The rest of Calvin’s birth story

I’m so sorry for not finishing sooner.  It’s been on my list of things to do since the moment I hit the publish button on the first part, but giving birth and moving house in the same week tends to put a pinch on computer time.  :)

Picking up where I left off…

cont’d from Part 1

I wasn’t just surprised.  I was shocked and suddenly lost.  In 11 previous deliveries, my water has NEVER broken before I am fully dilated and ready to push.  My biggest and best signal of where I stood in labor had just disappeared.  I fought my rising panic and called for Perry, desperately hoping he was still in the house.

He didn’t answer, but Lydia heard me and came to see what I needed.  I calmed my voice, and asked if Dad was still home.  Yes?  GET HIM.

He was up the stairs and in the bedroom with me in a few seconds.  I was still on the bed, afraid that if I moved the tiny gush I had felt would turn into a bigger mess on my unprepared bed.  “My water just broke.  Help me to the bathroom.”  He helped me up and I lurched a few steps to the bathroom.  Once in there, I stepped into the tub and lowered myself to a squatting position, bracing my arms on the sides of the tub.  I felt the expected gush as Perry called the midwife from my phone.

I heard them discussing amniotic fluid and called out that it was clear, knowing that Jennifer would be asking.  She was picking up the other midwife and heading straight over as quickly as possible.

Perry asked if I wanted the pool, and I nodded numbly, still unsure of what was happening – or what would happen next.

He went downstairs and got the three older girls moving as quickly as possible.  They used the hose to start filling the pool directly from the water heater until it ran cold, then they started heating pots of water on the stovetop.  I heard them bustling and hurrying about, voices sounding tense and excited.

I hung suspended over my tub, waiting to see what happened next.  Perry checked on me every few minutes.  Surely I wasn’t ready to push, though my water had never broken until that point in previous labors.  Nearly 10 minutes had passed now with no contractions, and I cautiously headed for the computer on the far side of my bedroom to post an update.  I connected my phone to the cable (we tether our phones to provide internet for our computers) and I felt a contraction beginning.  I ran for the tub, not wanting to get anything on my bedroom carpet.

When the contraction had ended, I tried again.  This time I didn’t even make it to the computer before the next one hit me.  I raced it back to the bathtub, ever mindful of the carpet.  That was two strong contractions nearly back to back.  Now I was a little worried.  I didn’t even have my phone with me to time them.

I had several more over the next few minutes, strong but still manageable if I focussed completely.  Now I knew the end was very near.  I knew I wanted Perry up here with me, but I was so completely engrossed in staying in control that I couldn’t move outside myself enough to call him.  I could clearly hear voices and footsteps downstairs and knew they would hear me if I called, but the contractions were taking every ounce of my attention.

After what seemed like ages but was really only a few minutes, he was by my side.  The pool wasn’t ready yet, but might be enough to help if I could get down the stairs.  A few more contractions came and went, long and intense with no break between, and I realized I wasn’t going anywhere.  I was going to deliver right here.  The big question was whether Jennifer would make it this time.

Perry told me to wait for a break, and then get out of the tub.  He reminded me that I needed to be where someone could reach the baby when he came.  I wanted to comply, but just couldn’t move.  There was no break, no relief, and no chance to move.  I just couldn’t do it.

I wasn’t ready to push yet, but I knew that part was coming quickly.  With every contraction I waited to feel the baby move down.  Not yet.  Not yet, but soon.  I knew I was almost there.

Finally, I stood up.  Perry helped me over the edge of the tub and I sank to my knees as another contraction hit.  He laid down an absorbant pad and some pillows to pad my knees against the floor, and I continued to relax as much as I could through the never-ending waves of contractions.  It had now been about 35 minutes since my water broke, and 25 minutes since labor had started in earnest.

Now I felt the baby move down.  This was it.  I knew it would be over in a few more contractions, a few good pushes.  I was scared of this part because it’s always the worst part for me, but excited and relieved to know that it would all be over so soon!

Perry called Jennifer again to see how far away she was and to tell her what was going on.  She told him to have me elevate my hips.  With gravity working against me, their hope was that labor would slow enough for the midwives to arrive before the baby.

I was crushed, but couldn’t object.  While we did have two babies arrive before the midwife, we never wanted an unassisted homebirth with all the risks they entail.  For the next 15 minutes, I suffered through non-productive contractions as my body tried to fight gravity.  I heard myself making weeping sounds.  The pain was probably no worse than it had been a few minutes ago, but it was so much harder to deal with when there was no longer an end in sight!

Perry encouraged me as much as he could, knowing how much harder this was.  He did everything he could do make me comfortable.  I remember asking why I had to wait, didn’t he know I could be done already?  “It’s for safety,” he reminded me.  I knew this, but I thought of all the hospital horror stories where a woman’s baby is crowning and she is commanded not to push until the doctor arrives.  I thought of one friend who had a nurse actually push her knees together because her baby was coming and the doctor wasn’t in the room yet.  I felt their frustration, their rage.  I wanted to be done!

After one more phone call to Jennifer, Perry gave me the go-ahead.  She was just a couple of minutes away now.  It was time to finish this!

Pushing took longer than I remember for the last several babies, and it was 4 or 5 more contractions before the baby was ready to crown.  Jennifer and April came in with one contraction to spare, quickly set up their supplies, and coached me through the actual delivery.  I have heard many moms say that they don’t notice a difference in delivery with bigger babies, but this guy outweighed my next biggest baby by 11 oz. and there was definitely a difference in delivering him.  Once the baby crowns, my last three had arrived in a single push, but this one stopped once at his eyes, again at his neck while Jennifer loosened the cord that was around his neck and under his arm, and again at his torso: four long pushes over the course of three contractions to get him out.  OUCH!

And then it was all over.  It was 7:02 PM, just over an hour since I woke from my nap and my water broke.  I was holding a 9 lb 4 oz boy, and he was yelling angrily at me.

I later learned that at least one of the girls downstairs took a vow of celibacy in response to the noises she heard during the delivery, but I thought the labor overall was very easy, and the intense part was mercifully brief.  The others just vowed to have water births, because laboring and delivering out of the water is Far More Intense.  Next time I think we’ll have the pool ready way ahead of time even if it means taking a chance that it will go cold.

See?  If I can say the words “next time” already, it wasn’t such a bad labor.

Comments

  1. Congratulations! He’s adorable, and thanks for sharing the birth story. After having a few children I knew it was true that every labor is different, yet though I’ve had six now it has surpised me with every one in the actual experience. They really are all different, and the water breaking makes such a big difference in how things feel. I kind of had the opposite confusion as you had with my third, because my water was broken earlier with my first two and with my third not until I was starting to push her out (she was my first home birth also, so it was just very different all around and I spent the whole labor feeling confused, ha).

    Funny about the vow of celibacy… sorta. Except having also birthed at home I’ll admit that I’ve been a little afraid of upsetting my girls that way by my laboring sounds also. And yes, that you can say “next time” already is quite a testimony to the relative ease of the labor!

  2. Incredible! You’re such a trooper!
    And I agree about the bigger babies. My last was 9 pound 3, and it sure was…different :) More work to push out for sure.

  3. Wow, that story was worth the wait. Calvin is so beautiful! I love the pictures with all the children. Our little Caleb, now 9mo., was my first baby (4th born) that I went into labor with completely on my own and had an all natural labor with. I think, and my husband confirmed, I really handled the contractions well until it was time to push. My husband told me it was really intense for 20 minutes. I laughed out loud with the “vow of celibacy”! We are pregnant with our fifth, and I can definitely see myself having another completely natural birth. I wish I would have had more confidence with my other births. Kim, you are awesome!! My son was 7lb 6oz, 21in. (tied EXACTLY with his first older brother), and I was so thankful he was not larger. I am so happy for your family. I started reading your blog when you were pregnant with Perry, you always bring a smile to my face! Thanks

  4. You’re amazing, Kim! Thanks for sharing your story.

    I was wondering…about the water birth…what part of the labor is “less intense” with a water birth do you think?

    I’ve had 2 water births and 2 in a bed and I agree with you. HOWEVER, in a water birth, I feel alone. Almost like I’m on show and the others in the room are spectators. On dry land, I feel like my husband can help more instead of just watch, which I find embarrassing (after the fact, not during–I don’t care then!).

    How much MORE intense is it?

    You did amaaaaazing by the way.

    • Jenny,
      For me the contractions seem much less painful in the water. I think the warm water on my belly helps me to relax into them instead of fighting against them. And the warm water also softens tissues so things stretch more easily for delivery, so the *worst* part for me just isn’t quite as bad.
      I know what you mean about feeling alone, but that’s how I prefer to labor so it works well for me. I can see how it wouldn’t be best for everyone, but I like to be alone. Laboring with an audience makes me feel more pressured to perform and tends to stall my labor. FWIW, some husbands and midwives actually get in the pool with the mother. I suspect any midwife who is truly comfortable with water births would do it without a second thought. Many husbands might find it too “icky,” and I’ve never asked mine. :)

      • Thanks, Kim. I think you’re right that there is an ability to totally relax through contractions in the water. My hubbie thinks the idea of getting in the water is quite yucky and embarrassing. : ) I don’t blame him! I don’t like to linger in there after the birth, either!

        These are things I am considering. Baby is due in January. I want a relaxing birth (of course!) but for some reason I am feeling very self-conscious this time.

        My last birth, the baby didn’t come out in one push. His shoulders were a bit stuck and I stopped cooperating. That is the scariest feeling–to have a big baby between your legs–eek! But in the end, it is a very brave thing to perservere and push him out. No one else can do it for you. So way to go! I know how difficult those minutes are. But worth it. In a medicated birth, I probably would have had an episiotomy, tear or worse.

  5. Connie Sue Jacobs says:

    I got to attend a birth at age 16. I took a “vow of celibacy” as well. As I have 5 children I didn’t hold to it, but I sure meant it at the time!! I was never giving birth! Best “sexual education” ever. :-)

  6. I would seriously be more afraid for the nurse that tried to hold my knees together than I would be for my baby. If I didn’t kick her, my husband would probably give her a good shove. =)

    Congratulations!!

    • Ha ha! I was thinking along those same lines! :) I was told with my second that I had to wait till the doctor was in there and my husband said “too late, the head is already out”. Boy was there a flurry of activity in that room all of a sudden! :)

      • That happened on my second one, too. The nurse told me the dr. would be there in 5-10 min. My husband looked at my face and then told the nurse, “She doesn’t look like she’s going to wait that long.” The nurse ran to the door and yelled for another nurse to help, but the dr. (thankfully) came in right about then. =)

  7. I’m dying to know which of the first 10 he might look like. Do you still have designated caretakers…I know that isn’t what you called them. I remember you posting about it a long time ago, that an older child would pair with a younger one.
    My heart was pounding for you! I’m so thankful you are both well. Always an adventure, eh?

    • Jeri,
      He looks very different from our other children, though we see some resemblance to Deanna. We all agree that he looks most like Perry’s youngest sister, Abigail, and very much like his mom’s side of the family in general. Abigail was Deanna’s maid of honor, so you can see pics of her in the wedding posts.

  8. What an adventure–enough to scare the girls downstairs, but not quite scary enough to stop the words “next time”!!
    Thanks so much for finishing, of course we understood why it took a bit for you to get to it!

  9. Kim, what a beautiful baby! I’m so glad the midwife made it in time, but couldn’t imagine having to try to hold the pushes off until that time. Wow! And telling a difference in the size? Yes, I completely agree with you!! I have had four natural births (no pain meds or epidural) but in a hospital setting each time. My first, 7lbs. 10oz. baby girl. Second, 7lbs. 14oz. baby girl. Third, 8lbs. 13oz. baby boy. Fourth, 10lb. 6oz. mini man! When the head is delivered there is usually such relief, but not so with the mini man! Pushing his head and shoulders out too, ouch! And once I saw him I was scared to know how much he weighed…and he was already delivered! ;) my husband actually made the comment that by our baby’s increasing birth increments that the next one should be 2lbs. larger! In a delivery room full of women he nearly got clobbered! ;) I am at the halfway point in my fifth pregnancy now and we are a planning a homebirth this time. Any advice as a seasoned homebirth-er? Congrats again!!

  10. See, what did I tell you? You rocked!!! Congratulations, and enjoy that precious little one!!!

  11. I laughed.
    I cried.
    It moved me.
    The “vow of celibacy” part was hilarious. I am pregnant with #10 and completely understand the “next time”, too.
    Congratulations on your newest member. Thank you for sharing a positive, real view of what birth can be.
    Good job, Mama. :)

  12. WOW, Kim!! Great story, precious pictures! I completely agree, the size of the baby MATTERS. Three of mine were 9 lbs., making me very thankful for waterbirths. My third, on the other hand, was only 7.5 lbs. because I had to avoid carbs and sugar during that pregnancy. Easiest, quickest birth ever!! And it was my one on dry land, standing in a parking lot! But I know if she had been large like the others, I would have been wishing for that water.

    Thanks so much for taking the time to update us! Enjoy little Calvin. :D

  13. “A Vow of Celibacy”!! I snorted when I read that!

    It was really a beautiful labor story. I love labor stories!

    Thanks for sharing your story, and your baby boy, with us.

    God bless you!!

  14. My daughter was talking to me today and recommended I come read your newest birth story. I am a student midwife and loved your story. The picture of your family is awesome. Congratulations to all of you.

  15. The idea of giving birth at home scared the snot out of me. I admire you very much. You share with your readers a remarkable story. Congratulations to you and your family on the birth of your son. God is wonderful.

  16. What a fantastic birth story!! I’m due on Saturday, so it really hit home! We’re praying so much that this baby-#6, will come completely naturally. I’ve never gone into labor on my own or been able to have out-of-hospital births. We’re praying this one will start on its own and be able to be delivered at the birth center. Following your story has been such an encouragement. Thanks a bunch and enjoy that sweet boy!!

  17. Oh bless you for finishing this story for me….ummm… I mean for us, yeah, for us all. ;-) I can totally understand how having a brand new baby during the midst of a move could prove challenging for getting stuff done! I cannot believe actually that you got any of it typed at all! But thankfully for us, you did :-) Loved this precious story.

  18. Really enjoyed reading your birth story! This was my first time my water broke before I was ready to push too (though first out of three, so I don’t have *quite* the record you do!). When my water broke we thought my midwife would miss the birth, but she arrived about 25 minutes before the baby crowned. The intense part was “mercifully short” for me, too–less than an hour of the close, really strong contractions (and they didn’t really seem bad enough to be the end).

    Congratulations again! Praise the Lord for precious covenant children.

  19. Congrats! He is such a handsome young man. I totoally agree that it is harder to pushout those bigger babies. My biggest was 9lbs 8 oz and it was way harder. My mom had told me fat babies just squish but it sure din’t feel like just squish to me. Thank you for sharing your story. Ilove reading birth stories.

    • Alice Williams says:

      I don’t have enough experience to speak very generally, but my first (and only so far) was 10 lbs 5 oz, and though he was chubby, especially in the face, he didn’t seem to squish! He was tongue-tied and had trouble breastfeeding, so he didn’t gain well and was down to 9lbs 10oz for several weeks-but never got any lighter than that, even when he was alarmingly skinny. We fixed the problem and he’s very big and healthy now, but the point is that not all big babies are fat babies. I hope the rest of mine are smaller– then birth will seem easy in comparison! Maybe.

      Beautiful story, Kim! Enjoy your baby moon, and don’t mind all your impatient blog readers. God bless you all as you get to know your precious new little man.

  20. Congratulations! What an amazing birth story! I noticed a difference in my bigger baby then the others too. Although he was 9lbs and 13 oz where as my others were always around 7lbs. What can I say I was starving when I was pregnant with him. Enjoy your new little bundle. :)

  21. Thanks so much for the post, really enjoyed it. Beautiful family, great husband and loving daughters. Mercy and brevity, some of God’s greatest gifts. I am actually due with #10 and on the verge (tonight or tommarow) of taking some castor oil at the encouragement of my midwife and hubby. Yes, it is a proven method for me, however, your intense story reminds me of my own intense and not always brief births. You really put into words WHY I have a hard time communicating during labor, thank you. My hubby & midwife always take it as I’m losing it or need help…not necessarily. I just feel as though every atom of my being is needed to maintain control. I’m not communicative, loud, but not wordy. This isn’t weakness, actually, all the strength I can muster. Thanks again, God bless your family, and OF COURSE there’s the possibility for “the next one”!

  22. Hurrah!! Thank you for finishing the story! It’s so nice to have closure.
    The pictures made up for the wait. Is Calvin a little redhead? Looks it!

  23. Wow, what a birth story! So exciting to read, and thankful all went well. Every birth is different, and special in it’s own way. Glad it wasn’t too hard on you!

  24. Oh wow! What a story. I’m glad that you were able to hold off before the midwives showed up — it’s nice to have them untangle Calvin for you rather than having to figure out the logistics of that yourself.

    I can totally relate to being deep inside your own head, not able to really communicate with others. Or, feeling like if you do, you might lose all control. It is the weirdest feeling! Even if someone is in the room with you, you may not be able to get their attention.

  25. ( : David'sKate : ) says:

    Thank you for sharing your birth stories! It sounded intense, but like you said, “mercifully brief”. Praise God for a healthy baby and mamma and another successful homebirth! I love the “vow of celibacy”! Can’t wait to hear your next birth story, Lord willing!

  26. Awesome birth story! Thank you for sharing it with us. Enjoy your sweet blessings!!

  27. Next time? Oh you are too funny. Seriously thank you for finishing. It was worth the wait! Such a sweet baby. I think the vow of celibacy is hilarious by the way. :)

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