As I sit in my cozy living room, thankful for thick carpet, soft blankets and energy star windows, I also have to chuckle at the events of the last couple weeks.
You see, not only am I being warmed by the aforementioned items, I’m also holding onto my own personal heater: a newborn baby.
This post has been long in coming because I have found myself in the unique place of being solidly outnumbered by small humans needing a lot of “mommy time.” It helps that Andy is able to be home as much as he is, and that I can work from this very computer as needed.
But let me back up. Something I didn’t talk a lot about in 2010 was my pregnancy with our third child. It came up from time to time, but overall, the lack of communication stemmed from our amazing life changes and attention being drawn elsewhere. Throughout it all, however, we were very aware of the life growing inside me and rather excited for an unplanned baby.
Truly, unplanned. In fact, we could argue that it was an immaculate conception. The place we were back in April was not conducive for baby-making and in fact, it was the farthest thought from our minds. We were dealing with farming stresses, raw milk bills and financial anxieties. Family was strained and the idea of bringing a child into that just didn’t seem wise. On top of that, I was not yet ‘regular’ from having weaned Ethan just a few months earlier.
This is why we believe with all our hearts that God had a plan for this baby. Something more than normal. All signs in life and body pointed to abstinence of new life. In fact, it was already in May that we just knew life was going to change dramatically at Foxwood and we shut off any possibility of having more children…at least for now. What we didn’t know in May was that I was already three or four weeks pregnant with our next child, the child we didn’t think we could have. So God gave us a new life…in about the only two week possibility of the entire year!
Fast forward to the very beginning of this year, just days after my last post. Andy was catering a holiday party in our small town with a local business. He needed the helping hands of a couple servers. My mom was able to drive out to watch Ethan and Elly while Vince, Andy and I played dress up and made a great party for the local workers in Coon Valley. I was on my feet for about 5 straight hours (not the norm) and really felt it the next day. At my prenatal, it was determined that all signs pointed to an impending labor.
It was interesting, because I was only at 38 weeks and I went full term or over with the first two. Also, I had been measuring small since about 25 weeks. (a pregnant momma’s tummy is measured in centimeters and usually coordinates with the number of weeks pregnant; 34 cm = 34 weeks along. It’s pretty sweet!) But on that Friday, I measured just 35.5 cm, 2.5 cm short of my progress. For those reasons, I had been thinking I might actually give birth in February. But here it was, January 7th and all signs said “GO!”
We scrambled that weekend to get the house in order and make sure all the midwifery tools were in order. (Did we mention that we were having a home birth?)
No baby. Monday came and in the evening, I began feeling pretty regular contractions, but not enough to cause alarm. We went to bed around 10pm and I awoke several times over the next 2 hours to a rather strong contraction. Finally, just before midnight, I got up and walked around. It seemed that we needed to start timing them, though my contractions have never fallen into the convention of a pattern. We called Denise, our midwife a little after midnight and we all confirmed that it was time for her to come over.
I proceeded to walk circles around the house during the contractions while Andy got the bed ready and the mood lighting set up (candles, ambient white lights and low light lamps). He then did the dishes from the last couple days, out of pure embarrassment that the midwife crew might see a dirty kitchen. 🙂
Denise, Tavniah (her midwife assistant) and Amanda (a student midwife) arrived just before 1am and by then, I could talk between contractions, but not so much during them anymore. We were certain this was the real deal. We worked through the next hour of heavy contractions and around 2ish, I really got down to business. At one point, I think I literally felt the contractions opening my uterus up, a sensation I did not have with the first two. (did I mention this was all natural? And back labor?) It was amazingly painful, yet reassuring to know without a doubt those contractions were not only doing their job, but doing it fast.
Soon I moved into our bed and felt a little like pushing. At the hospital births, the midwives had been diligent about checking my dilation and letting me know it was time to push. Denise had said that she didn’t tend to do that, and indeed she had not once. So when I felt like I needed to push, I was really unsure of myself. I didn’t want to waste energy pushing if I wasn’t fully dilated, but I felt so much better if I did push. This was my signal. Pushing contractions feel different. And when you push with them, you are almost transported to a pain-free contraction. That in itself is motivation enough to expend the energy.
I gave a few ‘test pushes’ to see if anything would happen. It felt right. So I had the ladies stack up some pillows and I sat up. It was time. I looked at the clock for the first time since about 1:30am. It said 3am, on the dot. Wow, pushing already? I was amazed; it took about 7 hours the last two times to reach this point. Here, just over 3. I began pushing and my body just took over. Andy and the midwives were very encouraging, though I was still unsure I was making any progress. Then Tavniah said, “Oh look at all that hair!”
Ok, progress! We worked together and I pushed again. Suddenly there was a small baby head emerged into the world.
Now, not to get too graphic here, but I have to comment on this. With Elly, I didn’t want to look. With Ethan, I was at the wrong angle and I couldn’t really see his head. With baby number three, I could see everything. And I must tell you this: Seeing a miniature human head sticking out upside down between my legs is THE MOST bizarre thing I have ever witnessed in my entire life.
Ok, back to the story. I was tired and seeing baby was so exhilarating. I knew just one more good push and she* would be in my arms.
* Up to this point, I want you to understand that we were convinced (without scientific backing) that we were having a girl. We knew it, several people close to us knew it and we had the perfect name.
And just like that, I was holding a brand new baby, all wet and beautiful and vigorous.
She was immediately covered in towels and close to my breast. I glanced at the clock and couldn’t believe my eyes: 3:06am. 6 minutes of pushing?! It had felt like half an hour.
So a few minutes passed and it occured to me that Denise had not announced the gender of our baby.
“What do we have? A girl?”
We peeked. Denise saw before me, I know it, but she allowed me to make the astonished announcement: “IT’S A BOY?”
I laugh as I think about it now. Not a statement, but a question. A boy? But how can that be? We don’t even have a name picked out!! Andy came over and had to look for himself as he was in just as much shock as me. Sure thing, no mistaking the gender. Our little guy had fooled us all and we were excited for it.
The next hour went by in a blur. We worked on me, we worked on baby. Andy snuck into the kids’ room and brought a bleary eyed Elly into the room. She understood immediately that this was the new baby and took an immediate interest in all that was going on. When we told her she had a brother, not a sister and that we didn’t have a name for him yet, she ran out of the room. She popped her head back in and said “Hold on, I’ll find the name.” A moment later, she returned with an imaginary handful of ‘name’ and placed it gently on the bookshelf. “Here’s the name, guys! I found it! What does say?” We got a good chuckle out of it.
We had Elly cut the cord though I’m sure she wasn’t sure what was going on. The little man was then weighed and all his vitals were taken. He was deemed amazingly healthy and full term. No early baby here.
His weight at birth was 7lbs, 10oz. His first cry didn’t occur until they were taking his pulse and heartbeat nearly a half hour after he was born, but we weren’t worried; he was pink and vibrant and even trying to look around.
By 5am, the ladies had cleaned up everything and left and Elly was back in bed. We settled into our clean bedroom with a new baby and settled down for the rest of our night’s sleep. Yes, we had gone to bed, had a baby and returned to bed in the course of one night.
I love home-births! The last thing I recall as I drifted into sub-conscious thought was hearing the snowplows outside our home, clearing the roads for the morning commuters. It was amazingly peaceful as we lay soft and warm in our own bed, a new baby in arms and knowing that the snowy world outside was still running full force, without the need of us to be in it.
That is the story of our home birth. No complications, peaceful music, attentive midwives and a loving husband at my side the whole time. After two hospital births in which we were very satisfied with the service, I feel like I’ve been fooled into thinking that those were the best it could be. Sort of like being told as a child that pudding out of a box was the primo dessert and believing it for years. Then someone offers you homemade cooked pudding, with homegrown ingredients and you are vaulted into another realm of taste you never knew could be possible. Suddenly you look back at those years of Jello pudding and wonder…how could I have been so fooled by you? You imposter! I’ll never go back.
And so, if we have children in the future, we will never go back to a sterile hospital room. (barring some medical emergency). For any of you considering it, or even for those whom a home birth makes you nervous, let me tell you: there is nothing more comforting than your own home when you are at the peak of vulnerability. Nothing is more intimate and beautiful than the birth of a child and to have that experience with trusted and loved ones…I just don’t know how you could want the boxed substitute.
My mother came that morning around 8am to help us out for the week.
Over the next couple days as I was quickly recovering, Andy and I came up with name possibilities. But we could not agree. Finally, in a passive conversation where we weren’t trying so hard, we came up with it.
Liam Jakub Sell.
The explanation we gave our family is as follows (because our pursuit of this name caused us to learn a lot about names in general and we wanted to share our path):
Liam, in honor of his two great-great grandfathers (from both sides), both named William, both immigrants from Germany, with the root meaning “determined guardian.”
Jakub, in the traditional Czech spelling (part of Andy’s heritage), with the root meaning of “supplanter.” One who takes the place of another. We thoug ht this appropriate since for so long, we were convinced we were having a girl.
Blessings to you all and thanks for tuning in. 🙂