and just like that we had a baby.
This birth experience was a completely different experience than I had with Edith and it was much faster (for the most part). Let’s get down to the chain of events …
Wednesday July 30th – Alder’s due date. Now unlike Edith who had two due date options Alder’s due date was more of a sure thing based on the circumstances of this pregnancy. Since the previous Thursday I had been experiencing a lot of Braxton Hicks Contractions and some cramping and low back pain but nothing too crazy. I had my 40 week appointment in the morning and at this point discussed with my doctor what the options for moving things along were because I was just so ready to get this baby out especially since we are moving August 16th. She suggested trying another round of acupuncture this time with one of the doctors in her office and so I immediately said yes and we set up an appointment for that afternoon. I went in for my acupuncture at 2pm and also had a cervical check and found out I was 2cm dilated and 70% effaced. I had my treatment and started to feel some light cramping by the end of my treatment. I spent the remainder of the day resting in hoping that the acupuncture would work.
Thursday July 31st. I had some light cramping through the night but woke up Thursday morning still pregnant but by 8am I started to really feel lots of low cramping and back pain. I let Neil know but told him there wasn’t a rush to come home and that I would keep him up to date on things. Finally around 2:30pm I asked him to come home after his last meeting of the day because I was really starting to feel some more intense cramping and inconsistent contractions (side note Neil’s work commute right now is about 30-90 minutes depending on traffic so that is why I wanted him to head home). I kept having contractions and cramping and by 8:30pm decided to call the midwife to give her a heads up. I then went straight to bed. Cramping and contractions continued all night intensified a bit but were still farther apart.
Friday August 1st. Since I was still having contractions and cramping I asked Neil if he would want to walk down to get coffee and stop for some breakfast. We headed out at 7am (we are earlier risers here) and by the time we were walking home I was having to stop during contractions which were now 3-4 minutes apart. We went straight home and I started timing contractions and after about 8 contractions found that I was having contractions 2-3 minutes apart lasting for 1 minute or so in duration. We called the midwives and they were all (we had 2 midwives and a student midwife) here by around 9am.
Contractions started to intensify and I labored on the exercise ball, walked around a bit, and did some side lunges/rocking while Neil worked with the midwives to get the birthing pool set up.
Around 10am one the midwives checked me and found I was at 7cm and I don’t no how effaced actually but I must have been getting close to 100%. She said she expected me to enter transition at anytime now. I labored through around 5 more contractions before getting into the birthing pool. Soon after that contractions picked up and started to become more and more intense. I kept going back to Edith’s birth and tried to remember to make low sounds and keep my mouth loose.As contractions intensified I suddenly felt the urge to push and I said I needed to and was told to go ahead! At this point my water still hadn’t broken and it wasn’t until I started pushing that it finally did break. I had 3 rounds of contractions, 9 big pushes, 1 time of unnecessary (and unhelpful) screaming and then a loud roar when I felt the “ring of fire” aka Alder’s head being born and then finally his body and a surge of relief once I felt his body being born. At 10:59am Alder was born.I birthed Alder on my hands and knees in the birth pool which was a position that I just couldn’t get comfortable in with Edith and Neil ended up catching him behind me. It was about a minute (which felt like forever) before I actually got to see this little baby that I just birthed but finally I turned around and got to hold him and reveal that we had a baby boy.
I held Alder while he had a quick check and then Neil cut his cord. Shortly after that my placenta was out and I was laying in bed with a new baby boy on my chest. I ended up with a small tear and had to have 3 stitches but so far things haven’t been so bad down there compared to when I had Edith.While Alder and I were getting checked the other midwives were cleaning up everything and by the time they had left, which was around 1pm, it didn’t even look like a birth had occurred. Seriously it was amazing.Side note Alder didn’t have a name until around 3pm and his name actually wasn’t even on our list of first names. Alder was a name that I had liked as a middle name and Grey was a middle name that we both liked and in the end we waffled between a few names that stuck out to us but then Neil said something about having Alder be the first name and it just felt right so that’s what we went with. Prior to this we had about 10-15 girls and boys names picked out and nothing even close to standing out as a front runner. How/where was Edith during the birth? Edith was in attendance! She “helped” Neil inflate the birthing pool at first and then we brought out a special new toy for her to play with incase the birth was during the day. This new toy (Mega Blocks) was as huge hit and kept her happy and distracted for amount of time. She spent her time checking in on me, playing with toys and the midwives helped to distract her at times as well. While I was in the birthing pool/giving birth I was told she was curious, interested, excited and a little confused as to what was going on and she had a few moments of concern when I was having some of my louder moments. She watched her brother being born and was super excited when Neil caught him.I’ll blog more about transitioning to being a big sister another day.
A DAD’S PERSPECTIVE:
Having come ten days early, we were caught by surprise by Edith’s birth. After a nice afternoon walk around the Ethan Allen Homestead in Burlington, VT, Edith started the final part of her journey to join us. Not so much with Alder. They say that if your first child came early then your second probably will as well. We were both convinced of this and started to prepare and expect Alder to join us about two weeks before his expected due date.
We started to nest around the house, I started to warn everyone at work that I may be out on paternity leave any given day, and Lindsay started to prepare for the birthing process by getting massages, acupuncture and going for daily and nightly walks to help to relax and maybe speed up the process a bit.
The only thing was that we were going through a lot of other transitions in life that made it hard to be comfortable and hard to relax in anticipation of our new baby joining us. I had just started a new job across the river and over the hills (with the possibility of an hour+ commute home), we were preparing to move to our new apartment in the middle of August, and our landlord was scheduling showings of the apartment at all hours of the day throughout the week. It seemed like there would never be a “convenient” time for this home birth to happen. Even so, on July 22nd (8 days before the due date), Lindsay started to feel what we thought was the beginning of early labor and had me work from home for the next two days.
Heading in to our second to last prenatal appointment, Lindsay started to feel even stronger contractions and both she and our midwife were both convinced that this baby would be joining us at any time now. However, that was just the beginning of another long week of anticipation. Another week came and went, with Lindsay having occasional contractions, back pain and nausea but being cautious about having me come home from work early for support (she was convinced that people would view her as the wife who called wolf). However, things surrounding the major stressor in our life at this point started to fall into place.
Tuesday night, our landlord showed the apartment to a woman who seemed really interested and on Wednesday as we were about to head to what would be our final pre-natal appointment we were told that she put in an application for the apartment. We started to feel the stress dwindle and our spirits start to lift. That Wednesday, Alder’s expected due date, we went in for our final appointment and our midwife scheduled an acupuncture appointment for that afternoon for Lindsay with another doctor/midwife who shared the same office and had a pretty great success rate of inducing delivery within 24 hours through acupuncture.
Thursday Lindsay started to feel more cramps, contractions, nausea and back pain. I left work early that afternoon to beat traffic to be sure I wouldn’t miss anything. As we headed out to run some last minute errands that afternoon, we ran into our landlord outside our apartment and she let us know that the application for the new tenant was approved and the showings would end. We went to bed that night with that weight finally off our shoulders. And, I truly believe that was the last barrier for us to feel at ease with the birth happening at home.
Friday morning we headed out for a family walk to our favorite local coffee shop and after chatting with the baristas moved on to get some breakfast at the neighborhood bakery. We sat and enjoyed our coffee and chatted while we ate our breakfast before beginning the long (for Lindsay) walk home. With Edith yelling “Faster!” from the stroller, we were stopping every couple minutes on the 5 block walk home as the contractions started to become more frequent and more overwhelming.
We made it home, and going by my memories of Edith’s birth, I thought we had lots of time. I stopped in the downstairs office to send an e-mail to work saying I wouldn’t be in and poked around the internet a bit while Edith played on the floor next to me. When we made our way upstairs, I found Lindsay on the exercise ball hanging on the edge of the couch timing her contractions.
It was an entirely different experience than I remembered with Edith where I was laying on the bed with Lindsay, smart phone in hand, trying to figure out exactly what the beginning and end of her contractions were. I called our midwife only to get her answering machine and then called our backup midwife (technically our backup’s backup as our primary midwife was out of town) and spoke with her and updated her on Lindsay’s status. Both of our midwives lived in our neighborhood and headed right over after making arrangements for their children. I spent the next 20-30 minutes actually keeping Edith busy while Lindsay continued to time her contractions. It was a huge difference from the jokes, back rubs and romantic 75 mile drive at 3 in the morning for Edith’s birth. Even still, it felt right in a way.
As our family grows, the dynamics are going to always be shifting. Where I used to be able to give her 100% of my focus and attention, we need to learn to shift and adapt that to serve our whole family as best we can.
Dr. Amanda (our midwife and primary care physician) arrived around 9 am with Kayla (their midwifery student) and Dr. Liz (backup midwife) arriving shortly thereafter. Lindsay was continuing to progress through labor with her contractions getting stronger and more frequent. Edith was happy to show off for all of the familiar faces in the room, giving me some time to support Lindsay as best I could – rubbing her back, applying pressure and getting her whatever she needed. I started to inflate the birth pool and attached the hose to the faucet, preparing the fill the pool. While I waited for direction, I put Edith in the empty pool and she had a blast bouncing around and peering over the side.
We started the process of filling the pool and waited anxiously. One of our midwives was considering heading home for a while until she checked Lindsay and realized how far along she was. At this point we really started to get things into gear. I took out some new Mega-Bloks and books we had gotten Edith for the birth. While she showed those off to Dr. Liz and Kayla, I helped Dr. Amanda by boiling water in every pot we had available and filling the tub with water from the bathroom so we could make sure Lindsay had the opportunity to labor in the pool.
Once we had the pool filled high enough, Lindsay began to labor in the pool while Kayla checked for the heartbeat and took Lindsay’s “vitals”. I took time where I could to support Lindsay as best I could. Reminding her how strong I thought she was and how confident in her I was.
While a lot of things were different than what I had expected and what we had experienced with Edith, I was filled with just as much or more amazement and awe and how strong and inspiring she was during the birth process. Lindsay let Dr. Amanda know she was ready to push and with that came the same low noises, chants of “Ouuuuuuut” and “horse lips” that I remembered from Edith’s birth. Dr. Amanada let us know that Lindsay’s water had not broken yet and that it was helping to maintain the progress Alder was making.
As Lindsay pushed, Edith stood next to me and watched in what seemed to amazement, joy and fear (as Lindsay let out a scream of pain). Dr. Amanda asked if I wanted to catch Alder and, what seemed like only a few minutes later, asked if I wanted to feel his head. I jumped at both opportunities. I got to feel his head and with just one or two more pushes saw his face and his lips coming out and then got to catch our beautiful baby. As we worked to untangle his cord, I passed him to Lindsay and she was the first to announce we had had a baby boy. Dr. Amanda rushed to take pictures as Lindsay, Edith and I took in the newest member of our family.
It was amazing to see something that built up so slowly culminate in such a quick, fast delivery. I joked to Lindsay before Alder was born about how this would probably be a sign of his personality, as I really think Edith’s birth is a reflection of hers. As Dr. Liz and Dr. Amanda tended to Lindsay and Alder – taking measurements and sewing stitches (only 3) – I spent time with Edith as she showed me her new toys and then bringing her in to meet her new baby brother and settling into the idea of our new family of four.
Even though we can’t always provide each other with the same direct forms of support that we once did, we will continue to show our love in support in so many different ways both direct and indirect.