Monday, January 24, 2011

What to do with an older sibling at a birth?

brothers meet after the birth

I'm writing today to ask your advice. I'm hoping to gain some perspective from the writing itself and from your collective wisdom and experiences.

I had always assumed Mikko would be present at the birth of his sibling, due right around the time he turns 4 years old. We're planning a gentle home birth, after all, so why not?

Well, Mikko is telling us why not. He doesn't want to be at the birth, he says. He had a bad dream about the birth involving bubbles and a giant gash, and that was that. He wants the baby to stay inside. Barring that (since I've told him that's not an option), he wants to be nowhere near when it erupts.

I've asked and received recommendations for talking with kids about birth, and checked out books and videos on the subject of gentle birthing to help him prepare.1 He's alternately fascinated and repulsed – he'll ask to watch one video in particular multiple times (Birth Day, a beautiful and nearly silent water birth in Mexico, with two big brothers in attendance — one during and one shortly after) — but he protests every time the baby comes out and reiterates his stance that babies should stay inside and, no, they are not cute, and that was not beautiful, and why does the mama have a big hole?

I think the root of the problem is a sweet one: He loves me, and he hates the thought that the baby is going to hurt me. Our midwife actually said the same thing — that it's the most attached children who tend to have problems witnessing their mother give birth. I've tried to reassure him, using the same phrases I use on myself through my Hypnobabies training, that my body is made to give birth, that I will stretch stretch stretch open, but then close back up again quickly. That it's hard work, but it doesn't hurt me (in the sense of harming me). That I might make some noise or need to concentrate, just like he does when he's pooping, but that it all turns out all right.

Maybe I went too far with the pooping analogy, because he doesn't actually like pooping, either. Ah, well.

We still have several months to read and watch and talk and listen and see if he changes his mind, but if not, the question looms: What do we do instead?

The best option we can think of involves Sam's sister. I'll call her Natalie, for no particular reason.2

Mikko is very attached to us and protests being left even with his beloved aunt, but she's our best bet for being (a) wholly in love with him, (b) very familiar to him, (c) geographically nearby (she lives in a different neighborhood in our city), and (d) willing to help us out, particularly where a new baby is concerned. She loooves babies. (She's a nanny.)

We've told him that during the birth he can be with Natalie instead, and he accepts this as an acceptable alternative to witnessing the carnage he imagines the birth will be.

Here are my problems with how to arrange this:
  1. The first thing that comes to mind is that, despite Natalie's willingness to help out, she does work full time as a nanny. It's not like she can drop everything and run at any minute, because she has other responsibilities. It's not easy for a nanny to get a day off with last-minute notice, and I wouldn't expect her to. It's quite possible her families might give her some leeway to have Mikko come to work with her for a day, but at any rate, the timing of the birth will affect some of our other options below.
  2. One option would be for Sam or Natalie to take Mikko physically over to Natalie's place and leave him with her until after the birth. The problem with this plan:
    • I wouldn't necessarily know when to have him go over. Ideally, he'd stay with us during early labor and leave only when things started getting too intense for him. But, then again, if Sam has to bring him over, that's about 40 minutes to an hour that Sam won't be with me, which worries me to think about. What if this labor goes so fast that Sam misses the birth for playing chauffeur?
    • My birth with Mikko lasted 42 hours. I've heard second births tend to be faster (please let it be so), but there are no guarantees. I think Mikko would freak at being kept away from me for too long if I misjudge the timing.
    • I was kind of hoping Mikko might change his mind at the last minute and want to see the birth after all. That would require keeping him close at hand.
  3. Which leads to option two: Mikko stays here, and Natalie comes over. Problems with this one:
    • Natalie might be working, a la the first sticking point. It's unlikely she could bring her charges with her to our house for a birth.
    • Natalie is loud. Bless her heart, I don't think she even knows how loud she is. When she's at our place during quiet hours, we have to keep shushing her — not unlike our interactions with Mikko, in fact. She plays boisterously with Mikko, which is great — except when I need things to be calm (like when I'm just about to put him to bed, but that's a whine for another day). As I've mentioned, I'm doing Hypnobabies childbirth hypnosis techniques again. Hypnobabies doesn't require quiet, but it helps. A lot. I want to be calm and focused, and if I hear Natalie whooping it up, even in another room, I will continually be distracted and annoyed. If we do invite her over, we'll have to lay down the ground rules about playing quietly with Mikko, but can we trust her to understand our wishes and agree to them?
    • I have this selfish desire to have our family be alone during the birth, with just the midwives in attendance. We're very private and quiet people, and that's what I feel most comfortable with, anyway. I love the idea of welcoming our new baby in peace and not having anyone else stepping in asking to hold the little one or interfering with our bonding and breastfeeding time. There is no way in heck we'd be able to keep Natalie from the room after the birth. She loves babies. Looooves them. Eats them up.
    • Along the same lines, Natalie's not so good on recognizing social cues. Like, if you're at someone's house and they look at their watch and go, "Hoo boy, is it 11 p.m. already? I had no idea it was so late!" your response is (say it with me), "Wow, it is late. Thank you so much for having me over. I'd better get home!" Natalie's response? Blissful lack of awareness and staying put, chattering away, for another hour until Sam finally tells her point blank, You need to go now. So, yeah. Right after the birth? I'm going to want to rest and bask and glow and recover and be stitched up and watch the baby latch and listen to the midwife and all that jazz, and I don't want to have someone else hovering and refusing to leave, and I don't want to be the bad guy who says she has to, after she's just done us a favor and all. But I guarantee she will not leave until she's told to go.
  4. One last option, but I'm not sure how valid it is, would be to have no Natalie, but keep Mikko and me separated in different rooms. Sam could theoretically go back and forth to check on him and get activities going for him to do. I fear that would leave me unattended by Sam most of the time, since Mikko's not much of a play-alone type (at least at this age). Plus, there still could be a Mikko freak-out moment when he realizes he's in the same house as the birth. He might want me and be distressed at the condition I'm in, which is what we're trying to avoid in the first place. In this scenario, I might have to hire a doula to make sure I have the support I need while Sam concentrates on Mikko, but Sam was such a rock last time, I can't imagine going it without him.

To be fair, here are some other good things that could come of having Natalie attend the birth:
  1. She might be able to help us persuade Mikko it's not so bad after all and to come take a peek.
  2. If so, she might be able to take some pictures or video during the birth, considering we dropped the ball on that one last time. Thank goodness our midwives thought to capture the actual birth, but we have basically no documentation of the labor.
  3. She could be an extra set of hands and wheels if we needed supplies or food, during or after the birth.
  4. She'd be in place already in case of an unexpected hospital transfer, to take care of Mikko while we were gone.

What do you think? I'm really torn. Ideally, I'd have the white fluffy home birth of my dreams, where my firstborn looks on in angelic serenity, but so far he's putting his foot down that my dreams will not be so.

During my first birth, I was more adamant about being left alone during labor and the birth, and Natalie came to the hospital only when visiting hours started (first thing! first visitor! unasked!), several hours after the birth and after we'd been able to catch a few (very few) Zs.

But this time around, I have to acknowledge that the situation is different. This time, I'll have an almost-4-year-old I have to take care of as well, and if what he needs is Natalie, I'm going to have to bend and allow for that difference.

I'm not someone who thinks birth is all about my precious experience, but I do want to do all in my power to have a peaceful, gentle homebirth for this baby this time around — if it can be done. I don't want my intrusive frustrations with Natalie's presence (or Mikko's and/or Sam's absence) to derail things.

There's also the question of who could step in as a backup caregiver if Natalie's not available, and I don't have an answer to that. We have no other family in the area, and our parents aren't flying out till after the birth. We have no friends who can be imposed on the way we can impose on Natalie (she's family!) — and, frankly, none I'd feel comfortable showing all my business to.

So those are my thoughts so far. Here are my questions for you, if you'd be so kind as to share your impressions and experiences on one, some, or all:
  1. What did you do with your older kid(s) when you gave birth? What ages were they, and where did you give birth?
  2. Did any of you have a reluctant witness who came around, or did any of you have a child who had a complete meltdown at the birth?
  3. Did any of you have someone attend your birth you weren't welentirely comfortable with beforehand (friend, relative, professional)? How did that work out?
  4. Who was your backup care for your kids, if that was a factor?
  5. What would you do in my situation: (a) take Mikko to Natalie, (b) bring Natalie to our place, or (c) make do without her?
  6. Is there another option I'm not considering?
  7. I'm not the only one who cries at every birth video and picture, am I? Awww…

Thank you so much in advance for your help!

1 When I get my act together, I'd like to do a post listing the resources we've used and thanking the people who suggested them, as well as links to other posts on this subject of siblings attending births.
2 And Natalie doesn't read this blog. I hope.


Faedemere said...

1.When my 2nd child was born we had a close family friend watch our 1st born (the husband of our doula in fact) and then bring him to the hospital after DS2 was born. With my daughter both of the boys were there at the birth center with us.

2.My oldest son was absolutely obsessed with the birth of his baby sister. He wanted to be apart of everything and was there when she was born, and then cut her cord. He was a few months shy of 4 yrs old. His brother was 2 and a bit more shy about it, but enjoyed singing happy birthday to her right after she was born.

3. No, everyone at my births, other than nurses and doctors, were chosen before hand.

4. I would either take Mikko to Natalie or what you haven't mentioned would be to hire a doula specifically for taking care of Mikko. I had that at the birth center with my daughter. We hired a student doula (low cost because they are still working on certification) to come and assist with the boys. She kept them entertained (through 15 hours of labor) brought them to me to "check in" when they needed to make sure I was okay, took them out when they got bored, were annoying me (yes it could happen), or were uncomfortable. Now that I am a doula I have worked for clients as sibling support doing exactly what our doula did for me.

5. No, no you are not the only one that cries at birth videos!! I am only just now able to keep the tears at bay during my clients' births! =D

Laura said...

I am pregnant right now with #2, but I want my little dude at our birth. Since we don't plan to tell our parents about our choice to homebirth (my parents are very against that idea and my hubby's parents, while giving birth at home, could potentially get annoyingly excited about it) we could wind up in the same boat as you. One thing I have seriously considered is hiring a doula whose main purpose is to watch our toddler in the event he doesn't want to be in there. We are the legal guardians of a 14 year old girl who very much wants to be in the room, so I am not counting on her to watch my son, nor am I comfortable with that. If we decide to do that, I would hire this person very soon to allow them time to play together, in the event he wants out of the room when things get serious (transition, pushing, etc.) My son will be 2 years and 8 months when this guy/girl makes their entrance, so I don't know if he will feel the same way Mikko does or not. Does your midwife bring along enough people that one of them could play with Mikko? Once you reach that pushing stage, would Mikko be able to sit and watch a short movie? I've been told that pushing for a second baby takes much less time than the first baby. I know I'm not much help, but I do know where you are coming from. I'm looking forward to hearing what other women say. Maybe the questions I asked will help you figure something out, but know that you are not alone in your concerns!

mamaloo said...

Just like with adults, children fear what they do not know. So, what does Mikko know about birth?

My son was exactly the same age when I was pregnant with my youngest. We talked about the baby and for the first couple months talked about how a baby grew, what was developed, how big it was and we gave it a nickname: Shrimpy, because when we first discovered the pregnancy, my now 3 year old Spencer then looked just like an aquatic creature.

Kieran had an eager mind for anything to do with science. He still does. So, we kind of treated the pregnancy like a science project. He came to the midwife with me, we talked about the fetal development and about halfway through the pregnancy, we began discussing the birth process.

We started with a discussion of how a baby is born. Then we moved to pictures, using frank images from a Kitzinger book. Finally I showed him a video. At each stage I checked with him for permission to move forward.

What was essential to the process was that I always spoke in a tone of wonderment and excitement. "Isn't that amazing?!" And all the while my attitude was that he would feel that wonderment. And he did. I modelled and he followed.

The final stage was talking about what would happen at OUR birth. I told him about how I liked to labour. I role played making the loud mooing noises I always make. I invited him to try out sounds too that might help. It was a game. And, he never knew to be afraid.

When the day came, I had planned to have my mother come and take care of my son. In the end, my husband spent the day watching youtube videos of Scooby Doo at one end of our apartment while I laboured in the front part of the apartment. He popped his head in once or twice to tell me he loved me, but he stayed away for the labour. When I began pushing, my mom, who had hung out with me and my doula all day, relishing the chance to support me through a home birth, ran to get the boys and the came in to the bedroom just in time to see me crown. As I delivered the head, the midwives excitedly pointed it out "look, that's the baby's head!" and as the body slithered out after the head, my just 4 year old son exclaimed "it's a real live human!" Best memory I have.

Now, I know Mikko is resisting now, but offering him an insight into the "miracle" of growing babies and birth may capture his attention and desire.

If that doesn't work, a close relative dedicated to keeping an eye on him at your home will be the right way to go. He will not want to be far from you and may need to touch and hold you, be touched and held by you, from time to time during the birth process. You may find your husband spends more time with Mikko and you spend more time with your relaxation tracks :)

There is a very real chance Mikko will sleep through most or all of the process. No matter what happens, though, you need someone dedicated to caring for him, someone who you will not need to get through your labour, so if you need a doula or your husband, don't make them the "babysitter".

I hope that helps :)

Sheila said...

I don't know your midwives, but my mom's midwife had a whole community of women she'd delivered babies for and could connect with each other. Maybe you could ask yours if there's anyone she knows who would be a good helper with Mikko. This other person could stay elsewhere in the house (or outside--it will be summer, right?) playing with Mikko, unless he wants to come see you. You could also make sure Mikko knows the whole labor won't be baby-coming-out, that there will be a lot of time that you'll be just "dancing the baby down," "floating in the tub," or other less-scary things.

I watched my little brother when my other brother was born. I took him out to the library and then we stayed in the living room and watched Finding Nemo while my mom labored upstairs. He was only two, but it was no big deal for him. It was about a six-hour labor.

Keep in mind, too, that if you go into labor at night, he might sleep through the whole thing! My friend remembers a time her dad woke her up in the morning with the news that they had had a new sibling overnight. That's the advantage of a home birth; no need to disturb anyone's sleep.

Missy said...

this is something i've been worried about as well! and so i'm basically just commenting to tell you that and see what other suggestions you get. and hopefully they come soon because i'm due in less than a week.

since i'm planning to deliver the baby in the hospital (blah), oscar's nana is going to keep an eye on him while we're there. he's going to be at the hospital so that if i'm doing ok he can come in for visits and come in when the baby arrives. i think i'm scared he would have mikko's reaction to the birth, so that's why i want him around, but separate. i really have no idea how it will all work out..

is there any way you could talk to natalie about your concerns, or would that just not go over well? or maybe just hire a doula to tell natalie to quiet down every now and then - ha!

Sheila said...

I forgot to mention that of course you would pay this person. A doula, like others mentioned, might be a good option too.

Faedemere said...

I wanted to add that while the boys were in the room when their little sister was born, they were at the side of the tub behind my head. Given that she was born underwater there wasn't a whole lot they could see other than her being brought up from under the water by the midwife and placed on my chest.

Jen said...

We had sort of a complicated scenario last time. When I was due with Nicholas, our eldest was 9, and the soon to be middle, Kelsey, was 5. Both were in school, happily ensconced in activities with many friends. As luck would have it, I went into labor 12 days after my due date, when their spring break was long over.

We had pre-arranged for them to spend the night at a friend's house as the hospital (we were in the family birthing center/non-medicated wing) did not allow children under 12. RSV was rampant at that time of year. Had I been up for a home birth, it might have been different, but this was fairly close and it met 99% of our needs.

Honestly, had either child expressed a desire to be around, we might have done things differently. However, Caitlin had always feared things medical (not sure why, not many experiences with doctors), so we figured they would tell us what was best for them. In hindsight, they might have been better off each staying with a different friend. However, they ended up staying with my good friend (children almost the same ages) and she kept their schedules as they wanted them and was there for Kelsey when she missed me at night.

I don't think there is any real right or wrong, I think you just have to do the best you can do and then roll with (the likely) punches. No matter what, having someone soley for Mikko's care/entertainment is ideal just in case you really do need extra time/rest/and hopefully not, but maybe, medical attention.

Now, if we were to have another (which is sadly not likely now), I think Nicholas could easily be in/around should there be someone who could be with him at all times (not Pete). However, that is just my assessment of him right now...things could change, as if it did happen, it would be quite a bit off in time.

Good luck and thinking of you during these exciting times!

Suchada @ Mama Eve said...

So much to consider, isn't it?

I had a home birth with my second, and I was fortunate enough to have my son arrive on his due date, the same day my parents flew in from the opposite coast. That is one thing -- stuff tends to work out in the end.

That being said, it was really, really helpful for us to have trusted childcare lined up both at our place and somewhere else for my older son (who was only 18 months at the time, but I think it's still comparable). If you're not 100% with Natalie (and it might be helpful to talk with her first about what your expectations are, since being present for a birth is a much bigger deal than watching Mikko while you go to the gym), the other comments about a midwife connection or a doula (and there are those who will help with that) could be invaluable.

From my experience, it was really, really nice to have my son close by. He seemed nervous during my labor when it got intense, so my dad took him upstairs, but brought him down as soon as his brother was born. The wonder and nonchalance (like the arrival was completely expected to him) was amazing, and something I was so thrilled to share.

Best of luck finding the right caregiver and plan -- I can't wait to hear how it all turns out!

Marcy said...

Donovan is/was just under 3 years when Quinn was born. We'd watched some birth videos together to help prepare him, and he seemed pretty interested in those, even (especially) when the babies were actually born. He seemed to think the whole process was pretty cool. But, I knew he might still get freaked out and so wanted to have back-up plans. So here was our plan:

Plan A--I wouldn't go into labor until my mom arrived (1 week before my due date). She would then be in charge of Donovan during my labor, so Zach (husband) could focus on me. She could let him be in the room, or leave the house (go to the park, etc) as needed.

Plan B-- if either my mom hadn't arrived yet, or if it became clear Donovan couldn't/didn't want to be around at the birth, we had friends who'd agreed to take him. They live close-by, with a boy about D's age, and they hang out a lot so he's comfortable with them.

Plan C-- if all the above fell through, I probably would've had Zach on the phone with moms from our playgroup to see who'd be willing to take him.

In the end, I went into labor at night, and gave birth at 5:30am. Donovan slept through my entire labor, waking up just 10-15 minutes before the birth itself, just in time to come into the room and watch the last bit. (and my mom had made it, so she was holding him)

My advice to you:
1. First of all, prepare yourselves (and Natalie) for being as blunt as you need to be in stating your needs to her before/during/after the birth. Let her know this ahead of time, even-- say "Listen, we may be really blunt about what we need from you around the birth- we may tell you we need alone time, etc. It's not anything personal, it's just that we need to be able to focus on what we need at that time. I need to know that that's ok with you, and that you won't have your feelings hurt" or something like that. Don't feel bad about it.

2. Can Natalie work out something with the family she nannies for, so there's some sort of a back-up "on call" so she can have her shifts covered either the day of, or the days after you first go into labor? There are no guarantees, but might help everyone have more flexibility.

3. Don't feel bad about "imposing" on friends. Ask around to friends you may have, I'm willing to bet many would be willing to be on the "on call" list, especially if it may only need to be a few hours till Natalie can get free.

4. Lastly, it's impossible to predict what will happen. You may be in labor for days, or merely hours. Natalie may be in the middle of her shift and be unable to get away, or she may be able to swoop right in on time. You may labor and birth overnight, so Mikko sleeps right through the whole thing. So try to have a main plan and a back-up option or 2, but try not to stress out about it too much. Things WILL work out. Also, kids are often a lot more flexible than we think/expect, so if Mikko has to spend time with someone he's not totally comfortable with for a bit, he'll probably still be ok. I also really believe that kids have intuitive knowledge about birth (like how D woke up just in time to see his brother born, and the midwives had seen this happen enough to predict that I was about to give birth when they heard him wake) so I'm thinking he'll either be ok with the birth, or be ok with whatever other plan needs to happen.

Hope that helps. =) Good luck!!

Momma Jorje said...

As some have mentioned, I think a doula is a great option (if you can afford one)! Especially if she can come hang out and play with Mikko as WELL as get to know you and Sam. A doula's job, after all, is to help in whatever way is... HELPFUL. So, if she needs to tend to Mikko and play, so be it. If she needs to fill in for Sam while he checks on Mikko, great. AND she'd have the experience that might prove helpful in encouraging Mikko to peek in on you.

I was actually just thinking about this myself today. I'm ovulating (today!) and Sasha will be 2... if I get pregnant this month.

Best wishes for your birth!

Momma Jorje said...

Oh, also... what about flying a close relative in to stay when you're due date nears? I don't know if any of your long distance relatives are close with Mikko. I must say I'd be strongly leaning toward keeping him in the house, if he can find that agreeable.

Michelle @ The Parent Vortex said...

I am very, very choosy about who I will have at a birth, which is a big part of why I wanted to have home births in the first place. So, for me, having a reluctant observer (either a friend or a child) or an irritating person (no matter how much I love them) around was not ok with me. Preserving the space for the birth was the priority.

What we did was come up with a list of friends that could drop everything and pick up Bea (who was 2.5yo at the time). Most of these people were people I'd met at playgroups - they were not at all people I would have considered having present at the birth, but they had kids the same age as Bea and were willing to come and get her.

I'd also considered having Bea there, and kind of thought I'd try labouring with her around and see how it went, but when my labour started her noise & activity level was just too much for me. It was really better for me to have her go play at her friend's house, and when they came over I was labouring in my bedroom with the door closed - nobody saw anything birthy other than the midwives.

Do you know any other at-home moms who would be willing to have Mikko over while you give birth? Even having someone lined up as a backup in case Natalie can't come over right away might be helpful, even if you want to keep Natalie as the primary caregiver for Mikko during the birth.

Katie said...

When DD#2 was born 5 weeks ago, DD#1 went to a friend's house. We had talked about it ahead of time, she had rather aggressively volunteered for the duty (as she knew I didn't want to involve my ILs if I could avoid it), and since we see her and her girls at least twice a week anyway, L knows her well and is very comfortable.
The only problem was that late in the afternoon (L went to her place first thing in the morning), my friend's daughter became ill, and she didn't want L to get sick with a newborn about to be in the house (this was a hospital birth). So, L went to another friend's house. Alas, L started flipping out around bedtime. Since I was well into my labor at this point, my friends and husband arranged matters without consulting me (thankfully!) and L ended up at her grandparents' house after all. Daddy joined her there after E was born (at nearly 2am). FWIW, I think I would have wanted her out of the house if we'd been having a home birth, as she's my Velcro Girl, with pretty much the same plans. :)
My point is that it's a good idea to have contingency plans, just in case something goes sideways.
And no, you're not the only one who cries at all the birth videos. :D

Laura said...

1) I was supposed to give birth at a freestanding center. My family lived over an hour away. The plan was to call and have my dad watch my then 2 yr old. I did have a closer friend who was there for emergency if things went fast. Ended up waking up at 6:30am w/pressure waves 2 min apart. Brought my oldest to birth center where our parents met us (hypnobabies visualization worked in that I went into labor on a Sunday when there was no traffic :)), dh watched her till they arrived. Grandpas watched her in the waiting area, while grandmas were in with me. She did sneak in once while I was pushing. She asked what was wrong and was I hurt--she also wanted to get in the nasty tub with me. I also did hypnobabies and was pretty calm, but I asked for her to leave because it was hard for me to not feel like it was okay to grunt, etc while pushing. I ended up transferring to hospital and grandparents brought her there as well. She got to hold my baby before I did, as I ended up with a c-section. :(

Yes I cry when I see birth videos.

I would plan on sending mikko to natalies. If scheduling doesn't work out then it just might end up that Sam will not be as available as you'd want him to be.

melissa said...

great questions! totally understand your dilemma!! you will figure it out, i'm sure. everything i've read says that siblings do fantastic at births~provided they want to be there. so following mikko's lead on this one is wise. true, he may change his mind. but from what i've read of mikko, he's not really a change-his-mind type of guy!

What did you do with your older kid(s) when you gave birth?

first time, of course i didn't have this issue.
second time, we adopted so the 'airport birth' wasn't as scary as a natural birth =)
the third time, my sister was present in the room with DS#1, and my best friend was outside the room with DS#2 (who was not developmentally ready for several reasons, but whom i wanted close by so he could come in as soon as baby was out!).

What ages were they, and where did you give birth?

DS#1 was 5.
DS #2 was 4.
I gave birth in hospital, attended by my awesome midwives.

Did any of you have a reluctant witness who came around, or did any of you have a child who had a complete meltdown at the birth?

DS#1 was super excited to be there and had been prepped with books and videos. it was the middle of the night however, and he fell asleep. woken up as his baby brother was crowning, the sight freaked him out, he turned his head and asked to go see matthew (DS#2). He wouldn't come back in the room for several hours afterwards, and wouldn't talk about it for six months.
He didn't cry or have nightmares, but i could tell it really bothered him. when he did talk about it he said it was weird and scary to see DS#3 all blue and halfway out. he was glad he was there for the labor part though, i think it was pretty exciting for him.

He's now nearly 8 years old and wants to be present for our 4th and final baby's birth in late feb. i told him he doesn't have to look if he doesn't want to, at the very end

DS#2 and likely #3, who is only 2, will be there too. hospital staff are going to think i'm nuts...


melissa said...

Did any of you have someone attend your birth you weren't welentirely comfortable with beforehand (friend, relative, professional)? How did that work out?

my MIL was really wanting to come for DS#3, she had 3 cesareans and has never seen a natural birth. i REALLY didn't want her there but she didn't ASK, she just CAME. When she arrived i was deep into pushing, and on the toilet. one holler from me during a contraction, and she was gone! lol! i think i prayed she's go without being asked, guess that was my answer
She ran in right afterwards though! she was in the hospital hallway, waiting for me to stop hollering (three hours later...)

funny enough, i wouldn't mind her being there this time.

I have this theory; some women are private birthers, and others are exhibitionist birthers. i'm exhibitionist. we're the types who call TLC to be on A Baby Story, ykwim? so mostly, having extra people around makes me feel better supported, stronger, and more focused. i need quiet, but i need people.

Who was your backup care for your kids, if that was a factor?

in laws, if sister, mom, or best friend didn't make it.

What would you do in my situation: (a) take Mikko to Natalie, (b) bring Natalie to our place, or (c) make do without her?

bring natalie to your place. yes, you need quiet, but practice some non-focused awareness (from Birthing From Within), and rest in the knowledge that you've done this before. This time won't be nearly as *hard* mentally because you and your body already know what to do, what to expect, and how to do it. given that, a few distractions could be ok.

Is there another option I'm not considering?

hire someone to look after mikko. even a doula. contact doulas in your area and ask their advice, they could know apprentice doulas or birth nut nannies or something, even someone who normally does postpartum doula work: what you need is someone in tune with birth and kids~if mikko is in your home with the person you've hired and he's allowed in the room or out as he wishes, he might be quite content to be with someone other than natalie, you, or sam. it's not a perfect solution either, but just an idea!

does mikko like movies? if you went without natalie would he watch videos peacefully?

I'm not the only one who cries at every birth video and picture, am I? Awww…

uh, did you know this is the universal sign that you're a girl? esp. when pregnant! lol!

Lauren @ Hobo Mama said...

I knew I'd get good ideas and insights from you all! Thank you so much. I've appreciated every single comment.

For instance, I had no idea you could hire a doula to do childcare during a birth. That sounds like the best of both worlds, because a doula would be respectful of the birthing process. I'll have to think about that more and start talking with some locally.

I was going to comment that I don't necessarily want to talk to Natalie about it until I decide what I want to do, because I don't want to promise her she can come to the birth and get her excited and then renege. BUT, Sam read this post last night and said, "Oh, I already told Natalie on Friday we'd take Mikko over there." Um, ok… So I still have to figure out what I want, but now I might have to take back what we've told her. The good news is Natalie told Sam that she actually probably can get a day off work at the last minute if she tells her employers ahead of time she's "on call."

Talking this through has clarified for me that I'm leaning toward having Mikko at the house with us, with someone (presumably Natalie) on call to take him away if his presence gets too much for one or both of us. I really like the idea of having him near if possible, so he can at least see the baby right after the birth.

Anonymous said...

To be honest, videos of birth scare me. I know it is a beautiful thing, but they freak me out, despite being an emotionally mature woman who has given birth three times. Maybe I am awed by the miracle. Maybe your son is overwhelmed by them, too.
I rather enjoyed my births, and it sounds like you did, too. Have you told your son how much you liked giving birth to him, how great it made you feel when he got here, and how much you are looking forward to having a baby he can share? He may find it easier to belive that birth and babies are a wonerful thing when the result is himself or someone like him.
My youngest always stuns friends and relatives by talking about "her boys" and my boys used to refer to her as "our baby". Some see this as me putting pressure on them to take care of one another, I view it as having all members of the family included in the caring and nurturing process. We all belong to one another. It may be that your son does not like the thought of the baby because he does not know him/her...and the birth is an extention of that.
We had Baby #3 at home, with Grandma in the house. I laboured in the bedroom, with them coming in and out as I was comfortable. My husband and I had a signal I could give if I needed to be left alone to concentrate: the children did not hear me ask for them to leave, they were directed to another activity. We talked to Grandma before hand and asked for our comfort to be respected in several ways. It worked.
Hope any of this helps

Amber said...

My first was 3 1/2 when my second was born in a hospital attended by midwives. I happened to go into labour when she was at daycare, and actually gave birth while she was still there. However, my mother came and picked her up and took her overnight, which really simplified things, even though I was home before her bedtime.

I was really glad I didn't have her around at all while I was in labour. When I was in labour, I needed to focus on myself. If she had been there, I think I would have felt like I needed to smooth the way for her. Or my husband would have been pulled between us. In the moment, when I was doing the hard work, I needed it to be about me, and I needed the attention of the people around me.

I did have a back-up plan, because my mother was our caregiver for during the birth, and she lives 45 minutes away. My labours are short and fast, so time may have been an issue. I have local mama-friends, who I talked to in advance to confirm that I could call them if I was in a tight spot with no time and a kid who needed attention while I birthed.

In your situation, I would have Natalie come and get Mikko as a first choice. If she can't, I'd have someone very local on back-up for the case that things move quickly and you really just need someone to park Mikko in front of a TV and feed him snacks for a few hours.

I am going to say that I worried about this MUCH more than I needed to. In the end, it just sort of worked out. I'm pretty sure that it will for you, too. And no matter how it plays out, you will have a new baby and it will be miraculous. That part is for sure.

Sybil said...

Okay, first of all, throw your fluffy dreams right out the window :) As you know, birth doesn't really work like that. BUT! It will still be amazing and wonderful.

1. Iris was 26 months and my two best friends hung out with her in the apartment while I was in labor. It didn't get really hard for me until the last two hours and until then she was right there with me.
2. Nope.
3. Yes! Instead of one student midwife, there was two there. The second came because my doula was MIA (really! see? you can't plan for this stuff!). It turned out this student midwife was the best part of the birth for me.
4. Care for Iris was planned to be my one friend and it happened my other came to lend a hand.
5 and 6. I think you need to plan for more than one scenario, if it comes to that. Make a list of people you can call for help. PUT ME ON IT! We would LOVE to have Mikko here! (just don't have the baby while I'm in Maui :) ) Put Natalie on call. Get a few people on that list. Talk to doulas. Are there student midwives who will be coming? What does your midwife think you should do? If you want Mikko there, then plan for that. If he doesn't want to/can't stay there, then have another plan for someone to take him out when things get intense. If you don't think it will work, ask people to be available to take him.

When Eloise was born I really didn't talk to Iris about it. I didn't show her videos, I didn't read her books, nothing. We told her that I might be loud and when I was, my friends just told her I was working hard and that was that. All kids are different, but Iris wasn't phased at all.

Olivia said...

First, I have read all the comments so if I repeat someone, sorry! Second, I have not had my second child, but I'm going to give my two cents anyway. :)

When we have our second child our daughter should be just over 3 yrs old. For her birth I saw no need for a doula, but for the second birth I am seriously considering one. We don't have any family near by and there aren't any friends I would want to be in the house while I'm giving birth. I figure hiring a doula makes sure I get the support I need while leaving my husband free to care for our daughter. That won't help if she doesn't want to be in the room during the actual birth, but it's all I've got for now. Depending on availability, we might be able to have her favorite babysitter take her for a while.

In your situation, I would consider a doula in case Natalie isn't available so Sam can be there for Mikko. And if Natalie can get off work, I would have her come to your house and then maybe take Mikko away to so she's not still in the house while you birth.

Olivia at Write About Birth said...

I am all for siblings attending a new baby's birth - but only if they are comfortable with the idea. If your son has been this vocal about not wanting to see the birth, I would honor that request.

My two and a half year old DD was at my son's birth. We lived in an extremely small apartment at the time, and were also co-sleeping. My labor started during the night and only lasted four hours. DD slept through most of it, but woke up in time to see her brother being born. It worked well for us, and I think it was good for their bonding to have her there.

I did have a Plan B in place – a friend, who lived just two minutes away, was going to come and take DD if either of us was uncomfortable, or in the unlikely event that I would need to transfer to hospital.

In your case, I would personally probably opt to have someone come to my house to take care of my older kid in another room. If anyone changed their mind, they could come see. BUT, and that is one big but, only if you don't feel Natalie's presence would stall your labor or make you feel uncomfortable. I am more talking about the actual presence of an "outsider" (not immediate family) than about the noise you mentioned.

Good luck!

Jenny said...

I didn't know you were doing Hypnobabies too. Cool!

I thought and thought about whether or not to have Suzi (then 27 months) at Ivey's birth. I showed her birth scenes from Orgasmic Birth and she was very interested and open to it. But once my birthing time came I was in absolutely no mood to answer her questions or hear loud noises or pay attention to much of anything. I'm really glad my parents were on call to watch her.

We'd thought about having my mom stay at the house with Suzi so she could attend the birth if she wanted, but I didn't want my mom around either. I didn't want anyone around, I just wanted to be alone. I had no idea I would feel that way. I was happy to see my husband and midwives coming, but I didn't want any idle bystanders to play hostess to. Suzi stayed with my mom until we called a few hours later to say the baby had arrived.

This time we are keeping our options open. It could happen at night when the kids are in bed and then we'll just let them sleep. If it's during the day they'll probably go to my mom's so I can concentrate if I need to. Or maybe since I am much more relaxed about this birth, I won't mind having them with me. We watched a video in class the other night of a hypno-mom snuggling her daughter between pressure waves a few minutes before her baby was born! I know I'm not having my mom at my birth, because although I love her, she would probably be nervous and I can't have that sort of vibe in my birth environment. For this reason, I would not recommend inviting anyone you're unsure about to the birth.

I see some others have said hiring a doula for the primary purpose of caring for Mikko would be the way to go and I totally agree. A doula, unlike a babysitter, would be willing to come out at all hours to serve you. She'd know what was going on, and wouldn't be intimidated by it, and could explain things to Mikko if he has questions and especially if he decides he does want to be present. Also, in the event you do not need the doula to care for Mikko because he's asleep or something, she could be of great use to you in a few other areas--an extra set of hands, help with household tasks and picture-taking, etc. And most importantly, a good doula would understand your state of mind, respect boundaries and privacy, and have a feel for how to be helpful and not a distraction during such a sensitive time. Maybe you could even get a hypno-doula who would be on the same page as you with your self-hypnosis techniques.

Anyway, I think that's what I'd do. I've wondered how everything will go at our baby's birth this time. Last night the girls both slept in their own room together for the first time. If that holds and this baby is born at night we could totally just wake them up when it was over and say "come meet your new brother!" That happened to someone I know and it seemed wonderful.

Earthgrlie said...

Our last birth was at home, attended by our then 6 year old. We had a beautiful water birth, though my then 6 year old did find it stressful and not very enjoyable.We had read tons of books, videos,etc. I'm a CBE so I had plenty of materials. We wanted a very private birth, we had the midwife and her assistant, my husband, daughter and my mom. We also had a friend planned to come to help with our daughter, but things moved so quickly she arrived after the birth. My daughter did melt down and cry during the birth. Two years later she still doesn't like to talk about it, she said it was so scary. I feel awful about that! My mother was filming and I was screaming, and no one comforted her. Thankfully my midwife noticed and brought my attention to my daughter and had me speak to her and tell her I was ok. Looking back my mom was NOT the person to give the responsibility of keeping my daughter calm and comforted. I wish I had called my friend earlier and she had been there to help with my daughter. I think that would have made a lot of difference in how the experience was for her. We hesitated in calling her right away because of tensions between her and my mother. I also wasn't sure how comfortable she would be at the birth, and I didn't want a lot of people there. I would have Natalie at your place so Mikko has a person designated to be with him if he gets stressed, scared and/or wants to leave the birth. That is the one thing I do regret about our last birth, It wasn't what I hoped for my oldest. I wish you a beautiful and peaceful birth!

Karen Bannan @ NaturalAsPossibleMom said...

First, congrats again on your pregnancy, and for choosing HypnoBirthing. I used it for both of my babies, and it worked like a charm. No home birth, but no medical interventions AT ALL!

Second, ummm. Well, I think that maybe it's all well and good that you want your 4-year-old present at the birth, but there is something to be said about letting kids be kids. Kids, especially those who are in any way scared of something, should be given a little leeway. If your son says no watching Mommy give birth then I vote for honoring his wishes.

Having him go elsewhere is a perfect idea. I personally wouldn't even have him there while I was laboring. I am selfish, though. I needed complete calm and quiet to perform HypnoBirthing. Not so much the second time, but the first time for sure.

Oh, and FYI: Second time was a BREEZE for me! Big Girl. Uggg. Labored with her from midnight until giving birth at 2:37 p.m. the next afternoon. Little Girl? CAKE! I could deliver Little Girl a zillion times and still want to do it again. Went to the hospital at 2:30. Stopped to get a sandwich on my way there. Delivered like six hours later. NO pain. Three pushes. It was the most empowering moment of my life. Seriously.

I wish that for you and for every soon-to-be new mamma.

--KB said...

I've wondered the same thing. I'm not currently pregnant, but we're planning on trying relatively soon and I want a planned homebirth this time around. I just don't know how Peanut fits into that picture yet—especially since my husband was very much my rock like yours was with my first birth and also don't want extra people around (considering not even letting the grandparents come over for a few days).

Anyway, I'm more questions than answers, but I do have one answer. With #3 and having an unplanned homebirth, I had A LOT of people there that I hadn't planned. We were living in my in-law's house at the time AND they had my husband's aunt and uncle visiting at the time. We were alone for the real labor parts (thank goodness), but when we realized she was really coming NOW, my husband grabbed my in-laws to have them call 911. I'm not quite sure when, but my husband's aunt and uncle came down at some point too.

I was planning on being so strict about not letting the fathers see the birth, but that obviously didn't happen. Really though, at that point, I didn't care. It may have been different if they were bothering me during the labor.

My husband and I actually had a plan. My mom was supposed to be at the birth and knowing her, she would have tried to be my birth partner. My husband and I had a talk about this specific subject and he knew it was 100% his responsibility to tell her to back off. Maybe something similar would work with your situation too if your SIL comes to your place?

Lindsay said...

I'm late to the party, so hopefully you've figured something out by now. But I thought I'd weigh in anyway. My daughter was 31 months old when her little sister was born at home, and I really wanted her there too. She was still pretty needy at times, very much a mama's girl, and we were a little worried about how she would be. We shouldn't have worried though, she was absolutely fantastic. We did watch birth videos and talk a lot about what it could be like. We also discussed how I wouldn't necessarily be able to respond to her or help her. If you're interested, my birth story is here:

If Miiko is amenable, I think the option of a doula and keeping Mikko in the house sounds like an awesome choice. That way if he changes his mind or is interested at any point, he can come in. Meredith left the room for about 30 seconds just as i was pushing Fiona out. I was extremely loud. But the rest of the time she was fine and didn't seem worried about all the noise I was making. :)

I did have a back up for Meredith just in case, a good friend who lived a couple of minutes away. However that friend had two little boys who would have had to come with her, so it either would have meant having all the kids here (but hopefully upstairs), or Meredith leaving the house, which I didn't want. I would have been fine with that friend being here for the birth, though I really liked it just being Kris and I, and our midwife. I would not be comfortable with almost anyone else even being in the same house. I'm way too loud when I give birth. :)

I'm not super emotional. I didn't even cry at my wedding (even when everyone else, including my husband, did), but while pregnant I did cry at almost every birth video I saw.

Related Posts with Thumbnails