Friday, June 3, 2016

Chloe's Birth Story

My actual due date with Chloe was Friday, May 20th. Of our kids born up to that point, two had been born on their due dates, two had been born a few days after their due dates, and the rest had been born in the week before their due date. All that to say, our kids typically arrive right on time.

I had also learned from previous births that I typically have on-and-off contractions for 2-3 weeks leading up to birth, so for me that is another clue how far out actual labor is. These contractions started on Monday, May 2nd, a little over two weeks before Chloe ended up being born. The last few weeks leading up to the birth can be frustrating (especially for those who have to live with me!), but I think that letting baby choose his/her own birthday is one of the first gifts we give them, so I just wait (and wait and wait). Typically, baby comes right around the time I am thoroughly convinced that they will never be born. 

By the middle of May, the contractions had changed in nature, to where they no longer went away when I lay down or went to sleep. This, too, is an indicator that these contractions were now the real deal. That fact, however, is offset by the fact that I live in a house with 9 other people, 8 of which are kids that make noise and have all sorts of needs from sun up to sun down, which psychologically does not lend itself to being the perfect labor and birth environment. I knew that until my body pushed past the "point of no return" during the peaceful night hours, the contractions would mellow and space out during the day. After a few nights of sleeping only between regular contractions that came anywhere from 2 to 20 minutes apart, I finally felt I was in labor for good on the night from Monday to Tuesday, May 16/17. 

So around 4 a.m. on Tuesday, May 17th, I texted my mother-in-law and asked her to fly out. She had been on standby, ready to leave, for a couple of weeks. She has been here for the last three births before this current one, watching the kids while I am in labor. Even before that, she would come out as soon as baby was born to help for as long as she could get time off from work, but has come out in time for labor ever since retiring (she used to be a flight attendant). 

However, by the time the sun came up on Tuesday morning, I knew that was not going to be the day I gave birth. The contractions were still coming every 5 to 15 minutes, but they were much milder, too mild for being past that "point of no return" which I'm guessing is around 5 cm dilation for me. As usual, my husband took the kids to their P.E. class that morning, while I stayed home resting after not having slept well at night for almost a week by that point. After P.E., they picked up his mom at the airport, and were home in time for lunch and naps. I was supposed to have a prenatal appointment that afternoon, which I cancelled because I knew birth was imminent, and I was too uncomfortable to leave the house. I, too, lay down for a nap instead. 

In the evening, we left the kids home with Grandma for a trip to Costco. There were a few last minute things we needed, plus I figured the walking would help move labor along. It was about 10:30 p.m. when I got to bed that night, and I slept well for the first hour. At 11:41 p.m. the contractions had picked up in intensity to where I could no longer sleep through them. In fact, I could not even stay in bed in between them, as I needed to get up and move with the contractions to help ease the pain. 

Let me tell you, the hours between midnight and sun up are the worst hours to be in labor, at least for me. I was SO tired. The contractions were coming very regularly every 8 minutes at this point, ever increasing in intensity. While they lasted, I got much relief from leaning over the birth ball and rolling with it from side to side. I did this while standing up, with the birth ball on a raised surface. While it offered relief, it was impossible to sleep between contractions while standing up, and I was too tired lie down and get up again in between them. 

After about an hour of laboring this way by myself, I woke my husband around half past midnight to ask him to set up the birth pool, which involves inflating the pool, fitting it with its liner, connecting the hose to the shower head, and then fill the pool with water (which takes a while as we wait for the water heater to keep up). As with Boaz, the birth pool was set up in the office, which doubles as our guest room, and has a bed in it. In between filling the tub, my husband would doze off on the bed, while I was laboring and trying to rest. The contractions were still very manageable, but only as long as I was able to move with them. But like I said, standing up for 7 minutes in between them didn't do much in the way of letting me sleep. 

Around 1 a.m. on Wednesday, May 18th, I finally figured out a way to sit in the corner seat of our sofa in the living room in such a way that I could sleep between contractions, while still being able to move and work through them when they came every 8 minutes. So for the next 3 hours or so, I slept on the sofa, and woke only for the contractions. They were definitely painful, but manageable. My husband was asleep in the office next door, only waking to turn the hot water on and off as needed. 

Sometime around 4:30 a.m., I suddenly woke with a start, shivering and nauseated. This was an indication that labor had shifted into a new phase, and things were about to really pick up momentum. I woke my husband, and asked him to call the midwife and tell her it was time to come. I had wanted to hold off on that as long as possible to allow her to sleep, but as it turned out later, she had not been able to sleep much at all that night, knowing that I was in labor and could call at any moment. 

Once I was awake, there was no going back to sleep. I started throwing up (very typical for me in labor), but otherwise, I felt great between contractions. During each contraction, I would again lean over the birth ball on the guest bed, while my husband put gentle counter-pressure on my hips with his flat hands on either side. 

The birth team consisted of 4 ladies: my midwife (the same one I had used for the previous three births), two ladies who she had trained and who are just finishing their midwifery education (who had also been at my last two births), and a new apprentice midwife she was teaching. They showed up sometime around 5 a.m., and let themselves in silently so as to not wake the kids (labor plus kids just doesn't mesh well, and it was too early to send them all out of the house for the day). I remember hearing the cat, who prefers to sleep outside, meow - my only indication that the birth team had arrived and let the cat into the house when they came in. Later, one of the midwives told me that when she opened the door to let the apprentice in, my cat had leaped on her and scratched her up, something she has NEVER done - she must have been spooked by my being in labor. The ladies were setting up their stuff, making themselves coffee and letting me do my thing.

Around 5:30 a.m. or so, I asked my midwife to check me for dilation, and I think I was at a 6, though maybe it was 7. Things were going well and very manageable, so I didn't care much about the exact number. Having had the same midwife for the last four births, I knew she would have a good idea of when baby would be born, so I asked for her prediction. She said she would be very surprised if baby was born before 7 a.m. or after 10 a.m., so that was my "window." Might seem silly, but she's always been right in the past with me!

I got into the birth pool around this time to give me additional relief, and for the next couple of hours, I would sit in there resting and chatting, then turn over for the next contraction so my husband could push on my hips. In past labors, I always wanted counter-pressure on the tailbone, but this time, it felt much better to have him push to the right and left of my tailbone, on the hips. Between contractions, we were still laughing and talking.

By this time (about 7:30 a.m.), my mother-in-law had taken all the other kids out of the house, although they were so quiet I hardly even heard them leave. I was dilated to an 8 or 9, and I could feel the baby right at the cervix, but not pushing past the tailbone and ready to descend into the birth canal. The baby has to navigate a "turn" at that point, which is very noticeable. Once they clear that turn near the tailbone, they are born within the next minute or two. This baby, however, just stayed put right where it was. This was partly due to the fact that I was not yet fully dilated, although I knew from past experience that the last lip of my cervix typically doesn't get pushed aside until baby comes through, and I often do start pushing at 9 cm dilation.

It was around this time that my midwife told me the baby likely had its hand up by its face, based on the fact that he/she was not coming down sooner, and the fact that my hips felt like they were being split in half during contractions. This was NOT what I had wanted to hear. It meant that I could be stuck in this transitional phase for anywhere from 5 minutes to 5 days - just however long it took for baby to navigate past my tailbone, having increased its head circumference (the largest part to be born) by having a hand on its face/head.

Strangely, from the get-go, this labor had reminded me of Isaac's birth. Isaac is our second-oldest child, and my first home birth. His birth was going well, and was pretty manageable like this labor had been, except for the very end, when I got stuck in transition for several hours without any progress. After he was born, we learned that not only did he have a very short cord, but that he was making it shorter by having it looped up and through his legs. It took so long for him to be born because his cord had to stretch, stretch, stretch for him to be able to descend. By the time he came out, the cord was stretched very thin. I remember the last couple hours of that labor, I had gotten out of the pool, and was passed out tired on the bed in between contractions, waking only as they peaked and biting down on my husband's hand in pain. We have since learned to keep washcloths on hand for that! ;)

Having already experienced what it felt like to get stuck in transition, I was really discouraged by the prospect of having to relive that. Remembering Isaac's birth, I got out of the tub, and tried to rest and even sleep between contractions. At this point, labor was a lot more difficult to manage, because I no longer felt that each contraction brought me a little closer to holding baby - it felt like I was making zero progress, while in a lot of pain, with no end in sight. I remember telling my midwife to transfer me to the hospital via ambulance, so they could just deliver the baby via C-section, because I was DONE with labor. The ambulance was not due to any urgency, just the simple fact that I though riding lying down on a gurney would be a lot more comfortable than sitting in a car - ha!

After a couple of hours of that, around 9:30 a.m. I got another little burst of energy, and got back into the pool. It only took a couple more contractions until I finally felt the baby clear the tailbone, and descend into the birth canal. I knew he/she would be born with the next few pushes.

The head crowned with the next contraction, and while it was stuck there before the next one came, the midwife and I felt knuckles on both sides of the head. We had suspected one hand by the baby's face, but not two! I remember yelling for someone to put pressure on my perineum to keep it from tearing, then with the next push the baby was born at 9:48 a.m, just before my midwife's predicted delivery window ended. The cord was pretty short, I think just over a foot and a half, which probably didn't help labor progress any faster. I had to lean down carefully so as to not pull on the cord while checking to see if we had a boy or a girl. I had thought boy all along with this pregnancy, but had started to think girl toward the very end and while in labor. I was washing the dishes one night close to the birth when the name "Chloe" came into my mind as a choice for a girl, and was relieved that my husband liked it and we now had our girl name choice settled.

 This is how she was born, and still likes to sleep.

I knew I was supposed to get out of the tub as soon as baby was born (to better monitor blood loss), so with the help of my midwives, I moved out of the tub and onto the bed. The placenta was born shortly thereafter, followed by a lot of blood. It would have been alarming if not for the fact that I always bleed a lot after delivery, and my midwife knows this. They were keeping a close eye on me, monitoring my blood pressure and giving me stuff to control the bleeding, but I was not worried about it. I think that my body just makes an excess of blood while pregnant (blood volume increases anywhere from 150-200%, so there's a wide range of normal there), which is why I can afford to lose more than average without any complications. My iron levels, blood pressure, energy, and milk supply in the days after delivery were all stellar, which means that whatever amount of blood I lost was not an issue. I have donated blood before and felt far worse.

My husband called his mom to tell her the baby had been born, and that it was a girl. They were not too far from the house, and came home immediately to greet the newest member of the family.


Admiring her little fingers

My husband drained and cleaned up the birth pool while the midwives got me settled and kept monitoring me. In spite of Chloe's two little hands being born alongside her larger-than-average head, I had zero tearing. I had some pain near my tailbone from when she had to squeeze by there, but after a few hours that was gone, and I felt like I had never even given birth.

I hadn't eaten much in the last two days leading up to the birth, but I was still not hungry at all, and just ate a cheese stick. There was also cake and milk for everyone - knowing the birth was imminent, I had made birthday cake the night before.

Around nap time, the midwives left, the little boys napped, and my mother-in-law took the older kids out of the house so us parents could also rest in a quiet house.

About 10 days old and loving her bath. 

The midwife and her team came back to check on us on days 1 and 3, and at 1 and 2 weeks postpartum, which always includes flowers for baby and chocolate for mom. Chloe is growing and gaining well, and there have been no issues whatsoever with either her or me, except that I think she has a slight intolerance to me consuming dairy products. Mostly, she just gets colicky if I drink milk straight up, but seems to be fine with cheese etc. (though I have cut out all dairy for the time being just to make sure). I am not a fan of milk, and rarely if ever drank any while pregnant, which may be why she couldn't handle me drinking it now.

Boaz helping check Chloe's oxygen saturation

My husband drove me to see my chiropractor the day after giving birth, to set my tailbone straight again and to check Chloe for any misalignment. The chiropractor I see has taken care of me with my last 6 pregnancies, which I am certain plays a large part in my natural deliveries. I see her all throughout my pregnancies as often as I see the midwife for prenatal checkups. She is trained in the Webster technique, which is very gentle, and does not involve "cracking" my joints. 

Other than that, I have been home resting and holding baby. My mother-in-law left earlier this week after having stayed and helped for two weeks. Yesterday and today, I ran my first errands, not because I had to but because I was going stir-crazy from having been cooped up in the house so long. All went very well - Chloe actually likes the car seat, something most of our kids hate with a passion! I can't wait to go back to church this Sunday morning, though I will take some more time to phase in the evening services because I am going to bed early these days. 

Thank you again to all who prayed for a safe, easy delivery!


  1. Congratulations! Very nice to hear your birth story. I havent had a home birth with any of my kids so far but we are hoping we are able to try if God blesses us with more children. :) Thank you for sharing snip bitsof your lives. An inspiration to us.

    Prayers for many blessings,
    Melanie Morgan

  2. Thanks for sharing your story! She is so beautiful! I love hearing home birth stories. I had my first at home and am planning another with my twins this Fall.

    1. Twins at home!!? Wow! My mom is a twin. Wondering if it runs in our family. We shall see. I had my first at home too. So if I have twins, I will definitely have them at homeπŸ˜ƒ

      Good luck, and I'll pray for a safe delivery!

  3. Congratulations! My youngest child was a homebirth. I loved the experience. My widwifevwas wonderful. I'm glad everyone is doing well.

  4. So very precious!!!! God is so good!!!

  5. I wanna be a midwife when I grow up!! :D Great storytelling and really inspiring to see you tough it out when you didnt think you could make it. Praise God for blessing you again! So happy to see a healthy baby and happy momma! Cant wait to see her growing up! Just thank God to see someone in this world trusting God with their family size and not meddling with things made perfect already. People just dont realize what they are missing out on because of fear. Thank you for sharing a sweet account of little Chloe coming forth into this world and into a loving God-fearing home none the less!

  6. My sofas are looking like yours too so dont feel bad haha! We are not the kind to splurge on home furnishings so I plan to let them go as long as we can stand it!

  7. I find this so inspirational and informative. Thank you for sharing :)

  8. Well done she is beautiful!! You have such a lovely family!

  9. brings back many memories(feelings too!) I'm a mum to ten and am waiting to fall with number 11;If thats in the Lords plan for us . continue to rest in Him

  10. lovely to hear your account.brings back many memories (feelings too)!hoping to have some more bubs if God is willing xx thankyou for encouraging all mums to live out a wise godly life for His glory

  11. She's beautiful!

    Glad that you are both doing well.

  12. My husband and I are hoping to move to phoenix once our lease is up. (We live in southern California) I'm not looking forward to your arizona summers but looking forward to like minded people and looking forward to attending your church. I'm also looking forward to my first home birth experience. I've had all three of mine naturally in a hospital (I hated it). Thank you for sharing your birth story. And God bless you and yours.

  13. Wow, you really know birth!! I am so impressed! I never realize the different stages of labor at all - more like "ouch, this hurts" and "oh, there's a baby!" You really know the different parts of labor and birth.

    Congratulations, and awesome job on a challenging labor! Baby Chloe is a darling. :)

  14. Congratulations Zsuzsa, Chloe looks so mature, older than a newborn with all her hair. Such a cutie.

    Here some encouragement to continue blogging:

  15. Congratulations and blessings to you, Pastor and Mrs. Anderson, from a mom (and family) in Connecticut. I loved reading your birth story!

  16. The selfie with your midwives, baby, and husband is my absolute favorite! You all look so happy and relieved. I'm quite impressed with your midwife's accuracy and support during this birth. Baby stuck for 2 hours after full dilation is a textbook case for c-section at the hospital. It's very encouraging to know that you recovered so quickly physically even after that issue. Once again, it really makes a good case for limited intervention during birth.

  17. I'm glad to hear everything went well. There is certainly a wide range of "normal" for labor and delivery! (By the way, "Chloe Pearl" is a beautiful name!)

  18. I had a similar story with my first child/ first home birth. 18 hours of labor total, with 3 hours after full dilation. She too was born with a hand up by her face, and at 9lbs, 3 oz, was not an easy birth. Thanks to my amazing midwife, we never considered a transfer and I felt so strong with Our Lord's help. We prayed many prayers, especially the rosary, during labor. I'm now planning home birth #5. Thank you for sharing the beautiful birth story!

  19. Hi,

    You don't have to publish this comment if you don't wish to do so.
    It's just for you and your family, anyway.

    I noticed that comments were turned off for your post "sodomites = pedophiles", which is why I am commenting here.

    I read the letter that "dave vergara" sent you and it's absolutely disgusting. I agree that it only goes to reinforce the notion that they are pedophiles.

    Will the police do anything to help you? He is threatening violence on your children who are innocent of any wrongdoing.
    You need to protect yourself and your family. I can't even imagine the type of harassment you have to endure and no one deserves this. You, your husband, and your children do not deserve this.
    I hope that your husband has armed himself just in case one of these disgusting crazy psychos tries to physically harm you. What about concealed carry in AZ? You need to do what's best to protect you and your family when you are out with them.
    I am truly sorry you have to go through this. The "tolerant left" does not understand what free speech means.
    We live in a world that's absolutely disgusting. People have no morals. I belong to a protestant church which is a bit different from yours in terms of our beliefs. Regardless, whether I agree or disagree, I admire your family, am a reader of your blog, and I just want the best for you all.
    Please be safe.... you and your family don't deserve anything less than peace and tranquility.
    Thank you for this wonderful blog. I've learned a lot from it.

  20. Know this is late but.... congratulations Zsu and Steven Anderson ☺️☺️☺️☺️☺️☺️☺️😊😊

  21. What a beautiful story, with the perfect little ending. She's just a doll! Labor can be so hard but the feeling afterwards is the best on this earth. Chloe is a doll! She's definitely an Anderson. :) love you all!


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