I guess I could say that baby Sorrel’s birth story started many months before he was born. With a hunkering; this internal voice that kept me imagining that he would be born early. After having three home births I just couldn’t even begin to imagine the complications that would bring along with it. Once I was about 7 months pregnant I just kept envisioning keeping that baby in. Mentally it felt exhausting. At my 35 week visit, at Rising Moon Midwifery, with my dear friend/midwife Kate, I shared that I felt like I was fighting the urge to let this baby out. My body felt tired. I just felt done. She said, “Then just let go. You can have your baby at any point now.” I felt better just hearing her say those words, but I am such a person who believes in everything happening at the right time that I was afraid of “making” it happen, maybe before it was “supposed to”…before I was ready. Writing those words reflect back to me just how silly we can be sometimes in life in our mental efforts to control our lives at times. I was controlling myself to the point of not seeing that it was already happening all in its own time….at the “right” time, whether it was early or not. I left that day, went home and worked on letting go.
I woke up twice from sleep that week; with enough happening to know there was no way I would be pregnant for that much longer. My baby wanted to come out a bit early. There was nothing I could do to stop that. I couldn’t really sleep Sunday night and Monday morning I called Kate and said I thought that that was going to be the day. Kate has been with me for three home births and when we moved I couldn’t imagine having any one else with me for my last labor and birth. So, when we moved, we moved three and a half hours away…but she made the special trip for me. I could never thank her enough really. So, we had a few odds to consider. Me: a quick laborer. Her: a good distance to drive. So, she listened and decided she better just roll with it and come on up.
Meanwhile, one of my dearest friends Kristen, and her two boys were visiting. Once she heard Kate was on her way, she asked, “Well, what do you feel like you need to get done?” My response, “Can some dilly beans!” So that’s what we did. Although I am eager to see how they turn out. One fully pregnant mama about to launch into labor and one pregnant mama just starting her third trimester make a pretty funny canning team. We wound up adding more and more beans and brine. I still can’t really understand what we did wrong, but in the end some beans got canned and I felt like I accomplished something.
When Kate and her assistant Jill, who is another dear friend of ours, arrived we went out and gathered vegetables from the gardens. We were going to make gluten free pizzas for dinner, from scratch of course, and always get pretty creative with the toppings. It was supposed to be a “quick” thing, but as always it took forever, and I was starting to feel irritable. Any other day I don’t think it would’ve mattered, but at this point there were 6 noisy kids, five adults, and one annoying dog and I was starting to really want everyone away from me, particularly my kids. This was odd to me, because in the past they have always been around for my labors no problem.
Eventually, after dinner, things settled. We got some space and put our kids to bed. My boys wanted me to put them to bed and I did, shedding several tears as I lay with them for a few minutes after they drifted off, not knowing when or if ever I would be able to spend that time and space at bedtime with them again. Honestly, above everything, I did not feel ready to give up Lake as my baby. Even though I knew at three and a half he would adjust, I still found myself struggling to find peace with it. I wanted to hold on…tightly, but knew inevitably I HAD to let go…quickly. There was no way around it.
At this point it was about ten thirty. Jason and I filled up the birth tub and lit some candles in our bedroom. Jason wanted to go for a walk down to the river and watch the meteor showers. Although I wanted to too, my contractions had become strong enough to not “need” to do too much more walking in my opinion PLUS, I had a plan. You see once the clock struck midnight, it would be Hawthorn’s birthday, and if there was one thing I knew, it was that I really didn’t want two of my kids to have to share their actual birthday. So I figured I had better stay put and focus on having this baby stat.
I started timing my contractions at this point just to see, and they were about four minutes apart. They were consistent, stayed that way, but wait?! The clock struck midnight…oh well. Again, I had to let go, Hawthorn was going to get a baby for his birthday. At this point Kate and Jill came inside and I got into the birth tub. Ironically both Hawthorn and Lake woke up and came in to the bedroom too. I am always amazed at the amount of space, understanding, and support all of my children have while I am laboring. Hawthorn snuggled up with Jill and Kate on my bed and Lake sat quietly next to Jason by the birth tub. Both Hawthorn and Lake were born in water, but this time it was different. When I was in the tub things were not progressing. I was starting to feel a bit frustrated, given all of my labors were pretty straight forward following the same patterns. Suddenly I felt the baby float up inside of me and move. I got out. My contractions were strong. I was ready to push, but I couldn’t I didn’t know what the heck was going on, but the baby felt stuck in my stomach. Again, frustration set in. I wanted this baby out. I moved over to the bed. My water broke. Still I didn’t feel the urge to push. What was going on? All of my other labors were 45 minutes from transition to birth. I was not liking this labor! After my water broke the baby’s heart rate dropped. No good. I fretted. We all did. Again, I let go. There was nothing I could do but be right where I was, smack in the middle of this labor. I moved onto a birthing stool. Baby’s heart rate resumed to normal. All good. I had a good inkling that this baby was stuck somehow. Why? How? Kate reassured me that I was fine. That all of my other labors had been really easy. That this labor was not too fun, but that I was fine. I know she could read worry all over my face. For whatever reason I couldn’t feel how to push, so Kate coached me in how and where. This made an amazing difference. About twenty five minutes later, my baby entered this world…posterior! No wonder I was lacking the urge to push. Little baby’s head was not positioned correctly. Sigh. Why did he move when I got in the birth tub? Who knows, but he was out and I felt a gazillion times better. I had made it through my fifth (and most difficult) birth. At some point I had asked my kids to leave, so now everyone began filing back into the room to greet their new baby brother.
Now the really interesting part was yet to come. This baby’s placenta was weird. Jill was going crazy about it and taking tons of pictures of it. The umbilical cord did not actually go into the placenta, but instead it had three veins that webbed throughout the sack of waters to the placenta. Had one of those veins been ruptured when the sack burst or for some other reason, things would not have been good for the baby. Honestly, Kate said that it was really good that he came out now because she didn’t even see how he lasted okay for this long in utero or how he could’ve for that much longer with that placenta. My whole pregnancy I had felt pretty crappy, but as soon as that placenta was out of me I felt like myself again. I felt so much better.
We all snuggled back into our beds for a few hours of sleep as the sun was just shedding it’s first rays of light. That evening we celebrated Hawthorn’s sixth birthday and he was so excited that the baby was born on his birthday.
It is so interesting how much the birthing process relies on trust…in the self, in the body, in life in general. There was no way we ever could have known what this baby’s placenta was like before it came out. I am so super grateful to have home birth as an option and for Kate and her wealth of knowledge and experience as a midwife. Looking back, every bit of my gut instincts make sense now…my not feeling well, knowing this baby needed to come out early, holding on as long as I could, but finding the appropriate times to let go. I could imagine all the what if’s had I not chosen to birth at home where no external medical interventions are an option when red flags arise, or say how lucky we are that the baby is fine, but most of all, I just realize that everything happens for a reason and our need as human beings to let go, even in times of extreme discomfort, and learn to trust in the process…the process of our own individual journey and in life in general. Ah, yes…life is good!