Caleb’s story starts back in July. My husband Jeremy and I had made a somewhat spontaneous decision to add one more to our family of five. We had already been blessed with 2 sons and a daughter and we had been wondering if we should stop at 3 kids or have one more. Since we were wondering about that one more we opted to go for it rather than continue into the future wondering about that 4th child we never had. Surprisingly I conceived on our first try within a few days after making the decision to have another child. We were excited but a little scared at the same time since it happened so fast. This would (hopefully) be our third TBC baby. I was fortunate to have found TBC when I got pregnant with my second son and was having trouble finding natural childbirth options elsewhere. I had delivered my first son with a midwife in Ohio and was looking for something similar here. TBC has been a significant part of our family’s life ever since.
Within a few weeks our excitement about the pregnancy turned to fear and sadness when I started to bleed heavily and pass clots. Certain I was having a miscarriage, I went to triage at Christiana only to find out that there was a healthy baby inside me and no explanation for the bleeding. The bleeding resolved itself and everything seemed fine until the second trimester when I had another episode of heavy bleeding. After another visit to triage, we found out I had a sub chorionic hemorrhage which was a potential complication, but most likely would resolve itself and not be an issue. I was very cautious until my 20 week ultrasound determined that all was well and we had a healthy baby boy. It was the first time we ever found out the gender of our baby before the birth. I think I prefer to be surprised, but it was also fun to know ahead of time.
The rest of the pregnancy went smoothly with no complications. March was rapidly approaching and I had a list of things that I wanted to do before the baby came. One item on the list was to attend a wedding in Ohio which involved a 9 hour drive relatively close to my due date. The weekend of the wedding my husband got sick so we couldn’t go, but decided to try to go the following weekend just for a visit since it would be our last chance to travel for a while. We loaded up the 3 kids and made the long drive while I was nearly 38 weeks pregnant. I didn’t have any fears about going into labor on the trip as I had never gone into labor a moment before 40 weeks. The trip was uneventful. I had my 38 week prenatal visit the day after we came back. It was one of those unseasonably hot days and I had a mini-panic attack because I didn’t have spring/summer clothes ready for the big kids. On the way back from my TBC appointment I went shopping and stocked up on summer clothes for my big kids and then came home and pulled out and organized the summer clothes we had stored for the winter. I went to work the next day, a Friday. Saturday I emptied out a pile of old clothes and toys to donate spent the day cleaning and organizing the house. Sunday I installed the new baby’s car seat and vacuumed out the minivan. Monday was my last day of work and I planned to spend the rest of the week relaxing, taking walks, and spending quality time with the big kids before the baby came. When I was done with work on Monday I decided since I was out by myself, I would stop by the grocery store to pick up the food I wanted to take to TBC for the birth. Even though I thought it was premature, I figured I’d get that chore out of the way and have that bag ready to go well in advance so I wouldn’t have to worry about it later. I was exhausted when I got home but I had a strong compulsion to shampoo the carpets and re-clean the already clean house that evening. After my cleaning frenzy, I got the kids to bed and watched some TV. I thought maybe I felt a contraction or two but didn’t think much of it because I still had almost 2 weeks until my due date. I went to bed and slept well that night except for a couple of trips to the bathroom which was normal at that point. I thought I was having a contraction at one point during the night, but it was hard to distinguish it between the usual aches and pains I was used to having.
Soon enough it was early morning and I heard Jeremy’s alarm clock go off for him to go to the gym and work. As I lay in bed trying to fall back to sleep I felt what I was fairly certain to be a real contraction. I laid there waiting for more and after about 15 minutes felt another one. I reluctantly got out of bed because I thought I’d better warn Jeremy to stay home for the time being until I could figure out if I was in labor or not. It was about 5:30 a.m. By 6 I was having more pain so I knew I was having contractions but I wasn’t sure I was in real labor. In fact I convinced myself it couldn’t be real labor because it was way too soon. I tossed the last few items I wanted to take along to TBC into my bag, just in case, and I told Jeremy to shower. The kids started waking up and I was glad to have Jeremy there to get them dressed and give them breakfast because the contractions were getting more painful and closer together. Jeremy wanted to call someone to come watch the kids and call TBC but it wasn’t quite 7 and I thought it was too early in the morning to bother people. I got in the shower and Jeremy did end up calling our friends to come over to stay with the kids. I still hadn’t called TBC because I think I was still in denial! While I was getting dressed I had a couple of contractions right in a row and the pain was getting more intense. I finally decided to call TBC. Sarah was on call and when she called me back I told her I was having painful irregular contractions but they seemed to be getting close together. I had no other labor symptoms, but have a history of fast deliveries so I thought I should come in to be checked out. Sarah was already there so she told me to come on in. I dawdled around a bit before we left because I was still skeptical about actually being in labor. I was afraid I’d get over to TBC and either find out it was false labor (painful false labor!) or find out that I was in labor but only 1-2 centimeters dilated. At about 8:30 Jeremy and I headed out and were lucky to breeze up 95 without running into traffic. I had about 3 manageable contractions during the half hour drive and I totally convinced myself that we were going to be sent home when I got there.
Once at TBC, we headed up to the blue room, which I had chosen for this and my previous 2 births and it was all set up for birthing. It was about 9 a.m. I had a painful contraction and then let Sarah check me. I was shocked and relieved to find out I was 8 centimeters dilated and the baby was low. It was for real! I was going to have a baby! For the next hour, I continued to have painful contractions. I like to labor on my own so Jeremy took his spot in the rocking chair and Sarah sat in the other corner and they did their own things while I leaned on the side of the bed and swayed my hips through the contractions. I was just waiting for either my water to break or to feel the pressure to push. Nothing was happening so I opted to try squatting low on a small birthing ball. Sarah asked if I’d like the bigger ball, but the smaller one was working better for me. I thought the squatting position would get the baby down better and I was at a good level to lean on the side of the bed. After being on the ball for about 20 minutes and not feeling like I was making any progress, I got up on the bed. The contractions weren’t particularly long, but they were intense when they came. I was having a hard time relaxing and I was getting frustrated that I still wasn’t feeling any pressure, just painful contractions. I tried to get comfortable on the bed on my hands and knees and leaning over a pile of pillows. I was pretty sure I would birth on my hands and knees as I had in my last two births so I thought maybe getting into position might help move things along.
It had been an hour since I was 8 cm and I thought surely by then something had to happen. After a particularly painful contraction I asked Sarah if she thought it would be okay to break my water. She agreed and she checked me and found that I was fully dilated and told me to try pushing. I still felt no urge to push though. She broke my water and I had immediate relief from the pain of the contractions and I waited a moment for the familiar feeling of the natural urge to push to come. Still nothing. Sarah kept saying to listen to my body and to go ahead and push. Peggy was there too and both of them were encouraging me but without that feeling I thought I might never birth my baby. I knew I had to get him out so I took a deep breath and summoned up all my strength, grabbed underneath the mattress and pushed with all my might. In a few pushes my baby boy was out and I think he was crying before he was even all the way out. It was 10:06 a.m. It had only been 6 minutes since my water was broken, but those few minutes felt like forever. Sarah and Peggy tried to hand me the baby but my muscles were quivering and his cord was short so it was kind of an awkward hand off. Somehow Peggy got me situated n my back and I quickly had my little Caleb on my belly and in another moment he was latched on with the most perfect latch and happily nursing. Even though he came out fast and furious, I made it through unscathed without tearing. Little had I known in the previous few days of my frantic nesting that Caleb would make a perfect entrance into our lives on a Tuesday, the first day of spring. All three of my boys were born on a Tuesday so maybe I should have known he was coming when he did. Caleb was welcomed at home at afternoon by his brothers Jacob and Matthew and sister Corinna.