Notes before you read this:
- · Don’t worry nothing is too graphic.
- · Please bear with me on some of the descriptive language – it’s somewhat difficult to verbalize what was happening, what I was feeling, etc; just roll with my crazy descriptions.
- · There may be references to things that you will have to research further to fully understand.
- · There may be some foul language, I’m just going off the cuff.
- · All timing is approximate (aside from the overall duration, that’s accurate) since when you’re in labor, it’s hard to keep an eye on the clock and document every minute.
OK here we go …
“But wait, my tub isn’t clean!!!” This is literally the thought that was going through my mind as I began to birth my second child.
And you thought this story wouldn’t have any humor.
It’s approximately 5 am. I wake up having slight contractions and I notice my panty liner is somewhat damp. Hmmm … looks like I cracked my waters again (same thing happened with Bryce). Darn it, it would have been so cool to deliver Miles in the caul. Is today the day? I’ve been having contractions on and off for days and basically … I’m over it. Nothing has hurt so far, mostly it’s just annoying. I want to meet my little man and I want to no longer feel like the size of a small killer whale.
I wander out into the living room and hang out with my birth ball – monitoring my contractions until 6 am. I’m getting excited … I call Charlie and give her the heads up. “I think today’s the day”, I tell her. Of course she was expecting my call – she told me her average delivery date was 41 weeks and here I am 41 weeks and a day, right on schedule. “Keep monitoring things – I’ll start getting things ready on my end”, she says. “Call me in an hour with an update.” OK – no problem.
An hour later, contractions are progressing nicely. I woke up Eric up sometime between 6:15-6:30 am. “We’re having a baby today”, I tell him. We’re both of the mindset this is going to be a long day. He gets up and sits with me for a bit as I have contractions in the living room, but he can tell I’ve moved inward on what’s happening with my body.
Bryce and my sister wake up around 6:45-7 am. By this time, I’ve gotten a bit vocal with my contractions. Humming and moaning through them, sure they’re getting uncomfortable, but nothing crazy. Sometime between 6:30 and 7 am, I called my mom and told her what was going on – she’s en route. I call Charlie again – “things are definitely progressing I tell her”. “OK, I’m on my way”, she says. I call the birth photographer and let her know what’s up as well. She thanks me for the call – in theory the way it’s supposed to work is Charlie will give her the final “head over” when things get real. Oh … things are about to get SO real.
Between 7-7:15 am I begin to enter active labor. This is the bat shit crazy phase of labor people tell you about. I’m not going to lie – when I planned a home birth with Miles, there was a fear factor involved for me. I had Bryce in a hospital with all the usual drugs and interventions so even though I’d given birth before, I’d never really given birth before (moms who have done it both ways know exactly what I mean when I say that). I had no clue what my body was capable of or what I’d be able to endure. Active labor was intense – for anyone that has seen the Business of Being Born, I was exactly like the midwife who tells her birth story, there was a lot of moving, rocking, swaying, moaning, slight yelling – I was trying any and all positions that would make me feel better and damn if those contractions weren’t one right on top of the other. In my head all I could think was: I won’t be able to endure hours of this.
Let’s take a quick step back: I have several friends who have birthed at home. Every story I’ve ever heard was one of a nice, relatively calm (but long) early labor at home with friends and family followed by an intense, but brief, active labor and then the final stage of labor (which varies for everyone). What the hell had happened to my early labor? I began to suspect I’d been having it for days and it had been stopping and starting ….
Back to the birth: it’s between 7:15-7:30 am now. I’m wailing around the house and my husband is trying to get Bryce ready to go to school. Initially, I had planned for him to be there for the birth, but now that I can only focus on what’s happening with my body, I kind of need him out of there. He does so well, my big boy – he’s not scared by any of my wailing, he asks if I’m ok. “Yes, I tell him – your brother will be here today buddy.” “OK, mommy”. He wants and hug and a kiss before he goes to school … that was the hardest thing for me to do because of how intense and quick my contractions were, but I did it – a big hug and a kiss for my child that was about to become a brother. Off he goes with daddy to school leaving my sister and I home alone.
When I think back on my active labor, I don’t immediately go to the pain place. Sure – it was painful (hello, I was having a baby after all), but nothing I couldn’t handle and I began to wonder why I’d bothered with drugs when Bryce was born because honestly – being able to move around during my labor was totally worth whatever I was feeling vs being stuck in a bed with a catheter up your hu-ha. It’s now almost 8 am. I’ve wandered into my bedroom because it turns out my bed is excellent for kneeling over during these god-awful contractions. That’s when I feel it. I’ve just hit transition.
“Missy”, I’m basically panting – “Call Charlie, tell her the baby is coming”. My sister starts to text my midwife. “No”, I tell her – “you need to call her, and call the birth photographer too”. I hear my sister on the phone “tell her I feel like pushing” I say. Missy relays the message and I hear Charlie tell her to get me into the tub.
MY TUB IS DISGUSTING!!!
I purposely put off cleaning it because I wanted it to be super clean when Miles arrived – I was supposed to have the long early labor where I would cook a meal and clean my tub and watch a romantic comedy with my family around me and laugh and joke and be calm before the baby arrived, what the fuck happened to my early labor??
“Missy”, I pant again – “please, the tub, it needs to be cleaned”. She’s on it – I’m panting out where the vinegar, bucket and rags are as I kneel next to the bed again.
Shit, shit, shit … I’m feeling the urge to push. So I do. Believe me ladies – this is not something you argue with your body about, you listen and do what the fuck it tells you to do.
There I am … kneeling on the floor next to my bed, beginning to birth my son while my sister cleans my tub and my husband takes my son to school. As you read this you probably find that quite humorous. Believe it or not at the time, I did too. I also felt insanely bad for ordering my sister around this way and that, but I was useless. I was in full on biological mode, doing what my body needed me to do – 100% listening to it and just doing what it told me to. My sister cleaned the tub in record time and filled it with warm water. In between contractions I moved from the floor to the tub and, ohmygod, the difference. That first push on the floor had felt like my insides were on fire (read: burning sensation, not unbearable pain). Once in the warm water, everything just felt lubricated (not in a gross way) and the second push was much easier. As I’m in the tub (just having a baby ya know), I’m asking my sister to please get the peroxide because … yea, I bled on the carpet a little bit with that first push and don’t want it to stain. Anyone who knows me will tell you I am forever practical.
It’s now between 8-8:15 am. My mom wanders in to find me in the tub right around the same time my husband gets home from taking Bryce to school. I am calm. There is no more wailing, no more moving around. I have assumed a position in the tub where I am on my knees (with my knees wedged into the sides of the tub for leverage) and my hands and arms are resting on the back edge of the tub (for reference: see pictures on FB). My eyes are closed and I am deep breathing. The room is quiet. My mom takes one look at me as a contraction hits and says “are you pushing?” “Yes”, I reply. “No, you can’t – no one is here!” she replies back. I was afraid this might happen. “It’s ok I tell her – everyone is on the way. I’m ok. If I have to catch him, I’ll catch him.” My mom doesn’t appear comforted by this response.
I will admit something. I was never afraid. I won’t lie – I was a little nervous things had progressed so quickly, that Charlie wasn’t there yet – I mean, I basically started the last phase of labor home alone with my sister. But I never felt fear. Everything just felt right. I was 100% convinced, if I had to, I could birth this baby without help and simply hold him until the cavalry arrived. Of course since I was the one giving birth, I had trouble convincing others around me of that.
Eric sat on the toilet in the bathroom and asked if I needed anything. A wet washcloth please – having a baby will make you a little sweaty. After that (and a few more pushes) he could tell I’d gone inward again. I will admit going into this home birthing process, I had no idea what type of birther I would be – would I be loud and whiny and clingy or would I go inside myself, ignore my surroundings and just do the damn thing – turns out, I’m the latter kind of birther. I didn’t want a lot of touching or talking – I had a task to do, and dammit, I was going to do it.
About 15-20 minutes after my mom and Eric got there, Charlie and Jenn (her birth assistant) arrived to find me about to squeeze a baby into the world. They quickly checked on Miles’s stats (I apologized for not being able to move into a more accommodating position) and once everything checked out OK, they got ready to catch. I’d just like to take a minute to say how truly amazing they were: they quickly got out all the supplies, towels, whatever they were going to need right away and very unobtrusively. A few pushes later and Miles’s head was born. Unfortunately for the poor kid, I couldn’t do his entire birth in a single push so Charlie had me stand up out of the water and prop a leg on the side of the tub. Another contraction later and I had a beautiful new baby – who happened to come equipped with an amazing set of lungs on him. Miles was passed to me immediately out of the womb – we sat in the warm bath together, poor kid didn’t have a warm towel because there hadn’t been time. I’m sure he was quite chilly going from a 98.6 degree oven to the real world. Charlie quickly checked him out and then he & I sat there and met one another.
This is the part where I get slightly emotional. Doing all my research on birth, I had learned about the oxytocin rush that accompanies giving birth and I had been looking forward to experiencing it with Miles since you lose that when you use drugs at the hospital. There really aren’t words for it, but I’m going to try my best: it was like the past three & a half hours had never happened. Like I’d gone from being pregnant to holding my baby in the blink of an eye – all residual pain and stiffness momentarily gone. I was euphoric. I’ve never done drugs, but I have to believe it’s similar to taking whatever it is that would make you insanely happy and carefree. To some extent it’s like experiencing emotional overload. I was laughing, I was crying, I was joking – it was heaven. I had this beautiful new baby and all this loving family around me, so proud of me for what I’d just done. I’m pretty sure it’s the happiest I’ve ever been. Part of it is a trick from the brain to calm the body down and induce bonding with your new offspring. Whatever the reason – it’s amazing and I highly recommend it. As a bonus: Miles was super alert from the moment he was born. Looking around, hollering, cooing, blinking, moving – it was amazing, and so different from when I’d had Bryce because of all the hospital interventions.
Our wonderful birth photographer Lee Anne unfortunately missed the actual birth, but got there shortly thereafter and began snapping pics of everything. Still connected by the umbilical cord, I was helped out of the tub and Miles and I moved to my bed for the after birth and to bond. This is the part where having a professional caregiver came in handy. Because of how nuts and crazy fast my birth had been (approx. 5 am to 8:49 am when Miles was born), my body couldn’t process that everything was done and over with. Miles and I stayed connected for almost an hour and he nursed on both breasts during that time – still the placenta wouldn’t birth. Missy cut Miles’s umbilical cord and Charlie gave me a shot of Pitocin – it felt like pure adrenaline and I hated it, I hated the way it made me feel and it made me stop and reflect on my first birth since that’s basically the second or third thing they hook up to your IV. The foreign-ness of it just felt wrong, especially after my kick ass oxytocin rush. Shortly thereafter we had a successful delivery and inspection of the placenta (a fun – if slightly gross – learning process). I had decided not to encapsulate it so it basically became medical waste, but it was still beautiful and I was thankful it had done its job so well. The more I learn about birth, the more the biology of it all (and what our bodies can do) fascinates me. We literally grow an organ to have a baby and then shed that organ when the baby is born. If that doesn’t make you feel awesome – well, you are.
I returned to bed and my mom and sister made breakfast for the whole gang. I enjoyed my scrambled eggs and toast while Charlie performed the standard AGPAR test on Miles, gave him his vitamin K shot and took his first bloodwork. Then Eric went to get him dressed and came back for some cuddling. I had been drinking Gatorade during and post birth to stay hydrated and because I was required to pee after birth. This was another fun process of having such a quick birth – my body simply wouldn’t go. I knew I had to go, but I was having trouble with my brain communicating with the appropriate body parts to make that happen. I don’t think I’ve ever sat on the toilet so long waiting for nature to take its course – I felt like a guy hogging the toilet for a poop. Jenn sprinkled some peppermint EO in the toilet to help, which was tingly and interesting. Still a no go. Charlie & Jenn prepared to leave with the warning that I needed to go in the next few hours or they’d be back to insert a catheter. Needless to say, when I went a little over an hour later – I texted them ASAP to avoid that.
About 2 hours after having a baby, I was home, snuggled up in my bed with my husband and my new baby. Charlie and Jenn were gone and my sister and mom were in the kitchen cleaning and straightening. This, by far, was one of the biggest boons of having a child at home. Never once was I uncomfortable, never once was I woken up to be poked or prodded and there were no beeping machines and florescent lights. I was in my space and it was fabulous.
It wouldn’t be a funny story if I didn’t highlight a few things that took place. Shortly after my mom arrived, my sister decided to make a Starbucks run – Charlie arrived shortly after she left and told my mom to call her and tell her to turn around or she was going to miss it. So my wonderful sister sacrificed her coffee so she could watch my son be born, and yes – she barely made it. Secondly, when we drained the tub after Miles was born a clogged pipe led to overflowing toilets – so our house was partially flooded less than 30 minutes or so after having a baby. Poor Miles – we had to turn the water off so instead of a wet rag, the poor kid had baby wipes used on him for his first wipe down. Luckily he was born in the tub or that could have been a lot grosser. I also had to forgo a shower until later that evening when everything was resolved. We called the county and after confirming it wasn’t on their end, we called a plumber who came and snaked the drain (a fun sound to hear when you’re trying to rest after having a baby). The whole situation was humorous because normally I’d be uptight and freaked out over a plumbing issue like that (and literally every towel being used to mop up water), but I was still riding my birth high and was in “whatever” land so things were handled without me, which was nice.
The rest of the day passed serenely. Eric and I bonded with the baby. I breastfed when Miles needed me. Miles and I both slept a lot. That evening Eric picked Bryce up like it was a normal day and when he got home we showed him his brother. Bryce was more intrigued by the wrapped present waiting for him – something I’d picked up a few weeks prior as a Big Brother present so he’d feel like the day was special for him as well. It was a Buzz Lightyear action figure and Bryce was in love. That’s to say – he didn’t really notice there was a baby hanging around until the next evening. It was adorable and honestly, for the best as I was still pretty tired and wrapped up in the new baby and his needs. We slept as a family of 4 for the first time that night and I got to experience being snuggled in by both my children – a feeling I’ll surely miss as they grow.
And there it is – the story of how Miles came to be (minus the part about how we created him in Alaska in the first place).
And for those wondering, his middle name has double meaning: (1) it’s my maiden name and (2) there is a Bennett Lake in Alaska, the place of Miles’s conception.