Today’s birth story comes from Mary. I know her personally and her husband’s words of wisdom really helped and encourage Ethan to be open to home birth for us. They have such a beautiful family, and she is sharing with us the birth of her fifth baby. Enjoy!
Our oldest son had been born in a hospital, but a lot of the policies annoyed us. The pediatrician on site was particularly keen on all sorts of unnatural interventions that contradicted the wonderful lactation consultant. While we were expecting our second, someone from our parish mentioned she home birthed all her children so we started to investigate and my husband became convinced this was the way to go. Our second son was born at home, but that midwife didn’t click well with me, and I didn’t feel her pre- and post-natal care was that great. So for our third baby, our daughter, we found a different midwife who I truly appreciate. We used the same midwife for our fourth child, another son. But this is the story of our fifth child.
Baby #5 was a special baby. I had begun cycling again after #4 just as it was evident that our second child, already diagnosed as autistic, was now developing a seizure disorder as well. I prayed hard to God that the stress of the weekly seizures would be stopped before I became pregnant again. And He heard my prayer; after a long autumn of seizures and three hospital stays, by mid December we had found the right medication to stop the seizures, and then just before Christmas we found we were pregnant with #5, due in late August.
The pregnancy had gone fairly well, and by the end of July we were getting everything prepared. Since we had done three home births already, we knew what to buy and have at hand. The midwife came for her home visit at 36 weeks and all was in readiness. So far, three of my babies had been early, and #4 had arrived right on his due date. In early August, we found out that the pastor of our parish was retiring. He had prepped us for marriage, blessed our home and cars, and Anointed our special needs child after the seizure episode when he had nearly died. So of course we wanted to attend his farewell Mass – only, it was scheduled for my due date!
Around 37 weeks, I began having tons of Braxton-Hicks contractions. They would occur almost daily, lasting for hours at a time. They were mild-moderate, and several times they seemed to be strengthening and I called the midwife. I had not experienced this with any of the others. She kept telling me to wait a few more hours and see, and then they would fade. They did. She said most of her false-alarm labors were for fifth babies; they were tricky.
My due date dawned hot and fairly humid. It was a Saturday and we went about our normal chores. As usual, I was having mild contractions off and on all day and was very uncomfortable. By 3pm, nothing was happening, so my husband suggested we attend that special farewell Mass after all. So we got all the kids ready and attended the 5pm Mass. It was packed, and my special son (age 5 at the time) insisted on sitting on my lap and was pressing hard on my belly. Between him, and the contractions, and the heat (gorgeous old church, no A/C) I was so uncomfortable, yet I remember the Mass as being so beautiful, and later I was so thankful I had been able to receive our Lord. After Mass, we waited in the receiving line to extend our well-wishes to the pastor. The priest who says the Latin Mass we normally attend took one look at me and his eyes bugged out; he thought I looked ready. Then the woman who had first mentioned home birth saw me, inquired as to my due date, and, upon my telling her it was that day, she raised her eyebrows and said, wisely, “The day isn’t over yet.”
By now, it was after 7pm and the children were hungry. We decided to go out to eat, a rare treat. As we got in the van, I felt a strong contraction and noted the time. Ten minutes later, I had another strong one. We got to the restaurant, and I went to the bathroom. Another one. We sat down and ordered. Luckily, the food came quickly. When the waitress asked if the children wanted ketchup, I was having a contraction so strong I couldn’t even talk; I nodded and smiled. Soon, I realized they were coming harder and faster. My labors have always been short and very intense once they start. In fact, #4 had arrived after less than 2 hours of labor. I kicked my husband’s leg under the table, looked at him intensely and mouthed, “It’s time!!” We got out of that place faster than I would have thought possible, given we had 4 kids under 7.
By the time we got home, I could hardly walk. I crawled up the stairs to our bedroom and immediately called the midwife, who had a 45 minute drive. In between the contractions, which by then were 2 minutes apart and so strong I had to assume my usual position of kneeling beside my bed while clutching on to the bedding, I set up all the birth supplies, put old sheets on the bed, and got out of my dress clothes. I thought I might end up giving birth in heels! I could hear my husband struggling to get all the kids to bed. By the time the midwife arrived, it was around 9pm and all was quiet. We just had the little bedside lamp on, so it was extra cozy in our room.
I continued kneeling, and now squeezing my husband’s hand, while the contractions were intense. By 9:45, things had slowed to a near stop. My midwife could see that the amniotic sac was bulging, but would not break, and after we discussed it, she gently broke the sac at 10pm. Afterwards, she declared I had far more fluid than usual and she thought it was good that we opted for that. Anyway, after that I began to shake uncontrollably, which the midwife said was caused by the hormone shift during transition. I had not experienced this previously, either, and it was hard for both me and my husband since it reminded us too much of seizures. After about 35 minutes, I was ready to push. It only took about 2 pushes – one for the baby to crown, and then one to birth the rest of him! Michael Francis arrived at 10:45pm – on his due date, after all! At 8 lbs even, he was not our heaviest baby, but at 21 inches, he was our longest baby.
My husband caught him, kissed him, then gave him to me. He latched on to nurse right away. We nursed for awhile, and the placenta came out easily about 15 minutes later. I didn’t even hardly feel it. Once the cord stopped pulsing, my husband cut it. After we nursed some more, I went and took a shower while my husband and the midwife cleaned up the bedroom and got Michael diapered and dressed.
Shortly after midnight, the midwife was gone, and we all slept (and nursed!) peacefully. The other children were so excited to meet their baby brother in the morning. One of the best things about this home birth was that this was the first time several of the other kids were old enough to really be helpful. They could relay messages from me to my husband downstairs. They could bring me some easy snacks and drinks. They kept me company and made me smile while I was pretty limited to my bed and the bathroom. My oldest son even made a fruit smiley face on my yogurt. All in all, it was a beautiful birth experience.
And every time we drive past Dianna’s Deli, the other children point and exclaim, “Mikey, you were almost born there!” That would not have been so lovely.
Afterward: We have been blessed since this time with one more son, also born at home.
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One thought on “Birth Story #4 – Mary”
Mary, I am impressed you were able to keep talking about just Mikey’s birth! Every time I try to think about writing the story of one of the boys, I find myself wanting to weave between the two… but since you wrote about Mikey, that inspires me to send in Joseph’s story