Mary and Owen arrived home last night, after being in Michigan for a little over a week. Owen was so excited to see me! He reached for me right away, and laughed at anything and everything I did (Mary says he doesn't laugh like that for anyone else).
Man, what a great feeling.
Owen was dedicated at church on February 25, 2004. He was 4 months old and quite the handsome fellow in his red corduroy shirt and gray wool pants. The only disappointment I had was that Sister Blythe was not there to give him her blessed smooch.
Owen was born at 12:36 a.m. on a Monday morning in October. He had been trying to make an entrance since Saturday afternoon and when he finally did it was a pretty big moment. To give you a good detailed account of his birth my sister Becky and I both wrote down facts about the experience. The following is a combination of both accounts:
I had a very uneventful pregnancy, in that I was not sick, and I did not have any problems most of my 9 months. I did develop a pregnancy rash at the end and I did get very, very big. I know that every pregnant woman thinks that they are huge but I had people confirm it for me and you can see from the pictures that I’m not exaggerating.
I chose home-birth for several reasons. I had witnessed the births of two of my nieces in the hospital and then witnessed the births of a nephew and a niece at home and it really just looked a lot better at home. My sister was able to rest in her own bed after the birth, with her husband right beside her and her baby in her arms. The midwife was so knowledgeable and thorough with every detail, from encouragement to cleaning up afterward. She was so capable I never doubted that she had the situation under control. Both babies were strong, healthy and alert and my sister recovered quickly and comfortably. I’m not even going to get into the reasons I didn’t like the hospital births…I don’t want to discourage anyone or make anyone feel like I look down on doctors or any of that. I would rather just tell you that I prefer the one and encourage anyone who’s considering home birth to give it a shot.
My experience was not quite as smooth as my sister’s but everything came out just fine…no pun intended. My check-ups were showing the baby to be plenty big and I was certainly ready to have him. I had, had an ultrasound to find out we were having a boy at about 19 weeks and we had already decided that we would name him Owen. I was praying for him and for myself, that my birth would be quick and easy. It wasn’t easy and it wasn’t quick, but he was perfect…well, close to it anyhow.
I went into the beginnings of labor on Saturday the 4th of October. This was two days before my due date. I had been doing a lot of cleaning that day and thought that my back seemed a little extra sore. I attributed it to my busyness and kept moving. I also noticed during the day that my underwear was wet. I thought, that I must be sweating an awful lot and didn’t think too much more about it. With the extra weight and the work-out I was giving myself cleaning I brushed it off. Then I noticed that there was some pink when I wiped and realized that my water must have broken. In reality my water was leaking and would break later during labor.
We called Kris’ mom and let her know what was going on. We looked online to see what flights would be available and decided to get her a ticket for the following morning and fly her up. She was somewhat disappointed that she would most likely miss the birth but it was the best we could do.
By 10:00 p.m. My contractions were more than 1 minute in length so we let Kathy and Jennifer (my mother daughter midwife team) know and they arrived around 11:15. Kathy checked me to see how things were coming and walked out of the bedroom saying I had barely begun to dilate and we wouldn't see a baby until sometime in the morning. My sister Becky had arrived a few hours earlier with food and sodas, my friend Tisra showed up about the same time with Pizza for after the event and soon the house was buzzing as a few other friends showed up. I was enjoying the excitement but was soon ushered off to the bedroom. I was becoming more and more uncomfortable and it was getting late. Becky and her youngest daughter, Hope, slept in Kris’ office that night, my youngest sister Kristy, who arrived a little after the midwives, took the couch, and Kathy and Jennifer had a bed and a mattress in the guest room. I had prepared the guest room for Kris’ mom, never dreaming I would have to host a group over-night, before the baby came. I was so determined to have the baby I didn’t want any of them to sleep…I think I was a little out of it because I had to be talked into letting everyone use the bedding. I didn’t mean to be ungracious, but looking back I realize how silly I was being.
Kris and I labored through the night, neither of us sleeping more than a few minutes at a time and both praying for it to be over soon. I got hungry at about three in the morning and Kris woke Becky up and asked her to make me a turkey and cheese quesadilla. She thought this was a little strange but I truly didn’t know what time it was or that I was making a strange request. For all I knew they were all in the living room having a party. I really didn’t know what was going on in the house. Kathy and Jennifer checked me at 4:00 am and I was dilated to four. Not a lot of progress it seemed. Finally morning came and there was a bit more activity. I was encouraged to walk around and try to get my body to respond to labor, but I was very slow. I just wasn’t progressing very quickly and the more I did the more miserable I was. I tried not to be a cry baby, but I know I did a lot of whining. I was still leaking water this entire time but my body was replacing it as I leaked. The baby was never in danger. Kris’ mom arrived around 11:30 and a few friends came back to the house to see what was happening. Not much. I was actually glad that Kris’ mom would be there for the birth, although I would have already had that baby, had it been up to me. By early afternoon I had dilated to 7. By late afternoon my frustration level was so high I was ready to do anything to get that baby out. Kris and I were both exhausted and ready to cry. He was rubbing my back and encouraging me the whole time and I was so thankful for his support. I wished though the whole time that I could comfort him because I knew it was as stressful for him as it was me. Becky commented later that she heard Kris and I say that we were just ready to give up. She wondered what we were going to do to give up. Of course there is no giving up in these cases…you have no choice. In my mind it was a resignation that had I been offered a c-section at that moment I would have seriously considered it. This is another reason I’m thankful we chose home birth. Because had I been in a hospital a c-section would most likely have been offered. By evening I was fully dilated but there was a part of the cervix that wouldn’t go away. Kathy tried to push it out of the way but it was troublesome. The “encouragement team” held a prayer meeting and soon after, Kathy announced that it was gone.
When Kris and I were alone in the room I decided to take matters in my own hands and start pushing. I felt like if I could just push that baby down to a certain point, he would just move out on his own. Kris’ mom walked in on this and hurried to get the midwife. She didn’t make me stop but told me that it probably wasn’t going to make much difference at this point. She was right, but it did break my water. I gave one great big push and heard a snapping sound and a big gush of water. I think my water breaking probably helped my progression some but not a lot. I still had better progress just laying on my side. Kathy offered me an enema to really get those muscles moving and hopefully spur on my progress. I took her up on it and though it was the remedy I needed it was undoubtedly the most miserable part of my labor. The pain was intense and I thought I was going to explode. I knew that had I been less tired I could have laughed through it, but I was too tired. I felt like I was making everyone else miserable and wanted to apologize to everyone but I couldn’t say much of anything. I just tried to do what I was told. I kept looking at my sister Kristy who was 8 months pregnant and reassuring her that her birth would be easier than this one. She just laughed at me. She knew I was right.
Finally I was at a point where I could push. I tried several positions but because of my large protruding belly I had better luck on my back…just like in the hospital. I pushed, and pushed, and pushed…for three hours I worked on that little guy, but he would not come. I began wondering if he was really going to make an appearance or if we were going to have to just leave him in there. Everyone was insisting that after a couple of hours of pushing I was just too weak to be doing any good. I felt so frustrated because I knew that I was fine. I was definitely tired but I knew that my pushes were just as strong then as they were when I started. I was given oxygen to keep my strength up and I had a whole team of cheerleaders. Kathy was at the baby end working his little head around. He seemed to want to turn his head and wouldn’t cooperate with her. Jennifer was by my side and at times would push on the top of my belly to help move that little guy down. Becky was holding one leg, Kristy was to my right somewhere, Kris’ mom was behind me holding my back whenever I would push and Kris was by my head to the left whispering to me and making me feel like I had a reason to work so hard. My friends Tisra and Amy were in the room too, but I really was only aware of Kris and Kathy for the most part. My friend Brent had also come by the house around 10:00 that night expecting to find us all cleaned up and showing off a baby. He was surprised and almost excited to learn that Owen hadn’t come yet. He left and returned around midnight I guess, with a huge bouquet of blue and white roses. He stayed out in the living room and listened to all that was happening in the bedroom and prayed that baby into the world for me.
Several things happened that I was unaware of during the labor. One was that there was a little worry among the cheerleaders and prayer meetings were being held on behalf of mother and baby in the other room. Another was that the Holy Spirit was speaking to Jennifer while I pushed, that I would need to have an episiotomy to get the baby out. Kathy was very reluctant about this. Not because she was afraid to do it, but it was something she had never done because it was usually unnecessary. However…sometimes God chooses to do things different ways. I was unaware of the need for this until I had been pushing for some time and Kathy asked me…”do you want me to cut you?” I responded quickly with an emphatic “no.” Kathy said okay…but you are going to have push really hard because you have very good skin and it’s going to have to tear.” I didn’t want to tear, but I had set my mind on not being cut before so I waited for another contraction and pushed again. Nothing changed. Kathy asked me again…”Do you want me to cut you.” I realized that my strength was not going to grow at this point and that if I couldn’t even tear, I was going to be pushing a lot longer so I said, “yes.” She made a cut no bigger than 2 centimeters and I barely felt it. On the next contraction I felt him move and I realized from the loud cheers around me that his head was beginning to come out. I had seen births before and knew that usually you wait for another contraction and then pull the rest of the body out but I was tired of pushing and wanted to get it over with. I didn’t stop that last push and he flew out all at once, screaming as he came. He was covered with meconium and seemed as big as a two year old. I was so relieved I could hardly speak. I didn’t know what to do. They laid him on my chest and he just looked beautiful and gross all at once. Kris was overwhelmed and I was just exhausted. Kathy and Jennifer took the baby and cleaned him up while I tried to stop bleeding. I was gushing what looked like blood, but turned out to be mostly water. I won’t go into too many more details about all that happened afterward, Kathy and the gang cleaned everything up, I got a bath and climbed into bed all on my own. Jennifer commented in surprise at my ability to move with as much agility as I was displaying. I knew I was tough. The next morning, there was little left of the crowd from the night before. The house was spotless and the sunlight that woke me rested on such a quiet and peaceful home. I broke the rules and walked to the living room to find Kris’ mom in the rocking chair...she quickly told me to go back to bed and put in my order for breakfast. Life was good.
I would have to say there was a part of me that was dissapointed with my personal performance. I had watched my sister deliver so quickly that I expected that for myself. Everyone has a different experience though and I am certainly not dissapointed in the results. I’ll never forget the sound of everyone screaming and cheering for Owen as he made his entrance into the world. I felt surrounded by love and encouragement that only comes from family and friends who are sent by God Himself. My favorite moment was feeling that slimy baby being laid on my chest and knowing that he was mine. Realizing that I was going to be able to pass on to him the greatest knowledge there is, I leaned up as close to his little ear as I could and whispered to him the only thing he’ll ever really need to know in life…”Jesus loves you Owen.” I still tell him that every day.
He arrived at 12:36 on Monday morning. He was born on his due date…the little rascal must have been hanging out in there just waiting for that moment. Some of you may be reading this thinking…I don’t want a home birth if it’s that long and painful. And to that I can only say…suit yourself. I believe if I had been in the hospital they would have insisted on a c-section because my water had been leaking for more than 24 hours and the baby was obviously large. His head was turned and all those little things just add up to surgery most of the time. Yes, it may have been over sooner had we gone that route, but I am thankful that I didn’t have to have surgery. I am thankful that my recovery was natural and uncomplicated by other things. I’m healthy, Owen is healthy and yes, I’d do it again…in a heartbeat.
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