As promised, the newest addition to the Wilder clan has arrived…and it’s another new Farmgirl! We couldn’t be happier to introduce little miss Fern Ruth Wilder, born at home at 6:37 a.m. on Tuesday, April 3. She was very content in my belly and apparently didn’t want to come earthside until the “last minute” (I was 18 hours away from timing out of midwifery care because of some arbitrary rules in Alaska regarding out-of-hospital births). While I believe babies almost always come when they are ready and we should generally wait for them–I was so ready to meet the newest member of our family (and so were so many other people, of course!).
Here’s a Farmgirl birth story…
I had been thinking for months that this baby would be born on April 1–an Easter baby and an April Fool’s baby! Amazingly, at about 1:30 a.m. on April first, I started having contractions every 10-15 minutes. I was ecstatic and felt like a fortune teller. I was sure there was going to be a baby in my arms by noon…but I was wrong. Once the family was all awake and eating breakfast and the energy of the day was building everything stopped. I had a few more weak contractions during the day, but then they started up again that evening. Again, I was going to have this baby! The contractions were coming every two to four minutes…but they weren’t very strong. Maybe my pain tolerance had increased? I told myself…I called my birthing team to have them come over around 9 p.m. My good friend Amanda was coming to help in whatever capacity necessary and I asked two of my good teenager friends to help with the kids and keep them at bay. I was in contact with the on call midwife. Alas, I never had to ask her to come over. Labor stalled again once everyone was at my house. I think it was my body reacting to the increased energy in the house. I didn’t expect my mind to feel so much like a hostess with these people that I was super comfortable with! Unfortunately, I had to ask everyone to leave and hoped that contractions would start up again.
They did not.
I spent Monday a complete mess–fluctuating between Zen (all good things in all good time, I am at peace, this is normal and biological…right?) and despair (I’m going to end up birthing at the hospital or unassisted at home, I’ll be pregnant forever, something is wrong, my body is a lemon, etc.). I had a chiropractor appointment and a prenatal appointment and was a weepy mess through both of them! Luckily, my care providers are awesome and reassuring…and good huggers.
I spent the rest of the day eating spicy pizza and chocolate covered raisins, bouncing on a yoga ball with a breast pump and watching terrible movies on Netflix and looking at photos of Ava and Opal when they were newborns. This is not how I imagined my last hours of pregnancy. I wanted everything to just happen! But the clock was ticking and doing some very mild interventions was better than transferring care to the hospital, in my opinion.
That evening, we had a fun dance party (with me intermittently crying, haha), played animal charades and all took a few minutes to tell the baby how excited we were to meet it. Ava shared all of the things in the world that are super fun: fairies, unicorns, pegasuses and trees!
Apparently all of these tactics worked, because as soon as the girls were asleep my contractions started with intensity and purpose! Strong contractions started coming very quickly–Within half an hour they were a minute long every 2-3 minutes apart! Since the girls were asleep I just had my friend Amanda come over to tend to them if they woke up. The midwives came over at about 11 p.m. and Evan filled up the big birthing pool we had on hand for laboring in. I was so excited to meet this baby! I expected to have a baby in arms by around 2 a.m.
I was wrong. Again. Darn babies have their own agenda!
The baby’s head would not descend and engage, we suspected an asynclitic head (tilted to the side) because I had a cervical lip for hours that would not dilate the whole way. It eventually became swollen and I had to try very hard not to push when my body was saying PUSH PUSH PUSH to allow it to come down and hopefully move out of the way.
Finally, after about eight hours of active labor and two hours of pushing/trying not to push, baby’s head had come down a bit more and I was fully dilated! It took many position changes, several locations (birthing pool, bouncing on ball, sitting on the toilet, pacing, lunges, big hip swings, bed, floor, on my side, on my back, squatting, hanging on Evan, squeezing the life out of Evan, hanging on a door, puppy pose, cat/cows, and more…).
I was on my left side in our amazing bed. I was exhausted and getting concerned that things weren’t progressing. I ate some crackers and sweet hot tea, and Evan reminded me that I am a strong, amazing woman. My whole body felt like rubber after hours of labor but I was determined to meet this baby soon! I could not hold my legs up any longer, so I stayed on my side, wrapped my leg around Evan’s head (ha! poor guy) and bared down with everything I could muster. The midwives had to remind me to stop pushing, “You’re contraction is over, let your body rest.” The midwives were/are saints!
When Fern finally crowned, her head was sideways! She was facing my right hip, and because of this presentation she couldn’t tuck her chin and came out “military” style with the very top of her head coming out first. The “head” midwife said she had only seen that presentation three or four times and she has delivered almost 800 babies! I like being unique…but I’d be okay with being unique in other ways! After her head was born there was a bit of should dystocia, but she came out pretty quickly. The cord was around one of her shoulders which didn’t help and she immediately put her hands to her mouth, indicating that she was probably like that in utero, too. Weird presentation, partially nuchal hands and cord–Oh! and she was a HUGE (by my account) nine pounds six ounces, 21.5 inches long 14.5 inch head (even with a significant cone)–all of these factors equalled a lot of work for everyone involved.
Sooooo, labor and birth were long and kind of complicated, but it was one of the most empowering things I have done. Plus, I have a happy, healthy, squishy, adorable, very laid back, pretty little baby to snuggle. We were hoping for Ava to witness the birth, but after everything got really intense at the end I didn’t ask for her to come in. As soon as little Fern came earthside I exclaimed, “Get the other babies!” (well…first I exclaimed, “it’s a boy!” haha–I was looking at the umbilical cord/belly button, silly mama). Ava got to cut the cord and we all got to spend some amazing time in our home, in our bedroom, in our bed with our new little baby. It was AMAZING. After an all night labor, the sun was streaming in through the window, Evan made some yummy breakfast for everyone (nothing like the smell of bacon after working your tail off for hours). Amanda and the midwives cleaned up everything and it was an all around wonderful, beautiful, empowering experience.
Fern and I spent the first two days in bed, we didn’t even get dressed. After a short stint out of bed on day three we spent two more days recovering in bed. My body was SO sore and little Fern was tired from all of the hard work, too. Evan was a rockstar–bringing me everything I asked for. Fern was immediately a great nurser. Ava and Opal were immediately infatuated and involved big sisters. Having a baby at home is the best thing we could have done, and I will forever be grateful for the experience.
Fern is now two weeks old and an adorable little squishy thing with a family that dotes on her. It has been the best postpartum so far in that I’m really relishing the “new-ness” of her and me and our growing family.
Thank you for reading this short novel :). I hope it finds you all in good spirits and enjoying the spring. Apologies and thoughts to those of you dealing with the April Blizzard in the Midwest…I hope if you have livestock that everyone was and is safe and healthy after the storm.
Until next time,
Sending peace, love and newborn snuggles from Alaska!
Alex, the Rural Farmgirl