Life with two children has been quite the transition. Well, I suppose it wouldn't be so bad if I had no expectations to get anything done during the day, or if I didn't find arriving on time somewhere to be of any importance. Between all 8 of Caleb's outfit changes because of something wet spewing out of either end, and Naomi's need to be 'just like mommy' with her purse filled with all the important accessories, making it out the door is quite the accomplishment on the list, just ahead of cleaning my bathroom!
Caleb is now 7 weeks old, and just when I thought I couldn't fall more in love, the little man learned how to smile. Eyes locked, big grin, cooing sound, and I am a gonner. Naomi thinks he is "just sooooo cute!" and I couldn't agree more.
He is also quite the considerate child. Although he was 6 days over due, when he decided it was time, he didn't dilly-dally! From the moment my water broke on the floor of my living room, to the time he was wrapped in a purple blanket (sorry kid!) in my arms, only an hour and 43 minutes had passed. Just topping Naomi's birth by 15 minutes. What can I say? We don't mess around :)
But seriously. I am so grateful for the experience and with every birth story I hear that involves hours of painful labor, contractions on top of each other, pushy nurses, long needles and numbing drugs, I recognize that my experience is not typical. To be fair, if most women choose to give birth at a hospital from a place of fear, I choose a home birth for the exact same reason; The smell, the germs, the busyness, the rules and regulations, just a few reasons why hospitals freak me out. After Naomi's two hour labor, I recognized that she was not too far off from being delivered in the back of our new jeep in the center median on the GW Parkway, cutting out the commute was definitely part of our baby#2 strategy.
So here we are, it is the evening of the 23rd of December. The entire Elliot family was staying over at our house for our Christmas celebration. The last few bites of lasagna had been scrapped from the pan and we were in the middle of discussing what the nights entertainment should be. Half of the room voted for Scattagories, the other half a movie, and with one little pop and a gush of water I got to override both options and we all headed upstairs to have a baby!
My family was a great help. They all scurried around making sure things were in order. The midwife was called, the sheets were on the bed, Stephens camera was set, the baby's outfit was tucked into the heating pad and plugged into the wall...The energy in the room was light and fun (and at that point, contractions were not too terrible), and everyone was placing bets on what time the baby would be born.As this was my second time in labor, it allowed me to put fear completely aside and just be present in what was happening to my body. Not in a weird zen-hypnotic sort of way, rather it was like I could experience every moment with more clarity and awareness than I remember with my first. I recall Joey asking me (because the entire family had front row seats on the couch in our bedroom) what a contraction felt like. Before answering him, I allowed one to grip a hold of me so I could give a good answer. While breathing like a powerlifter, relaxing my forehead, uncontrollably digging my fingernails into the palms of my hands, I quieted myself to really feel what my body was doing. My answer was not all that extraordinary but that a contraction felt just the way one would expect! That in every 30 second climb up the mountain of pain and back down, my body was opening up just a little more, allowing something that weighed about 9 pounds to bear down into the newly created space. I just stood there, legs wide, by the side of the bed, gripping onto Christian during the most painful moments, and laughing and talking with my family during the calm. My body was in complete rhythm, and as the song played, the beat got a little faster and the base a little louder.
The midwife arrived after an hour and 20 minutes. I remember hearing her sauntering up the staircase, casually commenting about how many stairs we had, greeting the family and contemplating the best place to put her things when suddenly her tone changed as she realized how close she was to missing this birth altogether! (later she told us that in the 1500 births she has assisted, mine was one of the fastest).
I was dilated to an 8 already, my contractions were hard and very close together. About 10 minutes passed and we were to the point when it was time to push. She had me lie back on my side, a position that I later learned was intended to slow the birth down. This is when I started to realize how quickly it all was happening. After my first or second hard push I freaked out, suddenly feeling a wave of fear and self-consciousness grip hold of me, I demanded everyone to leave the room immediately. A dejected group of people rushed into the hallway. My birth assistant apparently knew exactly what I was going through. She quietly calmed me down, praised how I was doing, gave me some breathing techniques, then said in the tone of voice of a mother asking her toddler to hold her hand while crossing the street,
"the head is here, I know how important it was for you that your family see this, would you like to invite them back in?"
Oh yes, that is right! This is it! I am giving birth!
"this is the cool part!"
I remember exclaiming,
"guys, come on in!"
One by one, all 7 of them filed back into the room, and in one hard push I felt instant relief as the contractions halted and a perfect and slimy baby was placed on my chest. I remember Heidi being the first to notice "You have a boy!" The look on my husbands face was utter joy.
The next several minutes were spent getting situated. The midwife pulling my top down so the boy could have 'skin to skin' time, my husband kindly trying to protect my modesty with the family in view, the baby's imbelical chord getting snipped by dad, pillows propped up, blankets re-arranged, baby getting jostled so it could give out a good cry...and at last, I could relax, take a deep breath and meet my new baby boy.
I would say that the benefit of having a home birth really proved itself from here out. We were home, in the comfort of our own bed, surrounded by family, never separated from our baby and given time to truly savor what had just happened. My birth assistant (who finally arrived 10 minutes after he was born) went into my own kitchen to prepare me a platter of organic fruit, herbed turky, olives and raw cheese (good luck finding food that good in a hospital!) The lights in our room were dim as my husband and I snuggled with our newest little Elliot and prayed Gods abundance over our first son. There were no interruptions, no monitors, no twin sized bed, no 'strangers' popping in to check charts, no tubes in my arms or people behind a curtain, no explaining to 5 different people why were opting out of the antibiotic eye cream, and the synthetic vitamin K shot.
Overall, the entire experience was fantastic. At about 2am the house quieted down and we all drifted off to sleep, our new baby snuggled between us in our bed. The next day was Christmas eve and the start of our very special Christmas celebration when a Son was born, when a child was given.