This, our third, pregnancy was sailing along. We were again going to the birth center where our now 2-year-old son, Cary, was born. We refused all but the most routine of tests this time around. No ultrasounds or AFPs for this baby unless there was a really good reason! At our second appointment, around 11 weeks, I measured slightly larger than expected. We discussed an ultrasound but agreed to wait for the next visit. By that time, my measurements were even a bit smaller than expected.
Seven months into the pregnancy my best friend, Terriann, and her family moved from Pennsylvania to Alaska. Cary and I (and the baby of course) helped them drive the nearly 5,000 mile trip over 11 days. We ran into snow, high winds and lots of other adventures along the way. The baby seemed to enjoy the whole trip and I continued feeling great!
Though it was hard leaving Terriann in Alaska, I knew we would get together again soon. She had promised to act as our doula and had airline tickets planning to arrive several days before our due date and staying almost two weeks beyond it.
Our 5-year-old daughter was born 8 days late with a 20+ hour labor in a hospital. Cary arrived 11 days late with a day and a half of reasonably active labor. So I was surprised when at 38+ weeks I awoke at about 2:15 AM in what I now call “pre” labor – diarrhea, slight cramping, no defined contractions. By about 2:30 I was having regular contractions that were relatively mild. I spent the next ten minutes or so telling myself I couldn’t be in labor yet. I had only had an hour of sleep and was expecting another prolonged labor. Terriann wasn’t here yet either.
I got in the shower thinking the warm water would feel good and the contractions got a bit stronger. I groaned through them, sometimes leaning against the shower wall. Doug began timing them “for fun.” They went from 5 to 4 minutes pretty quickly, so we called our midwife and made arrangements to meet her at the birth center. We were surprised things were moving so quickly this time. What a nice change!
As Doug was hanging up with the midwife, I had a much more intense contraction with an overwhelming, out of nowhere, urge to push! I grunted to Doug that I felt like I had to push and that I didn’t know if we were going to make it to the birth center. I tensed my whole body trying to resist the urge to push. When I relaxed, at the end of that contraction, Kendall Grace literally slid out and Doug caught her as I was still standing in the shower with the water running. Kendall looked up into my eyes, cried a bit, then settled down. Doug and I looked at each other and said something to the effect of – oh my God, we had a baby. We were amazed! Then we took a minute to think – what do we do now. Doug threw a towel over us and we shuffled her over to our bed. Not knowing how long the cord was, I was afraid to stand up straight. lay down with Kendall on my chest and we put lots of blankets on top of us. Doug called the midwife to tell her we had a baby and see what to do next. We prepared to deliver the placenta.
While gathering more blankets and towels, Doug woke up Kyle and tried unsuccessfully to rouse Cary. Now Kyle and our dog Bernie joined us in bed. As I felt a contraction I pushed. A little fluid and a bit of the membrane came out. A few minutes later I pushed with another contraction. I had been expecting a “squishy little push,” but we were all in for the surprise of our lives. I thought, “Oh no, that’s not a placenta… that’s another head!” At the same time, Doug was on the phone with the midwife saying, “Uh oh, there’s another one!” (We were NOT expecting twins.) Carlie Ann’s head was delivered with that push and the rest of her came with the next one. She wasn’t crying right away, but responded quickly to being rubbed while on my chest. Doug admits to making sure a third baby wasn’t on the way.
As soon as we hung up from the midwife, we called Terriann, who was out for a walk! Doug then talked our nurse in to our house via her car phone. We soon reached Terriann and shared our wonderful, shocking story. The midwife arrived shortly thereafter. The nurse and midwife attended us here including doing several loads of laundry! They cut the cord and put the placenta in our favorite “Chex Mix” bowl. Kyle was able to wake up Cary, who also joined us in bed. Our friend Kathryn arrived next and made us a great pancake breakfast. By this time, Carlie and Kendall had been nursing up a storm for quite a while! Later our family doctor came to check us and declared us all to be doing great.
Terriann changed her plans and was on the next plane to be with us. It was so special having her here with us. We are so grateful for the tremendous support and fun she brought with her. The fact that she also brought her 10 years of experience as a lactation consultant and her personal experiences nursing her seven children was a bonus. Kendall and Carlie were baptized at two weeks of age, before their godmother Terriann had to return home to Alaska.
Some clueless community members here think we planned this whole adventure at home, which we definitely did not. As Doug says, “If I had planned this, I would have ripped the shower curtain down and put it on the bed!”
It was so wonderful to be at home for this entire experience. I cannot imagine having gone to the hospital or even the birth center after such beautiful births. It was by far the most peaceful birth we have had (so far). The only thing more peaceful than the birth, is going to sleep each night nursing both of our lovely daughters.