For whatever reason, it has taken me a year to write Milo's birth story. I think about it often, but always have some sort of writer's block when I sit down to actually put pen to paper (or keystrokes to computer screen, really :)). So, on the evening of his first birthday, I am going to write until it's done (while he destroys my office!).
Be warned, this is LONG and somewhat detailed at points ;)
I made no secret of the fact that I wanted to have a 3rd girl, we'll start there. When we found out at our ultrasound that we were having a boy, I was not excited. I tried my hardest to pretend to be excited, but really inside (and outside, with Michael) I was crying. I didn't know what to do with a boy! Boys are stinky! Won't it be weird to nurse a boy??? (pretty sure my hippie card can get revoked for that thought!). I spent probably a week being sad, and then another week being mad at myself for being sad, then I accepted this whole boy thing. When I was 35 weeks pregnant (out of 40ish, for anyone not familiar with the whole human gestation cycle thing :)), I started having contractions on and off. They were mostly mild, but some were definitely strong enough to make me think that labor would be starting in the not-too-distant future. I'm sure my birth team loved me for the next 5 weeks as I continuously prepared them for potential "real" labor. One week Michael was out of town on business and I was having enough labor-y feelings to *almost* make him come home early from his trip. Finally, on August 15th (5 days before my due date) I put my midwife on alert. I was 99% sure that I would be having the baby that night. I notified my birth team (again...), and then went for a walk. I walked, I bounced on my birth ball, I visualized myself going into labor, and everything stopped. For 2 days. Stinker.
On August 17th, I woke up at 5am with one of those "holy moly this might be it!" contractions that I'd been waking up with pretty much every freaking day for the past 5 weeks. A few minutes later I woke up again with another one. And then another. I got out of bed, put on my birthing clothes (swimsuit top, skirt, tank top) and went downstairs so as not to wake Michael and the girls. My train of thought:
Oh crap, I forgot how bad this hurts!
Maybe I should call my midwife? At least to let her know? No, I'm fine, this is probably another false alarm.
Shoot! Ow ow ow! Why am I doing this again?
I'm so excited that I get to meet my baby today!
Owwwww! At least I have fast labors, yay for fast labors!
No! Fast labor means I need to call the birth team and the midwife and wake up Michael!
(text sent to birth team, husband woken up, no call to midwife yet)
Michael and I walked around downstairs a bit (girlies were still asleep in our bed) and he made the executive decision to call Pam (midwife) as apparently I was making it look like things were happening fast, and with labors 1 and 2 being 4 and 5 hours, respectively, he didn't wanna mess around and end up catching the baby himself! This was approximately 6:30am, and everyone was at our house and assembled by 7:30ish (the times are a bit fuzzy).
Just before Pam arrived, I started panicking a bit. Michael and I tried to go for a walk, we got to our driveway, I had a contraction, and I immediately started crying (and not the "ow ow ow this hurts" cry...more the "oh no I'm having a baby and it's going too fast and I'm freaking out" cry). Once the birth team and Pam got here, things slowed waaaaay down. Contractions were still quite strong, enough to make me think I was entering transition, but coming further and further apart. At one point Michael and I were walking outside and he told me that it was ok if the baby wasn't born that day. I told him that if the baby *wasn't* born that day, I was going to the hospital where I would *make* him be born, and I would be enjoying a nice cocktail of sweet, sweet drugs as well (those of you who know me will know how desperate I was feeling to make this statement!).
Between contractions I was feeling happy, smiling, talking to Michael and Sierra (who was photographing the whole shebang), walking around. During contractions I was immediately on my hands and knees, praying, thanking God for the wonderful rice sock that He had so lovingly inspired as I just knew I would not survive even one contraction without it (there was a mad dash to reheat it whenever it would cool down).
My energy level was starting to fade, and Michael thought I should eat something. I tried to gently tell him that I wasn't hungry (as in, I'm in labor and therefore nauseous and focusing on things other than food but thank you for the thought). He suggested scrambled eggs (barf) and settled for trying to get me to eat dry cheerios. I think I ate 2.
At some point around 11am probably (ya, fuzzy timing) I got into the tub, where I had assumed the baby would be born (I call him "the baby" because he did not yet have a name). I already knew that this labor was shaping up to be my longest (it had already passed the 5 hour mark) and I was getting seriously discouraged and starting to doubt myself. I was still having crazy painful contractions, and I was having the urge to push somewhat, but I was holding back. In hindsight, I *think* this was because, with Charlotte's birth, I didn't have to push. She was tiny and my labor was fast and she came out, head, body, done, in pretty much one breath. Even though I'd done the whole pushing thing with Maya, it hadn't occurred to me that it might take more than one push for baby #3 to be born! In my mind, the fact that he wasn't just being born with no effort on my part meant that my body wasn't ready. I'm not sure how much truth that holds, but that's my story and I'm stickin to it ;)
I'm sure the bathroom was quite a spectacle at this point...besides Michael, Pam and me, there was also Sierra (alternating between amazing support and amazing photography), Jamie and Adrianne (back and forth between checking on the kids and encouraging me with their awesomeness), Maya and Charlotte (rubbing my arm, cheering), Isabella (covering her ears), Kieran and Isaac. The kids were amazing, and at least mine had watched enough birth videos that they seemed completely unfazed by the whole thing! They were going back and forth between the bedroom where they were getting snacks, and the bathroom where they sat beside the tub. Charlotte was coloring beside our bed, and humming along with me during contractions (how freaking adorable is she???)
Anyway, because I was feeling so discouraged and doubting myself at that point, I had Pam check to see how things were moving along. She doesn't always do this (she didn't with Charlotte's birth) but she could tell I was getting discouraged, too. Her exam proved that his head was "right there" which gave me renewed confidence in this whole birth thing.
The rest is a bit of a blur. Pam checked heart tones with her doppler during a contraction, and wasn't entirely thrilled with what she heard. I was still in the tub, but for whatever reason that just wasn't working so she had me move to our bed (yay for plastic shower curtains and old sheets!). On the way to the bed I remember that I was crying because I was worried, and Michael (bless him!) was assuring me that everything was totally fine, even though in his head I'm pretty sure he was freaking out, too. Pam was super calm and told me that it was just time for the baby to be born. Once on the bed, I had a contraction, pushed, and holy-water-breaking-all-the-way-across-the-room. In hindsight this is hilarious, but birthteam played it cool because noone wanted to distract me or break my concentration or something (I was pretty serious and pretty LOUD at this point, and also probably crying). Even Isabella, who does not like getting dirty, played it brave during the "oh my goodness there is gross stuff on the floor right by my foot" part of this show ;) The next contraction (I think) and his head was out. Tears, joy, excitement. Then his body and then Pam placed him on me and all the stress and worry of the previous 10 minutes melted away as he looked at me and I was in love.
Milo Frederick Haren
born August 17, 2012 at 12:10pm
7 pounds, 9 ounces, 20.5 inches long
Remember that whole first paragraph about how I didn't want a boy and all that? Ya, erase that one from your memory. Having a boy is awesome. I can't even believe how sweet and amazing he is. I'm worried that I'm going to be one of those crazy mothers who won't let her baby boy go, because he is MINE. I love LOVE having girls, really I do. But being a mom to a boy is such a whole different thing and I can't even describe it. My love for him was instant and it runs deep. I want to hold him and kiss him and squeeze his sweet baby squishiness all day (though I really would be ok if he was happy for, like, 30 minutes a day being held and squished by someone else so I could go to the gym ;)). He is currently sleeping on my lap and even now, a year later, I can't stop myself from smelling his sweet baby smell and kissing his squishy cheeks and just staring at this amazing person that God placed into our family.
Homebirth this time around was the same and different, and I learned more about myself (like, don't try to plan how things are gonna happen, cause birth and babies don't follow no rules ;)). I spent a lot of time after Milo's birth being mad at myself for the frustration I felt during labor. I was upset that I couldn't just let things happen, that I felt like I needed to be (or could be!) in control, that it would follow my time-table, my expectations. His birth was perfect in its imperfection. It was normal and funny (seriously, you probably had to be there, but we measured amniotic fluid 6 feet from the bed :P) and exactly what birth should be. He was calling the shots (did I forget to mention that little man had his hand up by his face? Came out with a handprint on his cheek? Ya, that made him totally easy to birth #sarcasm). It was painful but manageable. It was hard but not impossible. I wanted to give up and I cried and I spent a lot of time by myself in the bathroom and I prayed and God gave us our amazing boy.
After he was born and Pam did his newborn exam (practically perfect in every way :)) and someone (Pam I think?) got me some food and checked me out and cleaned up, baby boy and I snuggled up and Michael took the girls to the store to give them some Daddy time. He was named the next evening after many many suggestions were made and rejected. We ate the cake that birth team had made for him (because they're awesome :)), and the rest is history :)
(all photos courtesy of Sierra, sierrahamplphotography.smugmug.com)
(all photos courtesy of Sierra, sierrahamplphotography.smugmug.com)