Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Pictures from Benjamin's Birth...And a Birth Story

Seven months later..... ;)

I wanted to share some pictures from Benjamin's birth, even though I don't have his birth story written out to go with them. His birth was actually pretty difficult for me and that's partially why I haven't written it down, but also because life has been SO crazy and full of a lot of illnesses and injuries and convalescence since he's come. I don't feel like I've had time to just sit and think about his birth and write it out.
In labor! Getting my blood pressure checked by Midwife Kate, with help from Clem.

I'm not saying I had a "bad" birth experience, at all. It was a wonderful home water birth and had all the things I love about birthing at home - competent and compassionate midwife care, a calm and peaceful environment, no rushing or frenzy or checking in or monitors, no strangers, happy contented children, and really a somewhat festive and happy mood for the most part! I say it was difficult because for the first time I didn't have a labor that just "happened." Even with my very first baby, I've always had labors that just kicked into gear and never looked back. With Ben, it just sputtered and lagged and wouldn't HAPPEN. It was hard for me to have to DO THINGS to try to keep labor going! It was hard to have to work harder to make the birth happen, instead of the "contractions start-contractions get harder-need to push-push a couple times-baby's here" pattern I've always had in the past.  Although it was nice to have longish breaks between sets of contractions, and lots of mild ones mixed in with the strong ones, it sucked to have things drag on.
Me and Grace and Nurse Megan - Midwives Melanie and Kate, Clementine with Grandma

Besides my 2-week-early, artificially-induced 12 hour labor with Moses, this was my longest labor at 11 hours.  I also had several episodes of prodromal labor during the 10 days before Ben's delivery as well, which were taxing. This labor didn't just carry me along like all the others, and it really threw me for a loop. At one point I just hit an emotional, mental wall and I don't think I could have overcome it without Richard's help and guidance. I really needed him to encourage me, support me and get me through the "I can't do this" to a place where I could focus on labor again. It was actually very interesting because I've never needed him to be that involved during labor before. In the past I've always just kind of wanted to be left alone to do my thing, but this time he had to really be involved and it was nice in a way, even though it sucked.  ;)

I did get to spend a lot of time in the birth tub (YAY FOR THE BIRTH TUB! I love you, birth tub. Why did I ever have babies without you!?) although it tended to stall my labor and I periodically had to get out and walk around. See? That's what I mean about this labor just not kicking in! I've NEVER had labor stall out! Heck, once my contractions start they come on like gangbusters and there's no looking back! To have to get out and walk around just felt insulting.

I've always hated the sensation of pushing - it's not that it's so painful, but it just always feels awful to me - the way my body just takes over and MAKES me push, and although I've never thrown up I always feel queasy and shaky and horrible. Ugh. Thankfully I've been able to rocket all my babies out in a couple of pushes and it's over! The pushing stage for Ben was so so awful. He was posterior for much of my labor (maybe all? I'm not sure if he was born posterior, but I think that had a lot to do with how his birth went, along with the fact that my uterus is probably shot to heck and has about given up on pushing any more babies out). So the pushing stage felt really different. Again, it wouldn't just "happen," I had to work at it so much more! Midwife Kate really had to encourage me to push, as well as putting me in different positions for pushing, etc.

I realize none of this sounds abnormal or bad or anything, but it was mentally really tough for me when I had 5 other births under my belt that felt like they had been easier. If this had been my first birth, I'm sure it wouldn't have felt so difficult! It was mostly my expectation that things would chug along like the others and bang, baby would arrive. Expectations.....oh how they get us into trouble!

Okay, well, since I've basically written Ben's birth story at this point, I'll add a few more pieces and then on to the pictures. The kids were hanging out at home the whole time, playing with my parents, talking to the midwives, and eventually going to bed. I loved that part! Clementine was in and out but the boys really weren't interested.

Papa and Judah hanging out
Moses getting ready to be a big brother again!
My mom reading bedtime stories to the younger kids. Judah had already crashed out and didn't meet his new brother until the next morning.
Snuggling in bed!
Grace wanted to be with me through the whole labor and delivery this time as labor support. It was precious to have her there holding my hand through contractions and witnessing her brother's birth! My mom came in at the end to help me with the delivery, as Richard was at the other end to "catch" and Grace wasn't strong enough to hold my hands during pushing.
Laboring with Grace
Laboring with my mom
 Benjamin was my biggest baby at 8lbs 11oz. Maybe that was why pushing was harder as well? But when it came to the actual birth, it didn't take long. I found out later, I had pushed until he was crowning right to the middle of his head, like right at his eyes. Then I took a breather and with the next contraction I pushed him the rest of the way out! At the time, I didn't know how far he was out already, all I knew was that I wanted this OVER and I was going to get this baby out already! I just decided to push him out and be done with it. With a mighty roar, I half rose up out of the water and pushed him out! (I remember Kate saying she hadn't seen anyone push that much of a baby out all at once.) He went shooting into the water of the birth tub and Richard caught him.

I was in a total "birth fog" right then, but clear as day I heard Kate's calm voice say, "Melissa, you need to sit down." I sat down and they passed Benjamin through my legs and I pulled him out of the water. We met our little (big!) boy for the first time!

Richard held Benjamin for the first time while I got out of the tub and got into bed. Then there was lots of snuggling with the baby while the midwives checked me out, cleaned up, and did their whole thing. Richard emptied the birth tub and got the room back into ship shape!
 Meeting Benjamin

It's okay, little one!

This is bliss - absolutely the most amazing moment in life.
Look at this face! There is nothing like it - meeting your baby for the first time.

 The midwives checked Benjamin and after making sure we were all good to go, they left and we all went to sleep! The next day the whole family gathered to meet Benjamin.

Clementine actually woke up the night Ben was born as was the first to meet him besides Grace.

He's an old pro at this by now, but still a proud papa.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Nature Walk

These are from back in early October, but you don't mind that, right?  Just some pictures of us getting out for a Nature Walk, i.e. a walk.  ;)

We went to a cool little area nearby that has trails through the woods and some bridges over a stream. I did urge the kids to observe what they saw, heard, smelled and felt as we walked, but also let them just enjoy being out in nature.

I appreciate this article entitled "The Love and Lure of Nature Walks." The author mentions 7 benefits to get out into nature with your kids:

1. Gaining observational and life skills, as well as actually experiencing school lessons so that they become relevant
2. Understanding the connectedness of life 
3. Experiencing camaraderie, intimacy, and the joy of making rich family ties
4. Developing a quiet heart . . . one that can actually be still now and then, and one that can find benefits from moments of solitude
5. Becoming aware of stewardship and conservation
6. Creating a rich avenue for worship
7. Learning that nothing in nature is “common.” 

Watching geese land in a pond
Moses brought binoculars for better observation

On the bridge

Stream with a train trestle going over. A train came when we were under it!

Little birds in bushes

Baby tagging along
sassy pants

miss grace