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  • Sharona Steed

Home Birth of Solomon

Preparing for Baby #3

A year was beginning to sneak up on me quickly, and I realized Sali’s birth story had still not been written. The birth of a third child may seem like a minor blip on the horizon, especially when it’s a repeat home birth that gratefully was uneventful outside the main event, but I feel that each birth deserves to be documented and memorialized. Perhaps I will edit the video footage someday. Most of the birth photos included were taken by Bree Garcia of J&B Photography. (Bree did not disapoint!)

My third pregnancy went about the same for me physically as the other two. The usual nausea, heartburn, musculoskeletal discomforts and so on accompanied the anticipation of welcoming a new little being into our family, but staying active (may a barefoot lap around the sand volleyball court) and our little above-ground swimming pool helped me cope. What was different was doing it all through a pandemic, while dry tandem nursing two older kids and while worrying about whether my hormone levels would sustain the pregnancy after having gone through fertility treatment to conceive. (Low progesterone at the beginning of the pregnancy combined with hellish lingering pain from PIO shots made for a rocky start.) This is what much of 2020 looked like for our family.

My midwife Lindsey Meehleis accommodated my request to be seen outdoors, and provided the same phenomenal care for body, mind as spirit as she did while I was expecting Wolf. Brittney Cicon took these pictures two days before I went into labor with Sali. Brittney alleviated my SI and SPD pregnancy woes - a HUGE thank you! And a shoutout also to my physical therapist Karis Wong and to pelvic floor specialist Whitney Sippl for the work they both did with me during pregnancy and postpartum.

Robert documented the whole pregnancy week by week, with "week 1," as I was beginning a new round of fertility injections. (You wouldn't guess it, but the only thing he despises more than taking pictures is being in them - so an extra THANK YOU for that and for making me laugh the whole way through, even as we pencil-whipped it toward the end!)

A few maternity pictures from our studio - once again, THANK YOU, ROBERT!

Testing out the birth pool and playing midwifery (this time Wolf was convinced he was carrying a baby, as Adiya had been when I was pregnant with him):

Lead Up to Labor

T minus 2 days: After what would be my last prenatal appointment, I took an afternoon nap in the kids’ bedroom since Wolf was napping in our bed next to Robert, which should have been a clue for me that labor was not far off. Late that night, while watching an eerie episode of "Hunters" with Robert, I found myself hoping dearly that labor would not start that night as I was overtired and enduring a headache. Thankfully I was spared!

T minus 1 day: I fell asleep with Wolf on the bean bag for a 1.5 hour nap. (Napping is rare for both of us.) Robert was convinced he knew what the naps were all about. I laughed, but did remember how tired I was the day before my last labor.

Evening before labor began: I took a 2.5 hour walk while mostly listening in on a heartfelt and eye opening conversation, followed by an additional 2 hour walk with my friend Karin with whom I enjoy walking and talking, and who got to feel the tightness of a strong BH contraction during our walk. In total I walked over 9 miles, and Robert told me he was going to pull a couple things down from the rafters, including the birth pool, to be a bit more prepared. I giggled, not as convinced that labor was really THAT close. He always knows. I picked up a pine cone on my walk, thinking about the baby I was getting ready to meet.

Early & Active Labor

7am (at 38+6 weeks gestation based on an early ultrasound, the exact gestational age I’ve gone into labor each time based on early ultrasounds for all three): My mucous plug and bloody show released with a plop and woke me up quickly - GAME ON! Robert told the kids as he got Wolf dressed that we were likely to have a baby that day. Adiya and Wolf began setting up the living room for what was to come.

7:26am I nursed the kids as per our usual morning routine, hoping nursing would help my labor move steadily along.

7:57am Robert sent me a silly text quoting what he must have said to Wolf, who at the time maintained a fantasy involving several Dads which read “'Wolf please tell your Dad he may not come to the birth.'”

8:18am I kicked off the day with a shower and a blow dry as I had the morning I started labor with Wolf. This time I was keenly aware of time passing and my productivity between contractions, as I had recalled in my previous labor feeling like I had all the time in the world when I wasn't contracting only to be hit with reality when a new contraction began. I would continue timing contractions with my phone well after my birth team arrived just as I had done with my first two, as though I didn't trust this was the real deal unless I was staring at numbers that confirmed it. Adiya brought over some books to read me.

8:30am I came downstairs to find Adiya placing a weight inside a plastic bag for the GoPro and Wolf inflating the birth pool with the electric pump. Wolf said to me “Mommy, if you do give labor, then maybe it will say ‘Thank you for letting me out!’” He also said “Mommy, uh, hopefully you’re not giving birth to twins…Hopefully you do not have twins in your stomach, because it would have to stay in longer.” Adiya and Wolf weren’t interested in attending their Outschool (virtual) classes for the day (Irish dance, German, oil pastels, etc.) Neither wanted anything to do with that which wasn’t directly related to my labor. Both kids helped Robert inflate and fill the birth tub. And happy helpers they were!

9:30am I braided Adiya’s hair up, pausing between contractions. It was nice having something to focus on. In the meantime Adiya worked on some birth art depicting pink smiling babies attached to placentas.

10am My photographer Bree arrived. I was thrilled that she came relatively early in my labor. She was 1.5 hours away and I felt good knowing that my labor would be well documented. Bree left to get some breakfast once she got her things set up.

10:29am Wolf was happily climbing and sliding down our backyard play set slide when I pointed out his socks lying on the grass. Robert reminded Wolf that he had been told to put them away and sent Wolf to the stairs for a “time out” (where Wolf counts or responds to some simple math problems and then his infraction is discussed and then remedied). He must have perceived some injustice and began crying bitterly. After a short lag Adiya began crying equally pitifully. I knew right away that her cry was in sympathy for him, and I wanted to change the mood for the day, and decided it would be a good time for a walk with the kids while Robert showered. Before that though, I invited Adiya and Wolf over to tandem nurse in the bean bag, hoping to help move things along. Nobody protested that arrangement!

10:46am I took Adiya and Wolf to the small grassy area near our house where the kids have celebrated several birthdays, practiced riding their bicycles, taken weekly pregnancy photos with me, etc. The kids went right over to the foliage to dig in the dirt and pick up sticks and rolly pollies. By the time we left they had amassed quite the collection of the little creatures. Adiya handed me a multicolored leaf and called it a “sunset leaf” and we all did what Wolf named “pump-squats” together (repeated squats with knees turned out) each time I had a contraction (which Wolf called “interactions”) as we did laps on the path around the grass.

11:23am I returned home with the kids from Trellis Park, and found that Bree had returned from her outing.

11:58am Apparently there was a Bear Bite balancing act in progress on while I labored!

12:03pm I wrote in permanent marker on our bathroom calendar for the day “Baby Day?”

12:08pm I began doing some stair climbing with the kids in hopes of keeping the contractions rolling, stopping on the landings to do “pump-squats” with them. At this point contractions were mostly under two minutes apart and approaching a minute long.

12:26pm My doula Bethany Ewers arrived and brought a fern she had picked up for me for its symbolism, and began working her magic through calming words and gentle touch.

12:43pm Adiya brought over her Hooked on Phonics book to read me an apropos story about a boy who had just found out he had a baby sister while Bethany put my hair up into lovely wrap-around braids.

1:06pm Adiya drew some more illustrations, for me, Bree and Bethany, depicting the pink baby and a red cervix in the process of opening, with another image of baby, upside down, getting ready to descend through the open cervix. I sent a message to my midwife Lindsey M “Contractions are picking up a bit.” She asked how far apart they were (2 minutes) and whether my doula was here (yes). She said she was close by and to keep her posted.

1:12pm A pandemic kiss!!

1:15pm I nursed Wolf in the bean bag and soaked in some extra snuggles knowing he wouldn’t be my littlest for long, and that the new child would bring about a shift in family dynamics. (Older siblings tend to seem much older and bigger suddenly when a baby is born!) I also took the time to admire the items I had carefully collected for my “birth altar,” items meant to help me feel the presence of people who could only be there in spirit due to death or distance. Included were some treasures that were once my Dad’s. After that, my friend Lindsey Adler in Colorado connected via FaceTime to wish me well, another boost for me, and for the kids who love seeing her and her animals. Next it was Adiya's turn to nurse. She knew full well what to expect having a new sibling due to arrive soon, and soon to share milkies with, and I knew that soon the queue would grow by one, which she seemed to accept gracefully.