Thursday, July 24, 2008

Calvin's Home Birth

On Saturday morning, July 19th, we went to the Farmer's Market around 10:30 and got some fruits and vegetables and browsed around. It was really, really HOT and Eric wasn't feeling well so we dropped he and Rob off at home, and Grace, Lily and I went to the grocery store to pick up some ingredients for meals I'd planned to make over the weekend. We got home a little after 12pm. Rob noticed my eyes and commented that they looked pretty. He thought it was my new haircut that accentuated them. I'd noticed some of the stronger braxton hicks contractions throughout the morning that I'd been noticing in the previous weeks, only this time they were coming more frequently so I decided to just jot down the times, starting with the one at 12:40. Rob went upstairs to play with Eric and I made some zucchini brownies (trying to trick the kids), folded laundry, swept and cleaned up the downstairs. Eric came down in a bit and said Rob was asleep on his bed (Rob had been up late the night before with friends at the new Batman movie). By 2:50 pm I'd timed 10 contractions and I barked up the stairs for him to please get up! When he came down, I told him what was going on and debated calling my midwife, Brandi. Grace wanted to go for a walk downtown, so I called Brandi and told her our plan and what was going on. She asked if she should consider this our 'on-call' warning and let Marisol (my other midwife) know. I said yes...I think so! Contrax were varying from 4-14 min. apart but still all the same intensity, slightly crampy and strong but not uncomfortable. They were lasting 30-40 sec. I guessed. Rob was smart and drove the van the 4 blocks downtown and parked and walked back home. We left at about 3:20 and I had 2 contrax on the walk there.

We went to the coffee shop and I called Brandi back and left a msg. on her cell @ 3:45 that, yes, they better come. We nixed our plans to walk around any more and instead went to pick up a pizza and head home. I hadn't heard back from B and wasn't sure she'd gotten my message, so I called Marisol at about 4:30 and she was on her way.
I called my friend Anya to see if she could pick up Eric and Lily for the evening and probably the night and Rob and I got them both bags packed while we waited for Anya. We also took these pictures.

Me with Eric and Lily and baby. :)
Anya came and got Eric and Lily and Marisol arrived shortly after 5, Brandi arrived shortly after that. My sister Kara, whom I invited to the birth, knew today might be 'it' and she came by a bit after 5:30. She was supposed to take our oldest, Grace, (who also wanted to be at the birth) to an outdoor concert with her husband Ben and his family, but this was all up in the air now.

While the midwives were busy unloading their supplies and getting things ready (including putting the herb bath stuff in the pot on the stove to heat--when I saw that I thought 'oh my gosh--they think it's baby time, too!!), Grace was a wonderful hostess and fixed snacks for everyone. Grace brought me a labor-aide slushy (frozen cubes of lemon juice, honey, water, and liquid calcium citrate). Kara and I sat on the piano bench while the midwives were at the table and I was dismayed that the contrax were really slowing down. I had had some fairly good ones. I was amazed that the midwives could tell just by looking at my belly when I was contracting. At one point I was in the kitchen kind of leaning over the counter having a contrax, and when it was over Marisol said 'that was a good one, wasn't it?' I said 'uh, yeah!' totally amazed how she could tell. Rob took Brandi and Marisol out to see the unusual passionflowers in the flowerbeds that Brandi had commented on. I showed Marisol and Brandi the 'pinwheel mobile' that I had made and hung above the baby's crib in our room, and also showed them the belly cast Rob and I had done. Around 6 I suggested to Kara that since nothing seemed to be happening, maybe she could still take Grace to the concert, and also to dinner with Ben's family, so they left around 6:30 or so to do that.
After they left, the midwives sat on the couch in the living room (I wish I would've thought to take a picture of them!), and Rob and I sat across from them and we chatted about music as we listened to my birth playlist. They were delighted when Rob somehow brought up that I used to teach ballroom dance, as they both LOVE to dance. So they immediately suggested that we have a dance party sometime and I'll come teach some steps. So it looks like I'll get another gig going. :) We talked about names and how we had zero names picked out for this baby. We'd find ourselves focusing on either girl or boy names during our discussions and then go 'but what if it's the other sex? then we've wasted all this times and energy so what's the point?' So we'd given up on that and figured we'd just wait to see what we got! Though we mentioned that we really, really liked the name Elvis but everyone we told thought that was nuts. The midwives said they could see us naming our baby Elvis though, and if we liked it, why not?
They asked me if I wanted to eat anything, I suggested watermelon and they also wanted me to eat some protein so Rob brought me an Odwalla protein bar. I remembered my birth ball upstairs and asked if that would be good to sit on and B. went to get it for me. I enjoyed their stories about getting pulled over by police on numerous occassions when trying to get to births! They stayed a little longer, then suggested they might take off for a little while and give us some space. I think they left around 7pm.

Rob had a movie from Netflix and suggested we might watch it. I said that was fine and we settled on the couch but I didn't watch a bit. I was feeling restless so I spent some of the time with my eyes closed willing a contrax to come on, and some of the time flipping through a magazine. I did have a couple of fairly good ones but they were still pretty spaced out. Finally I got tired of sitting and told Rob maybe we could go take a walk.

At around 8:30 pm we went out into the backyard and wandered out the gate. Rob asked me where I wanted to go and I didn't know but just picked a direction. At every intersection it seemed, whether it was a street or alley, I'd make a turn. Rob said I was like the mama cats he'd grown up with, when they were in labor it'd be like they were on the prowl. Looking, looking, for...something. That's how I felt. Like I was looking for something but didn't know what, walking purposefully but not knowing where my destination was. This went on for a bit and finally we made it back home. Things were still going really slow and I felt pretty discouraged.

It was getting dark and the house was so quiet. It felt so odd to us. Rob cooked me some eggs and then we decided to play cards so we played 'go fish.' Not terribly exciting! After one round we called it quits on that, but Rob did demonstrate his 'pick a card and I'll show you what you picked' trick. He wouldn't divulge his secret to me though!

At some point through this I went to the bathroom and saw that I was starting to lose some of my mucous plug, so that was encouraging. I think Marisol may have called and talked to Rob and he told her that and she said it was a good sign.

Kara and Grace got back from the concert around 10pm and I was glad to see them back. Then M came back around 10:30 and Rob asked her if she'd been loitering around town. ;) She said she'd been hanging out at a friends house (whom we later found out was our friend Kristin, who had been at Lily's birth!) and that Brandi had gone home. Contrax were still the same, absolutely not closer together or more intense. She listened to the baby again, sounded great, and felt the baby's position. She helped me to feel the baby's head and how low it was. She said she would go home too, but to absolutely call if contrax either got more intense but stayed spaced out, or weren't any more intense but got closer together. I asked M what she thought about checking my cervix. She said that she would if I really wanted her to, but she'd prefer not to and that really all it would do is introduce bacteria. I agreed that I was fine with the hands off approach. Marisol set my mind at ease that it was OK to call 5 times during the night if I needed to. She instructed me to eat some protein and fruit and to go to bed and left for home around 11pm (she lives 30 min. away). (When I called Kristin later in the week to tell her I'd had the baby, she said that when M came over to her house waiting on a 'maybe baby' that had she known it was me she would have told M absolutely not to go home. Ha!) Kara hung around and we had a snack, then I told her she really should go home to sleep and we'd call her when we called the midwives. Right before she left, I had a pretty hard contrax standing by the dining room table. She saw it and decided maybe she should stay. I thought that was fine and she went upstairs to sleep in Eric's bed. I got ready for bed (but I left my contacts in--didn't want to fumble with glasses) and crawled in at 11:30 and had another hard contrax. I called to Rob and told him, then had another 5 min. later, and then another.

It was time to call M and tell her to come back. When she answered, Rob said "and you thought you'd get to go home!' So she was on her way back, as was Brandi. We moved into Lily's room where I planned to birth. It is small and feels cocoon-y, plus the birth supplies were in there and it has a comfy rug. I immediately started leaning on the birth ball and Rob was timing contrax, which were now, at midnight, 4 min. apart and 50-60 seconds long.

Notice that we're in our pj's! (Nice Pearl Jam shirt, Rob!!)

I asked Rob to get the tray with candles and light them and he also got the iPod set up with my birth music. It was so peaceful.
Kara heard Rob and I talking and M. arrive around 12:15 . M had enough time to get home, get ready for bed, say hi to her husband and watch 10 min. of tv before we called her back! Kara came down and took a few pics. M checked the baby's heartrate and said she'd be in the living room and would check on me or to call her. She didn't hang out in the living room for long, things were moving fast now. Brandi arrived soon after Marisol did and came in with me. After each contrax I could sit up and talk, then when I'd feel another coming I'd lean back down and hold on to Rob's hands. I remember trying to get out the story of being in the drs. office with Eric and Lily and Lily had said 'Mom, I came out of your buns!" and Eric corrected her (loudly) 'No, you didn't! You came out of mom's ka-gina!" :) Soon I felt a lot of pressure and said between contrax that I wondered if my water would break. B asked if I wanted my shorts off, yes, and they helped me get out of them.

Rob gave me water between each contraction.

B suggested more labor aide and Kara went to look for it in the freezer but couldn't find it. Rob went to help her look and they found Grace had returned it to the fridge so it was completely melted. I drank it out of the bowl. :)

At around 1am, B suggested that Rob come back behind me since he was going to catch and M took Rob's place by my head. Contrax were much closer now, I would pretty much only have time to take a sip of water, no time to sit back up in between. It felt so good to hold hands and feel M stroke my arms and hair and encourage me. B also applied pressure to my lower back which felt nice. I moaned and groaned through them, and every so often whimpered and cried. I remember asking if it would be much longer. They were SO intense (notice the kleenex on the floor for my tears). This one with M was taken at 1:10. At least once I asked if it was almost over. I was completely unaware of time. The room was dark except for the candles. The flash lit it up really well, my sister did a great job taking pictures. Grace came in at some point and sat by Kara. She was surprised by my noises and that it was taking longer, since Lily's birth was so quick (she was there for that, too). M assured her that I was doing great and everything was going well, that I was singing to my baby. :)

These next 4 pictures were taken between 1:10 and 1:30. Poor Rob didn't have much room to work back there! He was pinned between me and the bed. I could have moved up (I think!) but had no awareness of his space (or lack of!). Things were really intense now. M offered me a drink between contrax at one point and I moaned "ohhhh.....ok??.....", not wanting to lift my head and make the effort, but knowing I needed to take one!

B listened with the doppler at one point and said the h/b was down low geographically. M. suggested I could maybe feel baby's head. I tried but didn't feel it yet.

I managed to ask Kara to turn down the A/C, I was so hot. Either Brandi or Marisol got out a fan and fanned me, they'd also gotten me a wet washcloth. I have no idea when I started pushing. I didn't consciously push with Lily, she just came out, so this was different. I didn't feel an absolute overwhelming urge to push (I didn't with Eric either), but there was a definite urge to push. It was cool to be out of my head and just go with what my body wanted to do (ie--not the 'coached pushing' I'd done before which seems so ...forced). This was slow and gentle.

These 3 pictures are time stamped between 1:29:48 and 1:30:37am. I was pushing out the head and feeling intense pressure and the ring of fire. Brandi was reminding me to push slowly and gently. It hurt more than I ever remembered, and I learned later that the baby was born 'in the caul' ( the head up to the cheek was still in the bag of water) and the baby had a left nuchal arm ( left hand was up by the cheek). I heard Rob say "wow, this is amazing!" Rob said the bag was pretty tight and the baby's nose was smooshed up against it. :) He asked B if he should tear the bag and she said that's usually done under the chin after the head is out. As it turned out, the bag broke once his cheeks were out and the water gushed down Rob's leg. I thought that was great. :) I asked Brandi at my 3 day postpartum visit how often babes are born in the caul...she said she could probably count on 2 hands the number of times she's seen it in about 500 births.

Here's baby! But we didn't know the sex yet...Grace was going to discover and announce that. I think I said something like "Oh, God, my baby!!" when he was born. Knowing the gender right away wasn't even a thought yet--I was just so glad to see my baby. :)

The midwives noted the time the head was out as being 1:32 am and we picked 1:35
as the time the body was born (no one looked) but I'm not sure it was that long--maybe a minute in between. The cord around the arm and neck so Rob and Brandi worked on getting that loose before handing the baby to me.

This look says it all...relief!!!!!!!

Admiring our baby. :)

I'm not sure when Grace came to peek and see if she had a brother or sister....somewhere in here. It's a boy!!!! She was really happy, now it's 2 girls and 2 boys, so she won't have to worry about sharing her room with TWO sisters! :)

Brandi encouraged me to get off my knees and sit on the floor. I'd been on my knees for almost 2 hours!

He had a bit fluid/mucous in his lungs so they gently suctioned him and encouraged us to talk to him and rub him. More concerning though was his heartrate, which was a bit low. M listened for awhile to make sure it came back up.

So glad you're here, sweet baby!

Notice in this sequence of pictures that the receiving blankets have been changed..I had no idea that even happened until looking at these pictures! Rob told me later that he was handed blankets ahead of time to put under his shirt to warm them as well as get his scent on them--so cool! Also, I have my shirt off now--I vaguely remember being helped to get that off. All these little details! :)

Holding Daddy's thumb!

He had a bit of vernix on his back and in his armpit creases and thigh creases. :)

B is clamping the cord for Rob to cut.

At some point in here Rob helped me to squat and push out the placenta. B said it was nice and healthy and the amniotic sac was REALLY strong!

M asked which song was playing when baby was born and no one knew...Rob said he thought the playlist was over by then. Oh well, I certainly didn't notice!

And joy abounds! Thank you, God!!

Footprint time!

Weigh-in time--8 pounds exactly!

20" long

14 3/8 in. head

Admiring the baby (no name yet!) while I'm in the herbal bath.

Brandi said she'd cook us some eggs and toast but Grace offered to do it! This was almost 3am.

Baby boy with me in the herbal bath. He was so calm! He fussed just a little right when he was born but that's it. This was almost 3 am.

What a handsome little man!

Daddy and his new son!

Rob fed me eggs in bed at about 3:15 Sunday morning. Marisol and Brandi cleaned everything up and Marisol said she'd put a load of laundry in. I said 'you went in...the basement?' (I call it the dungeon--not fun to go into!)

Brandi checked me and showed Rob and I (with a mirror) where I had a couple of tears and some swelling, but all in all I felt really good.

Marisol said I really rocked this birth. I feel honored to have the birth that I did, it was SO awesome and I had so much help and support. I am so, so deeply grateful. Grateful for my new baby, for Rob, for my midwives Brandi and Marisol, Kara, Grace, Eric and Lily. My heart is full.

Brandi, Marisol and Kara left between 3:30-4am. I hope they were able to get some good rest! Kara was really glad she was there, and I was too. I'm glad she saw how wonderful childbirth can be (she's pregnant with her first).

We decided against Elvis and named our son Calvin Henry at 9:06 Sunday morning. :)

Eric and Lily came to meet their new brother Sunday morning. They're pretty smitten!


  1. Beautiful job and Beautiful family!

    Thank you for sharing!

  2. Totally and utterly awesome! What a birthing warrior you are! And what a beautiful family. Thank you so much for sharing such a special time, I feel honoured!

  3. Wow--thanks so much for the lovely compliments!! It's my pleasure to share and to spread the homebirthing love! :)

  4. Loved reading this birth story... had me tearing up at the end :*) You have a beautiful family. Were all of your children born at home? Reading this really made me excited for my homebirth coming up!

  5. Awesome! Thanks, Amanda! This was homebirth #2. :) First 2 were hospital births.


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