Wednesday morning first thing when I woke up I started feeling contractions. It wasn’t super painful but enough to convince me it was pre-labor. I didn’t say anything all morning in case they just went away. Reese and I thankfully had a busy day. We went to Chick-fil-a for free breakfast, a playgroup down the street and story time all before noon. When Reese went down for a nap, I thought it was wise to get some rest just in case the 1-per-hour contractions I was feeling turned into anything substantial. Andrew and I had a birthday party downtown to go to that evening and I told him on the way about the contractions I had been feeling all day. I remember on the way downtown feeling them more intensely and calling it “for real!” We went to the party and thank goodness for distraction, they weren’t to hindering. Andrew could tell things were moving along and thought we needed to get home and rest. Before we did, we stopped at Cochina and had a meal just the two of us. I filled up on meat and fish and veggies. Delicious and pretty fun to spend that last meal with Andrew alone while we dreamed about the next few days bringing us our son. Somehow after a bath and normal bedtime routine, I managed to fall sleep around 1 and get a fairly good night’s rest. This was a difference between pre-labor with Reese. I was able to convince myself to relax and sleep this time. I really think this was a key to successfully delivering him at home for me, sleep!
Thursday morning when I woke up after a nice sleep in, I knew the day was going to be a laboring day. Contractions were more intense right away. When I finally hobbled downstairs, I told my mom and Andrew this was real pre-labor as I stood or laid in awkward positions every 10 min or so. My mom rubbed my back and we talked about our plans for the day. Andrew, Reese and I decided to take a walk. The day was…. perfect. It was cool and sunny and felt like spring. We took a long walk on the trails behind our house. Reese was pushing her baby doll in the little stroller and Andrew and I were talking about anything but contractions to keep my mind distracted. We talked about traveling and landscaping and work and of course… how cute Reese was being. After about an hour of walking I had to sit. We sat and talked a little more before heading home for lunch and naps. My mom took Reese to the store to grab some things for lunch (I was craving garlic pasta) while I went upstairs to laydown. The contractions were coming on stronger so I thought I should again try to sleep. Somehow I was able to get a little nap in between contractions that were coming every 7-9 min or so. I worked on my self-hypnosis when the contractions came and I must say it was super effective at blocking any real pain at this point. I had been listening to tracks and trying to train myself prior to labor in hypnosis because I had heard from other natural-birthers about it’s success in minimizing pain. I think it helped me sleep at this point. Before mom and Reese got back from the store I lost my real appetite and I knew I was ready to go into active labor any moment. I asked Andrew to get Reese’s stuff packed and ready to to Zoe’s house until Nixon was born. I pictured having her around a lot longer into the process but as things were quickly progressing, I knew her around would cause the opposite of relaxing. She came to say goodbye to me and I told her when she comes back home, she will have a baby brother. That was the first time I admitted to myself that I thought this guy was coming today.
Shortly after she left, I told myself “you will have this baby today”. It was about this time that active labor was staring us in the face. Andrew was, at the time, doing everything he could to keep busy, I think he was putting together the baby cradled when I asked him to stay with me and not leave. I wasn’t able to eat lunch as we planned but I did snack a little and drink hydrating mixes and juice at this point.
About the same time, my mental strength was tested. I was cautious about this phase of labor because pre-labor was SO LONG with Reese. That experience crept in my mind and caused my to think “I just want to go to the hospital.” “Why did I want to do this anyway?” “I am not too prideful to just stop and go get meds” “I’ll wait until midnight and then go to the hospital”. Anita (our midwife) comes over either when we ask or when contractions are obviously too close together to keep her away. It was about 4 in the afternoon when I asked Andrew to have her come over. Contractions were about 4 min apart lasting for a min or so when I asked her to come. Along with my self hypnosis, I was using mental imagery to help move things along. I had read about this tactic and regardless of it’s effectiveness, it calmed me down and helped me focus the tension I was feeling. I would picture vast open spaces every time I would breath through the contraction. I pictured the beach expanding into the ocean, and the Texas hill country, and flowers blooming. The concept is: these focused thoughts help open the cervix. Sounds so cheesy as I type this out but during the intense moments, it was all I could do to stay calm and somewhat relaxed. Like Anita says, get out of the way and don’t fight it.
Anita showed up within 15 min with her assistant, Meridian, who was 8 months pregnant herself! They came in quietly and set everything up around the room they needed. Anita checked my temperature and blood pressure and listened to Nixon’s heartbeat. Everything was looking good so they went downstairs to hang out with my mamma while we continued to labor upstairs. She feels leaving us alone for as long as possible helps my body get and stay into a rhythm, which I can see. I finally was able to get myself up and moving around about this point. I knew in my mind that upward positions used gravity to push on and open the cervix and I found a little energy at this point to give it a try. My favorite position seemed to be standing and leaning against Andrew while swaying during contractions. I was able to drink quite a bit a water at this point and squeeze in a few snack like a piece of toast and apple sauce.
As things intensified, determination did kick in. I wasn’t happy by any means but I was content where we were at and not thinking about going to get drugs anymore. This standing, squatting, and leaning intense active labor lasted from about 4:00-8:30. Something else to note is the oils we used. We started defusing oils early in the evening that calm. I do remember enjoying the smell and feeling a bit calm. Then, towards the end of active labor, before pushing, Anita handed my a cloth with an oil on it that I couldn’t get enough of. It was strange how that smell made me feel. In between contractions for quite a while, I would hold it up to my face and inhale to experience that feeling. It was re-energizing and calming at the same time.
At about 7:00 that I finally asked to be checked for progress. Anita hadn’t checked me until this point. She was waiting until I was ready because checking someone’s progress can go either way, encourage or discourage. I was nervous even at this point the be checked. I told her I was scared of the number 8 centimeters since we were there for so long with Reese without progress and this eventually sent us to the hospital. She left it up to me but with the contractions so intense I just had to know.
Best. News. Ever. I was at a 9 or 9.5!!! In the middle of labor I felt like I could have jumped for joy. It was so encouraging to hear. I knew at that point that Nixon was coming that night and that we would have him at home. I could do this. She said he was so close she could feel his head, we just had to get him around the bone and he would be home free. I contracted until 8:30 or so before we decided to start pushing.
This was the part I was completely unprepared for. Pushing. With Reese, I got an epidural at 8 cm, slept for 4 hours, woke up and thought I was so strong for pushing her out. Funny how drugs and a nap make you feel invisible. All that considered, I still ignorantly thought that since I already birthed a child, pushing wouldn’t be too much harder than laboring and it would be relatively fast. Wrong.
We started pushing with me on the bed and Andrew behind me. Meridian was coaching me about how to breath. Deep breath in, out, in and hold while pushing. She was great. After a few propped up pushes I said it didn’t feel right. I felt no progress. So we moved to a squatting position with Andrew again supporting me while I squatted and pushed. Again, we started pushing and even with gravity on my side, I felt so weak and unproductive. About every 3rd push or so Anita would say something like “just like that! that’s it!” but it was so slow and to me, it didn’t feel like progress. I didn’t expect this part to be so hard. “Push through the pain” is a great phrase to sum up pushing. Yikes. It was rough and really hard. We moved to the toilet which, for some, can help move the baby. Same story here, lots of energy exerted with no baby moving down. I was getting tired and frustrated and unable to follow instruction well. We moved back to the bed and Anita asked me to lay down and just breath through a few contractions. They told Andrew what was going on, turned the lights down and left the room. And then….I took a nap. Yes, at 10 centimeters dilated I took a nap! The contractions faded away and I felt like I slept for an hour. Andrew says it was only 10 min but I had no idea it was even possible to sleep that late in labor. Apparently, some women can sleep for over an hour at this point! Who knew?!?! Well, Anita did and I am so glad because the catnap was revitalizing.
I woke up ‘refreshed’ but a little discouraged about having to keep pushing. I had no idea how long it had been but I was tired of feeling like I was giving it my all with no results. We tried a few more pushes on the toilet since they seemed more productive than the rest. Still no progress. We came back to the bed and the moment when everything changed started with Anita saying “ok, so here’s the deal” Never a good thing to say in the middle (or end) of a home birth.
“Ok, so here’s the deal” turned out to mean we were essentially out of time. Per her regulations a mom an only push for so long without progress before Anita is required to send them to the hospital. Her best guess was that his arm or elbow was tucked against his face preventing his head from coming out. I did remember at my last pre-natal appointment her saying when she felt him in my tummy that she thought she felt an arm up by his face. Pretty incredible she was so spot on. So, I am laying there in frustration hearing the dreaded conversation start “what would you like to do?” I was so upset but with a full dilated cervix and no progress I was getting desperate myself. I felt cheated for a moment and fearful of a 15 min car ride on a bumpy road with a fully dilated cervix. I asked what they are going to do at the hospital, could I have an epidural, how in the world could they do better than us? Of course, no one knew for sure what they would do. In my mind, if we made it there without having a baby in the car, I just knew they would c-sect.
Andrew has his own story of his struggles in that moment but ultimately he turned to me and said, “let’s give it 20 more min here.” “We want this baby here, we do not want to drive right now and check in and have someone else take over. We’re going to have this baby here, you can do this ok?” Anita seconded him and before we pushed again the room got quiet except for Anita positioning the Lord. She prayed loud and hard and boldly that he would show up in the room and help get this baby around the bone and out. We prayed for a miracle and his hand and favor. Upon AMEN a contraction started and as I laid on my side. I wish I could say I pushed harder or different or with more determination but in reality I pushed just the same as before if not with a little defeat behind my groans.
In that moment Andrew was challenging me hard with love “you can do this, we’re going to have this baby here, come on Summer.” I heard Anita scream, “Yes! That’s it Summer! He’s coming! Just like that! Push just like that!” At this point Andrew is protesting harder and I did feel a second wind. Nixon just popped around that bone after 2+ hours of no progress. It wasn’t 15 min later that he was out and on my tummy instead of on it. I felt the ‘ring of fire’ very lightly which I didn’t expect because I already had a kid. I also felt (what I later found out) his little in-the-way arm fling out. It did cause a light tear and I felt it, ugh. I could barely take energy to notice but I am so glad I did turn to see Andrew as he’s couching me, watch his son come out and through tears say “There he is! I can see him! you’re doing this! we’re having him here!” How strange it is to feel a baby half way out of you while you wait for a contraction to help you move him all the way out. When he was all the way out, the feeling was so freeing, so successful, I am thankful for that experience.
From here the story just gets better, this is when the beauty of a home birth is experienced.
Peace. Calm. Praise.
I am thankful to have had Reese in the hospital so I fully appreciated the first 2 hours of Nixon’s life. He was here laying on me, crying still attached to his placenta. He looked perfect to me. His fussing was such a sweet sound and even Anita was expressing her joy with his fusses because he could work junk out of his lungs and mucus, which he had a lot of right out of the womb. Before we did anything else, she calmly told us the next steps, pushing the placenta out, cutting the cord, examining me, cleaning me up and then examining him. So a few moments later, we pushed the placenta out. It was placed in a bag and set next to Nixon. I think it was around this moment, we told the room his name, “This is Nixon Lee Anderson everyone!” Anita asked if we wanted to cut the cord now or wait awhile. Poor Andrew was closest to the bag and said “can we do it now? I don’t think I can sit here next to this thing much longer.” Haha – he just watched a baby come out of me but couldn’t handle the placenta, funny dude. Can’t blame him I guess. So when she asked if he wanted to cut the cord, he said “NO WAY!” and after a chuckle from the room she cut and tied it and removed the bag from his site.
Meridian came over to me when Anita said I was bleeding a little more than she likes. Meridian gave me a pitocin shot and it worked within minuets. They finished cleaning up around me and then examined the damage done. Grammy had Nixon at this point which was nice because Andrew and I both wanted to fully be part of the conversation with Anita. Since I tore a little, we would have to get it stitched up within 6 hours. The midwife who would come do it was at work so we would have to leave. We talked about the severity of this tear and both midwives agreed it was minor and most likely doctors wouldn’t even stitch and if they did there is a high chance of it coming undone. Again it was our call and it was easy to say let’s stay here! It wasn’t bleeding or causing any harm. Again, so happy to stay home, Anita helped me shower and dress before we headed back to see how little Nix was doing. When we got back the room, it was spotless. Another noteworthy observation of home birth was the cleanliness. Meridian was cleaning the whole time so it never felt messy. When I was done showering, the whole room was tiddy, my bed was remade and most of their equipment was out of the room.
When it was time to examine Nixon, the first thing she did was get out her scale. We all took turns guessing, most of us using Reese’s weight as a guide (Reese was born at 42 weeks and weighed 6 lb 10 oz). I think I guessed 7lb 2oz Meridian guessed the highest at 8lb. Andrew was taking pictures of her weighing Nixon when she said “whoa, you gotta look at this!” 8lb 6oz! No one could believe it ! We even thought her scale was broken! Big boy! Andrew was so cute and proud of his size. Then they went through a checklist a things to look for and the little man was fine and healthy. She guessed he was about a 41 week baby. Praises to God! We made sure he would latch right away and he did on both sides!
It seemed that everything was in good order and it was time for the midwives to finish packing up and leave as we munched on some delicious homemade chicken soup. Anita sat on the end of the bed as I was feeding Nixon, mom was in the room and Andrew was laying next to me when she asked to sing a song of praise. She sang the Doxology: To Whom All Blessings Flow so beautifully with a prayer of thanksgiving and provision at the end. Emotions were high and it was late but the whole room was filled with God’s presence. It was such a powerful moment of peace and thanksgiving.
Although it was late and were were tired, it was a little hard to say goodby to Anita and Meridian but the time came. We said out goodbyes and spent a few more moments with Mom before we cuddled up with Nixon and attempted our first night’s sleep with our son. I must admit, it was a little hard to sleep with my adrenaline so high and that little blessing tucked safely in my arms.
I am so thankful for the experience of having Nixon at home. We praise God daily for his safe arrival and health.
Thank you Jesus for Nixon Lee Anderson. We love him so much already and thank you for entrusting him to us.