Earlier this month we welcomed a new baby into our family : At home.
I am writing my birth story here for all of you who are like I am (I think there are quite a few) – who are birth story junkies 🙂
Lincoln’s Birth Story: Born at Home, With Love
The seconds and minutes and hours rush by
We’re looking to meet you – stare into your eyes
Your fingers, your hands, your tiny toes
You ears and hair
and sweet little nose
I thought for sure you would come out on your due date, or before. With all the squatting, crouching, carrying, running, skipping, jumping, and dance-partying I’ve been doing with your two big sisters, I thought there was no way you would wait to come out into our world. Boy, was I fooled. 40 weeks came and went with no indication of labor approaching. Oh, how I willed it. Every piece of mucous and barrage of contractions I was hopeful it would be “the start”. But you just weren’t ready yet. And, looking back, maybe I wasn’t ready yet, either.
I only had two hands, after all – how could I take care of a third baby?
Lillian was only two after all – how could she possibly learn to share Mama time with anew little person?
Daddy has been super busy at work after all – and we have been doing a lot of figuring life out together – how could I possibly get everyone to sleep on the nights when he didn’t come home? How could I possibly hold down the fort when I am outnumbered three to one?
I am only one person after all – how was I going to care for you when everyone else needed my attention?
Sure I took care of my body during my pregnancy … I exercised in the form of walk and play. I ate well – I was afraid if I didn’t eat well you would get stuck because of how big Lillian was at birth. But emotionally and spiritually I was pretty tapped out – always looking out for everyone else. I have always been gentle with other people but not always so gentle with myself. Towards the end of my pregnancy I treated myself to a massage. I decided it was time to take care of myself in more peaceful ways….so for two months, that’s what I did.When Grandma came to visit it was easier to sleep. I relaxed. She treated me to a mani-pedi. I got to go to acupuncture and massages. I was beginning to pull away the layers of my uncertainty. I think my soul needed this before you came.Although I was clamoring for you to come out, you took your time….I think you knew what I needed more than I did. I needed time to work through my labor apprehensions. Soothe my spirit. And love myself.
41weeks came and passed. I asked Kate to do a membrane sweep, I was getting anxious. Contractions, yes. Spotting, yes. But no baby. We tried again, but you still weren’t ready. There were even a couple false starts – when contractions were coming 4 minutes apart – all day long – no matter what I was doing – but when I went to bed thinking they would soon wake me up, they never did. Waiting was so hard. I was starting to get worried about your size, and though I believe apples will fall when they are ripe – I was beginning to think there was something wrong with my body. That maybe my body was incapable of starting labor spontaneously. At 42 weeks I decided it was time to try castor oil.Something I had sworn off in pregnancies past. I couldn’t understand why women would choose this – – but, as I was approaching this milestone in our pregnancy and beginning to think about what a medical induction would look like, I decided I would try anything to get things going so I wouldn’t have to deal with Pitocin or a hospital. Down the hatch – it wasn’t so bad…….(though as I am typing this I can taste its distinct motor oil taste deep in my gut and in the back of my throat). This was supposed to be the “magic potion” of at-home induction. When you tried castor oil, that was the beginning….but you never came.
We saw Kate the next day and talked about how perfect you were. Your numbers, perfect. My numbers, perfect. You were big, though. We could tell. I could tell. We talked about what it would be like to deliver a big baby and the best positions to accomplish this. I really did want you to come when you were ready. And I was trying to make peace with that in my mind – that you would come when you were ready. That my body was not broken. That my body would work to get you out. I wrote about it and reminded myself of it, especially when I was feeling super uncomfortable.
“This labor will start
Sometime. On its own.
Hoping you, baby, will
Want to come soon.
But I’m waiting and waiting and dreaming for now
Of holding you close and sniffing your hair.
I’ve been waiting for months, for weeks, and for days
We’ve finally come to our last little phase.
The countdown’s begun, time’s drawing near
I’ll ride the waves and live beyond fear.
But I want you to come when you’re ready to fall –
You started that way, heart beat and all.
And now I can feel you pushing on me-
Your legs, your arms, your hands, and your knees.
Stretching your muscles, practicing every chance
Soon we will sway in our rhythmic birth dance.
Looking forward to that moment in time
When the waves start to pick up and I know you are fine…
But for now, I’ll keep waiting
Until you are ripe
And ready and willing to enter our life.
For now I’ll keep waiting until you are ripe
Because I know soon you’ll be ready to come into our life.”
Daddy and I decided that we definitely wanted to get an ultrasound to check on you –to make sure the placenta was functioning properly and that there was enough fluid for your uterine-home to be cozy and safe.
The next day we went for an ultrasound. It was perfect. You scored an “8 out of 8”– on all the criteria they account for. But then we had an NST which monitors your heart rate and my contractions and how you handle them. The perinatalogist scared me. On one hand she said it was “perfect, beautiful, but here, not so much.” She said she couldn’t find a base-line and that because we were 42 weeks and you were big she recommended we go to the hospital for “immediate delivery.” She also said, “You know, with such big baby they are going to give you c-section, right?” I panicked at the thought of this…so far from the peaceful, tender home birth I had envisioned for you. But I was not emotionally ready to rush off to the hospital. She did another ultrasound herself and still you scored an 8 out of 8 and she was impressed by the amount of fluid you had“this doesn’t look like the amniotic fluid of a 42 week baby.” Still, she recommended being delivered right away. She did a membrane sweep before I left and was hoping not to see me again. But we went again the next day because I wanted to check on you again. This time it was “picture perfect”. I was relieved and, as the weekend was approaching, we decided we needed to come up with a plan to have a baby. Daddy and I were not comfortable letting you go past 43 weeks so we decided that if you didn’t come by Monday we would go to Kate’s backup hospital to be induced (which I really, really didn’t want to do). Kate was sensing my uneasiness and suggested we do an “at home induction”.Sensing, even more, that my comfort zone was at my house – she decided that would be the place to do it. So, on Saturday she was going to come to my house,“camp out” and try all the things we had already tried to do to get this baby out – in one day.
After another wonky NST Friday but perfect biophysical scan (8 out of 8) I went home and prepared my body, mind, and spirit for what was ahead – even if it wasn’t exactly what I had originally planned. I had a great meal, spent time with my family,took a candle-lit bath, set an intention candle, cuddled with my husband, and got some rest. Saturday morning I was ready for Kate and we hit the ground running. She checked me and, in spite of my anxiety, found my body to have progressed a bit. Yay! She could feel the baby’s head this time and it brought me so much relief – it set the tone for the rest of the day. Membrane sweep,castor oil Shake, walk it off, a couple tinctures and there was no stopping progress…water broke at 3 cm and your heart rate stayed steady through it all:-) I had been in pretty consistent seemingly-labor a few other days throughout this process so I remained hopeful, but unconvinced that this was the real thing. I Showered. Tried to nap. Walked some more. Contractions were tolerable but more and more I would have to stop to get through them. Daddy and I walked around the neighborhood (we live in a very busy neighborhood, especially on a Saturday night) … Kate joked that I was doing a public service going out while in labor. Every couple houses or restaurants I would stop and squat or find a railing to hold onto. Even having people around didn’t slow them. Though I am curious to know how many people realized what was going on.
When we got home I soon found a ritual that seemed to work a while. I couldn’t really move from my spot without things hurting more so we stayed – I was surrounded by love and support – a sisterhood of peace – and counter pressure -and my sweet husband. Eventually my “spot” wasn’t working as well and I wondered if I could get into the pool yet. Kate checked me again. I was 7! It was working! I was excited to get into the tub because I knew I’d relax and I was convinced it would be another several hours (Lillian’s transition lasted for 7hours to get from 8 to pushing). I had a contraction at the bottom of the steps, made it to the top of the steps for another contraction. I went down the hall to my room and had another contraction and finally got into the birth tub.
I felt weightless. And wonderful. I wondered if it would slow things down because there wasn’t as much pressure on my cervix, but I don’t think I much cared because I was in such euphoria … I had maybe 8 or 10 contractions in the tub and I started grunting. I just felt like I needed him to move down further…just a little. Then there was a buzz about the room the same way there was in the hospital when it was time to push. I didn’t want to get my hopes up so I tried to ignore it . I didn’t feel it was imminent. I was just checked. I was only 7. This wasn’t hours and hours of transition. I heard my mom motion for Jim to call his parents to get the girls home (I had wanted them to see our baby being born). But I said “no, no .. There’s time” (and I really was sure I didn’t want them to watch me so out of control for hours and hours of transition). But I started grunting more during another contraction and everyone was looking for a flashlight. It was so surreal. I couldn’t believe it was really time. Already. “Are you sure?” I asked…”I’m only at 7. I just need to scooch him down a little.” —-
“Go with your body.” They told me. “Listen to your body.” It was empowering to hear such trust in me to listen to my own body. Another contraction and your head was coming out. It felt bizarre because it felt like it wanted to float up in the pool. But your head wasn’t coming out anymore … It was stuck.
Because of where you were stuck (right around your eyes) it suddenly turned urgent to get you out. And I tried. Oh how I tried. I pushed and pushed until I couldn’t breathe and tried to gulp a breath to do it again. It wasn’t working. Out of the tub … At this point everyone was frantic and I was getting scared because I knew how hard I was pushing and I knew you weren’t budging. I didn’t know how you were going to get out. Urgency was in everyone’s voices and I was doing everything I could. Contraction or no contraction I was pushing, trying so hard- using all the muscles in the same way I knew how from my other two births. But nothing.
Would I need to go to the hospital with you half in/half out? How much time would we have? Were you still getting oxygen from the cord or was it compressed? All these thoughts flooded my head. Thankfully, I trusted my midwife and support team, but in those moments of uncertainty, so many thoughts rushed through my head. Kate said she was so sorry but she would have to make a cut. I was terrified of that for some reason,especially because your head was right there. My mom had found her way to the floor in front of me where I was, on hands and knees, trying to calm me down. Another attempt at pushing and again she apologized and said she would have to make a cut. Scissors in hand, daddy reached over the bed to where I was on the floor and his hands found my hips in all this chaos – he did the pelvic hip move we learned in birth class. At this point I was out of control and screaming. I pushed again and you budged a smidge. Maybe the pelvic tilt gave my body just enough wiggle room. “Oh, wait–maybe not!” Kate said referring to having to cut me. He was out enough over his eyes. I heard them talk about the oxygen tank but it was all a blur. I was scared but kept pushing and pushing and finally you came out. I plopped to the floor, absolutely nothing left in me. I had wanted you right on my chest but at that moment I couldn’t feel parts of my body – my head was cloudy – and my eyes closed. I couldn’t hear you. And I remember saying, through the haze, “is he okay? Why can’t I hear him? Shouldn’t he be crying? What’s going on?” I still couldn’t see you because you were behind me and I was still just on hands and knees / on the floor. Finally you started crying and I was so relieved to hear you.
Everything from there was a little hectic. I think we were all in shock about the whole situation. You were a “he” after all and you wouldn’t stop crying. We were still attached and I was waiting on the urge to get the placenta out…and just trying to breathe and take it all in. It’s finally over. Weeks and weeks of anticipation finally melted in that moment. I was anxious to get the placenta out because I seriously just wanted to be done. I didn’t want anything else to be required of me. No cut was needed, after all – and when I was checked I hadn’t even torn. Intensely relieved with this news I just wanted to soothe our baby and nurse you to calm us both down but you wouldn’t stop crying long enough to show interest. So I asked Daddy to hold you while I got standing up, rinsed off, and found my way to bed.
From here things were a blur but the cord had stopped pulsing, Layla was on her way up to see our new baby and help with the initial exam. Born at 9:57 p.m. Our 42w 4d gestated baby weighed 10 lbs 12 oz. and was 22 inches long. Wow. All that baby. All inside me. No wonder it was a struggle to get you out.
Layla was smitten, so excited to have a brother because she “has a sister already.” I felt complete relief. Thankful you’re out, after waiting for so long. Grateful you’re healthy and safe. Supported even through such an unplanned entrance. Safe in my own bed surrounded by my own things and smells and sounds and comforts. Now we rest…and ogle this beautifully perfect little person that was just living inside me. Excited to finally meet you and see what you look like. Hold you, smell you, love you, and breathe you in.