August 1, 2018 at 5:31am

I was five days beyond my “due” date. I was pregnant with my fourth baby, and every one of them had been “late”. The July afternoon was warm but we needed to run some errands around town. We picked up feed for our animals, as I wanted to stock up for our chickens and goats. We also stopped at Walmart for a few last minute things, knowing baby would be coming soon. I wanted a light bulb for my Himalayan salt lamp, since the golden-pink ambience is so pretty, and some thumb tacks to hang my Birth banner in the bathroom that read “Fear is a Liar”, words taken from a beautiful song. We came home and I did some straightening up and Michael, my husband, got home from work earlier than usual. He went out to work on the dirt track with the tractor for the kids, and I took some potato soup out of the freezer because I really didn’t feel like cooking, and went down to the basement to make some batches of soap. The kids played and I was thrilled with how my new soap bars turned out. I listened to some hypnobirthing podcasts while I worked. The house was peaceful. We ate dinner late, around 8 or so. It started to rain – a beautiful, soft but steady rain. I thought, what a night it would be to have a baby with the sound of the rain! I was feeling crampy and tired, but I had been having waves of cramps for a week or more so I didn’t think anything of it. I went to the barn to milk the goats and to close the barn around 10, and the goats gave me a bit of a run for it when I fed them and a few came out of the stall door. I brought the milk up from the barn through the rain and wondered, as I had for days now, when the last time would be that I’d carry milk up being this pregnant. The rain continued and I took care to remember to leave the basement sliding glass door unlocked in case our Midwives needed to come in through it. I came upstairs and had some cake, as I had half-jokingly made birthday cake a few days before, hoping maybe it would encourage Benaiah to pick a birthday. Michael and the kids had found a pig skull in the woods earlier and I was upset to see that it had been left in my bathroom sink, as they had wanted to keep/study it. I pointed out to him that there was a deep sink in the basement for gross things like that and that he needed to get it out of my bathroom sink! I showered, feeling awake but assuming it was from the Starbucks I had treated myself to earlier – a rare but excellent iced latte. I came out of the shower and asked if Michael had moved the skull – he hadn’t, and I adamantly told him to get the skull out of the other bathroom, I said that I wasn’t going to have a baby and have Midwives come and find a skull in the sink!!! He got up and put it out in the garage. We laid down to go to sleep and Benaiah was moving like crazy, and we laughed about it before falling asleep.

I woke two or three times, feeling like I had to pee urgently. I was exhausted and just shuffled to the bathroom and back. Then twice, I woke from a dead sleep to find that I was on hands and knees and leaning on Michael, who was sleeping. It occurred to me that this could be labor but I tried to ignore it and lay down again. Nope. I was feeling lots of pressure, not push-pressure, but more like I had to pee. I couldn’t get comfortable and laying down made it worse, so I got up and tried to pee again. In the pale white moonlight I thought maybe there was a trace of a bloody show on the toilet paper so I walked out to the kitchen where I could check under the microwave light and not wake anyone up. It would have been funny though, had anyone had been observing, that I was carrying around a wad of toilet paper through my house. It was nothing. Oh well. I checked my phone, it was 1:10am. I walked around a bit, started to feel restless and finally made peace with the thought that this was real, I was in early labor. I had been almost dreading labor, which I am embarrassed to admit, but my last baby had been a very intense and vividly painful birth, and I hadn’t forgotten that level of intensity. But I told myself again that I would birth my baby in a beautiful, smooth labor. The house was so quiet and dark, and everything seemed calm and peaceful. The rain had stopped and just less than a half-moon was shimmering white in the sky. A white-gray fog was thick outside my windows and I squinted to see if I could make out the outline of the barn. I paced softly around in our room, and Michael stirred and asked “is he coming?” I told him I thought so. I took my phone and charger into the kitchen and called our midwife, Jennifer and told her what I was feeling. I started feeling recognizable rushes instead of just the uncomfortable pressure. They seemed pretty close and steady, first ten minutes apart and then four, and I told her so. She said to keep her updated, as she lives an hour away from us. I went to pee again around 2:15 and turned on the light to inspect my toilet paper because it felt like a lot of discharge – it was bloody show. I texted Jennifer and she promised to head out as soon, but I said she didn’t have to rush, so she agreed to come after she made some coffee. Things picked up but I was absolutely determined to be positive and remember that I set the tone for my labor. Wonderful birth stories and wisdom from Ina May Gaskin’s Guide to Childbirth floated through my mind. I always re-read through the birth stories at the end of my pregnancies. Michael was so supportive and got me some water and we joked between contractions. I was feeling like I needed to get in our tub, so we filled it and lit some beeswax candles my friend had made me. It was beautiful. Michael took out baked spaghetti from the freezer after I asked him to, and pulled all our birth supplies out of our closet. The water in the bath felt wonderful and I could see the moon through the window. It was surrounded by soft clouds that looked purple, blue, and pink. I watched it between rushes and tried to relax and focus despite things getting stronger and more painful. I focused on the image of my baby being in a Moses-basket out in the sea, and each rush was a wave bringing him closer. I should say I tried to focus on that, because I kept losing the focus and feeling the pain.  Jennifer and her wonderful student midwife/assistant Jenn arrived. They came in silently and lovingly and checked my blood pressure and listened to baby’s heart rate – it was 128 and he sounded strong and low. Michael turned on a station that was called “vinyl jazz” and I I joked that it was Panera music. I remembered from the birth stories that humor was an important part of staying relaxed and peaceful. Jennifer gave me some gentle encouragement and they slipped out to the kitchen. They checked on me once more after that before the tub began to feel uncomfortable, the water wasn’t very hot but it felt stuffy and as the rushes came I felt like I couldn’t breathe even though I knew I could. Michael thought I should get out and I agreed but when I tried, rushes came on stronger. After a few more, he helped me get out. I dried off but didn’t feel like putting clothes on, so we snuck past our sleeping kids in our bedroom and out to the living room. Jennifer and Jenn had made coffee and it smelled divine and so homey. (Homebirth is just the best!)! Rushes came stronger and closer as I was standing. I tried to really focus and remain positive. We laughed between rushes which helped so, so much. I tried to remember to not scrunch my shoulders and to make low mooing sounds. I was so worried to wake up the kids, but I was getting louder and things were stronger. Ocean, my youngest, woke up and my concentration broke. I was so worried about her, I’m not even exactly sure why. Michael put on some Octonauts and she was fine watching. He warned me that if I was too focused on her that I wouldn’t progress and I knew he was right but I was still worried. I asked him if he called his mom, who was supposed to be “on call” for the kids. He had but she hadn’t answered. Call her again I said, I felt that I couldn’t birth with the kids home. He called her husband Jon and he answered, and Michael assured me that she was on her way now. Things got very intense and close. Pressure deep in my back. Feeling out of control. The “stop the train I want to get off” thoughts were growing. I don’t want to do this anymore. Can you put pressure on my back? But that hurt and didn’t seem to help. Michael tried to help and I just told him just not touch me. But I tried to not be snappy, because I didn’t want to ruin the peace and joy of this moment. I kept looking around for something to hold onto. Tied a knot in my rebozo but didn’t know what door to put it on. Should I hold onto the fireplace? No, it hurt too much to squat. Finally I got on the couch and leaned over the back of it. That was better. What if I pull the couch over? Rushes were so strong. One more rush and then I felt that infamous pressure to poop at the end of it. I’m feeling pushy, I told Jennifer. She told me if I felt like pushing that I should just go ahead and try. I thought, am I that close? Am I ready to push? Knock on the door, my mother in law, Vicki had arrived. She came in and kissed my head and said good morning. All I could say was “hi” as I was concerned that I’d lose focus but I also wanted to enjoy this break between rushes. Jennifer softly reminded me to stay focused, which helped. I felt the end of the first stage of labor. I knew without a doubt that I would meet my baby soon. It felt like an incredibly long pause, but it was only about 4 minutes. I rested and breathed. Vicki went in the bedroom with my three year old Gabriel and 22 month old daughter Ocean and shut the door. A big rush like a wave came and crested. It was time. Push. I felt my baby move down but not quite enough.

“Do you want pressure on your bottom?” Jennifer asked me.

“Yes! It seemed like it would help.

“Was that your water?”

“I don’t know.” I really didn’t, I hadn’t even noticed.

But it was, my water had broken – 5:28am. My bottom was so painful but the counter-pressure helped so much. Roaring now, I pushed hard. Fire, crowning. This hurts so bad. I’ve got to get baby out and get this over with. Push again, his head was born. Pause, breathe, something about his cord. Push hard again, Michael telling me to breathe but I couldn’t. I was in a different world. It’s the closest to high I’ve ever been. It’s an out of body experience. I’ve heard it said that when women birth their babies they leave their bodies and go to retrieve their baby’s souls from the stars and come back together. That’s what it was. Everything was black and I was gone. I delivered the rest of him at 5:31am. I came back from the otherworld. What time is it?! I asked. Michael had caught him completely unassisted and passed him through my legs and up to me. Benaiah wasn’t crying and I asked a few times if he was okay. They assured me that he was and I got on the couch with help, and held him while my bottom burned like fire. He was beautiful, perfect, looked so much like Ocean and Gabe. My oldest, Meredith, was 7 and came downstairs to meet him, and the others came out of our room. Jennifer and Jenn changed out pads from the floor. The kids came out and met him, in early-morning daze and awe. Benaiah was crying now and didn’t want to latch and I started getting anxious, and I still had to deliver my placenta. I had absolutely no desire to push, everything was so sore and I didn’t have any cramps or rushes. Jennifer didn’t seem worried, but I was. What if it’s retained, what if I hemorrhage, what if I have to go to the hospital. (Sometimes I feel like when you know too much you worry too much, as Jennifer has wisely said!) Vicki left for work after hugging and kissing us all and congratulating us. After a few position changes, birth stool, back to the couch, Jennifer suggested putting one foot up on the couch and the other on the birth stool. I had a big rush and I delivered my beautiful placenta at 6:18am. I was so relieved to have it out. Benaiah latched well. I saw a large clot in my placenta and asked if that was the placental lake that had been seen on our anatomy scan, but it was just a clot. No placental lake to be seen. We attempted to burn the cord but the candles weren’t working so I told Michael to cut it. All the blood was out and it was a long slim cord. Jenn completed his newborn exam and everything looked beautiful and normal. He was 7lbs 5oz, our smallest baby thus far. 21 inches long with reddish hair and long fingers and toes, like Michael. Jennifer helped me get to the bathroom and they already had the peri bottle filled, which I thought was the sweetest gesture ever. After getting cleaned up and put together, I got in bed which is the BEST feeling after delivering a baby at home – your OWN bed! Michael snuggled Benaiah, and gave him back to me after I was settled. Jennifer and Jenn cleaned up and packed their supplies, said loving goodbyes and slipped out the door into the early morning light. Benaiah Michael had finally picked his birthday – August 1st, 2018 at 40 weeks 6 days.

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We are so incredibly blessed!