"Before you were conceived I wanted you,
Before you were born I loved you,
Before you were an hour old I would die for you.
This is the miracle of love." -Maureen Hawkins
I wanted to take the time to document Baby F's birth story and even though it is very personal I also wanted to share it with all of you. His birth was quite different from his siblings. I am hoping I don't forget any details although I am sure I already have. I am trying to type it up between nursing and diaper changes so please forgive me if it doesn't make a lot of sense. It's long so you might want to grab a snack and cup of coffee, eh, maybe even a full meal. Don't say I didn't warn you!
Remember my mention of horrible back pain in my post on the night of January 24th? Well, it ends up that that was the beginning of labor and I didn't even realize it. No wonder my usual remedies couldn't take the pain away! We had a long day that Sunday and I didn't end up going to sleep until 1:00 am, after viewing the beautiful wolf moon outside. I was exhausted and ready for a good night's sleep. At 2:00 am I was woken up by my back pain and horrible pain from baby F doing his usual flips and somersaults (or so I thought). He was always more active at night and his flips always hurt so it didn't phase me. I got up on my hands and knees to help him settle in a more comfortable position and then I went back to sleep. I was woken up again around 2:30 am with same pain. I did the same thing and tried to go back to sleep. Then at 2:37 am when the pain came again I realized this wasn't baby movement pain but contractions. I grabbed a pen and the closest paper I could find and started keeping track so I would know when to call the midwife and when to wake Kevin (I wanted him to get as much rest as possible). I kept trying to go back to sleep in between contractions but they were ten minutes apart so rest wasn't really happening.
Kevin had fallen asleep in the children's room trying to get them to bed that night but then he came into our room around three or four in the morning to go back to sleep. He asked why the lamp was on and I said, "I think I am in labor." He was half asleep and responded, "You always think your in labor." and he went back to sleep with the children. We laugh about that now because he had no idea!
Around that time I paged my midwife telling her about my labor pains, still in disbelief that I was actually in labor. I kept thinking if I could just fall asleep then the pain would go away and I would have a few more days. We were still almost two weeks from his due date and my babies like to stay in as long as they can so I kept telling myself I couldn't possibly be in labor now. And the strange thing was that my water didn't break. That was always my official sign that I was in labor with my other pregnancies. My water would break, then an hour or two later my contractions would start. Just a couple hours after that I would have a baby in my arms. This was very different. It almost felt more urgent.
Then around 6:30 am I knew I needed to wake Kevin. I had him call the midwife because I was in too much pain to do so. My intuition kicked in sensing something off, so I told him something felt wrong and that we just needed to go to the birth center right away. Baby F seemed to still be sideways and he wouldn't move from that position no matter what I did. Kevin helped me in the van and gathered the sleeping children to go meet our midwife. By then my contractions were less than five minutes apart and we still had an hour's drive ahead of us. I spent most of the car ride either in prayer or talking to Baby F (in my head) asking him to wait until we got there. I prayed for strength for myself and a safe delivery for my sweet baby. Every time we turned a corner or hit a curve my contractions would get worse. Of course we had to take a detour towards the end of our drive that was nothing but curves. That was fun, let me tell you!
We finally got to our midwife around 8:00 am. Our sleepy children were quarreling on our arrival (very understandable - not having a lot of sleep and being woken up suddenly all while excited for their baby brother to arrive) and I was trying to help them through it while my contractions were so close together that I could barely move. Kevin was able to calm down our children and get them situated in a waiting area while my midwife and her attending student midwife helped me out of the van and into my room. I told my midwife again that something felt wrong. She used a Doppler to check baby's heart rate when I had a contraction and it dropped incredibly low each time. She didn't mention her concern to me at the time though because right then, literally within minutes of our arrival, I told her I felt like I had to push. Kevin barely made it back into the room in time and I didn't even make it to the birthing tub that was prepared for me because it all happened so fast (which ended up being a very good thing, I'll explain why in a bit). Within just a few short moments Baby F arrived in this world. He had the cord wrapped around his neck and belly (from all those somersaults), meconium on him and was teeny, tiny but healthy. He was perfect. Tears filled my eyes when I saw him for the first time. My beautiful baby that I had been praying so hard for was here. Every pregnancy and birth always amazes and humbles me to know that I have been blessed to be a vessel to such a precious thing as life.
Kevin cut his cord and then they wrapped a blanket over him and had him placed skin on skin on me to help keep him warm. Without any fat on his little bones he needed all the help he could get regulating his body temperature. Because he was so small I was almost afraid of hurting him. He looked so fragile. I still kind of feel that way. As we were getting acquainted, Kevin went and asked our children to come in and meet their new brother. They were instantly in love as soon as they saw him. K and L gave him kisses but C said she would rather wait until he had a bath. L gifted his beloved hammerhead shark Lavender to Baby F and then went to eat some snacks. We had stocked up on snack food that we don't normally eat to give our little ones something different and exciting to help pass the time while I was in labor. They didn't end up getting to actually open any until after he was born though.
Once things had settled and Baby F nursed, the two of us got the chance to use the birthing tub. We had a nice warm bath together with some healing herbs. It was such a bonding moment that I will treasure, as well as a nice treat. After that our midwife asked K if she would trim his cord down a bit. K wasn't so sure about it at first but the midwife gently talked her through it. Then K asked if she could get him dressed in his first clothes. Kevin helped her out. Of course everything was huge on him since he was so tiny but they made it work. After a couple of hours of pure bliss, relaxing and check ups from the midwives we drove home.
All that week I kept thinking about his birth. My head was full of questions. Then at our ten day appointment my midwife confirmed something that had been weighing on my mind. If I didn't go into labor exactly when I did, I would probably have lost him. The reason my water didn't break when I went into labor was because I had no amniotic fluid. My midwife said it must have been slowly leaking for awhile but I didn't notice. My placenta was also calcified. That along with the cord around his neck and body was too much. She said I must have had some Divine intervention to go into labor when I did. Then I mentioned that I wished I got to the birth center sooner and she said she was glad that I didn't and that I got there at the exact moment I needed to because of Baby F's heart rate slowing down with my contractions. She said that if I was there sooner she would have sent me to the hospital. She was contemplating it when I said I had the urge to push. Divine intervention, indeed. I believe it is by God's grace alone that I sit here holding this beautiful miracle baby in my arms right now and that it something I will not forget.