– Posted by Mark
(Read Leah’s Version of BabyRoX’s Birth, Here.)
First – it’s F*cking AMAZING that I now have a son. Mind blowing.
Second – I’m so glad that Leah wanted a home birth. Partly because I don’t really like hospitals and then also because the home birth WAS AMAZING. Seriously. I had great coffee, good food, my computer, and the absolute best part was that a few hours after BabyRoX was born – everyone left and it was just US THREE (plus our cats!)
One night we went to bed without a baby, the next night hey, WE HAVE A BABY! And we’re home. No spending the night in the hospital, no hanging out with strangers that just tell us to do things that we probably don’t want to do (doctors/nurses and their medical interventions.) I know the whole ‘birth experience’ is about the mother since well, they’re the ones physically giving birth – but damn – I had a pretty great home birth experience.
Oh – and did I mention how it was so low cost that we paid for it all out of pocket? Not that we had a choice (ha, try getting an insurance company to pay for a home birth!) Now I know that our lives have gone from simple office-worker-dreaming-of-being-artsy to full-time-photographers-that-give-birth-at-home, but if you had asked me a few years ago what I thought about home births… I don’t know what I would’ve said.
BECAUSE MOST PEOPLE DON’T KNOW IT’S EVEN AN OPTION.
The whole week was a little bit stressful. BabyRoX had been sort of ‘early’ the entire time of the pregnancy (showing, moving, generally seeming like he was going to be ‘ready’, early) – but I had a wedding that coming Saturday. If he was going to come early, he had until Wednesday, well – Thursday at the latest, otherwise he would have to come after Saturday. (ha. because babies totally conform to schedules.)
On Tuesday, some guts or something came out of Leah (you know, bloody mucus stuff) and yeah – she pretty much knew that he was going to be coming early, and SOON. We sort of scrambled to finish getting ready (nursery, supplies, rescheduling portrait sessions) – and then things calmed down a little. Until the middle of the next morning (Wednesday). And then around 11am, the real contractions started coming on. Two minutes a part, with 1 minute in between (You actually time contractions from the beginning of one contraction, to the beginning of the next contraction, not when they end in between.)
Now let me tell you about Charlotte. She’s pretty badass. But that’s what you want in a midwife right? It’s what we wanted.
Look. When you hire me as your photographer, I want you to know that I’ll take care of everything, and do anything to get the shots. To make the beautiful photos and to just PWN all things photo.
Charlotte has been doing this for over 20 years – she can deliver breach, twins, ninjas, samurai, everything – and if something is wrong, she’ll either be able to handle it with her master midwife skills, or she’ll TELL YOU TO GO TO THE HOSPITAL. And if she tells you to go to the hospital, that means YOU NEED TO GO TO THE HOSPITAL. No hesitation, no wavering, just FULL-ON Knowing What She’s Doing.
And that’s what you want from THE PERSON DELIVERING YOUR BABY. Right? Right.
So everyone arrived, Becca started taking care of Leah and helping her through the ‘laboring’ part (the 12 hours leading up to the literal 13th hour) – and Charlotte and her team finished setting up, turning our nursery into a delivery room. Personally – I’m grateful that Becca was there because it was a big help to be able to sort of tag-team taking care of Leah over those 13 hours.
I’m sure that Charlotte and her team would’ve taken on that role if Becca hadn’t been there, but since she was there, they actually just stayed in the nursery/birth room with the door closed. Periodically they’d come out and check on the baby’s heart rate (just by listening and watching a clock, no fetal monitor here! (Machine that goes Ping!)) – and then they’d go back into the nursery and close the doors (mostly to keep the cats out though.) I’m pretty sure that they also just wanted to stay out of the way, and not remind Leah that she had 4 people there just waiting for her to give birth. In total, they were all there for a little over 15 hours, and they were all very patient with Leah, never rushing anything.
In fact – Charlotte kept stalling when Leah was requesting to get into the birth tub – because she didn’t want her to get in too early and have the warm water drain all of her energy that she would need to PUSH.
Then they told me that the birth tub required 140 gallons of hot water – and then I realized that we only had a 40 gallon water heater. From the very beginning, Leah’s contractions were 2 minutes apart (Star to Start) – so we all kind of thought that things could happen very soon.
And if there wasn’t enough water in the birth tub, then Leah wasn’t going to be able to give birth there. SO. I started boiling water. LOTS OF WATER. Using everything I could use. Even the coffee maker. (Although looking back, I could’ve also used the microwave.)
In total – I boiled upwards of 25 gallons of water. Hardly a dent in the 140 gallons needed – but boiling water added to cooler water is still hot, and we only needed the tub to be at a steady 100 degrees (the baby is going from a warm body that’s around 98.6 to a warm body of water around 100 degrees so that it’s not as shocking, and you know, just a little bit more comfortable for them 🙂
Backing up – when we decided to do a home birth, we decided that in order to increase the chance of a successful experience (health baby, not needing to go to the hospital, proper positioning of the baby, etc.) – we would do everything we could BEFORE BabyRoX was born instead of having to deal with complications during and after.
I mean – it makes sense right? As much preventative care as possible. So right from when she got pregnant, she started seeing a chiropractor, and started eating super super healthy. The eating healthy part is obvious – but I hadn’t ever thought of a chiropractor as part of maternal care. But again – it makes sense right? I mean the body goes through A LOT of changes during pregnancy, especially in the pelvic and spine area – so it would make sense to keep those areas ‘aligned’ properly, so that the baby has an easier time coming out, and less chance of being in the wrong position.
So she started seeing Dr. Danielle – and that, along with the healthy diet and supplements and cutting out bad/unnatural food things, I believe really helped in ensuring that our plan of having a home birth was going to happen.
We spent as much money as we could upfront, before the baby was born, so that we wouldn’t have to spend that money on hospital interventions that require more interventions to fix the first ones. Alright. Enough of that talk. Moving on…
So. We’re Photographers. It seems like we’d obviously want a ‘birth photographer’ there to record the birth of BabyRoX – and we did have one lined up, and even a back up for her. But when things started really happening, after the birth team arrived… I just didn’t feel like having yet another person there. So I just started sneaking photos with my phone – which was actually much better since there was no shutter sound and I could just put it down really fast if I needed to.)
What we did decide to do was hand one of our cameras over to Becca right when the birth was happening so that she could take the photos. I locked the settings on one of the cameras we use for weddings, told her to be steady, and start shooting. We got lucky – because Becca took some beautiful photos.
Oh yeah. I was also ‘tweeting’ the entire time – posting messages on Twitter. I DID NOT TELL LEAH I was doing this – but luckily she found it kind of funny afterwards 😉
@LeahAndMark | Birth team is here at our apartment. Also. 140 gallons is a lot of hot water (water birth in our home.)
@LeahAndMark | So. We have a midwife, her 2 assistants, and a doula. I am so very grateful, otherwise I would have to actually be doing something… 😉
@LeahAndMark | Also. The crew ordered Thai food! I get a baby AND Thai food tonight!
@LeahAndMark | Also. I’m really great at boiling gallons and gallons of water. Fast.
@LeahAndMark | I probably shouldve read more of those books Leah bought. Luckily we hired the right professionals. Like me and photos. Well. They’re A LOT NICER.
@LeahAndMark | Our cats have been doing very well tonight. (Their names are OneTwo & ThreeFour). Almost jumped into the birth tub.
@LeahAndMark | Also. Ikea sells 100 count packs of tea lights for that dramatic 100 candle birth scene.
@LeahAndMark | Man, you must REALLY love photos if your hire a Birth Photographer… changed my mind about having one today.
@LeahAndMark | Except for my rescheduled e-session tomorrow, BabyRoX is making perfect timing for Saturday’s wedding. Was worried about that one.
@LeahAndMark | How good is Leah? Our windows are open and she’s in labor. And we live in an apartment complex. Damn.
@LeahAndMark | Also. I suppose I’m about to have a REAL reason to Win at this photography business thing. I’ll need an upgraded propaganda machine.
@LeahAndMark | Leah’s doing the ‘Ommmmmm’ thing. I wonder if our neighbors think we’re playing chanting music, with lots of bass.
@LeahAndMark | It’s too bad Leah’s not in the mood to hear me sing ‘This Woman’s Work‘, my falsetto is quite awesome.
@LeahAndMark | Moving to the big birth tub.
@LeahAndMark | Everything is great! 12:35am Jonah Gabriel Rox Tioxon. Born.
@LeahAndMark | Damn. Giving birth is NO JOKE. That was badass.
@LeahAndMark | Um. A baby was just born here. And now everyone’s left and it’s just us. At home. This is fantastic.
Now I know not every birth is like this. Not all of them go so well.
I’m extremely grateful that BabyRoX was born with no problems, that he’s healthy, and that everything worked out (and I that I got to shoot that wedding!)
Hey. I have a son. That’s. Just. Too. Awesome.
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