Our family welcomed Juju into the outside world on August 18, 2008 at 1:32am.
For those of you who are interested in such details, here is the story of his birth...
Once again, I was "overdue" and anxious. I really wanted to give birth at home, and Deb had said that after 42 weeks, I would be transferred to the care of an obstetrician. Some of you may remember that Gem had to be coaxed out at 42 weeks. In fact, for my past 3 deliveries, my membranes had been ruptured by an OB to start the labor process. For some reason, my babies don't seem to want to come out on their own! Deb didn't want to resort to this, as it increases the risk of complications. But the natural methods we had tried--including Deb's 3-day induction regimen--had gotten us nowhere, and we were faced with the prospect of a hospital birth. So she decided to come to the house on Sunday evening (Monday was the 42 week mark), and if baby was low enough, she would break my water.
Sunday evening, we gave the children their "big sibling" presents, and Greg took the younger ones to my stepmom's house while Deb examined me. Baby's position and heart rate looked favorable, so when Greg returned, shortly before 7 pm, my water was broken.
While waiting for contractions to begin, Deb and NaDean left to go get some dinner. While they were gone, Greg, the older girls, and I went for a walk, praying a rosary as we walked. Then the older girls went to their room to do their teenaged-girl things. When Deb and NaDean returned from dinner, we sat around visiting, listening to music (everything from Rachmaninov to Cream, lol) and getting out the scrapbooks. It took awhile for things to get started, and I did a lot of walking around and squatting to try to move things along. I also took some homeopathic herbs every 5 minutes for thirty minutes. Eventually, I began to feel contractions that I knew were the real thing. When the contractions started becoming more regular and uncomfortable, I decided to try to lie down and rest for a bit. I didn't get to rest for very long. Around 11pm, contractions started getting serious. We filled our old claw-foot bathtub, and I labored in a candle-lit bath for awhile, before it became difficult to relax. At this point, Deb suggested that I might prefer the birthing stool, so I made my way to the bedroom. When I left the tub, I was 7cm dilated. Shortly after I got to the bedroom, I was dilated to 9 1/2 cm, with an anterior cervical lip. At this point, no position I could get in seemed comfortable. Deb assisted me in pushing around the cervix, but it seemed to be a long difficult process. We finally got past the cervix, and I was completely dilated, but pushing still seemed really difficult compared to my other deliveries. I think I pushed for at least 30 minutes. As long and painful as it was, I didn't feel anxious because Deb and NaDean were calm, patient, and encouraging. Such a far cry from the hospital personnel in my previous deliveries. The whole atmosphere was just different, being in the comfort of our bedroom with a low light, looking up and seeing the crucifix that was given to us by the priest at our wedding. And of course, Greg was right beside me, kissing me, running his fingers through my hair, supporting me, telling me how proud he was of me.
Eventually, Deb suggested squatting, and I did this with Greg sitting behind me and supporting my arms. That got the head out in just a few more pushes. The shoulders took a couple more pushes. And there was my baby. He was placed immediately in my arms, and for the first time ever, I got to discover the sex of my baby on my own. I can't tell you how exciting it was to peek underneath the blanket and to exclaim to Bear "it's a BOY!" Once again, the kids were right!
He latched on and began nursing right away.
Thanks to the patience and support of the midwives, I only had a small amount of tearing (needed 5 stitches) with much less discomfort afterward than my previous deliveries.
After the placenta was delivered, we woke the girls up to come meet their brother/cousin.
Then we all watched Deb and NaDean examine him. He was perfect of course. He weighed 9 lbs 6 oz and was 22 1/2 inches long!
After I rested awhile, I took a shower, gave Juju his first sponge bath, and then we both took a much-needed nap.
Greg waited until daylight to get the little ones. They were so excited to see their new brother, especially Caveman! Well, Gem may just be the most "smitten" of them all. She kissed the baby about 500 times. When her older siblings try to hold him, she screams " Nonono! Mine!"
Many people have asked me why on earth I would want to have my baby at home with a midwife instead of in the hospital. There are so many differences between an OB's care and a midwife's care! The midwife really gets to know her clients and the experience is a much more personal, intimate, relaxed experience. I never had to wait for visits in an office full of people just to have her spend 10 minutes to listen to the baby's heart rate and ask if I had any questions. Instead, I just rang her doorbell and was seen right away. The kids played with a basket of toys that she keeps available, and they were included and involved in the visits. The midwife probably spent as much time with me during ONE visit than my OB did for all visits combined! When I voiced pregnancy discomforts to the OB, the best I got was a sympathetic pat and a "hang in there, it won't be much longer." The midwife actually had suggestions for things that would help ease the discomfort, things that would make make me think "this is my fifth baby, why has no one ever mentioned this before?"
A few days before Juju's birth, when I was having contractions that weren't all that strong but were regular, Deb and NaDean drove to my house in the middle of the night and camped out on my couch and recliner, just in case.
During the labor and delivery process, everything was focused on my comfort and easing the baby's passage into this world, rather than on “policy and procedure”. The midwives used low lights, soft voices, stayed in the background and allowed me to labor in my own way, and stepped up to offer a suggestion or help when needed. Baby never left my sight.
After delivery, the midwife insisted that I stay in bed/couch/recliner for a week, and NO housework, cooking, or lifting toddlers for 2 weeks. I thought that was a little overkill; in the past I had always been told to "take it easy for a few days." But she was right. I bled less and healed more quickly this time than with my previous deliveries.
She came back to my house to check on me and the baby the next day, and then we did the PKU and birth certificate stuff a few days later. For questions and concerns, she was always reachable on her cell phone.
All in all, this has been my best birth experience. If we have another baby, I would choose another homebirth with these ladies.