luck has nothing to do with it…

We are not lucky; we are fortunate. There is a difference.

When my husband called his grandmother to announce the birth of our fourth child, he expected to hear excitement and congratulations. There was a bit of that, before she went into a lecture about how lucky we were. If someone was speaking of how fortunate we are to be the parents of four intelligent, beautiful, wonderful children, I would whole-heartedly agree. I feel wonderfully fortunate every day I gaze into their little faces and listen to their new discoveries or feel them snuggled up close for kisses. I wouldn’t trade a day of it. I’m fortunate to have them in my life; there are many people who would love to have a child but for whatever reason can’t.

However, this wasn’t what my grandmother-in-law was referring to. She was stating that we were lucky to have a healthy child…because we chose to have an unassisted birth, just as we have for each of our children. She believed that we were lucky not to have problems because we chose not to go the conventional route of childbirth in the United States – the kind filled with unecessary interventions which cause problems.

There are true needs for help in some births. However, those instances are rare and are not unexpected. There are signs of true impending problems. The majority of problems and difficult births in the US  are actually caused by health professionals.

Prior to starting our family, my husband and I researched. We are researchers, both by nature and profession. We researched and dug through medical journals. We learned everything we could, and then we made the decision that we felt was best for our family: unassisted childbirth.

So while we may be fortunate to have these wonderful little people in our lives, don’t call us lucky just because we made an educated decision about what is best for our children rather than blindly being driven down the managed drama of interventions. Save that discussion for someone who doesn’t know any better. Luck has nothing to do with it.

our fourth birth…

Before going to bed, I had a few thoughts that I should stay up late and finish some projects. The ningling idea that we would have a baby soon was on my mind. However, I reassured myself that I had time to finish those projects. After all, our first three children were born bwtween 40 weeks 4 days and 40 weeks 6 days.

My husband had been home sick for several days. He was planning to have one more day at home to recuperate before heading back to work until the baby came. Being sick, and concerned that he would disrupt the rest of us, he had been sleeping in another room.

Around 1 AM, my husband was getting ready for bed. I asked him how he was feeling and he said he was feeling better. For the next 30 minutes, I found myself in that odd half awake/half dreaming phase. At the end of that, I had a vision of the baby pushing off with its feet and using it’s head as a battering ram to break my waters. That thought brought me fully awake. Again, I told myself that I couldn’t be in labor and decided I should probably go to the bathroom. When I got out of bed, I was leaking fluid. I stopped by to check on my husband and told him what happened but assured him that you can leak amniotic fluid for weeks before going into labor. I began to question my denial when I had to grab a towel with another small gush, but I had yet to have any contractions. With my other children, my water hadn’t broken until I was pushing.

I decided to go finish some things on the computer and then headed back to bed. Around 2 AM, I began having contractions and decided to get up. My children and husband were all sleeping and I thought it best to let them get as much sleep as possible. As the contractions became more intense, I found myself thinking about my husband. With each one, I imagined the way he smelled and felt and the way he tasted when I kissed him. I soaked in a hot bath for a while and then went back to the living room. The contractions would come closer together for a while and then take a break, picking back up where they had left off.

Around 6 AM, I decided I should go ahead and awaken my husband to fill the birth pool. I told him that I was in labor and he told me that he had been dreaming about my mother. They had been downstairs talking and before I came in she told him that he should head back up to help with the kids. It seemed fitting that he should dream of her, but I was a bit disappointed that I hadn’t gotten to see her.

My husband pulled out the pool and air compressor as I closed the bedroom door, hoping that the sound of the compressor wouldn’t wake the kids. As we waited for the water to fill, we sat snuggling on the couch. I moaned through the contractions, opening myself and relishing my husband’s touch. At some point I got on my hands and knees while my husband went to go check the water. It wasn’t long before I decided to go to the bathroom and I felt that it was the right place to be. As I was sitting on the toilet, waiting for the water in the pool to be ready, I was slightly concerned that at that rate I might birth the baby on the toilet. I asked my husband to add some cold water to the pool so that it would be cool enough to get in.

I walked down the hallway to the living room and my husband gave me a hand as I climbed into the pool. The water felt wonderful, and I leaned on the side of the pool while on my hands and knees. The water wasn’t that full, but the warmth was comforting. My body started pushing and I felt the baby’s head. My husband called out that the baby was crowning. He swears he only said it once, but I remember hearing it twice and thinking that he needed some type of response. I managed to say, “I know” while thinking that a head being out was much more than crowning, before my body was pushing the rest of the baby out.

I pulled the baby up between my legs and sat back in the pool. My husband asked what the gender was, and I looked to find that we had another daughter. He went to wake up our other children, and our older son (7 1/2) and daughter (5 1/2) came in to meet their new baby sister. Our 2 1/2 year old son was taking a bit longer to wake up and came in a little while later to meet her. We waited to cut the cord until after the placenta came out and the cord had stopped pulsating.

Born on April 14, 2010 at 7:02 AM, our new little daughter had come two weeks earlier than her older siblings. She is a tiny little pixie who measured 20 inches and weighed 7 pounds 12 ounces. I am enjoying her baby sweetness. It’s a little bittersweet to think that she is my last baby, but with our latest addition, our family feels complete. Her middle name is after my mother.

getting a pool…

One night in early March, as we were chatting in bed with our children snuggled up sleeping around us, my husband turned to me and asked, “So, when do you think we can get a pool?” I have to admit this took me by surprise. We had been discussing moving to a bigger home sometime in the next year, but not once had we mentioned getting a pool. It seemed like a lot of upkeep and I was concerned about safety issues.

I replied, “I don’t know. The kids are still pretty young. I don’t know that we really want to mess with a swimming pool any time soon.” There was a silent pause as I waited for his next comment.

“A birth pool?” he asked. I realized my mistake at once and laughed. We have had a pool available for all of our births. With our first two children, I opted not to have a water birth. At the time, it just didn’t feel right. However, with our last child, the pool seemed just right, and we had plans to order a new one for our upcoming birth.

We placed the order at the end of March. We ended up ordering the ocean reef pool from Your Water Birth. We also ended up ordering a liner this time so that the kids can use the pool to play in this Summer. I have to say that our order was here within a week. Nothing says you are about to have a baby quite like a pool in your living room.

our first birth…

We decided to go grocery shopping late Saturday night, as we knew the baby was going to come soon. While there, we ran into some friends and spoke to them for a while. It was during this time that contractions began. I was smiling inside, because finally this was it! I had started having contractions off and on a couple of weeks prior. They would always stop eventually. When my husband would ask me if this was it, I never had that feeling and always answered that I couldn’t say that for certain. This was different, and I knew
we would be holding our baby soon.

I kept the contractions a secret until my husband and I had driven home. He was a little upset that I hadn’t told him yet, but he quickly got over it. It was after midnight and we sat talking for quite a while. He fixed us a snack. I then told him he should go get some rest. I couldn’t sleep; I was so excited. Throughout the night I made my way between reading in bed and sitting in the bathtub. I woke him up around 7:30 AM and asked him to run a fresh bath for me.

Throughout the rest of the morning, the contractions became stronger. I really enjoyed sitting in a tub full of warm water. My husband attempted to fill the birthing pool, but for some reason our hose would not connect to the kitchen sink. He was torn whether he should leave me and go find a fitting or stay. I told him not to bother; the baby might be here soon. I really just didn’t feel the need to have the pool filled. The pool was going to be in the living room, and I think I would have felt vulnerable close to the front door. 

My husband helped me make a nest on the bed with a chux pad and towels, blankets to pull up and be warm, and a big stack of pillows to arrange behind me to be comfortable. Throughout labor, I went back and forth between the warm water in our bathtub and this little nest on our bed, not bothering with clothes, just feeling secure and into the contractions.

At first my husband would come in and try to talk to me if I was having a contraction. It really bothered me, but we finally realized that we were not communicating; he was trying to distract me during contractions, while I really just needed to be there during those times. We rectified this and he only spoke in between contractions. At some point that morning, I was sitting in the tub and he was sitting on a stool in front of me. We were really sharing in between contractions, and during contractions I was letting out some good little noises, which I was told were really sexy.

I vomited some bile at 11. I just didn’t feel like eating, but I was very thirsty. My husband kept me in supply of water with crushed ice in it. It felt so nice to drink icy cold water while sitting in a warm bath.

The rest of the day continued like this. I went back and forth between the bed and the bathtub. I really needed to be by myself for most of this time. My husband or one of our two little dogs would come in and check on me. Our dogs were amazing. They instinctively knew what was happening and were reverent of the experience. My husband was there to get anything I might need or want.

The contractions were close all day Sunday and this continued on into Monday. I was losing my mucous plug that afternoon. By Monday evening the contractions felt like they were almost on top of each other. At one point, my husband asked me if the contractions were painful. I replied that they were intense. The word choice seemed very important to me. I continued going back and forth between the bed and bathtub, but now I was also squatting on the toilet some.

At some point I wondered why I had never felt like pushing. I checked and felt some cervical lip left. I thought, “Oh, that’s why,” as if this was an every day occurrence. Around 9:30 PM on Monday, I was squatting on the toilet when my water broke in a big gush.

After that the contractions became extremely intense. I was spending most of my time in the bathtub. I wanted my husband in the bathroom with me, although I really didn’t want him to speak much. I just wanted him there. Part of me was in the moment completely while another part was observing. I remember thinking that I sounded like a goat. 

The baby started coming down after my water broke. The experience was so intense that I needed to talk to the baby through contractions. “Okay baby, let’s go slow. We will do a little bit and then take a little break. Mommy needs to take a break, and then we will go a little more. It won’t be long and then I can hold you. Just a little bit and then Mommy needs a break.” I spoke to him with each contraction. My huabsnd was concerned because he thought I was giving up right when the baby needed to come down. I told him that the baby and I were working things out together and that he just needed to be there. I was still sitting in the bathtub. I would raise myself up with my arms during the contractions, but I knew there wasn’t enough room to have this baby in the tub. I also knew I couldn’t give birth in that position. I got out of the tub and tried some different positions. I was reminded of cats and dogs who will sometimes pace around trying to find the best position to birth in. I was still getting back in the tub at that point. I reached in and felt the little head. I kept going back to one position – standing, facing the bed, with my hands on the bed supporting me. Because of his head, I had to bend my knees some. All other positions felt wrong, but this felt like it would be okay and I realized this was where I needed to be for the birth.

My husband was standing behind me and had placed towels on the floor between my legs. I had been the first to touch our baby, and he was the first to see our baby. He cried, “I see a head. She’s looking at me.” Then he told me not to push. I know there was only a split second at this point. However, I still had time to think about how well he had done throughout the entire labor and how this comment was so wrong. I thought about how he wasn’t birthing this baby and should just be quiet. And almost as soon as he said this, I felt this huge urge to push hard and get the baby out. Our first son was born at 11:45 PM on 11 November 2002, after almost 48 hours of labor. (Later my husband told me that he thought the shoulder was caught and was reaching to unhook it. I’m not sure why he thought he should do this. I’m also not sure if I realized this on a subconscious level or if the baby told me to push him out.)

Together we lifted him up. I lifted one leg up and over the cord and brought this precious little person close to me. I hadn’t wanted either of us to say the sex of the baby, as I wanted us to be able to discover this for ourselves. Luckily I saw before my husband’s excitement overwhelmed him. He exclaimed, “She has a penis!” The panicked pause was followed with a relieved, “It’s a boy.” 

My husband put two more chux pads on the bed and I sat there briefly holding our new son. It was a little cool, so I wanted to go back into the tub. My husband ran a clean, warm bath for us. I climbed in with our new little son who never cried. He just looked around, curious about everything. We waited to cut his cord until it had stopped pulsating. My husband had managed to make a few calls while we were in the tub. In his excitement, I had to gently remind him to get off the phone. I remember later, after our son had fallen asleep, we just stared at him, completely amazed by this tiny little person. I hadn’t slept in over 2 ½ days, but I couldn’t take my eyes off him. I still can’t. He is such an amazing little person.

Check back on April 9th for our second birth story and on April 16th for our third birth story. We should have a fourth birth story soon.

Read more about Lamaze’s Healthy Birth Practice #5: Avoid Giving Birth on the Back and Follow the Body’s Urge to Push.