My sweet, beautiful, joy-bringing Baby Girl is one year old today!
Born at 12:39am, her birth was the most difficult and life-changing event of my life, so far. WORTH IT.
I’ve tried to keep this as PG as possible (all pics are appropriate, FYI!) but if birth makes you squeamish… feel free to scroll down quickly to some of those yummy recipes down below!
For those of you who are interested: Here is Maren’s Home Birth Story. One year ago today.
Maren Ree was born Tuesday July 24th, 2012 at 12:39am. Weighing 6lbs 8oz and just 18.5inches long.
My labor started on Monday afternoon, just under 3 weeks before my estimated due date. Around 4pm my back started to ache a little bit while I was editing some pictures on my computer. Nothing life-altering, just enough discomfort to make me not want to sit down anymore.
About an hour later things got a little more real as contractions started. Still nothing too bad, but enough for me to think about feeding the boys (Bjørn was 3 & Haakon was 20 months at the time) and getting them ready for bed a little earlier than usual.
By 6 o’clock things were getting intense enough that I decided to call Andrew and let him know that labor was ‘starting’. I was in no rush though, as I thought for sure we would have at least until the morning before Baby Girl showed up, so it didn’t bother me much when he didn’t answer my phone calls.
((Funny side note: I texted and called Andrew several times in that half-hour period. He didn’t answer for the longest time (5-6 calls in a row, if I remember correctly!) and told me later that he was talking to a client and really just thought I wanted him to stop for some Spicy Chicken Teriyaki on his way home! I guess that just proves how NOT ready for our little early-arrival we were! For the record, I would never be that annoying for take-out. I might call 2 or 3 times, but never 5 or 6!))
Around 6:30 I put Haakon to bed and worked more on getting a hold of Andrew. He called me back and I told him that it was time for him to head home so he could help get Bjørn to bed, since I knew by then I wouldn’t be able to do it alone.
I also called my mom to let her know she should think about heading over eventually, since was planning on being here when the baby came to help take care of the boys the next day. (Our last birth was also at home and we hadn’t thought of the after care for us and big brother at all. When everybody left after Haakon was born in the morning, we all of a sudden realized that we had a well-rested rambunctious toddler to take care of by ourselves in our exhaustion. Let me just tell you, it was not pretty!).
Right around when Andrew got home, I started to bleed a bit. Nothing that concerned me too much but enough that I needed to wear a pad. I texted my midwife, Carol, and let her know that things were starting but that obviously I wouldn’t need her for a while because we had just begun. (And this wasn’t my first time around! Ha!)
She told me to take a 20 minute, very hot shower to see if the contractions slowed down or if they stayed consistent (they were about 3 minutes apart/45 seconds long at this point). Bjørn was still awake, so he joined me and played with toys in the shower while I washed my hair, rested against the shower wall and timed contractions that were not fading at all.
The bleeding continued after I got out so I texted my midwife again and she decided to come over and check me out, just in case the blood was a worry that might necessitate a hospital transfer (she lives only a few minutes away from us).
Thankfully it was not a concern (my cervix reacting to very fast dilation, I believe)… and, I was already 4-5 cm dilated! WooHOO! (This was around 8:30pm.)
Contractions were still not slowing down, and I think I knew by this point that this labor was not going to be the long, slow, relaxing labor I was expecting. All I could think about, in fact, was all the things that were NOT ready for this sweet baby to be born at home this early.
Being just 2 days past 37 weeks in this pregnancy (read: 3-4 weeks left to go, most likely!) we had not gotten things set up for the birth AT ALL. (Procrastination, much?!) Fortunately we had most of the necessary supplies left over from our last home birth, and I had just happened to go to WalMart that morning for a shower curtain for the bed.
(Another side note: Goodness was I grumpy and just… off… that day! I guess I should have known something was up. Hindsight and all!)
Anyways… of course we did have diapers and a few outfits, so Baby Girl was covered with the essentials, but nothing else was prepared for her arrival and our midwife and her team spent the first bit of their time here trying to figure out what we had and didn’t have, making up the bed, and trying to get us prepared while I tried to help direct everyone between contractions.
(Word to the wise: If you are planning a home birth, please make sure everything is 100% ready BEFORE 37 weeks. Not a day later. I would give anything to be able to go back and have everything all ready!)
I couldn’t focus on the contractions or find my ‘zone’ because I had so many things running through my head that needed to be done. Every contraction took me by surprise and consumed me before I could mentally prepare. (I’m a planner. Chaos and I are not friends. That was not the best fore-thought on my part. I’m blaming it on the two toddlers in my life at the time!)
Getting through those contractions took everything I had, and then my mind would start to race again and before I knew it I was hit with another one. It wasn’t long before I moved to the toilet for a few contractions, and man were those intense. The toilet is not a gentle, quiet place to labor, that’s for sure!
After 2 or 3 contractions on the toilet, I decided it was time to get into the tub. As usual, the water felt amazing. But, my back was hurting so badly (Yes, the dreaded back-labor… I didn’t have any with my last 2 babies, so this was all new to me!) I just could not get comfortable.
Andrew was so busy running around trying to help get everything ready that he just couldn’t sit and stay focused on supporting me. Pretty soon Maya, one of our midwives’ team, rolled up her pant legs and climbed in to sit on the edge of the tub and press on my back. The pressure on my lower back felt so good… that would end up being my saving grace throughout the rest of the labor!
I’m not sure how long I was in the tub, but once I started sounding ‘pushy’ and feeling a bit nauseous – hitting transition – my midwife had me get out of the tub so that we could better prevent tearing this time around.
It took a couple of contractions for me to be able to actually get out of the tub and over to the bed, with a stop to throw up a few times in the middle. But I finally made it, with lots of help, and set up camp on my hands and knees on the middle of the bed.
My back pain was so intense at this point that I could hardly see straight. My brain was completely disconnected from my mouth, which is normal for me this far into labor, and communicating my thoughts and needs was almost impossible.
All I kept saying, at the beginning of every contraction, was “My back! My hips!!” and the everyone would start pushing. Two people pushing my hips inwards with all their strength (Think of a clothespin… you have to push in at the top to get the bottom to open wider. That’s why that pressure felt so good!) and one person pressing on my lower spine/tailbone area.
I’m not sure how I would have gotten through the labor without all that support. In the few seconds between my saying “My back!” and everyone jumping into action, the pain was mind-blowing. But the counter-pressure immediately brought me back down to a place I could get through. All those hands were leading me through the shadows.
(I know this picture is silly, but I love it. SO very real and in the moment – and I had no memory of this moment! And yes, I am unclothed. That’s why there are not more pictures in this story to share with you!)
(Random little tidbit: I was thirsty. So incredibly thirsty. I remember wanting water so badly and never getting enough. In fact, that thirst stayed with me through the next morning. I don’t know how much water I drank, but it sure felt like gallons and it was never enough!)
I wasn’t pushing very effectively on the bed (again with all that preparedness stuff… I just wasn’t ready for her to come so early!) and so Carol mentioned using the birthing stool to try and speed things up a bit. I don’t remember even processing that information beyond vaguely noticing my body taking action and climbing off the bed and onto the stool. (I just watched the video of the birth and apparently I was pretty enthusiastic about anything that would make this go faster! I started climbing off the bed before anyone was even ready for me!)
In case you don’t know (which I’m guessing most of you don’t)… birthing stool contractions SUCK. Seriously. Whoever designed the birthing stool was a genius I’m sure. I could feel the efficiency of that position, and my body quickly responded. The next contraction I had, my water broke… and doused Maya and Carol who were sitting on the floor in front of me!
(I didn’t remember this part, but video showed their shock, and Maya’s immediate exclamation of “Mazel Tov!” So funny!)
Baby Girl was rightthere now and Carol wanted me off that stool immediately to keep things from going too fast. There was no way to get me back on the bed, so blankets were quickly laid down and they all helped me roll to the ground and lay on my side so that her head could be born as slowly as possible to prevent tearing.
This is the most difficult part of birth, by far. Waiting, breathing, panting, doing everything in your power not to push, when every ounce of your body is screaming at you to push this baby out! If it wasn’t for the loud voices in my face keeping me focused and drowning out the screams of my own being, I wouldn’t have been able to stop.
I was able to listen, though… and with lots of direction and help I was able to experience a wonderful tear-free birth! (Tear free, not tear free. There was lots of crying!)
As Baby Girl’s head came out, the midwives noticed her cord wrapped around her head twice. Not uncommon at all (in fact 1 in 3 babies are born with their cord around their neck!) and not a worry, although her cord was a bit short at this point so they had to do a summersault maneuver to get the rest of her body out. (Fun to watch that on video!)
And then… She was here!!
12:39am after just 6 hours of active labor – 8 hours total (my last two births were 18 and 24 hours. So… I was a little shocked!). I still didn’t completely believe that we had a girl, so I made them check before I would commit to saying her name out loud… Maren Ree! (I was wavering between 2 names for my sweet girl. But, I just had to see her first!)
I couldn’t get enough of her from the moment I laid eyes on her, and I still can’t believe that she’s mine. Goodness I love that baby!
But unfortunately, the story wouldn’t end here. You see, normally a placenta will detach and ‘birth’ a short while after baby is born. Mine decided to stay put. My contractions completely stopped after Maren was born and the placenta would. not. budge. Not one tiny bit.
Here’s a few more pictures for those of you who are happy with the story ending here!
After an hour, my midwife had to call an ambulance for a hospital transfer. Her liability requires it, and the hospital is better equipped to handle a placenta extraction than at home. I wasn’t bleeding, and there was not immediate concern for my health or safety, but an ambulance is kind of a necessity and we were ok with that.
I was a bit nervous about the stigma of transferring for a ‘homebirth gone wrong’, which wasn’t exactly the case since baby Maren was born perfectly and was as healthy as can be, but everyone from the ambulance guys to the hospital staff was very kind and understanding. (One of the EMTs had been delivered at home by my midwife! And the other EMT’s wife was a homebirth-supportive OB.)
We got to the hospital around 2am having left my mom at home to care for the boys when they woke up for the day. At the hospital they had to try a manual extraction to get the placenta out. If that didn’t work, we would have had to go in for surgery, so I was perfectly fine with making a couple of attempts.
If you don’t know what a manual extraction is (though I’m sure your imagination is giving you an idea!), please feel free to email or message me! I don’t want to put it out there to scare the world. (I do need to share that story someday though… it is a whole life-changing experience in and of itself. Still processing it though. Again, happy to chat about it if you have questions!)
And that, my friends, is the day that has forever changed my life for the better! I love seeing how the births of my children change my life. Every one has been so different and every birth has made me a stronger person. As difficult as some of it is, I wouldn’t change it for anything!