Thursday, September 13, 2007

The Unassisted Birth of Keagan

Keagan Charles

was birthed into the arms of his Daddy

on Wednesday, September 12, 2007

at 8 o’clock pm.


8 lbs


21 1/2 inches

God blessed us with the amazing experience of

an unassisted home birth for our third child.

Birth story below!
(Semi "graphic" in wordy detail.)

I was having light contractions Tuesday morning, mainly just “tightenings”. By 2pm, they had become a bit more like menstrual cramps. I wondered if I would progress into labor that evening, so Hubby called his mother and had her pick up the munchkins.

The contractions continued through the night, light enough to sleep through, hard enough stimulate my bladder. I woke up every half hour to use the bathroom, then literally fell back into bed.

The morning came with firmer contractions. By the afternoon, I knew I was in “real” labor. I napped quite a bit, trying to reserve energy. I relaxed in our big jacuzzi tub for a while, sipping on a little wine. (We remodeled our bathroom and picked this specific tub for the birth event, as I knew I would want to labor, and maybe even birth, in the tub.)

I didn’t pay much attention to time, so much of the timing is speculation on my part if not confirmed by my husband. When the contractions made me actually pause what I was doing to lean against something, I got back in the tub for back pain relief, but after about 30 minutes or so, even the water wasn’t relaxing. At some point, I stepped out of the tub to tinkle and realized my water had broken, but because the baby was so low, there was barely any leakage. This was a new feeling to me, as my water had burst in both of my previous pregnancies, but the babies were still so high up, that the fluid gushed out.

The contractions kept pressing harder and harder. I’m “blessed” with back labor, the pain of which lingered between contractions. I noticed the contractions overlapped at times, and then I’d receive a small break. I allowed myself to bear down ever so slightly during the firmer part of the contractions. It gave me a bit of relief. I was trying to kneel in the tub, which, after a while, made my toes and ankles ache. I found myself uncomfortable, so I decided to stand and lean against the wall. It felt much better, yet I had nothing to hold on to, nothing to support me.

I reached down to feel where the baby was, and, to my surprise, I realized he was only about an inch or two in. It was one of the strangest feelings…. a squishy little head!

As much as I had desired a waterbirth, I found myself craving the comfort of my bedroom. I wanted to keep standing, and, well, standing in the tub didn’t seem like such a great idea. Hubby helped me move into the bedroom where I stood between the end of the bed and the dresser, white knuckling the footboard as my knees wobbled and shook uncontrollably (a sure sign of transition). It was approximately 7:30pm.

I was exhausted, even though I had napped periodically throughout the day and tried to keep myself well hydrated and nourished. Whenever there was a break, I’d flop the top half of my body over the footboard, only to realize another contraction was on its way.

I put all my strength into my arms, lifting myself up as I bore down. (I paid for that later, my arms and shoulders feel as though I’ve been lifting thousands of pounds.)

The negative side of this position was that I had to hold myself up and my husband did not have access either. The space was narrow, and he could not get behind me or in front of me.

I gave in to my weariness and collapsed on the bed (which was actually quite a move, as the contractions were on top of each other, and my husband had to set out towels, pads, and “bed protection” as we moved). At first, I laid on my side and pushed that way, but once he was nearly crowning, I rolled to my back and gave it all I had. Hubby helped support as my body stretched around the head.

I kept thinking, “Oh gracious, I can’t do this! Lord give me strength!” Then I’d be reminded, “You have done it, he’s pretty much here!”

With several pushes and primitive screams (I’m surprised my neighbor didn’t call the cops!), the head was out. The ring of fire burned through my core, and finally, relief as it came to his slender neck. For the first time, Hubby was a little confused as what to do. My contractions, for once, had given me a break, so I explained that the baby would be rotating a bit in order to allow my body to birth his shoulders (and the rest of his body), and with the next contraction, I would push him out.

And sure enough, Hubby watched as the little fellow rotated, and with a gush, he was baptised by the rest of the fluid from the sac as little Keagan spilled from my body. Everything seemed to be soaked. The bed. The floor. My husband, of course. No surprise since the bedroom was a last minute idea for which we were not prepared.

Keagan was laid on my chest, but I didn’t feel his cord was long enough to get him completely up to my breast. He wasn’t interested in feeding right away anyway, so I just snuggled him as Hubby tossed a towel over us and began frantically throwing stuff on the floor in order to soak up the mess. (He was worried about our floors warping.)

Keagan had very little vernix- just a bit in his hair. He yelped and gurgled just a bit, but calmed as soon as he was placed on my chest. He wasn’t bruised or “discolored” in any way. He was pink from the moment he immerged from my body. His face wasn’t even swollen. His complexion was perfect and his head, perfectly shaped. We were amazed by his beauty, so perfect. It was eight o’clock pm.

Hubby ran back to the “birthing bathroom” to gather the supplies, and upon return, I informed him I thought it would be best if I birthed the placenta over the toilet. The cord had stopped pulsing, so we tied it off with shoelace (and later, with dental floss) and cut it just before the placenta splashed into the toilet.

When Hubby finally had time to examine it, he was shocked by it’s size. He confirmed that it was indeed whole (completely intact), and asked if I wanted to see it. I took a peek, but that was enough.

I did tear a little, but nothing major. The whole experience was amazing, awesome, emotional… just.. wow, but it was definitely hard work. As powerful as it was for me, I know it was even more so for my husband. For once, he wasn’t the bystander. He was front and center- a major player in the process of birth. He was incredibly supportive and encouraging. I am so thankful for his role in it all. It really strengthened our bond with each other and with our children (not just Keagan).

When things calmed down a bit, we called in an order to O’Charley’s. A friend of ours brought it to us, and then helped Hubby clean up. She even ran to store to buy Depends and overnight pads I had forgotten to purchase. Before she left, she gave me a back massage, which really helped me relax. I will forever be indebt to her! My parents arrived soon after.

By one am (Thursday), Keagan had already filled two diapers with meconium, and had two or more later in the day. He’s been having regular “breastmilk” poops now. No signs of jaundice whatsoever.

My own bowel movements came much easier this time. This is the first time I wasn’t afraid to pee or poop after giving birth. The bleeding wasn’t bad at all. In fact, by Friday morning, the blood was more pinkish and very light. I didn’t get to this stage until I had been 1-2 weeks postpartum with my two previous pregnancies. The differences are astounding. I haven’t had any problems with anemia this time at all. I’ve slimmed down pretty quick. I have more energy, and it’s not due to any postpartum painkillers!

The munchkins are totally infatuated with their new sibling! They’re doing great. They argue over who gets to help (which is cute, but quite irritating in the moment).

Breastfeeding has been going great. Keagan didn’t seem to have much of a desire to eat until Thursday afternoon (although he did get a bit here and there). He pretty much stayed at my breast all through the night Thursday and into Friday morning. (He has a great latch!) I was worried at first, but deep inside, I knew he’d let me know when he was ready.

He’s a very calm baby. Very relaxed, much like our first born. God has truly blessed us- and we hope our Lord has been glorified through it all!

If you’re interested in our choice to have an unassisted birth, you can read more about the decision HERE.

I don’t want anyone to get the idea that I believe unassisted birth is for everyone, because it certainly IS NOT. We did not do this to brag or glorify ourselves. This choice was well researched, prayed about, prayed about, and, oh, prayed about. I could not have had an unassisted birth with my first child, or even my second. I did not have confidence in myself or in my body. I wasn’t in a “good place” in my marriage, or my life. I did not fully trust God either. Whatever your birth choice, it’s your choice. It doesn’t make the birth less amazing, your baby less adorable, your experience less than extraordinary.