Archive for the ‘Pregnancy & Childbirth’ Category

Milk
September 16, 2011

Keith: “Hey, Mommy? Why are you going to the store to buy milk, you already have milk?”

Pizzas are Delivered. Babies are Caught.
May 16, 2011

What a Day!!  What started as a normal Sunday at church turned into a story that will be retold for years (man, we even made the news tonight!)

So, I arrived at church, a little late as has been our new norm since baby Luke (our baby, now 4 wks) has arrived, and was greeted by Jen, our pastor’s wife, who excitedly told me that she had lost her mucus plus this morning!  Cool, I thought, but that doesn’t mean anything as far as when actual labor might begin – it could still be days.  She told me she had a few braxton-hicks contractions, but nothing to take notice of and she didn’t want to tell her husband because she didn’t want him to be distracted (he is the pastor after all).  I asked about her doula and she informed me she was in Hawaii.  Well, I thought, I could be a doula, I guess. . .

I kept a close eye on Jen during the church service swaying her hips back and forth and at times closing her eyes in what appeared to be very peaceful relaxation.  I suggested she take a walk around the park (our church meets at the HB central library surrounded by a huge park) but she wanted to wait till after the service to tell Jerrod, who was in the middle of preaching a sermon (and a very fine one at that!). 

After church, the birth waves were about 3 minutes apart and lasting almost a minute, so I did what my amazing doula told me to do – Walk!!  Jerrod was hurridly cleaning up after church and taking care of last minute things before they left for the hospital.  Jen was handling everything really with no coaching and was still talking and chatting between birth waves so I was thinking Early First Stage, no need to rush.  We all thought it could still be hours before the baby is born.  One of the mantras of natural birth is to labor at home as LONG as possible – knowing how much Jen really wanted a natural birth, I was in no hurry to send her off to the hospital!  And so off we set to walk around the park!

We enjoyed a beautiful walk in the sunshine and the cool ocean breeze, stopping every 2 minutes for another birth wave.  Then we were stopping every minute and a half, but Jen was still very talkative (a signpost for Early First Stage) and didn’t seem to be phased by any of the birth waves.   Let’s keep going and get these contractions long and hard – so we went!  Ambulate, Hydrate, Urinate!  Jen told me later she had thought that maybe we should leave for the hospital, but didn’t say anything and being a homebirther myself, I never learned what signs to watch for to tell you when to leave for the hospital – so I told her to keep going!

We walked to the bathroom in the park and after Jen got out, there was a double peak contraction (2 contractions without a break) and at that point I should have recognized that maybe we should leave for the hospital, but I didn’t.  Halfway back to the church, another couple double peak contractions. . . I texted Jerrod to get ready to leave!  Jen said she needed to use the bathroom sooooo bad so I suggested we walk back to the bathroom in the park, but she said she’d prefer the one in the library.  It’s a good thing she did!

A few more steps, a few more birth waves.  Then she became very quiet and serious, not wanting to be disturbed during a rush . . oh oh – signs of late first stage!  Then I noticed she began grunting through contractions – um, transition??  We finally made it back to the bathroom inside the library/church.  I had Luke (now 4 weeks) in my wrap strapped to me and I was thinking how he needed a fresh diaper so I left Jen in the bathroom to try to flag someone down to grab me a diaper for my baby.  When I came back, Jen said, “Sarah, I think I need to push!”  Being the great coach that I was trying to be, I regurgitated what my midwife told me: “Great!  Do whatever your body is telling you to do!  If you need to push, push!”   Oh, I love the sound of a mommy pushing a baby out on her own!!  I never once thought about having the baby in the bathroom or at the library – my midwife has caught babies everywhere, so I thought babies should just be born where ever they want to be!  

Jen disagreed (at first).  She said, “No! I can’t have the baby in the bathroom!”  Ok, I said, where do you want to have it?  I asked her if she wanted to go back out to the park or in the library?  “No”  I guess the bathroom will work then.   I did ask her between the next contraction if she could please unlock the door, because there was no way I could crawl under the stall with Luke on me to unlock the door.  Luke was getting fussy so I started nursing him.   Jen still wasn’t sold on the idea so I kept reassuring her and told her that God knew exactly where He wanted this baby to be born. 

A couple more contractions and a few more pushes.  Then Michelle poked her head in the bathroom – Ahhhhh!!!! Another BRADLEY TRAINED MOMMY!!!  Come in!! Come in!!  Praise the Lord – He sent Michelle!  At some point I had caught one of the ushers of the church and asked him to call the police or the firefighters or whoever catches babies ‘cuz we might be needing someone just in case!  

Michelle and I got ready to catch the baby as Jen grabbed the handicap bars in the bathroom in the most beautiful squat over the toilet (the modern day birthing stool).  Then, in our peaceful serene moment, suddenly a barrage of people came flooding in!  The dispatch from 911 apparently had their own idea about birth – she told us to have Jen lay down . . .WHAT?!?!  Lay down??  As in supine?  (Besides being hung by your toes, the supine position is the absolute Worst position for birth!)  And on the floor in a public restroom???  Then the dispatcher told us to get her off the toilet – apparently afraid the baby would fall in the toilet??  Um, are you crazy??  So much for being able to expect some help!  I heard Harold arguing that we knew what we were doing and to leave us along (Oh, I love him!).   At some point he took the Luke from me, so unfortunately Luke missed his second birthing experience.

The baby’s head was crowning and then the head was half born.  I reached up and held the baby’s head and the face came out.  I could feel his nose and mouth and I put pressure on the perineum to help prevent tearing (Guess I’ve watched too many birth videos, huh?)  Jen said she thought his body was going to come out on the next contraction.  I got both hands ready and I told Michelle to get her hands ready!  A few seconds later and out slide this beautiful healthy little boy!!  We caught him and put him immediately up to Jen’s tummy – the best heater on earth! 

What excitement!!  Jen was overjoyed and exclaimed over and over “I did it!!  I did it!!”  We were all so thrilled!!  The baby let out a big healthy cry and we knew all was good.  Another beautiful, drug free baby born at home at the library into the arms of mommy and daddy!  Oh, and did I mention it was a VBAC?!?!?!?!?!?!?

Then the EMT’s got there . . . (if you like happy stories, stop here and just bask in happy baby bliss)

Warning: OPINIONATED!

So the EMT’s, fire fighters and a whole bunch of MEN storm into the women’s bathroom (come on – are there ANY women emergency responders that could have come??).  The first thing they want to do is take the baby from Jen – ummm, the baby is still attached – where do you think you’re going to take it???    He insisted that he needed to clean off the baby because the stuff that’s on the baby makes him cold (it’s called, “vernix.  Say it with me veeernix.”)  Really??  The “stuff” that’s on the baby makes him cold?  Of all the medical childbirth books I’ve read and classes I’ve taken I have NEVER heard that one before!  LOL!  I had already wrapped up the baby and Jen in one of Luke’s baby blankets so he was plenty warm.  I knew that if he pulled the baby or tried to take him, he could caused serious damage to the baby and the mommy and may have even severed the umbilical cord and caused life threatening bleeding.  I also tried to explain to him that the mommy’s tummy is best natural heater in the world and that the baby was not going to get cold.  I then tried to give him information about the condition of the mommy, the bleeding, and the responsiveness of the baby, you know, medical stuff I thought he needed to know to accurately assess the situation.  He really seemed to not know the first thing about natural childbirth.  I finally asked him if he had any training in childbirth.  You should have seen his face!!  He curtly told me he had 2 children.  I meant to ask him if he pushed them out, caught them or just watched because I was pretty sure I had him beat. 

Jen was standing there holding baby Titus and they yelled at her to sit down!  (But standing can be great to help with the placenta and to get all the organs shifted back in place).  Then they put Jen on a gurney to go to the ambulance (the dissertation on the sociological aspects of that to follow . . )  I was told they gave the baby oxygen on the way to the hospital and argued with Jen about cutting the cord (she insisted they wait until her husband could cut it – way to go, Jen!)  They also kept insisting that they wipe down the baby.  Pure ignorance.

It is amazing to see the response of everyone to this beautiful, natural – NON-Emergency birth.  People treated this natural event as a crisis and something that they needed to be ubberly concerned and worried about.  Really?  Does everyone panic every time someone throws up or has a bowel movement?  Childbirth should be considered just as normal as any other natural part of life!  Unfortunately, it seemed that giving birth in a bathroom and not in a hospital evoked a lot of fear, panic and commotion.   Couple that with complete ignorance and insistance that the baby must need interventions and assistance to survive – sorry Mr. Paramedic, but babies do not need to be cleaned immediately or suctioned or the cord cut.  In many natural births the baby isn’t bathed for a couple days, never suctioned and the cord isn’t cut for hours – how on earth do these babies ever survive?

Throughout this situation, there was never any need to be scared or nervous about this birth or the survival of this baby if you trust birth.  I trust in God who created birth and created our bodies to do exactly what they need to do to give birth and, when LEFT ALONE, our bodies work just fine on their own.  It’s mainly when drs and other people intervene and mess with birth that problems arise.  I’m extremely grateful that we have doctors and medical technology when there are complications (which in natural childbirth occurs in less than 3% of births) but the medical institutions must recognize that natural birth is a hands off event and learn to respect the process of birth.

Meanwhile, Titus weighed in at a whopping 6 lbs, 5 oz (that was Luke when I was about 6 months pregnant).  Baby and mom are doing just fine and enjoying the rush of birth (which unfortunately is not experienced to its fullest for many moms as epidurals block those hormones which trigger the birth ecstasy)  So enjoy it, Jen!!  You were a rock star!!  And how many other kids will be able to say they were born at the library?!?!

Get Educated!
May 13, 2011

Most people spend more time and do more research when buying a car than they do preparing for childbirth.

*Over 75% of American Births are medicated. “The way most US women are giving birth, vaginally or cesarean, is not healthy. The typical childbirth experience has been transformed into a morass of wires, tubes, machines and medications that leave healthy women immobilized, vuleranable to high levels of surgery, & burdened w/physical and emotional health concerns while caring for their newborns.”

*American Academy of Pediatrics – “No drug or chemical has ever been proven to be entirely free of potential harm to an unborn baby.” NOTHING (including epidurals & pitocin)

*Nearly 85% of all births in the U.S. are considered “traumatic” for both mother and child – Perhaps we should reconsider the way we approach a natural process?

*Midwifery is a key profession in birthing in every country in the world outside of North America. 

*Did you know 11 states make it illegal for a midwife to attend a home birth, subject to felony charges? So much for women’s rights. . .

*An OB is a trained Surgeon. “Using an OB for a low risk, healthy pregnancy and birth is like going to a brain surgeon for a headache.”

*In 2006, the British health secretary announced plans to encourage ALL UK women to consider giving birth at home. . .the gov’t is planning a ‘strategic shift’ in childbirth policy away from hospital delievery prompted by the World Health Organization’s conclusion that “Midwives are the most appropriate primary health care provider for birth.”

 *No study has ever shown home births resulted in worse outcomes than a hospital birth, but many studies have actually shown out-of-hospital births to be safer with better outcomes than hospital births.

*”The danger of home as a place of birth does not lie in its threat to the healthy survival of mothers and babies, but in its threat to the healthy survival of obstetricians and obstetric practice” (A Good Birth, A Safe Birth by Korte & Scaer)

Why does America hold such a pervasive cultural belief that birth is imminently dangerous — even in healthy, low-risk women? 

“I believe that one day every healthy woman will birth her baby at home into her own hands. It used to be that a birthing woman was surrounded by the women of her community, in her own home. It used to be that Mama and baby were tucked into bed for several weeks following the birth and nurtured by the women of her community.” It use to be and it can one day again be . . .

C-SECTIONS: Get Educated!
May 10, 2011

Many of you have been enjoying the FB daily Fun Facts of the Day, so I thought I’d compile some of them all together in one place.  Of course, this is not complete and there is so much more research out there about Cesarian and VBACs so PLEASE, Get Educated!  Don’t always take your doctor’s word on it!  Get a second opinion and educate yourself – it could make the difference between life and death.

*Convenience is the best explanation for the fact that induction of labor is so common that there are statistically significantly fewer births on weekends and at night.

*In a normal vaginal birth, a mommy can lose 300-500 ml of blood, anything over 500 ml is considered hemorrhaging. In a c-section, a mommy loses 1000 ml of blood . . .

 *A CDC study in 2006 of 5.7 million U.S. births found that infants born by cesarean with no medical risk factors were nearly 3x more likely to die within the first month of life than those born vaginally. 

*A Dutch study found that C-Sections cause 700% more deaths than vaginal births do.

*World Health Organization (WHO) recommends C-Section rates should be between 5% – 15%. American C-section rates are 33% and some hospitals (like Hoag) are close to 50%. WHO states that no region in the world is justified in having a cesarean rate greater than 10 to 15%. Why do you think America’s stats are so high?

 *In 1950, normal labor was 36 hours, and reduced to 24 hours in the 60’s and then to 12 hours in 1972 when “active management” of labor was introduced. No wonder the diagnosis of “Failure to Progress” has tripled. . .
“Have our uteri lost the knack this generation or have drs. speed up the clocks on us?”

*When compared with frequent monitoring by a nurse with a fetoscope, use of EFM (Electronic Fetal Monitor) was found to impart no benefit but it more than tripled the c-section rate and the EFM has been shown to have no effect on infant mortality.

“I wonder if the homebirthers and elective c-section crowd are really just two sides of the same coin: both are coping mechanisms of a sort, the goal being to avoid a traumatic labor and delivery caused by hospitals.”

Our Birth Story
April 18, 2011

**DISCLAIMER**

THIS IS OUR BIRTH STORY.  IT IS RAW, UNEDITED & GRAPHIC.

IF YOU ARE EASILY OFFENDED OR UNCOMFORTABLE WITH THE BIRTHING PROCESS – PLEASE DO NOT READ!

THIS ACCOUNT IS ONLY INTENDED FOR THOSE WHO ARE FAMILIAR WITH THE NATURAL BIRTH PROCESS OR DESIRE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT IT.

IF YOU DO READ THIS, WE ONLY ASK THAT YOU TO PLEASE LEAVE YOUR NAME IN THE COMMENT SECTION AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PAGE TO LET US KNOW YOU READ IT (and we’d love it if you included any of your own thoughts or personal birth story as well!!)

Thank You!

A Birth Orchestrated by God

Birth is a sacred, natural event designed by God.  Our bodies were made to give birth and, when allowed to birth uninterrupted, our bodies are capable of so much ~ like a petite, 115 lb mommy giving birth to a 9 lb, 10 oz baby in under 2 hours with no tears, no trauma and no medical intervention necessary.  

Due to the overwhelming trend in the medical community of (unnecessary) interventions during childbirth, we decided that for our births, home was our location of choice and a trained midwife was preferrable over an OB.  In both of our birth experiences, had we been in a hospital, both of our boys would have been c-sections.  We are so grateful that we educated ourselves and chose to trust God and the birth process He created to birth our babies.  This truly was another birth Orchestrated by God!

* * * * * 

 Three weeks ago at our midwife appt, I was dilated to almost 2 cm and 75% effaced. “Great!” I thought – it could be any day!!  The next week (we were sure we weren’t going to make it back to the midwife’s office again) I was 3 cm dilated!  “Fantastic!” I thought – any day the baby is coming!!  I had been having fairly strong contractions every single day.  The next week came and went . . . still no baby.  Our “guess date” came and went. Still no baby, but we knew our only option was to wait until the Baby was ready to come.  Keith and I began taking loooong walks around Back Bay and I continued drinking raspberry tea (not to be confused with hibiscus tea with artificial raspberry flavoring).  Still nothing. 

Tues afternoon after nap time, I had a very strong desire to go for a long walk along the beach.  Harold just wanted to take a nap on the couch.  After much coercion, I convinced him and we all loaded up into the car and headed to Newport Beach.  It was about 70 degrees with a slight breeze and we walked for over an hour along the board walk, talking, watching the sunset and enjoying the fresh spring air.  I only remember one contraction during our walk, but I didn’t even need to stop during it, I just kept walking. 

We got home around 7:45 and began to make tacos for dinner.  As I was setting the table at 8:00 p.m., I noticed a small gush of water.  Not sure if it was my water, I told Harold and then called Candace, our midwife.   While I was on the phone with Candace, I was telling here there weren’t any contractions yet, but then there was a gush of water and a pretty strong contraction hit.  She advised us to go to bed early and call her when contractions needed my concentration. 

We all sat down and ate dinner together and then Harold and I began to clean the house as quickly as possible.  I had a couple of contractions in the living room which I handled easily enough on my own while on my hands and knees.  They seemed to be 10 min and then 8 min apart.  We got Keith dressed and prepped him that Miss Candace and Dr. Jennifer were going to come over because Baby Luke was coming tonight.  I was in the kitchen when another contraction hit and I again dropped to my hands and knees.  Harold was right there coaching me through it and rubbing my back.  I told him we needed to get Keith in bed immediately!  It was about 8:45 and as I was clearing the last things off the table, I had my hands full of plates and food and a contraction hit in the doorway.  I nearly threw everything to the ground as I dropped to my hands and knees and yelled for Harold to come help me!  I told him I didn’t think I was going to be any more help cleaning and headed to the bedroom to go to bed.  I began to realize that the birth waves seemed to be coming closer together.

Since my water had broken, we decided to remake the bed with a plastic liner and old sheets on top.  I just wanted to throw a blanket down, but luckily Harold insisted on actually making it properly.  A couple more contractions came and went as I knelt on the floor next to our bed.  I threw up a couple times but Harold has two trash cans right next to me and was actively coaching me through every birth wave.  He was timing the contractions on his phone app and they were about 1 minute ½ long and about 1 minute ½ in between.  I was so grateful they were as long as they were and I began to welcome their strength but I felt like I needed relief as they were becoming quite strong and actually painful.  I felt the urge to want to escape and I realized I really needed Harold coaching me.  I tried sitting on the toilet, but the bottom of my belly was hitting the toilet seat and it made everything more painful.  From our class, we learned not to move during contractions but to practice fully relaxing so Harold tried to get me to just hold still in a simi upright/standing position but I literally pushed him to the side and threw myself on the floor on my knees with my head down on the ground.  I have no idea why I kept going back to this position other than it was the main position in which I practiced relaxation during my pregnancy. 

Harold was still trying to set everything up and decided he really could use an extra pair of hands b/c the contractions were coming just minutes apart and I needed his full attention to handle each one.  After that contraction, I insisted we call Candace (our midwife) and Jennifer (our doula).  It was 9:20.  I moved back and forth between the toilet and the bathroom floor, but couldn’t get comfortable.  We couldn’t get ahold of Jennifer.  When Harold talked to Candace, she was gassing up her car and said she could be there in about 45 min.  I told Harold to tell her that I kept feeling like I needed to poop and she responded that she would be there faster.  We kept calling Jennifer, but we knew she was in the middle of her birth class.   
I stayed on my hands and knees for the next several contractions, continuing to throw up but trying to relax entirely thru every contraction.  I tried climbing in the shower, but it didn’t offer any relief.  I began finding myself squirming during the contractions and couldn’t fully relax through each one.  We turned the water off and Harold covered me up with a towel.  I used another towel on the ledge of the shower to lean over and hung my head towards the floor while on my knees.  Harold had some great visualization stories about waterfalls, rocks, streams, flying lilies, little boys throwing snowballs and rocks in the streams.  It was so helpful to escape a little bit from each contraction.

We labored in the shower/bathroom for a while.  I could feel each contraction peak fairly quickly and then decrease slightly, but lasting for about another minute.  I was really struggling to relax thru them and Harold firmly reprimanded me and refocused me to relax and focus.  I was very uncomfortable and couldn’t find any position that offered any relief or rest.  I tried to tell Harold that I really needed him to start a story quicker because they were peaking so quickly after they started but then they were easier for the last minute.  I began moaning and growling through each contraction.  At the end of each contraction I would coach myself and say “breathe that contraction away.” 

While in the shower, I began to notice that the contractions were double peaking – one would start, peak and then continue but then instead of stopping for a minute, another contraction came and peaked with no break in between.  Harold kept asking me to tell him when a contraction ended so he could track them – the problem was they weren’t ending – I tried to communicate to him that another contraction was coming immediately after.   I was still throwing up.  I heard Jennifer come in and during a double peak, difficult contraction, I was squirming and losing control and she firmly reminded me to breathe and then breathed for me so I could follow her pattern.  That was the easiest contraction to go thru.  It was about 9:45.  Harold set Jennifer on a couple of tasks to get everything set up.
Still in the shower, I felt a slight urge to push but I thought that was crazy and refused to tell anyone, but I asked if someone could figure out where Candace was in route.  Jenny asked, “you already called Candace?”  She wasn’t sure we needed Candace already and I realized maybe we were too early still.  I began to feel confused because I was beginning to feel the urge to push stronger, but that wonderful blissful fog that I had with my first birth wasn’t there!  Everything was very vivid and I was aware of everything going on!  I felt that I couldn’t continue like this without that fog to help me relax and block out the outside world so I could escape inside my own little world of birthing.  I told myself I couldn’t be that close and I couldn’t have a baby until that sensation came. 

Feeling very uncomfortable in the shower, I quickly jumped out of the shower and straddled the toilet backwards.  I knew the contractions were coming quickly and I didn’t want to be caught unsituated when one hit, so I literally threw everything off the back of the toilet and yelled for Harold to put the pillow there so I could lean into it.  A couple of really super strong, intense contractions came and I began twisting and shaking my head like a horse and “whinny-ing” with my lips.  Jennifer tried to coach me to a more still, relaxed technique, but I explained between contractions (which seemed to be only about 30 seconds) that Ina May said to make those noises and do that with my lips.  Loose Lips, Loose Bottom.  I did that a few times and felt like it allowed me to actively work with the contraction instead of being swallowed by it. 

I was hitting an intense pain level and really needed something to counteract it – some sort of distraction.  I yelled for Jennifer to grab ice packs and she put them on my lower back.  I wasn’t having back pain, but the burning, raw sensation of the ice against my skin was exactly the distraction I needed to counteract the pain of the contraction.  I had her put it on, take it off, put it on again technique and it got me through a couple more contractions. 

Sitting on the toilet, the urge to push was stronger.  I heard Candace come in and a contraction hit super hard.  I was moaning and grunting – there was no way I could hold still and relax!  It was about 10:10 p.m.  I reach down to see if I could feel the baby’s head, but I couldn’t so I kept thinking we had a while to go still.

They were trying to set up the birth pool, but could not get the hot water to work so they kept telling me that Harold needed to go help but would be right back.  I told them that he could not go and that someone else needed to figure it out.   I think I finally realized that I truly did need to push and told someone that, but I wasn’t sure they were going to believe me. 

Harold finally suggested that we both go to the dining room so he could hook up the hoses and I thought that the pool sounded like a fabulous idea!  I got about 3 steps away and another contraction hit so I dropped to my hands and knees in the bedroom.  Then I got up again, made it to the hall before another contraction hit.  I again dropped to my hands and knees.  I threw up all over and during that contraction really beared down and grunted loudly.  I saw Candace come over and say jokingly that I was going to have the baby right there in the hall.  I thought, no – I really need to get to the pool.  But I was thinking I still had at least an hour or two of pushing.  I heard Candace ask Jennifer if I was bulging and I think she said I was, but I didn’t know what that meant.  Harold left to fix the hoses and Jennifer massaged my back and then put pressure on my hips during a contraction.  That felt wonderful when she pressed my hips so I asked her to do that again.  I think it was two or three contractions and I heard Candace say that the pool wasn’t going to be ready so we needed to go back to bed.  I argued something and she said, “Lets go to the bed and then we can go back to the pool.”  I thought – no, that is backwards, I’m already half way to the pool, I’m not going to go back to bed b/c then I’ll have to go further to go back to the pool.”  Then she told me that the pool was cold.  I told her that was ok – I was hot.  She said firmly told me it would not be good for the baby and to go back to bed.  I told someone to at least grab the camera then!

Somehow I got up and climbed onto the bed.  I told someone that we did have plastic down so it was ok.  After one contraction, I felt a strong stretching, tightening sensation that I thought must be the baby getting closer.  Always being concerned about tearing, I really wanted to labor in water so I told Candace I was going to the shower.  She said, “no – get on the bed”  I reluctantly agreed and saw the massage oil on the dresser and had her grab that since I could not be in the water.  Harold climbed on the bed and we were both on our knees facing each other. 

I was becoming a little concerned and confused about what was going on b/c the contractions weren’t spacing out like pushing contractions are suppose to do and during each contraction I had this crazy sensation to bear down and poop.  I had never experienced that with Keith’s birth and I had no idea what was going on.  I finally reached down and felt an entire head in my hand!!  His head filled up the palm of my hand – no little bit of hair barely peaking through – it was like his head has escaped out of me without me even knowing!

I was leaning on Harold and was soooo thirsty!    I kept begging someone to get me a drink, but they could all see more of what was going on then I could so everyone was taking pictures and filming instead of getting me a drink (which was ok b/c I’d rather have the pictures than water!)  I asked if they could find the video camera, but they couldn’t.  I said, “all well, I guess I’ll just have a baby then.”  Then I asked if they could go get Keith, but no one moved.  Then I heard someone gently say, “Sarah, his whole face is out”  I didn’t believe it and thought, no, I’ll need to push a lot more to get his whole head out.  Then I felt Candace stretching me and it sort of felt like she was helping the baby turn.  I later learned the baby had a nuchal hand and she was trying to get him to push it back but ended up having to pull it out first.  She asked me to push but I told her there wasn’t a contraction, then I thought – hey, if I push maybe this whole thing will be over faster, so I pushed with all my might and out plopped this wet, slippery baby right onto our bed!!  There was a gush of water and baby poop and afterbirth all over the sheets (I was so grateful we had the plastic on the bed – but Harold said we could have had a new mattress instead)  I was in absolute shock!

I heard people say “pick up your baby!” and I told them I couldn’t!  Finally Candace leaned real close to me and said, “hold your baby, rub him.” And I pulled him up next to my belly and rubbed his back until he made a noise.  I realized the cord was very short and I couldn’t get him up any closer to me, so I just held him against my belly.  He was quite grey and seemed so small!

Candace had me lay down at the foot of the bed and Luke laid next to my hip while we made sure he was breathing.  I was still having contractions and was very aware of them.  It was about half an hour before the placenta was delivered and Candace wrapped it up and I was able to nurse Luke.  He sucked right away!  Harold went and got Keith – he just beamed!!!  He was a big brother!!!  He asked me, Mommy, what is baby Luke doing? I told him he was eating.  He disappeared and then brought back two puzzles he had put together to show baby Luke.  One by one, we showed baby Luke every puzzle piece.  Then Keith found his stuffed Shamu and showed it to baby Luke.  He was really excited!!

We are all doing well and enjoying our new family of 4.  We are so grateful to Candace Leach, our midwife, for her amazing skills and training that helped bring Luke safely into this world.  We also are very thankful to Jennifer Angell, our doula and chiropractor, for her inspiration and support throughout our pregnancy and labor (and the countless adjustments!).  We are thankful to our many friends who supported us in our decision to birth at home and offered their love and encouragement.  Above all, we are thankful to God for his omnipotence and for His awesome design of the human body ~ we stand in AWE! 

Isaiah 66:7 – 13

Wed morning (12 hours old):

Thank you for reading our Birth Story! 

Please leave your name (and a comment if you like) in the comment section below!

Baby Luke’s Grand Entrance!
April 15, 2011

We are pleased to announce the arrival of Baby Luke

April 12th, 2011

at 10:30 p.m.

9 lbs, 10 oz

21 inches

Born at Home, drug free, into the loving arms of Mommy and Daddy with the assistance of Candace Leach, midwife & Jennifer Angell, doula.  Keith is so excited to be a big brother and we are enjoying our growing family.

In the Family Way
February 17, 2011

It’s been a busy spring with a toddler and a baby on the way.  We had the privilege of taking a wonderful trip to Big Bear at the beginning of February.  We stayed at the resort and introduced Keith to the wonderful world of snow but being rather difficult for a two year old to walk and run in, he preferred the non-snowy terrain.  We also spent a lot of time enjoying the Big Bear Moonridge Zoo with Huckleberry the Bear!  Keith delighted in seeing the animals close up and hearing the pack of wolves howl.

7 months pregnant with Baby Luke!

 

6 months Pregnant – anxiously awaiting Baby Luke’s Arrival:

 

Henna Belly Tattoo from Heather’s Blessingway (January 22, 2011) – almost 7 mo .

Baby Keith
December 7, 2008

3 days old
3 days old

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asleep2asleep3proud-daddy

mommystork

The Stork Came to our House!!

Our Birth Story: A Birth Orchestrated by God
December 5, 2008

First and foremost, we want to express our Praise and Thanksgiving to God for this amazing Birth Experience!  

We also want to share the details our of story with all of our friends, family and the world in the hopes of conveying the benefits and joy of a water birth at home birth and educating about natural, unmedicated childbirth.  I apologize this is so lengthy so feel free to skim and skip.  Also, all the pictures are true and unrated – we attempted to modify some of the pictures and yet retain their realism.  If these are offensive to anyone, we do apologize. 

*Friday evening – 8:45 pm, Main Place Mall:  Throughout my entire pregnancy, the one thing I truly desired was maternity pictures.  I kept telling Harold that we could not have the baby until we had maternity shots done.  We had taken professional pictures Friday morning and then just finished our second maternity photo shoot for the day at the Main Place Mall at 8:45 pm and were waiting to preview the pictures when my mucous plug fell out!  Thinking my water broke, I told Harold we had to go NOW!  We phoned our friends whom we were suppose to meet later that evening and told them we needed to reschedule.  We contacted Jennifer, our doula, and Sue, our midwife, but I wasn’t having any Birth Waves (a nice name for contractions).  Sue told me to put on the disposable underwear that we bought (great suggestion!) we go to bed.  I ate a hard boiled egg and some apple slices on our way home.

*Friday, 9:15 pm, Home – As I was getting ready to crawl into bed for the night, I began to feel a steady flow of water, which I had been feeling since 8:45 but this time I realized that it wasn’t stopping and, worrying about the carpet, I ran and stood in the shower.  Literally gallons of water rushed out for about 2 minutes before it finally let up.  It was then I realized that my water had broken.  Harold had just left for his office to grab our camera memory sticks and for Home Depot to buy hoses (for the birth pool – so much for being prepared ahead of time). 

*Friday, 10:30 pm – Still wide awake.  Of course.  Harold got home from Kmart, since Home Depot was closed and gave me Benadryl for my allergies and to help me sleep.  I ate some cottage cheese and drank some apple juice.  Still no Birth Waves.

*Friday, about 11:00 pm – Harold was still setting up the hoses and I couldn’t sleep without him.  I kept getting up and he’d yell at me to go back to bed and sleep.  I was very tempted to stay up with him and make sure that everything was out and ready for the birth team but I kept remembering our midwife calling that the “kiss of death” and it was pertinent that I slept.  So resisting my typical type A personality, I slept.

12:00 am – Harold finally came to bed after getting everything all set up (his opinion was he wasn’t the one who needed the energy to push the baby out).

Saturday, 12:19 am – I felt the first contraction and jumped out of bed yelling that I needed to go to the bathroom!  It felt like I was wetting my pants.  Our house was rather chilly and during the contraction my legs were shaking.  I went back to bed expecting about 10 – 15 minutes between contractions and hoping to sleep for the better part of the night. 

Saturday, 12:23 am – The next contraction came and I bolted out of bed again and ran for the toilet.  It was so comforting hearing Jennifer’s voice in my head telling our Bradley class that so many mommies labor on the toilet.  I was half asleep and the Benadryl was making me really hazing.  My body started shaking during the contractions and I started to freak out.  I yelled for Harold and told him I needed him.  The contraction was over by the time he got there.  I remember sitting there telling him I was losing it and I didn’t think it would feel like this.  The contraction was very low around my bladder, not at all like the Braxton-Hicks, and each contraction felt like I was loosing bladder control (even though I wasn’t).   I also started throwing up everything I had eaten previously.   He asked if I wanted him to call Jennifer and I told him yes, but then no and he suggested taking a shower.  I jumped at the opportunity and practically jumped into the shower.  We had done a lot of practice relaxation while in the shower together so I felt like I knew exactly what to do. 

12:30 am – I continued to have contractions in the shower and Harold stood outside the shower with his hand against the wall for me to lean my head into during contractions.  The hot water felt soooo amazing and it almost felt like I could sleep between contractions.  I kept asking Harold to time the contractions b/c I was so anxious to know what stage of labor I was in.  He told me later that he couldn’t even time them b/c they were coming on top of each other and he was spending all his time helping me relax.  At this point I was aware of the contractions, but the hot water and the Benadryl wearing off kept me in a very relax, sleep like state where I didn’t feel totally awake or aware. 

It seemed like I was in the shower for a while and I started to worry that we would run out of hot water.  I suggested that we try going for a walk.  When I turned off the water, I became fully aware of everything going on.  The contractions were hard and fast, about 3 minutes apart, but I got dressed in warm clothes and got ready for the walk.  It took forever to get ready since I had to stop and concentrate during every contraction.  Being fully dressed with shoes on, I felt like my body was carrying so much weight and I just wanted to be light and relaxed.  We didn’t get very far – just to the driveway and I told him there was no way I was going for a walk – I’m going back to the shower!  I threw my clothes off on the way and crawled back into the shower.  We must have been there for some time but everything was really foggy.  As some point I got out of the shower and sat on the edge of the sink and Harold was leaning on the opposite wall while I leaned into him.   I remember Harold called Jennifer, our amazing doula, and I heard Hannah bark when she got here.  Together they walked me through several hours of contractions while I sat on the edge of the sink leaning into Harold.  Harold said I was like a ramming bull into his rib cage on each contraction.  They talked me through relaxing every body part over and over again.  I remember Jennifer saying “this time let’s try something else” and tried to talk me through an object visualization, which is exactly what I had told her ahead of time that I would want.  I think we got about 10 seconds into the visualization and I yelled “it’s not working!  Tell me which body part to relax!!”  I’m sure they both thought “transition.”  So, they kept going through body parts again.  I think they must have labeled each body part a hundred million times but at that moment it was what kept me going.  I didn’t care how many times they told me to relax my arms and relax my face and relax my shoulders – just as long as they kept talking me through it.  I discovered later that Harold was wedged with the light switch digging into one side of his back and the toilet paper holder on the other side plus my head ramming him every minute. 

3:00 am approx. –   Jennifer told me she wanted to get an idea of the timing for my contractions.  She timed them on her phone and determined that they were only lasting about 30 – 45 seconds even though they were coming quickly.  She said that we really needed to get them going stronger in order to get the cervix dialated.  I was ready to do anything that might help speed everything up.  I remember asking her if this was as strong as the contractions were going to get, or if they were going to intensify in strength.  Being the amazing doula that she is, she didn’t answer me.  I rationalized in my mind that I could handle them lasting longer but I wasn’t sure if I could continue to relax if they got any stronger.  It was truly a  lot of mental work!

We got ready to go for a walk (again) and I got all dressed.  When we got outside, it was a lot colder than we realized so we came back inside for sweatshirts.  The fresh, cold air did wonders to clear my head.  It gave me a whole new burst of energy.  We literally walked about 4 steps and then stopped for a contraction.  Another 4 steps, another contraction.  I drank some juice, threw up, walked another 4 steps.  We got to the corner and I told them that I felt great but I was afraid that if we went any further, I might not make it back.   

4:00 am – We got back to the house and back to the bathroom.  I had pretty strong sciatic pain through my butt and leg but Jennifer had a great hot compress that she strapped around me and it felt great!  I got back in the shower on my knees and just had Harold run the hot water over my shoulders and tummy. 

Jennifer suggested that I try out the birth tub (we were all worried about running out of hot water, but luckily we never did).  I simply did not want to move and was enjoying the perfect position I had found.    They convinced me that the birth tub would feel wonderful and that I should really give it a try.  After a few more contractions, I made my way to the dining room where the tub was all set up.  Here is our first round in the tub:

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  At first it felt very nice and warm, but I quickly got chilled.  Jennifer wrapped towels around my shoulders they kept these warm which helped so much! 

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During each contraction, I felt like I was floating away and couldn’t quite get grounded in the pool.  I also continued to throw up all the juice and water they had been giving me to drink.  Honestly, I loved it when I threw up!  At this point the contractions were fast and it took a lot of mental work to relax through them, but when I threw up I didn’t have to focus on relaxing and it was like a got a free ticket past that contraction!  My body definately had it’s own way of giving me a break when I needed it.  

While in the pool, I yelled for Jennifer and Harold to push me down to keep me from floating away.  Harold laughed later and told me I was not really floating away but at the time they didn’t question me and just did exactly what I asked (what great coaches!).  They both pushed down on my shoulders and I squatted in the water during each contraction.  

It was in the shower that I felt the contractions change in a way I can’t quite describe.  Jennifer kept asking me to describe what they felt like and asked if I felt “pushy.”  I knew cognitively that these were all questions to determine if I was moving into second stage, but I couldn’t really tell physically how I felt.  Jennifer left to make sure the pool was ready and before I knew it a contraction hit and I let out this huge primative grunt – very typical second stage signpost!   When Jennifer came back I think I asked her if this meant I was fully dialated and if I could push, but she told me that she couldn’t check me and that I probably shouldn’t push until Sue got here (our midwife).  I remember her prepping me before Sue got here that if I was only 4 cm, then that was great progress and not to be discouraged.dsc06507-a

We moved to the pool and before I knew it Sue came!!  It was such a relief to have her!  She was busy as a bee setting everything up – I was amazed at how she transformed our house into a birth center with oxygen, emergency meds, aromatherapy, and all sorts of medical equipment.  I hadn’t had any exams and I had no idea if I was dialated or how far or long my contractions were.    I was squatting in the tub and I yelled “I’m going to push!” (I think I meant it more as a threat since no one seemed to be paying attention to me as they were setting up)  Sue was very encouraging and told me to go ahead and push through that contraction and then she asked me how that felt.  I was quite confused since I was expecting to push a few times and have a baby out!  She told me to reach down and see if I could feel the baby’s head.  I couldn’t tell what I felt.  Jennifer was really encouraging and told me that she couldn’t feel anything when she had Skyler (her daughter). 

dsc06508-aSue checked my temperature.   I heard Sue make a phone call to Lyndsey, her birth assistant and midwife in training, and told her to come over, quickly!  I was encouraged that maybe this would go quickly.   Sue asked where our baby blankets were and Jennifer got those.  It was the first time I realized that very soon there would be a baby here! 

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6:00 a.m. approx – Sue  was always close by monitoring the baby and keeping a very watchful eye on us.   When she finally did examine me, I asked if I was fully dialated and she laughed and said yes!  They had Harold get in the tub to support me and they positioned me to start pushing.

We tried a couple of different positions to shorten the birth canal and maximize pushing.

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7:30 am – Jen arrived!!  Yeah!  She served as our professional photographer, prayer person and as the “overall amazing helpful person” role.  It was a relief to know that she had arrived.  Now the baby could come!

Some time into pushing, Sue determined that the pushes weren’t bringing the baby down effectively and that we needed to be a little more proactive.  Sue put her fingers on my perineum and told me to push towards her fingers.  This helped me focus my muscles for where to push.  We learned in our Bradley class that pushing is very similar to having a bowel movement so they decided that maybe I would be more comfortable or relaxed on the toilet.  So, off we went.

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I remember everyone saying “good job” when I went urinated, which I thought was funny.  I don’t think I was there for long and they suggested that we move to the bed.  I laid there for just a few contractions with one leg up, but it was quite uncomfortable.  I think I was a little fearful of ruining the sheets on our bed.  I told them that I wanted to try squatting so Harold instructed them how to set up the chair so he could sit behind me and support me. 

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We had practiced this position for hours during our pregnancy so if felt soooo good!  We use to sit like this and watch TV in the evenings.  In between contractions, they had me stand up and sway my hips to help bring the baby down.  My round ligaments at the bottom of my belly were really stretching and aching.  They fed me mouthfuls of honey for energy boosts – it tasted wonderful!  They also started giving me these little round herbal pills to put under my tongue (I have no idea what they were suppose to do, but they tasted sweet).  I don’t remember throwing up while I was pushing.

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It was at this point when I realized that it was light outside and I started asking what time it was.  No one would tell me.  Finally someone told me it was 8:30 am.  I calculated in my head and realized that I had been pushing for quite a while and that they kept moving me and trying to make my pushes more effective.  I began to ask what else I could do to help this baby out.  I don’t remember anyone telling me specifically, but about this time was when the baby was stuck on the pubic bone.  I became a little fearful that any moment Sue was going to tell me that my body wasn’t working and that we needed to go to the hospital.  I knew that going to the hospital would mean a c-section so I was very determined to do whatever it took to get this baby out. 

I became a bit frustrated, I screamed “Get this baby out of me!”  I talked to the baby and told him that it was time for him to come, I swayed, I danced, I pushed with all my might but only half of the contractions seemed to be effective.  We were in the squatting position for over 40 minutes.

They brought me a mirror (an old, chipped mirror from the garage with cracked edges – a mirror was not on our list of birt supplies to gather) so I could see the baby.  It was so discouraging to see just a slight cresent of the head – I was expecting to see full crowning!   I felt like I was still a long way away from this baby.   I kept looking at Lyndsey and asking how much longer and asking what next.  I felt like I needed some sort of guidepost – like 9 more pushes or 2 more inches.  But of course, no one else knew either.   I begged Jen to start praying and hearing her pray gave me so much more strength.  One thing I remember between contractions was noticing that it was about 80 degrees in the house and all of the windows were steamed up with condensation.

When I got too tired from the squatting, I tried sitting on Harold’s lap.  It was in this position that they started to say that the pushes were working!  I was bringing the baby down!   I wouldn’t categorize the sensation as anything painful, it was much more mental – like when you force your body to run that last lap even though you are physically and emotionally drained – it doesn’t necessarily hurt to run that last lap, it’s just pure will power.

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This position was crazy – I had one foot on Sue’s shoulder and one foot on another chair propping myself up.  As great as this was for me, it was torture for Harold!  Yet I never heard him complain once!    We finally were making progress!!  This was such a relief because I absolutely was determined to have this baby at home without harmful drugs.   As always, Sue was keeping a close eye on the baby and me (in the above picture, she is monitoring the baby’s heartrate).

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8:00 am approx – I tried pushing leaning over the side of the tub but was told that this wasn’t the most optimal position since it was closing off the pelvic opening.  I didn’t need to be told twice!  I was ready for this baby to come, yet the whole time Harold kept whispering in my ear “our baby is coming” or “we’re getting closer to meeting our baby” there was such a disconnect between what I was doing and our baby.  I was definately in my own little world, very oblivious to everything going on around me. 

As I was pushing in the pool, I made the mistake a pushing with my face.  For our friends in our birth class – remember not to push with your face – these muscles weren’t meant to push a baby out (o:

It seemed like a very, very long time with very minimal progress.  Everyone would yell “push!”  “Push from your bottom!”  “Push your baby out” and at one point, in the middle of a contraction, I yelled “BE QUIET!”  It got quiet really quick.  I hope no one was offended.    During each push, I honed into Lyndsey tell me “You’re bringing your baby down – good!  Keep going.” 

This was the first shot where we could actually see the baby!

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I thought “Hooray!  I’m done!!”  Hardly.  The contractions kept coming and they kept telling me to push.  I couldn’t figure out what was wrong or why it wasn’t like all the videos we watched.  I reached down and could feel the head during the contraction, but it was just so slow. 

When the baby got close to crowing, I became consumed with the fear of tearing.  We had done all of the massaging and above all else, I wanted to protect the perineum.  With each contraction, I realized that I could take a deep breath and get three really good pushes, but in my mind I told myself that if I only push twice, I could ease this baby out and maybe I wouldn’t tear. 

There was quite a bit of time between contractions where I could fully relax and gain all my energy back:

 Harold was a stud!  He kept reminding me to curl around my baby, take a deep breath, put my chin down, elbows out and push!  He would even curl his body around mine to help me push more effectively.  He never got frustrated when I did it wrong.

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Looking back at the pictures, I realized that the expression on my face is not that of pain, but rather the concentration of pushing and focusing on the contraction.  My mistake was pushing with my face instead of working to relax it.   I remembered to relax my face during each push when I heard someone tell me to relax, but I couldn’t hear everyone (or I wasn’t listening) so I continued to strain all my neck muscles.  I just felt like I had so many things to focus on at once. 

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I started arching my back at the end of each contraction because I was so worried about the baby coming out too fast (I should have known better after so many hours of pushing).  

As the baby started to crown, I kept seeing gushes of blood.  I told Harold over and over “I tore, I tore”  He kept saying, “No you didn’t, you’re fine” but I knew he was lying – he couldn’t even see – he was behind me!  I knew Sue wasn’t worried, but I could see her waving her hand under water to dissipate the blood so I was certain I had torn.  There was a lot of pressure towards my public bone so I pushed one on it with my hand during each contraction.  I had heard so many of our friends recall that when they gave birth, it felt like the baby was coming out of their butt.  To me, it felt like this baby was too high up.  All the pressure I felt was around the pubic bone. 

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 A little more with each contraction – it seemed very slow to get the head out all the way.

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10:00 am – Each contraction slowly brought the baby out.  So it continued this way until finally that answer was seen!  The baby had his hand next to his head!!!  A nuchal hand!  The midwife tried to push the hand back, but it wasn’t going anywhere so she pulled his hand out:

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Amazing!  When it all happened it was an absolute blur and I had no idea what it meant.  There seemed to be a collective sigh that echoed through the room as everyone else understood.  The nuchal hand was what made the pushing so prolonged as he tried to go around the pubic bone.  Looking back, we realized that had we been in a hospital, they would have been concerned after 2 hours of hard pushing and since the baby didn’t seem to be descending we most likely would have ended up with a c-section.  They probably would have told me that I was too small to deliever the baby or try to convince me that I was too tired to continue pushing.  They also would have never known that it was a nuchal hand holding everything up (since during a c-section as the baby is lifted out his hand next to his head would never have been identified)  It was only thanks to God that He led us on the path of finding the right person to oversee the birth of our baby.  I am so grateful that we trusted the birth process!

10:08 am – After the hand and the head was out, I remember feeling the baby slip out in a big gush.  Sue turned him upside down and lifted him up onto my tummy.  Harold and I both held him in our arms as we saw our baby for the first time.  I remember he was covered in Vernix and my hand was also covered in it after I touched him.  Someone asked us what we had and I lifted him up and said “It’s a Boy!”  He was exactly what I had been praying for! 

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As always, Hannah Bear was close by.  We held him in the water, but Sue was a little concerned about the bleeding so they wanted to get me out of the pool as soon as possible.  She asked me if it was okay to clamp and cut the cord and I trusted her so Harold cut the cord.  I was surprised at all the blood that came out of the cord after we cut it.  Someone took the baby so we could get out and Sue told Harold to go change quickly, he would need to hold the baby.  I remember them asking me where I was going to recover (I had planned on moving the love seat into the dining rm, but it hadn’t been moved).  I told them I didn’t care, the floor right there was fine with me.   

They had me walk to the bedroom which was the weirdest thing since the umbilical cord was still hanging down and it had the clamp on it.  I was amazed at how wonderful I felt and how easy it was to walk.  They put me in bed where Harold was holding the baby to his chest with a heating pad around them – no cold, lonely warmers like in the hospital.  Harold brought the baby to me and I held him on my chest.  I tried to get him to nurse, but he wouldn’t open his mouth so Lyndsey helped me and he started sucking right away!  That was one of the most amazing experiences!  I looked at Jen and kept telling her that this was something I never thought I’d be able to do (since we had been told we were unable to have kids and thought adoption was our only option).  

It was time to deliver the placenta and Sue told me to push a little and I thought “No way!  I’m done pushing!” but then out came the placenta.  It was amazing when Sue brought it in to us and explained all the parts to it and how it worked.  Within about 1/2 hour I asked to take a shower so Lyndsey helped me up and I took the most amazing, hot shower.  oh, I felt so good!  However, when I started to get out, I blanked a little and before I knew it I was on a ship somewhere sailing on a cruise!  Lyndsey asked me if I was okay and I realized that I had gotten up a little too fast.  I shook my head and after that I was fine, but they sure kept a close eye on me! 

The baby was awake for several hours – no drug induced stupor.  He nursed great, cooed, made eye contact and turned his little head to hear mommy and daddy’s voices.  When Sue weighed him and announced that he was 9 lb, 3 oz  I was speechless!  I had told people that we were growing a moose, but I couldn’t really believe he was that big!  He measured 23 inches long!  His head circumference with his hand was 40 cm!  Yet even with such a large baby, there were absolutely no tears, no rips and no stitches!  God was truly watching out for us!!

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Overall, our birth experience was better than I had even dreamed!  I feel like we had everything we wanted and nothing that we didn’t.  There were no complications, no drugs, no medical interventions, no doctors pushing their agendas or time schedules.  We were surrounded by people we trusted in the comfort of our own home.  It was a pure and holy, natural birth.  It was truly a birth orchestrated by God.

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*Your comments are Greatly appreciated!!

IT’S A BOY!
December 4, 2008

Harold Keith Schlatter III was born Sat, Nov 29th at 10:30 am into the loving arms of his parents at home in water with the assistance of a midwife.  He is 9 lb 3 oz, 23 inches long.
Birth Story Coming Soon!z-water-birth