I know I promised this long ago, so please forgive the tardiness! Here is Ben's birth story.
Before we were even pregnant with Ben, we knew that we would have a homebirth the next time around. Though our experience with Lucy at the hospital wasn’t bad, per se, but it wasn’t exactly for us. We really hold to the conviction that low risk pregnancies don’t need to be in a hospital. A hospital is somewhere you go when you are sick. Pregnancy is not a sickness…at least not in most cases.
We found out that we were pregnant on Saturday, June 16th. We do not use birth control or any other means of prevention (another story and post in and of itself), so we knew there was a chance every month after I got my fertility back that being blessed with another baby was possible. I know my cycle pretty well and can tell when I am about to ovulate. We both knew that there was a chance that I could be pregnant this particular month. However, Nathan had suspected that I was the whole time, but I kept saying that I wasn’t. Guess he was right.
Earlier in the week, my friend Brittany had found out that she was pregnant. That Wednesday, playgroup was meeting at my place. She was the first one there, and immediately asked me if I was pregnant. Of course, I knew that it was possible, but didn’t know that I already was. I told her such, and she was very hopeful that we could go through our pregnancies together (our oldest babies are only three weeks apart).
The following Saturday, I decided to go ahead and test (since I had a few stocked in the house). It was mid-afternoon, and we were about to go and get snow cones. Don’t ask why I decided I needed to test right then…but I did. Sure enough, it came up positive almost immediately. I was dumbfounded. I just kind of chuckled to myself and stared at the test…and called Brittany really quickly to tell her that yes, I was pregnant too, but I had to go since Nathan was in the car waiting for me. Needless to say, she was excited and laughed at me for testing while we were about to leave for snow cones.
Since Nathan was in the car waiting for me (like I said, don’t ask why I decided to test right then), I quickly put the test in a little box I had and hid it while I got in the car. My usually very observant husband didn’t even notice my covert efforts, which was great.
We left to get the snow cones, and almost immediately Lucy fell asleep in the car. This worked to my advantage. When we got to the snow cone stand, only one of us at a time could get out of the car. So, I went first. When Nathan went, I put the box with the test inside on his seat. When he came back, he seemed confused as to why there was a box on his seat. He asked what it was, and I told him to open it. He did. He kind of had the same reaction I did. He smiled, chuckled and stared at the test…I am sure he was thinking, “wow, I didn’t expect to be right…Stephanie is always right.” Well, maybe not that last part.
We decided not to tell anyone for a while (well, except for Brittany and Sam…they were the only ones that knew). We tried to keep it from family, but Nana (Nathan’s mom) could tell my body had changed by the 4th of July and suspected it. She conferred with Erin (Nathan’s sister), and they agreed…I was likely expecting again. From there, we went ahead and told family. At this point I was about 8 weeks along. A few weeks later we began to tell friends.
Almost immediately, we began the interview process for a homebirth midwife. I still went to the hospital midwife group for my initial blood tests and such, but knew I wasn’t going to stay with them for the pregnancy. We interviewed five local midwives and really loved two of them. The only problem is that one of them was about an hour away without traffic, had someone else due on my due date that would be delivering at her birth center (which meant I’d have to drive there if she was already in labor, instead of delivering at home), and I was due mid-February (which could have meant ice and driving). Due to these things, we chose the other midwife, Ann.
My pregnancy with Ben was very normal and boring. There really wasn’t much to do, just wait. And wait we did. I thought for sure this baby would come by the time Lucy did (40 weeks, 3 days). However, he came later (40 weeks, 6 days). Even though I had been through this before, I was really ready. I had had many braxton hicks contractions, even some that really felt like labor was to begin, but it seemed like things just weren’t going anywhere. And yes, I did start to think this was never going to happen. (Feel free to roll your eyes here…I know I do now when I think about it).
One of our biggest concerns with labor was what to do with Lucy. She was still sleeping with us part of the night, and nursed a lot as well. Plus, she had never spent a significant time away from us (and I really wanted to keep it that way). We knew that at 18 months old she was not ready to be there for a birth. She emotionally wasn’t at that place as a kid, and would have been very needy and clingy while I labored.
Thankfully, Brittany offered to come and get her after I went into labor. Nathan thought she should come right away, I wanted to wait until she woke up first if it was the middle of the night. Until the night I went into labor, we disagreed on how this should go.
Labor did finally begin. I was nursing Lucy to bed on Sunday, February 24th when I felt the first contraction. Don’t ask me how, but I knew this was it immediately.
Nathan was sitting in the room with me, and I brought up the subject of Lucy during the labor again. I got upset and started to cry. He asked why I was getting so upset and realized it was because I knew this was the night and the decision had to be made. I just couldn’t let her leave before I was ready for her to. In the end, we waited until she woke up to call Brittany.
Anyway. The contractions started at almost exactly 9:30 pm. I think they were roughly 3 to 5 minutes apart like Lucy’s labor. My midwife had said she expected my labor to go very quick, so I was sure it would only be a few hours. I didn’t realize she just meant active labor…which was quick.
At about 10:30 pm I called Ann to let her know that I was in labor. She asked me to describe the contractions. I did. She told me to take a warm bath and see if they slow down or stop to see if I was really in labor. I was mildly annoyed about this because I didn’t want it to stop or slow down. But, I did as she said, and took a warm bath. I was in the bath for at least 30 minutes, and the contractions slowed a little, but they became more intense.
I called Ann back to let her know. She said to give her a call when I could no longer talk through the contractions, but could only concentrate on relaxing. Okay, easy enough, right? Wrong!
I was at such a loss at when I should call her. I felt like this was my first time doing this and was very unsure of when I should tell her to come. I remember telling Nathan that I had to relax during the contractions, but in between them I didn’t even feel like I had just had a contraction or was in labor.
The contraction continued to get more intense as time progressed. They were not very consistent in their length or the time between them. Some were 45 seconds long, others almost two minutes. Sometimes there was only three minutes between, but mostly five.
Up until this point, I had been laying on the bed to relax through the contractions while Nathan read relaxation exercises to me from Mind Over Labor. In between them I was just chatting with him with excitement. However, with this kind of progress, I decided to get up and try to get things going faster.
I did a little walking around the house, and spent some time on the birth ball. Both were fine until I had a contraction. I was having a hard time relaxing when I wasn’t semi-reclined on our bed. So, back to the bed I went.
Somewhere around 1:00 am I decided that Nathan should call Ann to come. I could still talk during the contractions if I needed to, but just felt like she should be there. I think it was a comfort thing. So, he called and she said she’d be there soon.
Abby, one of the assistants, was the first to get to the house. She checked my blood pressure and the baby’s heartbeat, and took down some stats while we waited on Ann. Not long after this, Ann and Cindy (the other assistant) got to the house. We chatted a bit, I had a contraction or two that I had to relax through, and then we chatted some more. They decided to hang out in the dining room while we did our thing.
I still remember parts of their conversation in there. The weirdest thing about this labor is that I had really hard contractions, but in between them it was like I was just hanging out and talking to whoever was in the room. It really concerned me for a bit, as I felt like it should have been fast and furious since it was my second time doing this.
Not long after this Lucy woke up crying in her room. Nathan went and got her, and brought her to me. Normally, she’d come to bed with us and I’d nurse her back to sleep. So, I laid down and nursed her while Nathan called Brittany. I think she nursed through 2 or 3 contractions before Brittany got there. Thankfully, Lucy loves Brittany, so she was fine with going with her. So, one baby was going while another was about to be here.
I think it was about this time that Nathan called Rebeccca, our friend and photographer, to come to the house. We hired her to take pictures during Lucy’s birth, and wanted to do the same for Ben’s. I don’t remember when she got to the house…maybe 2:30ish?
Periodically, Cindy would come in and check the baby’s heartbeat and my blood pressure. She’d ask how I was doing, and tell me to let her know if I needed anything. During this time, Ann, Abby and Cindy were napping on the couches. It was the middle of the night, after all.
At about 3:00 or 3:30 am, I asked Nathan to get Cindy. I as having some back labor that I wanted help with. Cindy was fabulous! She rotated my hips and put pressure on my lower back during the contractions. It made a huge difference.
At this point, the contractions were actually getting pretty hard, and even painful. I was beginning to wonder when this was going to be over and when I would hit transition. That should have been a sign to me that I was in transition. But, like I said before, the contractions were never one on top of another like with Lucy. This really threw me for a loop.
During the time of Cindy coming to work on my back, I started making jokes in between the contractions. She laughed and told me that I was pretty hard to read. None of us knew where I was with regards to giving birth since I had opted to not be check (I didn’t want to be disappointed if I was only a 4 or 5, or even a 6).
At about 4:00 am Ann came in to see how things were going. The contractions were really hard now when they came on. I was squatting on the floor next to the bed in between contractions, and leaning on the bed and pillow during them. I thought I would end up squatting during the pushing stage, and this was the most comfortable thing at the moment.
From here, the timing is all a blur. It wasn’t long before they knew I was in transition and began to get out all the birth supplies that Nathan and I had ready there at the house. I had been wearing a maternity t-shirt and some athletic shorts. I knew that I needed to take the shorts off, but didn’t want to too soon. Even in labor I was modest and cared about being naked. Nathan laughs and says that at least six times I acted like I was about to take my shorts off, but was unsure. Eventually I did, and by the time they had all of that ready, I was on the bed on all fours, leaning on a stack of pillows. Ann was by my head and helping me through the contractions.
I am not sure when, but at some point Nathan and Ann traded places. He was leaning over the edge of the bed, holding my hands and talking to me while I was bearing down during contractions. Obviously, Ann, Cindy and Abby were at my backside since I was pushing now.
I didn’t realize how fast the pushing this time would be. So, during one of the contractions I began pushing and had a very sharp pain and recoiled and kind of tensed up my muscles all over. Ann immediately told said, “no, no, no, keep pushing.” My response was, “but it hurts.” To which she said, “it’s the head.” I didn’t know at first that the head was already crowning, so that would definitely explain the sharp pain I was feeling.
Immediately, I began to bear down as hard as possible, and felt the baby crowning, and the head finally come out. Abby and Ann suctioned the baby’s nose and mouth. During the next contraction I pushed out the rest of the body. It was amazing to feel that slimy, squirmy baby come out (at 4:42 am).
I rolled over as fast as I could to see this sweet baby, and to find out if it was a boy or a girl. And just to note. I thought it was a boy for most of the pregnancy, until the weekend before…I had convinced myself it was a girl. So, I was a bit surprised to see boy parts there. I immediately picked him up (blood, water, sliminess and all!) with all the excitement a new mother could. Nathan peeked over my shoulder to see our new little guy, and we just looked at him in amazement. God’s creation is such an amazing work!
Nathan, Ben and I sat on the bed as I was cleaned up a bit. We laughed and smiled a lot. And Ben got to nurse for the first time within minutes of being born. That little guy is an outstanding nurser…for which I am grateful!
Ben was probably about 15 minutes old when I asked Nathan to call Brittany to have her bring Lucy back home. They got there in about 10 to 15 minutes, so Lucy was able to see her new brother rather quickly. We were so excited when she got home. I still tear up when I look at the pictures of us with Ben…and then you see our faces light up when they walk in the front door (you’ll see when you look at the pictures on Rebecca’s site).
Within minutes of Lucy getting home I headed to the bathroom for an herbal bath that had been prepared by Cindy. It was very peaceful and relaxing…and it felt good! During this time Ann was checking Ben out. He was brought to me within a few minutes so that he could get his first bath me. Lucy was a bit sad that she couldn’t join us, but she at least stood in the bathroom to keep us company.
After getting out of the bath, I was able to get dressed a bit (in nursing pj’s…so comfy!). Ann, Cindy and Abby had already cleaned up our bed so that we could all relax on a clean bed. I sat on the bed while they weighed and measured Ben. Nathan got him dressed after this, and then the four of us (Nathan, Lucy, Ben and I) all sat together on the bed while pictures were taken, we were laughing (Brittany crying) and just enjoying our new addition.
An hour or so later Ann, Cindy, Abby, Rebecca and Brittany all left. It was just us…our family…at home.
I have to say that we had such a wonderful experience with our homebirth. God wiling, this is how we will birth the rest of our babies. It was such a blessing.