Friday, December 30, 2011

How Our Homebirth Saved Christmas

Growing up, Christmas was my favorite holiday. My family, thankfully, never emphasized the commercial aspect. We simply enjoyed spending time together and exchanging heartfelt gifts. Since I got married, the holidays have been increasingly stressful. With double the family, our time is spent rushing hurriedly from one gathering to another, staying for long enough to make an appearance. Adding kids to the mix made it increasingly difficult. The stress was hard on the kids, and I felt guilty for putting them through the ringer each year. I had come to dread the entire month of December. This year, I received a special gift--one that caused me to slow down and reconsider what's really important.

On Christmas day, I was 36 weeks, 5 days pregnant. I woke up feeling a little pressure down low, but didn't think anything of it. I am a firm believer in letting a baby come when he's ready, and had bookmarked a link about why at least 39 weeks of pregnancy is better for baby. I planned to share it when people started asking, "Have you had that baby yet?!" By about 10 that morning, I knew that I would have no need to share it. It took a few more hours to convince myself and my labor support that this was the real deal.

By 10, I was having regular contractions--about 3-5 minutes apart--but I could talk through them. I have had pretty regular Braxton-Hicks contractions in the past, and I certainly didn't want to birth my baby so early. Plus, I didn't want to disrupt anyone's Christmas unless I was completely sure. We decided that I would rest on my side for a while and see if things continued to progress. My husband took the kids out visiting. This slowed my contractions to between 5 and 7 minutes apart. They stayed that way as long as I didn't get up. By around 6 in the evening, the family had finished their visiting and my parents were free to take our three older kids to their house.

That's when I got vertical. Anyone who tries to tell you that position is not important during labor is wrong! Assisted by gravity, my contractions went from somewhat painful and 3 or 4 minutes apart to almost unbearable and 2 minutes apart. I slumped over the birthing ball some, sat on it some, swayed and rocked a lot, and paced back and forth to the toilet over and over again. Nothing seemed to work for comfort. I decided to soak in the tub for a while to help relieve the pain. It slowed things down again, but they soon picked back up and then, whoah, did they pick up! After a day of questioning myself, I finally felt sure that I was in active labor. We called our midwife and asked her to come.

Our midwife arrived around 7:30 and determined that I was 4-5 centimeters dilated. She gave me about 30 minutes alone with my husband to work through labor, but by that point, I did not feel there was any working through it. I did not want him to touch me, and I could not hold still. Then again, it hurt too much to move. I had been through transition before, and this was it. How did I ever go through this lying in bed or strapped into a car seat? After 45 minutes or less, I was pretty sure I felt ready to push, and asked him bring the midwife into the bathroom. "Are you sure?" he asked. That's when I yelled at him (sorry, babe!). After a long day of self-doubt, I was over being questioned. I was ready!

After hearing me yell, the midwife was as sure as I was. She went straight to our bedroom and prepared for the delivery. I wanted to try squatting on a birthing stool, but it hurt too much, and I ended up lying on my side instead. I decided to try a push or two, after which my water broke. Suddenly, the pain subsided and my body could do nothing but push. It was beyond my conscious control. As our midwife turned around to ready her supplies, my husband saw our baby's head emerge and jumped quickly to catch it. Two pushes later, my youngest son was born into my husband's hands on Christmas night, right there in our own bedroom. Shortly after, we were cleaned up and snuggled into our own cozy bed.

I truly believe that our homebirth made a positive difference. The whole birth experience was so peaceful and free from drama. So far, I have seen this reflected in my little guy's calm demeanor and in my own easy recovery. It even seems to have cast a peace over the household. Best of all, my Christmas baby has turned the holiday around for me. From now on, the stress of the holidays will be overshadowed by the memory of this special Christmas night. I will remember cuddling my 8-pound bundle of hope and looking forward to the promise that his new life represents. He reminds me that what is at the very heart of Christmas--and of life itself--is love. When a child is welcomed into the world surrounded by love, he can grow to spread that love to family, friends, and maybe even to all mankind. I can't think of a better way to give him that start.


Maria said... [Reply to comment]

Awesome!! Congratulations on your Christmas gift! :-)

Jennifer P said... [Reply to comment]

How beautiful! Congratulations for this year and all the happy christmases to come!

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