A surprise, unassisted home birth, 13 years after 4th hospital birth. The midwife didn't make it.
My husband M. and I have 5 children. The first 4 were born in a hospital with very nice, uncomplicated births. At that time (1977, '79, '81, '84), I didn't realize that home birthing was an option. I did happen to know of someone who had home birthed 5 of their 6 children, but they were acquaintances who lived in California, so they did not really influence me. I thought the "scientific, modern" way was the way to have your baby. Anyway, only the first one, our son B., was birthed with an epidural, and that was because, at 17 years old, I didn't know any better. By the time K. was born 2 years later, I had done some reading and knew that pain medication really was not in the best interests for me or my child. (A side note - B. was a very sleepy baby for months, but all the others were alert and active. Could the labor meds have had anything to do with this?) I also learned some about nutrition and was beginning to work on being healthy through nutrition (something I continue to work on to this day!). H., born in 1981, was declared by the labor nurse to be in trouble because her heart rate dropped, according to the external fetal monitor, so they wheeled me to the delivery room, where she was born, healthy and not in trouble of any kind, just a few short minutes later. The pregnancy with A. was difficult, with preterm labor at 7 months and bed rest, etc. She was born healthy one day after her due date. She was the only baby that the Rh factor came into play with.
Because I was only 24, with 4 children, possibly 20 more years of child-bearing, had experienced a frightening pregnancy with the 4th one, and everyone we knew was having sterilization surgery done, we decided to take our "birth control" matters into our own hands. M. got a vasectomy when A. was only 2 months old. I remember being in the doctor's office and thinking we should not do this, that I should go stop it right now! But, regretfully, I didn't do that. Our desire for more children was still there; had never even left. But we allowed ourselves to be deceived by the deceiver, not even really praying about it, thinking we knew what was best for us. HA! For the next few years, I yearned for another child, but didn't think it was even a remote possibility. Then we went to a Bill Gothard seminar in 1988 and heard about reversal surgery. I spoke with M. about a reversal and he thought that if God wanted us to have more children, He could move sovereignly and give us babies without more surgery. We had already repented and asked God to forgive us some time before. So I just began praying that God would perform a miracle, either by blessing us with more children supernaturally without more surgery, or by changing M's heart to be open for surgery to reverse what we had done in disobedience and willfulness, and to provide the money for a reversal. Well, God changed M's heart! In June, 1992, we traveled to Dr. Bledsoe in Arkansas, who performed the reversal for $1,000.
We were so happy just to have taken steps to restore what we had damaged that we didn't really dwell on the fact that now maybe we could have more babies. If that's what God wanted, then so be it. If not, well, ok. But as time went on, I began to greatly desire more babies. M. did, too, but I think it was much more discouraging to me as each disappointing month passed. God was moving and doing great things in our life in other areas, but no baby. Sometime in early 1994, I was desperately praying to conceive, when God spoke to my heart and said I would have a baby at Christmas and I heard the name "Joel" in my spirit. I was so excited! But the time came and went for us to be expecting a child in December. I cried to the Lord. Had I just heard what I wanted to hear?? I was so disappointed. Then, God told me to look up the meaning of the name Joel. I did - it means "God is willing"! God was telling me to trust in Him and His timing.
1997 began as usual. M. and I decided in March to lose the extra weight we had been carrying around by using the Prism diet, which is based on healthy, nutritious foods and Biblical principles. In May, I realized my cycle was off, about a month late. I confided to someone that usually this diet gives me more energy and my cycles are regular. She said maybe I was pregnant. I dismissed that idea; after all, hadn't I been diligently praying, every month, for a baby? I hadn't even thought about a baby since the beginning of the year! Then, we went to see my mom for Mother's Day. Instead of telling how good I looked to have dropped 35 pounds, her very first words to me were, "Cindy, are you pregnant? You look pregnant." I just about dropped through the floor! My children just stared at me! I denied being pregnant and focused our attention on my great weight loss. Well, we decided that if my mom thought I "looked" pregnant, then maybe I had better get a test to tell if I was or not. My mom had known before I told her that we were expecting at least twice before, so I thought it would be wise to follow her intuition, although she apologized for blurting out such a thing and couldn't understand what made her say it.
The test was POSITIVE! We were expecting a baby, finally, after all these years! And, the due date? CHRISTMAS EVE!!! When I realized the timing, I knew I served a great God, a good God, who gives us the desires of our hearts, even when we stop asking for them. It had been 3 years since He'd told me that I'd have a baby at Christmas, and now here it was coming to pass. Our whole family was excited.
I had studied and read everything I could get about home births. I shared this with my husband M. He was quite the skeptic. I asked him if I could find a midwife and if he'd meet with her before deciding not to go that avenue. He agreed. Because of several factors (my age, hypothyroidism, past problem pregnancy, Rh factor) the first two midwives I contacted refused me. I was getting disappointed. So, I stopped to pray that God would direct me to the midwife of His choice. M. had given me a few specifics that the midwife must meet. The very next midwife I called met every criteria Mark had given me! And, she agreed to take me on, saying that those reasons were not valid for not birthing at home. One time, I saw a doctor whom she wanted us to use as a backup, otherwise I saw her for all prenatal visits. Everything was going very well. My blood pressure was up a little bit, but there were no other adverse symptoms of any kind.
On Dec. 8, I had several hours of intense contractions, about 2 minutes apart. Midwife came and spent the night on our sofa, but the contractions quieted down and went away. She thought it was way too early for delivery anyway. M's dad's 60th birthday is Dec. 18th, so we were hoping that if the baby came early, s/he would be born on the 18th. The day came and was almost gone before I felt a soft contraction at 10:15 pm. I prayed, "Lord, can we do this in less than 2 hours??" Well, the contractions came regularly, but not close or hard. We had prayed for a pain-free labor, but I was not so sure it would happen! Around midnight I decided to call the midwife and let her know we might be needing her. She told me to lay down and take it easy and keep her informed. The contractions continued to be regular but not close, sometimes not even regular, but 2-7 minutes apart. They still were not painful either. Around 1:30 am, I decided to take a shower. Then I laid down on the bed and remembered that the books said that you would not be able to sleep through real labor. So I dozed on and off, waking for each contraction, still about 5 minutes apart. The doctor I had seen told me not to expect the short (3 hour) labors I'd had with my girls; since it had been 13 years since the last one was born, my uterus would act like it was my first. I decided not to believe that report, but to trust the Lord to keep it short! I figured it had been about 3 ½ hours of labor now. Around 2:30 am I awoke with harder contractions. I woke up M. and told him I thought this might be it. I still was not sure. We woke up the girls (ages 13 & 16) because they had wanted to be around when the baby came. We left our sons (ages 18 & 20) asleep, as they had told us they would be leaving as soon as I went into labor and then return when it was all over. About 2:45 am I called the midwife and told her what was going on but that I didn't think that it would really be any time soon. She said she'd come. I asked her if I could take a bath, and since my water had not broken, she agreed. I continued to make sure everything was in order. Then while M. readied our bedroom, I got into the bathtub. The contractions still were not terribly strong (remember, I had prayed for a pain-free labor!) and not close together in minutes, but coming regularly.
Just after 3 am, I called M. to help me out of the tub, as the contractions were now very strong and beginning to be painful. As I leaned on him, I asked him why we ever decided to do this, and also told him if we ever do it again, to take me to the hospital and let them put me completely out! My darling wise husband, knowing if I was becoming intolerant that delivery must be near, told me ok. We went into the bedroom, where I knelt next to the
bed, but not on plastic. He told me to move over to where the plastic was, saying I'd not be happy if I got the carpet messy. In between contractions, I told him to leave me alone! But I obediently moved over the the plastic. With the next contraction came the urge to push. M. told me it was not time yet. I said it doesn't matter, the baby is coming, and with a push, Brennan Joel whooshed right out of me! He startled us all!!! Daddy was there to catch him and the girls were there to "help" and watch. After I pushed Brennan out, I felt such relief. Then I realized there was a baby behind me!!!! I got up, stood there and reached for my tiny baby. I told Mark to look in the book for what to do in emergency childbirth. He told me that this was not an emergency! Thank God for a level-headed husband! Finally, I decided to get into bed instead of standing there. It was about 3:20 am (everyone forgot to get a close look at the clock!). After we admired the baby, rubbed the vernix into his skin and covered him and me with the bed-covers, the midwife arrived about 15 minutes later. When A. announced to her that the baby was here, she didn't believe her, as people tell her that all the time and it's never true! She was amazed, telling me that I fooled her. She can usually tell over the phone how far into labor her moms are by the tone of their voice. She thought this was really another "false alarm."
Oh, when A. told B. and K. that the baby is a boy, K. asked her how she knew! Then they were unhappy that we let them sleep through the excitement!
Brennan was little - he weighed only 5 pounds, 12 ounces, and was 17 ½ inches long (the others ranged 7 pounds to 7 pounds, 14 ounces). But he was healthy. He nursed for about 7 minutes on each side. Although it took Brennan a few days to get the hang of nursing, we enjoy a satisfying, healthy nursing relationship now. He has grown to about 16 pounds now at the age of 5½ months.
With the next baby, when God blesses us with more, we would like to home birth again. I have heard of a young lady who is studying to be a midwife but at this time is not licensed, so she attends births as more of a doula. I would like some one on hand to help us out and make sure everything is attended to. But, actually, M. and the girls did a great, great job. So maybe we'll just do it with ourselves and God............ Cindy S., June 9, 1998