This Baby Did What?

Welcome Matthew James Junior! Our sixth child was born on January 27, 2012, and in so many ways, he has been surprising. For starters, our first five children were all born in the 38th week. Now, I admit, I encouraged a few of those births, but this little guy had us hanging in suspense, finally making his debut more than a half week late, which felt like nearly three weeks late to us.

We planned a water birth at home and rented an Aqua Doula from our midwife, but knowing that it takes a couple of hours to fill the Aqua Doula, and that my labors tend to be quick (for baby #5, my water broke at 10:00, and she was born at 10:10), we knew we would need to fill the tub before labor started. Subsequently, we filled (and emptied!) the tub four times in the month of January. My kids have become siphoning experts!

It was a fairly typical birth for me. Labor started at 1:35am, and he was born at  3:03, but my water didn’t break this time, and the pressure at the end was much more intense as a result. The kids gathered around the tub (except our oldest, who is autistic and would be bothered by the noises, people, smells and sights of birth), and when the pushing began, the midwife put a flashlight in the tub so they could watch their brother enter the world.

Seth (our third child) wrote a journal entry about the experience. I copied it below.

Once the placenta was delivered, the midwife found a few interesting things. For starters, he had a knot in his cord.

Cord Knot

He also had a battledore placenta, which occurs in only 7% of births.  Instead of the umbilical cord being attached in the center of the placenta like this:


Baby Matt’s umbilical cord was inserted at the margin of the placenta. When the midwife held it up, it looked like a giant tea bag.

Supposedly this rare formation could lead to low birth weight. Maybe that’s why he was only 8lbs 10oz (bahahaha!). See, I told you this little guy is surprising.

The timing of his birth was bittersweet. Sweet, of course, because our precious boy was finally here, but bitter because Jody and her girls, who had been planning to attend the birth for months, were in the midst of a crisis and couldn’t come.

Jody’s husband had what seemed at first to be a heart attack. They later learned it was pericarditis, but it was a terrifying experience for their family, and we were distraught knowing they were going through it and we couldn’t be there to comfort them. They too were distraught, knowing that we were experiencing the birth of our last child, and they couldn’t be here to witness it. All around, it did not go down the way we had hoped. But thankfully, Jody’s husband is doing very well, and we’re all one big happy family again.

The birthing team left later that morning, and we all went to sleep. When we woke up, it was time to confront the first meconium poop, but as part of my new education with this baby, we had prepared his bottom with olive oil. It took six babies to learn that I shouldn’t put anything on a baby’s skin that I wouldn’t eat. Who knew? Then again, it turns out I’m not going to need any kind of diaper ointment after all.

So, in the next few blog posts, I’ll share our new experiences, including baby wearing, sign language, amber necklaces, and the biggest and most exciting change of all…infant potty training (or EC, as we call it)! I’ll include pictures and videos…we’re working on those now. Check back in the next few days. I promise you will be intrigued, and perhaps even entertained. Here’s a sneak peak. This was taken when Matthew was about 2 weeks old.


Seth’s Journal Entry

Hi my name is Seth, and I am writing this because my mom is in labor. I am so excited. My mom is making really weird noises. The noises are getting louder and louder. My dad put a warm washcloth on her head. Priscilla,the midwife’s assistant, said the baby is getting closer. I am going to get one of my toy dolls named Jeero. My mom is pushing. I see his head. It is a little bit scary and hard to watch. I see him. He is beautiful  (and a little bit dirty). He popped out. He made it. I love him. He is small and cute. I adore him and love him. I can not believe I was him once. I shot out of mom, now I will shoot out of a tree or something. Right now it is baby and mommy attachment time. He is nursing right now. He was born at3:03am. The water is gross. Before he came out there was a strange fart noise. The baby is out, but mom asked us to sit down until the placenta comes out. I am happy crying. I cut his cord. The placenta is out. It looks like a giant tea bag. I will get to feel the placenta (with gloves). We did a placenta exam and found a knot in the cord and a super rare thing with the placenta called a battle door entry.

By Seth Stahlmann, age nine, born April 22, 2002


Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of seven kids (ages 1 to 20) including one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

More Posts