I had probably the most peaceful and intense three hours of my life. It is hard to explain how an event can be both intense and peaceful. I went to bed the night before thinking, I hope I don't go into labor tonight because I ate entirely too much of Rob's stir fry (tofu, seitan, broccoli, brown rice, etc. It was really good!). I was about 10 days before my official due date, but as my body likes to do things all three of my children have been born about 10 days prior to the date the silly wheels say I am due. I sat straight up in bed thinking something was happening at around 3am and immediately my water broke. I didn't want to wake Rob, but we did have the blow up pool to fill with water...I woke him up, but Parker stayed asleep. This is me in labor and my last picture pregnant with Dema.
I wanted an "unassisted" birth, but Rob was not sure about this so we had the lay midwives we used for prenatal appointments "on call". Rob called them to let them know I was in labor, but they didn't need to hurry. They live a couple hours away, but I really didn't want them at the house until I needed them. I was walking around the house and getting things ready and breathing through contractions...sometimes needing to hold the railing of our stairs, but it was fine. Then soon after I felt the need to throw up and went to the bathroom, but luckily did not throw up. This did not happen until transition during Parker's birth so I had the first inclination that this birth might be a tad quicker. I decided to call my friend J who doesn't have any children, but was interested in being at the birth. We had discussed it before and she said she wasn't sure if she would come or not and to let her know when I went into labor. I knew it was very early in the morning, but I wanted her to have the option of coming. I left a message on her answering machine which she later said I sounded so calm that it was like I was calling to ask her to tea. Rob called the midwives and told them we felt like it wasn't going to be a long labor so they could start out if they liked.
Once the pool was filled, I spent the rest of the time in the pool and it was beautiful. There was a window open with a nice breeze coming in at just the right moments. I thought a lot about my mom and really felt she was with me. Rob made some "recovery drink" which he used for cycling training rides. I got into a groove since the contractions were pretty much one after another of contraction, sip of recovery drink, contraction, sip of water. I wanted to stay hydrated and since the contractions were very intense I wanted to make sure I paced myself in case it was not a quick labor.
When my friend arrived, Rob was noticeably relieved. He was happy to have a woman in the house, even a woman who didn't know anything about birth. She is a wonderful, caring and naturally knew just knew exactly what to do. It was very peaceful and quiet when she let herself in and came upstairs. She just observed for a second (most of the labor I spent quietly with my eyes closed, on my knees in the pool, hanging over the side with my face to the open window) and whispered a question to Rob. I answered and we laughed because she was being so sweet to try not to disturb me. We chatted a little and she instinctively asked Rob to get some cold water and wash cloth. He was happy to have someone tell him what to do since after Parker's labor I had told him that the sound of his voice really annoyed me during labor so this time he was very quiet. He was wonderful and I feel for men and their role in the birthing process. The water in the pool was very hot (at one point, Rob boiled some water on the stove and poured it in the pool since our hot water heater wasn't up to the job) which was perfect with the cold water on my face. Peaceful and perfect.
As the birds were waking up and chirping, I felt the urge to start pushing. Soon after, another friend arrived who had actually been to many births and lived close by. She came in and I talked to her for a second and said that I could feel the head. She asked how many knuckles, meaning how many far in a finger would be to feel the head. I laughed and said, no the head is coming out. She was very surprised and quickly called the midwives to see where they were.
I pushed Dema's head out into my hands and I have to recommend this to any birthing mom. There is just something so magical and perfect about catching your own baby. It helps with knowing how hard to push and lets you have feedback which you don't have when a doctor, midwife, or partner catches the baby. It was perfect and beautiful. The cord was wrapped a couple times around Dema's neck so Rob helped me get into a position to bring him out of the water and unwrap the cord without pulling on it. Dema nursed very soon after being born and Parker came into the pool with us (he was sleeping naked and Rob brought him in as soon as he could). Parker was so happy to have a little brother. The midwives got to the house and we chatted for almost two hours with me still in the pool and no placenta coming out.
I decided to get out of the pool and they suggested I go to the bathroom to move the placenta along, but it didn't work. They said they had herbs to help it along, but I wouldn't probably like them so I tried one more time to push in the bathroom and the placenta came out onto the white ceramic tile floor. It was really the only mess of the whole birth. There was little to no blood when Dema was born. Four year old Parker was prepared for the birth by reading "A Child is Born" and he was a little afraid of the picture of the placenta so I wasn't sure how he would take it since I wanted him to cut the cord. He was fine and one of the midwives explained the placenta and where the baby had been to him and he was fascinated. He cut the cord like a champ after the midwife clamped it.
My friend Monique came over with fresh fruit I had requested (I always like fresh fruit after giving birth) and her son who is about 10 months younger than Parker. The boys had a great time looking at the baby and running around. The midwives cleaned up the pool and left us to our new baby and everyone else left except for my friend J. We sat around eating fruit and chatting for a while. It was now mid-morning and I knew I wasn't going to sleep or anything. We have a little time to ourselves and then we had my dad, my sister, our friend Todd, and it seemed like a pretty steady stream of people there that afternoon....including a washer repair man who J called to take care of our washer (she is amazing!) since we would have towels and cloth diapers and all that to wash and it had just broken down. Our neighbor Joann did the laundry for us in her machine until ours was fixed.
Things didn't calm down until after dark that evening when I was alone with Dema (not yet named at this point...we took a few days to come up with Demetrius Sebastian) and rocking in the glider in our family room, nursing him (my milk was already in). He was such a great, happy, peaceful baby just like his birth.
He has always been a wonderful sleeper and no matter how traumatic his day has been, he seems to have a clear conscious and can sleep the sleep of inner peace.
Now I'm not sure peaceful is how most people would describe him these days. He is definitely intense and very loving. He is fierce and the kind of guy you would want on your side during a bar brawl (not that really happens much to little boy), but you get the picture. He loves his siblings very much and he will come to their aid no matter what.
Dema is four years old and he is this amazingly gregarious little risk seeker. He feels comfortable talking with anyone and everyone and especially likes meeting new people and talking on the phone. He is charming and tough at the same time. When he was born, I was worried that I might actually love someone more than Parker which I had not thought was possible. Now I realize you don't love one child more, but possibly in different ways. They are very different people. Maybe it is fitting that Dema is intense since the three hours of labor were certainly that way. I love him so much and he drives me insanely crazy at the same time. He makes me realize all the stuff in my own personality which I still need to work on. He is like a little dose of therapy in a cute little blue-eyed package. I am so lucky to have him in my life.
We had a very nice day today. Dema picked his favorite restaurant, Thara Thai because the food is good and the owners spoil him something awful. We took Rob with us for a birthday lunch. The dish is the Pad Lard Nar ala Parker. The owner noticed back when we first started going there that Parker would eat all the carrots, broccoli, potatoes, and tofu out of my dish. She came up with the special Pad Lard Nar with extra of all his favorite veggies and no fish sauce, of course. Then Dema would eat off of my plate as a baby and she was very much impressed we were starting our baby off with Thai food as one of his first solids. Now special Pad Lard Nar is Dema's dish and Parker has moved on to hotter things like yellow curry. The owner also can't help but give the boys some mango and other treats every time we go.