Well, it's been 4 months and 1 week since Winnie was born. I guess it's time to stop procrastinating writing about Winnie's birth. So for all of you who have wondered to yourself "What kind of crazy people have their baby at home nowadays?"...well, here's our story.
A week before Winnie was born, Kevin swore up and down he had a feeling our baby would be a boy and would be born on Friday the 13th (of April). He chalked it up to daddy intuition. He had me convinced.
On April 11 (Wednesday), I felt off. I couldn't exactly pinpoint what was wrong; I just didn't feel right. So I made a huge asparagus lasagna, and Kevin blew up the huge birth tub just in case and shoved it into the garage to await our alleged son's birth. I was totally expecting to wake up at 2 a.m. and have contractions 2 minutes apart like I did with Eden.
I'd pretty much been experiencing insomnia for the last month of my pregnancy. That night, I was kind of awake, kind of dozing on the couch when I thought maybe I felt a contraction. I wasn't sure. It was around 3 a.m. I'd been having back pain for about 2 months so I thought maybe this was just more back pain. I laid around. Felt more contraction-like feelings, but I still wasn't sure. I kept waiting for the "this is definitely it" feelings that I'd had with Eden and they never came. I tried timing the contractions, and they were all over the place. 30 seconds long and 4 minutes apart. 90 seconds long and 8 minutes apart. 40 seconds long and 90 seconds apart. There was no pattern (and as someone trained in the birthing process, this frustrated me because usually a pattern is apparent at some point). So around 4, I woke up Kevin and told him that I thought was in labor but I wasn't sure. So he asked me about timing and said he thought he saw a pattern. The pattern was this: contractions were happening. So he got some work stuff together and went off to work so his substitute instructor would have everything he needed in case Kevin didn't come back to work.
Yes, my husband left me while I was in throws of labor. I was slightly unhappy about this.
Meanwhile, I'm timing my own contractions (I do not recommend this, by the way - it's not very accurate and very hard to remember numbers while also managing labor pains by yourself) and trying to decide whether or not to call our doula who has to travel from Birmingham (about 80 minutes away). I didn't want to call her if I wasn't really in labor because that would have been a wasted trip.
(As I'm writing this down, I'm thinking to myself "Was I kidding myself?!?! Of COURSE I was in labor!! Why did I not make that stupid call to the doula earlier? Was I trying to be a martyr or something?? Gimme a break!!)
So I called the doula but told her not to leave yet. By now it was around 7 or so. Kevin finally came back and started getting Eden's bag ready so she could stay with our friends, the Masseys. Then he was preparing breakfast and doing other household chores. Finally he asked me, "When's the doula getting here?" I told him I hadn't called her yet and I distinctly remember him kind of doing a double take and saying "You haven't called her yet? Um, let's do that now." I can't remember when he called the midwife, but I know she was on her way already.
By this time, Eden woke up and I was trying to breathe through contractions while Kevin was doing final preparations (you'll have to ask him what exactly, though, because I just remember thinking to myself "What the heck is he doing?? Your wife's in labor! Stop doing crap around the house and come help me!") and Eden was wondering around the living room and kneeling next to me and whining while I hummed through contractions.
After this my memory is slightly blurry - blame it on Labor LaLa Land. I know the doula (Dana Gale) arrived and I was overjoyed (literally, that's how I felt) to see her. I remember yelling at Kevin to stop what he was doing and come help me with contractions. The midwife arrived at some point, but I don't remember when.
Then they set up the birth tub in the living room, but I was scared to get into it because I didn't want to get too relaxed and for labor to stop. Dana assured me there was no chance that would happen. So I climbed into the tub and I was in (relative) heaven. * Side note: if you are a woman who will ever be pregnant, get into a deep tub with warm water and remain there until that baby is born because it is the best feeling thing ever ever ever ever. Ever. *
The midwife (Gretchen) asked if I could roll over so she could examine me and I said okay, turned about 2 inches, and said "No way on this earth." Any change from the position I was in was torturous feeling, so I never had any exams while I was in labor with Winnie.
All of a sudden I felt like pushing. So I did. And I explicitly remember thinking that I needed to make my pushes efficient so I used a technique I learned in our Bradley birth class. If you've never experienced natural labor before, being able to purposefully think of something and carry through with it is a feat of sorts (sorry if I sound arrogant). While I was pushing (still in the birth tub) I felt my water break. At one point I felt Winnie move down a lot. It freaked me out a bit. After more pushing, Kevin had to climb half into the tub and give me more physical support and about that time, Winnie crowned and then came floating out into the water and Gretchen caught her around 9:45 a.m.
(I purposely did not turn this photo black and white so you can see that there is no blood or grossness (in my opinion) involved. Granted she did take a dip in the water on the way out, but do you see any yuckiness? Nope.)
I remember asking "What is it? What is it?" and somebody said "A girl! A girl!"
Then I just held little Winnie to my chest and laid back in the water while Gretchen examined her a little and let us relax.
Then everybody helped me walk back to our bedroom and Kevin, Winnie, and I settled comfortably into our bed and awaited the placenta to be born. Not much was happening, so I took so homeopathic medicine to coax it along and then it was born and inspected and deemed very healthy. Ditto with Winnie. She started nursing quite enthusiastically. After a while, I was able to take a shower and Kevin helped Gretchen weigh Winnie (8 pounds 4 ounces) in a stork scale (I think that's what it's called).
After that, we looked through the photos that Dana took while I was in labor. Then Gretchen and Dana left and it was just Kevin and Winnie and me, relaxing and enjoying being together in our home and in our bed.
It was a marvelous experience, our home birth. If it's possible, all of our future babies will be born this way. It was relaxing to such a deep degree. It was the best, most ideal birth I could ever have imagined.
And now for those of you still wondering...
How did you fill up/drain the birth tub water?
Kevin attached a garden hose to the hot water valve in our bathroom sink and ran it to the tub in the living room. To drain it, he rented a pump and pumped it into the corner of our backyard.
How is a birth tub different from a kiddie pool?
It's deeper so that your whole body can comfortably be submerged in the water. It's sturdier and has handles to hold on to and a step to sit on. And the bottom is inflated so it's cushy.
What did you do with all the bloody stuff?
There wasn't any bloody stuff. But the towels we used to wipe off Winnie when she was born were just thrown into the washing machine and washed like regular laundry.
What happened to the placenta?
It was examined and thrown into a ziplock bag then into the trash.
Weren't you scared about complications?
No. I had faith in the Lord that He would take care of us and anything that happened was meant to happen that way.
When did Eden return and how did she react?
Around 3pm. We put Winnie on our bed so that when Eden walked into our room we could give her hugs and kisses and then introduce Winnie to her. She looked at Winnie and said "Baby" then crawled into my lap.
What about all those drugs/tests/screenings that hospitals do?
Winnie was examined by the midwife, deemed very healthy, and didn't see the pediatrician till she was several days old. There she had blood drawn for the PKU screening and that's it. She's had 2 doses of 2 vaccines and that's all. And she's still alive and healthy today.
What's the moral of this story?
Kevin was wrong. We did not have a boy. Home birth rocks. The end.
4 hours old...
4 months old...