Christopher James December - his birth
Beware in your prayer, above everything, of limiting God,
not only by unbelief, but by fancying that you know what he can do.
~ Andrew Murray
~ THE BEGINNING ~
(pre-birth story)Christopher’s birth story starts way before his birth or even my pregnancy. It starts with the birth of our first daughter, Lily. I had Lily all natural with no pain medication, but it wasn’t easy …..or fun or beautiful. It was nothing I thought or had heard birth was. I knew there was something more. About a year after her birth I was at a garage sale and saw a book titled ‘husband coached childbirth’. I had no idea what the book was about but when I became pregnant again around six months later I started reading it. The book was amazing! Finally I knew why labor hurt so much -- because of what I was doing; fighting my body. Labor is intense but it wasn’t made to be unbearable pain. The book talked about women who were fully aware: laughing and talking, between their contractions -- and pushing a few minutes later! This seemed absolutely insane to me since my experience with Lily was nothing short of traumatizing. ‘He he ho’ was a joke -- but this was actually understandable! Seven months later we had our second daughter Elizabeth in the Park Rapids hospital. I had considered birthing at home with her, but I thought that a Midwife was too hard or expensive to find. I birthed at home until I was 8 or 9 cm dilated; then we headed to the hospital. The birth was beautiful and amazing; but a lot did happen that was way to much interference for us. I knew that we never wanted to birth in the hospital again.
Christopher was a surprise to us. I seemed to be very bloated suddenly one week and about 8 days later I felt some obvious baby kicks! I hadn’t gotten my period yet; but I was figuring that my Thyroid problems were the cause. Even though we were very unprepared, our family completely relies on God for our strength and comfort. We knew everything would be okay, and we were very anxious to see how far along I was! Our first appointment was on April 9th. At this point I was sooo sick of Doctors who were on their own personal agenda instead of caring for patients; but I wanted to give another a try. The appointment and the Doctor were really disappointing. I never wanted to go back. We also had an ultrasound to see how far along I was…we were super surprised to learn that I was almost six months pregnant! And that we were having a boy! Even though in my last pregnancy all I could hope for was a boy, this time I was just expecting a girl, so I was a little sad; but sooo happy for a little Christopher! (we always knew we would name our first boy after his Daddy) . Right after my appointment I read about the warnings on ultrasounds, Doctors have always told me they where perfectly safe but I found out that they are actually told to use extreme caution in routine ultrasound because it could cause extreme harm. I was so shocked! Chris and I decided we would never have another ultrasound again unless we absolutely HAD to.
After that appointment we decided that we were pretty fed up with Doctors who didn’t care, and I started a huge search for a Midwife. I wanted to make sure that we would have some sort of birth support; …. While Elizabeth’s birth had been beautiful, I didn’t have to fight for what was right on birth day again, I just wanted it to happen…like it should. After many, many let downs because of how far along I was and where we would give birth (Park Rapids), we finally found Jasmine through the Trust Birth Initiative. She seemed to be right on track with what we wanted: someone who could be there for us if we needed and would help us learn all we needed to know to give birth at home for the first time. I didn’t really want someone acting as a ‘Midwife’; I wanted someone to be there just in case and help with clean up.
We first met Jasmine on June 19th and really liked her. We were so thankful God finally brought us someone who believed in trusting God, your body and birth to do what it was created to do. Throughout the pregnancy she gave us so much information to help us feel even more confident about birthing at home. For once we had someone who cared more about us than their job; and someone we could actually call a friend. I really hope someday we will also find a doctor like that to care for our non-birth related needs; but I do know that I’m fully confident in baby care at home. We never went to the hospital again for an appointment. Everything that the hospital could do, we found we could do with herbs or basic, common sense body knowledge and methods. Jasmine let us borrow some birth videos and I showed them to Lily; at first I wasn’t too sure of what she would think…..but she loved watching them and seeing the ‘babies come out’ !! We planned for Lily to help catch him when he was born, so we wanted to make sure that she knew what to expect. I had to actually hide the video so she would stop asking me to watch it!
After the first appointment on June19th, Chris checked my dilation. I was already 3.5 cm dilated! I had been having very few, small contractions every once and awhile -- apparently they were doing something! I also had been losing a lot of mucous. Then on July 17th I suddenly had three strong contractions and I lost a lot of mucous; Chris checked my cervix and he thought I was dilated around 5, very close to 6cm. There was a lot of ‘baby’ head pressing down on my cervix.
~ FALSE ALARM ~
On July 24th I was supposed to photograph a wedding. I woke up early in the morning; around 6am and had contractions for about two hours. The slowly tapered off -- thank goodness! That night around 2 or 3 am I started having contractions again. I woke up for the day at about 4:30, took a shower and started getting things ready for the birth just in case. I called Jasmine and told her what was happening, she said she was getting ready and would head to Park Rapids. (she lived three hours away!) At 5:38am I was standing up and suddenly felt warm water flowing down my legs! It took my awhile to determine whether it was my water or if I had peed my pants -- quickly I knew for sure it was my water. I called Jasmine again and told her; then went upstairs to wake up my Grandma. We were all so excited! Today would be the day!! I was still getting things ready, only stopping for a contraction, then continuing to move as normal. I called our birth photographer, then sat down on the couch and relaxed and just breathed through my contractions, thinking about our baby. The contractions were strong and varied in time. They were between 10 and 20 minutes apart; and lasted for about a minute. At 8am I had a contraction and then…they stopped!!?! At 8:40 Jeni (the photographer) arrived, and about ten minutes later Jasmine arrived. There was still no contractions for a few minutes so we decided to go for a walk. I was so happy and excited to meet our baby finally! Using the Bradley Method of Childbirth is so amazing because you remain ‘fully there’ during labor. In both of my labors I’ve always been smiling, talking and fully active, only pausing for a contraction and then immediately continuing normal life. During our walk I was completely normal, labor had never bound me physically before, so I think the people around me didn’t take the labor seriously. Having not had a contraction for awhile and then the pressure that I wasn’t really in labor made me feel strange. At that point I just wanted to be alone with Chris. I had no urge to really continue labor at that point and I just prayed that if it was time that God would keep labor going and help me feel better.
After our walk we all sat around for awhile and Chris and my Grandpa went to buy Cj’s birth tree. Soon, Jasmine decided she would leave for now; I would call her when and if things started again. I relaxed and slept all day, then at 5:30 Chris and I decided we take the chance of going to a birthday party for Lily and Elizabeth that his grandparents were having. We had no idea at what stage of labor I was at, but we knew that if the baby suddenly started coming we would be just fine. That’s what I really loved about birthing at home and learning everything about birth; we were confident and didn’t trust our lives or our baby’s life in someone we barely knew -- we could easily do this ourselves! God and our family was in control. During the party I started to feel a little tired and I could reeeeaaallllyyy feel Cj’s head pushing on my cervix, which made me want to go home. We left the party early, got home and just spent some family time outside. The photographer and her husband spent the night just in case something happened during the night…..nothing happened. The next day Jasmine came again. My tummy muscles were sore after the contractions the day before. I drank some tea, took some magnesium and vitamin c. Which made me feel a lot better. All day nothing progressed, so at 4:30 I took some Black Cohosh. It is a herb that would start labor going naturally, without force, if labor was going to start. Nothing that was un-natural to induce labor. Nothing happened all night. At 9pm Jasmine came back and did her first actual ‘check’ on me; she said she thought I was fully effaced and about 8 cm dilated, but my bag of water was intact again. Chris and I told her we’d be fine with her going back home. The next day Chris went back to work. A lot of people were worried that something would go wrong with the baby; when there was nothing to worry about. As long as I didn’t get a fever and as long as the baby’s heartbeat stayed normal -- we were just fine. At this point I was soooo glad that we hadn’t gone to the hospital! If we would’ve gone there I more than likely would’ve been induced after labor stopped or been ordered to have a C-section. Doctors that fear birth and the natural method of birth are never a good thing.
On July 29th, I could feel my cervix opening all night and morning. It was strange since I was having no contractions but I could feel my cervix stretching. It felt like Cj was trying to push his head out! Ouch! At 2pm I went to the bathroom and had discovered that a ton of my mucous plug had came out…..I mean a ton. It could’ve easily hit the half a cup mark on a measuring glass! I had never had that much mucous before!
~ THE LABOR ~
At 2:08 am on August 2nd I started feeling some contractions. They were every 10-15 minutes and very light. I had a lot of lower back pain. I got up to measure my tummy and do my weight one more time, just in case Cj came super fast during the night while I was sleeping! I woke up early at 6 am with Chris. We spent some time together and then I took a shower. My contractions got really strong right before my shower and continued after. Chris was supposed to go to work that day, I told him to go ahead and go; if things progressed I’d call him. At 8:17 I called Chris at work and told him that I would need him to come home. Whenever I contracted my stomach muscles the contractions would start up again; I knew that I couldn’t be lifting the girls for very long and take care of them. The girls then woke up and Chris called a few minutes later saying he was on his way home. I got the girls ready and then started getting things ready for the birth; everything was still set up from our ‘false alarm’. I called Jasmine and told her what was happening; she started on her way to Park Rapids. Chris got home and took a shower, then helped with anything I hadn’t finished getting ready. We weren’t really sure what to think -- we were excited that today might be the day and yet we were a little uneasy that this might me another false alarm. My grandma was in Fargo that morning; so I called her and told her to come as soon as possible but she didn’t need to rush. I also called our birth photographer. I then finished getting myself ready; contracting every time I moved.
~ NATURAL LABOR, DRUG AND PAIN FREE ~
When a contraction came I would just stop moving, put my hand on my belly to feel to make sure I was breathing abdominally; and just concentrate on releasing all my muscles and ‘letting go’ of my body. When you tense up your body in labor, you feel pain, and when you feel pain you feel fear, and fear makes you tense up even more; creating a horrible cycle that leads women to believe labor hurts. But when you relax your body and just let your uterus contract on it’s own all you feel is the intense strength of the contraction and your cervix opening. It is similar to getting a tattoo; it hurts quite a bit, but it’s more of a nuisance.
For me, putting my hand on my stomach to feel myself breathing with my stomach muscles has helped to keep me from contracting them -- a big mistake that a lot of women make. They relax their entire body and mind, but then when they have a contraction, they tighten their ab muscles, which causes extreme pain. The uterus muscles and the abdominal muscles are so close together -- almost layered completely on top of each other, that most women think they are the same muscle; and when a contraction starts tightening her uterus, the woman tightens her abs with the contractions. Which causes pain, and loss of oxygen (because you are only breathing in your lungs - you can’t breathe with your stomach if you are tightening it). Loss of oxygen also increases your pain and slows labor. The uterus needs oxygen to work, and if you aren’t breathing right your uterus will receive less oxygen than it needs. You baby and yourself will also have less oxygen; which makes everything that is supposed to be ‘working’ to give birth only work half as well -- which is exhausting and painful. I wish I had known this when I gave birth to Lily. Her labor was exhausting: I couldn’t breathe and it was extremely painful. The experience was so much less than giving birth the RIGHT natural way. It’s strange because it’s not like giving birth naturally will always be a good experience -- if you are in extreme pain and totally exhausted you aren’t having the ultimate birth experience. I wish more people would learn how to give birth the right natural way. It is absolutely beautiful. I encourage you all to buy the book: Husband Coached Childbirth by Robert A. Bradley. It will almost completely ensure that you never again have an epidural or c-section.
~ OUR SON IS BORN ~
My hips started hurting pretty bad, especially during a contraction. I tried to go on all fours; (thinking maybe Cj had turned posterior and was causing back labor, sitting on all fours would cause him to turn and get back into the optimal birth position), but it hurt even worse. I finally found that halfway kneeling/standing felt pretty good, but my hips still hurt pretty badly. I leaned on Chris during a contraction, which was so nice to cuddle with him and just smell him. J I did that for awhile but decided to find a more relaxed position since this was causing me to feel like pushing. I figured that as long as I could comfortably stop labor, I would wait until Jasmine got here to go into a position that would increase labor. So I moved to the couch and sat in the position I was in during most of my labor with Elizabeth: on my butt with my hips forward and lower back slightly on the seat of the couch. That completely took away my hip pain, probably because it removed the pressure of Cj to move down. This really illustrates why giving birth in a standing or squatting position is very helpful and works better than on your back on a bed: gravity helps to pull the baby down and out. When I was halfway kneeling or standing I could feel the urge to push because Cj was being pulled down into my cervix, my hips also hurt because he was moving down in between them…pushing them open. When I sat on the couch with my hips forward, gravity was no longer pulling him down but leaving him where he was at -- which did nothing to progress my labor. I probably could’ve sat in that position for hours and not had progressed one bit. My Grandma finally made it home -- I was a relieved she would be able to see the birth. I stayed on the couch, only leaving for bathroom breaks until Jasmine got there.
After she arrived, Jasmine got some things ready and checked Cj’s heartbeat before, during and after a contraction. I went to the bathroom to check my dilation and only three or four inches in I could feel my bag of waters bulging!! We decided to move to the bedroom and try standing while doing counter pressure (pushing the top of my hips in), which helped quite a bit -- my butt bone would still hurt pretty bad. If Chris didn’t do counter pressure my hips and lower back would hurt super bad. It was a very uncomfortable pain, definitely just pretty annoying, not something I ‘couldn’t stand’. I started to have a very very strong pressure on my cervix -- so strong it made me shake. It was very strong and the first thing that I can actually say was very painful in labor. With the next contraction I stood up against Chris with my knees bent. He of course couldn’t do counter pressure so it hurt my hips to do this.
The next contraction I stood up against the wall, while Chris did counter pressure. It felt strange being so far away from the floor, so I moved to the bed; kneeling right next to it while Chris did the counter pressure.
I had two contractions right after another, and halfway through the second I felt the urge to push - it felt so nice to be able to push! I had known before this that it probably wouldn’t be very long until I’d be pushing but I never really told anyone how close I thought I was. I didn’t want people to not believe me and have that same feeling that I had during the ‘false alarm’. So I had been keeping to myself. Now I wish I hadn’t because people weren’t fully prepared for Cj to come almost right away. I didn’t even think he’d come as fast as he did! I probably pushed two or three more times. Lily had went from sitting with Chris, to sitting with Lisa. She was a little sad that mommy had owies and Chris wasn't able to hold her while he pushed on my hips.
Lisa was all set to take the video. Jasmine told Lisa to take Lily to the bathroom to wash her hands, I hadn’t known that she was going or that she had left the room or I would’ve told her not to go. I really didn’t care if Lily washed her hands or not and Cj was going to come very very soon. I wanted Lily to see all of the birth. I had another contraction and my water broke. Chris yelled for Jasmine to come in.
I had another contraction and Cj’s head crowned. After the contraction his head popped back in and with the next contraction it came fully through.
This was the worst part of birth, the nasty ‘ring of fire’ they call it. The only time I made any kind of scream was when I pushed his head through….it was just short moany grunt. Chris was still doing the counter pressure so I put my hand down and held Cj’s head just in case his whole body was going to come out with his head (Elizabeth’s did). Jasmine yelled to my grandma, who grabbed Elizabeth and brought her in; and Lisa and Lily still in the bathroom. I had another contraction immediately after and had to push really really hard to get Cj’s shoulders through. As soon as they came through he slid right out! I still was hanging onto his head/neck and slightly holding him while Chris grabbed him and pulled him out, with Jasmine helping.
Just as Cj’s shoulders had came out, Lisa and Lily had gotten to the doorway and saw him being born. We had wanted Lily there with Chris to catch him, so that was disappointing but at least she got to see the very end of the birth. We also had hoped Lisa could’ve been there to videotape me in the last few pushes, but I’m happy she was able to video tape us after he had just been born!
Jasmine held Cj while Chris wrapped a blanket around him to keep him warm while he wasn’t skin to skin with me. I turned around to face everyone and see our new son, the first thing I noticed was that he looked just like Chris! I was so excited! Chris was holding Cj; like we had wanted. I had wanted Chris to be able to hold him for a few minutes while I relaxed but Jasmine told Chris to give Cj to me, so he did. I was still ‘in shock’ and so was Chris so we just went with it. Holding Christopher for the first time was so beautiful.
Jasmine pointed out his hair -- he had a lot more than the girls where born with and it was dark! I had gotten my wish from the Lord! I was so thankful. She also noticed that his right ear was folded down -- which was absolutely adorable!! While we were waiting for the cord to stop pulsating we had Lily come closer and see her baby brother for the first time up close. Elizabeth then came closer too and gave him a little kiss. It was so sweet to have our children right there while their sibling was born.
After the cord stopped pulsating, we had Lily cut it. She had a hard time because it was so tough! I hadn’t had anymore contractions so Jasmine encouraged me to smell Cj -- his baby smell would encourage my hormones to start contracting. I loved his smell -- it was a sweet yet tangy, somewhat bloody smell…so different from Lily or Elizabeth who had been wiped off right after their birth. It was kind of like the smell of Chris’s sweat -- something that should smell gross but really just makes me feel joy and love. I crave it!! I cuddled him close to me for a long time and just smelt him. When I had brought him closer he reached his hand up and grabbed on to my ‘Mom’ necklace; it was amazing that he did that …so touching!
I still didn’t really have any obvious contractions so I stood up so that gravity would help the placenta detach from my uterus. I think I pushed once and it came out. Jasmine checked it over to make sure that it was whole, which it was.
I then got cleaned up a little more and sat down in bed. Everyone was still in the room at this point, and I loved them being there. We were all just soaking up Christopher and enjoying the miracle of birth. Jasmine told everyone to leave the room so we could have some time alone. I didn’t want them to leave but I was a little thankful to be able to fully concentrate and talk to Chris. I really wouldn’t have minded either way. I tried to nurse Christopher for the first time. He nursed very well and was so fully aware of his surroundings. I noticed that he was a lot more sensitive to light than Elizabeth was… he would barely even open his eyes if there was too much light in the room. We closed the shade so that he could look at us. While I nursed Chris cuddled up to me and we just sat there looking at our precious new son. He was so handsome (both of them)!!
~ POST PARTUM ~
The next few hours we spent in bed, cuddling, cleaning and changing Cj, weighing him (6lbs, 4oz), measuring him (18.5inches!), and just enjoying the moment. After awhile I went upstairs and took a bath. Jasmine had me drink some post-partum tea that would stop any internal bleeding if there was some. It tasted pretty gross but I’m thankful now that I did drink it. When I had Elizabeth; right after she was born I had a post-partum hemorrhage (that I wasn’t even told about). After her birth my bleeding was very strong, I continued to bleed and have clots for more than a month post-partum and I got very very sick and just felt awful. After drinking the tea after this birth, my bleeding almost completely stopped the next day!! I couldn’t believe it! I was so, so thankful to have Jasmine there who knew more on herbs than we did. That was one of the main reasons why we had wanted a Midwife present - to teach us what we didn’t know.
One of my favorite moments was right after my bath -- we sat down on the couch so I could nurse Cj again and a song came on the radio that just blessed my heart. ‘Don’t worry now’ by Britt Nicole played. I was so touched by this! The song has been ‘my dad’s song’ to me. My dad died when I was 14, so he never got to see me get married, give me away or dance with me when I married Chris. During the father/daughter dance (which I had with my Grandpa), I had decided to have ‘Don’t worry now’ played in honor of my Dad. This song was barely ever played on the radio; and the chances that it came on at that moment in time weren’t a coincidence. Cj had been my dad’s first grandson and he was born in my Dad’s bedroom. It was beautiful that God blessed me with that little treasure of love! I don’t grieve my father anymore but I do miss him, especially at times like that. It is so special to know that God loves me enough to romance my heart with little things like that. You can listen to the song here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FIU_rfoW77U
Later that evening we went for a walk outside and planted Cj’s birth tree. We had bought a Red Maple tree in honor of my dad and Chris; and buried the placenta by the roots of the tree. So the tree will grow as Cj’s tree and it will receive nutrients from the placenta that he received his nutrients and food from while in my womb. It is such beautiful symbolism!
~ CONCLUSION ~
Giving birth at home was very peaceful and extremely beautiful. Unless God says otherwise we will always give birth at home if we have more children. We have already decided that next time we would like to have more of a Doula than a Midwife at the birth. Or maybe at that time we will be fully educated on herbs and etc. so that we would be prepared in case something went wrong. With Cj we had wanted to give birth completely ourselves but it was a little more ‘attended’ than we wanted -- but still we are very very grateful for Jasmine and so glad she was there! At our next birth we are hoping that things will go a little more smoothly and that we will be more on our own. I will definitely communicate with people better; so that everyone knows how ‘close’ the baby really will be so that no one is super surprised!
We thank Jesus so much for treasuring our family and giving us our birth right back. It was only with His strength that we were able to fully trust in my body’s capability to birth and trust that He would care for us and protect us. God treasures those who follow His perfect plan for life. We truly believe that means doing many things how He created them to be; especially child birth.
Christopher James December Sandretzky was born peacefully at home into his father’s arms on August 2nd, 2010 at 2:20pm. He weighed 6lbs, 40z and was 18.5 inches long. He had a gorgeous but quite small amount of super dark brown, silky hair and dark gray eyes just like his big sister Lily’s eyes! (maybe they’ll turn brown like hers!). His mother and father were gracefully confident in the Lord to bring forth their son; and Jesus did so with Joy and Peace. What a beautiful beginning! THANK YOU JESUS.