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Our new little sweetheart entered the world at 5:49 a.m. on Tuesday, December 2 as Jupiter, Venus and the moon formed a gorgeous celestial display called the Cosmic Smile. As yet unnamed, he weighed 8 lbs. 5 oz, and was born at home in water with papa, a midwife, student midwife, nurse, 2 grandmas, and big sister in attendance. Big brother (also born at home in water) met him moments later. No tears for mama - I'm a little tired and sore but feeling great overall. For the (very) extended version, see below!

On Monday the kids stayed home from school determined that the baby would be born that day (their birthdays are both 1st of the month, as is mine, so they were positive the new baby had to be born on the 1st too - and he almost was!). We had a nice morning at home, I set some dough for bread, and we all (along with dh and the dog) went for a long, steep hike up a nearby mountain. On the walk I felt really good, very strong and more energetic than I had in ages. It was a warm and soft, misty day and I had a beautiful, dreamy, kind of psychedelic feeling - all my senses seemed really enhanced, especially outside in nature. The spiderwebs along the fence, covered in dew, the wet leaves, the patterns of lichen growing on stumps, the mossy trees and the little mushrooms popping up everywhere - I loved it all.

By the time we got to the top of the mountain I started to feel a little more pelvic pressure, but still nothing too strong. We had a little circle on the mountaintop where we all told the baby how much we loved him/her and I got everyone to imagine the baby being born safely at home. The kids were pretty silly and overexcited and kept asking me every 2 minutes if I felt anything, then yelling at my belly "baby come out now! it's time to be born!". I got a little annoyed by it but it was kind of cute, too. Dh was very sweet and we had a nice, close feeling between us. When we got home dh and I went upstairs for a 'nap' and had some lovely, intimate time together - going with the what got the baby in will get the baby out philosophy. Then I had a bath and rubbed my nipples for a while - I was really trying to get the baby out on the 1st like everyone wanted!

Dh made some tasty miso-vegetable soup for dinner and by the time we were done I could feel that something might really be happening; a slow, rhythmic but not painful sensation in my back, belly, and pubic area. I still wasn't convinced that "this was it" but we went ahead and set up the house for the birth anyway. That got everyone in a good mood - my dd (12) blew up the pool, ds (8) helped set up candles, dh arranged the hose and set up a mat beside the fire. I set up my birth music playlist (feist, Madeleine Peyroux and Nina Simone for vocals, mixed with Indian ragas and Japanese bamboo flute for instrumentals, and a new age birth recording with dolphin and wave sounds for good measure) and made sure my drinks were in the fridge and all the homebirth supplies were handy. It all seemed easy and pretty quick - the prep work had paid off. We convinced the kids to go to bed, and promised them we'd wake them up if/when the baby was born that night.

Once the kids were in bed things really got going. I had a show, and dh and I discussed when to call the midwives. You'd think by baby #3 I would know, but it had been 8 years since ds was born and everyone had convinced me that #3 would be super-fast so I had mixed feelings. On one hand I didn't want people sitting around if things were still going to be awhile, and I really liked the feeling of being alone with dh in the quiet house, but on the other hand the midwife lived about 40 minutes from here on foggy, winding roads, she would need time to set up, and I thought things might start going pretty quickly. So at about 10:30 I called her just to give her a head's up and discuss things.
My contractions were about 3 to 5 minutes apart, but I could still talk through them easily. She said to phone back when they were 2-3 minutes apart and I need to breathe and vocalize through them - which happened about half an hour later. At this point I still thought the baby might be born before midnight! She said she'd head down, and by 11:30 she, the student midwife, and the nurse had arrived and started to set things up. Dh's mother also came by, and hung out next door at my mom's house (we share the same property) - waiting until we wanted them to come by.

The next few hours were kind of a blur, but not unpleasant. Things intensified, we filled the tub, and I spent some time in it and some time walking around, and bouncing on a birth ball. Between contractions I felt clear and calm. I began to feel a slight bit of pressure on my bottom and thought maybe I was getting near to being able to push. I got my mom to get dd up as she had asked me to, so she wouldn't miss the birth. The midwives asked if I wanted an internal check and I said yes, but was really surprised and disappointed to hear I was only at around 7 cm. I started to get really tired and kind of discouraged - my long hike and no sleep were catching up with me. I sipped on ginger ale between contractions for energy (and to keep back nausea - I didn't want to throw up) but it made me belch a lot - kind of funny, but in hindsight I think ginger tea with honey would have been better. The contractions at this point were quite painful, but had long breaks between them, like big rollers on the open sea. Dd and grandmas rested on the couches around the pool, my mom knitting the whole time to keep from worrying about me!

I leaned forward alot on my knees, resting my head on my hands, and I think that helped him get into the right position (he had been posterior most of the pregnancy). After what felt like a long time I asked them to check me again, I was starting to get really tired and kind of impatient. The checks were uncomfortable and often the student midwife would try, then the midwife would double check (the student didn't have much hands on experience yet. While having a student present required, at times, a bit more patience, I really liked her and was happy to be able to help give her the experience in what I feel is one of the most important professions around! That being said, I'm not sure if it was my first birth if I would have been as o.k. with it.

My bag of waters still hadn't broken (they never do until I push), and they could feel a bit of a cervical lip on one side that still wasn't out of the way. They asked if I wanted my waters broken (no) and if they wanted me to hold back the lip through a contraction to see if that would help move things along (yes). That was painful, but I was desperate to move on to pushing. Unfortunately the lip slid back when the contraction was over, it seemed a little swollen so they gave me some arnica every few minutes under my tongue. Finally I got to feel some real pushy sensations! Still, it didn't seem to be making much progress and it was quite painful. The midwife said the lip might still be there and I'd just have to push past the pain. Ouch!!! Easier said than done.

Finally I felt a popping and a relief of pressure and realized my waters had broken. Instantly I felt a strong burning sensation and began to push his head out. Everyone sprang into action, making sure I was keeping my bottom in the water and pulling my legs back. As he crowned they had to remind me to pant, not push, as at that point I had forgotten my desire not to tear and just wanted to get him out ASAP!

The midwives encouraged dh to catch the babe, but as it was quite dark in the room, and in the water, and the cord was around his neck dp deferred to their expertise and returned to my side to give me support for the final pushes. The cord was removed from his neck, and as the shoulders were a bit tight and he needed some help to rotate out, but finally (!) was gently brought up through the water and placed on my chest. Oh joy! His warm, wet body felt like the sweetest kiss, and his little face was instantly familiar. Within a second or two he took his first breaths, as we all welcomed him to the world. He pinked up quickly, but as his forehead and hands and feet were a little dusky an oxygen tube was placed just beside his nose for a few minutes as I held him to my breast. DD and grandmas were asking if it was a boy or a girl, so I finally checked to see his gender and we all rejoiced at having another beautiful boy in the family.

After his cord stopped pulsing it was clamped and I passed him to papa to hold while I delivered the placenta. I was able to stay in the water, and with a few pushes it was out and intact. I was helped out of the tub and onto a mat beside the fire, where I wrapped up in a warm robe and towels. The nurse gave me a shot of oxytocin to help stop the bleeding (I am anemic and was losing some blood, so they wanted to help my uterus contract quickly). I then got my babe back in my arms and put him to my breast where he immediately began to nurse!

As the sun came up we examined him and weighed him, still on the mat by the fire. He was pretty relaxed and sleepy, with good colour and tone and reflexes. His forehead was a bit bruised from his sudden exit, and his eyes were puffy and swollen and a little bruised as well (he had trouble opening them for the first day or so) - we have been giving him arnica and that seems to have helped alot. He weighed 8 lbs. 5 ounces, right in between my other two (dd was 8, and ds was 9). We chose to give him the Vitamin K shot but passed on the silver nitrate drops, he nursed through the shot and didn't seem to mind it much.

Then I passed him back to papa and family and the midwives examined me - a few small grazes but no tears! Whoo-hoo!
Recovery has been a breeze; the first day or two of afterpains were pretty intense, and my lower back/pubic bones are still quite sore (possibly some separation happened in the last month or so) but my energy is good and I'm feeling remarkably well.
Nursing is going great, my milk came in today and he's eating at every chance he gets. The whites of his eyes are a bit bloodshot from the bruising, but he is opening them more and more, and seems to be able to focus them just fine.

We are all totally in love with our little one, and while we are still marveling at his presence it seems like he's always been here with us. Our family feels blessed and complete.

So that's the story of our son's birth, hope you enjoyed reading it if you made it all the way through! Many blessings to all you mamas, may your births be safe, gentle, and full of joy.

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YOur baby's moon, jupiter and venus are in capricorn...that configuration will repeat again in about thirty years, when your baby probably has babies...

that is, if you are into astrology...congratulations! Welll begun is half done.

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You are an amazing storyeller, your birth story was wonderful to read! I hope to have a birth as great as that. Glad to know you are all doing well!
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