Dear Daven, I have been wanting to write out your birth story since the day you were born, but haven’t been able to. In the past, this has been because of sorrow and a little bit of mourning over my birth experiences. With you? It is a combination of joy, busyness and a little bit on unbelief. Your birth is the first one that went exactly as your dad and I planned. We chose such a different route that we both had trouble envisioning life past the day of your delivery. But all of that worry was for naught. It was a perfect event. Perfectly painful, perfectly difficult, perfectly stressful. But also perfectly beautiful, perfectly joyful and perfectly holy. Your birth story is wholly and, yes, perfectly, a blessing from the Lord. And here it is. You know by now that we chose to plan a home birth with a midwife for your birth. You also know that this choice stemmed from having had 2 c-sections. the second of which was wholly unnecessary. Throughout my pregnancy. my tummy was measuring large and all of the ultrasounds showed you to be ‘older’ than our predicted date showed. Also, I had a marginal placenta previa, which made us all a little nervous. We prayed and prayed and asked for prayer and then prayed some more and at 36 weeks I went in for my final ultrasound, prepared for news that my placenta had not moved. I was overjoyed that not one, but TWO, ultrasound techs looked at your home separately and declared the placenta to be clear. I was so happy that I couldn’t stop crying when I got in the car. I had a 5 minute drive to church that evening that took me 15 minutes because I had to pull into a parking lot so that I could clear my eyes. I was so full of joy and expectation knowing that what we’d been planning for 36 weeks was now a solid plan. That night I had a huge weight off of my shoulders. It freed me to write a home birth plan, to gather birth supplies, to set up your bassinet in our bedroom. It also freed me to start thinking about managing life with 3 kids under 3 years old! The day before your birthday, May 23, I started having contractions that I could not work through. They were hard and I had to stop what I was doing for 30 seconds or so as they peaked. I was frustrated at this point because we’d all expected you to be early, which you weren’t. I had finally realized that there was no reason to expect you before the following Monday, Memorial Day, and finally had some peace about it. So what were these dumb contractions doing? They were short, painful and 20 – 30 minutes apart ALL DAY LONG. I baked cookies, worked on your baby blankie, folded clothes, watched a movie and napped. I played with your brothers and went on a walk. I waited for your dad to get home so that he and I could relax and watch a movie together. I texted Shannon, our midwife, and told her what was going on and she suggested that I have an adult beverage before bed to relax my body and make sure contractions were going to be productive. Your dad and I shared a margarita while we were watching our movie. We went to bed at midnight. As usual late in pregnancy, it took me quite awhile to get comfortable enough to fall asleep. When I finally reached that point, it was about 1am. I had not had any contractions for several hours and was ready to sleep! I dozed until about 1:30. That was when contractions started in earnest. At 3am I decided it was time for a bath. With your big brother, Collin, I’d had weeks of contractions 10 minutes apart and the only thing that ever helped me sleep was a nice hot bath. So with that in mind I ran a bath. The water running woke your dad up and he came in to see what was happening. I told him I was just going to take a bath and try to get some sleep. He went back to bed. He told me the next day that at that point he knew you’d be here that day. I guess I was acting weird! Anyway, about 20 minutes into my bath it became clear to me that my contractions were labor ones. They didn’t stop or become less painful. That first 20 minutes I had no contractions, but they came back with gusto and stuck around. So I bathed as long as the water was hot and even with contractions almost fell asleep in the tub. So I decided to get out and try to lay down again. I knew that the day had the potential to be very long! By 5am I realized sleep was not going to happen. I texted Shannon to let her know what was going on. I asked your dad to stay home for the morning since I hadn’t slept all night. I bounced on my ball. I walked around the house. I trimmed my fingernails. I did lay down a little bit to no avail. I took a picture of the sunrise and sent it to your Grandma Hogan with the caption “Beautiful day for a baby!”. She knew what was happening. At 6am I was setting up a movie to watch. You dad came out and told me he’d taken the day off and that he was going to sleep until the big boys got up. I curled up on the couch to watch my movie, getting up every time I had a contraction to sit on the ball because it made my hips and back happy. I finally fell asleep and missed the end of the movie and woke up deciding that I needed to go to bed. I slept about 2 hours total. Shannon called a little after 9 to ask how things were going. I was delighted that contractions had stopped a little so I could rest. She asked if she could come check me, which I agreed to with gusto. We needed to make sure I’d been up all night for a reason and I wanted that affirmation. Her first check of the day had me at 2cm and 70% effaced! I was so excited because the last two times my dilation hit 2cm I’d had a baby before midnight! We were so ready to meet you! Your head was also down lower than it had been only 3 days before. She suggested that I take a Benadryl and try to sleep some more, which I did. You dad was awesome looking after your big brothers and he got them out of the house for a bit. It was so quiet. I didn’t exactly sleep, but I didn’t move much, either. I rested. I knew that you’d be here soon. At 1:00pm contractions started in earnest again, effectively ending all chance for sleep. They were very painful on my back, so I let your dad know that he needed to come home (he was already on his way) because I needed his warm hands on my back. I also let your Grandma Wilson know that she needed to come up and watch the big boys since I needed your dad. I helped with lunch, which was difficult. Our chairs are nowhere near as nice as the ball. But I did make it through. Your dad and Grandma got the big boys down for their nap and then your dad and I retreated to our bedroom so he could rub my back. He was so amazing. Between contractions he got a hot bath run for me so I could relax a bit. It felt so nice, but by then contractions were very rough. I was having to really breathe, focus and make noise to get through them. My back was so painful. I hopped in the bath, which was so nice and relaxing. I was able to float, which helped my hips and back. I guess it helped everything else, too,  because suddenly contractions were 5 minutes apart! This was after maybe 45 minutes in the tub. I got up to use the bathroom several times and finally your dad pointed out how yucky the water looked. He drained the tub (I was not excited at that point) while I headed to the bathroom. While I was in there I had a brainwave. Those are very rare for a woman in labor, so that’s another point where God stepped in for us! I realized that most of the pain and pressure of contractions was in my back. At that point I knew I needed to stay out of the bath for a bit and lay on my ball to try and flip you around. Your dad was shocked when he came back in (he’d ordered pizza for our family and gotten me some music to listen to) to find me not wanting to get in the bath. By now contractions were very close and strong. After 4 or 5 of them my back pain was suddenly gone! And I had a lot more pelvic pain! That ball lay was what I needed to get you flipped and engaged in one fell swoop. At this point, just as I was feeling some relief, your dad asked when we should call Shannon. I told him that she’d said to call when we’d normally head to the hospital. I asked him if we would have done that yet and he said we’d already be checked in. So I texted Shannon (not really up for a phone call at that point) and she said she’d be there in about 30 minutes. That was at 5:30ish. When Shannon arrived around 6 I was back in the tub, which was full of lovely warm water! Shannon checked me and I was 6cm/80% and you were moving on down. You were also in the right position, finally! That few minutes on the ball helped so much! My blood pressure was also the best it had been through my whole pregnancy. She got everything set up and your dad went to grab a little food and check on your brothers. Shannon had been calling and calling her backups all day long and finally found someone who would come up, Jamie, but informed me that she’d be awhile since she was coming in from the other end of town. So I labored and we waited. I felt a little pain in my old c-section area, but it passed relatively quickly and you and I were both holding up well, so we didn’t worry about it too much. Around 8, Shannon (very casually) mentioned that if I felt like pushing I needed to tell her. Interestingly I felt the urge on the next contraction. So she checked again and I was 9 1/2cm/100%! You were coming soon! The trouble was that I felt like pushing with that last 1/2cm still to go. We did a few pushes with Shannon holding that back and then she had me resist pushing for a few contractions. If I thought her holding that last 1/2cm was awful, I certainly stopped complaining after I had to resist pushing. That was the hardest thing to do with you pushing your way out so nicely. Fortunately that was only for 2 contractions. When she checked again, your head was clear and ready to come down. At that point, time was gone for me. At one point someone asked for a light and I remember thinking “Why on earth would they need the light? Seriously?” and then I looked and it was dark. I was so focused on you that I hadn’t noticed the sun setting and the bathroom getting dark. Your dad was helping me get into new positions and Shannon was refreshing the water and every 15 minutes or so Jamie came and checked your heart rate until you got too low for them to catch it. Finally (it seemed to me), Shannon felt around and said she could feel your head and that you weren’t moving up after every contraction/push anymore. Wow was I glad to hear that. After nearly 2 days straight of being awake, I was ready to have you out so I could sleep! That was the point where the real battle began, though. I was exhausted. I didn’t have much energy. I was dozing during the breaks between contractions, trying to prep for the next one. I was pushing 2 – 3 times per contraction and had been for over an hour. A few contractions later you were crowning. Your head was peeking out. I could feel your hair! I could also feel the burn. Shannon was so pleased – you were coming out nice and slowly and giving my skin plenty of time to stretch. When your head was about the size of a clementine orange poking out, that was when my body felt done. I was ready to quit and go get some drugs for the pain. I was ready to be wrapped in a warm, dry blanket and not feel anything but you nursing and lots of sleep. I was done. I almost asked to leave. But then I thought about the car ride that we’d taken to the hospital when I was in labor with Collin. I was in active labor then and it was horrible. Every bump caused a contraction. Actually, the most vivid thought in my mind was the railroad tracks near our house. I thought about what it would be like to go over those. Beyond horrible. That was the motivation my body needed, I guess. The next contraction I couldn’t resist pushing. I couldn’t back off on the power of that push. I couldn’t do anything but let my body take control. And suddenly I felt you! Your head came flying out and your body was much softer. Shannon said “Caitlin, take your baby!” and we were all so surprised! I just grabbed you and picked you up and put you on my chest! You were screaming almost before your head came out of the water. You also had your first meconium poo on the way out – thanks for that! Someone said “That’s a big baby!”, Jamie was taking pictures and it was almost a full minute before I remembered that we didn’t know whether you were a boy or girl. Once we discovered that you were a boy, Jamie went and got your Grandma Wilson, who had just gotten your big brothers down only about 30 minutes previously. She was so excited to meet her newest grandboy! After about 10 minutes in the tub, I realized everything I was sitting on stung. So we worked to get all of us out of the tub and into bed. I was freezing, but you were snugged up against me. I just held you while Shannon worked to help me deliver the placenta and stop the bleeding. Your awesome daddy got me a full cup of Gatorade and water because he knows I don’t like straight Gatorade most of the time. Within about an hour of your birth I’d had nearly 2 full cups of that, which was good. I had a fair bit of bleeding and your funny big head did a lot of damage on its way out. Shannon had to call in another midwife to do the stitching (Melissa, who also did your circumcision). She also came from the other end of town. You were okay with that – it gave you an extra hour and a half to nurse. You nursed for an hour and then went to visit your Grandma while you dad came in to help me to the bathroom and we got all of my wet clothes off and got me wrapped in some warm blankets. Shannon weighed you and measured you, which you hated. I finally stopped shivering just in time to get stitched up. Your dad was in and out doing cleaning and he stopped by my head every little while to give me a hug or kiss or Gatorade. He was spectacular through everything. Around 2am, everything was done! I was patched up, you were in jammies. Shannon had given the all-clear and headed out to complete an overnight date with her husband. I managed to get in some pajamas as well and as soon as your dad showered, we all went to sleep. Kind of. You woke up to nurse about every hour, so I didn’t sleep much. But I rested, held still, breathed deep and nursed you. Even without sleep, it was a much more peaceful night than I’d had in weeks. You were finally here! We’d had the home birth that we’d planned and there were no issues. We were all safe and sound and together. We thank the Lord every day for blessing us wit you – our little baby miracle! He took care of me when my placenta was low and taught me to trust and wait on Him. He reminded me that He’s in control by providing me the one pregnancy complication that I could do nothing about. He let me give it all over to Him and just as I’d prepared my heart for another surgery He granted me the desires of my heart. He is the ultimate physician and He alone knew how everything would go and brought peace to my heart. This pregnancy journey made me learn some hard lessons, but they were really wonderful ones to learn. And to cap it all off, we were given YOU to care for through your earthly life. We love you so much, sweet little one!

Daven Christopher

May 24, 2013


9# 1oz, 21 1/4 inches

birth 11