Beckett Swan Hall
It’s a boy! Born Friday, July 29th, 2011
10lbs 2ozs., 14" head, 15" chest, 21" long!
Beckett Name Meaning
English: beehive or bee cottage, dweller near the brook, or little brook.
For grandpa: a type of hitch knot, related to the Sheet bend knot.
The long story, for those interested!:
We had an amazing, planned home birth with expert midwife Nancy Wainer, backup midwife Heather Laier, and midwife assistants Danielle and Karen. It was quick! Early labor began at 5am and I spoke with Nancy at 11am and told her not to hurry and asked Rob’s mom to (weirdly enough) pick up Virgillio’s bread. Active labor was from about 12:30pm to his arrival at 3pm. I was with Rob alone, when I felt the baby’s head move down. I got very, very excited and then immediately worried that the midwives weren’t here yet. Rob said reassuringly, "don’t worry, we can do this!"
Heather arrived first and was very comforting and loving and surprised me by saying that I was going to be having the baby soon. Then the rest of the team arrived and went into action. Nancy told me I had already done the work and I thought she was being nice and encouraging and didn’t believe her fully. I had taken a hypnobirthing class and was listening to the affirmations during labor and really didn’t want Marie turned off! The breathing kept me calm and rhythmic and it never became erratic like in the panic and fear of the hospital and my support network never changed and were the same loving folks I had met throughout the pregnancy.
They helped me downstairs and, after much convincing, I made the effort of getting into the birthing tub. I am so glad I did, and grateful for the encouragement, as it made all the difference changing things up whenever it was suggested. I felt a burst when I switched from leaning against Rob on my back to kneeling forward and then the baby’s head was there like a magical, weird, amazing, soft wrinkle. Nancy strongly encouraged me to feel it and I shrieked with the primal intensity and realization. They all reassured me the weird wrinkle was indeed normal and everything was fine as visions of a flat, wrinkly baby head worried me for a temporary moment. I required the strength of Danielle and Karen’s strong hands. (Sorry healing hands!) Nancy’s eyes kept my focus with Heather offering words of advice and encouragement from behind her. I didn’t feel afraid throughout and the few moments that I started to go there, I had a fierce crew of beautiful, strong, tiger women who rose up and nipped it the bud instantly with encouragement, breathing advice, and necessary intolerance. That can be a spiral, and without fear, the rhythm that I had with my breathing and body were manageable and offered rests. I felt strong and focused. Nancy said I was a momma tiger birthing her baby cub and that’s what I felt like growling through the ring of fire with each surge. I remember at one point, when I was focused far away, I heard Nancy and Heather singing in round: "Come out baby, momma wants to nurse you, daddy wants to hold you…" Beautiful! When the baby’s head emerged from the ring of fire and I felt it soft and round and the tiny ear – it was indescribable. I helped move my skin around the head and smiled with happiness and pure joy. I felt no pain. Someone snapped a fortuitous picture of this and I am glowing with a great big smile! There is another one of me smiling and I’m fully dilated!
Nancy began to move quickly and, with the tone in her voice, I listened and leaped out of the tub with the baby’s head between my thighs, got on all fours and she expertly and quickly rotated Beckett who’s chest was 15" and, with a last tiger roar, he slid like a tiny bundle of sticks out of me into her experienced and loving arms. He was immediately passed under me to be held close to my chest and kissed where he has remained since, except for brief visits with daddy and the grandparents.
I moved to lay on the couch and we all admired him while we waited for the placenta to be birthed. Arden, daddy, and grandma bonded with him. He started to nurse and my milk came in the following evening, less than 30 hours later. He is pink, strong, and has a full head of super-soft blond hair in a wee style and intense navy blue ancient, primal eyes. The placenta felt good as it slid out into the world and looked like a giant, healthy organ that had nurtured and protected baby. Rob cut the cord to his water born internal life an hour or so after it was birthed. Karen did a placenta print and it looks like a brain, so we shall see if he is a wee brainiac!
Due to the quick maneuver, I needed a few stitches and once that was done these marvelous women set about putting the house to rights and getting me cleaned and settled in bed all snug with the wee one.
Rob was incredible throughout and squeezed my hips during the strongest surges through the ring of fire which acts as a binder clip, opening the pelvis. He held me in the tub and I leaned into him through each contraction so he says he could feel it to some extent and felt more connected throughout the birth. We both feel it was a most human, primal, and natural event – as it is supposed to be – and are so grateful to have had this experience.
We chose homebirth as a well-researched decision. The safest option in a country where 3 of 5 births ends in major surgery, shameful birth survival rates with our standing at number 46 of 126 industrialized countries, and being censored by the WHO, despite the largest medical budget in the world. For a low-risk woman with a healthy pregnancy, it makes sense. Having had a hospital birth as well, I can say that this is the way humans are supposed to birth and I could not trust strangers with shift changes, the fears impressed at all stages, and lowest common denominator care despite the value of the individual. Hospitals are fantastic for illness or high risk patients, but there was neither less pain, less risk, nor less stress for the baby there. It was the opposite and I knew that in order to have a healthy baby and a safe birth, I needed to relax and trust and open and that is what homebirth offers. I know women all over the world do this everyday, but it is no less amazing and it should matter how life comes into the world, not just that it does. I hope this doesn’t sound preachy as some women can trust in the hospital and everyone has to make their own decisions, but because this is considered "alternative" and is often maligned by media who will report a death at a homebirth as a story, but not the same death in the hospital, I thought I should include the reasoning. It was not bravado, selfishness, comfort, idealism, nor naivety. It was what was researched and instinctually felt was safest for our baby Beckett!
Rob’s mother was there during the labor and took care of Arden so he could be present and he chose to be there while Beckett emerged. He and Grandma read Mike Mulligan to the baby while I crowned the head. A midwife asked Arden if he wanted to kiss the baby and he said, "he’s all red, I’ll wait two years!" :) He was very composed throughout the labor and was explaining things to the midwives such as "mommy is having the baby today and we don’t know if it’s a boy or girl" and "momma has to work hard and then the baby will come out!" He is very excited to have a little brother and kisses him gently and says he misses him when he hasn’t seen him for a couple of hours.
Grandma and Grandpa have been invaluable at offering support cooking, cleaning, and helping with the wee ones, especially Marion who stayed two nights in our chaos.
Beckett is snuggled, well-fed in the crook of my arm and sleeping soundly with rosey pinkness, and plump little body all cozy. We are so happy to share this news and our birth story with you and if you are getting this, we love you so and want you to know that you are part of our circle and there is one new tribal member.
Rob’s View of the Birth:
Lot’s of anticipation and a moved due date made for a end period where we were both resolved to wait for the baby when he was ready. The intense drive to complete as many house or work projects as possible before the baby arrived had waned. At this point we were all in the waiting place.
Beth was uncomfortable as this baby was going to be as big as the first even though we managed to avoid talking about this increasingly obvious fact too extensively.
Thursday night we went down to The Cupboard to get a fried fish sandwich. Sitting by the ocean and indulging in our all to frequent treat had brought some distraction in the past but not tonight. The ocean breeze was too cold, the seagulls were too aggressive, and everything for Beth was physically awkward. There was no revealing sign on the extend drive home along the back shore, the waiting place could not escaped by moving our physical location.
5:30 in the morning, Beth thinks that she might be in very early labor. Arden is still asleep, the world is quiet. We both agree that we should get more sleep. I manage to get another hour of junk sleep. Arden and I stumble downstairs. Beth’s hyper nesting instinct has returned and she has been up the entire time time. She is saying something, I turn to the left. Need to get the morning feeding routine started (cats, boy, her, me.) "Aren’t you even going to ask me how I’m feeling!" Oh shit, I guess this really is happening! Wait, this is good. I’m glad this is happening!
Things start to blur. Call Grandma, she can take Arden to swim class, the museum, and lunch. Beth is downstairs, eating something in front of the computer working on something Very Important. Everyone is trying to stay level and anticipating that this whole process could take days. Playing Legos on the floor with Arden trying to keep things normal, the surges are getting stronger and she has to go upstairs to lay down. It takes a while to get Arden ready and out the door with Grandma. I have a odd mental list of Very Important things to complete quickly that had been relayed to me in bits, paper shredder is on the kitchen counter, upstairs tub needs to be scrubbed – trying not to forget anything.
Just about finished and I’m being paged. I run upstairs and Beth is freaking out a little. Feeling very lonely. She has just called the midwife again. Earlier we had quickly evaluated the best contraction timer app for the iPad (This Modern World is Amazing.) Ha Ha! "Hit the ‘Stop Contraction’ button already," that joke never get’s old.
Hmm… Unless things slow down, this isn’t going to be a long labor. Still not jumping to conclusions though, just keep on going. Beth is in the upstairs bathroom, things are intense. I help her walk in the hallway. I’ve got both of her hands, she stops. "Oh my God, the baby is REALLY coming! Now. No one is here yet!" I say "It’s okay honey, we can do it, just us!" I hear myself say this out loud and I’m a little surprised that I actually believe it.
Just then (around noon?), our "backup" midwife Heather arrives. She is in the bedroom with Beth while she is leaning against the wall, I’m in the hallway. I had previously filled the birth pool halfway with the hottest water possible so that it would stay hot when needed. Heather tells me no hotter than 100, closer to 90 is best. Jeez it’s at 115, trying to cool it down. Assistant midwife Danielle arrives and is setting up things downstairs.
There is talk of Beth going downstairs to try out the pool. She isn’t convinced right at the moment but is willing to try. She makes it downstairs. Primary midwife Nancy and second assistant midwife Karen arrive. With all the gear and people it’s starting to feel crowded. Beth is told she should try to pee if she can, so she makes it into the downstairs bathroom. Someone had joked at an earlier visit that just look for the smallest room in the house if you want to know which room the baby will be born in.
Luckily this baby wasn’t going to be born in a small bathroom. Beth makes it back out. Arden and Grandma are back at this point. I run upstairs to put my bathing suit on. Debate whether on not I should take the time for a bathroom break. Ahhh… Good call. Run downstairs, I step into the pool.
We are debating the best way to get Beth into the pool. Settle on the step stool we use as Arden’s high chair. Awkward entry, water feels good if a little hot. Thinks are going quickly, hard to grasp time. At first she is leaning forward. Not sure how to help. Asked to push on her lower back, it’s not helping. She leans back and I instantly feel more helpful. I’m able to help support and move her as needed.
I find it hard to believe that she is in the end stages of labor. The windows are open, everyone is going to hear the good news. Earlier when the midwifes check for the baby’s heart rate, I was nervous that something might be wrong. I’m less worried about it now, but it is reassuring every time we hear that it is 136 or 142.
The baby is crowning. Beth has been grasping one hand of each assistant midwife VERY tightly and doesn’t want to let go. Nancy encourages her to reach down and touch the head. Beth doesn’t want to. Now Nancy guides her hand down. Beth shrieks.
I can feel her pushing, she’s growling not screaming. Once the baby’s head is mostly out, she seems like she is smiling. She leans forward and everything is strangely silent. Beth is feeling the baby’s head in more detail. The midwives ask her to push when she feels the next surge. Now the surges seem to be spacing out and there seems to be a little concern. Nancy says "Beth, I need you to get out of the pool right now." Beth gets out the pool and down on the floor on all fours. When I get out and look over, Nancy is grasping his arm and turning him slightly. The baby is pushed through her legs as she leans back. Someone tells her to keep the head low. The midwives are helping her walk towards the couch.
Beth is laying on the couch holding him on her chest. I’m feeding her cut up watermelon. Grandma is staying with Arden as he comes over to see his new brother. The birth progressed so quickly that all of the midwives’ supplies are crowding the room. Arden passes out the chocolates we had for each midwife and Grandma. Beth is settled upstairs nursing the baby.
The midwives clean up and pack up, Grandma takes Arden out to get a few groceries for making dinner. It is a little strange to have the house quiet again. This was the most spectacular human-centered experience of my life and yet it is just like any other day. Exactly the way it should be.