Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Birth of Marissa Mae

The Birth of Marissa Mae

Thorsten and I had been tossing the idea of adding another child to our family for a few months.  Kailey had just turned 2.  Nickolas was just over 6 months old.  It seemed like the right time to try.  I knew I wanted more than 2.

 As a joke, T drew up a contract for me.  If I wanted a third child, there would be some things I would have to agree to.  He delivered it to me in a professional looking manilla envelope.  We still have that signed contract, tucked into a safe place.  Maybe in a few years we will pull it out and have another laugh about these early years.

September 2013

We started looking into the difficulties Kailey was having.  She had turned 2 the month before and only had 5 words.  She was incredibly agitated almost all of the time.  It was so hard on us, because communication was impossible.  I contacted the county Help Me Grow and they came out with different early intervention specialists.  It was suspected Kailey had speech apraxia, a neurological disorder that affects a person's ability to remember movements of the mouth muscles.  They also suspected Kailey of suffering from unspecified anxiety disorder.  Our hearts were so sad for her.  We had tried to make all 'the right choices' for our children.  We wondered what her future would hold.  Would she learn to talk?  How could we get through therapy if she would break out in hives every time she got upset, or put herself to sleep when she felt overwhelmed?  There were so many questions, but at least we had an answer.  We had a starting point.

October 26, 2013

Thorsten came home from work early that evening to watch Kailey.  I had planned on taking Nick to birth group.  As I got us ready T made a joke "You're pregnant."
As the words came out of his mouth I knew it was true.  I felt a twinge of excitement as well as panic.

I stopped at drug mart in Bainbridge on my way to that meeting.  I bought a box of pregnancy tests and tucked one into my pants pocket before exiting the car in the library parking lot.  Before the meeting began I took my 10 month old son with me to the ladies room, and held him as I hovered over the toilet, waving that wand in the general vicinity.  Low and behold, he was right again.  I went to that meeting with my heart beating so fast.  I felt like I had an amazing secret.  I took a picture and sent it to T.

The rest of my pregnancy went as they usually do.  I do not enjoy being pregnant.  It was more difficult this time around with 2 little ones.  At my monthly prenatal appointments, my midwife Pam would give me a hard time for not taking better care of myself.  I found it so difficult to make time to eat healthy.  By the time I finished taking care of everyone else, and nursing Nick all my exhausted body had time to do was swallow a handful of animal crackers and drink a glass of juice.  I kept telling myself that at least I was taking awesome whole-food prenatal vitamins and fish oils.  Pam warned me if i did not do a better job with my diet that I was risking growing another large baby.

Pam sent me home with a blood sugar test kit.  I started to test my blood sugar.  My numbers were high, but not G.D. high.  I tried to eat more protein.  Nuts replaced my handful of animal crackers and I cut out all the juice.

The months ticked by, and by week 30 I was measuring so far ahead.  I made an appointment with a local OB and went with my friend Meagan.  He was a total jerk, as I knew he would be.  Meagan and I laughed so hard on the way back from that appointment, but i got the information I wanted...there was only 1 baby, and he could not see any abnormalities on the ultrasound.

Week 40 came and went, as did 41.  and 42.  Week 44 was going to be the 4th of July.  In addition to Pam's concern for a very large baby past 44 weeks, there was the logistics of what if we decided to go to the hospital?  During a holiday week?  Without an in-house care provider?  At the end of week 43 I made an appointment with Dr. Andreani and T accompanied me.  My mother stayed home with the 2 bigs.  She was practically insisting I go get induced.

At this time I should probably mention that for the past month or so I had been doing all the go-to home labor inducers, cohoshes, evening primrose oil, castor oil, sex...well not in that order ; )

Dr. Andreani knew that I knew my stuff.  She knew my birth history, and knew the size of Nick (10lbs 13oz).  She said if I were in her care, she would prefer to schedule an induction, but that in her opinion she did not see a need for an automatic c-section.  Her ultrasound put the baby's size around 9lbs 2 oz and she said I obviously had a proven pelvis.  The baby's head was engaged and there was really no risk of cord prolapse.  I thanked her for her time, but decided I wanted to wait a bit longer.  I promised to call with an update by Tuesday, July 2 with a decision to induce or not.

Monday, July 1, 2013

It was any other day.  I did my best to clean the house and take care of the kids.  Around 4 pm I was watching Judge Judy.  T would be home soon.  There was a change.  Things started to feel different.  I started to believe labor might happen.  After T got home he watched me have a few contractions.  Then we put it into high gear.  I made my phone calls and he got the room ready.

Mom.  Jeana.  Meagan please call Jenna.  Finally Pam.
" Hi Pam, its Jackie. Are you doing anything tonight?  No? Ok, good.  I think we are going to have a baby.  No, don't come now.  I will call you when I need you."

Probably 30 minutes later I called her back.  She was already on her way.  She knows me better than I know myself : )

Mom and Dad came.  Jeana came with her camera.  Meagan and her 8 month old daughter, Chaela came.  Jenna arrived.  Pam came in with all her luggage.  Nicole came.

As the evening progressed I was having a difficult time getting into a pattern.  I was  totally over thinking the situation.  The contractions were pretty intense, and they seemed to go on forever.  I was trying my best to temper my labor noises as I did not want to alarm Kailey and Nick.  The bedroom lights were dimmed, and I frequented the privacy of the bathroom.  Even though there was a heaviness in my pelvis, this baby was not where I needed her to be.  I was so frustrated. 

In my bedroom I was surrounded with support.  I needed all of them.  Every single one of them, down to baby Chaela.  I felt strengthened by them.

Most of the time they were silent; quietly watching the age old process.  Once in awhile I would look up and see T in the doorway.  I can look back to that moment and see him.  He looked calm.  he looked like he believed in me.  He knew I had it.  At no time did those around me doubt me or the process.

When I asked others their memories of that night-
Jenna wrote: I think the thing I remember the most from your birth was how strong you were. There was a point where I was trying to comfort you (hand on the back or something useless ;d) and you were just emitting this incredible energy and strength. I'd never seen it before (and haven't since). You were just so powerful that I pulled my hand off of you like pulling it off of a hot burner. It was amazing. You were in charge of your decisions the entire time. There was no coercion, no influencing, no talking you into things. You were educated, knew what you wanted, and asked your care provider to provide it. It was great. I'm still so honored to have been a part of it xoxoxo"

At some point I walked around the backyard with T.  I was only wearing a bra.  Some amazing soul handed me a bathrobe.  The mosquitoes were atrocious.  We were being eaten alive.  T only complained a little.

When we went back inside Pam asked me if I wanted her to break my waters.  I said "Yes! Yes!  God yes!"

In true Pam fashion, she wanted to make sure I was informed on the whole process.  "Jackie you do understand that when I break the bag, your contractions are going to get a lot stronger."

"I know!  I know!  Just do it!"

The midwives prepared the bed and floor for the mess, and Pam got her instruments ready.  It seemed like the process took forever, because Pam was explaining everything to me as she did it.  Therewas a lot of fluid.  I felt relief for approximately 1 minute.

One minute I felt relief.  The next contraction hit and I jokingly said "Oh shit!  I want to make a different choice!"  It was incredibly hard to stay on top of things.  I knew the intensity meant the end was in sight.  That progress was being made.  It was still hard.

I pushed for a long time.  During that time though, it felt kid of like a dream.  Time was kind of standing still.  Looking back I probably thought I was in eternal hellfire.  Maybe that was it.  I kept reminding myself that it was almost over.  Eventually it would end.  And it did.

I heaved that slippery baby out with a few final pushes.  It was the most primal, unbelievable strength I have ever felt.  She was placed on my chest and covered with a towel.

As the midwives checked the baby and me, and everyone else assisted with the duties of cleaning up and making us comfortable I was in such immense pain.  I did not feel the relief that sometimes accompanies the end.  There was no 'after glow'. 

I was helped to the toilet in the half bath next to my room.  Pam needed me to pee.  I tried and tried, but could not.  She began talking about transferring to the hospital to get a catheter.  I was also bleeding quite heavily.  There was some concern of hemorrhage.   Sometimes it is mind over matter, and I did not feel like walking to a car or ambulance...I peed.  Pam then gave me herbs to help slow the bleeding.

Pam stayed for another hour or so and everyone but my mom slowly filtered out just at quietly as they had come in. 

Thorsten went to lay down with the 2 bigs in his room.  My mother laid down in my bed next to me and the new baby.  I tried to rest until the sun came up.  My mother snored so loudly.

This baby was to be named Emily if she was a girl.  We were convinced she was going to be a boy.  It would be 5 days until she had a name.  Marissa Mae.  Her papa named her.

Marissa Mae was BOH on Tuesday, July 2, 2013 at 12:50 am.  She was in a brow presentation and weighed 11 pounds even. 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The days are long but the years are short.

No one could have prepared me for how time would change after I had children.  Recently I found myself holding a sick kid in the recliner during the wee hours of the night.  As I sat there I watched the pictures slide across on our digital picture frame.  I was saddened to see how much my daughter has grown in the past 2 and 1/2 years we have had her in our lives.  It made me realize how fleeting this time is.  How much I have to appreciate all those small things-these moments in time that I will never have again.

I consider it a blessing to be able to stay home with my children everyday.  I know my husband does not know how much I really do appreciate how hard he works so I can do that...because I so rarely tell him.  There are so many little moments of chaos that can happen in any given day with 2 children that are so little.  It is hard to not get caught up in the craziness of it all.

Things that should take a capable person a short time to complete now take up the better part of a day-and that is okay.  I am learning that it is more important to let my children do for themselves than it is to 'get things done'.  So what if the laundry takes 5 times as long, or the dishwasher has to unloaded piece by pain-stakingly slow, piece.  I only have these little babies for a short while, and I have to make the most of this time.  It goes by way too fast.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Nick's Birth Story

Nick’s birth story began long before labor started.  You see, when Kailey was  a few months old we were pregnant again.  I was exclusively breastfeeding, but I guess I am one of those fertile ‘lucky’ ones.  Although it was a difficult time, because Kailey was colicky, and the idea of adding another baby to the mix was a little overwhelming we were excited.  We had met with a midwife that I loved dearly, and established that our due month was September 2011.  Three months later on a Sunday morning I lost the pregnancy.  Without a warning.  It was hard.  Less than a month later we were pregnant again.    We did not know how far along we were, and my midwife suggested that we go ‘date’ the pregnancy.  Her son and his wife in Florida were due later that year and she was going to assist them in their homebirth.    She wanted to make sure she would be in town before she agreed to take us on.

There was only one doctor I wanted to see.  Dr. Guerrieri.  Midwife Pam said he was sympathetic to homebirth.  I was in no mood to be lectured as to ‘the risks of homebirth.’  I waited three months to get into his office.  Thorsten,  Kailey and my mother accompanied me.  I felt ridiculous in that stupid paper smock, and when I put it on it ripped in two.  I was on that crinkly table with the stirrups (which I refused to use)  in only socks and two pieces of a paper hospital gown.  T laughed his ass off.  When Dr. Guerrieri came in I was so nervous.  I dislike doctors. 

 He said to me “So Pam is your midwife?”  With a smile and a handshake.  I was relieved.  He said I was an old pro after K’s birth, and if everything looked good and there were no complications he didn’t see why we couldn’t have this baby at home.  As he put the wand on my belly his eyes got a little wider.  As the screen came into focus I saw what was a little spine.  He told us we were 16+ weeks along.   He bumped the wand and I saw a wiggle.  He asked if we wanted to know what we were having-but I already knew.  It was a boy.  Nickolas.  Thorsten would have a son.

The pregnancy was hard to recall.  Funny how our minds do that-block out all the discomforts.  There was extreme nausea, and terrible pelvic pain.  My bones were separating-trying to carry the front end weight.  Nick was breech for a long time, and I tried a variety of ways to get him to turn; flashlights, lying upside down, visualization.  He finally turned right before Thanksgiving.  As the months dragged on I was running out of steam.  My fundal height was measuring at a December due date, but at my monthly and then weekly appointments Pam was becoming concerned at the size of this baby.

As I would waddle around public, eyes would follow me and I would hear audible gasps.  Some brave souls would ask me if I was carrying twins, or if I was due any day-perhaps afraid to stand in the splash zone.  I was miserable and so was everyone else.  T was a nervous wreck every day at work, wondering if he would be able to make it home in time…if and when I ever went into labor.
Towards the middle of December I asked Pam if it would be okay to try some holistic induction methods.  She said we could try some things, and that she was confident that he was ready-at over 9 lbs.  She advised that these methods would only bring on labor if labor was ready to start.  There was no guarantee.  That day she did a membrane sweep.  She said I was already dilated.  Pam sent me with a list of natural herbs to take and smiled when I said goodbye.  As we hugged in the doorway of her home she said “Maybe I will see you before the weekend is over!”   I was excited.

At Mustard Seed Market I picked up a bottle of blue, and a bottle of black cohosh, evening primrose oil, castor oil and some diaphragms.  My mother met me at the house and I began the regimen of the cohoshes.  They were awful and burned all the way down.  Contractions would start and I would take them alternately every half an hour for 3 hours.  When I would stop, the contractions would subside.  This went on all weekend.  I woke up a very unhappy pregnant woman that Monday.  We began to have lots of sex, as a means to get this baby out!  It is not easy, and very unromantic to have sex when you are that pregnant.    

Another week went by and we did another sweep.  I was further dilated, but still no sign of labor.  Pam sent me on my way with directions to use the evening primrose oil.  I will not attempt to explain how one goes about using them-go ahead and Google it if you are curious, but poor T.  He had some unpleasant work cut out for him.    This combination of cohoshes and evening primrose oil went on for weeks.  We walked around the block most nights.  I was slow and could only walk a few steps at a time.  T walked right alongside me, in the cold, after a long day’s work.  He was very supportive.  We talked of the various risks, and consequences of the decision to birth Nick at home.

Christmas came and went.  As did New Years.  At the beginning of January I took the castor oil.  It was everything everyone said it would be.  It was hellfire coming from my back-end.  For 16 hours.  I would sit on the toilet and sob, it hurt so badly.  Thank god my girlfriend Ana had made me some butt balm for the kids.  I did what any mom worth her salt does-I stole it!

At my January 12th appointment, Pam said she was concerned that labor was not starting.  I had been 6+cm dilated for weeks.  We had tried numerous induction methods, and it just wasn’t happening.  We agreed it would be advisable for me to see Dr. Guerrieri and get his opinion.  Pam was hesitant about the idea of a homebirth after the following Thursday, January 19.  She knew this baby was over 10 lbs. already, and the longer he stayed put, the bigger he got.  We talked about shoulder dystocia, and the risks associated with having a baby of this size.  She advised me that no responsible hospital would allow me to be induced with a baby of that size.  If I transferred care to a hospital I was guaranteed a C-section.  I went home a cried.  I was so scared.  All my hopes for this second homebirth were falling apart right in front of me.  How was I going to deal with giving birth to one child at home, and having the other one cut out of me?   Strapped to a table, unable to see.  The bright florescent lights of the hospital and some stranger’s hands greeting my child.  I begged Thorsten to not let me go alone.  He apologized and said he didn’t think he could watch someone cut me open.  My mother would have to go.  I called and made an appointment to see Dr. Guerrieri  January 17th.

That weekend was an emotional one.  I did a lot of crying.  By myself.  I did not want T to get upset or mad at me for being a weepy mess.  I would lay in bed at night a cry silently.  I finally resolved that I could do nothing about the situation, and I left it in the hands of fate.  I would get through it somehow, and if I needed to have a C-section, then that’s just what would have to happen.

Sunday evening my parents came over for a visit.  Our friend Dave Toth stopped by to see how I was feeling.  I was in the recliner trying to be comfortable.  He laughed and said I looked miserable.  I was.  Shortly after Dave left I started feeling anxious.  Contractions had been happening for over a month now, and I think that is why I was so reluctant to believe it was time.  Besides-there was no snow storm.  I had been envisioning a snow storm for this birth and damnit!  I wanted one.  

My mother urged me to get into the bathtub and see if the warm water would help bring on labor.  As I got into the tub the real contractions started.  I was moaning and rocking through each one.  I would go between getting out of the tub and stomping my feet and hollering to back into the tub on all fours.  I still wasn’t convinced.  I would not let anyone call Pam yet, but I made Thorsten take Kailey to my friend Leah’s house-as she was getting upset and I was unable to concentrate.

Thorsten went outside and called my friend Meagan.  She was to be my doula.  When she came into my bathroom a short while later, she sat next to me and said some beautiful encouragements.  I don’t remember exactly what she said, maybe “Don’t be mad at Thorsten, he thought I should come” and “You are doing great.”  I laughed and said “Doing what?!  I don’t think I am really in labor.”  Apparently everyone else in my house knew I was in labor, but I kept denying it.  Thorsten made me call Pam.  I didn’t want to bother her.  I was sure this wasn’t really labor.  My water hadn’t even broken.  Contractions were still only 4 minutes apart.  

When Pam walked into my bedroom I was rocking back and forth and moaning.  She got to work unpacking her supplies.  I told her I probably wasn’t in labor.  This would pass.  She knew better but told me she would rather be safe than sorry.  The bed was made up with plastic under the old sheets.  Giant cloth pads were placed on the floor next to the bed, and on the bed.  At some point the backup midwife came.  Pam was concerned about the size of the baby and had asked weeks in advance if I would be okay if another midwife would be there to assist.  

When contractions would hit I would scream and bear down.  I was resting on all fours, and when they would hit I would rock back onto my heels.  When they would subside I would raise my fist into the air and say a silent prayer “Dear god, take this from me.  Help this be over fast.”  I kept telling myself out loud that “We can do this.” (Nick and I), because I remember Meagan telling me that is what she said during her labor.

My mother was at my feet rubbing my legs.  Meagan was at my head, rubbing my back and applying cool cloths to my sweaty forehead.  The two midwives were at the base of the bed-whispering to each other and taking notes.  I don’t know where Thorsten and my dad were.

At some point Pam wanted to check my cervix and see how dilated I was.  I had been complaining that I had to pee but couldn’t.  She knew my bag of waters was bulging and wanted to see if it would break.  I remember whining “No, I don’t want you to check-you’re just going to lie to me anyways!”   Her and everyone else laughed and tried to reason with me to just let her check.  I bargained with them and asked if I could wait a few more contractions then I would let her check, as I did not want to move.  As soon as she put her gloved fingers in to check, my bag burst all over her and the bed.  Everyone laughed and she told me I could go pee in the bathroom then.  I exclaimed “I am.”  Matter of factly.  I didn’t care at that point.

I went to labor on the toilet, and Pam came in with the Doppler to listen to Nick’s heartbeat.  I was on the toilet bearing down and Pam sat on the edge of the tub with the Doppler pressed to my lower belly.  I yelled “He isn’t coming!”  With an air of desperation.  Just as the words left my mouth I could feel him drop into my lower pelvis.  I scream “He’s coming!”

Pam helped me quickly crab walk to the bed.  I laid down on my side and braced my one foot against the headboard.  Both midwives got to work and as he was crowning they were dependent on Meagan and my mom to hand them supplies.  They used olive oil and poured it all over my perineum and his crowning head.  There is a mirror on my ceiling and I am so grateful to have been able to see the whole thing.  As his head came out they told me to stop pushing.  I did exactly as I was told-as I knew how important this next step was.  We had a very short window to get him out.  As anyone who has given birth, you know how impossible it is to stop pushing, and how bad the crowning hurts.  I did it though.  Both midwives got his shoulders to release from my pelvic bone.  They rotated him out.  When he came out his head and hands and feet were blue.  They swept his mouth and handed him to me.  I immediately put him to my breast as I know the nipple stimulation helped to contract the uterus.  He latched very well and I was so proud.  Thorsten cut the cord and we laid in bed next to him.  My mother came and sat by my head.  After Nick was checked and weighed by Pam, he was handed off to be diapered, and I was helped to the bathroom and into the shower.  Less than a half an hour after Nick was born we were back into bed and snuggling each other.  Meagan and Pam cleaned up my room and Pam started a load of laundry.  Nickolas John-Fredric Greulich was born at 12:15 am on Sunday, January 15, 2012.  He weighed 10lbs 13 oz.  Labor lasted 3 and a half hours.

It is such a source of pride for me to have birthed both of my children at home, and to have traveled this journey for the last 6 months of tandem nursing.    Although it is coming to an end, I will be able to look back on this time and know that I was strong enough, and determined enough to do what I set out to do.  I am a momma, hear me roar!  ; ) 

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

So this journey began a few weeks before our sixth wedding anniversary.  I was in the kitchen cooking while Thorsten watched laughing.  I became irritated and asked him what was so damn funny.
“You’re pregnant.”

Yeah that helped my mood.  Of course I wasn’t.  I couldn’t be.  Sure as hell didn’t want to be.  But the curiosity stayed with me for the next few weeks.  I was never on time with my cycle-endometriosis tends to do that.  Besides, the doctors told us we couldn’t have kids.  His remark kept nagging at me.  I went to the drugstore and bought a test to prove him wrong.  It was December 9, 2009, the day before our anniversary.

I couldn’t wait to go home and take the test, so that afternoon I went into the bathroom at the bus garage and peed on that little white stick.  I stood there in that run-down, dump hole of a bathroom watching the purple move up the stick…leaving two solid purple lines in its wake.  But where were the directions?  What did these two lines mean?  I was shaking as I ran to my truck and grabbed the directions.  I was so shaken up I did not even realize I was reading the Spanish side.  But I knew.

I was pregnant.

This could not be happening.  I went to the bar with my friends from work with the test tucked into my coat.  I ordered a tall LeBatt before I pulled the test out and threw it on the table.

“What the fuck does this mean?”

It meant I would have to go home and tell my husband.  I drank my last beer for a while and left the bar with a heavy heart.  I went home and put the test on the back of the toilet as I could not tell Thorsten to his face.  I was scared and embarrassed.  I sat on the couch and waited for him to come home.

When he came home he knew something was not ok.  I told him to go look in the bathroom.  When he walked down the hall I started to cry.  I could not believe I had done this to us.  I was so heartbroken.  I loved this man so much and I had no idea how we were going to get through this.  I wondered if a year from now (our seven year anniversary) if we would still be together.  

We went back and forth over the next few days about what to do.  We had lost our health insurance a few months prior.  The economy was in the dumper and we were trying not to lose our home.  We finally decided we could not go the rest of our marriage looking at each other every morning if we made “the appointment”.  We would have a baby.

After two appointments at a local OB/GYN office I knew there would be no way we could afford this.  I felt even more sickened than when I had first found out we were pregnant.  I couldn’t understand how this country could have gotten things so turned around.  On the low end we were looking at $15,000.  On the high end the sky was the limit.  I thought again about making “the appointment”.

I cannot even remember how it was I even began searching the internet for other birth options.  I found a group called The Home Birth Option of Cleveland; a group of mothers and midwives that met at a local library once a month.  The next meeting was January 25th…my birthday.  Thorsten and I went.  We left knowing for the first time what we would do.

The next few months were filled with Birthworks  classes, prenatal appointments with our midwife and getting the house ready.  We had to put our beloved dog,  Abby down in April.  Thorsten  went back to school.  Our house was gutted down to the studs and he worked every night and weekend putting it back together. 
I read every piece of literature I could find on anything related to birth.  We watched just about every documentary and YouTube video on homebirth.  I asked questions. Lots and lots of questions.  My three co-workers and best friends threw me the most amazing baby shower.  We gathered all the supplies needed for our birth; towels, extra sheets, tarps, gauze, diapers and pads  and two very large bottles of hydrogen peroxide.  We picked up the birthing pool from the midwife the third week of July.  

Thorsten kept telling everyone the baby would come earlier than our August 18th due date.  No one believed him, the midwife included.  Seeing that this was my first baby she suggested we would not see a baby until early September.  I had started having Braxton Hicks contractions sometime in late June or July.  They were almost unnoticeable.  

 I was getting more and more anxious not about the birth but how a baby would change our relationship.  I was so worried it would break us.  We never wanted this.  Our relationship was so great for 6 beautiful years before I got pregnant.  Thorsten was my best friend and I was so scared to lose him.  I worried day and night that I had brought this on us.  I also worried how could I love someone else as much as him?  How would my heart ever have enough room for two people.  Would I love him any less?  Would I resent this baby?

Sunday August  1st my mother came over early and helped me prepare and blanch a couple batches of green and wax beans.  She left around noon to go visit her friend who was sick with cancer.  Thorsten was working in the barn so I went into the office to sit in front of the computer and try and stay cool.  I was laughing at a story about all the reasons why I am glad that George Bush was no longer president when I felt a tremendous gush of fluid.  I ran to the bathroom and took off  everything from the waist down and cleaned up the floor.  I went to the back door and yelled to Thorsten with a tremble in my voice  “My water just broke!”

He quickly finished what he was doing outside and came in the house.  I put a call in to the midwife but she was not home.  I left a message at my parent’s house.  Everyone had me convinced that first time labors are long-sometimes as long as 24-36 hours.  We were in no rush.  I even went on Facebook to distract myself.  I sent Thorsten to town to get some juice as that was one of the things my midwife required us to have on hand for my labor.  As he left I got into the shower.  There were no contractions.  It was 2 pm.

I stood in the shower and cried.  What was I going to do with a baby?  I didn’t even like babies and I liked children even less.  I had a good long cry, then I washed my hair and let soap bubbles fall onto my toes.  I had not been able to reach my feet for what seemed like eternity.  I resolved to deal with those emotions later.  I put on my game face and got out of the shower.

When I got out I did my usual ritual of putting a bathrobe and crawling into bed.  I had been unable to dry my humongous body all summer and the damp felt good on my skin.  I gathered up my makeup as I was going to get camera ready for my big day.  I got mascara on one eye when the first contraction hit me like a truck.  It had been almost an hour since my water broke.

Where was Thorsten?  I looked at my phone to check the time and just then it rang.  He was calling to see how I was doing.  I told him to hurry.  I needed someone here as I didn’t want to be alone.  I could hear the worry in his voice when I told him we still had not heard from my parents or the midwife.

I never did finish putting on my make-up.  The next contraction came just as I hung up the phone.  I started timing them.  They were about 6 minutes apart.  It was 3 pm on Sunday.

The birthing pool had been set up in the baby’s room.  When Thorsten got home he got prepared to fill it with water.  From my bedroom I heard the sound of a screw gun just as a contraction hit.  I remember vividly thinking I might just kill him.  I yelled “What the fuck are you doing in there?”  and “Nothing.” Came the response.  Apparently he was nesting and felt the need to install a ceiling light in the baby’s room while he was filling the pool.

He went outside to call his parents and tell them labor had started.  They tried to convince him to take me to the hospital as they thought this whole homebirth idea was crazy from the start.  He politely told them we were fine and were going to wait for the midwife and we would call after the baby was born.  I knew Thorsten was getting worried.  I resolved I WOULD NOT let my fear show.  Where was my mother?  Where was the damn midwife?

At this point I was having contractions every 4 minutes.  I got into the pool with some great expectations that it would relieve the pain.  It did no such thing.  In fact I think it made things worse as the realization it brought to me…this was going to royally suck!  These contractions were so much worse than I had anticipated-they went from my front and into my lower back.  I let out a yell or a scream with each one.  I wanted to choke the broad who said “Breathe”  through each one…yeah right!

Thorsten was so quiet I almost didn’t know he was there.  At some point he asked me in a very anxious voice if he should call someone.  I yelled  “Call Vickie!” It was 4 pm.

By 4:20 pm people had started to gather at my house.  My younger sister Jennifer had been called because she was an EMT.  My friend Vickie called Leah, our other girlfriend who owns a medical supply company.   Vickie’s friend Mary, a nurse, showed up.  We had met only one time before and talked for 2 hours about sheep and Food Inc. in Vic’s barn.  Now she was kneeling next to me as I threw up in a bucket.  I was in this ridiculous pool inside my house, wearing nothing but a bright pink bikini top, surrounded by a bunch of people who didn’t really know me or my intimate parts…and still no midwife or my mother.

I could hear the chatter in the background.  I knew people were getting very concerned.  At some point someone asked me what Plan B was.  I yelled  “There is no Plan B!  There is only Plan A!”  

At this point I was starting to get overwhelmed.  I was trying to concentrate on my labor and I was fearful.  The pain was almost more than I could bear.  I kept telling myself “Don’t let Thorsten down.  You said you could do this.  You are going to do this!”  but I was scared…where the Hell was the midwife?

My mother and father showed up just then.  My mom knelt next to me and tried to call me down.  She really took charge as she and I were the only two who had attended my Birthworks classes.  She suggested I get out of the pool and try to labor on the toilet.  Getting out of the pool was a good thing as I was now shivering, my teeth chattering.  I hated that bikini top.  I only made it a foot away from the pool and curled up on the ground.  I tried to make the whole thing go away.  Those contractions were so bad.  It felt as if my whole body was being ripped apart.  I hated my mom for trying to make me get up.  I wanted to go to the hospital.  I had enough of this homebirth bullshit!  I yelled “I want drugs NOW!”  My mother God bless her said in a calm sweet voice  “No honey, we decided we weren’t going to do that.  Now how about you get up and go sit on the toilet.”  I hated her.  My contractions were 2 minutes apart and I had been in labor for 2 to 3 hours.  It was around 5:30 pm Sunday.

I went into the bathroom and the light felt like spotlights on my naked body.  I felt a million eyeballs on me.  This was a terrible.  I screamed and stomped my feet as the next contraction hit.  Thorsten came into the bathroom with me and we stood there-my arms around his neck, his hands on my lower back.   I felt embarrassed for him having to stand there and hold my mostly naked, humongous body with what seemed like the whole neighborhood watching. He was silent and strong.  He never flinched.  

I tried sitting on the toilet and laboring.  That felt good.  I don’t know why, but it felt better than any other position.  After a while though my mother wanted me to try laboring in my room on all fours.  Thorsten went in there and put towels on the bed.  He brought the box fan in there.  I got mentally prepared to move into the bedroom.  Once I got there I immediately wanted to go back to the bathroom.  My big ass was in the air and everyone was standing there looking at me.  I tried to concentrate but things were not working.  When the nurse Mary suggested I lay on my back like they do in the hospital, I did.  Against my better judgment I did.  I am embarrassed to admit I only did it so my ass was not in everyone’s face.  I knew it would only prolong labor and it did.  

I went back and forth to the bathroom.  It felt so good to be in there.  My girlfriend Erin showed up.  She held my juice cup for me and placed the straw in my mouth after each contraction.  I loved her.  I loved that juice.  Erin never made me move, she never tried to calm me down.  She only knelt silently next to me and gave me juice.  I love you Erin, and I loved that juice.  

After hundreds of phone calls the midwife finally called around 11 pm.  I heard the conversation and I was steaming.  Thorsten snapped at her that the baby was almost here and he didn’t know if she would make it in time.  He asked me if she should still come.  I felt for the nurse Mary.  This woman who barely knew me was going to try and deliver my baby.  I did not want to put her in that position.  I told him to tell the midwife yes-please come.  I hated her.  She was the last person I wanted to see.  But I needed her, and I knew it.

The midwife arrived around 11:45 pm.  She came onto my bed where I was laying on my back.  She listened to the baby’s heartbeat and told me we needed to move to the edge of the bed and squat.  Thorsten moved the towels to the floor and he sat on the edge of the bed.  I squatted in between his legs and he held me up.  Everyone was crammed into my little room and they were spilling into the hallway.  Kim the midwife used a flashlight and told me I needed to push.  I was screaming at this point.  I was certain I was going to rip in two.  The fire I felt in my vagina was indescribable.  I yelled at her I couldn’t push.  It hurt too badly.  She said “You must.”  I needed her to say that.  I pushed so hard.  The pain felt white hot.  The baby’s head was out.  I heard everyone gasp.  I could not see and neither could Thorsten.  The midwife wanted me to reach down and touch the baby’s head.  I couldn’t.  I was so scared.  This all felt so surreal I was worried if I reached down and felt its head I wouldn’t be able to push the rest of her out.  With the next contraction I pushed again and the baby slid out.  The midwife caught her.  Instantly the white hot pain left.  There was a tremendous gush of blood and fluid from my uterus.  In an instant the baby was placed on my chest.   I could feel the cord pulsating in my vagina.  It was 12:10 am Monday August 2nd 2010.  

 I sank to the floor I remember looking up at Thorsten.  I apologized for throwing him into that fire years before.  I know I was in shock.  Someone asked me if I was ok.  I felt my eyes rolling back into my head and I said yes because I did not want to alarm anybody.  I don’t remember much about the baby.  I do know it felt alien to be holding her.  She was all covered in vernix and some blood.   I looked up and standing in the doorway was Dan Peck.  He was holding a bottle of Bud Light.  He was just standing there with a weird half smile on his face.  I will have that picture in my head forever.

 I think we were wrapped in a towel and we sat at the base of the bed for maybe 20 minutes.   The midwife called for Thorsten and he cut the cord.  I was told I had to push the placenta out.  I wanted to cry.  I couldn’t believe I had to push again.  The placenta was placed in a bucket for the midwife to examine later.  I think my mom held the baby while I was put into a diaper with giant medical grade maxi-pads and helped onto my bed.  The lights were dimmed and the midwife measured and weighed the baby.  She asked us what we were going to name her.  Thorsten and I agreed on Kailey Rosemarie Greulich.  

 Kailey was brought to me and I nursed her.  Everyone came and quietly said good bye.  Thorsten brought the dogs into the room to see the baby and to make sure I was ok.  Thorsten climbed into bed and we went to sleep with Kailey in between us.  It was sometime after 2 am. 

 Kailey weighed 8 lbs.  12 oz.  There were 12 people present for her birth.  She was born at 12:10 am Monday August 2, 2010 after 10 hours of labor.  There was not a single picture taken, but I am certain that those people who witnessed her birth will remember it forever.  I know Thorsten and I will.  I cannot measure the amount of pride I feel for birthing our daughter at home.  Others doubted me.  At times I doubted myself.  But I did it and I am so grateful I did.  I hope to be able to do it again sometime in the near future.  For now though we are busy enjoying our miracle baby who almost wasn’t.  This past December we celebrated our seventh wedding anniversary.  When I asked Thorsten who he loved more…me or Kailey?  He answered Kailey and I smiled.  Right answer-me too : )