Wolfgang Alvaro Puglisi Schneider
born at home on January 8th, 2016, 8:11pm
This new relationship thing was really something special – finding a soul mate in December 2014, somebody to connect with on an intellectual, physical, and spiritual level, who is also a foreigner in this country, we just clicked.
Then finding out to be pregnant in May. What a surprise. An “oopsie” that the universe had in stock for us. Several ultrasounds and genetic workup, high risk pregnancy because of mom’s and dad’s age (40 and 53, respectively), but all went amazingly well. Completely forgetting about the constant nausea, aches and pains, morning, no, all day sickness… We started a Bradley Method Birth preparation course in September and heard about Birthstream. The decision for a home birth was made early, both my partner and I work in the Medical field and we were looking for a more individual, comprehensive care.
The months just flew by. We had three wonderful Babyshowers, a tradition that we were not familiar with, and every one was overwhelmingly amazing. Our friends and work colleagues really made us feel special.
In December I went on maternity leave, supposedly two weeks before the big date – December 29th, the due date according to the ultrasounds and conception calculations. My family from Germany made travel arrangements to be with us for the first month of the new baby’s life. They thought with booking the flights for January 9th, they will be safely out of the biggest chaos directly after the birth… Little did they know that little Wolfie took his sweet time. New Years came and went. The hope for a New Years baby came and went. My then husband’s, (yay, we got married on December 4th), birthday came and went on January 3rd. More days passed. Oh, and I passed on my two last appointment at the Med Center because we had a very bad experience with a doctor on the 39 week checkup. Scare tactics of being told to be too old for a home birth, that my “hips would be calcified and not flexible enough, and that the Cesarian option at the hospital would be the safest option for me and my baby. Or do I really want to jeopardize the life of my baby?” Poking at my swollen feet and more scare tactics about edema, and constantly questioning my choice of home birth. No, not nice. Good bye, doctor. The midwifes from Birthstream really helped to put this into perspective.
Then, Monday, January 4th, the Braxton Hicks contractions flared up, couple of hours apart, a nice preview of what would come. Still, it took until Wednesday night to get more serious. Contractions about an hour apart. We got an acupuncture appointment Thursday morning, and now the contractions were about 12 minutes apart. Also, the intensity of the contractions increased significantly. A short walk to a grocery store became an exercise in patience, stopping several times because the contractions had been too painful to walk through them. The day passed, we had dinner at home, rested, and then called Rachel K at 11:30pm because the contractions were now 3-5 minutes apart. Her arrival was very welcome, and her calmness helped us throughout the night. At around 4am my water broke for the first time, but nothing much changed until about 7am on Friday morning. The other Rachel (FT) arrived at some point during the night.
We had set up the tub in the nursery, and started filling it. Even though we had turned up the water heater, it was not enough to fill the birth tub, and what my brother from Germany remarked as a joke – filling the tub with buckets of hot water, became funny and laborious reality… using the tea kettle, cooking pots of hot water… but it did fill the tub eventually, and I soaked my achy body in the warmth. I relaxed completely in between the contractions; even fell asleep for the couple of minutes in between them.
Around 7am I became very discouraged. I remembered my mother saying that giving birth in a hospital would be much safer, and that I would never manage the pain during labour and birth, I really should go to a hospital. Also remembering the scare tactics of the calcified hips, this now seemed like the truth, and I was trying to negotiate to call 911 and go to the hospital. Luckily, both Rachels and my husband recognized this as being the emotions talking, and that it had nothing to do with my physical capability to give birth. They supported and encouraged my decision for a home birth, and rationally talking about the time line of how long it would take to go to the hospital, filling out the paperwork, and that an epidural would take much longer, or wouldn’t even work at this point. I was able to move through this dark moment of fear and reconnected to my body, breathing, and relaxing. Rachel and Rachel made sure I was eating and drinking, and my wonderful husband, whom the midwifes had sent to rest for a couple of hours, stayed by my side throughout the day, out of the tub, into the tub, onto the toilet, off the toilet, sitting and rocking on the birthing ball, side lying on the couch, and back again to the tub. I really loved the tub at this point. The pain was so much less, and my body completely relaxed. At 2pm, another transition from the birthing tub to the ball, rocking back and forth, breathing through the contractions, there was another gush of amniotic fluid. At 3pm, my husband started reading positive Birth Affirmations from the Bradley Method class, some very helpful, some just made me roll my eyes.
At 4pm, a strong urge to push was focusing all my energy. I think I have never been more focused in my life. At 5.45pm, Rachel K convinced me to get out of the tub, because it would be slowing down the process. I think I complained bitterly about that, and it took me some time to actually step out of the tub. Like a toddler negotiating for some sweets, I tried to negotiate some more minutes in the comfortable tub. The midwifes convinced me to try the birth stool, which my husband described as a toilet seat with legs, but made from wood. I tried it because my friend Maria in Spain gave birth on such a stool, which really impressed me. However, I couldn’t really relax, and after 20 minutes of half-hearted pushing, I transitioned once more to the couch, through some more squatting, standing, trying out various positions. From 7pm on my memory becomes a bit blurry, I just remember being very focused on pushing, being on my back, Rachel K between my legs. According to the birth record, at 7:42pm, the baby is wiggling, and the top of the head appeared. Just to disappear in-between the pushes. 7.57pm – a bigger chunk of the head is now visible, 8.02pm, crowning, and then, finally, 8.11pm, little Wolfgang Alvaro Puglisi Schneider was welcomed and put in our arms. My husband cut the umbilical cord. A wave of love just washed over us, and so far, has not left. Looking into these little brown eyes, anxiously counting the fingers and toes, yes, all ten there, and marveling at the miracle that happened to come to existence only because two pieces of DNA combined beautifully. Then, the next day my family from Germany arrived, to a miraculously clean house. The two Rachels not only supported us throughout the birth, but also cleaned up everything!
Without the midwifes, without Birthstream, this home birth would not have been possible, and we are immensely grateful to the amazing service they provided. Before, during, and after the birth.