Let's start with this: Even if we hadn't been planning a homebirth, this baby would have been born at home. So it's a darn good thing we had a bunch of supplies around and a midwife who showed up to take care of everything as opposed to, you know, being in an even bigger panic because THIS BABY IS COMING RIGHT THIS SECOND AND CLEARLY THE WORLD WILL COME TO AN END. Yes, I think things like that.
I've always been blessed with fairly quick labors accompanied by pretty short pushing phases. But with my 4 hospital births I did always make it to the hospital (just barely with Paul, who arrived 16 minutes after we pulled into the parking lot. But still: made it). But this time....wow. It really is one of the reasons that a homebirth is the best choice for our family, seriously.
So y'all remember Tuesday night/Wednesday morning, I didn't sleep. I truly thought this was the beginning of the end of the waiting. And even though it turns out that it was it sure didn't feel like it was when I had to go back to living life like a normal human on Wednesday afternoon. I was so useless and sobby and angry at the world on Wednesday that Tommy even volunteered to stay home from work. I guess he's seen me at the tippy tippy end of pregnancy enough times to know when I shouldn't be left alone? Maybe. But he saved me and our children from a terrible horrible no good very bad day no matter what the reason.
That evening I sent my friend Amanda an email demanding that she distract me on Thursday because more misery was sure to result if I moped about being angry at my broken uterus. We decided she would come over with her kids in the morning before naps rather than in the evening after naps (cue providential foreshadowing music).
Then I drank a glass of wine and waddled my foreverpregnant self to bed only to be seriously blessed with the best night of sleep I'd experienced in months and months and months. I woke up so happy, so refreshed, so ready to do all the things and Tommy looked at my face and my belly and said "I'd better stay home again." Suit yourself, brotha. But seeing as I'm never having this baby, why bother?
After being together for over 15 years, I guess a man starts to know a woman...
So I threw in a load of laundry, washed the dishes, tidied up the house, got properly dressed, posted my 41 week belly shot up here on this blogge, did the stuff with the children that one does with their children, Amanda and her kids came over, we ate chicken salad sandwiches for lunch (note to self: demand chicken salad recipe), complained that my stupid jeggings WOULD NOT STAY UP, hollered at people not to get near the chicken coop that Tommy was priming with chemical-laden outdoor latex primer of extreme stinkiness, and generally tried to go about my day as if it were a regular day.
Now see here, folks- all day long I was having mild contractions. But that had been happening for weeks and weeks and weeks. If I alerted friends and family every single time a bit of hope sprang up in my heart, people would stop answering my phone calls and then we'd be in even BIGGER trouble come d-day (d for delivery, natch.).
So when our friends left at 2 p.m., I still had exactly zero plans to deliver a baby that day.
"Well, the coop is ready to paint so I guess we'll get started on that...." said my husband. To which I replied "Can I help? Can I paint it? I need something to do." And in accordance with rule 492 of Talking to Overdue Pregnant Women he said "OF COURSE WHATEVER WILL MAKE YOU HAPPY CAN I PLEASE MAKE DINNER AND DESSERT WHILE YOU DO ANYTHING YOUR DARLING HEART DESIRES AND ALSO YOU'RE BEAUTIFUL AND FUNNY AND BRILLIANT."
So I'm painting and I'm painting and I'm squatting down and I'm standing and then I'm sitting on the ground then I'm foisting myself up again. Then I'm cursing the mosquitos and finding the ugliest white painter's hat I can find and Instagramming a duck-lipped selfie and eventually Tommy calls us all in for dinner (yes, he was serious about that. The best.).
Dinner was a pho-like asian noodle soup made with beef broth that he cooked himself, garnished with cilantro from our garden and goosefoot, that edible weed that grows like...um....a weed? at this time of year? Yeah. Anyway, it was delish.
More contractions that don't deserve any mention.
More me wondering when they're going to become "the real thing."
Katie looks at the clock. Sighs. "Well, I guess today isn't going to be your birthday either, Chombie...."
Collective sigh around the table in response.
Tommy: "if we get out there soon, I bet we can finish the second coat on that coop before we need to get everyone in bed"
So he hops to the dishes while I toss the wet stuff from the washer into the dryer.
I go back through the dining room and say "So whose feast day is it tomorrow, Katie? Maybe he'll come tomorrow. It will be Friday after all."
She looks at our box of saint cards and replies "Uh...St. Norbert."
What is he the patron of? She doesn't know. The card doesn't say.
"Fine. We'll just have to pray for his intercession even if we don't know his patronage. It probably doesn't matter much anyway, right?"
It was only the next day, after all the crazywonderful happened, that I discovered this: St. Norbert of Xanten, invoked during childbirth for a safe delivery . Not. A. Joke. People.
Now we're back outside, finishing up the second coat on that coop. It's about 7 ish p.m. Tommy drips some very unwashable latex paint onto the back of my shirt. Lizzy says "Hey, the baby is probably waiting for you to ruin all your maternity clothes before he comes. This is good!"
We finish up the coop. I go inside to get Mary into her pajamas and down for the night. I have my first very good, really obvious, this-is-probably-it contraction. I look at the clock: 7:31 p.m.
I grab Mary, who really should have a bath, and I decide to skip the bath. Ask for someone to grab the vacuum cleaner and leave it in the living room for me. Baby into pajamas, into her crib. I shut the door and another contraction starts. I look at the clock: 7:44 p.m.
This is promising. Not definite, but promising.
Watch out, disgusting carpets, I'm coming for you. Start vacuuming. Another contraction starts and this time it is a GOOD. And it is only 7:48 p.m. I'm counting the seconds while I watch the clock. Katie tries to ask me a question. I hold up my hand to make her wait.
"Are you okay? What's wrong?"
Me, half whispering so as not to ruin it or get people excited for no reason "I think, maybe, baby could be born tonight after all."
Gasp! "Well give me that vacuum cleaner, then!" she demands.
Okay, I need a shower. As I walk toward the bathroom, Tommy comes in, dirty, sweaty, carrying all manner of tools and painting supplies in from our outdoor project.
"I'm pretty sure baby is coming right now, for real this time and I need to get in the shower and I can't deal with anything else right now, okay?"
He pauses and nods.
I have another contraction while getting ready to get in the shower, then I have another while I'm in the shower. As I get out and start shuffling across the hall to our bedroom I have to call to him. "help. I just.....help me walk. You need to call Linda (our midwife). I don't know what's going on but this is happening NOW."
We make it to the edge of our bed and the next contraction starts. It's 8:14 p.m. Breathing isn't cutting it anymore. I have to make the dying cow sound. Dying cow sound after just 45 minutes of labor? Is that even possible? That one lasts almost a full minute.
"You. Call Linda. I'll do this." And by "this" I mean try and get into my nightgown and get the plastic shower curtain down onto our bed and covered with a sheet. All before the next contraction starts. I don't make it. Every minute I'm stopping, bent over, injured cow moaning. There is no way I can do this for 4 hours. There's just no way.
Lizzy calls my friend Virgnia who has offered to come again to play with the kids at one end of the house while we work on having a new one at the other end.
Midwife is on her way. Virginia is on her way. Tommy looks at me, at himself and says "I'm going to take a quick shower. It'll be quick, I promise"
Now I'm on the bed on my side. I'm counting my way through the contraction. I'm wishing I had my notebook with all my prayer requests written in it. "For everyone whose name I wrote down, I offer this up for them." It's the best I can do. 90 seconds and it finally starts to taper off. Then he starts punching or kicking or something and it ramps back up again.
"Please stop moving. I just need a break. A little break, please." Because there is no way I can do this for 3 or 4 more hours without any breaks. I....just....need....a....break.
Tommy is out of the shower now.
Maybe I just need to pee. Maybe that's what that feeling is. Because it can't possibly be a pushing feeling. No, no way. That would be insane. Not possible. I need to pee. Yes, that's it.
"Help me to the bathroom!"
So he does. But we get there and no...this was not a good idea.
"I just....feel like all I can do is push....but that's such a bad idea"
"Okay, wait, wait. Let's get you back to the bedroom."
Shuffle, shuffle, breathe. Don't close your eyes.
Now I'm on the bed on hands and knees. I decide to fight gravity and hopefully stall this whole business by putting my shoulders to the bed but keeping my hips up.
Another contraction starts.
"I'm pushing! I'm pushing!"
When I try not to push, it's like a thousand hot needles are radiating through my torso. As soon as I allow the push to happen, such a feeling of relief, of right-ness.
Now, Tommy has been there for the birth of every baby. He's used to things looking and going a certain way. But this time he says "wait. I just....don't know what I'm looking at. This doesn't look like a head. I don't see any hair."
But I'm not scared. I know he's head down. I don't know what's happening, but whatever it is, I can't make it stop.
So I push anyway. One push....breathe breathe...another contraction....two push....and it's finished. He's out, behind me on the bed. I can't see what's going on.
And there's a brief pause of silence then Tommy "Oh my gosh, he's still in the sac!" SPLASH. Cry! "Oh, hi buddy....there you are....it's gonna be okay."
Lizzy appears in the hallway.
"Here, hold up his head. I need to find something to suction him."
(this is the part I call "if you are an over curious 11 year old girl, you might find yourself holding your 1 minute old baby brother on a Thursday evening so don't act surprised, okay?)
Meanwhile Katie is keeping all the other two littles distracted in the playroom. Pay no attention to the crying! Obviously Mary has just reverted to her newborn phase!
And I'm still there, on my hands and knees. I haven't seen him yet because I don't want to risk tugging on the cord or messing anything up.
Tommy reappears. "I can't find a damn syringe!"
"Suction him out with your mouth!" I yell. Good idea. "Lizzy, there is a pile of receiving blankets right over there. Grab them. Help daddy wrap him up." She does.
And now he calms down, and they help me turn over carefully and I see my baby boy for the first time. It's 8:35 p.m.
(ogle more pics of my sweet kids here)