The Fraggle Turns One – A Retrospective On My Last Birth

This week marks one year since I gave birth to my last baby.

The Fraggle is amazing. God knew that I needed an easy baby this last time around. He blessed me with an eager nursing, long nap taking, not very needy, easy going baby. The Fraggle is responsible for many, many smiles and has caused so much joy in our home.

One Year. The Fraggle is one year. And she is lovely.

In our family we have a tradition. On your birthday, you hear your birth story. It always begins, “______ years ago today…” and what follows is the story of joyous birth. But when I start The Fraggle’s story, I can’t remember joy. I remember this.

One year ago this week, I was in the hospital. It was the last place I wanted or expected to be. Up until that week I had only known easy, peaceful, simple homebirths. But, as I laid in that hospital bed, strapped to monitors and totally exhausted, I was filled with fear, worry, homesickness, disappointment, and stress. With my blood pressure climbing daily and the worries about the baby’s heart and being separated from my five children for days and days, I was a total wreck. Her birth was great as far as hospital births go I suppose, but I wasn’t used to hospital births. Compared to my previous five birth experiences, it was horrible, terrible, awful. A memory that I’d rather not have. An experience not for reliving on special occassions.

But, then I look at this little girl, this amazing blessing, and I wonder if that really matters. Sure it began in turmoil, but the turmoil was temporary, and once she got the “all clear” from the cardiologist and my blood pressure came down, we began a year of bliss. I feel robbed of the blissful experience that I associate with birth, but better and more beautiful experiences followed – an entire year of them. Memories to cherish, documented with pictures, and remembered with joy.

The tears come to my eyes and the disappointment returns to me again as I relive the story of her birth, but The Fraggle is too young to understand what I whisper to her while I hold her tight. I am determined to have a better version to tell her when she can understand. I will find a way to tell the story from a better perspective, when the joys of the years of her life have dimmed the pain of her birth. Just as a mother forgets the pain of labor, so I hope to forget the pains of my heart.

How ungrateful am I to dwell on a painful moment instead of celebrating the weeks and months of bliss? No, I will not do so. I will find the good in her birth and remember that. And where is the good in her birth story? Here. The good is right here.

And today it is right here.

And between those two moments is an entire year of bliss.

Happy Birthday, Little Fraggle! I love you!

(For the full birth story click here)

Birth, The Way I Like It

Since I recently bought a one-way ticket to labor and delivery, I thought it would be interesting to write a post about how I like to do birth! This is for you, Carrie.

One: Natural and Untampered With

My first baby was born in a birthing center. I had the most fantastic midwife on the planet. I felt empowered and free. It was fabulous. Except that I had to get in a car and travel to the birthing center – 45 minutes away. Considering that my labor was only 2 hours and 45 min long, it was awful! Which leads me to…

Two: Stay Home

My second baby was born in the comfort of our own home with a (different) midwife in attendance. It was also a fabulous birth. I used a birthing chair, which I really liked and it was quick and lovely. There were two exceptions to this. The first was that we had made arrangements for my daughter to be at a friends house for the birth. I really would have liked her to be there. Also, because of the short delivery the first time, I called everyone at the first contraction, and so we were all together too long. Granted, that baby took only five and a half hours (my longest labor), but still…

Three: Call at the last minute – or Do as much labor alone as I can.

Birth number three was my least favorite. Not because it was bad, or anything went wrong. I just didn’t click with the new midwife. I knew we didn’t click at every appointment, but I didn’t think that mattered much. But, at the birth, it did matter. After she tried to micro-manage my pregnancy (which drove me crazy), it shouldn’t have been a surprise when she wanted too much control over the birth. It was fine, really. I just didn’t like her there. I wished that we hadn’t called her until afterwards, you know, like “Oops, baby came so fast, we didn’t have time to call you!” So,

Four: Unassisted

So far as it is possible, I prefer to go it alone. With babies four and five, I did just that. I invested in some important tools and supplies, read a few good books and found a midwife who gave me the confidence to do it on my own. Every second week of my pregnancy, I checked and charted things like my blood pressure, baby’s heartbeat, my hemoglobin levels and my overall health. Then, at nine months or so, I went to the midwife for a final exam. She checked me out and gave me the green light, plus her numbers in case I needed them. When the time came to deliver a baby, it was intimate and sacred. About a week after, I headed to the midwife for a check up and to have the new baby examined.

Five: Water Birth

When I got in the bath during my fourth labor, I had every intention of getting out before the birth. It was our first unassisted birth, and both the Man and I were not comfortable with the water birth idea at the time. But, when I tried to get out of the tub, I felt baby crowning and knew it was going to be a water birth after all. This led me to a wonderful revalation – water birth is fabulous! It was a happy accident that I will repeat again and again. Please, God, don’t ever make me deliver a baby without the benefit of a large tub of warm water!

Six: Have My Kids in Attendance

This point really could be it’s own post. I have so much to say about it. All of my kids who are over four years old have attended the birth of one or more of their siblings. They were all well prepared during the pregnancy and were all excited partners in the labor and birth. Two of them have cut an umbilical cord. They have examined placentas and weighed new babies. They have heard me scream and yell, have witnessed the great relief of birth, and have reveled in the joy of new life. I feel that it is important for them to become familiar with birth as a normal, natural part of life. It teaches them so much, not the least of which is the value of enduring great pain for an even greater reward. And, having them there has never distracted or bothered me in the least.

It is my hope and prayer that this next baby will be born naturally, in my home, in our large bathtub filled with warm water, intimately attended to by Papa and siblings. That is birth the way I like it.


Before you ask…

No. We didn’t “plan” it.

Yes. We do know what causes it.

We have five. This makes six. And it’s probably not the last. We like our kids.

I’m due in the Spring.

No, I didn’t change my mind about homebirth. And, yes, I want to go unassisted again. Thank you for your concern.

I am thrilled, of course! A little shocked, but thrilled. (Marc is, too.)

Haven’t barfed yet, but it is still early. I expect that any day now I will be lying on the couch, hugging my barf pan. Not feeling too hot, but I got dressed today.

The kids are rooting for a brother, but we all know how good we Jacksons are at making girls, so….