Our baby's due date is two days away, on Sunday April 27th. I can hardly believe our beautiful baby boy is already ten days old today. He was a precious, early surprise!
Timothy Mitchell Inkster was born at breakfast time on Tuesday, April 15th. I had been feeling strong contractions for several days before our baby's birth but I wasn't convinced labour was imminent. Ben and I were preparing to put our house up for sale. I had been on my feet, cleaning and organizing, so I believed the contractions were simply a result of my busy week.
I woke up at about four o'clock the morning of April 15th to use the washroom. I'd had strong contractions earlier in the evening but they seemed to fizzle out after I went to sleep. Ben rolled over as I hauled myself out of bed.
"Are you still having contractions?" he mumbled sleepily.
"Not really," I replied, "I think it was a false alarm." I waddled off to the bathroom.
I was shocked by a string of strong contractions within the next few minutes. Maybe it wasn't a false alarm after all ... I returned to the bedroom to wake Ben.
"Umm, Ben," I said, "I lied. I think we're in business. You'd better get up."
The contractions kept coming strong and regular. I ran a warm bath while Ben set up our birth supplies in the kitchen. From the bathtub I phoned our midwife, my mom and Ben's mom. The contractions were strong but not incapacitating. At this point I wasn't totally convinced I was truly in labour. At the same time, I figured it was better to sound the alarm early with our fourth baby. I didn't want the labour to progress too quickly. I was worried the baby could be born before everyone had a chance to arrive!
Our midwife, Kim, walked through the door sometime after five. She was soon joined by our second midwife, Cassie. Our moms also arrived around the same time. Kim checked my cervix and it was dilated to six centimeters and was very stretchy. I wandered downstairs and basically hid in the small bathroom off the kitchen. There were so many people in the house! As the contractions grew stronger I wanted a quiet place to concentrate.
I asked Ben to send our mothers upstairs. I just I needed some space. Ben finished inflating the birth pool and he filled it with water from the kitchen tap. Unfortunately, our water heater was not up to the task so the water was barely lukewarm. Soon after I got into the birth pool I started shivering uncontrollably.
It was time to boil some water (not for the baby but for the mommy). Ben and the midwives took turns bailing cold water out of the pool, boiling water in large pots on the stove, and carefully pouring hot water into the pool. Meanwhile, I found my "primal labour mama" and entered into transition.
I sat cross-legged in the warm water, closed my eyes, and moaned my way through each contraction. With my other births I found that making a low, deep moaning sound helped me to "ride the waves" of each contraction. This labour was unique because I experienced consistent double contractions throughout transition. I joked that they were coming "two by two" --- two big waves with a blessedly long break in between.
I lost track of time but transition probably lasted about an hour. The baby was posterior the whole time. I think his position caused the contractions to feel more intense because his kicking and movements were incredibly uncomfortable. As well, I resisted the labour to a certain degree because of fear --- fear that the baby would be born posterior. I believe the labour would have progressed much more quickly if I had been able to let go of my fear early on.
At the end of transition I shifted my position from sitting to kneeling on all fours. I rested my head on the edge of the pool. At one point I experienced a couple of huge contractions and felt the baby squirm and shift uncomfortably. I'm not certain, but I suspect this was when the baby turned anterior. I continued moaning and breathing and waited for the arrival of "pushy" contractions.
The pushy feeling never really came. I reached down and could feel the bulgy bag of waters still intact between my legs. "Will this go faster if you break my bag of waters?" I asked the midwives. They agreed it probably would. I told Ben to go fetch everyone from upstairs. (The children were all awake by this point.)
Cassie quickly broke the amniotic sac. It was completely painless (for the first time in any of my labours). The contractions still didn't feel terribly pushy but I now had an audience and I was anxious to snuggle my new baby boy. My body knew what to do. With the next few contractions I started to push.
With my second and third babies, pushing was a quick and easy enterprise. Each baby was born after only a couple pushes. This time I was surprised to discover that pushing required some extra effort. I don't know for certain but I believe I pushed for about ten minutes before baby number four finally emerged. It was actually an interesting experience because I reached between my legs and could feel his head descending down the birth canal with each push. I felt the soft wrinkles on the top of his head and could even feel him turning his head and wiggling it from side to side.
Finally, with a long push and a mighty roar, baby's head emerged. I took a quick breath and pushed his shoulders and body out into the warm pool water. Everyone in the room cheered. It was 8:35am. I snuggled our little boy to my breast as oxygen filled his lungs for the first time. His complexion quickly turned from grayish-purple to a gorgeous pink. I could tell he was born a couple weeks early as he was absolutely covered in cheesy vernix. The baby let out a few tiny cries and then cuddled quietly in my arms.
All three of our children were present for the birth of their baby brother. Our five-year-old, in particular, was enthralled by the birth. He was so excited! He practically fell into the pool in a effort to get as close to the action as possible.
Ben cut the umbilical cord after it had stopped pulsing. I delivered the placenta into the pool shortly thereafter. The midwives helped me to my feet and we slowly walked up the stairs and into a hot shower. Absolute bliss! Baby was passed from one set of loving arms to another as I got myself cleaned up.
I believe one of the best parts of home birth is having my own bed. I went straight from the shower to my bed and nursed our new baby. I then spent most of the day upstairs in our room. The children went off to grandma's house and Ben and I enjoyed a lovely "babymoon". I felt so strong and healthy! Baby was born over an intact perineum and within a few hours I hardly felt like I had just delivered a baby. What a blessing!
To be honest, my fourth labour was easy and difficult both at the same time. Physically, everything went extremely well. God has blessed me with a body that is exceptionally capable of carrying and birthing babies. I've never had any complications. However, mentally I did not feel prepared for our fourth baby's birth. We'd had such a busy week leading up to the birth, with the purchase of a new house and putting our own home up for sale. As well, I was caught off guard by baby's arrival two weeks before the due date. I did not feel emotionally prepared to deal with the labour and battled some fear.
Today, ten days after the birth, I can hardly imagine life without little Timothy. He is a joy. He is a calm, content baby and nurses beautifully. The children all love their new baby brother and I am totally in love with him too.