“Sometimes, surprises are the best thing in life.”
Everything about Chloe is a statistical anomaly.
Her existence was a less than 1% chance.
Her weight at 10lbs 10oz.
Her head born en caul.
She has the world’s rarest blood type, O-.
And, she was born on my lucky number and she was my midwife’s 1st Georgia delivery.
On a rainy Monday morning I woke up at 5:15am with 4 very strong contractions. I had been having contractions on and off for about two weeks. Before I could start timing them I fell back asleep. I woke up to Shiloh crying on the monitor at 6:30 and I felt the contractions return. Or perhaps they never left and I just slept through them.
I called my midwife at 6:45 and told her I thought I might be in labor. I headed downstairs, took out the trash and poured myself coffee. I lit some candles so my house wouldn’t smell like dog when my midwife and her backup arrived. 😂
Ouch. A strong contraction.
Kevin looks up from his laptop and tells me to call the midwife. I will in a minute, I tell him. He says if you don’t call her, I will. “I’m the only reason we made it to the hospital in time for Shiloh to be born!” Fine. I’ll go call her. I phone her just after 7.
She sounds like she thinks we might have a little more time- I know I sound calm and, I am- I almost tell her that I doubt that but I can’t find the words to articulate the feelings and regrettably, I don’t say anything.
In a very short amount of time, the contractions are coming on strong. I get in my bathtub in my bathroom.
Kevin starts filling up the birthing tub in our bedroom. He has phoned his parents who are headed over to watch Noelle and Shiloh.
Ouch. I text the midwife “hurry, it hurts.”
I start pacing between the bathroom and bedroom. I have a towel between my legs because I’m either peeing or I’m leaking amniotic fluid.
I’m entering my own world where the contractions are strong and painful and I can’t really talk anymore and I’m just trying to breathe through them.
Kevin applies counter-pressure to my back which I never asked him to do but was exactly what I wanted.
Kevin has Margaret on speakerphone and I manage to squeeze out, “talk to me, Margaret.”
She talks me through some contractions.
Kevin is asking me occasionally if I’m having contractions or in between them. I shoot him darts with my eyes because I can’t talk and I don’t want to think about the next contraction.
I step into the birthing tub and another contraction is triggered.
I hear Margaret instructing Kevin on how to deliver the baby which makes the contractions hurt worse. Why is she telling him how to deliver her 😬.
I am in transition and I know that if I can just get this baby out, there will be relief.
Kevin tells me “5 more minutes”. Just wait five mins. She’s almost here. From down in the birth tub I look up at him and for the first time since I’ve been in labor, I register nervouseness on his face.
I want to wait for Margaret to get there.
I hear her say while talking to Kevin, “annnnnd, I hear you pushing.”
I am pushing, aren’t I. 😳
She arrives and checks me with a flashlight. I want to tell her to stay with me but I can’t speak.
She goes to Kevin’s bed trying to quickly gather things for the birth.
I push Chloe’s head out which brings a break from the pain.
I’m leaning on my hip and forward. My arm is asleep from leaning on it but I don’t move. I tell Kevin, “take some pictures.” .
“You’re thinking about pictures at a time like this?!” Margaret asks.
“her head is out” I manage to say.
Margaret turns around
I hear the surprise in her voice, “her head is out?”
She comes over and provides just a bit of traction which I welcomed gratefully.
I remember pushing the rest of her body out and then I don’t remember so clearly what happened next.
The midwife put her on my chest.
And I remember looking down at her and seeing the membranes covering her head. I said, “what is this?” Her head was born en caul! Margaret pulled it off.
I originally planned to have Noelle witness the birth. But I felt like a rabid animal, turning circles in the tub in pain and I didn’t want to be seen that way. I tell Noelle the baby came too fast (half true!) but she could come in now.
Noelle looks taken aback. Nervous. We invite her over to cut the cord.
I ask if it’s done pulsating and Margaret puts my hand on the cord. “Almost.” I feel the blood pulsating through the cord which is a cool experience.
Noelle cuts it half way, says she can’t do it and daddy cuts the rest.
I start feeling uncomfortable. Margaret suggests putting the baby to breast but I need this placenta out of me before I can breastfeed.
I don’t want to push anything else out.
I ask Kevin to hold Chloe.
He’s in the rocking chair holding her and Noelle is with them.
Margaret sits on the bed and loads a syringe with Pitocin. She tells me it’s just in case I don’t push the placenta out. I am thinking- I do NOT want that Pitocin.
Margaret comes to the edge of the tub. I need her firmness now. She senses this and instructs me to, “push it out, Katharine.” I bear down on her and she talks me through it and out comes the stupid placenta. I was so glad to have it out! That thing was huge.
Noelle and Kevin help me to my bed to lay down. I breastfeed baby. There are towels and blood everywhere. Kevin is talking about throwing them away and getting new ones at Costco.
Kevin also kept asking why she was so quiet. She didn’t cry much! Might be her temperament, the calm home birth and/or because she was born so fast, she needed a little oxygen after birth.
My midwife anticipated this because the same thing happened at Shiloh’s birth so she brought oxygen along with her.
We checked in with our awesome pediatrician who said ”it’s counter medical advice but I think it’d be more dangerous to go out in the rain after having just given birth than it would be to just stay home and continue to give her a little oxygen and monitor her.”
Turns out our pediatrician has had home births for 5 of his 9 children. And he was right. Everything worked out just fine in the end.
Noelle got to be involved; bringing towels, bringing Margaret her bag, helping cut the cord and helping me to bed.
I believe having Noelle in the birthing room bonded her closer to her baby sister and I certainly felt closer to her.
Chloe, thank you for choosing me as your mama. I will love you forever.
Chloe Jean Geary