Isaac’s homebirth

Friday, December 31, 2010

It was completely awesome. I cannot imagine a better experience. I wasn’t scared and felt in control the entire time (ok, 99.5% of the entire time ). Daniel was cool and collected and unbelievably helpful and supportive. I had zero intervention of any kind, specifically, I was never checked for dilation; not that I’m totally against that, but it’s just amazing that I was able to do all of it without being checked a single time; everything was by feel and instinct. The midwife arrived just in time (ha) to oversee the delivery, which we were very glad for. And today, aside from being sore in expected places, aching nipples (because I can’t make a baby that can perfect the latch without first ripping my nipples to shreds), and onset of sleep deprivation, I feel great.

I went to work on Wednesday, taking Julian to his day camp and Layla to her temporary preK (while my office is being relocated). In the weeks before the Christmas holiday, I’d wrapped everything up at work, hoping not to return for 3 months. So when I went in on Wednesday, I really had nothing to do. I stayed for a few hours (during which I downloaded a contraction counter application for my phone… just out of curiosity) and then left to run a couple errands. I felt guilty even taking Layla into the temporary preK when I wasn’t doing anything at work, the errands I had were small, and when I left her there, she was nervous and uncomfortable and sad. I picked her up at 3:30, and she was so happy to see me. She told me a few times, “I missed you today.” and “I missed you while I was on my cot.” (which means she was laying there all sad and lonely at this new strange place while I didn’t have anything else better to do. *sigh*

When we got home, I cleaned the kitchen and started some laundry. After we picked up Julian and came back home, I continued to tidy. While we were eating dinner I was thinking out loud to Daniel about how I didn’t really want to work the next day since I didn’t have anything to do, and that I wanted to keep Layla home with me, just the two of us, so spend some time together. I made a comment about how maybe I didn’t have anything to do the next day because I was actually going to have the baby, that all the cards were falling into place.

After the kids were in bed, Daniel was falling asleep on the couch, I was still cleaning. Daniel reminded me that he didn’t work until 11am the next day, so I should stop and let him finish in the morning. I couldn’t even though I was utterly exhausted because I had a cold and was dying to go to bed. I finished the laundry, setup postal pickup for the following day for some packages, and finally went to sleep.

I’d been having Braxton Hicks contractions for weeks, and didn’t think any differently of the contractions I had all day Wednesday and into the evening; they weren’t painful and seemed to be the same random frequency. Though I first checked the time at 4am, I had a few contractions before then that I was breathing through in my sleep (!!); like when you’re partly asleep and you hear a noise that you incorporate into your dream. I don’t remember the dream, but Julian was on my mind as I was breathing deep, slow breaths. After a few of those I woke up and checked the time and went to the bathroom. I found that when I stood up, the contractions didn’t hurt the same, so I thought maybe they weren’t active contractions. But they kept coming. And according to my recently downloaded contraction counter app, they were coming about every 5 minutes, lasting around a minute.

At 4:15 Daniel woke up and I told him that we could maybe have the baby that day. At 4:20 I sent a message to my parents telling them to come on over. Daniel asked if it was really already time for that. I considered the time, 4:20, and assumed they’d be over by 5:30 at the earliest. I thought an hour would be get them here pretty close to the birth. Daniel got up and dressed, and immediately began to clean the kitchen. When I saw him cleaning out the fridge I asked him to stop cleaning and be with me because by this point, 4:30, things were getting serious. I was trying to find a comfortable position to take on the contractions and found that squatting at the counter and dresser helped a little. Then I wound up on hands and knees on the bed over a pile of pillows, which was alright. I asked Daniel to press on my lower back, which I’d read sometimes helps, but it was horrible. I had a few minutes between contractions, during which, before they became too intense, I tried to get ready for what was to come: I grabbed my birth books, changed clothes, brushed my teeth, made the bed, grabbed some towels. I asked Daniel to hunt for my yoga ball, which was still not inflated (oops, I’d been meaning to take care of that… ), but he couldn’t find it. Very soon I just waited in place between contractions for the next one to come. I called my midwife and told her I wanted to give her a head’s up that I was having minute-long contractions that were 3-5 minutes apart. She said she’d head my way.

I asked Daniel to run a bath, because warm water is said to help with the pain. I figured I’d get in for a little bit and try it out…I never did get out of the tub until I had a baby in my arms. I was on my hands and knees in the tub as the water rose. The warmth was incredible, it felt so good. Daniel and I were talking between contractions and he wouldn’t really know when I was having one until I ignored him. A couple times I had to ask him to not be funny. Not that it wasn’t appreciated, but I didn’t eel like processing and reacting to jokes. Then he started pouring the warm water over my lower back, and I wanted to cry with relief. It was the greatest feeling ever and I kept saying so.

The contractions were getting serious, and probably 1-2 minutes apart. A few of them were longer than the others. Then I got nauseous. I told him I was going to be sick and he ran out to find a barf bucket of some sort. He came back with the small plastic trash can from the guest bathroom and had lined it with a fresh bag. While I was on my hands and knees, breathing deeply through a contraction, the bag was making too much racket so I threw it out. I needed Daniel to water my back (which I requested with simple grunts: “back. water.” or maybe even a full sentence, “watery back.” ). I needed him to hold the trash can. And I needed a cold cloth on my head. (Oh, that cold cloth? Daniel pulled that move out of his bag of tricks a couple contractions prior, surprising me and leaving me exclaiming, yet again, how it was the best thing ever.) Since he couldn’t do all three of those things, I left the trash can to float on the water as I nearly hyperventilated into it. Eventually I got rid of it and I never did puke.

I’d been on my hands and knees nearly the entire time, which at this point may have been 30 minutes. My legs were getting numb and my arms were beginning to tingle. I needed to change positions but couldn’t imagine trying to troubleshoot a different, effective, position. I decided to turn towards the side of the tub, facing Daniel. This way I was able to lean my chest on the side of the tub and put my head down on my arms. Immediately my limbs started feeling better.

I told Daniel I needed him to talk me through the next contractions, I needed encouragement. It felt false, asking him to encourage me, because if I knew I needed a pep talk, it seemed like I should already have within myself the ability to pep up. But I needed it out loud, and from someone else, and it took too much effort for me to speak. And so he did. He reminded me to take deep, calm, filling breaths. He told me to visualize being on a long run, and maximizing my breath. And I think it helped. I could focus on his voice instead of the quickening contractions that instantly and without any conscious thought of my own, started me groaning. It was a low, slow groan, that felt like it lasted the entire duration of the contraction. During the 2nd one like this, the groan turned into a growl as I felt the baby’s head drop really low, and my water broke. I remembered my water breaking with Layla, and how it took another hour to deliver her, and I was afraid that I had another hour of this intensity to come. I wondered out loud where the midwife was and Daniel called her. She was on our block, unable to find our house. Since our porch light is out Daniel plugged in the Christmas lights and left the front door open. While he was gone for that brief period, I had another contraction. I called for him, afraid to do it alone, but the strain of yelling his name was too much. For an instant, I was afraid. I was afraid that he was gone for good and that I’d have to do this alone. I got a hold of myself and said out loud “ok it’s fine. you’re fine.” and when that contraction was over, he appeared with her behind him.

I had another groaning, growly contraction where I felt like I needed to push. I told my midwife this and she said to do it if I needed to. So when the next one came, I let it happen. As the contraction pushed his body down, I could feel his head begin to come out. It was the same intense, fiery, stretchy pain I’d experienced with Layla, and since I didn’t want that to last much longer I decided I’d help by intentionally pushing. I pushed twice on my own (along with the contraction) and felt his head come out. In my efforts to move him along, I’d unintentionally lifted myself out of the tub, so that his head was born out of the water. She told Daniel to drain the tub, because once he’d been exposed to the air, he couldn’t go back into the water. When the next contraction came I pushed out his shoulders and body. I reached down and picked him up from the bottom of the empty tub, stepped around the umbilical cord, and sat down with my brand new baby boy. The midwife asked Daniel what time it was – 5:37am. Less than 2 hours after waking up with questionable contractions I’d had my baby. We were IN AWE. Daniel and I were checking him out, looking at each other, amazed, and tearful. I couldn’t believe we’d just had our baby at home, just as we’d hoped, and it had gone so perfectly.

Daniel ran and got the kids out of bed. We’d prepped them and planned to have them with us when the baby was born, but we didn’t think to get them during the previous hour. They stood by the tub, sleepy eyed and quiet. I asked Layla if she wanted to touch her new baby and she came over and inspected his fingers. She was the first to say his name, asking, “Is this Isaac?” Julian’s face went from sleepy to love pretty quickly. About 5 minutes later my parents came through the bathroom door.

I moved from the tub to my bed, which had been made with two fitted sheets a painter’s drop cloth between them. I was also sitting on three doggy training pee pads to protect the top sheet as much as possible. Julian and Layla were both eager to get close so they climbed into the bed. They looked at his tiny baby parts and kissed and pet his head. The nurse who had accompanied my midwife waited about 30 minutes before him over. Little baby Isaac Michael weighed 7lbs 8oz (a textbook baby boy size ), was 20.5″, and his head measured 13″ around.

The kids are completely fascinated and in love with Isaac. Every little baby noise he makes, Julian’s face melts and he says “Oh my god that is so cute!” and “How is that baby so cute?!” and “I can’t believe our new baby is so CUTE.” When we were all on the bed right after Isaac was born, Julian was touching his face and said that his skin was so soft it was almost invisible, that he could hardly feel him. He comes running when he cries. He watched with surprise yesterday when, while changing a poop diaper, Isaac peed a giant arch onto the carpet; then he cracked up and retold the story this morning.

Layla is just as intrigued, but she is 3, and not as calm (nor experienced) as Julian is. She too runs when he cries, but I’m a little more on guard when she barrels towards us. She loves to kiss him all over his head and face. When he whimpers she says, “Oh it’s ok baby Isaac, Layla’s here.” and “Don’t cry, hun.” and pets his tummy. She loves to fetch diapers and wipes for us. She also begs to hold him, and we try to accommodate as often as possible. We’ve had to tell her seriously a couple times not to give him anything, such as blankets and toys, without asking us first. But I think she’s going to be a great big sis.

This has been a wonderful experience. Everything went as well as we hoped, and our newest little baby is beautiful and healthy.

4 Responses to “Isaac’s homebirth”


  1. tears are in my eyes…very moving amazingly cool story Sara! And again, I am so happy for you and your beautiful lil’ family Your newest member is precious!!!

  2. beautiful

  3. WOW! I am just now reading this, and that boy is almost 2!!! I am so proud/happy/in awe of you! And jealous…just for the tiniest moment…that neither of my babies came this way. Then I think about how perfect they are (regardless) and it goes away. You rule, Sara.

  4. What an awesome, beautiful story!

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