Thing 3 was born Wednesday, August 17th at 12:10 pm. He was 7.56 lbs. and 20.5” long. His future will be chronicled mostly on Wife’s blog. This post is about the eventful hours leading up to, and immediately following his birth.
This is all from my perspective, and is meant to complement whatever Wife may write about her experience.
(Times are approximate.)
5:00 am I notice Wife is missing. She’s in the shower or something. Unusual but not alarming.
5:30 Wife is cleaning. Uh oh.
6:15 Wife wakes me up. Even in my zombie morning state it’s obvious what’s about to happen. I somehow discern that nothing is imminent and am graciously awarded time for a shower. I shower, dress and organize the birth supplies.
6:30 I come downstairs to find BirthTeam assembling. I guess they were called before I was woken. I should probably be surprised by this but it was a good call. The kids are sound asleep.
6:30 Midwife is put on alert that there’s a good chance it’s about to get real.
6:45 I decode Wife’s signals and decide to call in Midwife (it’s real). Contractions are 3-4 minutes apart.
7:00 Wife labors with grace and wonder through increasingly intense contractions for about an hour. Just when she starts getting anxious about Midwife, Midwife arrives.
8:00 Contractions slow just slightly at the good news that Midwife is here. I encourage Wife to walk and we start wandering around the neighborhood. Each contraction (about every 5 minutes) produces an interesting scene that must be confusing to our neighbors. It goes like this: wife will lean on me, or the ground and I’ll hold a long warm rice sock1 low across her belly while she whispers2 sweet labor sounds to the heavens.
Thing 1 and Thing 2 wake up.
9:00 Contractions are back to about three minutes apart and are now too difficult to talk during. Wife spends most of her time resting or enduring contractions on the birth ball.
Every 15 minutes or so she escapes alone to the bathroom for five minutes, which gives me a chance to check on BirthTeam, my other kiddos, play Words with Friends, update my out of office status, eat breakfast, etc. So far this labor has been so easy for me that I start to feel guilty.
9:30 Wife is no longer amused at any of my jokes. Others pick up on this via some sort of XX-chromosome-pair-linked telepathy but wife takes pity on me and suggests, quite directly, that I stop talking. We’ve run out of small talk and we’re both pretty tired so this is convenient. Wife starts eyeing the tub.
10:00 In the tub! Our last child, Thing 2, was born in a high-sided baby pool in the master bedroom at our old house. Luckily, our new house has a tub big enough for the job. The tub is seems to offer great relief to Wife. Midwife continues to check on her and give her encouragement on how to keep labor moving. Contractions maintain pace and increase in intensity. With help from BirthTeam, I’m able to stay planted by the tub and apply a steady stream of cold cloths to Wife’s forehead with each contraction. The kids make frequent tub-side visits to inquire quite candidly on the whereabouts of the baby, and remark about the whole you’re-in-the-bathtub(!) situation.
Midwife occasionally adds a few drops of lavender essential oils to the tub. The atmosphere is tense but the room smells nice.
(If you’re not the slightest bit familiar with birth, you might want to stop reading now. Fair warning…this may be considered graphic)
12:00 pm Things are pretty intense now. Wife is making some sounds that are drawing a crowd of younglings. With the beginning of each contraction they creep closer and then lean back in surprise as volume peaks. I wish I had pictures of their faces—truly priceless. Around this time, Wife is not getting the overwhelming sense that things are progressing as smoothly or rapidly as expected and asks Midwife to check her cervix.
Midwife reports that the baby’s head is pretty much ready to crown but something may be blocking his grand escape (hand, cord, edge of cervix, a word from our sponsors, who knows). She suggests we move to the bed just in case any complex maneuvers are necessary as they are easier to execute on land.
We carefully help Wife to the bed which is already doubly made up with regular fixings under a patented, quadruple layer fluid guard spread3]—the usefulness of this will become obvious quite soon.
12:05 With the move to the bed complete, the real action begins. I’m starting to wonder if the neighbors will hear the goings on and what they might do in response. Midwife continues to monitor the baby periodically via doppler and we’re all feeling a bit tense at the difficulty in finding his heart rate. Wife is growing particularly anxious. I am scared, too, but like a rock (in my head at least), insist Baby’s fine and we’ll meet him soon. Midwife offers some encouragement to push with the next contraction and Wife complies in dramatic fashion.
12:07 What happens next is delicately noted on the birth report as “12:07: SROM”—or spontaneous rupture of membranes, i.e. water breaks on its own. What really happens is…messy. During a particularly difficult contraction the bag of waters does rupture, in seriously unexpected geyser fashion4.
12:10 Within moments of the explosive delivery of fluid, Baby’s head, full of hair, starts crowning. With some gentle guidance from Midwife, and another push, his head comes through. One final push and he fully emerges, followed by another surprising volume of fluid.
And then joy. Raw, cliché, tears-in-your-eyes joy. A dramatic, heart wrenching joy that engulfs us again and again with each tiny cry from this tiny little person that we’ve spent that last 39 weeks praying for5.
Everyone—Wife, me, Midwife, BirthTeam and assorted kiddos—spend the rest of the hour cooing and fawning over Baby. He is delightful.
(There’s more after all these pictures.)
1:00 Still high on the experience of meeting Baby, we are ridiculously excited about everything. Use the bathroom for the first time postpartum? OmgHellYesCanIHoldBabyDuring? BirthTeam friends give us some space to soak it all in. Midwife brings Wife an impressive lunch spread (now that she’s eating again) and gives her a quick exam.
Midwife does the baby exam on the bed right in front of us and walks us through each detail as she adoringly checks it. All are invited to observe. She examines the the placenta and involves the curious kiddos as much as they are comfortable with. Midwife asks of our plans for the placenta and refuses to chuckle at my quizzical expression. Wife decides to freeze it “for now”6.
Midwife weighs and measures Baby (7lb-9oz, 20.5”). She gives us a few final instructions for caring for boys (we already have two girls). There’s little difference.
2:00 BirthTeam friends gather up offspring, wish us well, and leave. Midwife fills out Baby’s certificate (he’s still unnamed), and leaves (she’ll return tomorrow for a follow up). I see everyone off and discover that they have been busy caring for not just our children but our home. BirthTeam friends and Midwife have done laundry, dishes, and cleaned our bathroom. They even baked Baby a birthday cake! These touching gifts are so, so appreciated as the house falls quiet7.
Wife and Baby settle in for a nap and I take the noisemakers, Thing 1 and Thing 2, to the store to pick up a few things but really just to make the house quiet and give the new big sisters some much needed attention.
And life goes on, +1.
Thank you to everyone who supported us on Baby’s birthday.
Thank you, Jamie and Adrianne8, for watching our kids. Your kindness in caring for them, feeding them, clothing them and helping them participate in the birth in the absolutely perfect way is the most beautiful gift I’ve ever received from a friend.
Thank you, Sierra, for shooting what I’m sure will be amazing pictures—capturing these special moments is very important to us. I appreciate your encouragement to Wife during her labor and helping me help her. Having you in the room during the entire process lowered our anxiety at least two notches and enabled us to truly focus on Wife and Baby.
Thank you, Pam, for being our Midwife. The knowledge and experience you have has proven invaluable for two prenatals, two births, and two postpartums. From the first time I met you at an ABC meeting three years ago, you’ve been a steady source of support, encouragement, and gentle advice. Thank you for teaching me to respect birth, and teaching me that women deserve dignity during it. Thank you for helping us meet Baby in the most loving way I can imagine.
Thank you, Isabella, Eden, Big Isaac, Mr. Isaac, and Kieran for joining in our fun. Thank you for playing with Thing 1 and Thing 2 and helping them welcome Baby into this world. Thank you for triggering spontaneous laughter throughout the morning and joining in our excitement.
Thank you to the dozens who have supported us in the months leading up to Baby’s birth. I know you’ll understand why we couldn’t have all of you here at the same time. We look forward to visiting with each of you and introducing you to Baby.
We are so fortunate to have you all.
(Tip: click the number, or your browser’s back button to go back.)
Mandy said on 2011-08-21
This was amazing, Michael. Thank you for sharing. I laughed, I cried, I related….You have an awesome sense of humor and wonderful sensitivity. Prayers and blessings to you all. Beautiful pictures, too!!!!
Jennylou’s Projects said on 2011-08-22
Thanks for sharing. Congrats to you all. :)
And sometimes shouts ↩
A fantastic Midwife trick where you take a regular bed with sheets on it and layer on a waterproof shower curtain liner, a bunch of absorbent Chux pads, a forsaken sheet, and more Chux pads. The advantage to this, aside from protecting your bed from the perils of labor, is that when it’s all over you just peel off the waterproofing stuff and a perfectly made bed is underneath. ↩
We later measured and found fluid eight feet away. ↩
Unlike most things in this world that ultimately disappoint us when we spend weeks or months building them up in anticipation, meeting your child for the first time shatters all imaginable expectations. I’ve experienced it three times now and the physiological response is so incredible I’m literally tearing up right now as I type. ↩
Huh? Wife’s been crunchy long enough now that I know better than to ask about this. ↩
Quieter. Our other two kids are awake. ↩
And Eric for delivering critical foodstuffs! ↩