Ian’s Much Anticipated Homebirth
I’m sitting here typing at the keyboard with one hand, something I have so long been eagerly anticipating doing again. My other hand, and arm, is around a peacefully snoozing, mommymilk-filled, beautiful baby boy with a perfectly round head, sparse hair, tiny round ears, alert eyes (when awake) of as yet indeterminate color, perfectly formed nose, and cute little mouth with a receding chin.I was finishing the 42nd week of pregnancy this weekend and because my midwife Peggy is leaving Wednesday for the other coast to be with her own daughter who is about to give birth, l agreed to try some herbal induction methods. It did cause my contractions, of which I’d had many for weeks, to increase in number, but they didn’t get regular or more
intense. Both nights I stopped the routine, went to bed, slept deeply and woke up with a quiet uterus. But Monday morning, after I had another brisk walk around the perimeter of the neighborhood (for the 7th day in a row!), I noticed contractions coming a few times an hour. I had some really strong ones centered low, like jabs in my cervix. Rhiannon
said, “Maybe Ian is doing karate.” He was very wiggly all morning!
I was unsure it was real labor all day long because the frequency and strength of the contractions increased so very gradually! I was keeping track, writing down the times of all the contractions and notes about how strong they were and what I was doing. I took care of my girls, rocked in the rocking chair, guzzled many bottles of water, called
friends and my midwife a few times, and felt energetic enough to do a load of laundry all the way to putting away, picked up lots of toys, cleared the table, swept the kitchen… In the afternoon I realized that if this was indeed Ian’s birthday, his would be my longest labor. Rhiannon was born about 11 hours after I woke with contractions, Caroline was born within 5 hours of starting the pitocin, and I spent about 11 hours in Ian’s early gradual labor before I was pretty sure this was the real thing. By the late afternoon I was getting irritable and eventually called Robert to come home so I could concentrate on the contractions. They had been on average about five minutes apart all afternoon, but with pauses, and only occasionally very strong.
Robert got home at 5:30 and I ate a bowl of black bean soup which I’d made many weeks ago with friends as part of my freezing ahead stocking up to prepare for this time. It was a little before 6 p.m. when I last called Peggy and a few friends to report that the contractions were getting serious. In the next hour, friends Stacy and Wendy arrived and we chatted while I rocked through contractions on the rocker-glider’s footstool. Peggy and her assistant Aimee arrived in another hour and set up and I continued rocking through contractions that were coming very close together now. My friend Erin barely arrived in time to see the birth, as soon after I said hello to her I had my third contraction that brought to my mind the word “expulsive” and I decided to move to the bed. We never did a cervical check and I was not confident at first about whether it was time to push, but I heard encouraging words telling me to go with it, and as it has been with all my births, my primary thought was, “I want to get this baby out!” so I pushed. My water broke now, which was a new experience; I wasn’t aware of it happening with either of my girls. I’m not sure exactly how many pushes or contractions it took, but it was very few, lying on my side clutching mypillows. My head in the pillows made it hard to hear what my midwife and her assistant were saying, encouraging me along, which I find funny now. It was also harder to reach Ian to catch him, but quickly he was in my arms, and my first thoughts were about how tiny I thought he was and how peaceful he looked. He made one little cry and then looked around a bit, and didn’t cry again until his newborn exam much later. He latched on to my nipple as if he were an expert at it already. Rhiannon, so excited about the whole experience, cut the cord, and then we took a good look at the placenta. Caroline, who had gone to bed with Stacy reading stories, woke up a bit after everyone left and was very matter of fact and sweet about her first meeting with her brother.
Thirty nine hours old as I finish typing this, I still am not sure what color Ian’s eyes are, but I’ve seen hints of both brown and blue! I think he may be a comfort nurser like Rhiannon, and he has a tight latch (I’m getting blisters!). He’s already showing signs of sensitive skin like Caroline. But most importantly, he’s a very content alert baby, and we are all enjoying these precious early moments that speed by too quickly. Rhiannon wants to be in charge and has gotten frustrated with us for not letting her do everything her way. Caroline, who I was more concerned about adjusting because of her age and her recent clinginess, has been cheerful and loving and not yet bothered by the change in our lives. Robert is working hard taking care of all of us–he is with the girls at their homeschool group gathering right now–and I am recovering quickly. I’m feeling terrific, enjoying getting to know my son, marvelling over the beauty of birth, especially homebirth, and basking in the warmth of the circle of love into which Ian was born.