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Emmitt Charles' Home Birth Story

Looking for The Lactivist? She's retired. But you CAN still find Jen blogging. These days, she's runs A Flexible Life. Join her for life, recipes, projects and the occasional rant.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Although my official “guess date” was October 1st, we’d figured all along that this baby would show up several days late like his sister did. (In fact, I’d told most everyone that I expected him to arrive on October 4th, simply because we really wanted to see the season premier of Lost.) Apparently Emmitt had other plans though as he decided to show up a little bit early. That said, he managed to fulfill just about everyone’s wishes and requests for birth timing, so we’ll forgive him.

Wednesday evening after getting Elnora to bed and watching a few hours of TV out on the porch, I noticed that Greg had fallen asleep on the futon. He looked comfy enough, so I left him be, let the dog out and headed to bed. I crawled into bed about 11:30 and set my iPod to play through my Hypnobabies scripts like I do most nights, before too long, I was sound asleep.

Around 1:30 I woke up having to go to the bathroom. I went in and sat down and immediately noticed that my back was REALLY sore. I also felt a little crampy and I remember wondering if maybe I was going to end up with a bought of diarrhea to clear my system out before the birth. I played Tetris for about five minutes on the GameBoy then headed back to bed. I put my headphones back on and went back to sleep. About 2:00 I woke up and headed to the bathroom again, a little annoyed to be woken up by my bladder again that soon. Once again, as soon as I sat down on the toilet, I started getting really crampy. At this point I was getting a little frustrated since I just wanted to get it done with and go back to sleep. So, I headed back to bed again.

This went on with me waking up every 15-20 minutes having to head to the bathroom. By about 4:30am I noticed that within a few minutes of laying down, I’d start to feel pretty crampy and really had to pee. I spent about 30 minutes in the bathroom at that point wondering if maybe the back pain was back labor and if maybe this wasn’t just diarrhea, but was actually the start of early labor. I realized that I wasn’t getting much in the way of sleep anyway, so I grabbed my iPod and headed out to the porch to sit in the recliner. I listened to the Hypnobabies for about an hour but didn’t pay much attention as it was now 5am and I could feel contractions coming on long and strong. So, I spent an hour timing them. Turns out they were a good 45-60 seconds long and about 5 minutes apart. I timed them that way for about an hour and decided at 5:45 that I wasn’t going to be able to wait until 6am to call the midwife (I was trying to let her sleep).

Greg woke up just as I was picking up the phone (he was still asleep on the futon on the porch) and asked what was up. “Having contractions” I said…”time to call the midwife.” LOL…that woke him up. 

So, I talked to Becky and told her that I must have hit early labor around 1:30, but contractions didn’t get regular until about 5am. I let her know they were coming about 5 minutes apart and how long they were and that they felt pretty strong, but they didn’t hurt. (Just like waves of very light menstrual cramps at that point) Since she was about 45 minutes away, she said she’d head down shortly to check me out to see how things were going.

Greg decided at that point that it might be a good idea to start filling the pool, but wouldn’t you know it, we’d stripped the threads out on the hose adaptor when we did our test fill earlier in the week. Ugh! We debated having him head down to Meijer to buy another one, but I figured I’d just ask my friend Judy to stop on her way up instead since she was coming to keep an eye on Elnora. So, we putzed around for a bit, me listening to Hypnobabies on the iPod, Greg doing some dishes and straightening things up.

Becky arrived about 6:45 and carried her supplies in through the rain. (as an aside, I love rain, I even said to Greg on Wednesday that I’d love to have the baby on a rainy morning.) She asked how I was doing and I said that I was just getting to the point where the Hypnobabies scripts were annoying the crap out of me. She laughed and made some comment about me maybe not feeling like my cervix was a beautiful gold ring. ;) (That was the last of the Hypnobabies…never did pull the iPod out again, her voice just suddenly sounded so saccrine and annoying, I couldn’t take it.) She then asked if I wanted her to check me to see how I was progressing.

That left me wondering and I told her that my concern was that we’d find I was hardly dialated at all. That was my experience with my first birth and it was pretty demoralizing. Basically, I said if I was 2cm, I didn’t want to know, but if I was a 5 or something, that’d be great. “Well then I’ll lie!” she responded and we laughed. So, off we went to check with me hoping that a cervical check wouldn’t be as painful as it was the last time.

It was.

Good gravy, I will stand by my prior birth experience of saying that for me, a cervical check is like letting someone drive a truck through my vagina. I think it really tops the list of the most painful things I’ve ever experienced, up there with breaking bones and such.

When she finished checking, I asked if I wanted to hear the results and she laughed. “You’re about an 8 or a 9 and your bag of waters is totally bulging. If I’d break it, this baby would be here in a flash.”

“8 or 9?! You’re lying to me, aren’t you?”

“No, seriously, you really are an 8 or a 9.”

I was floored. Suddenly Hypnobabies was back on my “wow, that rocks” list. There’s not a doubt in my mind that all that prep work really did get my brain and body ready to roll and that had me experiencing what I *thought* was early labor when in reality, I was rocketing my way to complete.

At this point, I made some quick calls to my best friend (labor support), my friend Judy (Elnora support) and my in-laws (who I’d said could come up for the birth, though they were an hour away.) Everyone said they’d head out shortly…it was about 7:30am.

Feeling pretty darn confident at this point, I headed back in the kitchen to find Greg trying to setup a siphon system out of the kitchen sink to fill the pool. Becky laughed and said “I don’t know if you’re gonna have time to get it filled.” I told her I had a feeling it was still going to be a little while because I knew I hadn’t hit transition yet and we both figured if it kept Greg happy to try and solve the pool problem then it was fine with us. Besides, I figured I could always crawl in afterwards to relax. ;) I hadn’t eaten yet, so I had a bowl of Life cereal, knowing that it would probably revisit me a bit later…

Since I was close to complete, but my cervix was still very high and tilted backwards, Becky suggested that I try to spend my contractions with one leg up on a chair, leaning my weight over onto my leg. She said this often helps turn the cervix and move the baby down. So I spent about an hour doing that during contractions and we chatted and laughed in between. I remember commenting on how surreal it was to be that far in labor and to be feeling that fantastic.

By 8:30, Judy and Rachel had shown up and both were shocked to find out I was as far along as I was. (Especially Rachel who remembered me never making it past 5 in the hospital.) We put the plastic sheet on the futon, then found another old sheet to cover it with, got towels ready to go in the oven and generally organized things for the birth. Not long after, Greg had managed to get enough water into the pool that Becky suggested I try climbing in. Contractions were starting to move closer together (every 2 minutes or so) at that point and were now strong enough that I really had to concentrate through them, though they still weren’t painful.

I climbed in and immediately felt a TON of relief. That pool was just heaven! No wonder all you women love them!  For the next hour, I spent time sitting in the pool, leaning back against the side while Becky and Rachel rubbed my shoulders during contractions. At one point, I got on all fours and leaned over the side of the tub. I asked Rachel to snag me a trash can and she did. I was pretty nauseated, but the puke just wouldn’t come. I asked Becky if it would be “wrong of me” to make myself hurl and she laughed and said “no, go for it.” A finger down my throat later and bam, back came the Life cereal and then some. I puked my guts out for about five minutes, but immediately felt much better. Totally worth it. ;)

By that point it was a little after ten and I really felt like I should get out of the pool. Becky had suggested that I give a gentle push with the last few contractions in the pool to see how they felt and it seemed to “fit” so I got out, dried off and moved to the futon. Immediately upon getting there I realized that I was exhausted, so I pretty much collapsed into a side lying position and thought I’d try pushing that way so that I could “sleep” between pushes. The contractions were REALLY rough lying down, to the point of hurting for the first time since I went into labor. During one of them, Becky tried lifting my leg up to set it on her shoulder and I yelled that it hurt like crazy and to let go. I honestly think I would have kicked her if she hadn’t. She told me she needed to check me on the next contraction to make sure I was complete and I said “whatever” then about cried in pain when she did check. I was complete and she said again that she could break my water if I wanted her to. I was pretty worried that it would quickly move to being horribly painful if I let her, so I said no, hoping they’d break on their own.

After about ten minutes of “pushing” while laying sidways I tried all fours. That felt better, but pushing hurt…a LOT. It was sort of like hitting late transition and was the first time I started saying “I cannot do this, I’m done…no way…etc.” After ten minutes of pushing that way, I collapsed back onto my side again saying that I needed a break. Once again, Becky tried to lift my leg up and I kicked at her and shouted no. I made it halfway through a contraction on my side and SPRANG up onto all fours in what felt like about 1/10th of a second. Suddenly pushing that way felt effective.

I told Becky that if she thought it would make baby come quickly, she could break my water because I was feeling pretty exhausted and I was HATING pushing. With the next contraction, she reached in and pinched the bag and BAM…absolutely flooded the bed. I remember feeling more than an inch of warm water pooling around each of my knees. I looked down to make sure it was clear and it was. When the next contraction hit, I suddenly realized what women meant when they said they couldn’t NOT push. It felt like my body was trying to crawl forward out of my skin, though oddly, I felt all the pushing pressure in my rear. It really did feel like I was trying to squeeze out a bowling ball.

By this point, I’d been pushing for about 30 minutes and I was quite literally shaking so hard I thought I was going to vibrate the futon to pieces. I also was having trouble holding myself up. So, Greg crawled onto the futon and got on all fours in front of me so that I could rest my head and arms on his back. The next ten minutes I sort of went along for the ride as my body just did it’s thing…with lots of me thinking “holy crap, this hurts/this is hard/why am I doing this” in between contractions. Basically, I held on for dear life and hoped I wouldn’t break Greg. Finally, I felt the baby start to really move down and on the next push, I tucked in my hips, raised my shoulders so I was more upright and pushed for all I was worth. That got Emmitt down far enough that I could reach back and feel his squishy head. I felt the ring of fire and started blowing and panting and sort of tried to push from the top of my head (think exhaling through your nose instead of your mouth) instead of from my gut.

The midwife commented that he was almost there and I honestly thought she meant he’d crowned. Then she paused and said something about me moving positions and I thought “oh crap! His shoulders are stuck!!” I knew I couldn’t possibly move so I shouted “give me one more push” and went to town on the next contraction. Apparently, he had only been out to his nose when I said that, but I shot the rest of him out in one big gush on the next contraction.

Never in my life have I felt the “relief” that comes from feeling all of baby actually shoot out. Even with my first, since I had the epi, there was no comparison. It was like the biggest sigh in the entire world left my body. There wasn’t any sound at all and I remember saying “what is it?! What is it?! Greg, what is it!?” (He was looking between my legs at this point since he was still acting as my headrest, lol…) “It’s a boy!” he said. Just then, he let out a tiny little cry. Becky and Rachel got him wrapped in warm towels in a flash and I rolled over to a side that wasn’t all yucky and lay down with him on my chest. Just breathing him in and praising God that it was all done.

Absolutely beautiful, the most amazing thing I’ve ever done in my life.

About five minutes after he was born I called my mom to let her know she had a grandson, then Emmitt and I just kinda curled up for a bit while Greg went in to tell his parents. After about 20 minutes, the cord finally stopped pulsing, so Greg came to cut it and then he took Emmitt to show everyone while I sat up and took some deep breaths. Another 5 or ten minutes went by and I gave a tiny push to deliver the placenta. Becky showed us all the parts and how they examine it and how it works. (pretty cool!)

Since the pool was still warm and I hadn’t given birth in it, Becky went ahead and added her herbal bath mixture to the water and I climbed in there to relax for another 15 minutes or so. It felt fantastic, plus it helped wash away some birth gunk. ;) I climbed out, put on some old PJs and headed over to the recliner where I nursed Emmitt for the first time.

Since then, it’s pretty much been nurse Emmitt, try to eat some food and occasionally catch a few Zzzzs. I’ve only slept maybe 3 or 4 hours total, but I can’t even believe how awesome I feel. I have no hemorrhoids, no tears (just a TINY skidmark) and basically, feel absolutely fantastic. By this morning, I’d gotten up, taken a shower, washed my hair and feel like a normal person again. Emmitt nurses like a champ and I’m realizing what women mean when they say they do nothing but nurse, nurse, nurse. If he keeps at this when my milk comes in, he’ll outweigh Elnora in a month! (At 9 pounds, 7 oz, he already weighs half of what she does and she’s nearly 2)

Overall, with the exception of pushing being harder than anything I imagined (and really, pretty much sucking royally) I couldn’t have scripted a better birth. Baby came on Rachel’s day off, while it was raining, so FIL didn’t have to be in the fields farming, and when Greg was in between projects at work. I’m still floored that I basically made it to 8cm without even thinking I was in “real” labor.

I really did get the birth of my dreams. I have no complains, no regrets and I’m so thankful that we found an amazing midwife and that I had the support of so many people in taking this route. Greg and Rachel both commented after the fact that they couldn’t even believe how different (and better) this birth was than my hospital birth. The two can’t even compare.

So, one more shot of Emmitt and I taken this morning after I managed to snag a shower. ;)

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  1. Blogger one smarmy mama | 2:39 PM |  

    You look heavenly and that was such a WONDERFUL story!!!!!!! I want that birth next time around.......sounds splendid.

    Enjoy your babymoon........

  2. Blogger heidi | 3:08 PM |  

    I was in SHOCK that you have already posted your birth story- it's amazing how much better you seem to feel after your home birth than I did after laboring in the hospital. What an amazingly beautiful story. Know that you are both blessed- no,the whole family is. Congratulations, and much love!

  3. Anonymous the SmockLady | 4:05 PM |  

    That is awesome. A beautiful name for a beautiful boy. And you both look great. Enjoy every minute - even the tired ones, yes, even those, they will be gone too soon.

  4. Blogger jill | 5:08 PM |  

    Oh my gosh! I love your birth story!!! Thank yo so much for sharing it!

    You look fantastic and Emmitt looks more beautiful than any "right after" baby pictures I've ever seen.


  5. Anonymous Alena | 8:20 PM |  

    Thank you for sharing your beautiful birth story. I feel very inspired :)

  6. Blogger Natural Mom | 1:49 PM |  

    Oh man, this was wonderful and thanks for sharing! They're almost always like this (homebirths). So real, so normal...I'm so very happy for you. :)

  7. Anonymous Sheridan | 8:00 AM |  

    How awesome! Great job and glad that you had the birth you wanted.

  8. Blogger Michele | 2:22 PM |  

    Congrats! What a great story...enjoy your new son!

  9. Anonymous Anonymous | 4:55 PM |  

    Emmitt is beautiful! Thanks for sharing your story.
    Lots of love to you from Emmitt's Aunt Rachel

  10. Blogger The Mommy Blawger | 1:37 AM |  

    Oh, beautiful! Congratulations. Thank you so much for sharing.

  11. Anonymous fairdoes | 7:58 AM |  

    Congrats Jen
    (fairdoes of SBB.com)

  12. Blogger 32poems | 10:07 AM |  

    Hypnobabies Rocks! I used it and went shopping for my hubby's birthday cake while I was in early labor. Nothing hurt until I got really close. One drawback is that the birth center folks had NO idea how close I was, so I got sent home and then had an unassisted birth a few hours later. It just shows how few people think a woman can be relaxed in their birthing time. (Or should I say 'gentle, wonderful birthing time'? ;)

  13. Anonymous Amanda. | 11:09 AM |  

    Congratulations! A wonderful birth story and a beautiful boy!

  14. Blogger lookatme | 10:48 AM |  

    Congratulations, Jen. Nice to see that USA has midwives and home births. When I worked there (70s and 80s) everyone seemed to think hospital was essential (and FORMULA the only available nourishment - hence all babies stank of rancid puke).

    One critical point, though, for those keen on trying home birth: how many minute would it have taken to get to hospital if it hadn't worked out?

    Mike K-H

  15. Blogger Jennifer | 12:18 PM |  

    Mike, Re: transferring...

    My midwife is also an EMT and carries equipment with her to stabalize if needed...

    We have two firehouses with ambulance service within 1.5 miles of our house. Nearest major hospital with high level NICU is 12 miles from here. Thus, in non-emergent transfer we could be there in about 15 minutes. Emergency transfer (speeding) we could be there in less than ten and call ahead to let them know we were coming.

  16. Blogger Meg | 9:26 PM |  

    What a lovely birth story....just fantastically described the epitome of a good homebirth. Congratulations to you and many blessings to your family.
    p.s. Your picture looks so beautiful and blissed out :)

    p.s. my big boy (10 1/2 lbs) nursed like crazy, way more than his sisters....

  17. Blogger Mista | 2:09 PM |  

    So glad I read this story. Great experience!

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