A Gnome Is Born

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The Birth Story of Jonathan Seth
We found out we were expecting Jonathan last summer. For weeks before I found out I was pregnant I was on a spiritual high. I felt like I was in a state of grace. Like God had me in His hand. I sensed something big was going to happen soon. I could not sleep at night and took to taking care of stuff I had been neglecting. I was so excited, did not know for what but it was a definite sense of anticipation of something BIG. A couple of nights before I took the pregnancy test I was hot and not feeling well. I went outside and lay on the lawn looking at the stars. I saw a shooting star and heard an owl hoot and felt a distinct feeling, almost heard a voice in my head that whatever changes were ahead I could handle, that God was with me. It was so clear and so profound. I still had no idea what it pertained to.
My period was late, I brushed it off as stress, I was very busy. I felt weird but that was due to the diet, I was losing weight very fast. I was spacey, well I was the mom to 3 young kids and not sleeping well. My friends both online and in real life started laughing at my denial. I however had no reason to believe I was pregnant, we were being very diligent about avoiding that and I did not “feel” pregnant. One night I was chatting to a group of them online. Just to prove them wrong I sent Aaron out for a pregnancy test, (he too was starting to suggest the possibility but I was adamant). I went to the bathroom and took it then tossed it aside and washed my hands. As I glanced over toward the stick the glaring second line caught my eye. I literally did a double take. I walked over to it and picked it up. The second line was darker then the control line. I put it down, picked up the box and actually read the instructions to verify that 2 lines meant pregnant. Me,once the president of the frequent home pregnancy testers club. Through the shock and disbelief I had in the back of my mind that this was obviously a special child and what I was being prepared for and in very little time the shock turned to excitement.
Our unexpected surprise was due on May 1st but I suspected he would be late, I hoped it would be 4 days late, arriving on my mom’s birthday and since Gracie was 4 days late I thought it would be feasible.
As the time for his birth approached I felt more and more surreal about it, as if it should still be months away. I was loving being pregnant for the most part. After an exhausting first and second trimester I was on an energetic high, feeling great, very productive and just loving the anticipation part and reveling in it.
I had prepared well for this birth. I had orginally planned a home water birth in California, but it was just not to be, when we moved we found that the laws here would make that very difficult, and I had come to the acceptance of that and found a midwife that I felt was sympathetic to my desire to do it “my way” and give this baby the peaceful entry into the world that he deserved. I hoped to birth in the local hospital in the water. I read a lot of wonderful empowering birth stories especially in Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth which just emphasized how natural birth is, and I stayed away from scary negative talk as much as possible. A couple of months before I was due I was hospitalized briefly with contractions due to stomach flu. I had a bad reaction to the medication they gave me and found the experience very traumatic and found myself starting to associate the fears and experience I had there with birth. I decided to look into hypnobirthing to deal with that. A friend suggested I contact a mutual friend of ours who was a hypnobirthing practioner and she rushed me some materials that I could work with at home. I began working with them diligently every night since usually it takes a lot more time then I had to master the program. I immediately felt more relaxed and positive and in control of every aspect of my life. It was a great thing. Thank you Lisa!
May 1st came and went, just as I suspected it would, with my uterus grew quieter and quieter then it had been for months. This was fine with me, I could tell my body and I were not ready yet. I did feel a certain sense of pressure from the rest of the world though. Everyone was so excited to meet this baby and occasionally I would get swept away in the impatience and get frustrated by the lack of signs, but deep down I knew he would come at just the right time. On April 30th I lost my mucous plug so and had some bloody show so I thought he may come over the weekend but that it could still be several days. On the Monday night my midwife stripped my membranes after seeing that my cervix was very ripe and I was dilated to about a 3. We laughed and talked about the ideal birth time for everyone. She predicted the wee hours of Wednesday May 5th. I said that he could not be that close to my moms’ birthday on May 4 only to miss it by a few hours and she said, “Ok then May 4th”. The next morning, May 4th I awoke at 4am to a contraction that felt different. I instinctively knew this was real, I jumped out of bed, went to the bathroom and turned on the light to check if anything was going on. Yes, there was bloody show. I felt such a sense of excitement. I was finally ready. If it had happened the day before I would have felt a sense of dread or disappointment that my pregnancy was ending, but this was the day, I was ready and excited to meet my baby. It was time. I had a few more of those contractions, they were strong but totally manageable, 5 mins apart. I woke up Aaron and told him today was the day. I tried to rest but was too excited and there were things that needed to be done so I got up and did them, Aaron got up and joined me, we packed a few more things in the bag, set out breakfast stuff for the kids, made sure Benj had what he needed for show and tell, little things that were weighing on me.
I had Aaron give me a blessing while things were still quiet and peaceful. He blessed me that my birth would be safe and just as I had wanted it to be, that the contractions and pain would never become too overwhelming to me and added that I would have time to rest during my labour. It would be a comfort and guide to me for the rest of my labour.
Contractions continued steadily 5 mins apart but about the same in intensity, I sent Aaron back to bed and by about 6 or 7am, I went back to bed too I believe.
By 8:30am or so my contractions had all but stopped. I was unfazed although I kidded with Aaron that the time to rest thing had jinxed me. This was how my last 2 labours had proceeded, good pattern, stop or spread out for several hours, then gangbusters. I was still convinced today was the day.
As the day went on I had contractions, pretty intense but usually not closer then 10 mins apart and more often 15 to 20 minutes with lots of show, so I did not feel I could sleep although I did try to rest in between trying to keep up my normal routine. Aaron stayed home from work but went out on errands which I felt fine about. I was glad that I was not alone with the kids because when I did have the contractions, I had to focus on them and was fairly irritable anyway. We tried various techniques throughout the day to get things really going , but also tried to maintain a somewhat normal routine and not obsess. I did a few little nesting projects like putting the linens on the co-sleeper to keep me excited about the baby which was a good exercise.
By early evening I was very tired. I had been up since 4am contracting, resting ocasionally but not really sleeping during the day, and I had not had any sleep on Sunday night at all. Several people were commenting on how long this was taking and it was affecting my confidence. Kathleen had been calling to check in on me all day, even from school, bless her. She was keeping me steady and making me laugh a lot as I started to get frustrated. When she called in the evening she suggested we go for a walk. So we gathered up the kids and trudged around our neighbourhood. I could feel my contractions trying to start just as they had when Dallas (my doula when Caroline was born) and I had walked during my labour then. Just as I had then, I talked to my baby, telling him we wanted to meet him soon asked him to get in a good position for birth, I also pictured him moving into a good birthing position. I think I looked somewhat deranged waddling around the neighbourhood muttering at my stomach. Oh well :)
Later in the evening when I was feeling scared and discouraged again, Dallas called me and reminded me that this was how I laboured and it was perfect. That she could feel that this was going to be a great birth. She has great timing, and got me through a particularly dark patch. I wondered if I should go to the hospital and she let me talk until I came to the conclusion that I did not want to yet. I felt a lot of support from my long distance friends, I was wearing my bracelet that was made from the beads they had sent me for my baby blessing way and when I looked at the beads they reminded me of all the wonderful encouraging and empowering things they had written to me.
Aaron and I were watching TV, I was exhausted and trying to rest but also wanting distraction as I was starting to get to the place in Desiderata where “many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness”. I didn’t want to be alone in the dark or even lying with Aaron in the dark because I was starting to feel fearful, imagining all that still lay ahead. Dallas had helped me by telling me that I had no idea what still lay ahead and to stay in the moment, also reminding me of the thousands of other women birthing with me and how this was a natural thing that everyone did differently..
After a while of watching TV, lying on the couch not really relaxing for fear of the baby moving into posterior position and having to leap up and onto the birth ball with each contraction which were about 10 mins apart but very intense, we decided to lie in bed. Kathleen called again at this point, probably around 10:30pm and I talked and cried a bit in the dark to her about how tired I was, until she ruined my feeling very sorry for myself moment, and made me laugh again. I'm sure all the laughing had to amount to at least a cm in dilation, it definitely kept things in perspective for me too. I told her that I wanted the labour to stop for the night so I could get some rest. She told me that wasn’t going to happen and basically to suck it up. :) When I got done talking to her, Aaron and I prayed together and he held me close which felt good. I asked him to put on my hypnobirthing tapes and they helped tremendously. I was finally able to doze between each contraction although I had to jump out of bed and go to the bathroom each time, I could get about 7-10 mins of rest. After an hour or so of this the contractions getting a little closer at times, still no regular timing but so increased in intensity that I decided it was time to get the babysitters over to our house.
They arrived just before midnight. They are a young couple from church, Amy and Craig, who are waiting for baby through adoption. Aaron called my doula Sarah and while he was talking to her he woke up Gracie. Amy, (whom Gracie adores) ran upstairs to comfort her while I spoke to her husband, Craig. He was practically jumping up and down with excitement for us, his face was just glowing talking about how exciting this was. It was so incredibly sweet and just what I needed. I had forgotten in my weariness that this was indeed exciting and a great blessing! It was just exactly what I needed.
Just as we were walking out the door the phone rang, it was Trina who had been planning to wait in the wating room at the hospital just as support. When Aaron got off the phone I said, oh good that saves me a call, good timing". He said, “she said they are 10 minutes away.” I was astounded. I had not called anyone to update, or even called Kathleen to let her know we were leaving yet, because the contractions were still 10 minutes apart and I was not convinced til the last couple of hours that they would not fizzle away completely. I knew that Trina had a 3 hour drive so they had taken a big leap of faith on me. I was amazed and happy at their timing. Again I felt and knew that I was being supported by so many friends from so many places. I thought of my family in Africa and Australia praying for me. It was very comforting.
We got into the car and I remember looking at the clock and laughing, saying that unless the Gnome was born in the next 3 minutes he was getting his own birthday. Aaron dropped me at the hospital entrance while he parked the car and brought in the mountain of stuff. It was awkward having contractions all alone in the lobby clutching my pillows, while curious college students in the emergency room looked on. Hopefully it was a good campaign for abstinence.
Aaron joined me and we did yet more registration stuff, then a sweet, cheerful and very pregnant nurse arrived on the scene to take us up to L&D. My midwife had been there since late afternoon for another client and we had talked on and off all day. She had been so supportive and encouraging, telling me I could come and hang out in the tub any time and that the baby would come at the perfect time and my timing was great. My mom had also relieved a lot of pressure I was feeling about the timing but telling me not to worry one bit about producing on her birthday LOL. So sweet.
Bobbi my midwife greeted me warmly, helped me get settled, told me to wear whatever I wanted. She checked me and found me at a “5-6”.. I was really disappointed. I have never checked into the hospital in labour at less then a 7 before and I had been labouring for so long. I wondered aloud what was taking so long. Bobbi told me that there was something that would not slow things down would be breaking my water but I was not ready for that and did not think my body was either so we decided to wait. My doula Sarah, arrived then and she seemed enthusiastic about my progress. Aaron reassured me that the last half always goes fast for me (although the opposite is actually true but bless him for trying). At this point Trina and Doug walked in. Trina came over and gave me a big hug and I immediately felt more at peace. Doug looked so kind and excited for us. After a while he decided to leave but Trina stayed. It was wonderful to have her there, I felt like my support team was complete. I decided to forget about my progress and get back into my zone now and remember all the wonderful things I had been learning and the blessing Aaron had given me and handle this labour the way I knew I wanted to. I was very cold, shakey and nauseaus but insisted that I was not in transition. My heated herbal packs helped a lot to warm and relax me.
I did the next few contractions lying on my side in the bed. I practised the hypnobirthing technique of very very deep breathing, “filling the balloon” and breathing my baby down and being completely relaxed and limp. It worked amazingly well and I was able to rest peacefully in between and listen to Trina and Aaron quietly talking. My bladder forced me up to the bathroom and I spent the next contractions standing, bouncing on the ball and slow dancing with Aaron which felt so good and safe. During some of the contractions he stood behind me and lifted my belly up. It felt so good that I worried we were slowing down progress by lifting the baby off the cervix so we stopped lol.
I did the hypnobirthing breathing and also implemented a lot of what I learned from Ina May’s book, and Birthing from Within, visualizing my uterus doing its work and cervix opening, talking my baby down. When the contractions were especially intense I would do low vocalization, much like a cow mooing which Ina May always suggests. For some of them I tried the lip flapping thing she suggests, blowing out and letting your lips vibrate sort of like a horse. In between I joked that I was entertaining the room with a barnyard repertoire. People started putting in requests…”do a chicken next.” It was a great, fun relaxed atmosphere . Apart from moments of feeling very tired when I suggested that everyone might want to do a contraction for me, I was feeling good. Powerful and peaceful and in control of what was happening. The one thing I really struggled with was feelings of nausea which I often get during transition. My doula, Sarah put some peppermint oil on a washcloth and I would inhale deeply on it every time I felt a wave of nausea. It worked amazingly well and the nausea actually went away entirely. I was so grateful for this tip. She also practised some effleurage on my back from the hypnobirthing book that I had asked her to learn and it felt wonderful. I loved listening to the CD Aaron and I had compiled for the birth too. Some songs made me laugh like REM's "Everybody Hurts" others made me teary, but in a good way, like Kate Bush's Women's Work. (Thanks Jo!) For some inexplicable hormonally charged reason, I had put not one but 2 Celine Dion songs on the CD, and whenever they would come on, someone would have to jump up and skip them for me, which ended up being comic relief in itself. I was very hungry and ate a bite or two of various little things.
A few times I started to worry that I was handling this too well to be making much progress but I reminded myself that I was well prepared, I was good at this,and of the blessing that Aaron had given me that the pain would not overwhelm me. I kept chanting in my mind, “it doesn’t have to hurt, just go with it, don’t make it hurt”. When it got very intense this helped me tremendously. I just changed my interpretation of the contractions from pain to power and would welcome the intense ones knowing they were doing good work and bringing my baby that much sooner. There is so much truth to the fear, tension pain cycle theory. Gosh, I learned so much during this labour! During this time , Aaron and my doula were using hypnobirthing cues to help me too and reinforcing the things I was telling myself. Trina was telling me quietly how well I was doing. I told her to keep telling me that…that I was all about the CREDIT :) I also thought and said a lot of thankful and loving things to the people around me. I remembered Ina May writing that she had never seen cervix remain tight and unyielding when someone was saying something thankful or loving and I remember feeling fortunate that I did not have to fake it. I was genuinely feeling so much gratitude and love for the people helping me and those I knew were out there rooting for me. I sent a lot of love to my baby, as Dallas had reminded me to do since he was going through this too. I was getting so incredibly excited and longing to hold and cuddle him.
My midwife came in during this time and offered to check me but I told her I’d like to wait as I did not feel I had made a lot of progress yet. She was absolutely fine with that and seemed confident in me and went to check her other client. I guess it was an hour later, with contractions still irregular, some double peaking-one would start before the first had even ended, then there would be a long break, some were very long, others were very short-so much for the textbook! My nurse came in to check me, I don’t remember asking, the time had seemed very short and I felt completely on top of things still but perhaps I did. Because my midwife was delivering her other clients baby at this point, the nurse offered to check me. I made her show me her hands to verify that her fingers were skinny and she would be able to give me a more encouraging progress report. She laughed and told me I was at an 8-9 and she felt a head. I asked if it was definitely a head since our little man had been doing some interesting acrobatics right up to the end. She said yes, definitely, she felt the sutures. I was deliriously happy! I told her thank you over and over and promised her that she was going to have an easy birth just for that.
We chatted and decided I would go over to the room with the birthing tub. I had resisted getting in it before this because I was managing my contractions and mostly because they were still sporadic enough that I was concerned that being in the tub may slow them down. I felt confident though that I was far enough along now to get in there. When we arrived the water had become very cold. They had run the water when Aaron called to let them know we were coming to the hospital and it had been a couple of hours. The nurse was running new water but it was not hot either. She was sitting on the side mixing and mixing the water with her hand . I was so concerned about her in that uncomfortable position (7 months pregnant with her 5th) and kept suggesting that someone take over for her. I am such a control freak. She was so cheerful and insisted she was used to it. I suggested that they bring boiling water from another source that maybe they heat up buckets or dishes of water in the microwave and add it to the tub. After 2 or 3 times of suggesting this someone finally took me up on it and the midwife and nurse carried in hot water and the tub was at a comfortable temperature at last. The atmosphere in the room was calm and relaxed. I felt as relaxed as if I were waiting in a grocery line and was totally absorbed in what was going on around me between contractions. I felt a sense of happy anticipation. So different from my previous “transition periods” it makes me laugh to think about. I had a few very intense contractions while I waited that were starting to feel a bit pushy. I do not have a long pushing phase at all but I often feel pushy for a long time and it is torturous to have to wait to be allowed to push so I was grateful that I was so close to fully dilated.
I got into the tub which felt wonderful. I immediately felt the watar relax and absorb a lot of the pressure. I worked on finding what I thought would be a good position for pushing as well as not hurting my pelvis. During my last birth I had injured my pelvis during pushing and taken a long time to recover and I was determined to avoid that this time. I settled somewhat on my left side and found grooves for my feet that had my legs not too far spread apart. It felt good and natural. I had a couple of contractions and my midwife told me to feel free to push if I felt that I needed to. I did. I could feel that this was not the type of push that I generally had which was PUUUUUUSH, burning, crowning….baby out. But they felt good and productive and I could feel the baby moving down which was a cool feeling. The water was wonderful for absorbing some of the intensity and helping me to work with the contractions rather then against them. My midwife checked me and found that I had just a lip left., she told me that if my water was broken my baby would be out with the next push. That excited and scared me. I remembered clearly how intense it felt to push my others out and the thought of it overwhelmed me. Also the possibility that my water may be broken and my baby may not come that quickly, leaving me with many more contractions even more intense then what I was experiencing was scary too. My midwife assured me that would not be the case. She told me however that it had to be my decision, that eventually my water would break on it’s own or the baby would be born in the caul but I could avoid more contractions if I let her break it, there was no right decision and it was up to me.
I knew of course what the smart thing to do would be. In my last 2 births breaking the water had brought baby very quickly but I had resisted it then too, I guess I never learn. I asked Aaron to say a prayer that I would have the courage to let the midwife do it and the strength to get this baby born. Everyone closed their eyes and held hands and it was beautiful. After he ended I added an addendum of thanks for the wonderful people I had around me and the opportunity to give birth to this baby in this loving environment. I felt such a sense of peace and strength and resolve. I really felt that God was with me and so was everyone else that loved me, near and far. I took a deep breath and said, “first I need something to eat, then Bobbi, you can break my water and we’ll have this baby”. Trina ran for something to eat, I had another huge contraction, it was so intense but it felt so productive too, I felt like I was using every ounce of the contraction’s strength to move the baby down and that felt powerful and good.
After I got done I looked up and said flatly, “where’s the food?” everyone laughed. Bobbi commented that it was so cool to see someone fuel themselves right to the end and know what they needed, Katrina said that at least I did not say, “where’s the damn food?” I guzzled some more pudding then told Bobbi to go ahead and break my water. It took her a little while perhaps because I was IN water to get a good angle to break it but she did just as the next contraction started, the water was clear. I told her, “get out get , out, it’s coming it’s coming” as a hugely powerful contraction came and I could feel Jonathan crowning, I kept saying between the primal pushing noises, “he’s coming he’s coming”, I put my hand down to feel his head while I pushed continuously through this one giant powerful contraction. There was no counting or shouting but I could hear everyone excitedly supporting me telling me I was doing great he was coming, there he was, no one had to hold my legs and I felt so in control. Aaron said, “I see his head, he has dark hair like you Stinny,” just as he had when Gabe crowned . I was so thrilled, the same contraction and push went on and I felt the huge sensation of his head popping out, I had such a sense of triumph and surprise that he was already here but I knew I could not stop since his shoulders were next. Bobbi and I had talked about how she would just let me push his whole body and not stop after his head was born so that he could naturally keep turning and we could avoid any dystocia. My body thought that was a great idea as the urge to push and contraction continued and I felt his shoulders born, I reached down and put my hands under his arms and then felt the rest of his body slide out. It was the most intense, exhilirating feeling. I could not believe he had been born in just that one giant push. It was so great to be so aware of every part of his body being born, the water really helped me to focus on that, absorbing some of the intensity I think. My midwife helped me to lift him out of the water to my chest. At one point she stopped me as he was creatively wound up in his cord but as soon as he was untangled he was cradled in my arms. He had arrived in his time, just as Bobbi and Trina had predicted on Wednesday, Cinco de Mayo at 3:36am. He obviously felt he and granny deserved their own birthdays.
He was so beautiful and perfect! He was just exactly as I had pictured him all through my pregnancy. Looking so much like his sweet big brother Gabe with a little of Benj and Gracie too. He did not cry, just looked and looked, the midwife had told us to expect him to be very quiet and peaceful as most water babies were. He was also incredibly alert and turned towards us when he heard our voices. I was crying with joy and thanking everyone and God for helping me to have this amazing experience. I don’t know if I have ever felt such a sense of joy and triumph and gratitude and love all in one. My midwife was crying, Aaron was beaming. After some time of just falling in love and telling our baby how beautiful and loved he was, Aaron cut the cord narrowly missing circumcizing our son who I had discovered, (and announced to great hilarity), was extremely well endowed. I asked Aaron and Trina if they felt that he looked like a Jonathan and they said that he did and so it was official Jonathan Seth was named. Seth after my darling gorgeous “little” brother. Everyone thought he looked so little. We had been half expecting a little giant but he seemed tiny compared to Gracie (thank goodness). He turned out to weigh a very respectable 8lbs4oz and 21 inches long, beautiful and perfect in every way and definitely fully baked, no vernix at all and very peely with long finger nails. In the first couple of hours, actually right up until things got crazy with me, we got to hold him as much as we liked, all the routine stuff was delayed til we were ready and he was treated so lovingly and gently, not “processed” or handled roughly or impersonally at any time. He took to nursing immediately and has not stopped since.
Even though I had not had the home birth I was planning in California all my reasons for having one had been completely satisfied. I had birthed in my time, in my way and in the water with absolutely no pressure from anyone, in an intimate and loving environment surrounded by only the people I chose to have there and my baby was treated respectfully and lovingly and gently throughout his stay too. My body felt so much less traumatised then usual, I had only very slight tearing and needed no stitches for the first time.
I feel incredibly blessed and grateful, I would like to do it all again but in a way I feel I could never top this experience either. It was so perfect and empowering in every way. I kept thinking that I would wake up and find that it was all a wonderful dream because it was indeed a dream come true.
The most perfect part of course is our dreamy little Jonathan. He makes the sweetest addition to our family and my heart just overflows every time I look at him. Welcome to the world beautiful boy! We could not be more overjoyed to have you here.
To read Trina's story of Jonathan's birth click here:
To see some pictures of the birth and just after click here.
To see pictures of Jonathan on his first day of life click here
To see pictures of his first week of life click here
Pregnancy pictures

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3 comments:

bluewhitelife said...

Welcome new baby! May 4th is a great day to be born! And I'm exactly 25 years older than the new baby now :) haha

Jenny said...

Congratulations!!! What a beautiful story! He is soooooo handsome! God bless you all!

Aunt LoLo said...

Congratulations!!!! Such a beautiful baby.