On Monday, March 5, we welcomed our fourth child — Shepherd Thomas Chou.
Born at home, 9:11 PM~
8 lbs 5 oz
Overflowing with sweetness
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this first week with our little boy. It’s true that with each subsequent child who comes along, you understand more of the fleeting nature of these early stages — and just want to hold onto them as much as possible! (Even as I type this I’ve got the little guy sleeping in my lap. I just can’t get enough of him!)
Shepherd’s labor started early in the morning on Monday. I woke up around 3 AM with mild contractions that were coming every 7-8 minutes or so. I basically ignored them (since I’d been having contractions on and off for at least a week) and tried to go back to sleep, but for some reason these contractions kept waking me up. I didn’t get much sleep the rest of that night.
The contractions continued throughout Monday morning, but they stayed very mild and never got closer than 6 or 7 minutes apart. By lunchtime I was getting a little frustrated. With all my other (fairly textbook) labors, contractions had started out in the morning around 10 minutes apart and gradually progressed throughout the day. But I wasn’t seeing any progression happening in this labor.
I tried alternating walking (which was very uncomfortable) with resting (which just felt counterproductive.) By mid-afternoon I’d decided that the day was a wash and I probably wasn’t going to have a baby by the end of it.
Thankfully, I got in touch with my midwife, Merrie, via text (around 5:30 PM) and she suggested I try rocking on my hands and knees for 30 minutes. She didn’t say why, but I didn’t care…I was willing to try anything. So I did the pelvic rocks. For 30 minutes. It was hard work for a hugely pregnant woman. But as soon as I stood up, I had a contraction that felt different from any I’d had that day. And 4 minutes later, I had another one!
I didn’t want to get my hopes up, but I figured I should probably get the kids fed just in case. Their dinner ended up consisting of tortilla chips and some random dried fruit from the pantry — the contractions were coming faster and getting harder, quick!
Eric and I got to work setting up the birthing supplies and getting the bedroom ready. I had texted Merrie to let her know that things seemed to be progressing, and she suggested that her intern, Dana, head our way to assess me and see if this was really labor. (Side note: Dana is actually a wonderful, experienced midwife who was required to start over in her licensing status due to state laws after moving to Colorado from Kansas.) Merrie said she would finish up at her office and leave for our house after she heard back from Dana about how I was doing.
I said ok, but I had a feeling that Merrie might be missing three out of three.
In the meantime, Eric had called my parents, who were running errands in the city, and they said they’d be heading our way as soon as possible.
Dana arrived around 8:30 PM. At that point, I was walking through contractions but was unable to talk through them. She set up her supplies and then checked my dilation — 7 centimeters! After that, I ended up laying on my side on the bed. The contractions felt much harder then, and I didn’t have much of a break between them. I had an idea that I might be going into transition. The room suddenly felt like a sauna, so I somehow managed to change into a tank top that Eric found for me.
I vaguely recall Eric asking Dana if she would be ok with leaving the room during the actual birth. Eric and I were the only ones present for Boulder’s birth, and it was such a great experience that we were hoping for a repeat. Dana was completely fine with that idea, but asked that Eric let her know before I started pushing so she could be ready to help out if needed.
Details are fuzzy for me at that point, but I remember my parents showing up and my mom coming into the bedroom as Dana was going out. (They told me later this was just after 9 PM.) I had just slid down to a kneeling position next to the bed. With the first contraction in that position, I started feeling the urge to push. (What? Already??)
As I told Eric later, when I feel the urge to start pushing, I know nothing of patience. THIS BABY HAS TO COME OUT NOW! That is my only thought.
So I got that baby out! In what I think was four pushes, we had a slippery little boy (!) on our hands. (I checked right away and felt no surprise that we had another boy!) Eric held him face down for a few moments to help clear his airways, and he started crying almost instantly. Dana came back in the room and helped us maneuver around the umbilical cord so I could sit on the floor and hold my baby.
My mom and Calla came in a few minutes later to see Shepherd. Dana helped me onto the bed and I let Shepherd try nursing. (He’s been a pro from the beginning!) Merrie arrived then, and we all laughed about the fact that my midwife has never actually seen me in labor.
After a half-hour or so of sitting in bed, Merrie suggested that I try standing up. (With the two births before Shepherd’s, I’ve experienced mild hemorrhaging immediately after the deliveries. In both cases, I was unable to stand for a day or two without feeling extremely lightheaded, weak, and faint.)
I didn’t have any excessive bleeding this time around, and thankfully, I was able to stand up and even take a shower! When I came back in the bedroom, Merrie was assessing Shepherd and taking his measurements. He’s a big, happy, healthy baby! :) My mom cut the cord and then I got my little boy back in my arms.
I can’t even explain how thankful I am to have experienced another amazing birth at home, and to now have our newest little blessing as part of our family. Shepherd’s siblings are giving him lots of love — especially his big sister, who was expectantly hoping for a baby girl, but who has since decided that having three little brothers is a special privilege. (She thinks it’s great that her sibling situation is the same as mine — big sis with three younger brothers!)
And THIS is my absolute favorite picture from the last few days…
We didn’t stage this, can you believe it? Boulder boy CRACKS me up!
We are so appreciative of all the prayers and thoughts of our friends and family over the last few weeks. Shepherd says “thank you!”
My heart is melting.