June 28, 2008
AN UNPLANNED PRECIPITOUS HOME BIRTH, or, DON'T THROW BABY OUT WITH THE BATH WATER
on the occasion of one week of Mr. Sacha James Chase's time on earth, and due to very popular demand, here is an abbreviated account of why our wee one was born on the bathroom floor last Sunday night...
First of all, if you ever thought that short labour equalled easy, you are half way right... but while we appreciate that there are those of you out here that have had 30 hour labours, two-day labours, 4-day long labours, labours as long as your full gestational period of nine months, etc., please be advised: we find it hard to believe that, since everything came on so quickly, and there was the real possible need to call 911, that Kate had a "walk in the park" birth process. we prefer the term "fast and intense", thank you :)
That being out of the way, on with the show!
Sunday, 8 PM:
Kate and I were sitting on our couch enjoying a nice summer's eve and a bowl of ice cream, noting that since the baby's due date was now three weeks away, we better be a little more on the ball about getting some prep work done. Naturally, Kate's water broke right about then.
Exciting, adrenalizing, yes. panicky? a bit. But, we have heard time and time again from our mid-wifery group and our doula, Jacquie Munro that when the water breaks, it really may not mean much. In fact, it could be days before one goes into labour. It's a common belief that when the water breaks, it's go time, but it's not always the case. You may rush to the hospital, just to have to wait around for three days before you actually give birth. Both doula and midwife have, a different points during Kate's pregnancy, made the point that part of their goals as caregivers is to minimize the amount of time the expectant parents have to spend in the hospital when it comes time for labouring.And so, we called our doula and our midwife to give them the heads up, and we tried calling our parents to keep them in the round. My mum is the only one available at the time, and she's very excited.
Sunday, 9 pm:
Kate is feeling a tiny bit "crampy"
Sunday, 10:15 PM:
Kate is feeling some pain, and wonders if she's just being a weenie. As hindsight will tell us, it was obviously quite the opposite. It's not everyone that passes contraction pain off as cramps. My wife has super-human pain tolerance!!
Kate has had a shower, and is now experiencing some intense labour. The doula and the midwife are made aware that things appear to be moving along.
Kate is in PAIN! At this point, our Doula and our midwife are taken aback at the rapid progression (as per my phone conversations with the both of them, they can hear Kate howling in the background. "She sounds like THAT? I'm already getting dressed as we speak, and coming right over. DON'T LET HER PUSH!". We know baby is on its way, and Kate is working VERY hard not to push. Still not convinced within herself that she could already be in the second stage of labour and birth, Kate is going mental over the thought that this pain could last for hours on end before finally hitting the birthing stage. Once again, she's thinking she's a weenie.
At this point, Kate is on all floors on the bathroom floor, with next to no time between contractions, and certainly no opportunity to move elsewhere. Nellie the dog, in the meantime, sits on her mat outside the bathroom door, seemingly unfazed by this entire circus. Little does Nellie know, I'm under instructions to call 911 if Kate simply cannot hold of pushing any longer.
Sunday, 11:15 PM:
Both Jacquie, our doula, and Allison, our midwife, arrive at the house at the same time. Jacqie goes straight to Kate's head to help support her and keep her breathing. Allison, after a very quick physical check, announces that this baby will be born right here at home. Moments later, another midwife, Kat, arrives to give backup to Allison.
"Would you like to give birth in the bathroom, or some other room?" she asks Kate calmly.
"Here's fine!", responds Kate through gasps and gritted teeth. Allison still needs about ten minutes to get her gear set up, and Kate is still not allowed to push.
Sunday, 11:21 PM:
the phone rings. Unbelievably, I answer it, thinking it might be Kate's mum.
It is not.
It is my sister, who lives in England and she's heard from my mum that Kate's water has broken (clearly by now, that ship has long since sailed).
"Hello?!" I say, perhaps not in my calmest voice at this point.
"Oh F*@K!" She says, "I didn't think you'd be here! I thought you'd be on your way to the hospital!"
"NO! We're Here! in the bathroom!"
"What?! F**K! S**T!"
"She's having the baby here! we couldn't get out!"
Kate interjects from the floor..."HANG UP THE PHONE!!!!"
"Gotta go, love you, bye!"
"F**K! Okay! Bye!"
Sunday, 11:25 PM:
Kate is allowed to push on her next contraction, and pretty much right away, the baby's head appears.
Sunday, 11:29 PM
One last push needed. Nellie runs downstairs, grabs a toy full of dog food, and comes back to the bathroom door to drop it. At that same moment, Sacha James Chase is brought into the world, fills his lungs with air, and lets out his first screams. Needless to say, we can't quite believe what's just happened. Neither can the bath mat underneath Kate, I'm sure of it. Within a minute, I've been set up to lean against the bathtub, a pillow in front of me, and Kate is leaned back into my arms, little Sacha is put on her chest to be skin on skin with his new mum for the first time, and we begin calling family to tell them the good news.
Fast forwarding a bit, Kate required a few stitches, thanks to Sacha's torpedo entrance into the world, and the job is done on our bed, to which we have now been moved.
Within an hour and a bit of the baby being born, we are both in our own bed, being served tea, toast and fruit slices by Jacquie. Within two hours, we are left alone to settle in with our newborn son. Within four hours, tired and still amazed, we are watching the sun rise on a world that God has changed for us completely and wonderfully.
Now THAT, ladies and gentlemen, is how you have a baby!!! obviously this is the short, PG version of events, and I will simply sum up the birth story by saying it was the most crazy amazing thing I've ever been a part of. I just pray it never happens quite like that again!!! The speed we can go for. The uncertainty we can do without.
So here we are a week later. We admit to being complete home birth converts, and unless our next child (a few years down the road at least, God willing) has complications, we will absolutely plan to have the baby here. We thought the exceptional care being given to us by our midwives and our doula leading up to this point was fantastic enough. The fact that we realized a drug-free, comfortable birth, in our home, even when there was a high level of uncertainty initially involved...well, it has put us right over the top. Why bother with a hospital, in unfamiliar surroundings with unfamiliar nurses and other staff, where the chance of getting unnecessary medical intervention is just that much higher, when we can have it all happen safely in our own home, and be in our own bed an hour after the birth with a warm cup of tea and some sliced fruit and cheese. And hey, in this green era, think of how carbon neutral this birth was! we didn't burn fuel driving to the hospital, nor back of course. We didn't expend thousands of dollars of tax payer money by taking up a hospital bed space, and, since this baby came so early that we didn't even have time to by a few rounds of disposable diapers to supplement the cloth diapers we're using, we've had to start using the cloth right away! No garbage here! Uhhh... I digress...and okay, if a home birth ain't for you, at least get a midwife! They have four full years of training in obstetrics. rest assured, as qualified as your GP may be, he doesn't have nearly that much time dealing with birth! Birth is all a midwife knows and does. You can't go wrong! did I mentioned it's covered under the provincial medical services plan? Did I mention the first week after the birth they come to the house for near-daily follow up visits? And as for a doula...well... invaluable support, thank you so much Jacquie! you can easily put your trust in a woman who's not just witnessed, but who has been a part of, well over 700 births! there's more knowledge there than Carter has liver pills, to borrow an expression of my mothers...
Well, that's enough of our preachings. Oh, did I mention midwives, doulas, and home births good? great? got it? okay then, I'll shut up. Thanks to everyone for the flood of calls, emails, and well-wishes during this past amazing, hectic, tiring, fantastic week. We feel every one of the blessings you've sent on, and we are so grateful for them. As I think I've said a few times this week, it may take a village to raise a child, but knowing that the village truly cares is an amazing feeling.
Sacha is doing very well, eating like mad, sleeping like a rock, and generally being a complete joy.