From the beginning, this pregnancy had been very different from my previous three pregnancies. There had been several scares in the first half of the pregnancy, when I had unexplained spotting and discovered the beginnings of a prolapsed cervix (which thankfully resolved itself as I moved into my second trimester). The spotting got worse around 22 weeks, and along with checking some other possible issues, I ended up having an ultrasound to check for the possibility of placenta previa. We had avoided ultrasounds (unless medically necessary) with the other pregnancies, so this was the first time I had gotten one of this kind (after my first spotting episode, I had had a very basic one at nine weeks to make sure the baby’s heart was still beating). Since we were having to have the ultrasound anyway, we decided to find out the gender this time…we hadn’t with the other three, and while we enjoyed the surprise, we also thought it would be fun to know ahead of time for once. And also, while I had always had strong feelings about what the gender was with the other three (and was right every time!), I had felt even more strongly than normal that this baby was a boy and wanted to make sure so I wasn’t calling a girl a “he” for the next four months! Turns out, I was right again…it was a BOY!…and very thankfully, there was no sign of placenta previa. After ruling out a couple other possibilities, my midwife determined that all my spotting was caused by a friable cervix; basically one that’s very irritable. Thankfully, it generally is harmless and doesn’t cause labor issues. Interestingly enough, after the ultrasound, the spotting stopped completely and never came back.
Thankfully, the second half of the pregnancy was pretty uneventful though I was significantly more tired than my other second and third trimesters. Even though Cedar had come four weeks early, I was pretty convinced that this baby would come close to his due date as Genoa had come on her’s and Avila, the day before her’s. Also, my Braxton-Hicks had been very minimal and no preterm labor at all!
So when I started having regular pains in my back and hips in the evening of Monday, February 22, 2016, I immediately brushed them off as gas ((the joys of pregnancy!) from the lentils we ate for supper. The baby’s due date wasn’t until March 16, which was over three weeks away…and I could never feel my uterus tightening when I had the pains. The “gas” pains continued through the night, and I didn’t sleep much. I woke up Tuesday morning, mentally vowing not to eat lentils again until after I had the baby! My thoughts of lentils disappeared as soon as I went into the bathroom and discovered some bloody show. While I had never had bloody show with my other births, I knew that it meant that something had definitely been happening throughout the night and those hadn’t been simple gas pains! I called my midwife, Dina, and let her know. While the bloody show didn’t necessarily mean that labor was imminent, she wanted me to keep her in the loop if what I now knew were contractions picked up again.
Aaron had been planning to go to an interview later that day so thankfully he was home for the morning. Unfortunately, as the morning progressed, the contractions increased and we realized that he should probably stay home (though thankfully he was able to reschedule the interview for a couple days later). The increasing contractions also presented us with a dilemma: while they were only four or five an hour at this point, I knew from my previous labors that those type of contractions definitely still “did something” for my body and that real labor was coming. However, I wasn’t 37 weeks along until the next day, and in our state, a midwife cannot legally deliver a baby at home before 37 weeks gestation. Even though it was only one day from that, if I gave birth that day and my midwife delivered me at home, she could have her license taken away. So the plan became to try to slow contractions as much as possible and just try to make it past midnight, so that we could legally have the baby at home. (PLEASE NOTE: if there had been any other complications, etc., we would not have hesitated to go the hospital and were planning to if active labor started that day.) My midwife recommended a tincture by Wishgarden called “Welcome Womb” that is specifically made to calm the uterus. Aaron picked that up at our local health food store and every half hour I took the dose recommended by my midwife. It tasted SO nasty, but thankfully, along with trying to rest as much as I could and take warm magnesium baths, it seemed to slow my contractions down. I let some family and close friends know what was going on so they could be praying.
The day slowly went by, my contractions down to two or three an hour. At my midwife’s direction, I stopped taking the tincture around 9 that evening and took another magnesium bath before bed. The contractions seemed to be petering out and I didn’t know if we’d have the baby the next day or if this was indicative of the next several weeks.
I slept for a couple hours and was awoken around 2:00 am by a contraction. They were back with a vengeance, and were happening every five minutes or so. We were definitely having this baby today…but very thankfully, it was February 24th, and I was officially 37 weeks so we were legal for a homebirth! I let Dina know and she headed over to our house. The contractions were quickly increasing in intensity, and I resumed the laboring position I had favored with Avila of lying on my side on our bed. When each contraction hit, the only thing that helped the pain was for Aaron to push heavily on my back and hip.
Dina got to our house around three, and checked my progress. I was already at 4 cm, so we started to get set up. The kids’ bedroom is right next to our’s and I’m not a quiet laborer, so we turned up their sleeping music, turned on their bathroom fan, and shut their door, hoping they would be able to sleep through my moans. In between contractions, Aaron and Dina prepped our bed. While I had waterbirths with Cedar and Genoa and loved them, I wasn’t comfortable with birthing in our city’s water, and we also didn’t really want to deal with the hassle of setting up a birth pool in our upstairs carpeted bedroom. I had planned on laboring some in the shower, but the contractions were already so painful that the thought of standing up through them sounded horrible!
The next several hours passed in a blur of incredibly painful and intense contractions. Dina’s assistant arrived around five, though I wasn’t aware of much outside of getting through each contraction. Aaron stayed by my side, pushing on my back and hip through every contraction…his arms very pretty sore later on! Around 6:20, he was going to quickly head downstairs to call the friend we had on call to watch the kids during labor (my parents were planning on coming closer to the due date, but we had someone on back-up in case the baby came early). He left right after my last contraction ended, thinking he had at least a couple minutes to make the call. However, within a minute, another contraction started and it was bad! I screamed at my midwife to come push on my back and hip, and then immediately felt my body start pushing on it’s own. When that happened, I felt the baby’s head start to crown, and yelled, “The head is coming!”. I was still lying on my side and was vaguely aware of Aaron coming back (apparently Dina’s assistant ran downstairs to get him as soon as I said that the head was coming), but was focusing on keeping my body from pushing the head out all at once. I had instinctively reached down once the head descended and I felt his hair and noticed the tininess of his head as it pushed out. In all, the entire pushing phase was probably about a minute long, with my water breaking as I was pushing him out.
As I pushed his little body out, I pulled him onto my chest as Aaron helped me sit up. The baby was SO tiny, and covered with a lot of vernix. He wasn’t moving much or making much noise at all, which, after Cedar’s birth, really scared me. Dina gave him a couple puffs of oxygen from the tank she had, and a brisk rub with a towel and he started to move and cry a little bit. It was SUCH a relief!
Aaron and Dina helped me move back on the bed to lean against our headboard, and despite his tininess, the baby started nursing right away, and his latch was perfect from the beginning. He nursed for awhile, as Dina and her assistant worked on cleaning up the birth mess. Aaron called back our friend who was going to watch the kids, letting her know the baby was born and we didn’t need her to come and watch the kids for the birth anymore. Even though the baby was nursing so well, my placenta wasn’t detaching and coming out. Dina stopped cleaning up to focus on kneading my abdomen to get my uterus to contract more, with these afterpains being almost as bad as the labor contractions! It took awhile, but the placenta eventually detached and I delivered it. Even with all the work to get it out, it was thankfully completely intact and Dina prepared it to give to the woman who was encapsulating it for me. Somewhat humorously, I had an appointment with that woman later that morning to sign paperwork, etc…and we also ended up giving her the placenta then as well!
Shortly after I delivered the placenta, Genoa and Avila woke up and Aaron brought them into our bedroom. It was so fun to introduce them to the baby since they had no clue he was coming when they had fallen asleep the night before (and amazingly, they had all stayed asleep through my very-less-than-quiet labor, despite their bedroom being right next to our’s!). Cedar woke up a bit later and came in as well.
After all the kids were there, and the baby stopped nursing for awhile, Dina did the newborn exam. Everything looked great, and the baby was so small that he fit into the hood of Avi’s bath towel that he was lying on for the exam (he was 5 lbs., 7 oz…the tiniest of my babies by a whole pound!)! Once the exam was finished, Aaron held the baby while I got into the herb bath that Dina had prepared. As I was kind of tired of baths after so many magnesium baths the day before, I didn’t stay in there long. After I cleaned up, I got back in bed and started nursing the baby again, while Aaron and I talked over the name.
As I mentioned earlier, I had an incredibly strong feeling all of the pregnancy that this baby was a boy. And along with that, even before he was born, I had felt like his name was Caedmon Isaiah. For awhile, we were leaning toward a different form of Isaiah for the middle name, but the basics of his name were the same since before he was conceived. Though Cedar and Genoa’s names were chosen just because we liked how they sounded, Avila’s name ended up having a lot of meaning behind it (the details are in her birth story), and Caedmon’s name held much meaning as well. For a variety of reasons, the previous year had been the hardest Aaron and I had ever gone through, by far, and “Isaiah” was a reminder of the Biblical book of that name that is full of promises of the Lord’s redemption. A reminder that, even if we can’t see how, Jesus can redeem all the pain and hardship of the past months. Caedmon was a name that we had always liked, and after we chose it, I found out it meant “wise warrior”. That had meaning as well, knowing that the Lord can fight our battles that we have no idea how to fight.
Even though we had that name chosen throughout the pregnancy, we didn’t want to “officially” name him that until he was born and we saw him. After talking it through, Aaron and I agreed that the name definitely fit and we told the kids and called our families to let them know. And in the last month, it’s become even more apparent how perfect it is for him. Despite his tininess, Caedmon is so strong…he’s been picking up his head since the day he was born, and started rolling himself from his side to his tummy before he was a week old! The “warrior” part is coming through clearly, and he also has regular times when he looks so serious and “Wise”. And though it hasn’t happened how I envisioned it, I’m already seeing the Lord’s redemption of the hard things.
In the craziness of our life right now, Caedmon has been such a little island of sweetness for me. He’s such an incredible gift, and I’m so thankful!