Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Homebirth of Abigail Calista Anne

I know it has been a few months since Abbi's birth but I wanted to share her story with you all anyway. I had to put blogging way down on my list of priorities since Abbi's birth last August. Abbi needed lots and lots of mommy care and then Christmas with five littles left very little free time. I'm not complaining though! It has been a very blessed few months!

The morning of August 28th we were up early and on our way to what I hoped would be my last appointment with our midwife who lived about an hour away. I was already slightly overdue and anxious to deliver since SC has legislated how overdue you can be and still have a homebirth, no matter how well things are going. On the way I mentioned to Lee that I was having "different" contractions. I had been contracting for weeks just like I had with Andrew...aren't you all glad I saved you that drama this time...but these were different, they really felt like the real thing.

At the appointment I was given the awesome confirmation that an infection I had been battling for weeks was finally responding to all of the garlic, apple cider vinegar, blueberries and cranberry supplements I had been taking. Whew, that was rough but I was very determined to spare both Abbi and I the ill effects of antibiotics unless they were truly needed and I felt such accomplishment when I finally got through it naturally. While she was measuring my tummy she felt a contraction and all of a sudden the conversation turned from how great we were doing to how soon it was going to be, great news to an overdue mommy's ears! While she tried to not get my hopes up too high it was pretty obvious she thought it would be sooner rather than later.

We left and while part of me just wanted to go home and sleep most of me knew that I would just sit and wait for labor to start if we went home so we stuck to our original plans and went grocery shopping to refill our cupboards before Baby's arrival.  By the time we got to the natural foods store I knew this was the "real" thing, it was almost torture to climb in and out of our 15 passenger van! After we left there we went and got something to eat and stopped by Lee's store. I don't think I said two words to anybody while we were there because by that time I was really uncomfortable. We went home, cleaned the house and started walking. As we were all getting ready to walk, Lee ended up in conversation with our next door neighbor who happens to work for the FBI. Lee told him we were expecting our baby to make an appearance that night and we were having the baby at home. He thought that was pretty neat and offered to escort us to the hospital with his blue lights, on the off chance a transfer was needed. While I didn't expect a problem I thought the offer was pretty neat.

About ten'o'clock that night I called my parents to give them some notice. While a part of me was worried that I was putting everyone on call for nothing I was almost sure I would have a baby by morning. About midnight Lee told me it was time to call everyone. I was still worried about getting everyone here and then having to send them home, it is one thing to make the thirty minute drive to the hospital for a false alarm, it is another to have five different people driving from thirty minutes to an hour and thirty minutes to your home from four different directions for a false alarm! Lee was worried about having to deliver a baby alone ;). I was so glad he convinced me to call because while I was on the phone with my midwife I had some doozies and they immediately dropped from every six'ish minutes to every three! I told her I was afraid of having her drive all that way for nothing but she could tell from over the phone that it was time.

The midwives assistants lived closest and arrived first. I had a couple of really good contractions and then they got a lot more manageable and spread out for a few. I was starting to feel a little silly but the reprieve only lasted for a few contractions and then they kicked into high gear. When our midwife checked me just before 3 in the morning I was only at a 4! I was sooo disappointed! I knew I had been "working" all day and I was only at a 4?! My midwife suggested I get in the tub to help with the pain, which was quite intense by now. I came out to talk to my parents a little bit who had arrived in the meantime and after one more contraction I decided I needed some relief now! I got in the tub which helped quite a bit and I was even able to relax to the point of almost sleeping for a little bit. Lee sat and held my head the entire hour and a half I was in the tub because that was the only way I felt truly comfortable, my hero.

About an hour later I started "losing it". I couldn't imagine what was still in store and I was very tired! What is it about my children and laboring at night ;)?! About the time I had convinced myself, with Lee's encouragement, to just stay calm I started trembling all over and feeling very pushy. Only one and a half hours ago I was only at a four so I was thinking I had several hours left, feeling pushy caught me greatly off guard. I told Lee, and after just one more contraction I was begging him to help me get out and to go get the midwife! She also thought I had many hours left and knew I wanted to be kind of alone so she was out taking a nap. I found out later that Lee didn't exactly believe me ;). He thought I may have just hit that "wall" I hit every time. He went out to the living room and told one of the assistants what was going on and then came back by himself. When he came back and I found out the midwife wasn't coming right then I started to panic. Lee went and got the midwife's assistant and after just one more contraction she flew into gear!

One thing that hit me as so awesome with the homebirth was how everyone trusted me. When I said the baby is coming they didn't say, "Well, maybe, let's check just to be sure...". Those exams during transition are excruciating and I didn't have to go through any, yay!!! I had had many conversations with my midwife about how the pushing stage was terrifying to me. I have given myself up for dead every time, until this time. She had spent a lot of time talking to me about it, praying for me and sharing bible verses with me during our prenatal visits. Isn't that neat?! It wasn't easy, but it was amazing compared to past births! No one screamed at me to "push! push! push!", no one told me to "get mad at the pain" or to hold my breath. I have this coping mechanism of saying something repetitive, when the going gets rough. I find a phrase and repeat it over and over and... Hey, it works! It usually ends up being something like, "Lord,  help me". And He did. He sent some awesome and talented women to support me in labor, he sent my mother who stood in the hall and interceded for me through the worst of it, he designed my body to do this work and most importantly he sent my dear husband who is an unbelievable source of strength and comfort for me when things get tough.

After just 22 minutes of "not pushing", and my water breaking on it's own (a first for me), Abigail Calista Anne was born. I will forever treasure the look on Lee's face when he got to announce that the baby, unbeknownst to us until that moment, was a girl. One of the first things Lee said was, Bri is going to have so much fun. Lee had spent the whole pregnancy telling Bri he just "knew" that the baby was a boy and she kept telling him she was going to think it was so funny when the baby was born and turned out to be a girl ;). And she has had fun with it ;). The cord was cut minutes later instead of immediately to be sure that baby got as much of her blood as possible, but it was cut fairly quickly because she had a very short cord. Her cord was tied with cord tape, it looked like cotton string, it was sooo cute compared to those clunky plastic clips. I did think to myself as she was tying it on, "I wonder what the pediatrician is going to think...". He didn't actually say anything about it, I think he is just used to us doing things pretty counter-culturally by now anyway.

I nursed baby for a while and everyone just sat around and talked about what a great birth that was and what a beautiful baby Abbi was, though at that time we hadn't named her yet. Lee went in to wake up the children and found Bri already awake and bouncing at the end of the bed in her excitement. Andrew wasn't quite sure what to think, he loves her to pieces now though. After we all had had the chance to love on our baby a good bit our midwife and the assistants starting weighing her and cleaning her up. While they did clean her up they didn't actually give her a full bath and all of that good vernix was eventually rubbed in and she had the smoothest skin of any of our babies, ever. She never got flakey like they all have before. I will never allow a bath soon after birth again, I loved her silky soft, smooth skin! The midwife and the other ladies left at about nine and Lee and I collapsed in our bed and snuggled with Abbi and had a good nap while my parents watched the big children until later that afternoon. 

While I was pretty stiff and sore I felt sooo much better than I have ever felt after a birth before! God answered some major prayers when I had no tearing or stitches, just a couple little skid marks. I have never gotten through a birth without pretty extensive stitching, it was awesome to not have to go through that this time!!!

I know that not everyone can birth at home and some situations do require a hospital and I would be so thankful to have a hospital available to me in those instances, but this is definitely the way for me and I think it is the way for a lot more women if they truly knew the difference. Just yesterday I was snuggling Abbi, kissing her sweet little toes and making her giggle on my bed in the very spot she was born and the wonder of it hit me anew. This has been an awesome and amazing journey and I pray the Lord allows us the privilege to welcome a new little one into our home, from the moment of birth, again someday.

Thank you Lord for your good gifts.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. ~James 1:17

Abbi being weighed in a special baby sling scale...