Tuesday, February 14, 2012

HRH's birth story

Little H gets the award for phenomenal timing. His official due date was Feb 12, though I calculated it at Feb 9. Having never made it to my due date, I was thinking the first week of February was most likely. And everything lined up! My mother in law booked her plane tickets to arrive Feb 2 and leave Feb 16, so we were praying that little H would arrive on the 3rd or 4th, leaving lots of recovery time with her help. The US government, which is much less flexible with scheduling, booked my citizenship oath ceremony for Feb 1st, so obviously I was hoping he'd wait until after then. We had ordered a kiddie pool to use as a birthing tub, but the midwife said it was way too big, so we ordered another one, which was due to arrive on Feb 2nd - and we sure didn't want to waste our money by the baby coming before the birth tub.

I spent the afternoon and evening of Sunday Jan 29 with contractions 10 minutes apart, unchanged by walking around or sitting down. I was really starting to wonder if H was going to do to my mother in law what both P and E did to my mom - be born just a few days before she was due to arrive. But when I lay down at bedtime, the contractions completely stopped. For the next several days, this pattern continued: several hours' worth of contractions 10 minutes apart, stopping abruptly as soon as I got into bed. Since I knew people who'd had the opposite - contractions starting when they went to bed, and never getting a decent night's sleep - I was really grateful. I did school with P and E right up until Thursday afternoon, Feb 2nd, when my mother in law arrived. They actually completed every bit of the schoolwork I had planned for them except their art lesson (always the first subject to slip). I had taken my citizenship oath the day before, and the birth tub had arrived, so I felt like now the baby could really come anytime, and the sooner the better.

All day Friday, I had contractions about 15 minutes apart - sometimes slowing down to 2 or 3 an hour, sometimes speeding up to 7 minutes apart. But when I went to bed, I had another couple and then fell solidly asleep. This time, however, I had several in the middle of the night that woke me up, so I felt that Saturday was likely to be baby H's birthday. Ari had some things to finish at work, so after our Saturday morning pancakes he took the car in to work - clearly better than walking, or my mother-in-law having to pick him up if things suddenly sped up. The contractions held steady at 10 minutes apart all day, but slowly increased in intensity. I played piano quite a bit to pass the time, which provided a vivid illustration of how strong the contractions were: at first, I could play slowly through them, then I had to stop during the most intense parts, then as soon as one started I had to stop playing. By about 3:00, when I put B down for his nap, they were more like 5-6 minutes apart, and I had trouble talking through them.

Once B was asleep, I called Julie, the midwife. She was just finishing seeing her last client of the day, so that timing was perfect. Once I knew she was on her way (she's 40 minutes away), I called Ari. He, too, had just finished all the essential tasks he'd hoped to finish before little H was born, so he arrived home shortly after 4pm. I was in the middle of a contraction when he walked in the door, and definitely couldn't greet him - by that time, they were more like 4 minutes apart and starting to be intense. He started filling up the birth tub, which we'd inflated on Thursday night and had ready in the living room. By the time Julie and her assistant, Sandy, arrived, I was having to kneel on the floor and rest on something to make the contractions more comfortable.

I was still feeling great between contractions, all the way until something like 6 or 6:15 when I got into the tub - I was whistling as I took my shoes off. As has always been my experience, getting into the tub makes things a lot more comfortable. This tub had an inflatable floor, which made it a lot easier to kneel - my left knee (the one I broke in our car wreck in 2003) gives a bit of trouble if I kneel on a hard surface, and I'd been using a pillow before, but in the warm water on the inflatable surface it was completely comfortable. The contractions got steadily mote intense. I was really relaxed about the process, though - I must have been in transition, but I didn't really feel the need to make a lot of noise like I had with B. Then came a pushing contraction which I didn't recognize as such - I just felt the need to moan really loudly. Julie told me to push with the next one - I was encouraged to realize that it was almost over. I felt him move down on the next one. The one after that was the last one - his little head rotated while I was pushing him down, which hurt. I felt like the energy of the contraction was going away, and I didn't want to wait for another one with just his head born, so I pushed with all my might, and little H was born! It was about 7pm.

Then ensued more drama than I'd had with any of the other 3. As I was turning around to look at my baby, Julie said, "Cord." I saw her and Sandy unwrap a loop of cord from around H's neck. As I was reaching for him again, Julie said, "Cord, again." It had been wrapped twice around his neck. Finally I was able to hold him, but he didn't start breathing right away. It is not reassuring to be holding a blue-purple baby who is not breathing, even if he is moving a bit. Julie started to suction him, and then to massage his back and head. He still didn't breathe, and I started to feel panicked. Julie told me, "His cord is still pulsing; he's getting oxygen", which helped a lot. Ari and I were both praying aloud; I remember telling little H, "You have to breathe, sweetie!" Finally Julie put her mouth over his little mouth and nose, and breathed into his lungs, and he produced a beautiful cry! It'll be a while before we feel sorry that he's crying... After that first cry, he pinked up beautifully and hasn't quit breathing since. Julie told me this was only the second time she's had to breathe into a baby's mouth to make him start breathing, and the first time was earlier the same week!

After that drama was over, I sat at the end of the birth pool holding my new baby. Because the placenta had taken a while after B was born, I wasn't expecting it to come quickly this time, but I was happy to just sit and watch H breathe. My mother in law had kept the kids in the kitchen while I was giving birth, but once he was born they all crowded into the living room to see him. So they got to see the drama with his starting to breathe, and then to watch me hold him where they could see him. I didn't feel any contractions pushing out the placenta, so once the cord stopped pulsing Ari cut it, just as he had for each of the other 3. I showed the oldest 2 the blood vessels inside the cord - that should cover science for the next few weeks! Julie suggested just tugging to see if the placenta was loose, and it came right out - I never felt a contraction for it. It may even have happened while we were waiting for H to breathe - obviously, I had other things on my mind right then. The kids also got to look at the placenta and what was left of the amniotic sac. Like I said, we've got science covered!

The best thing about a home birth is not having to go anywhere. Once the placenta was born, I got out of the tub and went and sat on the futon. My mother in law had made some delicious soup and rice pudding, which I was completely ready for. I held baby H in one arm and ate with the other. After a while, Julie weighed and measured little H and gave him his vitamin K shot. He was 8 lb, 3 oz and 21 1/2 inches long. (That's about 3715 grams and 54.5 cm, for those of you who use the good system of measurement ;-) ). Not long after, Julie and Sandy left. I kept relaxing on the futon for a while, and then headed upstairs to my own bed to try and get a good night's sleep with my new baby. Apart from waking up every time he moved, and every time he didn’t (to check that he was still breathing!), we slept great. I am so thankful to God for a healthy, wonderful baby boy.


  1. This is Jeremy Landes: I loved reading the story of H's birth - you guys are amazing. Had tears as I read the story about his very first breath. May the Lord continue to bless and protect you all.

  2. I'm so glad you posted this story! Wonderful. And welcome little H.
    (Only slightly related... did you ever eat at Zachary's in Tucson and order the H-bomb?- Calling him 'H' reminded me of that & I could see that nickname coming during a diaper change. :) Obviously my weird humor needs to go to bed. )

  3. Love it!!! I teared up about your midwife breathing into him and then his breathing on his own. <3 I'll send you Amelia's story if you want it! :-D