Chase is snoozing beside me on our bed, just a wee bit over 2 days old. He's brilliantly wonderful and a lovely addition to our family.
I'm more than aware that this magical story of his birth will not interest some readers (the men, I'm guessing!) and so I'm putting it here with the link on the main page. I've tried to edit the photos for modesty, but hey - its birth.
Here are the attendees at Chase's birth:
Me, round in the middle and ready
Sean (fantastic MVP from start to finish!)
Chase (being birthed)
Laurie (supportive friend with an interest in midwifery)
Diane (wonderful friend and photographer of the Birth Day party!)
Midwife and her assistant (not to be downplayed in any way! The midwife was fantastic and caring and made me feel like I was in control. Love her! However NY state is not midwife friendly and so her image and name has been edited. She is fantastic!)
Kaelin, Douglas, Christopher, and Catherine - our four children asleep in the room right across the hall
When I began writing out his birth story and read it over, it just seemed to mechanical. Contractions this many minutes apart, then this happened, then transition, then this....
Not at all the idea of having a home birth that I wanted to convey. So I back spaced and deleted. Most births contain elements like contractions and transition. Having a birth at home is unique and different and incredibly special. I can say this with certainty, having had four hospital births some of which included epiderals, being induced, a few cuts, sutures, ice packs and sitz baths....
After two days of ten minute easy-peesy contractions, I awoke in the middle of the night with a gush of water and sleepy-eyed stumbled to the bathroom, letting Sean know and grabbing the phone to call the midwife.
Our friend Laurie arrived first at our home, a little before 2am. She is just finishing her nursing studies and is interested in midwifery. As a side note, one of her daughters is our babysitter and we absolutely love their family. Laurie would make an incredible midwife should she choose that path!
Smiling and happy to see me in labor, the midwife soon arrived. I was walking around downstairs, had started some laundry, and peeked in on our four children, all fast asleep across the hall. At the midwife's encouragement, I ate a yogurt and drank some grape juice. The dogs finally stopped looking up at all the strange people coming in and out of the house and went back to sleep.
Everyone left Sean and I alone downstairs in the living room as I stood in front of the hot wood stove, the only light in the room, and rocked and breathed. It was incredibly peaceful.
"Can I take a shower?" I asked the midwife as I walked back upstairs and she laughed and told me I could do whatever I wanted! (I was very thankful the well didn't run dry and the hot water tank kept me supplied.) Because of the baby's positioning, my back hurt a lot during contractions and squatting in the shower with the hot water pouring on it felt great. I'd describe labor as being more of intense pressure and tightening than actual pain, but in this instance, my back did really hurt.
Coming out to use the toilet, the midwife peeked in and suggested I sit on it for a few contractions. She really knew what she was doing because that positioning sped things up so quickly. There was barely time in between the waves of tightening for a few words, a laugh, and a deep breath.
My lovely friend Diane came and took over the camera sometime after 4am.
I dried and pulled on a short nightgown, staring at the label and wondering to myself if I was the first woman to give birth in Victoria S*cret. (An old tasteful nightgown from back before the company made their big pornography push.)
That was when I assumed the above positioning. Squatting by the bedside during contractions and standing in the brief moments in between. Sean and Laurie took turns rubbing and applying pressure to my back during the contractions. This made a HUGE difference in the back pain.
The room was hot though it was cold outside, a space heater cranking out warmth for the soon to be new arrival. Everyone was quiet, letting me do whatever I felt to do. Sean encouraged me with sweet whispers and the midwife was busy getting ready for the baby. Our bedroom was quiet, friends around, watching and praying.
Cold clothes on my chest and head stemmed off the nausea I always get in labor but of course the inevitable happened and I puked. I hate puking. That was probably my least favorite part of the labor, which says a lot.
Breathing in and out was the only thing I did as the waves of tightening came one on top of another.
Everyone helped me up onto the bed when I began pushing. I knelt and leaned forward and pushed, grabbing the sheets tight between my fists. In the warmth of our home, the familiarity of our bedroom, the comfort of our bed, Chase was born. That feeling, of getting a baby born and pushed out, is a wonderful one!
It was 6:31 in the morning, sun streaming through the windows, morning doves cooing outside in the trees. Perfect.
Chase pinked right up and let out a wail, waking up Douglas across the hall. Soon there was a line at the bedroom door of sleepy-eyed children with messy bed hair, looking sweet and wonderful, watching in awe.
Everyone slowly and quietly left in the early sunlight to get kids ready for school, go to day jobs, and take final examinations. Here at home we all hunkered down with the phone on vibrate. Sean snoozed with Chase next to him while I lay in bed, uploading photos, still on an adrenaline rush, amazed and happy that I had experienced this wonderful thing called home birth.
The official stats:
Time in hard labor: 2 hours
Time pushing: 15 minutes
Chase's Weight: 7 pounds, 10 ounces
Vitamin K: not necessary
Gooey eye drops for syphilis: not necessary
Sutures for Mama: none because the midwife used olive oil
Does it hurt to pee: no
Do I need ice: nope
Is a midwife really different from an obgyn? Yes. A 100 percent better than all the ones I've had.
What did Sean think of me wanting a home birth?
I think he thought I was a bit crazy until I showed him the statistics of births at home vs. hospital births. I overheard him telling a good friend that it was wonderful and he didn't feel like I was in a birthing assembly line in a factory (which hospitals remind him of..).
Cost: because Sean is self-employed and health insurance would cost $15,000 a year, we chose to pay out of pocket.
The midwife's costs were under $3500 for everything including prenatal appointments, and we paid about fifteen hundred extra out of pocket for all my lab tests, a level two ultrasound (to check his kidneys because of our son Christopher's history), and a bunch of tests to check my heart back when I was having palpitations.
What about a birth certificate? We'll bring him down to the town hall soon to fill out the necessary paperwork. I've heard these visits can be interesting as you're looked at like you have a third eye for having a baby at home. We'll see!