The year of 2015 was full of milestones. We celebrated 10 years of living in Kenya, 20 years of marriage, and on my 40th birthday, we conceived our newest family member who was due to arrive on Christmas Eve but chose to kick off our new year by arriving just as the sun was coming up on New Year's Day, 2016!
For those who may or may not know, I believe that birth is a natural phenomenon that gets muddle up with doctors and obstetrics. If an elephant can give birth to such a huge creature in the wild, why couldn't I birth my child unassisted by a hospital and doctors? I could go into many reasons for my choice to have each of my 6 babies at home, but that is a different post all together. Let's just say, I feel much safer at home, and I am not 'brave' for doing it that way.
Deborah Rhodes, my new friend and midwife flew in from England with her son Max December 11th. The bumpy dirt trails we drive on were horribly difficult for me as baby dropped lower and lower in to my pelvis the last few weeks. I felt like I was near baby's arrival for weeks before real labor actually started.
Having guests in our house, celebrating Christmas for a month with advent activities and loads of cooking, caring for Fien who is injured and lives far away, and preparing for a new baby was quite taxing. Christmas Eve came (due date), Christmas Day, we spent the day helping Fien... My due date came and went. At some point, I even managed to climb our big hillside and rode our horse during the last week of pregnancy, trying to move things along. New Year's Eve we did loads of walking and shopping in town, and I was 41 weeks (1 week past due). We came home, had food, a Bon fire, s'mores, and then I went to bed at 9pm.
Debs slept on the floor with Max in the house because he didn't want to go to the hut that night. At 10:30pm my water broke in my sleep all over my bed. I filled 3 or 4 diapers with water. Debs cleaned off my bed, put fresh sheets, cleaned the floor, and then I went back to sleep thinking I had a good 12 hours to wait before things got started.
Midnight on the dot, bringing in 2016, my contractions started. By 2:am they were 3 minutes apart and felt like I was in transition for hours. I had a difficult time fumbling in the dark without any electricity, having to find matches to light candles so I could get to the toilet every few minutes feeling like I needed to pee with each contraction. (Eventually, Debs put a bucket in the corner of the lounge for me to pee in so I wouldn't have to walk so far.)
I was cold, shaky, and baby was in a full on posterior position with the hard part of baby's head pushing on nerves in my spine. I finally woke up Debs because I was having a difficult time stepping over her mattress which in the walkway on the floor every time I needed to pass.
The contractions were intense, and I was cold so Debs made a fire. I found I couldn't sit on the floor nor in a chair, I ended up spending 5 hours on my knees (our floor, grateful to have it, is HARD) in front of the fire place with Debs putting pressure on my back. Johnny was snoozing through it all, and I didn't have the heart to wake him. Labor was so intense, i didin't even get a chance to tell ANYONE about it.
As dawn started approaching, I remember looking up at Venus shining brightly in the dark morning sky and seeing many other stars shining through my star shaped windows. I was hopeful baby was a girl so I could name her Starlette.
As the sun was coming up in the lounge, I started feeling 'exposed'. I lost my cozy dark space, and my thoughts were 'I better start pushing because the kids will be waking up soon!'
I started pushing, and I could tell baby was still not turned. I pushed more intensely than I have with any other baby. It took quite an effort to get her out. I was standing and couldn't get on my knees at this point. Debs was in front helping catch. Baby literally turned AS I pushed. I couldn't quite catch baby myself, but my hands were on baby's head as she was securly passed into my arms. It was the first time I have given birth while standing! It was a unique experience! I checked to see if baby was a boy or girl, as the children flooded into the room hearing her first cries... and then we named her...
Starlette Sky was born at 7:08 am New Year's Day. We left her cord attached for 3 hours so that her blood would drain thoroughly into her body. Eventually, we tied it with a soft braided string and cut the placenta off her cord. Debs made me a fruit smoorthy with 1 inch of her placenta.
Starlette was covered in vernix which melted away and absorbed into her skin beautifully. No bath, no lotions, just a fresh baby... We didn't dress her in clothes but wore her skin to skin for a week. I didn't take her out of the house until her cord fell off, and we planted a gardenia tree on her placenta.