Sunday, April 8, 2012

Elsie's Birth Story, Part 2

During our walk Gretchen contracted seven times; I knew the time was getting close.  Interestingly enough, shortly after beginning our walk, our neighbor drove slowly by and rolled down his window to check on us.  During our brief conversation, I could feel Gretchen’s grip tighten and her body tense as she began a contraction.  She kept a somewhat pleasant expression as she completed our brief comments and said our farewell.  Wow, is that graceful or what?  We later realized the baby was born 40 minutes later.
Gretchen was still doing really well with the contractions.  She went to our room and lay on the bed for two contractions and then knelt for two more.  At this point she told Rene’e she needed to get in the tub.  I, being amazingly in tune with what was going on with my wife's body and unbelievably intuitive, thought to myself, "What is she thinking?  She is going to sit in this thing for hours.  This is going to be awkward just hanging out in the birthing pool.  What if the water gets cold?  Little did I know we were 10 minutes away from having our baby.
For our four previous deliveries, Jody, our long time family friend, was the only person present besides the doctor/midwife.  However this time was different.  Gretchen had invited Vicki and Melinda, both of whom are also dear friends.  This was our labor and delivery "dream team”.  Gretchen had given everyone specific roles so everything would go smoothly.  To really appreciate this to its fullest, I will have to recap Amelia’s birth for a moment.  Amelia was our first home birth so we didn’t know quite what to expect.  Jody had traveled from Illinois to be there and was going to help out.  And help out she did!  She was given the responsibility to manage kids, prepare food, entertain the midwives, video and photograph the birth, cheer lead and do anything overlooked in proceeding list.  And while she did as well as one could expect, the thought occurred that perhaps she was a little overloaded. 
Vicki has a servant’s heart as big as Texas and as a side note, has a personal conviction that any food must be prepared with cheese, cream, butter,  sugar (or all if possible).   Good choice.  Her role was to be an advocate for the kids to make sure they were not over looked and FOOD, cinnamon rolls to be specific.  During the final hour, the smell of made from scratch, ten sticks of butter and one bag of sugar, cinnamon rolls wafted gloriously through the air.  We love Vicki.
Melinda, who is an amazingly talented photographer, was to photograph the entire process.  I didn’t realize that Melinda also has stealth like speed and ability to camouflage herself among trees and bushes to catch the perfect shot.  At one point, as I was helping Gretchen during a contraction at the foot of our bed, I felt footsteps across the other end as Melinda repositioned for a better angle.  Melinda’s creativity goes far beyond being a great photographer.  We were blessed to have her there and got great moments captured to cherish and share. 

That left Jody to cheer lead and video which is a much more reasonable expectation.  Naturally, Jody still entertained the midwives.
We had spoken with the kids ahead of time about being present during the birth and the following was their responses:

Jacob exclaimed, “Seriously… gross…no way would I want to be there. I will MAYBE be in the next room.   
Sophie’s response was,  “Yes absolutely, just try to stop me…go ahead just try!”.
Vivian’s response was, “Sounds boring… will there be someone to play with?”.
Amelia’s response was,  “Yes mom and dad.  I love and cherish you both so much.  I will be there to share this moment with you”…. Not really, I made that up.  I’m sure that was what she was thinking.

Jacob couldn’t resist and came in to be close.  At one point he was cowering next to the couch peeking over the arm of the chair.  We woke Sophie 20 minutes before Gretchen delivered and she sat front and center.  Jody stepped in to get Vivian minutes before delivery.  Viv sat groggily on the couch trying to figure out what was going on.  Millie was the last to join the party and verbalized her displeasure with being woken from a very pleasant slumber.  She finally calmed down and sat gazing curiously trying to figure out where the new cool looking baby came from.
 For those of you not familiar with how a home birth works, I will briefly explain our experience.  Most of the labor was spent walking outside, in our bedroom either lying or leaning against our bed or kneeling on the floor.  We had calm classical music playing in our dimly lit room.  The flickering soft glow of a candle bounced silhouettes against the wall and a hint a lavender essential oil hung in the air from our diffuser.  Gretchen remained calm and in control.  I helped her pace her breathing and supported her through contractions.  When she entered into transition she moved to a birthing tub we had set up in our living room.  She wore a dark loose gown so she could be both comfortable and modest.  The entire process was a very sweet and bonding experience.  Sharing such a surreal and wonderful miracle together as a family will be marked in Gretchen's and my mind forever. 

Part 3 coming soon.


Kelly said...

Love part 1 and 2! Can't wait for part 3! Thank you for sharing these amazing moments with us! I feel blessed!

Jody said...

Sometimes, a Girl needs a little extra help! Thanks, Vicki, for the Cinnamon rolls and Melinda, for the photos. I could do what I do best...nothing really helpful, just nice to have around. :)

And you missed the part when, Gretchen said, "Ouch, this hurts, I don't know what to do." And I said, "That means she's gonna push!!!" And ran to wake up Vivian so she didn't miss it.

Vicki said...

This is so Funny!! But Ed is very very right. Butter, cheese and cream are all necessities in life. This was such a great great day to be with the Carel's. I love all of you so much. Now be sure to finish this post. I can only wait so long :)

Edward and Gretchen said...


That is so funny...I have no recollection of saying that. I haven't watched the video yet but when I do I'm sure I will laugh at myself.