"Whoa. Ann, I'm having a real contraction. Yeah, this one's real..."
"Yeah, I just had another one. I think I better go...maybe call Brandon? Keep sending me your home birth vibes!"
I woke up Friday morning feeling the same as I had for weeks. Meh. I got the kids off to school, Brandon off to work, and then I turned on the TV for the boys because I was TIRED. I took a 2 hour nap (in and out, what with the boys and all) on the couch. Around 10:30AM, I decided I'd had it with the house. So, I cleaned.
I cleaned 2 bathrooms and the living room. I did the dishes. I cleaned the kitchen. I let the boys play outside; I fed them hot chocolate when they came in. I talked to my sister on the phone. I ate lunch and fed the boys lunch. Around 1PM (or just after?) my friend Ann called. We chatted about how I was "late" and she said she would give me her home birth vibes.
They totally worked.
While talking to her, I had nearly 6 contractions. Real ones. Consistent. When I got off the phone, I swept the kitchen floor. The contractions did not stop. I called Brandon; he came straight home "just in case." I called my midwife --told her, "no rush, but they are consistently 7-8 minutes apart." I called my mom and told her to start driving from Idaho. I called my friend to be "on call" to take the kids.
By 3:30PM, my mom was on her way, Brandon was here, the kids were taken care of, #1 came home, and Brandon called the midwife to tell her she might want to "hurry" because my contractions were now 3-4 minutes apart and I needed to concentrate through them.
The rest is a blur time-wise. I just know he was born at 5:32PM. This is the timeline in my mind of what happened chronologically between 3:30PM and 7PM:
*My midwife and one of her apprentices came. My birth kit was already in the room and Hannah (the apprentice) got straight to work setting up everything.
*I had taken a shower before they came; I remember having a strong contraction lying on my bed with #1 and Brandon close by. As it came to a close, and before I opened my eyes, I said, "I smell Sherri!" And there she was on the side of my bed (my midwife). She laughed. You have to understand, dear reader, that Sherri and her home always smell like doTerra essential oils, and I honestly believe it's one of the best smells in the world (all that lavender and citrus and frankincense and eucalyptus)!
*Sherri checked me when she arrived --I was 7 cm. dilated.
*She told me to get up and get walking. I went up and down my stairs slowly, stopping occasionally to lunge and to work through another contraction.
*I remember going into my room next. There was always a flurry of activity around me, but it didn't bother me -- Hannah and Brandon were setting up the tub, Sherri was setting up the kits and the bed, and then I sat on the birthing ball while leaning against the bed.
*The contractions were getting stronger and stronger and so I decided to get into the tub. I was glad I did because BAM! They were strong contractions! By then, Roxanne came (another midwife who had taught a prenatal massage class at one of Sherri's forums; we love her!). Between Brandon, Roxanne, and Sherri, they helped me as I started transitioning. Between contractions, Sherri had me reach down to feel where his head was --so cool! The cervix was completely gone...
*But then it got HARD. Very hard. I remember having a really tough time getting through everything; even as I started "pushing." I had wanted to push the way I had with #5, which is "Breathing the baby down." It's more natural, more relaxed, but does take a little time. Sherri was concerned because he wasn't descending quite like she had hoped. They kept monitoring him with the doppler and he was going into stress.
*That's when the oxygen mask went over my head and I knew something was wrong. They were trying really hard to let me have my water birth, but Sherri decided it wasn't going to work.
*They got me out of the tub and I started crying (partially from pain, partially from disappointment), but I took their instructions very seriously. It was two steps to the bed and there I was put on my left side.
*Roxanne was on my left holding my hands and told me to grab her shoulder with my right hand. Brandon was holding my left leg/knee spread. Hannah (I assume) was holding my right leg back as far as it would go. Sherri was prodding the baby out. #1 was directly across the room from me watching everything unfold. She was in charge of the clock and had to call out the time whenever Sherri asked for it.
*I remember Roxanne telling me to breathe. I remember Sherri saying "Push him out, Cheryl! PUSH!" And that's when I realized that doing my "breathing down the baby" was NOT gonna cut it. They needed him out NOW. So, I pushed. Man, did I push!
*It was so different this time. No time to think. No time to "focus." I had to save my baby. I pushed very HARD.
*Yes, there was shrieking on my part. It helped me a ton, though!
*I pushed him out fast and when he came out? Instant relief. Whoosh! I love that feeling. It is literally night and day. Hell to heaven. Extreme Anguish to Extreme Joy.
*However, next thing I know, Roxanne is working on baby, Sherri is working on me. There was meconium. Baby isn't crying. I'm bleeding like crazy. Brandon asks, 'What can I do!?" and Sherri said "Give your wife a blessing." Done. "What else can I do?!" "Give your baby a blessing." Done.
*Roxanne gives baby mouth-to-mouth and then oxygen. He starts to pink up. Sherri gets the bleeding to stop. They kept having me drink this weird concoction of honey/cayenne. And gave me loads of oils and drops to help with everything. Honestly? It was so very, very cool.
*Baby's okay. Not perfect, but stable.
*I get to nurse the baby; it takes a little while to get the placenta out. When it does, everything is perfect. Sherri tells me the good news: I did not tear AT ALL. No stitches needed; nothing!
*Baby continues to improve; I'm just fine.
*Had another scary moment: I got up and went to the bathroom to get all changed and dressed (while they cleaned up the bed) and although I had help, as I was walking back to the bed, I almost fainted. This wouldn't seem unusual with the amount of blood I lost, but I have NEVER fainted in my life, and this scared the crud out of me! I didn't, though --faint, I mean --and made it to the bed where Hannah immediately made me drink water and pineapple juice. I felt better within moments.
*Baby is an AMAZING nurser --perfect latch, perfect time! Of course, it helps that I know what a perfect latch is...
*We keep baby on oxygen (just a small tube near his nose) for the next 12 hours.
*After 7PM, Brandon got to cut the cord (the placenta stayed attached to him for as long as possible so he could get the nutrition left in it). By then, Roxanne had left. Hannah and Sherri did a complete physical at that time and we weighed and measured him.
*My mom showed up just as we were weighing him.
*Hannah left around 8PM after helping Sherri clean up most everything. Sherri stayed until after 9PM. The kids showed up to meet Baby by 9:30PM.
It's been touch and go with him because of the meconium (and a touch of jaundice), but he's doing AMAZING. Lots of colloidal silver on his face to ward off infection, the oxygen, sleeping on my chest, tons of sunlight and nursing, Breathe essential oil, steam, and more nursing, checking his temperature regularly, oils on his feet, etc. and he is improving steadily. No signs of infections. Lungs clearing up nicely on his own. Sherri has come back each day to check on him and me --so glad we're doing well!
Me? I'm near-perfect. My bleeding is almost done and I've been given strict orders to stay in bed for three days, then to putter around for five. Brandon and my mom are taking Sherri's instructions very seriously. Basically, I get all my meals in bed, Brandon got me the foods Sherri told him to get (he's making me wheat grass juice, loads of water, grape juice, and tons of veggies) as well as making sure I'm resting.
I had my placenta encapsulated. For those of you squeamish people, you make think this is absolutely insane. But guess what? I have a massive history of Post-Partum Depression which turned into REAL Depression. So, to me? It was a no brainer. You can learn more about what the heck it's about here. My only regret is not doing it sooner!
THOUGHT #1: My friend told me that in Europe, the due date is at 42 weeks and wondered why we American women were in such a rush to get our babies here. This led me to think about how my baby has slowly tried to make his way into the world. My sister and I came to the conclusion that it takes 9 months to grow the kid --why in the world would labor take just a few hours? Our bodies start preparing for labor long before it "shows" up. I realized on the day I delivered #6 that my body DID know what it was doing. For weeks now, #6 has been "chipping away" at my cervix and getting ready to come. Choosing not to make him come sooner, in my case, proved to create a VERY fast delivery. Of course, it also caused him to be "late" (he had no vernix and the presence of the meconium). But maybe that was the plan? He needed to come fast? Hmmm...
THOUGHT #2: Being at home has meant two things for me: More rest, and More Competence. What I mean is that I am resting more comfortably in my own bed (with all my pillows!)--and I have two people caring JUST FOR ME around the clock. Baby is with me 24/7 (I love it!).
Competence? It means the responsibility of taking care of #6 and the concerns we had at the beginning fall to me. They were not serious enough to warrant a hospital visit, but I am convinced that if I had delivered in the hospital, he would have been taken from me and the doctors/nurses would have taken care of him, regardless of my ability to help (by nursing him, having him sleep on my chest, etc.). They might still have him. Feeding him bottles. I feel so POWERFUL right now. Not because doctors and nurses are wrong to do what they feel is best for their teeny patients, but because I came equipped with the ability to help my infant just by utilizing the body God gave me. Does that make sense? Of course, had the situation been more serious, you better believe I'd be grateful to take him to the hospital. I'm not an idiot! But I'm grateful that my choice gave me the ability and chance to heal my infant myself. Choosing to give birth here at home automatically gave me that chance.
THOUGHT #3: All of #6's stats (his weight 9lbs 11oz, his height, 22 inches, and his head circumf. 38 cm.) match #3's stats EXACTLY. Isn't that funny? And yet #3 was induced 7 days early and #6 was 8 days late. I just find it interesting...
THOUGHT #4: How incredibly grateful am I that I'm married to a righteous Priesthood holder who could, in our hour of immediate and extreme need, through his hands, call down the Power of God to help save us? And not only that he could do it, but he was there at my side? Words cannot even begin to express my gratitude for him, for the Priesthood, and for God.
THOUGHT #5: Having #1 watch the birth (her choice --she approached us and asked if it would be okay) was a good choice. She was frightened for a while by all the emergency going on, but she said it was overwhelming to see the baby come out --in a good way. She said she was so glad she was there! When Sherri made her the "time person," she felt pretty important. :)
CONCLUSION: Even though things didn't go perfectly, this was still the birth experience I always wanted! It may possibly be my last! But I'm grateful. Better now than never, eh? And now I feel I have given my girls an incredible gift. They know what birth can be; they know how strong women truly are, they know what is possible, and I can tell them from experience about all of their options...
(And now I'm off to schnuggle my baby boy. Oh, my gosh, how I love him!)