Introducing Baby Helen

born (mostly) at home on 3/25/16

6 lbs, 11 oz

an exciting midwife-attended VBAC

(back to pregnancy journal, or read on for birth story and first pictures)

From a couple days before I hit 39 weeks, I started having regular, timeable contractions, lasting 30-45 seconds, about 5-6 minutes apart, for 2-3 hours a day almost every day. These weren't uncomfortable, but I definitely noticed them, even though I could read or doze or talk to the kids through them. I didn't mention them to anyone, but I knew it was my body starting to get ready for labor and birth. After a couple hours, they'd stop entirely.

Early Friday morning on March 25th, I was awake and reading the newspaper after having spent only a few hours asleep. Around 2:00 in the morning, contractions started again. By 3:30 I realized suddenly that these were different than those of the past few days, as I had to consciously breathe through them and was finding myself draped over a pile of pillows on the couch, unable to read or focus on anything else. I called my midwife a bit after 4:00, woke up Robert, and texted my parents, saying that I felt that I was probably in the very early stages of labor.

K. got here just after 5:00 in the morning, on what would be 39 weeks + 3 days gestation. I had gotten into the tub by that point and was already laboring in the water. Her apprentice arrived closer to 6:00, and they both hung out with me in the bathroom. I kept drinking water throughout labor, and moved in between the tub and the toilet as I felt different sensations. Robert paced around the hall, mostly, and the kids were asleep at that point. K. kept saying "not long now," but everything felt quite different than when I was in labor before--there was a ton of pressure, not pain per se, but I was really uncomfortable by a few minutes after 6:00, and all I could think of was that I wanted, needed, the pressure to stop. She applied some counter pressure to my back and sides, and that helped, but it was still really intense.

Meanwhile Robert called my parents at 6:00 and asked them to be here by 7:00 to get the kids breakfast and occupy them. By 6:45, Marcus and Samantha were apparently awake but hovering in the doorway of their room, super excited, sensing the bustle in the house and hearing me bellow "COME ON, BABY, COME TO ME!" to their soon-to-be baby sister.

Around 6:45, K. suddenly said that Helen's heartbeat wasn't recovering well after contractions--it was down around 60 when it should not have dropped so low, and should have recovered much higher, so she made me stand in the tub and change positions for a contraction and try to push. There was no change--it was staying down at 60 the whole time, so she said I could either push her out right then or she'd call 911 for an ambulance. I tried to push, but everything felt sort of cloudy and I couldn't focus on pushing, so of course nothing happened. K's apprentice called 911 while K. wrestled me (still soaking wet from the tub) into sweatpants (backwards) and a tee shirt (inside out) and a pair of Crocs. K. decided that we couldn't wait for the ambulance. She was serious but calm, saying that probably everything was fine, but that we needed to get the baby out now, and we didn't have any time to waste.

I trust K. completely and was not at all worried. I told Robert to stay with the kids, make sure they were okay, and under no circumstances allow my mother to worry when she arrived, and then K. was hustling me down the stairs--all four flights. Going downstairs was the only painful part of this labor: I could not really move my legs in that motion as the baby was so low, so deep, and each step felt like it was ripping something painfully inside of me. Robert was in a panic, of course, but K. pulled her car around to the front door of the house, double-parked, and I basically rolled into the front seat of her car.

We live 6.5 blocks from Boston Medical Center, and K. drove quickly but safely, running most lights as she could. There wasn't really a lot of traffic on the roads at all (it was Good Friday, so the morning rush hour was slower than normal). When we were less than a block from the hospital, stopped at the light (we were the first car in line) on Mass Ave, about to turn left onto Albany and head into the ER, I suddenly felt that I had to push, right then, and said "The baby's coming!" and with one push Helen's head was born into my pants. K. put the car in park, stuck her hazards on, and reached over and yanked down my pants, and Helen's body was born in the next second. K. lifted her up to my chest. I was thrilled--the pressure had stopped, finally, and I had a beautiful healthy baby in my arms! Everything was sharp and clear and vivid, and I knew I would remember every detail of this moment always. Helen was incredibly poopy (covered in meconium, just like Marcus) but breathing well, not a lovely pink but certainly not grey, and whimpering, so K. and I both thanked God and decided we could go home. I kissed Helen's head, swiped a mec-stained bubble from between her lips with my finger, softly wiped her nose. I had her on my chest and I knew everything was okay. K. got out of the left lane, turned right on Albany instead, and pulled over along the way to call her apprentice.

The apprentice, Robert, and the kids (dressed now, with Samantha wearing a blue pair of bunny ears) all met us downstairs. They opened the car door, pulled off the sweatpants and my bloody Crocs, and got me into a pair of Depends (the placenta was still inside, but I was passing clots, and the umbilical cord was obviously still connected, so I held Helen in my arms) and a bathrobe, and while holding Helen close to me, I hurried upstairs. The four flights up weren't hard, actually--clearly my adrenaline was super high!--and I paused briefly on the bed, deliriously happy.

After trying to push out the placenta on the bed, I ended up going right back into the tub and delivering the placenta about twenty minutes after arriving back home. We showered all the blood and poop off the both of us and got into a perfectly clean bed. My parents had arrived at about 7:20, just as I was in the shower, and when Marcus said "Mommy had the baby!" and Samantha added "in the car!" they were a bit shocked, but they ran with it. Helen is adorable--chubby cheeks, slim legs, perfect, and small (the other kids were about 7 1/2 pounds, even though Marcus was only born one day later than Helen), and we are of course completely happy and blessed.

By 10:00 Robert and my father had brought back some Blackbird Donuts, and the midwives had examined Helen.

The kids had also done an Easter painting project to keep them busy, my mother had made them oatmeal, the placenta was bagged up and chilled, waiting for the encapsulator to pick it up later, and the midwives had left.

On Day 2 of her life, I dressed Helen in a little "Born at Home" onesie I'd had ready. "Mommy!" said Marcus. "Why didn't you have one that says 'Born in the car'?" Really, Marcus? Really? We don't even own a car--I would not have predicted this, somehow. It was a whirlwind of a birth, in retrospect, with less than two hours from K. arriving to Helen being born. It was an intense labor, and an exciting birth, clearly, but my milk came in about 36 hours after the birth, my parents are taking care of us all with meals and laundry help, and we are all full of joy.


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Created: 3/26/16. Last Modified: 3/26/16.