more than a midwife

“518….517…516…515………..514……..513,”  I counted down the room numbers in my head as we passed. My legs felt numb, like they were carrying me against my wishes.

Only a couple of hours earlier we had gotten the call that our very dear friend and midwife had suffered cardiac arrest and was in ICU. Her situation was very grave as she had been without oxygen for too much time.

We had just happened to be in town looking at houses. So excited to get to live near her again! Later the realization would hit me that if Brent had gotten the job weeks earlier, when we thought he should, we would not have been in town to be with someone we love so dearly.

Crinkle… Crack… Crack… As I crush and peel garlic for our soup for dinner I think of Terri and how she was the first person to introduce me to raw garlic instead of “garlic powder”. Who knew you could use the real stuff? You can bake your own bread? Every meal doesn’t have to involve meat? How much vitamin c can i give the baby? Should the umbilical cord smell like that? Do you think this wound needs stitches and can you come do it? Can you come make my baby come out? (x 5, y’all. The woman is patient!) She was the first to introduce me to a lot of things.

As one of her other friends put it recently, Terri singlehandedly shaped the way that I view pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, health, wellness, food, herbs, medicine, and life… and death. Terri and I have shared tears at funerals. I’m not a good enough writer to pen the profoundness in experiencing the circle of life come to an end for a soul with someone who has personally ushered in hundreds and hundreds of lives. The similarities are many. The ushering in and ushering out of lives. The compassion and tender touch that that requires is not lost to Terri.

As I cuddled Ezra and read his bedtime book I realized that Terri had given us that book. And boxes and boxes more children’s books. Every time she visited her arms were full of books because she loves my children and knows how much they love to read.

At those moments throughout the day when I hold my little ones close and thank God for another moment with them, I think of Terri who was so pivotal in their arrivals and I thank God for her through each moment of the day too.

I have spent the last few days reflecting on the last 9 years with Terri. I can remember almost every single interaction because Terri threw her entire self into it. She loved hard and wholeheartedly. She never sat down! (Unless it was to hold a baby.) She was always laughing. Even when I was in excruciating pain, and it wasn’t even annoying.

To see her laying so still in a hospital bed is just unnatural.

Yesterday I stopped a nurse who was about to bathe her. “I want you to know this woman delivered all five of my babies,” I wept. As I told her about the exceptional care that Terri had given to me and h u n d r e d s of other mothers, Terri opened her eyes and stared at me, blinking occassionally. I don’t know how much she heard or understood what I was saying but I stared back and continued to tell anyone who would listen that this woman spent her life caring for others and we really appreciated every little action they did to make her more comfortable and get better. I rubbed her feet as much as I could. How many hours has Terri spent rubbing my feet, my back, my arms, my head…holding my hand during my most uncomfortable moments e v e r.

She’s seen me naked more times than she could ever want to recall. The woman knows my body just as well as I do. Which is why she was able to diagnose me and prescribe treatment over the phone last summer when I was sick, after two different doctors had seen me in person and run many tests and not had a stinking clue.

Personally, I am holding Terri with open hands. As Ann Voskamp says, “Joy’s a flame in the palm of the open & humble. Clench the hand tight, point fingers to self and this snuffs out joy.” I thank the Lord repeatedly every hour that passes for the time we have had with Terri so far and humbly petition Him for more. I believe very strongly that the Lord numbers our days and He will fulfill His purpose for Terri. I can trust Him. Haven’t I been learning that along the way so very recently?

I can trust Him. We can trust Him. You can trust Him. He.is.good. He gave us Terri. 

the birth of Evelyn Rose

A good birth story almost always spans the course of several days. Rarely does it happen in the dramatic instantaneous way you see it on sitcoms. Especially for me! It has always taken a good nudge to get my body to let these babies out. Maybe I’m just a 42+ weeker, maybe I’m too laid back about child birth, maybe I just have a really strong cervix. 

SO, you already know the week’s activities with  midwife coming, herbs being taken, membranes being stripped, miles being trotted, stairs being climbed… and after four days I gave up. The good thing about natural “induction” is that your body will simply NOT respond if it’s not time. I responded great, at first, and made it about half way. When the midwife left me on that Friday, I was 6 cm dilated and fully effaced. The baby was literally sitting right at the birth canal waiting to come out, and all that was lacking was strong contractions to move it out. (Sounds so simple, doesn’t it?)

I’m a firm believer that emotional issues, known and unknown, drastically affect the birthing process from start to finish. However, I also know that holding something in emotionally will not keep your baby in you forever. Eventually your body does what it has to do, with your permission or not! It’s a lot more pleasant though, if your heart, mind, spirit, and body are all in tune with the task at hand… and mine were NOT.

Midwife found me Friday morning in the bathroom- naked and crying. (I had just gotten out of the shower. I’m not some weird hippie, you know…) And I just let it all out. I wanted things to be easy and comfortable. That’s it. I think everyone wants that, and at some point some of us get desperate for it. I also felt foolish because I completely realize that my life already is easy and comfortable. The last few weeks had been somewhat hard and peppered with some rather discomforting things, but it certainly could have been much worse. “Everything has been work hard, work hard, work hard, keep working, hide your feelings, work hard lately. I’ve been begging God to make this birth happen on it’s own, quickly, and easily. And it’s not happening!!! And I’m tired, and I have no more strength, and I’m so totally STUCK!” I cried. She smiled and rubbed my head and encouraged me. “Birth is hard work. You know that.” To which I sobbed, “But I’m working hard just to get to the hard work part! That’s just crazy!!” She sent me on my way for more acupuncture and an adjustment while she did arts and crafts with my kids. When we got back, we decided she should just go home until it was time. She mentioned she might like me to try some castor oil on Monday morning if I hadn’t had the baby yet. (Sort of a last ditch effort…)

Saturday was a good day. I made bread, made soap, packed and shipped orders and cleaned. Brent went to work. I felt like I was just resuming life again… like I had just forgotten to have the baby and it just wasn’t going to happen. It was sort of a good feeling.

Sunday morning I woke up to being 42 weeks pregnant. I’d never gone that far before and I was frustrated. I sat in my room and listened to music and cried tears of frustration and sorrow to God. Not so much begging Him to make me have the baby this time, but to fix me. I was spiritually, mentally, and emotionally broken. While I was sitting there, Arwen came into my room and saw my tears. She gently spoke kind words to me and offered to get me whatever I needed. Charis came fluttering into the room on her tip toes. She didn’t notice I was crying. She was just happy to be there. And this has got to be part of the blessing that children are- just their presence encouraged me. I realized that no matter what happened, I already had such wonderful treasures in my three kids! A sign of God’s blessing on our home- their happy giggles, their scribbly pictures hanging on the walls, their sweet hugs… What in the world was I so upset about?

I put on my big girl panties and went downstairs for breakfast, revived and ready for a good day.

After nap time we decided to go to the park to enjoy the beautiful fall day. It was cold! The park we’ve been going to has a really nice walking trail with bridges over ponds and pretty landscaping. We decided to go explore as  a family. This was not a “walk the baby out” trip around the trail, so we went slow and easy and we did the whole freaking thing. I’m not sure what distance it was…2 miles maybe? It took us over an hour, and by the last stretch of it, all I knew was that I wanted to go home… NOW. My lower back hurt and I could tell that I was losing a lot of my mucus plug (which I had been leaking for about 5 days anyway…). I did not expect that I was going to have the baby that night though! I laid on the couch while Brent made dinner and the kids played on top of and around me. I had trouble getting through dinner because of several big contractions. I tried not to say anything because I hate feeling like I’m being watched. Charis asked me a question and repeated it three times before I was able to answer. Brent saw the look on my face and knew.

While he put the kids to bed, I got in the bath. I started and quit about five text messages to the midwife. I was afraid that if I actually said that I thought I was in labor, it would go away! I really thought maybe the next day would be the day. Finally, around 8:30 (midwife’s 9:30) p.m. I texted her and told her to go to bed early. (She told me later she was already in bed…oops! Guess I woke her up!) I also texted N and told her the same. I think I lasted about 30 minutes more in the tub after that and wanted to get out. I tried to nonchalantly lay on the couch and watch t.v. with Brent. About 15 minutes into that, he got up to go to the bathroom and I charged back up the stairs to get back into the tub. (I’m like a stinking mermaid when I’m in labor. I don’t know why, but it works for me.) As I danced around waiting for the hot water to fill up, I called midwife. “I don’t think you’re going to make it to bed tonight. You should probably come now.”  I think this was somewhere between 9:30 and 10, and she had at best a 3 hour drive ahead of her. (It normally takes her 3 hours and 45 minutes, going slightly below the speed limit. She drives like a grandma.)

Brent found me in the tub and we finally realized that this was really happening, and happening FAST. He napped on the bed while I began to vocalize through contractions, humming deeply. (I’ve learned that deep throaty noises facilitate labor, while high pitched squeal-y noises are completely unproductive.) I think about 30 minutes had passed and I called midwife to tell her that I felt the baby’s hiccups in my butt and that I couldn’t speak during contractions anymore… and they were 3 minutes apart. YIKES! She still had another 2 hours to go! We had a back up local “friend” that was going to assist Brent with the delivery should the midwife not make it, and our midwife told me to call her and get her over there. So, Brent called our friend and she headed out the door.

I called N, who lives about 7 minutes away to come on over. Brent headed downstairs to start filling the birth pool. N and friend got there pretty much back to back, and I danced around the pool while waiting for it to fill up.

There was one recurring through throughout this entire birth…

“I’ve done this before.”

Brent could set up and fill the birth pool in his sleep at this point. We had a hose hooked up to the kitchen sink…

And here’s where being a soap maker really comes in handy. I’ve got pots. Lots of them. Brent trotted up and down the stairs, filling some with hot water from the bath tub, while our helper friend boiled water in giant pots on the stove.

eviebirth3.jpg

I don’t know how long all of this took… an hour? I completely lost track of time, and went back and forth between the toilet and the table, wagging my butt in the air through contractions. It felt good. I kept telling myself, “This is me birthing my baby.” The funny thing was that earlier in the tub I was thinking, “I am enjoying birthing my baby.” I wasn’t able to hold onto that phrase any longer, and had switched to the new, more simple version. 

As my contractions grew stronger, my face went closer to the table and my butt went higher in the air.

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I was getting antsy and worried that our midwife wouldn’t make it. And I really really was ready to get into the water. Finally, the temperature and water level was good to go!

When I got into the water, it felt so familiar. That flooding relief! “I’ve done this before,” I thought to myself. This is normal and comfortable.

We continued to add hot water from the stove, and it felt really really really nice.

The lights were lowered and someone put on my birth cd. I blew through contractions as they came. I have no idea how spaced out they were. But with each one I would grip the bottom of the pool and float my hips, legs wide open and swaying my bottom side to side gently. I would focus and encourage my body to move the baby down with each one, and I could feel it responding positively.

I don’t think it’s my own personal secret. I’ve read a lot of birth stories. The secret is not that birth is painful, but rather that women are strong! We were made to do this! Our bodies were fearlessly created to birth our children, and we have proven this over centuries. Pain is not the problem. It is not something to run from, mask, or “fix”. If women would learn to just embrace it and release it, their births would become a positive event- an experience to strengthen the spirit. It can even be peaceful, and this birth was…well, for the most part.  Whenever I felt a contraction coming on, I assumed the position, and blew air out of my lips, letting them flap, sort of like a horse. Ina May says that keeping your mouth and throat loose and open also helps keep your bottom open for baby. This is the third birth that I’ve used that technique with…and it works!

Not too long after I got into the birth pool our midwife, Terri, showed up. She was ready to party.

If its not already obvious- we love our midwife. And she loves us. And she is always this happy at births. Giddy even, but not in an annoying way. I’ve actually heard her giggling before, as my baby was about to come out.

Brent went upstairs and woke Arwen, sometime around 12:30 or 1:00 Monday morning.

They added more hot water…

Then it got wild.

My water broke. I announced it to everyone. It was clear, no meconium. Then more of it gushed out and I could feel the baby slide right down. i was a little surprised by this because I couldn’t remember having gone through transition. I think I actually did that in the bathtub that second round, looking back. I remember a brief instant of wanting to cry and a slight twinge of nausea. Usually I cry when I hit transition, and then I know I’ve got another hour or so to go before my water breaks. The baby always comes out either right after, or with, the breaking water. I was blowing through the contractions so easily at this point, that I couldn’t believe that it was time for baby!!!

I seem to have mastered the skill of relaxing through contractions, welcoming transition, etc. What I really suck at is the pushing part. In short… I don’t. Push, that is. “Pushing” is not the correct term for what happens at my births… It’s more like… rapid evacuation? Emergency exportation? Sudden ejection?? I’m not sure. Either way… IF I push, it’s just one time. And I like it that way.

Well. I was up against TWO midwives this time. Totally outnumbered and they weren’t having my impatience to shoot out a child. Terri knew that since my water had broken, baby was coming out very very soon. She’s done this before too.  She started to explain very matter of factly to me that I was not going to squirt this one out all at once. No No. I was going to crown softly and delicately and allow the baby’s head to sit on the perineum and stretch it slowly and gently. Then I could push the head out and rest and then we would deliver the body.

I DON”T WANT TO!” I shouted. “JUST LET ME PUSH IT OUT!!”

Nope. They weren’t having it. Those crazy  midwives, all concerned with me not tearing and whatnot. Pssshhh. (I kid.)

They ganged up on me and were both telling me to just grunt and let the baby sit there. I felt the ring of fire for the first time. I didn’t like it. Not one bit. I screamed at them some more. They took my abuse very graciously, I might add.

I shouted lots of loud gutteral sounds and deep throaty groans. I think I did manage to grunt just a little and then I thought, “Screw this! The child is coming out NOW!” (1:36 a.m., October 19th- Monday)

 "Good job, Missi! You did it!"

"Good job, Missi! You did it!"

Arwen went upstairs to wake her other siblings. Charis wouldn’t budge, but Ezra came down.

Arwen cut the cord…(I was naked, so I’ll just have to keep that photo to myself. She did a good job though!) Brent held Evelyn while I grunted out a huge placenta.

Then things got a little hairy. They got me out of the pool, which was quickly filling up with…blood. And lots of it. This had never happened before. The water is always relatively clean and clear, but this time you couldn’t even see through it. I was put on the floor next to the pool, so that blood loss could more efficiently be monitored. Just as N was leaving to go home and nurse her baby, I felt a gush.

GUSH…”Ooohh.”…GUSH….”Woops.”….GUSH….”Uh-oh.” I could feel the blood draining from my body and pooling between my legs. N tells me I was ashen grey and she called people to pray for me on her way home. (What a wonderful friend!!!) I told midwife about the gushes and she peeked and looked concerned. Evelyn wasn’t wanting to nurse, which wasn’t helping things. Our helper friend vigorously massaged my uterus and gave me herbs under the tongue. More gushes. More massaging vigorously. Midwife did something she’d never done before and quick injected my thigh with some pitocin without threatening me with it first. (Usually it’s something like, “If you don’t push out that placenta I’m going to give you a shot. HA HA.”) She looked really intense and serious. More gushing, massaging, and then some pills to chew. Then they said I needed to empty  my bladder, and that would help my uterus to stop spurting out so much blood. Only, I wasn’t strong enough to make it to the toilet, so they needed meto pee…right there on the chux pads on the floor, and I need to do it quickly. Folks. I tried. But I have been peeing in the potty for a good 27 years now, and I just couldn’t make myself pee on the floor. Even when that catheter was dangling over me, I still couldn’t make myself do it. So, I was catheterized. And it SUCKED. But it worked. Finally, Evelyn started nursing and I stopped gushing so much.

I have a sneaking suspicion that a lesser midwife may have panicked and sent me to the ER. One of the reasons we chose this midwife is because she is extremely skilled and knowledgeable, and well… she’s done this before. (Somewhere near 2,000 times to be exact…) This would also be a good time to admit that I did not take my alfalfa like I was supposed to…like, not at all. =/ It’s almost guaranteed to prevent hemorrhaging at birth, and I just didn’t bother taking it this time. (This was part of the reason I had decided to try to get baby out. I was having difficulty caring for myself at the end of the pregnancy. And I knew I was not being a very good incubator.)

I don’t know how long it took to fix the bleeding, but that floor was hard!! It seemed like I was down there for at least an hour? I don’t know.

I finally was able to get up on to the couch and we resumed normal post-birth activity…

Newborn exam…

 10 pounds, 8 ounces!!!!

10 pounds, 8 ounces!!!!

And that is the beginning of the story of Evelyn Rose.

stubborn

Well. What is there to say? We tried e v e r y t h i n g to get this baby to come, for four days. Walking, walking, walking…and I mean a midwife’s definition of walking, not a nice stroll down the street. By “walking” I mean sweating and huffing in a half way trot. My legs and feet are so sore that I just can’t walk anymore. I went through an entire bottle of herbs too.

Things started off great on Tuesday, and I was all the way to 6 cm and fully effaced by Wednesday afternoon. It was encouraging news, even though things were taking longer than they usually do. (Did I mention I’ve done this before?)

Thursday (yesterday) was hard… contractions would come as long as I was working hard on them, but wouldn’t continue on their own. Midwife checked and felt the suture lines on the baby’s head (Where the bones meet together- like the soft spot and stuff) and said that baby’s head was slightly tilted in such a way as it wasn’t putting enough pressure on the cervix to continue any further.

I went in for a second round of acupuncture and an adjustment today at the chiropractor’s. I felt a lot better afterwards!

Midwife left this afternoon. She felt like maybe her presence was putting too much pressure on me. I have to admit, that having her here for four days was so wonderful! I needed some mothering so badly! These last few weeks have been stressful, heartbreaking, frustrating, and exhausting for a variety of reasons I won’t go into here.  My decision to try to get baby to come was NOT based on an “I’m-tired-of-being-pregnant” sort of feeling. I wasn’t eating, sleeping, or emotionally content enough to nourish a baby growing inside of me. I really felt like if I could just have this baby it would be a really nice bright spot and fix everything that was going on around me. I guess the Lord knew better what I needed and sent an angel in the form of our midwife! She showed up and cooked yummy food and played with the kids and watched them so that I could do what I needed to do (walk the mall, go to the chiropractor, walk the neighborhood, etc…)… and did I mention she cooked!?! She did all of our laundry and cleaned the house and swept the floors. She cleaned out the birth pool and pumped it all up nice and fat and put a tarp over the top of it, declaring that the kids were no longer allowed to play on it. =D  We shared stories, and old memories, and laughed. It was nice, despite all the hard work in between. =)

So, I got a break! I really really needed that. And now we have done (almost) everything that we can to get baby to come. So now we just wait. Midwife says that baby is doing just fine and is in no danger of staying in a little longer, but on Monday she wants me to do Castor Oil. I’m not looking forward to that! LOL. Neither of us feels comfortable with doing anything like breaking the water or anything like that at this point.

So, prayers that baby would look up just a little with that little head and that active labor would initiate and continue on it’s own are definitely needed.

ROWR!

I was a band nerd for most of high school. I played flute- both in symphonic and marching band. Much of that time I was first chair flute. For those of you non-band nerd types, that means I was A-1. All flute solos went directly to me, and I had to compete twice a year to retain this status. I would practice and practice and practice some more. I would visualize myself on stage, playing the solo perfectly. And then I would thoroughly freak out, hyperventilate, and freeze up for just a moment before the performance. But I can’t remember a single solo I didn’t nail. The moments right before playing, I would suddenly get confident and blast my way through it.

I do this with pretty much everything in life. Freaking out along the way, but standing strong during the actual event, whatever that may be.

In this case it is birth.

I’m not crazy. I know some folks have their “ideas” about why women birth unmedicated, or even worse- at home. Some of you think that we have something to prove, that we feel the need to be Super Woman. Some of you feel that we are in serious denial of reality. Some of you are pretty certain we are crazy.

I realize what I am getting myself into here, and rest assured I have thoroughly freaked out. I have reviewed each of our other births in my mind and recalled the agonizing hours. I started to feel really really small and helpless and ummm… stuck. Because, let’s face it, it’s a little too late to turn back now. In all honesty, I’m not brave enough to birth in the hospital with medication. Epidurals just don’t sound very appealing to me, personally.

Then yesterday I picked up my battered and tattered Ina May books and found my monkey again. (Ina May calls it your “monkey”- that primal ability to birth babies, sort of like a “Mamma Bear” kind of thing…) I read through a couple of birth stories and was so encouraged to remember that normal birth does involve going “over due” and it really does indeed span over a matter of days, when left uninterrupted and not interfered with or rushed. And this is normal. I’m normal! What a relief! I read about how it’s okay to give yourself time… something you need to be encouraged of when every time you go out in public you get asked how long “they” are going to “let” you go overdue. I always sort of cross my eyes for a second and try to formulate an answer. Who is “they” and what do you mean by “let”? I’m in charge here, buster!

So, I’ve been to that I-can’t-do-this-anymore-please-get-this-child-out-of-me-I’m-desperate phase. Now I think I’m in the Bring It On phase. I’m ready. I’ve freaked out, I’ve sulked, I’ve pouted, I’ve really lost my nerve a couple of times, and now I’m ready to do this.

And I may still revisit the freaked out, pouting, woe is me phase again a time or two before it actually happens.

But for now I’m confident. I know I can do this. I was created to do this. I’ve done it before- THREE TIMES, for crying out loud!

And I’m going with a dinosaur for this one. (Ina May recommends imagery of large animals.)

ROWR” is dinosaur for “BRING IT.”

birth supplies

In an effort to pull my thoughts together on the final things that need to be done to prepare for our birth, and knowing that for those of you that don’t home birth or have never experienced one, questions and curiosities abound, AND because I happen to know of at least one other Mamma who is trying to pull it all together… I’m going to blog my check list.

The first curiosity that most people seem to have is, “Does the midwife bring pain medication?”

The short answer is, “BWAH HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HAH AHAHAHAHAHAHA… NO.” She does, however, bring some supplies such as oxygen tank, suction tubes, various herbs (such as Angelica or Shepherd’s Purse, in the event the placenta is unwilling to cooperate or if there is slight hemorrhaging), and at times even some pharmaceutical drugs for bigger emergencies. Also baby scales and scissors for cutting the cord and that sort of thing, generally falls under her realm of “stuff to bring.”

First is the preliminary stuff…

  • Announce my plans to the Health Department and get them to send me the Home Birth Certificate Kit. (By the way, no one has ever told me that I could not have my baby at home. They simply send me the work sheets for obtaining the birth certificate, and tell me to mail it in after the baby is born. Not an eyelash batted.) DONE
  • Update Driver’s License to display our current address to make getting said birth certificate somewhat easier. DONE
  • Burn music onto CD for the birth DONE
  • Charge cameras
  • Find box of birth supplies DONE
  • Find baby clothes DONE
  • Turn up water heater a bit
  • Blow up birth pool and clean it out. (I’ve used the same one for all of my births. We’re going for a record.)

…which we did today. And every time I turn around and see the pool sitting there, it dawns on me that shortly I’ll be birthing another human being into our family!! This seems to be one of the standard pools used for water birthing. Of course, there are the fancy pants ones that look absolutely divine, but Brent says we aren’t shelling out $300 when we’ve got a perfectly good $7 pool that has served us well. And it has. I could write a poem to this pool. How many hours have we spent together, pool? Hmmm… A good 10 hours for the first birth were spent in the pool, 3 for Charis, and about 3 for Ezra as well. 16 hours! This pool has been my companion and comforter, giving me a soft, warm place to relax, giving me a fluid environment to rhythmically move through. It has softened the blows of transition…THREE TIMES! It has welcomed my babies with gentle warmth and sheltered us as we first gazed into each others eyes…THREE TIMES! And yes, on occasion, it has been the family summertime pool. Oh, birth pool, how I love thee.

And what I like to have on hand by way of “Supplies”:

  • Aforementioned birth pool. (I got this one years ago at www.qualityinflatables.com or you can try www.yourwaterbirth.com) CHECK
  • Fishy net for removing…uuhh… debris. (For obvious reasons, we buy a new one for every birth)CHECK
  • Water thermometer (we keep the water between 98 and 100) For some reason, these never survive storage and we have to buy another. CHECK
  • Tarp, for protecting the floor from any splashing of water and other umm…wet stuff. CHECK
  • Plastic sheet/shower line/painters cloth for in case I decide to go mobile and give birth out of the pool on the couch or bed or something. CHECK
  • Fountain pump, for quickly draining the pool. These can be found at your local Lowe’s or Home Depot in the garden section near the fountains. The more expensive the pump, the faster it drains. And when you are trying to get luke warm water out so that you can add more hot water, in the midst of contractions, trust me… you want the faster pump! It’s also handy for emptying the pool after the birth. We drain it into a toilet or out the window, depending on which one is closer. CHECK
  • Clean hose for filling pool. (Also, troubleshoot ahead of time to make sure it hooks up to your faucet the right way.) CHECK
  • Lots of large pots for boiling water. (No, we’re not THAT archaic… this is just a really expedient way to heat up the water in the pool in case the birth goes long, or your hot water heater gives out on you…) CHECK
  • Birth Kit (this contains sterile gloves for midwife and Brent, syringes, alcohol swabs, cord clamps, newborn hat, gauze pads, bulb syringe, etc…) I usually get mine from either www.everythingbirth.com or www.inhishands.com (favorite).  CHECK
  • Beach towels for placing on top of tarp to make it less slippery for bathroom trips. (I don’t have any and couldn’t find any, so I think we’ll just use an old blanket or something) CHECK
  • Chux pads, chux pads, and more chux pads. CHECK These usually get used for the placenta birthing. Midwife prefers I not deliver the placenta in the birth pool, so that we can more carefully monitor blood loss on dry land. So, once baby and I have checked each other out, pillows and stuff are usually gathered on the floor next to the pool, covered in chux pads. And I sit there and bleed…and bleed…and bleed…. and at some point, those lovely pads are used to wrap up and deep freeze that placenta until I figure out what the heck to do with all of them. Oh, and chux pads are GREAT for putting underneath to catch milk overflow, spit up, leaky diapers, leaky mamma pads,  and all the other really gross stuff that comes out of you and your baby for the first few days. 
  • Next, I prepare a large paper bag with lots of fluffy towels for both me and the baby and several receiving blankets, possibly with a lavender sachet inside, stapled shut and labeled so that no one has to ask me what’s in there. Some folks stick this bag into the oven and bake it so that it’s warm and extra sterile after baby comes out. CHECK
  • Another paper bag is filled with clothes for me for after the birth, including underwear. (Am I the only Mamma who gets behind on laundry in her 9th month? How awful would it be to not have any clean underwear to put on at this point?!? LOL) And then clothes for the baby- I usually do a girl outfit, a boy outfit, and a gender neutral organic gown, plus booties, organic undershirts, hats, and a soft thick blanket. Did you know that the #1 risk to a home birth baby is hypothermia due to not being adequately kept warm after the birth? My midwife is neurotic about hats and having lots of towels and blankets on hand.. and of course, putting baby skin to skin with Mamma is the very best way to keep warm. =) This bag is also labeled, and no one has to ask me where to find clean clothes for me after I’ve given birth. Also, even if you know the gender of your baby, you should have more than one outfit planned… they tend to poop and pee everywhere, you know.  CHECK
  • And yet one more paper bag is prepared with clean sheets for my bed. I have no idea who usually puts these sheets on, but someone always gets that bag and puts clean sheets on the bed so I have a nice clean place to land after the post-birth shower. I think I’ll toss a lavender sachet into this one this time as well. =) CHECK
  • Herbs and container for sitz bath CHECK
  • Goldenseal powder for cord care CHECK
  • Mamma Pads (cloth this time and they are sooooo cute! Photos coming…) CHECK
  • Premixed herbs to drink during labor, along with crackers, cheese squares, and grapes. I can’t imagine going through the hard work of labor and not being allowed to eat!! Although, with my last birth, I never got hungry, but I was starving afterwards and rewarded handsomely for my hard work with a nice plate of waffles, followed by a steak dinner… Oh, and I usually have some Recharge (the natural equivalent of Gatorade, minus the HFCS and other yuck), but this time I went with an Emergen-C drink. CHECK
  • Tinctures- Angelica and Shepherd’s Purse, in case midwife doesn’t make it or is missing hers. =) CHECK
  • Tennis balls for back massaging CHECK (These are new. I’ve never used them during labor before, but Brent massaged my back with them the other night and it was AWESOME)
  • Herbs for a special baby bath CHECK (also new, but  I’m looking forward to soaking in rose petals with my bebe
  • 2 Rolls Viva Paper towels CHECK (Midwife requests these every time. I’ve never seen her use them, but they get used each time!)

It sounds like a lot, but it’s not that bad. And truthfully, not much is actually needed to have a baby, but I’m Type A, you know.  I like to have my bases covered. I’ll be editing and adding to this list as I remember stuff. I’ve already thought of several things that I had forgotten about since the last birth.

Truthfully, I am looking forward to it! I take no issue with the pain of child birth. It hurts. BAD. But just for a bit, and then it’s over with. I just can’t wait to have my sweet baby in my arms, and NOT MY BELLY! My skin is stretched to maximum capacity, and baby has run out of room to move. It might just be time to add an evening walk into our nightly routine. 

i'm my own midwife

Yesterday as I was huffing down the street I had that little tune playing over and over in my mind. These are my “official” prenatal records, in case you didn’t know. I usually record this info in a notebook for each child, but I can’t seem to ever remember where I put it. 

Of course, I have a wonderful community of midwives- friends- that keep their beautiful eyes on me from time to time, but for the most part, it’s just me.

I’ve hit those hard days of the last trimester. Crying for no reason, extreme exhaustion, insatiable hunger, hip pain, etc etc. I really thought I was going to lose it for a couple of days. I feel so guilty when I call Brent, who is contentedly doing his job at work- probably humming a happy tune- and have to sob into the phone some really pathetic thing that totally upset my day and has made me certain that I cannot continue. He’s a good man. He refuses to come home and “rescue” me. I can count on one hand…no, three fingers… the number of times he has come home early or called in to work because I was sick or feeling overwhelmed. I like it. It forces me to deal with life. The last time I could hear in his voice that he really wished he could come home and help (they get written up for leaving work early, even if they are sick!) but just couldn’t. He begged me to please stop crying and tried to help me get a grip. The really annoying thing is that in the rational part of my mind, I knew that there was nothing wrong. I was just tired (and sick). The kids were fine, life was fine, the sun was shining… I was just losing it. 

I made up my mind that something had to be done, so we made some rules. Rule #1:Kids are not allowed to drink from my water bottle or eat my food. Okay, so we really only made one rule. LOL

I’ve started taking a prenatal vitamin, because I just can’t get it all in with my diet right now. I’m trying, but it’s not happening, so my Plan B is a  prenatal. =)

It struck me the other day that I’m about to have another baby. I usually prepare for this as one prepares for a marathon. A good birth doesn’t happen accidentally very often, and  I like to try to have my body ready for the hard work of labor. SO, I’ve also just started walking every day. Today is the third day. I know, I know, if you are pregnant with your first or maybe second child you are probably wondering why it took 28 weeks for me to start walking. I did that with my first pregnancy. I did everything perfectly and looked at older fatter moms of many and wondered why in the world they didn’t take better care of themselves. Fast forward five years, and three and a half kids later, and I totally understand. “Yourself” comes last. Folks, I can’t even poop without some sort of interruption. My bottom hit the toilet seat at 6 a.m. yesterday. Prior to this event, it was peaceful and quiet in the house- no one was supposed to be up yet. As soon as I sat down, someone immediately began to yell and woke everyone else up. I could hear the pounding and banging through the ceiling as WWIII broke out above me. I’m not complaining, I’m just trying to give those of you who haven’t walked a mile in these shoes the idea. You think that it is as simple as planning it out, making room in your schedule, blah blah blah. It’s not. Take my word for it. It is downright impossible to work out inside your house because someone is going to hurt themselves just as you are striking the yoga position, and you are going to hurt yourself trying to get to them quickly. When your husband is gone for 9-10 hours a day, the last thing you want to do when he gets home is leave to get some exercise by yourself… but now I do. Just 30 minutes of walking. We have some perfectly slight hills, and as soon as Brent gets home I truck off in my tennis shoes. And gyms with nurseries are not an option. Germs and perverts- need I say more?!?

Anyway, my blood pressure was 106/64 last time I checked it, and baby’s heart rate was 152 last time I checked. (Which was several weeks ago since I loaned out my dopplerI was feeling all baby’s movements way down low, but since I’ve started walking they have moved to around the middle and into my ribs. Miraculous.  Walking is so good for mammas and their babies. My hips have started to hurt in the tell tale way that lets me know my bones are softening and moving to let a human being pass through them, so I’m trying to sit on that yoga ball more often to help facilitate that. 

Oh, and I’ve gained 43 pounds. I usually slow way down with the weight gain and start to gain more baby and less…ME… at this point, so I’m looking forward to that. 

I’ve started mentally preparing for all the changes and activity that will be taken place. Making lists in my mind of things I need to do before having this baby, things I will need to have this baby, and wondering with great curiosity what life with four little people will be like. I vacillate between being totally terrified and somewhat confident that one more baby isn’t going to make that big of a difference. Today when all three kids were loaded up in the van I started to talk with them about where we thought the best place to put the new kid would be. We all agreed that the new baby should sit in the middle aisle next to Arwen. Maybe this time I have a hope and a prayer of at least having someone to hold the pacifier in the baby’s mouth while we drive. (I usually do this WHILE driving. It works about as well as it sounds like it does. My babies don’t take pacifiers. I’ve tried every single kind. They just don’t take them unless you physically hold them in their mouths, and that defeats the purpose.  ). Charis is really excited about getting to see the new baby be born, and I’m going to talk to Brent about letting Arwen cut the cord this time, since he gets to catch the baby. I’ve explained to them all again, that Mommy is going to be making noises and moving and not to worry- it’s good pain that helps the baby come out. 

I’m also tinkering with the idea of setting up in the soap room. It’s such a big room, and it smells nice. LOL. However, it would put me further from the bathroom, and that is no fun, so maybe we’ll keep it in the living room after all. There’s still time to decide.

I’m off to find some protein. 

the birth of Ezra James

I have to first state that I believe birth to be a spiritual experience. It is a time when a woman is drawn closer to her Creator than ever before. She is vulnerable as she gives her body to be the vessel that God uses to mold and birth a new little person- bearing the image of God Himself. It is only by clinging to His strength to be her joy that she is able to travail through childbirth. It is during these moments, that I personally am most aware of how great our God is and how I am nothing without Him.

I chose a scripture for each one to meditate on throughout pregnancy. For Ezra’s it was Psalm 46:

“God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, Even though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though its waters roar and be troubled; Though the mountains shake with its swelling.

There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God; The holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High. God is in the midst of her, she hall not be moved; God shall help her, just at the break of dawn. The nations raged, the kingdoms were moved; He uttered His voice, the earth melted.

The Lord of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge.

Come, behold the works of the Lord, Who has made desolations in the earth. He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two; He burns the chariot in the fire.

Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!

The Lord of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge.”

My due date had passed and I was starting to feel frustrated about still being pregnant and uncomfortable and anxious about the birth. We weren’t sure if our midwife would make it in time and had done our best to prepare for this likely scenario. Everything seemed really uncertain.

Early Wednesday (October 24th) morning I was awakened with contractions coming every five minutes. They continued steady for three hours. Finally at 5 in the morning I had a bloody show and decided it was time to call the midwife and wake her up! (She had at least a three hour drive ahead of her!!) She said to move around a little, go for a walk, and call her if anything more happened. So, we went to the park and took a walk, fed the girls lunch and put them to bed. Around this time contractions increased to every two minutes!

Brent quickly called the midwife who was on her way. A little later we called my mom to come and help with the girls.

In true Missi-style, by the time everyone was assembled, labor had really slowed to a trickle. I felt bad, considering everyone had driven over from another state to be there!!! I was determined not to wear myself out trying to keep labor going, and went to bed around 10 pm. Midwife said if I started having good contractions again, I had to get up.

Throughout the night, I was awakened every so often with good ones, and every time I prayed for them to stop so I could go back to sleep. At 4:45 on Thursday morning I couldn’t sleep through them anymore. I got into the bathtub, trying to process my thoughts. What was my problem? I’d been so anxious to meet this baby and it was finally about to happen and I was running away from it! I realized that I was having some serious fear issues. This was probably what was slowing things up the day before… I’m still not sure what I was afraid of, but I woke Brent up and asked him to pray for me. Immediately I felt confident and sure of God’s help and protection.

I went downstairs at around 5:30 a.m. and starting cleaning the kitchen. I just knew I needed to keep moving and wanted to have breakfast stuff ready for everyone who had slept on our couch, floor, and guest bed. =) (Brent’s family stayed the night at a nearby hotel.) By 6:30 I was really feeling ready and asked Brent to start filling the birth pool. We quickly ran out of hot water, which has never happened before, and had to resort to boiling large pots of water to add. As a result, the pool was not completely filled by the time I gave birth. =/

At 7 a.m. I got in the pool and made it my personal goal to have the baby by 9. (If you know me well, that should totally explain my thinking here…lol). I lost track of time at this point.

Sometime the midwife and assistant started setting everything up. I was very very quiet through the labor, reminding myself through each contraction that it would be over very shortly and asking the Lord to give me strength. I think my calmness made everyone doubt that this was it.  My kids got up and came and said good morning and played all around me. I labored through the ABC’s being sung by a toy, my husband and midwife laughing at funny videos on youtube, and random conversations in between. It was announced that Brent’s family was ontheir way over and bringing food.

Midwife suggested playing some music to drown out the noise of the party going on in the house. LOL. So, I chose a CD that some friends of ours had put together for their wedding, and also the CD that my Grandad had recorded of his piano playing, shortly before he passed away last February.

The first song was a Christian song, I don’t know the artist, but it’s about being reminded that God holds the big picture in His hands, and ‘who am I’? The next song was about God’s forever being faithful and strong. I started to cry thinking about these things and really started feeling bewildered at the thought that God had once more chosen to bless our family with another child. What could I possibly have done to deserve such a wonderful gift?!?

At this point, because of my tears, I realized I must have been at transition! Everything was happening so fast. No one else even knew- it was a wonderful time of reflecting on God’s goodness and clinging to Him while my body pushed the baby closer to being born.

I had a bad contraction and could no longer be silent. I cried out and EVERYONE came running. LOL. Midwife asked if I was pushing yet, and I said, ” I don’t know!” She and the assistant donned gloved hands and got ready.  That is ALWAYS such a good sign! It means labor is almost over!! I had one more contraction like this and decided I was not having another one! Baby was coming out with the next one!!

Grandad’s CD was playing at this point and it was so comforting to have a little piece of him there. We’ve all missed him terribly since he passed so suddenly from this earth, into that great cloud of witnesses.

Brent was hanging his head out the door (I was birthing in our office/play room), greeting his family and I could hear the little kids going burzurk and lots of hellos. I decided I only wanted Brent and the midwives and everyone else needed to go upstairs so that I couldn’t hear them anymore. “JUST US! EVERYONE UPSTAIRS!!!” Was what came out. “JUST US… UPSTAIRS, UPSTAIRS!!!!” Brent realized I was yelling something and turned around. Midwife said, “Uhh, she’s probably going to have the baby very soon, and I think she wants everyone to go upstairs.” Brent conveyed this to them all.

I guess they were on their way up when I had the last contraction. I was on my hands and knees in the birth pool and let out a scream that movie producers should pay me to use in their next horror movie. I don’t know why, but I get really “primal” when it’s time for the babies to come out. Unpredictable- I do what I feel like I need to do to get them out, and this time, it was screaming like a mad woman and birthing on my hands and knees. LOL. Midwife was instructing Brent what to do, as he was to catch the baby this time. The head came out nicely, followed very very quickly by the rest of the body. RELIEF! The relief you feel when that last little foot clears your body is one of the best feelings I have ever experienced!!!

Brent brought baby up out of the water and exclaimed, “IT’S A BOY!!!” and Ezra had a very hearty scream right from the beginning. I don’t even think they had to suction his nose or anything.

I think the first thing I said was, “It’s OVER! That was almost easy!!”

We then had to navigate my legs over the cord so I could turn over and hold him. That was….. interesting. I don’t think I want to birth on hands and knees again unless the shoulders get stuck or something and I have to.

It was love at first site when I gazed down at my little man. He is so handsome. Lots of dark hair, dark eyes…

Then I had to get out of the pool, as usual, and all the cleanup began.

Ezra and I were soon snuggled up in my bedroom, where he was weighed (9 lb, 4 oz.), measured (21.5 inches) and given the general look-over to make sure all his parts were there and working. Of course, there was no poking, no gook in the eyes, no taking him from Momma or any other nonsense.

No one looked at the clock when he was born, but we guessed it was 9:56 a.m. Making labor a short 5 hours, with only two contractions that I’d consider unbearable. Not bad!