Brandy’s Fifth Birth at Home

January 23, 2017

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Dear Aria Serenity Green,

Here in my arms you lay peaceful, true to your name. You are only six weeks old but have such a great personality already! Your calm, sweet spirit is just one of the reasons we gave you your name. The day of your birth…is another.

You were born on a Sunday. And not just any Sunday either. It was September 11th to be exact, and also your aunt’s birthday. It started out like any other…except for the fact that it was your due date!

Naturally, I lay in bed before getting up, daydreaming about what it would be like to give birth on this day, with quite a few different birth scenarios running through my head, but I quickly faced the facts: Your older brother Christopher (now 5) was born 7 days past his due date, your older brother Adam Michael (now 3 1/2) was almost 19 days past his, and your older brother Arthur (now almost 2) was 11 days past his. To put it mildly, I was well-prepared for you to be a latecomer as well.

I got out of bed expecting to make breakfast before your father, John, left for church with your two oldest brothers. I hadn’t been able to go to church the past month or two because of the edema in my legs, feet, and hands every time I sat too long. It was also difficult for me to go anywhere during the last trimester of pregnancy because it made my blood pressure rise far too high, and I was at risk for pre-eclampsia—a pregnancy complication that caused me to have a placental abruption with our first child, turning him into a stillborn over six years ago.

So it had been decided that I would stay home with our youngest, Arthur, and try to take it easy if I was cramping again,  or try and get some things done if I wasn’t. I wasn’t feeling very well—I had been up for a few hours during the night with more contractions, and was still very tired and a bit sore. So I decided to jump into the shower.

Now I had been having contractions, or birthing surges, ever since I was only about 10 weeks along. Without fail I always had several a day, sometimes several an hour, but they always went away if I changed positions. Besides they never hurt; it was just pressure in the front that persisted for half a minute then left.
And so it was that when I woke up the night before with more surges that went away as soon as I got up, I didn’t suspect at all that they were actually doing something.

Once I was in the shower, I had a few more surges. It crossed my mind that maybe I would be able to have a baby that day…but I just had to laugh. Babies are hardly ever born on their due dates, and when they are it is usually by scheduled c-section. So I didn’t think more of it.

But the amount of surges I’d been having that morning were starting to take a toll on me, and when I got out of the shower I didn’t want to eat because of it. I sat on the couch and helped the boys get ready for church, brushing hair and buttoning buttons from my perch. Your father and brothers were going to be late–it was already 10:00 and it still took about twenty minutes to drive there.

And then I had another birthing wave. Only this one was suddenly much stronger than the others and started in my back. It was as John was trying to hustle the boys out the door and get them buckled into the car that I finally realized–

Was I really in labor?

But calm down, I told myself. For one thing, this could very well just be false labor. If it was, there was no need to make John stay home from church. I needed to wait, and time these surges I had been getting. They were about every twenty minutes or so, right? So I still had plenty of time. Besides, if I was in labor, it would be nice to have the boys out of the house so I could clean it real quick and maybe take a bath or a walk before I got too far along and had to focus more on hypnobirthing.

Another surge hit when John came in and saw me riding out yet another birthing wave. “Are… you in labor?” He asked, frozen by the door.

I waited until the surge ended. “I might be,” I said sheepishly.

But the boys were already in the car, which was idling in our driveway, and they were already late to church. I probably wasn’t even in labor, anyway. Most likely, they were just practice contractions and would go away when I went downstairs to lie down. And besides–IF I was in labor, we still had a long way to go.

I told him my thought process and he reluctantly agreed. He brought me my phone and instructed me to call him if ANYthing changed, at all, and he would turn the car around in an instant and come back. Later he told me how apprehensive he felt, leaving me alone with our toddler with me possibly being in labor. But really it made the most sense for him to go.

We kissed and said goodbye before he left. Our youngest, Arthur, watched the exchange and then collapsed in a heap of tears and disappointment from watching his father and brothers leave him behind.

I had another birthing surge as I was going down the stairs to him, and all of a sudden it seemed like a good idea to get on all fours for this one.

Definitely in labor now!

Still, Arthur was crying, and I tried to calm him in the middle of the surge. When it was done, I helped him get his shoes on so he could play outside. With him happily playing in our enclosed front yard, I went downstairs to lie down and start timing contractions. In just a few short minutes, they went abruptly from twenty minutes apart to two minutes apart!

Our bedroom window looks right out into the yard where I could watch him playing with his trucks in the grass. I went into the bathroom and realized I lost my mucous plug. My nerves were on edge, tingling in excitement, as I went about the room, getting labor things ready. I turned on Lauralyn’s hypnobirthing affirmations and tried to listen and calm down through them as I got out fresh towels and put them on the bed, then laid one out on the floor at the foot of our bed. Next I threw one over the birthing ball so it wouldn’t slide away from me as I leaned on it because I had nobody there to help support me. All the while having contractions that I was timing.

I texted my mom first because she would have two hours’ drive in order to be here on time. Then I called my midwife Kathleen to let her know I was definitely having a baby today. I expected her to be at church when I called–but she was in the hospital. I started to panic a bit, wondering if anybody would be at the birth besides me.

The Spirit flooded me, and I knew that no matter what happened, I wasn’t alone. Even if everybody else missed the birth besides me and my baby, we still wouldn’t be alone. I knew I could do it–give birth by myself–if I needed to. Any woman can do anything, when it really comes down to it. We are made of much stronger stuff than we give ourselves credit for!

The surges were now about a minute and a half apart and I was by myself and—oh, right. With my boy. I got up again as soon as the surge was done and checked on him out the window. Playing by the fence. Kathleen was able to help me through another contraction and told me that another midwife, Dorothy, and a good friend of hers would be able to be there in her place.

So I texted Vickie Stephens, my amazing doula, and Lisa, Kathleen’s assistant, and told her and Dorothy I was in labor. More surges came before I heard back from them. Finally I called John, thinking his phone would be too silenced in church for a call. He was with his mother, who we wanted to be at the birth as well. But she offered to take the boys and drop them off to be tended first before she made her way over. That taken care of, John was able to make the half-hour trek back home.

By this time, I was getting rather tired of all the texts and calls and checking on Arthur and just wanted to focus on my affirmations! But I wasn’t done taking care of things yet. My phone rang and I answered it right when another surge began. It was the midwife’s assistant, Lisa, letting me know they were on their way and calling to see just how far into the labor I was. The answer was very, seeing as how the only responses I could make were a moaned yes or no.

But I was calm. I was peaceful. Everything was happening as it should. I was filled with the Spirit and knew everything would be all right.

The next half hour was spent trying to coax baby not to come out just yet till they could get here. My surges were right on top of each other with hardly a minute to breathe, let alone standing up to check on my little boy. Then back down on hands and knees and hugging the ball as more surges came. Lauralyn’s calm, sweet voice helped me through the surges as I automatically relaxed and melted my body into the floor and focused on breathing. And every time a surge ended, I was brought right back into my body and got up again to check on my boy outside who was just playing quietly… even though I really needed to put him down for his nap. Then drop down to the floor again during another surge, and crawl back to my ball because it was my best friend in the whole world at the moment and made everything right as rain.

But something was different with this last surge, and I grabbed the nearby trash can (which I had put next to me specifically for this purpose in anticipation for this moment), and hurled into it.

I was in transition. Alone… and in transition.

…and still taking care of my son. I stood up for what I hoped was the last time to check on him, and saw a car pull up outside. Relief! Serenity washed over me, knowing I wouldn’t have to do this alone any more. It was short-lived, however, as I knelt down once again for another surge, trying to wipe my mind and instantly think calming thoughts and affirmations. It had barely let up when another surge started… and strong, gentle hands went around me.

Your father was home.

And with him had come the midwives. Dorothy O’Brien had come with Kathleen’s assistant, Lisa. They saw how far along I was and immediately (and quietly!) jumped into action. They helped me with that contraction and started setting up, getting the bed made and our jetted tub going so I could have a water birth. My doula, Vickie Stephens, was with them and started pushing on my lower back. I looked up and saw Arthur, watching me, a curious expression on his sweet face. John left to put him down for his nap and came right back. I was on all fours still and pushed the ball away when I saw John was here, leaning onto him for comfort and support instead.

More surges came, and Lisa asked if I could lay on my back so she could check the baby’s heart rate. I tried to roll over… I really did! But every time I tried, another surge came, and they were too strong for me to move during them. And before I knew it, I was making noise during them and moaning till they were done, only they weren’t letting up, and that’s when I knew. You were almost here!

I half-expected it to feel like when Arthur came out of me, without me needing to push and with me just breathing and him sliding out on his own. But this time was different. There was definitely the need to push, but it wasn’t unbearable or uncontrollable like it was my first two. This was more…like my body was telling me to just make the noise and you would come on your own. So I made the noise! And my body did its own thing.

I vaguely remember the midwife telling me to tell her when I felt the baby was coming. She and her assistant were making the bed up in case I wanted to labor on there while John and our doula were helping me through another birthing surge. I almost had to laugh. My baby had already crowned!

Nobody even realized it, but it was a special feeling, being the only one to know you were coming out of me. But I managed to whisper “Right now!” just as your head came out. As John repeated what I said to the room, there was an almost scramble as they realized that I was much farther along than they had realized. I decided long ago that I didn’t want to be checked during labor, and I have loved this decision ever since!

I moaned my sweet baby out in one push. All 6 lbs and 12 ozs of you! The midwife received you and I turned over and sat down, exhausted but so anxious to meet my angel. You were perfect! I held you in my arms, awed by the majestic simplicity in which you came serenely into our world. Finally, you were with me.

After two and a half hours of labor–the majority of which I was not only by myself, but also still taking care of a toddler!–and less than a minute of pushing, you came into the world at 12:17 PM. As difficult as it is to do, you managed to come into the world exactly on time, choosing your due date as your birthday. You came out of me so quickly, all ready to meet your parents, that your father and the midwives were almost too late, and both your grandmothers arrived later to find out that they had missed your birth!

And of course you chose to be born on the Sabbath day. It seems strangely befitting that your father was at church with the Lord while angels attended me at home. And that is the story of how you, Aria Serenity Green, came to our family.
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