Colter’s first photo shoot at home – 6 days old. I can’t believe how much he has changed and how much bigger he seems already – I’m sure I’ll be saying that on repeat for the next 18 years. :) He was 3 weeks old on Saturday and we are adjusting to our new schedule and life together. It is pretty incredible to have a little person that needs you 24 hrs a day / 7 days a week. And by incredible I mean life-altering,
tiring exhausting, at times frustrating, and yet so rewarding. My daily routine has slowed to a halt – it takes hours to get ready to go anywhere, breakfast doesn’t necessarily happen anytime before noon, the best time to shower and dry my hair is around midnight… and it takes about 3 weeks to finish a blog post. ;) Oh and we do laundry every single day so that we don’t smell like sour milk. Or poop.
Colt, I can’t believe you’ll be a month old next weekend. Everyone told us that time starts flying by even faster when you have kids and they sure are right. You and me – we’ve had our ups and downs the last three weeks battling pain, sickness, infection and exhaustion. But this morning I planted a few kisses on your face while I was changing your diaper – and you smiled, and sort of giggled. I can’t wait to see more of those smiles and watch you grow and explore the world around you. I love you more and more every day, sweet boy.
Images photographed using a Nikon F100 and Contax 645 on Kodak Portra 400 film.
Wow. What an incredible experience. Buckle up – this will be a long post!
Deven and I spent most of our pregnancy planning our all-natural home birth; we prepared physically and mentally for the tremendous feat. A lot of people thought we were either crazy or courageous! Our goal was to bring our son into this world in the most peaceful, natural, healthy way possible – without unnecessary intervention and with the benefits of being comfortable and relaxed in our home, free to labor and birth on our own terms. I firmly believe that women are equipped and capable of carrying out the incredible privilege of bringing new life into the world without the use of drugs and medical interventions. That being said, I praise God for the astounding medical ingenuity that has saved the life of several of my friends’ preemie babies and also helped deliver babies in difficult or complicated situations. Medicine and hospitals have their place too!
We enrolled in a Bradley Method class that taught us that total relaxation is the key to allowing yourself to “get out of the way” of the labor process and let your body do the work it was designed to do. We found an incredible midwife who guided us throughout the whole pregnancy, advising me on diet, nutrition and staying healthy, providing complete prenatal care for our little guy and offering natural remedies for some of the common struggles of pregnancy. Deven and I spent a lot of evenings visualizing how the birth would go, praying daily that God would be present in our labor experience and allow us to bring our son into the world in the way we feel he designed.
Okay, on to the birth story! At 2am on Saturday, November 16th my water broke, but contractions did not immediately follow. Because I had tested GBS positive, we would need to deliver our baby within 24 hrs or transfer to a hospital (state protocol). Begin countdown clock. We phoned our midwife Marla and she suggested we sleep the rest of the morning to store up energy for the day to come. We awoke in the morning and enjoyed a cup of coffee and a walk down the street and back in the crisp, fall air. My original due date was November 20th, my birthday. :)
Last belly pic!
By 10am I was still only having sporadic and weak contractions, so our midwife prescribed two doses of castor oil to kick start things. I drank 2 oz with orange juice at 10am, threw it up a half hour later, and took a second dose at 11am. By noon my contractions were regular and getting stronger – just what we wanted!
Most of the afternoon my contractions were about 3 minutes apart, ranging from 45 to 90 seconds long. With the help of an amazing coach and husband, I was able to completely relax through contractions and focus on deep, consistent breathing.
At around 4:30pm our beloved midwife (seriously – we love her!) arrived to check my progress – 3cm dilated. I thought I was maybe a little further along than that, but I knew I still had a ways to go.
Baby was sounding just perfect so Marla, our midwife, decided to leave us alone to focus and labor together without distractions – she would plan on returning at 9:30pm in the evening in the hopes that we would be much further along and ready to have a baby at home.
We spent most of that Saturday praying so hard that things would progress naturally so that we could birth our son at home. It was very stressful having the 24hr time limit – while I dealt with all of the physical exertion, Deven was mentally and spiritually battling for us, phoning friends to pray over us and constantly crying out to God for assistance and strength.
After Marla left, we put our game faces on and embraced the hard work ahead. At this point Deven had me really visualize my cervix opening wide with each painful contraction, preparing the way for the baby to descend.
The back labor I had been experiencing all afternoon really increased in intensity at this point, and it helped to go limp and let Deven hang me from under the arms while I sat on the bed or a medicine ball.
Ok I lied – last belly pic. :)
Around 7pm/8pm, my contractions were very very intense and painful and the back pain was tremendous – I couldn’t go through a contraction in any position other than hanging limp and sitting on the medicine ball. It helped me to calculate the length of a contraction by counting down each breath – 10 – 9 – 8 – 7 – 6 breaths left… each contraction was a distinct wave, peaking several breaths in and then descending.
So grateful for Deven’s physical strength and his assisting me in labor – but even more grateful for his spiritual strength. He was praying constantly throughout the evening, even burying his face in the bed and crying out to God.
My incredible sister Heather (who took most of the above photos) helped me labor as well. She was such a sweet encouragement to me – where Deven offered his strength, Heather offered her tenderness and servant’s heart. I love the above left photo where you can see my belly contracting!
By 8:30pm I insisted on getting in the water – the pain was very intense and I was starting to have the urge to push during these contractions. I couldn’t start pushing until Marla returned and I was confirmed 10cm dilated – so these were the hardest contractions yet. It was such a struggle to breath and maintain my focus, I was beginning to hold my breath and hyperventilate at the peak of these strong contractions, and my body was starting to push the baby out involuntarily.
Even through the most difficult hour and half of the whole process, there was still rest in between contractions – oh sweet mercy. It may have been brief, but at least it was a rest from the pain.
At this point I was completely zoned out – I could no longer close my eyes and relax through a contraction; I had to stare blankly and as intensely as possible at an object on the wall and fight to maintain control.
Even though there are a lot of pictures of me in the tub, I was only in the water for about 45 minutes before Marla returned. She watched me do one contraction and realized we needed to get me out of the water and upstairs to be checked! She knew I was ready. Deven said he kept waiting for the emotional signpost where I say I can’t do it anymore – that’s all I could think in my head but I didn’t want to say it out loud in case Marla returned and I still wasn’t 10cm! I couldn’t let myself give up, but in my head I wasn’t sure how much longer I could go on if I wasn’t 10cm dilated and ready to push. Meanwhile, my body is still pushing involuntarily to get the baby out, and trying to hold those pushes in was the worst part of the entire labor.
10:15pm… Marla confirms that I am 10cm dilated and ready to push our baby out!! Thank you, Lord!
I don’t have a lot of photos to share of the hour and a half it took to push him out – I wasn’t exactly decent at the time. :) This was hard and tiring work – but the relief of pushing was reinvigorating and much less painful than the contractions!
After an hour and a half that felt like 15 minutes in time – I was finally able to push his (giant!) head out and his daddy caught him and placed him directly on my chest.
I was so overwhelmed by the sight of him and the relief that it was finally over. The work was done, the pain was over, I was exhausted; I had spent 9 months wondering what this little guy would look like and was completely overwhelmed to finally see him face to face. He was born at 11:46pm, after about 12 hours of active labor.
I was able to hold him and cuddle with him for about an hour until all of his cord blood flowed freely into his body, and then Deven cut the cord.
He was so peaceful and never let out a single cry of distress. I was in love all over again.
Time to get checked out and weighed.
Please let me know if you’re looking for a midwife or are interested in doing a home birth in San Diego – we found the best midwife there is!
9 lbs even and 21 inches long! My big healthy boy!
This was a day in my life I will never forget. I am so so grateful that we were able to deliver our son at home – we wanted to so badly and God was faithful in answering our prayers! It was so neat to go to sleep that night (or near morning) with our little boy in our bed and wake up in our home the next day. I am so thankful to our midwives, Marla and Airalia, for their knowledge, expertise and skill; for bringing our son safely into the world! I am so thankful to my sister and my husband – my two best friends – for laboring with me and getting me through the pain. Deven – you are my rock and I couldn’t imagine anyone else by my side through all of this.
Thanks and glory to God for our healthy baby boy! Our lives our forever changed.
Colter McCoy Schneider
Born at home on November 16th, 2013 at 11:46pm
9 lbs, 21 inches long
Thank you God for our little wonder!
Birth story to come…