Kepler's Birth Story: Water, Water, Everywhere

Kepler’s Birth Story: Water, Water, Everywhere

kepler hand on face

Seems that I have a pattern of prodromal labor and going late. My babies don’t seem late, though, nor do they get too large, so I think I’ve learned that I can easily let them bake away for an extra week or two with no concern.

That said, I get impatient and very uncomfortable at the end and the prodromal labor wears me out (though my hubby tries to remind me that it makes my labors shorter and easier when they do happen, and I’m sure that he’s right).

The false starts began the week that I was due, and two nights in particular had us and the midwife thinking baby would arrive at any moment. But, another week came and went, and still no baby, and all of the typical methods of encouraging baby to come weren’t kicking things into full gear as we hoped they would. Since lots of positive stuff was happening (dilation, almost full effacement, plenty of pre-labor signs) and my midwife felt that my body was ready enough, she gave me permission to go ahead with the castor oil recipe that has proved so effective for my last two labors.

I confess, I didn’t want to go the castor oil route again. It works marvellously for me previously, and yet I held off for a week, wanting to just go into labor naturally. If I had been more patient and less uncomfortable, I could have kept on waiting and I’m sure it would have happened on its own (because no one stays pregnant forever, right?). But I chose to go ahead…

kepler first days blowing bubbles

And So the Story Begins

(Note- the birth story gets a bit eventful so there are approximately zero pictures of me during labor. I’ve just interspersed unrelated, but adorable, pictures of baby’s first day or two instead.)

We agreed that I would take the concoction (a mix of apricot nectar, castor oil, almond butter and lemon verbena essential oil that our local midwives swear by- but I wish I had taken the liberties with it that Natalie took!) on Wednesday afternoon after 3pm, to allow my midwife time to finish up her afternoon teaching at a local college. My hubby was also conducting new music teacher interviews that day, and so a late start worked best for him as well. I tried to start the day as well rested as I could, and hoped that the labor would be on the shorter side, as our last two had also been.

I drank my concoction around 3:30pm. For the next hour and a half, I worked at tidying up the house, last minute birth preparations, and getting my children packed up to bring to a friend’s house nearby. Just after 5pm, we arrived at my friend’s and contractions were already starting, but they were very mild and still spaced out.

During the 30 minutes that we were there, I sat and sipped on tea and realized that contractions were still pretty easy, but coming frequently enough that I had better get my laboring-self back into my mini-van so that I was actually still capable of driving myself the 5-minute drive home safely.

Ryan was still immersed in an interview in the living room when I arrived and we both sort of went about our own thing. I decided to pop in to the home office of the music school we run to help our new assistant with any scheduling questions she might have. I was surprised to get hit by a big double-peak contraction right before I walked into the office, and realized that I had better be fast. She just shook her head at me and told me that I needed to forget about work, trust that she had it under control, and focus on having a baby. True enough. 🙂

A grilled cheese sandwich sounded mighty good right about this time, as I hadn’t had dinner yet and knew that in a short while, I wouldn’t want to eat anything at all. I asked Ryan if he wanted one, and he asked if I was having contractions yet. I responded yes, and said they were about 2-3 minutes apart. He was shocked and couldn’t believe I was still making him dinner. His interviewee (one of eight children of a family we know, whose mother is currently training to become a midwife) just laughed. This was nothing new to her!

Before I started cooking, I decided it was time to call my doula (a good friend who has helped at 2 of our other births) and the midwife, to let them know they better start getting ready to come over. Ryan finished up his interview and I finished the sandwiches and ate most of mine. Sitting was the only thing keeping the contractions from becoming more intense, and I was starting to have to really focus on them, so I decided it was probably a good idea to stay sitting until people started arriving.

closeup kepler newborn hands

It was probably close to 7 by the time the midwife came. She started filling out her forms and setting up, as I just walked around the kitchen and family room, pausing to lean on something for each contraction and then getting up and walking around again.

Upstairs, my husband and friend began working on filling the birthing pool with water, as we had planned for another water birth. The midwife joined them to set some things up in our bedroom. I was happy to continue on by myself downstairs for a while.

That is, until…

There was water. Everywhere. And I’m not talking about MY water.

The dining room chanedlier above our table suddenly became a fountain, water pouring down from the ceiling and filling up the bowl-shaped light fixture. A minute later, there were also some small drips starting to happen in other parts of the ceiling. I hollered up to everyone upstairs, “There’s water coming out of the ceiling!” And that’s when the pandemonium all began.

Everyone ran downstairs to see what I was talking about. Then they began flying around with buckets and bowls, turning the water off upstairs, and frantic phonecalls to our landlord to figure out where on earth the water main switch was. The landlord couldn’t be reached, so then my husband began calling various families from our church who had previously rented this home before we moved in- perhaps one of them knew? Our assistant in the music school agreed to stay late and started calling plumbers to find someone who would make a late night emergency  house call. My doula worked to get the water mess under control.

And I labored alone. Ah, the joys.

At one point, my midwife came alongside me and mentioned that because I was so calm as I labored, the whole water ordeal was currently more exciting than the birth itself. And she was right!

Back to the Birth

At long last (well, maybe not so long- an hour later?), the water issue was mostly under control, at least enough that the attention began to shift back to how I was doing, and just in time. Things had remained manageable enough during that time, but now it was close to 8pm and boy, was I feeling it.

The midwife checked me shortly before this time and found me to be 3+ cm, paper thin cervix and progressing well. Within 5 minutes of her checking, things kicked into higher gear and I felt a shift in the contraction intensity. Now I was REALLY focusing and soon decided to stop moving around and get down on my hands and knees, leaning over an exercise ball. That was my favorite position as I moved towards transition during my last labor and it felt like the right thing for me again, especially with no birthing pool (or even shower or tub- the water in the whole house was off, remember!).

It was interesting this time around to note that I could really gauge almost exactly where I was at in my progress. Once I got down on my hands and knees, contractions were 1-2 minutes apart, fairly long and intense and I was working very hard to breathe through them and keep my body relaxed. I knew that I was probably already 5-6 cm and in the beginnings of transition.

Coping With Labor (and How NOT to Push)

This time around, what helped me to cope was to focus all of my concentration on taking deep breaths and blowing out. I actually found it helpful to put my mouth near the ball I was leaning on and to breath out, sort of into the ball. The resistance from my breath against the ball helped me to feel grounded in a strange way. I mentioned it to my midwife and she said, “Well, whatever works!”.

I knew after a short while (maybe 20 minutes?) that I was near dilated and baby was starting to move lower because the pain in my back picked up and I needed a lot of back pressure with each contraction. Something new that we discovered this time was that, beyond the usual lower back pressure that I have previously found useful, I actually wanted my husband to sort of squeeze my hips in at the same time. It really made the pain more bearable, especially the lower the baby got.

At probably 8:45 or so, my water broke spontaneously, and I knew that the baby was entering the birth canal. I could feel the movement downward, and truthfully, it freaked me out. This was my 4th birth (3rd unmedicated) and all of the sensations from previous births came rushing back to me. I knew what was coming next and in my “labor-land”, hazy mental state, I didn’t want to go there.

Contractions? Fine. Transition? Yes, I can do that. Pushing? Umm, nope. Let’s call this whole thing off!

Unfortunately, that’s not exactly an option when baby has already decided it’s ready to make an entrance and you’re in your home with a midwife and the hospital is 20 minutes away… so, you do the next best thing. Try to avoid doing the inevitable!

Instead of really giving in to the pushing contractions that were coming (they were there, but it wasn’t this unstoppable, couldn’t-not-push-if-my-life-depended-on-it force like it had been with my last two babies), I just kept trying to breathe and cope with things and pretend like I didn’t actually need to push this baby out. The funny thing about it is the unreasonableness of it all– if I had just started pushing, I would have been done already!

The midwife set up a birthing stool on the floor and they helped me get onto it. But I hated it and after two contractions, I said that I didn’t want to be on there. Next they suggested I get up on the bed. I managed to crawl up there and spent a contraction or two on my hands and knees, wondering if I would give birth that way. Ultimately, my own indecision caused the midwives (the backup midwife had now arrived) to make the decision for me.

They encouraged me to lie down on my side, propped up by pillows. I was now panting through contractions, doing mental battle with myself. Finally my midwife said, “Are you trying not to push?“. And my answer? Yes, you bet I am. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt. I’ll just lay here and writhe on the bed instead, thankyouverymuch.

And then I could postpone the inevitable no longer. A huge pushing contraction swept over me and as I finally gave in and pushed with it, his head was being born.

Suddenly, my midwife yelled, “Stop pushing!”. Umm, right. I yelled right back, “I can’t!!!!”. Granted, I tried. I really tried to hold off as best as I could, but it’s practically impossible at that point.

(I asked her later why she had wanted me to stop and she said that he had not one, but TWO hands up on his head as he came out. She wanted to try to hold his hands in as he was being born, to help prevent any unnecessary birth trauma and tearing on my end. My last daughter had one hand on her face, and that hurt like the dickens. Maybe I knew intuitively that I didn’t want to push him out with two hands up there and that’s why I was putting it off? At the very least, no harm was done and hey… it can’t get any worse in future births. They only have two hands! 🙂

A few seconds later, his head was out. I tried pushing again but his shoulders weren’t coming with the angle I was lying at (we have a really soft, pillow-top on our mattress, which was making it harder), so they helped me shift angles and then with one big push he was born!

us with kepler just born

Straight up onto my chest, this squalling, bright-eyed baby boy went. He wanted his presence known, for sure. We spent a few minutes just trying to soothe him and snuggle him, and then rejoiced with surprise when they told us he was a boy! We had been back and forth on what we thought we were having, but towards the end felt that it must be a girl, so we were just delighted to have another little boy. A brother for Caden- hooray!

cadens first time holding kepler

We spent a long time just cuddling, me, Daddy and baby, while the others went about their business of cleaning up and writing birth reports. I nursed him after a while and he took to the breast like a champ. When we finally weighed him, he came in at a surprising 7 lbs 5 oz. I had fully expected him to be my biggest baby, but instead he was my second smallest. Who knew?

kepler snuggling with mommy

We named him Kepler Matthias (although the name took us a few days, as it always does). We ordered in a Greek feast from a take-out restaurant 5 minutes before they closed (he was born at 9:07pm). I always love eating dinner after an afternoon or evening birth. It’s just so satisfying, especially after working up such an appetite!

Our first night was just beautiful, sleeping in bed with our precious babe and enjoying his newness. That’s one of my favorite aspects of homebirth. There’s nothing like being in your own bed with your baby right after giving birth.

johanna with kepler first hold

The next morning his siblings came home to meet him, and they were just as enamoured as we were. Let me tell you, if you want to hold this baby, you better put your request in early and GET IN LINE behind his siblings! He’s a well-loved baby, if ever there was one.

abbie holding kepler first time

On a funny note, as everything was being cleaned up and I was beginning to nurse him, both the plumber and our landlord arrived, and BOTH wanted to come upstairs to look at the master bathroom. My dear friend Ange was a firm advocate for us and she kept guard- no one was going upstairs while I was recovering from giving birth! Not on your life! (Thanks, friend!)

We also found out later that our assistant’s car got blocked in by one of the midwives vehicles. She had been dealing with plumber stuff, but then found herself stuck. She actually heard the entire birth as she was trying to pack up and sneak out, and told us that she walked the 5 minutes back to her house a weeping mess from witnessing something so beautiful. 🙂

kepler eyes open on tummy

And there you have it… the grand entrance of sweet baby Kepler. 

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  1. Congratulations Stephanie! He’s gorgeous! Just look at those eyes.
    Thank you for sharing your story with us 🙂

  2. He is adorable! Congratulations! I don’t know why I’m reading birth stories with only 10 weeks to go until my next one. Like I need the stress! 😉 Glad you’re both doing well!

  3. Such a great birth story. Congratulations to you and your family on such a sweet new blessing!
    We also welcomed our third blessing 4 weeks ago. It was our first time with a midwife and we loved it! It was a wonderful birth, so relaxed and went very smoothly.

  4. What a beautiful babe! Congratulations! I enjoyed reading your birth story, and was especially touched by your assistant hearing the birth and weeping from being so moved on her return home. Beautiful.

  5. Welcome to the world little one! 🙂 You have a wonderful mother!
    Thanks for sharing your story Stephanie. 🙂

  6. This story was fabulous! The water twist was shockingly fun. You had me laughing at the “they only have two hands” remark. : ) And I have to say, that picture of you holding him while he sucks his thumb is the cutest picture of a baby I think I’ve ever seen. (And that includes MY babies!!) He’s a honey. Our babies weighed the same at birth. It’s a good weight. Must be the mama’s intuition that says when it’s time to get out the castor oil…

  7. So beautiful. I love the pic of Kepler sucking his thumb. I have always been very “late” too. And everyone else impatient so I did the castor oil concoction with 2 of my 4 births. It brought labour on really quickly—too quickly actually. So quick that I was scared stiff for my fourth delivery. I secretly wished for a reason to be hospitalized and medicated. So for my fourth I decided I would be pregnant for the rest of my life before inducing again. But what a gift I was given by waiting. Labour and delivery was a much slower, gentler, manageable event than the previous ones. Yes she was very late and labour took all day compared to 1.5 hours but I have a wonderful memory of it all. My previous labours were so intense and fast that they are a blur of PAIN. That’s my 2 cents about castor oil. It works all right!

  8. LOVE the pic with Kepler sucking his thumb – so precious!!!
    Love your blog and allthe info you share! Such a blessing to me! And to all my friends who I tell about you! Thank you for sharing! Noni Wemple

  9. Awww, what a beautiful story! The picture of you holding Kepler while he sucks his thumb is sooo sweet!!

  10. Thank you for such a beautiful story, funny and touching at the same time. Your new little addition is so sweet but I think my favorite is the pictures of his little brother and sister holding him. You remind me of my sweet daughter and her family of 8 children. She and her husband also are quite comfortable with the whole family holding and loving on the new little addition. Blessings on you and your family. Jeannie

  11. What a great, funny story, Stephanie! Can’t believe you went through all that! He is a DOLL! Love your pics…I barely got any pics of me in labor (really–none, sadly) during my natural birth b/c 1) It was so intense and 2) I ended up completely naked! (Trying to avoid that this time…my doula thought I needed to wear a cami in the shower…and then I couldn’t stand the wetness of it on me!) I am really curious about this castor oil tea. I looked up Natalie’s version. Maybe you could do an entire post on it sometime? (Like…before August? 😉 It might be a quick one for you to write! My doula had brought me castor oil when I started getting scared I was going to go over and that the hospital would want me to induce, but baby ended up coming on her due date! I was honestly scared to try it b/c I’ve heard/read horror stories about using castor oil. Your tea sounds very interesting, though! 🙂 Congrats, again!!! 🙂

    1. I ended up not wearing any clothes during my fist labour. The other two I wore a shirt. It was too hot the first time.

      I’ve also heard horror stories about castor oil, so I’m glad it worked so well for Stephanie. My midwife doesn’t recommend it at all. It can cause diarehea during labour and also can be a much more intense labour.

      Instead this past time I used a herbal tincture as well as a stretch and sweep since I was worried my midwife was leaving. Not sure if she would have come anyways though. I also left it in God’s hands asking Him to help me accept whatever happened.

      1. I’m REALLY hoping to find something comfortable to wear this time (August in NC…it will surely be hot!). My thoughts are perhaps a swimsuit w/ a skirt or something??

        I had heard about the diarrhea! Yikes!

  12. Thank you for such a beautiful story, funny and touching at the same time. Your new little addition is so sweet but I think my favorite is the pictures of his little brother and sister (though older they are also so young) holding him. You remind me of my sweet daughter and her family of 8 children. She and her husband are quite comfortable with the whole family holding and loving on the new little addition. Blessings on you and your family. Jeannie

  13. Congratulations!! What a beautiful birth story, my friend! And Kepler? Beautiful!

    Enjoy your babymoon!

  14. I also did castor oil with Natalia. After 11 days of thinking I was in labor at least once a day, and my midwife calling her assistant a couple times. Plus not sleeping because of all the contractions, we were sort of exhausted. I was not overdue, so I felt bad for taking the castor oil, but my midwife had told me if I did not have a good nights rest she suggested that I did.

  15. Dearest Stephanie!

    ♥ I am so very happy for you and your family ♥

    Welcome, Kepler! History has been waiting for you!

  16. What a beautiful story and such a humorous twist with the water problems!! I too had a baby with his arm…and I tore horribly. So glad yours went well. I’m almost convinced to do a homebirth…except that it is not legal here! 🙂

  17. Your birth story made me laugh out loud, and woke up my newborn in the Moby wrap! 🙂

    It must have been hard coping without the water. I’ve always used water, whether the shower at the hospital, or this last birth, the birthing pool at home. The birthing pool was amazing and she ended up a water birth.

    I hope the mess got cleaned up. Where did the water come from? Did they have to rip out drywall etc? I know water issues can be a real mess but hopefully they got it cleaned up well.

    That must have hurt with his two hands. I’ve had one there with my 2nd baby and we think there might have been one there this past time, but my midwife said it was hard to tell since I was on my hands and knees in the water. That’s the best position for me who also doesn’t want to push. When I get in that position, there’s no stopping it.

    1. I also wanted to add, my midwife had suggested using a double breast pump if the labour didn’t pick up (I, too, have prodomal labours, this one was by far the longest, lasting 46 hours, only 6 in active labour). We were really wanting it to pick up and go since my midwife was leaving and otherwise I would have to have a doctor hospital birth. I ended up not using the breast pump since labour finally picked up itself. But just thought you might want to know of that option. I asked about the castor oil and she did not recommend it, since she’s seen it really affect women with a very fast intense labour.

  18. Congratulations, Stephanie! Kepler is absolutely adorable.

    I just LOVE reading birth stories. :o) Our first was born at the hospital and our second at home. The plan is for Baby #3 (due in October) to be born at home also. My hospital birth was incredible to be sure, but the home birth was so beautiful and peaceful…I don’t think I’d ever do it any other way again unless I absolutely had to!

  19. What an eventful birth story! Kepler is just darling! I am completely with you, I can handle labor and even transition. But pushing….ahh, that is when I want to give up! I homebirth as well, so there is nothing that can be done, but try to endure it and hope that it is fast. Praying for a healthy postpartum time for you.

  20. Wow! What an exciting birth story! I can’t believe there was water coming out of the ceiling. That’s crazy!

    He is adorable. I love the very last picture with his wrinkly little forehead. What a sweetheart. The one of your daughter is gorgeous , too.

    It sounds like you have a lot of caring people around you. That’s awesome.


  21. Congratulations, Stephanie! Welcome, Kepler! What a great story. Blessings on your family.

  22. oh, this is so beautiful! thank you for sharing … so many sweet details. 😉 i loved every bit!!
    curious: how old are your other kiddo’s? i ask because i am pregnant with our 3rd, due in september and our youngest is 11 months … so i find encouragement when i hear other mama’s who are walking this close-in-age journey! 🙂
    blessings, emily

  23. What a story! It totally made me realize that, wow, I’m gonna be doing this myself in about 8 weeks. Not sure I’m ready! 🙂 What a wonderful group of supporters you have around you. Glad that everything worked out in the end!

  24. Such a sweet little face! Oh, no matter how painful, there’s something so absolutely amazong about birth. I hate it and love it at the same time! I laughed about the not wanting to push thing–I totally understand! With my 4th, I kept saying, “I’m scared! I can’t do it!” and the nurses thought I was crazy since I had clearly done this before. And, of course, there was plenty of “I”m never doing this again!” until that baby was born, and well….We’ll probably do this again.

  25. what a great story! i am about to have a baby anytime now – 2 weeks from the ole dd. not sure if i should be reading a birth story right before, but you know the fact that women make it to the other side (and that i have) is always encouraging!! i am different in that transition really intimidates me, but pushing is a relief to finally get to after having to hold back. congrats and i love the picture of him sucking him thumb.

  26. Congrats! Love birth stories & I’ve been waiting for yours! I was surprised to hear you rent your home! Glad everything worked out 🙂

  27. Thank you for sharing …. what a story!! I love homebirths, although only one of my 6 were at home. Looking at those sweet pictures makes me miss those years. And the pictures of the little ones holding the new baby sure brings back memories of my own with each of their new little siblings! Could that really be 5 years ago?? Many blessings over you and your lovely family!!

  28. That sounds close to my recent and last baby born at home two weeks ago. While he was my biggest, I remember thinking…oh no- I don’t want this pain again but being home you can’t call for medication
    This labor also had a week of prod roman, and I waited until the very end to call the midwife because it was 2 am and I was waited until the double peak contraction to know fore sure I was in labor. I love home birth stories! I am the only one I know braised my mom and step mom that have experienced the natural God-given blessing of birthing with only my husband and the midwives in my own home, then recovering in my own bed, own room, own home.

  29. Such a beautiful birth story! Thank-you for sharing it. The picture of your baby leaning on your chest and sucking his thumb is just magical! Congratulations. xxxx

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