Margaret's Birth Story - KEPHAS
We were delighted to discover that I was expecting our sixth child late last spring. We knew it was going to be a different nine months: David, my husband, was deployed to Iraq for five months early in the pregnancy. I rely so much on him during the pregnancy, the birth and afterward. He does so much for me (listening to me, letting me cry for no apparent reason, cooking, cleaning, taking the kids out for a walk while I nap, etc.) and will defend our parenting decisions to doctors, neighbors, friends, complete strangers. I get flustered and upset that people question what we are doing as unsafe or crazy. We have researched, prayed and thought long and hard about our lifestyle. This seems especially true about our birth choices.
The early months had were tough. I was missing David so much and I was very tired. In addition, I was trying to find a midwife who would do a homebirth. I had had three homebirths on the east coast and had used the same midwifery clinic and loved the midwives and their philosophy. It was so easy. In California, it was a bit tricky. At first I went to the military clinic midwives. They were very concerned about my desire for homebirth, no prenatal tests and no ultrasound. They reminded me of my age and the number of children I had had but never considered nutrition and exercise, my past experiences, my excellent health and my own mothers health (I have great genes!). Oh how I missed David and his love of argument.
I found Nicole over the internet. What a blessing. Although our insurance would not pay for the birth as it had back east, we knew that we wanted Nicole to be the one who helped us welcome our little one into the world. Nicole supported me and reassured me when my confidence was shaken. I ended up doing an ultrasound, since I was measuring big for a while mid-pregnancy. How wonderful to know that everything at that point was fine: One baby, no health issues, the due date was correct.
David returned for the last trimester and our excitement and preparation for the birth kicked in. Since I seemed bigger than before and had lots of warm-up contractions, we assumed the baby would come earlier than the due date. All the children, except Jude, our fifth, had been early. Nicole and David reminded me that babies come when they are ready. Patience, Margaret, patience! I was ready to meet this child and was feeling anxious about the birth.
After about three false alarms stretched over the last month of the pregnancy, labor began around 3:30 Sunday afternoon. I stayed alone in my room and timed them for an hour or morejust to make sure. My parents had arrived the day before. The children were excited about their visit and were being well cared for. Our good friend, Ann, came over to check in on me. We prayed, David rubbed my back as we waited for Nicole to arrive. I called Nicole a few times over the phone and she agreed labor had started.
I retreated to my bathroom for much of the labor. I found sitting on the toilet a great place to be! It was easier on my bottom and I was alone. I needed to stay calm and pray and be silent as the contractions became stronger and stronger. I could hear activity: the others making and eating dinner, David getting the bed and supplies ready. I heard when Dorie, the birth assistant and then Nicole arrived. Nicole assessed the situation and then left me alone for a bit.
My prayer had been to be calm and focused. I was doing well. I was very calm. Nicole came in and listened to the baby. She wanted to check me. I didnt want to move, but I knew that this might mean the end was near. I was so happy to hear her say that I was complete! What a relief. I knew I was close to delivery since I was beginning to panic and the contractions were close and very strong. I got into the shower briefly, but didnt want to stay there.
When I got out, I went to my room where David and I were alone. Suddenly my bag of waters broke. David and I quickly changed the pads and called for Nicole and Dorie. It seemed unreal that David and I were doing this clean up moments before our child would be here. I felt very calm and knew it would be soon.
Suddenly the next contraction came and I really wanted to pushI could feel Kephas head moving down. I heard Nicole say she saw the top of his head. With the next push I knew he was coming. Nicole quietly told me to hold off and let him ease out. It was so hard to do, but I did it. The feeling of his head moving down the birth canal cannot be described. As he emerged I said my usual get this baby out of me! Like an obedient boy, he came!
We called out the waiting family and friends. What a celebration. Another boy! There were tears of joy and much laughter. I was relieved, exhausted and so thankful to God. While we waited for the placenta to expel, Kephas and I were examined and he was was weighed (10 pounds!). We were cozy in our bed snug and warm with all the people I love most in the room.
This is the best part of homebirth. Being at home, I am comfortable and familiar with my surroundings. I focus on nursing and falling in love with each baby as they have come into our lives. The other kids come in and visit, just a little at a time. My parents, friends and David know when they need extra attention and when I need to sleep. David comes in and lays with us, holding that newborn on his chest and letting the new one bond with Dad.
I write this as Kephas is learning to crawl and pull himself up on furniture. I smile as I write. I look back with such fondness on his birth, as I have with all the births. Being at home, knowing that he was getting the best start to life outside of me makes me grateful to be a woman. I am grateful that Nicole chose this profession. I trusted her skill and knowledge and in turn she trusted mine!