And the final birth story:
Fast forward nine and a half years, a difficult divorce, and a blessing from God: a new wonderful husband later, here I was at 43, expecting a surprise baby in later life, after three grandchildren had already arrived via Anna and Matthew’s families.
Because I had a gracious new life with a new husband, I had wanted to try something new this time, and although I loved Donna dearly, I felt that it was important to have everything new: new midwives, a new method, and yet wanted my children to feel part of it, too. We ended up going with a wonderful midwife (Christy Martin) and opted for a water birth in the Gentle Beginnings Birthing Center very close to our home. The pregnancy went smoothly – (thanks in part to my awesome Chiropractor Jim Bob Haggerton at Lifetime Family Wellness-yes, I am shamelessly plugging him and his wife who are truly gifted in the area of healing and pain relief). My two goals for this labor were to make it special for my husband, as this was his first time to experience childbirth, and to NOT TEAR this time.
Labor started nine days before due date, just like my pattern was. This labor started around 6:30 in the morning – I woke up feeling crampy and had a few contractions. We woke up everyone, (the kids and my husband’s parents, who were visiting for the holidays) and drove to the birthing center. My contractions were still light, and didn’t seem to be doing a lot. I sat on the birth ball and slowly felt some things start to happen. At eight, my water broke and my chiropractor adjusted my back and hips, both of which suddenly made my labor leap into action. I climbed into the lovely warm water of the spa-sized tub in the birthing center and labored for the next hour and ten minutes until he was born.
The contractions were never very organized. I would have huge ones and small ones, even during pushing it was not consistent or regular. I clearly remembering at crowning blowing with all my might, and Christy telling me how great I did. Then with the next contraction, she told me the head was going to be out, and I exclaimed, "What??? that wasn't it already???" I actually thought with all that pressure that it MUST be out. I can laugh at that now. Sort of. Haha. I am glad to say that thanks to the great advice I received from my friend Shonda Parker a couple of weeks before labor, and super great coaching from Christy in the moment of need, I DID NOT TEAR, well, much, that is. He was by far my biggest baby, almost nine pounds, and had broad shoulders to boot. It was hard work pushing such a big baby out (for me) and I was so happy to be able to control the birth of his head, it didn’t bother me that I got a small tear from his huge shoulders. But no stitches, oh HURRAY! Leah and Susanna, (our thirteen and nineteen year olds), and Alvaro's mom came in right after the delivery, and Leah cut the cord a while later. While I was delivering the placenta, Alvaro carried our new baby wrapped in warm towels into the next room to meet his very excited brothers and grandparents.
My entire labor was not anything like the others, and yet, I can honestly say it was a GOOD birth and I am so thankful to God for walking with us through the entire process. I wasn’t as peaceful and calm and lovely in labor as I ideally wanted to be, and later Christy told me that she felt that the difficult thing about my birth was the disorganized way my contractions came, because I never knew what to expect next.
I had wanted so much to have a special bonding time with my husband, and I am floored by his love and support during labor. He felt good about our birth and that really means a lot to me. I was amazed later when I saw the birth photos taken by Anne Crowell’s daughter Keri Duckett, and any misgivings I had about how I handled the intensity of labor were washed away with the thankfulness I felt at seeing the birth through someone else’s eyes. She gave us some truly gorgeous photos of the birth that I cherish.
Having all of these babies has shaped me as a woman, as a mother, as a person, as a friend, as a follower of God. Pregnancy and birth has caused me to face fears, pain, my willingness to be vulnerable, honest, and needy. It caused me to seek truth, be able to experience and express raw emotion, and really search out what I believe about God and the fall and redemption, about His faithfulness, about connection with friends and family, and about the humanness and spirituality that is laid bare in childbirth. I would not be who I am without these experiences or these children and the women who helped me birth them.
Oh, and by the way, we named our little boy Alejandro, the Spanish form of Alexander, which means defender of man.