‘air’ about it. And maybe that came from the fact that the end was faster and there was some déjà vu about nearly every aspect of it, even the time he was born, was so similar to Arah’s birth, so in that case, the fact that I had done it before was helpful.
Of course the pushing and crowning sucked as usual, but I have absolutely no bad feelings, no regrets no nothing. Nothing to dwell on or wish I did differently (well other than being a bit more prepared ahead of time, mentally mostly). I learn so much from each one. As always it increased my faith in God, in the process, in His design and the time alone brought me closer to Him as I know all my strength came from Him. I think a little doubting and fear is healthy, if we don’t let it manifest, if we confront it, don’t push it aside but deal with it, and use it to make us stronger to help us learn and to keep us on our toes.
I love, love, love having a newborn again. He was nursing during part of my writing this. They are so precious, innocent, just amazing! A miracle. I have always felt like being pregnant is like living a miracle, giving birth is seeing that miracle manifest and seeing that baby, holding, nursing him, it is like getting a little glimpse of Gods love for us.
I let my sister watch the birth video today. She said that with him floating in the water, then me gently lifting him out and taking him to my chest, that the first thing that came to her mind was “enter gently”. That it was the perfect example of Entergently.
Info on delayed cord cutting
Since writing this story a week ago, the question I have gotten the most . . . "why did you wait so long to cut the cord?" Actually I got this question after Arah's birth too, when we waited 2 hrs. First of all let me say that it is extremely important to wait till the cord stops pulsing before cutting it. You can find more info about that here and at www.cordclamp.com (as well as many other sites if you google "delayed cord cutting"). There are many benefits to delaying the cutting of the cord till it stops pulsing (which should take a few minutes) which you can find on those sites. And this can be done in the hospital (you don't have to ask permission, it is your birth) make sure to tell them you want to ahead of time (and make sure to remind them when the time comes). But I like to take it one step further. Look at it this way. Despite the fact that the cord is not truly a part of your child's body, it actually HAS been a part of them for their entire life and they are aware of this. Babies in the womb will hold and play with their umbilical cords. Their cord and placenta are the only objects in the womb with them, so it is all they know. Clamping and cutting the cord immediately as the baby is born, not only cuts off their lifeline (rich with the blood they need) but it is also removing a part of them that they have always known. If you really think about it like this, it seems very disrespectful. We waited 1hr, 2 hrs and 6hrs to cut the cords with our homebirths. I was simply not in a hurry. There is no reason to rush the separation and I certainly wouldn't cut the cord before the placenta came. I was asked specifically why I waited 6 hrs this time. Well I had heard that even when the cord stops pulsing, there is still a slight pulse that can be felt for a while. A midwife on my homebirth list has been doing a study of how long there is pulsing in the cord. She recommends her clients wait 6 hrs to cut it. So I kept this info in my mind. After Ever was born we just spent time with him, I got cleaned up, we ate, weighed him, got in bed to snuggle etc. After all was done and I was thinking it was getting time to go ahead and separate him from the placenta. I looked at my watch and it just happened to be 6 hrs after he was born. I figured the time was right. He lay very quiet and awake, but as I started to cut the cord he started to cry. Not out of pain, I don't believe they can actually feel it. But I believe he could sense the separation taking place. I just comforted him, letting him know it was OK. There are some who take it a step further, and leave the placenta attached till the cord falls off on it's own. This is called a "lotus birth". (or google "lotus birth") I have never had any desire to do a lotus birth myself. I think the placenta is marvelous in the job that it does, but after baby is born, it's job is over. I don't really feel led to leave the dead organ attached to my live and healthy baby for days, though I understand and have respect for those who do. I feel that there comes a time when we should say goodbye, to move on. I also think that, considering all our babies have been through, navigating the crowded birth canal, having their bones shift and mould so they could come out into the world with us, that it is doing them a disservice to immediately clamp and cut their lifeline, the only thing they have on the outside that they have really known since they were inside us. I think it kind of goes along with understanding it's purpose, how they might feel about it, and respecting them, and what their needs may be (just as we respect their needs throughout their infancy and toddlerhood and into the rest of their lives).
Heads out, waiting for the kids
waiting for another contraction
trying to suck the mucus out of his mouth
Arah's face when I tell him again we have another boy