Welcome to the world, Noah Clayton Lacko.
We are just rounding out Week 1 with our newest family member, and I must share the story of his birth before I over-romanticize it from an overwhelming abundance of love.
No doubt about it, I was fit to be tied. My neighbor, a client of my midwife, had a due date five days later than mine, and delivered her little son before me. I visited mommy and baby, and when I held that sweet little guy, I just began to cry. I’m not sure if it was the hormones, that indescribably wonderful newborn scent, or the longing in my heart for my own son to arrive… it was a potent combo, and may have been just what I needed to go into labor myself.
My husband believes it was our midwife’s urging for us to “get romantic” that did the trick, but as the evening drew to a close, I simply couldn’t get comfortable, and found myself huffing and puffing, and said, almost in disbelief, “I think I’m in labor!” We spent the next hour timing the contractions, and then another 45 minutes later, Noah arrived! It’s a good thing we had planned another home birth. I don’t think I could ever make it to the hospital if I’d wanted.
In the two hours I labored, the months of worry about the health and safe delivery of my baby disappeared. My husband was kind, firm and reassuring. I felt totally freed from any expectations, he just encouraged me to do what I needed to do. With our first child, we had both thought it would be a combined effort, that we would apply all the lessons we’d learned in our Bradley Method classes, and work as a team. My labor had come so fast and furious, and I was so intently focused within, that he had not played the role we’d anticipated. This time, I wanted so much to include him in what can only be described as a journey, the path from full body control to surrender, releasing a child ready for the outside world.
In reality, labor is all-consuming. Having labored both in water and out, I can tell you that a birthing tub relieves at least half the pain, if not more. Pregnant moms, please take my word–even if you don’t plan a water birth, be sure to spend a good percentage of your labor immersed in water. It is so very soothing. Joseph sat and watched, and held me when needed, and I focused on pushing down and out, down and out. He encouraged and cheered me on.
I believe very strongly that inviting each contraction will make the labor go much, much faster, and that it is bearing down against the barrage that causes a prolonged and agonizing labor. It’s the baby’s big day; regardless of the overwhelming waves of pressure, inviting it in, accepting it and breathing with it will bring you to pushing that much faster, and is in agreement with what your child is working inside to accomplish. Speaking as a person who has had 3.5-hour and 2-hour labors, I say accept that your body is working naturally and as intended. Tell yourself, “bring it on! With every new contraction, I’m that much closer to meeting my baby!”
Joseph and the midwives worked to get the birthing tub set up, and I climbed in. I had hoped to deliver in the squatting position, because it stretches the birth canal another 1-1.5 centimeters, but we don’t always get to decide things with birth! I was most comfortable in the least-glamorous position (on hands and knees), but I have no regrets. I actually felt Noah within me, his head and shoulders and body shape, not just a vague, hot pressure. I felt him drop suddenly and pushed. Our midwife and my husband urged me push again because they couldn’t feel the cord (I couldn’t believe that what I’d pushed hadn’t been the whole baby!)
While I wanted to wait for another contraction, I pushed again and suddenly my little newborn son slipped down and forward between my legs and I simply swept him up in my arms and laid easily back in the birth tub. My strong little son put both hands on my chest and pushed himself up and looked me right in the face! I was overcome with emotion and love and snuggled him to me while Joseph came and sat very close next to me and we kissed and met our Noah. All this happened at 11:15 at night, right outside the bedroom of our 2-year-old son, who never even woke up! In fact, my parents had come into town just that afternoon, and even they didn’t wake through the birth! I don’t think I was exactly quiet, but perhaps I wasn’t so loud either?
The beautiful thing about home birth is that once the baby is delivered, you slip directly into your own bed, eat your own food, and your baby is examined when you’re ready to hand him over, and it’s done on your bed right in front of you. Lovely! No hospital gowns, weird hospital smells, fluorescent lights, IVs, unnecessary shots or strangers popping in and out to poke at you or your new baby. That is worth forgoing the epidural alone. Besides, I’ve never met a woman who got one that didn’t experience pain in childbirth anyway. It’s just a fact of life. It’s true that anything worth having is worth working for.
My husband went and woke our toddler and brought him to our bed, and we all snuggled in as a family. He was a little surprised to find a baby there–along with our midwives and the arrival of my best friend Vicki, who had planned to attend the birth.
Later that night, when everything was quiet, I held in my heart some bittersweetness for how little faith I’d had. I’d been so worried about how the delivery would go and had prayed so hard that my baby simply get here in good health. My prayers have always been answered faithfully, so I shouldn’t have put myself–or my family–through such agony! Not only did Noah arrive safely, but it was quick and manageable, he is incredibly healthy and perfectly adorable, the experience instilled an even greater feeling of love and gratitude for my husband, and I didn’t even tear, so the recovery has been (relatively) a breeze! My baby’s birth was a huge gift and a beautiful experience and I feel so lucky and blessed.
Noah Clayton Lacko
April 17, 2007
8 lbs, 12 oz., 22 inches