On January 18, 1999 I had a tubal reversal, by Dr. Levin of Louisville, KY. What a combination – the best doctor in the world and the Great Physician, enabling a total healing in my body. Six days later, Susanna was conceived. The pregnancy did not start out very well. There was the healing from the surgery and I was exposed to a horrible case of the flu. Once I was over that, morning sickness started – something I never experienced to such extent in my past pregnancies (back in the old days!). Maybe old age has something to do with it! Or more likely, a lesson in humility. Before the morning sickness ended, came another bout with some virus. The second trimester was wonderful. No sickness, no swelling or water retention. Plenty of energy – well, as much as could be expected for someone who hadn’t been pregnant in 13 years! The third trimester brought exhaustion and the threat of preterm labor. A couple weeks were spent in bed, until we knew it would be safe for the baby to be born. We expected it to happen early, but God’s timing is always perfect. Labor started at midnight on a Monday morning. Contractions were every 3 to 5 minutes for 12 hours. From that point on, it slowed down. Tuesday evening it picked back up. By about 8:30 pm we were pretty sure that was going to be the night. At 9, contractions became regular. I took warm baths to get more comfortable but didn’t want to have the baby in the water. I got out of the tub while dh G. set things up in the living room. At this point, the contractions were coming one right on top of the other and I had a hard time making it to the living room. I stopped twice and G. coaxed me to continue on. I finally made it and dropped down by the couch. On my knees, I faced the couch and rested into the cushions (if you can call it rest). We aren’t exactly sure of the time, but hard labor didn’t last all that long. G. coached me on amidst prayers being lifted up by us both. Praise music was playing in the background. At one point, I asked G. what he said and he replied, rather huffily!, that he was praying. Shortly after that, G. said the baby had crowned. He went to my side to offer me encouragement. I told him he better get back because the baby was coming. G. moved to his place. Out came the baby’s head, and the rest of her along with it, in one push. It was an awesome moment. The baby screamed as soon as she hit her Daddy’s hands, at which point Daddy named her – and the world must have heard the praising that was going on. Daddy handed Susanna to mommy and whooped and hollered some more, while S., J. and R. came to meet their new little sister. While waiting for the cord to quit pulsating, G. went outside to enjoy a well deserved cigarette (well, a bubblegum cigar would have been better, but…) that was moistened with tears of joy. After the cord was cut, we waited for the rest of the placenta to be delivered. We later realized that all of the placenta was out; it was just the membrane that was left. But not knowing for sure, G. decided to have a midwife come check things out. So, by Tuesday around 3:00 pm, that was finally dealt with. The midwife was wonderful. We were truly blessed to have her, as our state is not midwife friendly, and she was really going out on a limb coming here without even knowing us. She is truly a credit to her profession. As someone who does not generally go to doctors, I felt so tremendously blessed by the health care professionals the LORD led me to. God was fully in control of this pregnancy and at our house through it all. Yet, there are no words to describe how strongly we felt His presence while He was bringing Susanna into the world. To Him belongs all the glory. -Wendy
My labor began with my water breaking at 5 AM. I don’t know how people mistake it for peeing. Even though it was only a small amount, the sensation was unmistakable. I got up to assess the amount and color (it was just a enough to wet my underwear, but not dripping and it was clear, but I was getting a pink tinge when I wiped). My cervix was still too far back to reach, but I was able to feel the head at, I’m guessing, zero station (two knuckles deep). I laid back down and listened for heart tones (120-130 right next to my left hip bone). The medium menstrual type cramps had already started, so I timed them (3 min. apart and 45 seconds long). Even though they didn’t hurt, they were more uncomfortable lying down and not conducive for sleep. J. and E. were still sleeping, so I decided to come tell all my internet friends and some IRL via e-mail that my labor had started. The contractions slowed to about 5 min. and were completely painless (I had to put my hand on my belly to even feel them). It was about 6AM when I was done, so I called my mom first, who lives five hours away and needed to get off work. Then I called R., my doula, just to give her a heads up. I spent the next couple of hours draining the birth tub (I had been using it to soak in for the last two weeks), taking a shower, and just getting stuff together. I got J. up at 8AM and started putting him to work and made myself a mushroom/cheese omelet. During this time, the contractions went from two minutes then back to five, then three, etc. (not consistent at all). I called my two friends who were to be here for the birth (S., the photographer, and J., who was out of town, both fellow c/s survivors). I also called a local midwife who sells birth kits (we only used the hat and a couple of chux pads, sigh), something else we didn’t order in time. The contractions would slow down when I was doing something that required concentration (ie. thinking) then speed back up when I was doing a mindless task. They were starting to get more intense around 10:30, where I would lean over a counter, rock my hips, and moan (for the endorphins). I got back in the shower (J. was still working on the birth tub), sat on the birth ball and sang. My cervical opening was still too far to reach, but I felt like I had thinned considerably. J.called R., at my request, as I was feeling the need of a good back rub (my lower back was starting to ache). E. had woken up somewhere during all of this and was taking up J.’s attention (not that J. wanted to do ANY labor support). Don’t get me wrong, he was very caring and asked me if I wanted anything, etc, but we had decided early on in pregnancy that birth was just not his thing and we would have others fulfill that role, so we could both relax. I did get into the birth tub to smooth out the wrinkles as it filled and E. joined me, but we got out when he wanted to wrestle and dunk me (nothing like a 40lb two year old hopping on your contracting belly). By the time R. arrived with her daughter E. (didn’t look at a clock, maybe 11:30-12:00), I was able to walk through the contractions, but not really talk (they were still doing a 2-5 min. inconsistent pattern and very bearable). We talked and did a mini blessing way. S. arrived around this time with the birth kit. We continued to visit while I rocked on the birth ball and moaned trough contractions. S. thought they were only thirty seconds long, but I explained to her that they started out at the peak and then tapered off, but were still going after I stopped moaning. I was using the wonderful flax wrap that C. sells at this point also. Baby was kicking up high in between contractions and I was tickling his foot. I thought it would be nice to do heart tones again, so I went and laid down on the couch. Found the heart beat by my left hip (a little lower) with my prenatal listening device and then we waited for a contraction and R. listened (of course, they spaced out again). The next contraction was very uncomfortable (how do women spend their entire labor in bed?). R. heard some early decels, but it picked back up again quickly, which is consistent with the way I was feeling the contractions. I hopped off the couch before the next contraction could come and decided to make a bathroom trip (my bowels had been emptying consistently with the 3-4 previous trips). The toilet was another uncomfortable place to spend a contraction. All the ladies were standing in the hall as I spent the next two contractions voiding (lovely, isn’t it?) with the door closed, thank you very much. By the way, I was getting red streaked mucus at this point, but didn’t check my cervix. My vocalization at this time was quite a bit louder. R. thinks that if I had stayed on the toilet I would have been giving birth much sooner than I did, which was soon enough for me. I was more than ready for the birth tub by now and headed straight there. J. got out his harp and R., S. and E. went to the kitchen to get me some baby carrots and some lunch for themselves. I had checked my cervix shortly after entering the tub and could finally feel the cervical opening. I felt about 5-6 cms and 100 percent (about the thickness of a t-shirt cuff) and it was 1:30 PM. On the first bite of my second carrot, transition hi. I spit the bite out and started moaning and rocking my way through the contraction. I tried to sing the duet between Eponine and Marius from Les Mis where the first line is, “Don’t you fret M’sieur Marius I don’t feel any pain,” and J. and I both started laughing, since it was obviously untrue. The next contraction, I tried sitting down in the tub (the others I was leaning over the edge on my knees). HELLO thigh pain! I couldn’t get up, so just rode it out. The next one I was back on my knees and the thigh pain was still there (it was straight down the front of my legs, hip to knees and just as intense as the pain in my lower belly). This was also the contraction where his head came right on down and I even had a few seconds of pushing urge in the middle. I checked my cervix and the head was already starting to spread my labia (so this would be plus four!!!). This is also where reality left and I was quickly losing it. I couldn’t feel the edge of the cervix and thought the head had come down without me dilating fully (remember I was only a 5-6 twenty or so minutes before hand). The next two contractions were full pushing contractions, but I was fighting them thinking my cervix would tear. God was very kind to me at this point and gave me a couple minutes break. I flipped over and supported myself with my hands and feet (imagine a crab) and used one of my hands to protect my perineum. R. (having her first good view and it was very visible) told me that it was the head (which I knew, but thought it pushing through my cervix) and I pulled myself together and realized it was OK to push. The next several contractions were of me going from pushing to panting in an effort to stretch my perineum. When I would squat, I couldn’t stop pushing and needed to slow it down again. After about half an hour, I couldn’t stretch any more. I was VERY vocal through all of this with deep instinctual grunting and saying, “OUCH.” R. got in the tub with me and supported the bottom while I supported the top (S. was holding my head out of the water and J. was filming). She was trying to encourage me to push him out, not realizing how tight I was and that I was giving it everything I had. R. also noticed his scalp turn color and was getting concerned. It still took a few more contractions and I decided that I was going to tear and I would have to squat. I got the head out in the next contraction and we waited for a minute so I could push the shoulders out. They were also pretty snug and I was holding the cord, so it would slip past his shoulder. This took one and a half contractions. Then he was born and I quickly lifted him to the surface, but the cord was short and wrapped around his arm and neck and we had to untangle him first. Roy was purple and a little floppy, but he had made a little noise when I first lifted him and I knew he was going to be fine (no one else was panicking, but J. wanted someone to re-assure him). I sucked the dime size amount of mucus out of his mouth and he started grunting. We continued to gently massage him and R. put the hat on. He was still a little blue after the first minute, so I gave him a little puff in his nose, which he didn’t like, and that got him to cry just a little, then he was pink and lively, but serene. S. thought to ask what time it was, and it took E. a few seconds to find a watch (everyone took theirs off) and announced it was 2:40PM. Roy and I cuddled in the tub for about fifteen minutes (I was expecting that wide eyed stare, but he was resting). I stood up to deliver the placenta, which we knew had separated due to the pink water, but wasn’t getting the urge to push. I had J. get my Placenta Out tincture and within seconds I was pushing. I didn’t have good leverage, so I squatted back down and pushed it out in a couple of minutes. There was a bit of retained membrane, so R. twisted it till it let go. I knew I had a tear on my labia at this point, because she would brush it every once in a while and that was uncomfortable. I gushed a little when I stood up again and I realized I hadn’t breastfed yet. Out came the boob and He latched on just fine (Roy was lying peacefully in my arms this whole time). They helped me out of the tub and over to the couch, where I breastfed some more and we had a photo-op (Roy was wearing his new Pooh outfit by now). My mom made it about an hour after the birth, just in time to help clean up. I stood up to go rinse off and assess the damage (J. got Roy at this point), but had to sit right back down thanks to a head rush. We waited a few minutes and tried again. I made it to the next room and had to lean over the couch until the dizziness went away. I had to stop once more before we got to the shower in our bedroom (all the way at the opposite end of our LONG house). S. had Roy now, since J. was hovering in case I fainted. Once on the toilet, I passed some nice sized clots and started to pee, but stopped immediately, since the burning was intense. I sat on the birth ball in the shower and aimed the shower head to rinse myself off. Roy was acting like he wanted to eat some more and I was still feeling a little faint, so we moved to the hall bathroom with a tub and I got in with Roy, who promptly went back to sleep. I examined the placenta and found it healthy and intact (more pictures were taken). J. finished the Birthday cake and I had a bite. After our nice bath, I climbed in bed. R. got a flashlight and my hand mirror and we started counting tears. The two on the inner labia were pretty obvious. The one on the left is pretty deep, but short and it is healing fine without any stitching. The one on the right is probably considered a first degree, and also not worth stitching. The three on the bottom are between skid marks and first degree and very minor in my opinion. I didn’t check for any tears inside, since there was no additional bleeding and if there are any they are healing also. I have been using an herbal salve every time I pee and I did use my fingers as a barrier the first couple of days to lessen the stinging. I’m not complaining at all, I would rather have five small tears than one huge episiotomy plus a tear any day (and we all know that’s what would have happened in the hospital). The bleeding was also very manageable and fine once I passed those clots, but they wouldn’t have let me out of bed in the hosp. and would have tried to pump me full of pitocin and methergine. I was brought the left over steak from our anniversary dinner the night before. Then I was ordered to drinks lots of water and juice and rest. Everyone left around 8PM, except my mom, who stayed till Tuesday morning. My friend J. came the next day and brought a scale. Roy weighed 8lbs 7oz, but I’m guessing he was around 9lbs when he was born. He’s 21 inches long and has dark hair like his Daddy. Now here’s another observation that not everyone will agree with. I took forty minutes to get his head past my perineum which is why he had a slow start (and I’m glad I didn’t know what his heart tones were). Now if you think I’m choosing my peri over my baby, you’re wrong. I would have torn badly if I hadn’t controlled the delivery of his head, thus requiring a trip to get many stitches and would have had to take my newborn out into the germy world and fight whatever procedures they wanted to do to him and possibly a report to CPS from some “concerned” staff who can’t fathom the idea of UC. I also have faith that God and my instincts would let me know if his health was in danger to the point that intervention was needed. A few other reasons I’m very glad this was a home birth: my contractions were not consistent until the end and I would have had to fight off pressure to augment, they would have cut the cord on the perineum (if they hadn’t talked me into another c/s for fetal distress) and taken him away to “revive” him and maybe even insisted on “observation,” I don’t even want to think what my blood pressure would have been (extreme white coat syndrome), and don’t forget the need to be quiet so as not to scare the other women. I also can’t imagine doing what I did on land. The water not only helped with pain relief and stretching, but I wouldn’t have been able to get from one position to the next in the short time I had between pushing contractions. The only time pain medication entered my mind was at the very end and I thought it might be easier to get his head out if I couldn’t feel the ring of fire. BUT, then we’re back to the massive episitiomy or tear (or both) and maybe FTP (failure to progress), etc. I am grateful for the pain, because it helped me to ease his head out and not do horrible damage. I also probably would be labeled as precipitous delivery, since I dilated so quickly at the end and his head came down in one contraction. Most of us would think of this as a blessing, but OB’s think of this as a complication and reason to induce early for the next one. I probably could think of many more things they wouldn’t have liked about my birth in a hospital, but I’ll stop here. It was the perfect birth for my family and I. Praise God for blessing us with a wonderful pregnancy, birth and baby. -Joy
I woke up Wednesday morning, puffy, swollen, and feeling very calm. I laid there in bed, just feeling my body and seeing what was up. Baby was kicking a lot, but I still felt kind of funny. When I stood up, I got so dizzy I almost passed out. I sat down and had this feeling that although everything was fine right now, I knew my body was starting to break down. I hadn’t gained any weight in a week, and a sip of water made me want to throw up. I just “knew” I needed to have the baby before things got bad. I didn’t feel any of the frustration or upset that I had been having for the last two weeks, I was just very calm. I sent my dh out to the store that afternoon to pick up castor oil and OJ. He came back with a movie, flowers, OJ, and Cod Liver oil! *sigh* I am allergic to all things having to do with fish, so this was not good! I had to go with him back to the store and get castor oil. I ended up only being able to take one dose of the stuff. I almost threw up in the sink taking just that, and was nauseous the rest of the evening from it. I just kind of puttered around the house all evening, straightening up. I had the occasional contraction, very mild, and no other reactions from the oil. I was sitting down reading before bed, thinking that the oil didn’t work, (this was around 11:30) when I felt a really hard contraction. I perked up and thought, “OK, be calm, lets see if these turn into anything.” Three minutes later, another one. “Hmmm, don’t get your hopes up yet girl!” Three minutes later another, and so on, and so on. About 11:45 I told my dh we had to start getting things ready. He kept going away to watch a movie! I was at the kitchen sink, bent over with a contraction, trying to get things in for sterilization, and he was watching a MOVIE! Argh! I screamed for him, he came running, I screamed at him to make me Cal Mag and tea, and draw a bath, and if he DARED go back to that movie, I’d smash the TV! I could not believe how hard the contractions were and they were getting closer! He got me into the bath, and sat with me. He asked me if it was time to call my mom. I said no not yet. The next contraction ended, and I just looked at him and said, call her. She was there about 15 minutes later. My mom is cool. I really love her. She has those wonderfully strong, soft hands, the healing kind of hands. I had already had a huge glass of Cal Mag with tea, and the warm water was doing wonders, but, all of a sudden I was DONE with water. I wanted out. My dh and mom helped me out of the bath and I made it to the hall outside the bathroom. I was on my hands and knees, with my head in my hubby’s lap. My mom was rubbing my lower back, and I was screaming to high heaven. Contractions were one on top of the other, and yelling felt sooo good. I never felt like I could yell in the hospital. My youngest, B., who is 4, woke up from the noise and came downstairs. He was a little upset that I was hurting, but as soon as he found out his sister was coming, he gave me a hug and a kiss, and told me he loved me. My dh sent him back up to bed, but I think he stayed on the stairs the whole time. He was just too excited! Suddenly I practically jumped up and hobbled into the bathroom to get on the toilet. The next thing I know a big “thing” is coming out, and at first I thought it was the baby’s head. It was the sac though, and it looked really funny. This huge bubble of snot looking stuff as big as a baby’s head! I started laughing, and dh asked if I wanted a picture. I said no thanks, I’ll remember this well enough! My mom this whole time is just there, you know? Holding my hand, getting my hair out of my face, rubbing my back. It was wonderful. She totally supported me, without intruding, you know? Man, I love that lady. She amazes me. She just loved me, and held me, and helped me. I guess this is when I hit transition, because there were these long periods of total lucidity. None of us were really talking, I had told them I wanted as much quiet as possible. Towels and pillows got spread out on the floor. After about five minutes, I said I needed to get off the toilet, the baby was coming. My dh sat on the edge of the tub, and I leaned back into him. He held under my arms, and I reclined on his legs. My mom got into position to play catch. As I would push, I lifted my bum and back too. And I yelled! Gads, yelling felt damn good! At one point I was worried that a neighbour would hear me and call the police, but we are lucky. We live in a very old house built with horsehair plaster. Wonderful sound insulation! I felt the baby’s head start to come out after the first push. I really just trusted my instincts to tell me when to push this time, so there was a bit of a lag in between the pushes. The second one, I thought “Well there’s enough baby out now for my mom to take it the rest of the way.” Nope, my mom just looked at me and it was one of the “Uh huh, keep going honey” looks. Darn! So I pushed again, and screamed. My dh said that got the head all the way out. Not enough yet? My mom shakes her head no. Scream, PUSH, “pop!” baby! There was an audible popping sound when she came the rest of the way out. My poor mom almost dropped her it was so fast! I leaned back into my hubby and looked up at him as my mom put her on my tummy. He was laughing. My mom was grinning ear to ear, and I started chuckling too. I suddenly hear this voice “Is that my baby sister?” B. was standing right outside the bathroom door watching the whole thing! He was so happy, he was just beaming! Oh yeah, right as the baby came out, a HUGE gush of water followed. All the water was on top of her, so I never really had my water “break” like I had before. Strange sensation. I am told it makes for more intense contractions when you have to push both baby and water out. I’d have to agree. We sat there for a few minutes before my mom looked at her watch, so the time is a guesstimate. We are calling it 1:50am on April 22nd. After about 20 minutes, my dh clamped and cut the cord. Dh took baby wrapped up in a towel into the other room, and my mom helped me get over a bowl to push out the afterbirth. It all came out wrapped in the caul. A nice neat package. Made me happy! I climbed into the shower to rinse off, and got wrapped up in a huge shirt, and waddled back into the bedroom. Dh had woken up the other two kids and introduced them to their new sister, and my mom was making up my bed for me. I climbed onto the scale and had lost 15 lbs.! Wow! What a crash diet! Baby Skye made it go up about 8-8.5 lbs., so we’re calling it 8. This makes her my biggest baby by almost 2 lbs. I had not a single tear, and couldn’t really detect any skid marks either. Dh made us coffee and breakfast, and I chowed down. I was starving! Skye was nursing by this time. Around 4am my mom went home. The kids were all conked out too. My hubby curled up into bed with me and the baby, and we just enjoyed each other for awhile. All night Skye wouldn’t sleep longer than a ½ hr at a time. In the morning, my dh took the kids to school and saw our chiropractor there. He told her Skye had arrived, and she came over about 9am. She gave Skye her first adjustment, and since then Skye sleeps a good 3-4 hrs at a time. So that was it. My 2½ hour labor and birth experience. There just wasn’t enough time for much to happen! I still grin at how easy it all was. The people who have seen her picture on the web page can’t believe how calm she looks at 2 hours old. She is calm, and beautiful, and so wonderful to have as part of our family. Whenever someone comments on her appearance, I just smile, and tell them, that’s what happens when you have an unassisted home birth! -Courtenay
Hello.This is about our son, and the preparation we went to so that he would be born where I felt most comfortable- our house. In 1988, I was 33 and finally pregnant again. It had been an exhausting 2 years, what with a separation from my husband and eventual reconciliation. Things were still not up to par, but I was doubting they ever would be, so I just made the best of it, for the sake of our two girls, then 10 and 7. I had had a home birth with our second, and all went well. But I was now living in a different part of the state that was at least 3 years behind where I had come from, and 10 years behind the rest of the country. I was having difficulty finding a midwife. The part of VA I had moved to was still knocking women out during the actual birth. I was determined not to go to the hospital unless there was an absolute medical emergency. The people at church thought I was nuts because they still believed the fallacy that women were safe in the hospital. I chalked it up to ignorance, and tried to get ones who wanted to read more, some good books on the subject. Anyway, when I finally went into labor, it was the night we were working on our Easter production at church, and contractions started about 9pm. I was so glad the lights were out, and no one could see me quietly breathing thru the contractions, while running the soundboard. At 10 pm they were done and I sent my oldest daughter to get the two people who would be assisting me, R. and M. M. was single, and I wanted her there to see what a normal birth was like. R. had helped me at a couple of previous births. My husband was (reluctantly) going to catch the baby, but I had searched out every lead for a midwife during my pregnancy, and there weren’t any around where I lived. The midwives that I spoke to in Richmond didn’t think they could get here in time, since my other births had been 4 hrs and 3 hrs, respectively. So labor came and went along quite smoothly, and when it was time to push, my husband told me to pick up my butt. Our bed was really soft, and the baby’s head couldn’t get out. I lifted up, and his head came out. He turned nicely, and first the top shoulder, then the bottom was born into his daddy’s hands. It felt like giving birth to a Mack Truck because he was so long. He weighed 8lbs 13oz and was 24 in.long. My labor was longer this time (11 hrs) because of the extra dilation, and I’m so glad I didn’t have him at the local hospitals. They never would have waited that long without interfering. I nursed him right away, and had no problem with postpartum bleeding. I did have a little problem getting the placenta out, because when I nursed the baby, I could feel my cervix close up. But it worked out fine. We went over to South Boston Hospital and in 10 minutes they helped me get out the biggest placenta I had ever seen! It was easily 10 inches across! They were amazed that I had him at home and tried to get me to stay there overnight, but I said no- I knew what to look for in a newborn and said if I needed their help, I would come and get it then. Then we left and went to see our friends Laurie and Dan. The county nurse came out the third day and did his PKU and pediatric check right in the living room. It was cool. So now I’m in school becoming a midwife so I can offer the same thing to others in this area who want it. Cathi
Almost a year and a half ago I was trying to make sense of things that had happened during my second birth. My son was almost a year old and I still had a deep sense of frustration at the lack of control I had during his birth. We had experienced one hospital birth that felt very dangerous to me. It ended up with forceps delivery and a posterior presentation that was diagnosed at birth. We learned many lessons from this. The second birth was a planned home birth with non-professional midwives. We transported at their insistence. The only problem was a heavy bloody show. I knew there was no real problem. They knew I was resistant to transport so they went “around me.” They took my husband in the other room and worked him over about the “life-threatening” situation I was in. I know they meant well and I have forgiven them for this. I have found that most people who attend births are willing to tolerate more risk in their own births than they would advise others to take. The attendant still feels responsible though the birthing couple actually bears the responsibility regardless of what kind of birth it is. The birthing couple lives with the consequences of what happens whether it be rough treatment or unnecessary intervention or having their choices taken away by some well intentioned person. I found some internet sites with information about unassisted birth. I was drawn in immediately! I lurked on one site in particular for a while, wondering what this could mean for my next birth. I first thought that I was being carnal in feeling tempted to birth this way. But after getting to know some of the people who related their experiences I felt differently. Many of the people had integrity. They took the responsibility that was needed for a safe birth. They also had good reasons for the choices they made. I was told at both of my prior births that I should be thankful to have avoided c-sections. That is more true than I ever cared to admit. It has always been my desire to bear children. I always believed that the Lord provided me with a vessel that is suitable. I read about how the overly cautious OBs and nurses can actually impede and complicate a potentially safe birth with their interventions. These facts made it impossible for me to consider a hospital birth for my next child, unless some emergency came up. I wanted foremost to do what was safest . I do believe there is a place for medical intervention but I desired a natural birth. I did not want to be burdened with others inflicting fear on me. This should be the safest way to birth for most people. I had already done a lot of reading and preparation for childbirth. I read mostly midwifery books but I also had my nursing books on hand for reference. I had talked with my husband about all these things. He had insights as well from being at our other two births. We found out we were expecting again! Now there was a big question mark about what to do. My husband felt unprepared for us to birth unassisted and wished to find someone who could attend our birth as a resource person. We interviewed some potential midwives. They were very nice and well organized. I felt uneasy about having them attend my birth though. It seemed wrong to give authority to people that did not know me well. My husband knows instinctively what is encouraging to me while in labor. He would be the only vital person to be present. And I did not want to be bothered with people hovering over me while I labored with their dopplers and invasive checks and telling me to push so they could get home! I communicated this to him. He was a bit perplexed about it at first. I was not tempted to force this decision on my husband. If he had said no, I would have lived with it. My husband is a wonderful man and I treasure our marriage. He has always demonstrated a deep sense of caring and respect for me. He cherishes me enough that if he did not want to go unassisted there would have been good reason for it. Even if we did not agree, I would not sacrifice the harmony of our home for something that concerned him that much. He took the manual called “Emergency Childbirth” and read it cover to cover one night. The next day he told me we could go ahead and birth unassisted. I was overjoyed! We are Christians and we believe that God has afforded us certain protections. We had prayed all through the pregnancy for His intervention. We knew that things could have been much worse for us in the past but for His hand in our lives. We believe that he created us with the ability to birth. We feel that the tendency of Christian people to focus on their doctors as savior is grave error. We were approaching this birth as two people who had become one flesh. We were harmonious in our reasons for what we planned to do and would approach this situation as a team. We each had our burden to bear. On a Sunday night as a beautiful snow blanketed the yard, my contractions started up. I was so excited! I contracted throughout the night and as morning approached I would glance up to the clock radio to see how far apart they were. It looked roughly between 3 and 4 minutes. My dh, B. decided to stay home from work as I had some strong contractions while we were talking around 7:30 am. My contractions stopped shortly after that! I thought they could start up again at any time. The day and night wore on and nothing happened. I was not hung up on due dates (this was the day before my actual due date), but after the contractions began I felt desperate to have the baby all of a sudden! I wanted to have the baby before my husband’s five vacation days were used up! The pressure mounted when B. decided to stay home again on Tuesday. I knew I needed to do what I could to encourage labor. B. took our older son to gymnastics in the morning. While he was gone I blew the dust off one of my weight training videos and did the whole thing with light weights (save for the abdominal routine!). I felt great afterwards. Then in the afternoon I took my boys to Walmart and we briskly walked around the store until I got tired out. After being there over an hour I bought some diaper pins and left. After we went to bed, I did nipple stimulation on myself for about an hour and a half. I felt contractions but decided to get some rest. At 12:30 am, my two year old son got up and was crying. He was feeling under the weather. I got up and put him back to bed. My husband was asleep and he is a heavy sleeper. I was getting excited, so I decided to get up and flip through the book “Special Delivery”. I read the labor section over and over. I found a wrist watch, and over the next hour and a half I watched my contactions go from four minutes apart to three minutes apart. My cervix had been dilated for weeks at around two and a half to three centimeters. I felt up there and the cervix was far out of reach. At two a.m. I woke up my husband. He got up and built a fire in the fireplace. That was a nice touch! At the time I was walking through the contractions. It felt good to march around with my knees up high for some reason. I felt rested and had a lot of energy reserves. I checked myself again after a while and some blood spurted down from the cervix. It was a small amount, but I decided not to check again for a while. I felt free to move around as I pleased and go from room to room. The contractions were pretty strong and now I was feeling back labor. It was different from my first birth, in that it stopped between contractions. It did, however, make things a little more difficult to cope with. I got down on all fours and did pelvic rocks for quite a while. Between contractions we would talk and look up things about labor and enjoyed each others company. I announced that I needed to get into the tub, as the contractions were getting tougher to handle. I ran the the water and got in the tub. The pressure moved from my back to my belly now. I splashed the warm water on my belly and that helped me cope better. B. came in and said that he had just prayed for the back labor to leave. And it did! I stayed in the tub for a while and started feeling drowsy. I decided to get out of the tub. It was nearing six a.m. B. was talking about shipping our two boys out until after the baby was born. That appeared to be necessary, since I didn’t know how long it would take for the baby to come. My husband, was dead-set against having to divide his attention between me and two potentially needy little boys. He bundled them off to the house of a neighbor who was awaiting our call. I went to the bathroom and checked my cervix again. My fingers were in a v shape so I figured that was around four centimeters. That seemed discouraging, but B. reminded me that that was very good, as the next stage of labor would go the fastest. I sat back on the couch for a while on pillows while he got the boys ready to go next door. I put my arms back behind me so my hands were relaxed and not touching anything. The pain seemed to float away from my hands as I relaxed them. I sat there for a while feeling rather drowsy and decided to get up again. I was thinking it might take until noon for us to have this baby. I decided to get back in the tub again. The contractions were getting more difficult to breathe through. The water was still warm. The contractions slowed down to around 4-5 minutes apart. My husband returned from the neighbor’s house. I got out of the tub again and went into the family room and did some more pelvic rocks. Nothing was helping the back labor much now. B. rubbed my back for a long time. I would sometimes get on all fours or lean against a chair during contractions. Once in a while I thought I might be shaking just a bit but wasn’t sure. I always had shaken with my other labors. I had taken a huge dose of calcium with magnesium early in this labor. That may have been why I didn’t shake more. I went to the bathroom again and felt up to check my cervix. I felt no cervix at all, but did feel the amniotic sac bulging! Oh how I longed to feel the baby! I went out and told B. I thought we would be having a baby very soon. No pressure! Baby could come in his/her own time. I breathed through some more contractions. They seemed unbearable. I was feeling a lot of pressure on my back and lower abdomen. My bones felt like they were spreading and the pressure exerted downward as the baby descended. I relaxed and resisted the pushing urge. My body was going to do this without any interference from me! Now I started getting demanding. I told my husband to get the washcloths from the crock pot and put them on my back and belly. Ah… counter pressure! That helped a lot. I forgot that those washcloths were for perineal care. We both forgot. After a little bit, I started to spread my legs apart a bit more to make room for baby. This was not a conscious action. I thought about changing positions–maybe squatting. I tried a modified squat with one foot on the floor and the other knee down. During the next contraction the water broke. It was clear and yellow. I put my fingers up there to feel baby’s head. I couldn’t resist ! I felt the little head covered with fine downy hair. I was getting excited! I didn’t feel confident squatting, so I got back on all fours. With the next contraction, my body started to push the baby out. One… two… three contractions and the head was out! There was no cord around the neck. B. got a bit worried seeing the breathless baby’s head sticking out . He worried about the baby getting choked! He decided not to mention it to me since I was still pretty busy at the moment. One more contraction and the shoulder came. Rotation happened and another shoulder was out. Then baby slid out into his daddy’s hands. B. said, “It‘s Benjamin!” The baby cried a beautiful cry! B. handed him off to me and we took a towel and dried him off a bit. No need for suctioning. B. said that all the junky secretions came out of baby’s mouth as he slid out of me. He sounded and felt clear to me! I kept looking at him in disbelief. What a perfect creation! He was a tiny ruddy little blonde haired boy with dark eyes! He cried and cried until I got him latched on the breast. What a vigorous little boy! He nursed well right away, just like a pro! We sat nursing on the living room floor. To show God’s grace, the little towel clad baby quickly gave his mommy a gift of meconium on her leg! A few moments earlier could have changed our outlook on things quite a bit! It was right around 9am and B. said he had only looked at the clock when my waters broke at 8:40 am. I felt a little gush between my legs. I wasn’t as aware of any contractions I was having due to the baby excitement. The next hurdle was the delivery of the placenta. We sat for a while and waited–not quite sure what to do. I got up to sit on the couch. As soon as I rose, the placenta just popped out! It was smaller than I thought it would be and had already ceased pulsing. What a relief! We sat and nursed for a bit. After a while B. clamped and cut the cord. After a bit we weighed and measured little Benjamin. He was seven pounds and eight ounces. His length was 19¾ inches. He was the exact weight and height of our first son! He had a tiny little head that was twelve inches around. We discovered later that I had torn. On the outside it was a perfectly straight tear along the old episiotomy scar (I have had two episiotomies). On the inside it was hard to tell what all the involvement was, but it looked pretty raw inside. It happened because the back labor had distracted us from doing the proper perineal care we had planned. We decided to get the tear sutured. I knew I didn’t want a permanent episiotomy. My husband preferred to do it this way plus I knew I wouldn’t be able to stay in bed for very long to heal the natural way. The OB that had delivered our second son agreed to see us in his office and do the job. He was very kind to us. Our total medical cash expense for this birth came to $60! We have no regrets about our UC. The baby and I are healthy. We have peace in our home. My husband and I functioned as one organism during the birth. I drew from my husband’s strength and encouragement. My thoughts were always clear during the birth. I love my husband now more than I ever have. This has been a high point in our married life. I give all the glory to the Lord for this. He has been our protector all along. Birthing in a natural and unconstrained way was such a blessing! I honestly think that if more people birthed in this way there would be more large families! I look forward to birthing unassisted again, if the Lord wills. Marie
Saturday Jan. 30th I wake up in a really bad mood because I didn’t go into labor. Finally I buck up and dh T., the kids and I decide to go get groceries. I figure it can’t hurt and maybe this outing will be enough to start contractions. We get home and I keep pushing myself to get things done, like laundry and dishes. I kinda felt this might be it but didn’t want to be disappointed. Finally about 9:30, I finish the dishes and decide to iron some of T.’s clothes. At 10:30 I’m tired and no contractions so I go to bed. T. is on the computer. At about 11:30 I have a contraction that I have to get up for. ( I never could lay down and have a contraction, I don’t know how they do it in the hospital.) Anyway, T. comes to bed and I tell him not to get comfortable because I think this is it. He falls asleep anyway! I walk around the house and try to figure out how far along I might be. The contractions weren’t strong and they weren’t consistent, about 5 to 8 min. apart. I hadn’t lost my mucous plug yet so I figured it’d be a long while yet. ( About 12:50 a.m. is when I put up the post) I wake T. up and tell I need his encouragement. He gets up and rubs my back and helps get supplies ready. Still no mucous and we figure that my cervix is not opening much, so T. suggests I take a bath. I climb in not sure what position I want to be in. I’m on all fours and a major contraction hits, breaking my water. This gets me really excited because I know it won’t be much longer for me. After another big contraction I get out of the bath and T. helps me to the bed. We have a shower curtain on the bed and some covering on the floor. I kneel down beside the bed and just rest there. I pray for a break and the Lord gives it to me. It seems my contractions have slowed down, but still very strong. I practically sleep between them. We have lost track of time at this point. I feel I could push if I wanted but tell T. I’m going to breath through them for a while. I can feel the head move down and know I need to push. T. has been putting oil and hot compresses on me between contractions (they feel really nice). I bear down and hold as long as I can. Lots of burning!!! So, I decide to wait a little longer before pushing. I feel the head go back up a little. Wanting to get this over with, I ask the Lord for His strength because I knew I couldn’t do it. After this I push and I feel the head. I’m supporting the front and T. is supporting the back. I just bear down and it finally comes out. Breath, breath, breath and a big push and she slides out!!! T. and baby are behind me so I can’t see as I am resting my head on the bed. The cord is wrapped around her head twice and T. gently slips it off. Then he tells me it’s a girl and passes the baby between my legs and I turn around and sit on the bed, holding my precious daughter. I can’t believe how big she is. I tell T. she must be 11 pounds. He says no way. I start to nurse her and here comes the placenta. With that done I sit back and start to nurse as T. starts to clean up. We wait a while to cut the cord. For a 42 week baby, she is quite covered in vernix and there was plenty of fluid! T. cuts the cord and I decide to rinse off, but I will not do this alone again, I will wait until T. can help me. We have a hand held shower so I stand in the tub and rinse down my legs and all. As soon as I turn off the water I get bad shakes, I hurry to the room and climb in bed and cover up. T. lays beside me and holds me. They subside and I am ok. It was kind of scary and I got the shakes with my last birth but I was in bed and it wasn’t so strong. Anyway, I try nursing again and she does a little. After some clean up, we lay down for a quick nap knowing the other kids will be up soon. I forgot to mention that she was born at 3:45 a.m. It was very nice to climb in bed with our newborn and rest and be together as it should be. The kids get up about 7:30 and are surprised to see the new baby!!! After they all make it in the room we weigh her and she weighs 11 lbs. and 4 oz. What a miracle. I believe I didn’t tear because I just did what my body wanted, not pushing much and just breathing through the contractions. Her head was 14½ inches. Well, we are all having a great time adjusting this week and are in awe at the miracle of birth and the bond that we have. I have some swelling but I am recovering nicely! Praise the Lord for another UC!!!
I have had 5 births. The first two were unmedicated hospital births, the third a birth attended by a lay midwife, the fourth a planned unassisted home birth and the fifth another home birth with a midwife. I am not much into medical things when they are not necessary so I have always had a hard time dealing with drs. and hospitals when it comes to childbirth. I was very reluctant to go the medial route with my first two births, but didn’t know there was a choice. Part way through my 3rd pregnancy a childbirth instructor told me of an “underground” midwife who did home births–we have very backwards laws about birth in my home state! I quit my OB and immediately started planning our first home birth. L. was born on a Sunday morning exactly on her due date! It was a wonderful birth and the midwife was great because she let me do things my way–a big change from the hospital! When dh and I found out we were pregnant with our fourth, I had this strong feeling that I wanted this birth to just be with dh and my children. I was seeing my midwife M. for prenatal care, but I just knew that I wanted a different kind of birth–I needed a different kind of birth this time. Finally we talked to M. and she wasn’t surprised at all. She said she had the feeling that we were headed that way and we had her full support. She even offered to be available by phone if we needed her. It was a Thursday 4 days after my due date and my usual errand day. I took the kids with me and did all our grocery shopping, hair cuts, etc. When I got home it was late afternoon and I felt just uncomfortable. No contractions or anything that I was aware of, but just this major discomfort. My husband is a night worker so he was still in bed asleep. I woke him up just to let him know I was miserable! After a few moments of listening to me he said, “You’re in labor.” I didn’t believe a word he said, but let him go about getting our supplies and camera set up. I paced around, complained a bit and then it finally dawned on me that he might he right. He had spread a blanket with plastic on the floor because I wanted to birth standing up and didn’t like the idea of ruining the carpet. I was standing there when suddenly I felt the baby’s head. I yelled for my husband to catch our baby. I yelled for all the kids to come in too. She just fell into his hands–all 8 lbs 13 ozs. of her! We waited for the cord to turn white as M. had told us at our other home birth and then my husband cut it and tied it with a clean white shoe lace. Now it was time for the placenta. This part always scares us because we both realize how important it is to get the placenta all out so the uterus can do its job and clamp down. We had learned from M. to put a trash bag under the toilet seat and for me to sit there and nurse. A few moments later with my husband on the phone with M. telling her the good news, the placenta fell out. We named our new baby girl Keshet–Hebrew for rainbow. It was a perfect birth, but my husband said he was so scared that he insisted on having M. for the next birth. I didn’t really argue since she always let me have things the way I wanted them anyway. I really think I would like to have another unassisted birth next time though.
James’ ArrivalI was very impatient to have this baby. I was absolutely HUGE, and had trouble sleeping, walking, and all. Every night I went to bed wondering if this would be the last night I would go to bed pregnant. So, April 14th (Tuesday night) was no different. Dh R. was staying up to watch a movie (he recently bought a new stereo with surround sound and has been watching a movie almost every night). I often stayed up with him for company, but this night I felt more tired, and knew that I needed to keep my strength up. I had had braxton hicks contractions…..fairly strong ones…..for weeks, but the last couple days had been “quiet.” I woke up around 3 am, April 15, to go potty, and felt sort of crampy….not really contractions, just “different”. I went back to bed hoping that baby would come soon, said a prayer for strength and patience, and was going to go back to sleep. I had a few more irregular cramps in the next 5 minutes, and got up again to go to the bathroom. I had a BM, and figured that it was gas after all, and I went back to bed. Upon lying down, I had 3 or 4 very strong and definite CONTRACTIONS within 5 minutes time. I began to come out of the denial stage…..and told R. (who had come to bed hours ago, but had awoken with all my wandering around) that “maybe” we would have a baby tonight!! I prayed for wisdom to tune into my instincts, and for strength to birth. I prayed for His holy angels to surround us, the house, all our children. I started pacing through the living room to the toilet, back to the bed, but not lying down, just sitting on the edge of the bed. I was having contractions about every 3 minutes for 30 sec. It was now around 3:30, and R. asked if he should call our friend, A., who was going to be there to assist him, if needed. (she lives about a half hour drive away). I said okay, as I knew I had probably less than 2 hours to delivery. I really like to be without anyone there to make me feel inhibited, but figured by the strength of the contractions, and also knowing A. would blend into the woodwork, by the time she got there, I could adjust or ignore her. Our 3 ½ year old son, C. was asleep on the couch, right by our bedroom door, and R. asked if he should move him up to his bedroom. I said no, because I thought that C. might wake up when he was moved, and then want Daddy (he is Daddy’s boy). I’d rather have him sleeping, and have R. available for me! The contractions were very strong, I had to concentrate on slow breathing and riding the waves 100% during each. I developed a rhythm of walking to the bathroom (on the other side of the living room), sitting on the toilet during a contraction or two, letting myself feel open and relaxed all through my bottom, and mentally going over my body and relaxing other parts as well. I found that my shoulders and legs were often tense. Then, I would walk back the 15 feet or so to the bedroom, just in time for another contraction. There, I would alternate between sitting and rocking on the edge of the bed, or on my hands and knees rocking on the bed for a contraction or two. They were very close and strong. Rocking felt good, and helped me to ride the top of the contraction, and let it go through my uterus, while relaxing the rest of my body. After maybe a quarter hour, I saw blood when I wiped on the toilet, and had a feeling of elation. It really IS labor! LOL, and baby is coming soon. GOOD! I talked to the baby, reassuring it that I would take care of it, and we would soon get to see one another. I also prayed. I had been having back labor, which is why I think I felt the need to do the rocking during contractions. I prayed that God would help me know how to birth, as I was certain the baby was breech. I felt at peace about this, which was a new feeling just in the last few days. I was glad to not have fear about this aspect anymore. I felt that I could trust my God, and my body. R., during this time, had been just wandering around in the dark. The only lights were the bathroom and a small lamp in the bedroom. He would come to my side if he heard my breath catch or if I moaned. He knows that this means that I am having trouble keeping on top of the wave. He would talk reassuredly. He knows better than to touch me, but instead would be there if I reached out to him. (We have done this before, and he is SO good at reading my cues. We don’t really have to talk much. This was our third unassissted birth.) R. also had called my mother, who was to come and watch the children. I got a bit mad at him when he told me he called her. All the kids were asleep, and I hadn’t seen any need to have her there. I also felt that I had to act different or something in front of her……she got there pretty quickly, as she only lives 2 miles down the road. I was still berating poor R. for calling her without asking me first when she came in. The first thing she asked about was “Where are the scissors?” then, “Should we boil water now?” (She was trying to be helpful, I know, but since we wait to cut the cord, and I knew I had very little time left now, I saw scissors as the LAST thing to worry about right now, LOL!) He told her to sit in the living room in case C. woke up (that is why he called her, he was afraid C. would wake, and he could tell I was getting close to delivery). I had to walk past Mom from the bedroom to the bathroom in my little circuit, and it made me uncomfortable for a bit. I detoured off to pace the kitchen a few times, instead, but I was having the chills sometimes, and really needed to sit with the bed comforter over me every once in awhile. So I reverted back to my circuit, (bedroom to bathroom, through the living room) and tried to ignore my Mom. It worked until A. got there, and mom started talking to her. A. was very quiet, and she really did blend into the woodwork. My mom kept coughing. That bothered me. I told R. that she had to be quiet, and he went out and spoke to her. I got over being mad at my dear husband about calling mom, and just kept up with the pacing and rocking. About 4:10…..I glanced at the clock….I announced as I went back to the bedroom from the bathroom that it would be less than an hour now. In the bathroom, I had just felt the baby move around in a very big way. I suspect this is when he moved from breech position, as from now on there was NO back labor anymore. I talked to him, and prayed for strength, as I was now feeling tired. I told R. I was feeling tired, and tried to lay down on my side of the bed, but it was just too hard to ride the contractions without losing focus that way. I had gotten so I needed to lean on R., whether I was on the toilet, or sitting on the edge of the bed, or on my hands and knees on the bed, or just standing and hugging him. I was upright, and beginning to feel a small urge to push. I felt all the way open. Now contractions were so very close, and practically one on top of another. I prayed for a break for a breath, and God graciously gave me about 2 minutes without contractions. It was enough. I was praying for a quick delivery, too, and you just can’t have it both ways! (breaks and progress). Now it was taking all my energy to hold back from pushing. I did not know if the baby had turned, and I wanted to make absolutely sure that there was no lip, no bit of cervix in the way. I wanted R. to reach up and feel which part was presenting, but with the contractions so close, I knew that if he did, it would trigger a contraction, and would be too hard to deal with. So I did not ask. I remembered about putting hot oil on my bottom to help it stretch, and asked R. to get a sqeeze bottle microwaved…..he did, but I immediately called him so I could lean on him. I told him to have mom or A. do it as “that is what they are here for.” We never had time to put one drop of oil on me at all. I could feel the baby moving down the birth canal now…..through the cervix…… contraction over, and rest…. asked R. for a spoonful of honey……contraction: baby moving about halfway down…..I tell R. that the baby is coming now. I am on my knees on the bed. I want to stand, but we have a king-size bed crammed in a little room, and there is about 10 inches of space to one side and the end. R. suggests that I sit on the edge of the bed as I had been earlier during labor, (I think he was thinking of how he could catch the baby, also), but as soon as I sat down, it hurt. I complained and growled through that contraction, and immediatly got back onto my knees with R. kneeling in front of me. If my mom weren’t in the living room (she is still mumbling about scissors now and again), I would have just gone in there to birth. I tell R. to send mom to her house to get some scissors, since she is so intent on having some (her husband is a barber and has some really nice stainless steel ones). He doesn’t tell her. C. is still sleeping….. During a contraction, I lean over R. and hug him tight. Between contractions, I stand up and stretch my legs by getting off my knees. All this is taking place within minutes, as the contractions are about 1 minute apart and lasting 45 seconds (so I have like 15 seconds to regroup my focus and take a breath between!). I love the sensations I am having. They mean baby is coming! I am worried about the baby falling on the floor, and am concentrating so much on keeping my bottom relaxed to stretch. The contractions are so overpowering now, I am making some pretty big blowing, moaning noises, I guess. (mom said later I was loud near the end.) I forgot about C. sleeping on the couch. I could feel the baby at the perenium now, and called out for A. to catch him! R. was hollering how to support, I was blowing and moaning, and could feel one big body part (is that the head or butt, I wondered?), the water broke with a huge splash! A funny thing happened at this point. Because R. was in front of me, on his hands and knees, so I could lean over his back…..he reached under my belly and tried to lift my shirt to see by peeking under me what part of the baby was out so far. As he did so, he touched my stomach (he was trying hard not to disturb me!). I immediatly lost my concentration, and yelled at him “Hey! Get your hand out of there! You are worse than an OB!” and I spanked him pretty hard on his butt. (A. said later it was funny that the worse insult I could come up with was a comparison to an OB!!!) Then the contraction did a double peak with my body just taking over and I could feel another body part coming…….how long is this baby? I wondered. It felt as if A. were pulling the baby out, as the contraction was ending, and I could still feel body coming out! I cried out, “Don’t pull! Don’t pull!” At the same time, I had what I thought was a hugh BM! R. and I heard the baby gurgle,and both cried out, “turn him over, turn him over” (meaning facedown so the baby’s mouth could drain), as we struggled to get off our hands and knees and see the baby. This was especially tricky for me, of course, with the cord between my legs!! My mom came in the room (or perhaps she had been standing in the doorway), and said “Boy that was FAST!” and we grabbed a receiving blanket and tried to wipe up poor James, who was not only wet, had some vernix on his back (A. commented on how she thought he wouldn’t have much as he was a couple days past his due date), but he was covered with my BM! I hugged and kissed him anyway, and told him sorry for pooping all over him! We asked A. which end came out first, and she said “his head.” He came so fast, I really still had no clue which part came when. She also said the cord was around his neck once. But it never got tight. All I could do was say “Praise the LORD” over and over. We wiped up his head, R. offered me the bulb syringe we had, but I shook my head…..I saw no need for it. He was pink to his toes, breathing just fine, and wrapped up and cuddled on my chest. In 5 minutes, I felt a surge of warm blood from my vagina and knew the placenta had seperated. It was a tight space, there in the bedroom, and the cord was really getting in the way, so R. tied it off with a new white shoelace, and I cut the cord, with some sewing scissors which we just wiped with alcohol. We couldn’t boil them, as the plastic handles would melt. (I had never had the priviledge of cutting the cord before, and I insisted that it was my turn!) We maneuvered me over a basin, and I squatted and gave a little push. The placenta came with a splash. Only then did I think to ask if anyone had seen the time of birth. Mom said it was about 5 minutes before 5 am (it was 5:05 now). So, from start to finish, labor was under 2 hours. Since there was so much mess, with the waters breaking, blood and feces, we decided to clean up real quick before waking the other children. I went and jumped in the shower (I think my mom was shocked that I was up so soon), while the others changed the sheets and cleaned up the floor next to the bed. We wiped up James and just wrapped him in a blanket….no clothes or diaper yet. R. went and woke up the other kids…..all came down except 7 year-old G., who was sound asleep apparently. C. stayed alseep on the couch, even after everyone was down, and a couple children tried to shake him awake!! I was feeling great…..no tears, no breech problems, and a beautiful boy. We were all curious about his weight. C. had weighed 11 pounds, and we all thought James was smaller than that. I did say that he was pretty long, and may be hiding some weight. R. used his Eagle Scout expertise by using marbles in the corners of a receiving blanket to secure some extra shoelace so we could suspend it from a fish scale to weigh James. We all about fell over when the weight was 11½ pounds!! That was with a diaper and two receiving blankets, so we took off a few ounces for his birth weight. I did not measure him until the next day, when everyone was out. He was a good full 24″ long! I also re-tied the cord, as Rusty had left about 3 inches on, because he didn’t have room to get any closer. (When he cut it, I was squatting between the bed and dresser, in that 8 inch space.) The cord dried up very quickly, by the way, with the application of Goldenseal Powder. It came off in 6 days. My milk came in in 48 hours (that is quickest yet), and he weighs 11 pounds, 8 oz., completely nude at 7 days. Now, as I write this, he is 10 days old, nursing well, sleeping through the night. He is a very contented baby, and everyone is in love with him. I have lost 55 pounds, which puts me ahead of when I got pregnant (I only gained 25 pounds in the pregnancy!) I am so thankful to my LORD for being with us, and allowing us to have this gift of another son. Praise God! I know this is really long, but I hope you get caught up in the moment and see how naturally and wonderfully birth takes place, without internal exams, blood pressure, fetal heart tones, laying on your back, episiotomy, eye drops, vitamin shots, and all that jazz. If I could do anything different, I would have just R. and me there. We would have found another position where one or both of us could have caught the baby. I am disappointed that our hands were not the first ones to touch our baby. Maybe next time!! By the way, this was my 10th baby. We had two early miscarriages (unassisted at home), one C-section, 2 with midwives at home, two planned hospital births, one planned homebirth that was transported to the hospital, and three unassisted births. Thanks for reading our story. God Bless, Karen