I’m finally sharing the birth story for our new little boy, born last month! We had another wonderful home waterbirth experience, and a fairly smooth babymoon season these past weeks.
On the Friday night before Haven was born, we had family over for a popcorn & board game night. We all got so involved in the game, that we were shocked to see that we got done after midnight! I’d had a few strong contractions during the game (probably due to all that laughing!), and joked that I would wake everybody up in a few hours, in labor. So, we quickly headed to bed for some rest…
A few hours later, early Saturday morning, I woke up with a couple more strong contractions, but I was able to get back to sleep, so I figured not much was happening. But by 6 am, I had to get up and walk around. I knew that labor was surely starting by then, as I began a series of bathroom trips (with the normal bowel “flushing” that takes place in early labor), and the contractions were getting too uncomfortable for me to lay down.
I wanted to let everybody rest as much as possible after that late night (and thankfully, even our often early-rising children were still sleeping!). (My mom was visiting with us at the time, too.) I also figured, since we would be busy with a birthing that day, we wouldn’t be opening the coffeehouse, so I wanted to let Calvin sleep in. But by 6:45, I woke him up, asking him to help me get things ready (get the heater going, disinfect bathrooms, etc.).
By 7:00 am, I was seeing “bloody show,” and I called my midwife (and woke her up!) to let her know that “Today’s the day!” Since she had about a two-hour drive to our house, I wanted to give her plenty of warning. At that point, contractions were only about 6-10 minutes apart, so I thought we had lots of time left. So, we agreed that I would call her back in an hour to update. I prepared our bedding (with waterproof pads, pillow covers, etc.), and checked that everything was ready.
I felt like I needed to keep moving, in order to keep the “momentum” going with the contractions, since they were still pretty irregular at that point. A few doses of the homeopathic Caulophyllum over the next couple hours, helped establish a regular rhythm, too.
I had been munching on small snacks since waking at 6 am (some homemade pudding, scrambled eggs, yogurt, coconut water, cereal), in order to stay nourished for labor. (My midwife had given me this instruction a few weeks before, so I knew to get started.)
For the next hour, Calvin & I stayed busy in the kitchen; he prepared breakfast for the children who were starting to awaken, and I put together food for the birthing team (cheese tray, fruit & veggies, deviled eggs, etc.), as well as a dinner of lentils in the crockpot.
Then around 8 am, I called to update my midwife that things were about the same. However, she and her apprentice had already wisely decided to get started heading our way within the next half an hour, just in case things changed quickly. I spent the next hour staying closed up in the laundry room (I had started wanted quiet to focus on the contractions), and finished up folding a few loads of laundry.
By about 9 am, the contractions had abruptly shifted to about 2-3 minutes apart, and I decided to head upstairs to the birthing room around 9:30 am. (We had moved furniture out of our bed & breakfast’s sitting room a couple weeks prior, and set up the birthing tub & supplies.) Calvin went to go inform my Mom of what was happening (she had been in the shower, and we hadn’t talked to her yet that morning). I put a huge stockpot of water on the stove to boil, so that we would have extra hot water for the birthing tub.
A sister-in-law had loaned me her birthing ball, so I bounced on that for the next half an hour (in between bathroom trips), and reading my motivational labor cards I had made for Enoch’s birth (with notes from Birthing From Within and The Christian Childbirth Handbook).
The ball really seemed to help through the contractions, especially since I was feeling a lot of pressure from the baby dropping lower, and my water hadn’t broken (which adds some pressure, too). But after that half an hour, I had a couple of “double-peak” contractions that I had to stand for (when I felt the ball no longer helped), and by 10 am I lost the mucous plug.
Calvin called his mom to let her know what was happening (before coming upstairs to see how things had progressed). He originally told her she had plenty of time, but after a quick check on me, went downstairs and called her right back, telling her to hurry! She rushed over, and arrived within a half hour to help watch our children, and to be there for the birth.
We decided to start filling the birthing tub at 10 am. (I didn’t want to get started filling it too early, since my midwife preferred to be present before I got in it, and I wanted the water to still be warm enough.) I figured they would arrive about 10:30 (which they did). Calvin helped support me through that last half hour before the birthing team arrived, by massaging my back with some Arnica & St. John’s Wort Massage Oil (from Mountain Rose Herbs), and some pressure on my hips.
I had a lavender & lemongrass-scented “Sweet Dreams” scented soy candle burning (also from Mountain Rose Herbs), and started playing the same “Hymnscapes” CD that I’d listened to during Enoch’s birth.
When the birthing team arrived, they finished setting up supplies, taking vital signs, etc. as I got in the birthing tub. Labor progressed quickly, and I was surprised to find that I didn’t want back massages like I had with Enoch’s birth. The most soothing measure was when Calvin and the apprentice would pour cups of warm water (using the water in the birthing tub) over my lower back constantly through a contraction. I rocked on my hands and knees the whole time, finding it the most comfortable position.
Throughout labor, I kept sipping on Recharge and water to stay hydrated. By around noon, I felt the “pushing” contractions start up, but my midwife kept faithfully encouraging me, “Trust your body,” so I didn’t try to do any pushing efforts. I just let my body do the pushing contractions, did the “blowing breathing puffs,” and I would occasional reach down to feel the baby’s head. We were surprised that my water still hadn’t broken, and it felt like I was birthing a water balloon!
There was a lot of pressure from the intact sac, and we all kept expecting the water to break. My midwife kept remarking, “You have such strong membranes!” I was especially concerned about trying to prevent tears, since I had quite a bit of tearing that needed stitches after Enoch’s birth (and resulted in scar tissue). I noticed at one point that I seemed to be engaging my “Kegel” muscles and abdominal muscles to try and keep the baby from “shooting” out!
I stayed on my hands and knees, and Calvin and my midwife were behind me to see how the birth was progressing, and be ready to catch the baby. I kept trusting my midwife to let me know how I needed to proceed through the pushing, to avoid tears. She faithfully encouraged me, letting me know that it was going wonderfully! (Since it was around lunchtime, I was also starting to get hungry and envisioning the meal waiting for me.)
My mom came upstairs to check and see if we needed any more hot water for the tub, and was surprised to see how far along things were! (She had been downstairs with our other children.) My midwife whispered to her that she should stay, since the baby’s head was crowning! My mom sweetly rubbed my shoulders and put a cool cloth on my forehead during those last intense moments, murmuring her encouragement, and watching over my back to see this new grandchild’s birth.
We took it slowly, allowing everything to stretch and open up, and gradually the baby’s head emerged (still in the sac!). I didn’t really have to push at all, since those strong pushing contractions (combined with the baby’s movements), allowed the birth to happen smoothly, without any tears.
After about a half hour of the pushing contractions, our baby was born at 12:38 that afternoon! (Amazingly, he was born right on his “due date,” just like his big brother!) The sac still didn’t break as he was born (born “en-caul”), so my midwife had to eventually use the amniohook to break it. As soon as they pulled him up from the water, he immediately cried that sweet, loud newborn cry.
At the sound of the cry, Calvin’s mom rushed up the stairs with our other children to greet the newest member of our family. Oh, that room was so full of joy.
I turned over off my knees to sit in the tub, and snuggled my new baby close (still attached to the umbilical cord). After a short time of greeting each other, we discovered that we had been blessed with another little boy! Calvin instantly announced, “You’re our Haven Luke!” (We’d had a couple boy names narrowed down on our list, and I left it to him to decide which name fit our baby best at birth.)
As soon as the information set in, the grandmas pulled out their phones to start informing the family and friends of the new birth! The placenta was birthed smoothly, and when it came time to cut the cord, both Daddy and big sister helped.
My midwife helped me with a shower, and then we were tucked into bed for a good bonding time as a family. We began breastfeeding right away, and he has been a good nurser since. After an hour or so, they did Haven’s newborn exam, and I had a snack meanwhile.
Over the next few hours and days, visitors came to meet Haven and blessed our family with meals and baby clothes.
“He calms the storm, so that its waves are still. Then they are glad because they are quiet; so he guides them to their desired haven. Oh, that man would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men!” Psalm 107:29-31