Friday, August 3, 2012

Stephen's Birth Story

or: Why does it take a grand multipara three days to give birth??!?

Here it is, at long last! :) 

Please note: This being about BIRTH, as much as I will try to keep my wording absolutely appropriate, you may find some of the content to be TMI, gross, offensive, or all of the above. If you are that type, please stop reading now. You have been warned! 

My official "due date" was August 1st or 2nd. However, due to measuring a couple of weeks ahead for most of the pregnancy, we had a hunch this baby would show up before, rather than after, that date. My goal was to still be pregnant by the time the homeschool convention rolled around on July 20th and 21st. 

In early July, I started having contractions every evening, but that is not unusual for me. I have done that for weeks with just about all of my pregnancies, and as long as the contractions are painless and/or irregular, I know they mean nothing. As I had hoped, I was able to attend the conference on both days. On the second day, Saturday July 21st, my contractions became regular AND noticeable (not necessarily painful) at 5 PM. I stayed until 7 PM when the conference ended, and told my husband this might be it. My contractions were every 10 minutes apart, and stayed that way until I went to bed, with increasing intensity.

I woke at about 4 AM on Sunday morning to what was now rather strong contractions every 5 minutes. Having a past history of prodromal labor, I knew better than to wake my husband. By 6 AM, however, I was pretty sure baby was coming that day, so I woke him up to talk about whether or not he should stay home from preaching the morning service. I also texted his mom to let her know I thought baby was coming that day, but not to stress about trying to make it onto a flight last minute (her plan was to come on Tuesday). 

By the time my husband would have needed to leave for the service, it was evident that while my contractions were still like clockwork every five minutes, and intense at that, I was nowhere near getting ready to push, so there was no danger in him preaching the service as usual. Being in active labor and feeling somewhat miserable and non-social, I stayed home from church.

My mother-in-law, after receiving my text, got on the next flight and arrived at our house around noon on Sunday. I am not sure how she managed to get here that fast, but she did, and we were glad to have her here to help with the kids. 

Things stayed pretty much the same all Sunday long. Contractions were every 3-5 minutes, some more painful than others. I again stayed home from the evening service, while my mother-in-law took all the kids. She was a bit nervous about me having the baby while all by myself, without anyone there, but I had little hope of that. One of my husband's sisters is married to a fire fighter/EMT, so I guess they have heard their fair share of on-the-road birth stories, or close calls, but I knew there was little hope for me in that department. 

When Monday rolled around, and still no baby, I had given up any hope of EVER giving birth. To say I was frustrated is a major understatement. My contractions had now spaced out to about every hour, although they were more painful still now. 

My husband had some work to do out of town, and I told him to go ahead and leave. If things changed, I would call him back. His mom and I decided to run some last-minute errands and do some birthday shopping for my husband's birthday the next day, contractions notwithstanding.

Monday afternoon rolled around, and my contractions were once again getting closer (about every 5 minutes), and definitely to the point of requiring serious concentration throughout. It was enough for me to call my husband and tell him to come back home that night, rather than the next day. He arrived home late in the evening, after I had already gone to bed. 

I woke up at 2 AM on Tuesday morning from the pain of the contractions. They were every 10 minutes apart, so I had a chance to sleep in between them for a couple more hours. By 4 AM, I woke my husband to ask him to set up the birth pool for me. I didn't realize that I turned the water on too hot, so when the pool was nice and filled, it was too hot to get into. I tried our outdoor, built-in spa instead, but it being so early in the morning it felt a touch too cold after a while (can you say Goldilocks?).

I had also texted my midwife that I thought this was it. She was waiting to hear those words from me, after I had been updating her all weekend long about my crazy contractions, and she was somewhat concerned I was going to go from that to pushing in a matter of minutes. Again, I knew there was no such luck for me. 

My midwife and two of her students showed up sometime early in the morning, I think it was just before 5 AM. The third student showed up some time later as well. At this point, I was dilated to 4 or 5 cm, 100% effaced. My bag of waters was still intact, and the baby floating relatively high in my pelvis. For several more hours, until about 8 AM, I was in serious labor - but only every 10 minutes when I would have a contraction. The rest of the time, I spent sleeping from the exhaustion of the past two/three days. By 10 AM, I told my midwife this was again going nowhere, and that she should probably just go home until I called her again. 

They all left, my mother-in-law took all the kids to go shopping and give us peace at the house, and I went back to bed to sleep in 8-10 minute increments, waking only to work through contractions and then go back to sleep.

Tuesdays are the day we get milk delivery from our dairy, as well as pool service. Figures it would work out that way! I rescheduled both that morning, telling them I was in labor, so I was surprised to hear a loud knock on the door around noon. My husband answered the door to find pest control - I had forgotten all about them being scheduled to come that day! Since they were already there, and we did need service, and their product (Cedarcide) is non-toxic, I told my husband to let the guy in, but to tell him not to spray our bedroom where I was. Of course, the way it worked out, I was just groaning though a contraction when he was right outside our (closed) bedroom door. My husband must have been mortally embarrassed, because he tried to hush me. Hey, at least I didn't scream! :) I'm sure it was an interesting story to tell when the tech got back to the office that day... 

Since I was already awake now, I decided to get up and clean up the breakfast mess in the kitchen, stopping every 10 minutes for strong, painful, but not unbearable contractions. To work through them, I just tried to relax as much as possible, while gripping onto something and moaning. As far as pain, really not too bad, especially with the long breaks in between. 

When the kitchen was clean, I once again got back in the birth tub, and stayed there for the remainder of the labor. Contractions were still every 8-10 minutes apart, and not really getting any more painful. Don't get me wrong, they hurt A LOT, but not to where I was past the point of being able to cope with the pain. My husband sat by the edge of the tub, reading to me to combat my frustration and boredom. The storyline was a bit fuzzy because I would doze off here and there. Around 2 PM, I called the midwife student that lives closest to us, asking her to come over just to check if I had made any progress, since my labor didn't really feel any more intense than it had earlier. 

She found me to be dilated to about 7 cm, and I finally started thinking that maybe this baby was going to be born sometime, after all. She called my midwife and told her it was time to head back over. I stayed in the pool, hanging out and listening to my husband reading to me, and working through contractions (you guessed it) every 8-10 minutes. I would basically get on all fours, bury my head in a towel on the rim of the tub, while my husband would apply some very gentle pressure on my tail bone with his flat hand. No screaming, just groaning. 

Sometime after 3 PM, with my midwife now en route but still about 20 or 30 minutes away, I started feeling increasingly "pushy". This made the student midwife a little nervous, because she had never before attended a birth by herself. When I excitedly announced that I could feel the baby's head, more specifically, the ridges on his skull plates, she got the midwife on speaker phone, expecting the birth any moment. The contractions become entirely painless at this point, and pushing was a breeze.

However, with my water still intact, baby once again slipped back up into the pelvis, and would not budge. Contractions once again were painful, especially on my tailbone. This gave my midwife enough time to arrive at the house. She found me to be dilated to about 8 or 9 cm, with just a lip of cervix remaining that easily pushed out of the way. 

Not much more happened for a little while. In fact, I may not remember it right a week later now, but it seems my contractions stopped completely there for a bit, the "calm before the storm". By the time I felt like pushing again, it was not painless as it had been a little while earlier. My waters were bulging, but still intact, keeping the baby high. 

Finally, with one big push, baby moved down once more. I felt a distinct "pop" and thought it was my bag of waters, but was surprised to find it still intact. Again I pushed hard, my water finally broke, and baby began to crown. The head was born quickly, but I had to wait for another contraction to push the rest of the body out - a first for me, and I can't say I liked it. I felt like baby was just not going to come out, even though it probably only took seconds. 

My midwife caught the baby and immediately put him on my belly. I was happy it was over, thrilled baby was healthy and safe, and thanking God for yet another precious gift of life. 

The placenta was born just a few minutes later. Upon inspecting it, it turned out my water HAD broken twice, but the first time it was higher up so it went unnoticed except for the "popping" sensation. As it turns out, my blood loss was minimal, and I did not tear at all (never have). At my 1-week postnatal checkup, my hemoglobin level was 12.7, which is really high for me. I had a few dizzy spells in the days after the birth, but I'm guessing it has to do with my very low blood pressure.

Stephen was born on his Dad's birthday, at 3:55 PM, almost the exact time of day that my husband was born (4:11 PM). I have no doubt that my labor was the way it was because my husband had said over and over again that he hoped the baby would be born on his birthday, at 4:11 PM. That's the type of wife I am, I guess! :)

My mother-in-law was at the church building at this time with the kids, because Anna had needed a nap. My husband drove over there to pick up the oldest five kids and bring them home. Isaac got to cut the cord, as he had asked to be allowed to do for some time. Once Anna woke up, grandma came home with her, too.

For a birthday dinner for my husband, he and his mom made tacos for everyone while the midwives got me all situated, cleaned up after the birth, cooked me hot cocoa, and frosted the birthday cake I had baked on Monday night. After dinner, they cleaned up the kitchen, and by the time they left, nobody could have guessed that we had a baby there that day, except for the fact that there were now 9 people in our family, not 8. My milk came in later that first night, which is the soonest it has ever come in. Stephen slept by my side that first night, and every night since.
There, that's about it, as best as I can remember. Though the labor was long, it wasn't too bad as far as pain, because the contractions were far enough apart to allow me to completely relax between them. There were no medical concerns, baby's heart rate (which was checked after every contraction) remained strong and stable in the 140s the entire time, and my placenta was the picture of health. My recovery has been quick, as it usually tends to be for me more after a boy than after a girl. 

As far as adjusting to 7 kids - the first week was really hard. For the last three days, I feel like this is really not too bad at all, mostly due to the fact that Stephen is a very easy baby. He will go 2-3 hours between feeding, and sleeps most of the time in between, in his sling, or even on his own in the bouncy chair or on the bed. Anna has not been jealous of him, although she is more fussy than she usually is. The other kids were pretty hyper for the first few days (or maybe it just seemed that way in my overly hormonal state), but are once again back to normal.

The only thing I am still struggling with in a major way is not being able to leave the house. With the infernal temperatures here in Arizona, it just wouldn't be fair to the baby to drag him out when he is too little to drink water. 

There, that's about it in a nutshell. We are thanking God for a safe and relatively easy delivery.


  1. I loved reading your birth story. :) Your little guy is adorable. I love how each childs birth story is different. We have nine so far and yet they are all sooooo different. :) Glad to hear you are all adjusting well.~ Having a new baby in the house is always so nice.

  2. Congratulations on a successful homebirth! He's beautiful!

  3. Thank you for sharing. In a world that seems flooding with c-sections, it is so encouraging to hear about a safe and healthy delivery. Congratulations on your little one!

  4. Congratulations again!! Stephen is adorable.

  5. What a darling - congratulations, and good job!!!!

  6. Congrats, Zsuzsanna, he is beautiful and perfect. I am glad to hear everything went well. Don't stress yourself out adjusting to 7 children - it will come in time. Just relax and enjoy your new family!

    I was disappointed that you did not include your response to your husband when he told you to "hush" during a contraction when the pest control guy was there - I would love to hear it! :)

  7. No water is needed for your baby as long as you are breastfeeding him. Breastmilk is the perfect food and drink for a baby. If a baby is thirsty, they tend to nurse for just a few minutes instead of a long feeding. They will also ask for that sooner than the normal 2-3 hour feeding times.

  8. Thanks, everyone!

    Spooky, I ignored him - not like I had a choice in the matter. After the contraction was over, I laughed about it, and still think it's funny.

  9. Loved reading your birth story. I have only experienced hospital births but have always wanted to do a home birth. My husband won't allow because I was once labled high risk due to a double uterus. I don't see how it effects the delivery at all so I have not given up hope. Our baby is 10 months old so we are both anticipating a new baby on the way in the near future. I even started researching midwives in our area. Anyways, congratulations on the newest addition to your family. I love reading your blog and never miss a sermon from your husband. We just wish we lived closer. Take care.

  10. I hear ya about the heat! My younger one has a July 1st birthday, and my hubby would only let me leave the apartment with him early in the morning.
    Anonymous saying baby doesn't need water as long as you're breastfeeding - true, but the high heat of the desert is too much for the little ones!

  11. You're a lot more tolerant of your husbands bad behavior than most women. I think if mine had told me to hush during a contraction I would have hushed him myself. ;-)

  12. Sweet Stephen! Zsuzsa, he is just ADORABLE!!!

    Thank you for sharing his birth story. It did make me seriously "broody"! ;)

    God bless you all!

  13. Congrats! Stephen is beautiful!

  14. Beautiful baby boy congratulations!

  15. I enjoyed reading your story, what a cute boy! Congratulations again!

  16. Congrats! I just love his baby cheeks! Has Anna moved to the girls room? I would love to see the new bedroom arrangement if she has.

  17. Congratulations, what a marathon effort! Definitely not a fan of waiting between the head and the body either, my least favourite part of the whole thing.

    Welcome Stephen, he's beautiful!

  18. Thank you so much for sharing your birth story.Other than the obvious miracle of bringing a new life into this world this story is such a good example of what has gone so wrong in our age of hospital deliveries. Can you imagine the field day they would have had with you at a hospital?! The words "making no progress" would have been the title of your chart! They would have been "helping" you with all sorts of interventions. But you are such a good example of continuing on with as much of your daily life as you were comfortable with until it wasn't comfortable any more. And! your contractions were never consistantly 5 mins apart even when you were pushing. Well, I'll be sending your link on to several of my friends as an educational opportunity even if it is preaching to the choir! ;o)
    Blessings to all 9 of the Andersons!

  19. Right Kerri,
    They would have tried to force a c-section on her at a hospital for a labor like that just because it didn't progress according to hospital protocol. How wonderful that she didn't have to go through that horror.

  20. I'm coming in late on this, but wanted to say congratulations on your new baby boy! He is adorable! And wow what a birth story. That is a very loooong labor!


  21. My husband and I have been listening to YOUR husband's sermons for a few weeks now, and he (James) told me that you'd given birth several times at home. We have two babies, Lydia (20 months) and Gabriel (4 months). Lydia was born in the hospital via an emergency c-section (I was induced unnecessarily, though of course, I didn't know that at the time), and so for Gabriel's birth, we decided that home birth was the way to go after our traumatizing first experience. We LOVED it! We will have all our future babies at home, Lord willing! Anyhow, enough about me -- I just wanted to say that I loved reading of your most recent birth experience and can't wait to read more! :)


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