Travis & Harris were born on May 11, 2010 at home at 41 weeks and 3 days. It had been a wonderful pregnancy, but it was seriously time for birth. I had been having mild contractions off and on for about the last week, feeling my body right on the edge and knowing our boys were about ready to be born. Every morning, waking up pregnant again was starting to wear on me physically and emotionally– especially since all our friends and family were waiting so excitedly, and of course multiples so often come early or are induced. We had been thrilled to be past 36 weeks, which meant we were clear to go ahead with our plans to have the babies at home with our midwife. I always knew I was going to carry the boys full-term, but was surprised to see their due date come…and go.
We were feeling pressure to try induction to get things moving, especially after a nerve-wrecking appointment with our perinatologist. He had been telling me from the get-go that there was no way my uterus could handle much more than 10 pounds of baby and I would likely end up in the hospital with preemies, and that birthing my baby B vaginally in his breech position would be impossible without a manual breech extraction.
At that appointment the day before they were born, he ran through a host of frightening ‘risks’ and recommended we get to a hospital and get the babies out by whatever means necessary. I was grateful for the information about my sons that his practice provided through their ultrasound services, but I fully understood that his medical point of view was just that. As he had never attended a mother in natural labor and never witnessed a normal, unmanaged and unhindered birth. I had done thorough research throughout my pregnancy on every potential risk and method of response, looked to God and into my own heart. I only became more confident in the truth and in the practice of midwifery.
At 41 weeks and 2 days though……with him giving my husband intimidating ‘are you crazy???’ looks, it began to get stressful and brought my husband and I to a hard place. I wanted to wait at least until 42 weeks to the day, but agreed with my husband and midwife to go ahead and tentatively plan for induction at home by way of membrane sweeping, castor oil and herbal tinctures for 2 days out.
While I was more comfortable with that as opposed to going to the hospital for a bag of pitocin, it still felt so incredibly wrong to me. I knew that the best way to have my boys born safely, whole and healthy was to rely on my own body and mind and allow for a spontaneous natural labor to begin. Especially with twins and especially with my second baby breech, the risk of starting a false labor that could lead to a non-progressive labor that could put my second son’s life in danger was my biggest worry. These boys NEEDED to be born!
Our whole family turned to prayer, I interceded every way I knew how while my husband took a four-wheeler ride up to the top of our property and wrestled with his own emotions and worries, giving them up to God. He put the kids to bed that night and told me of the way our four-year-old daughter prayed for the boys to be born, asking Jesus to keep them and her mommy safe.
And the next day.at 4am I began to feel stronger and more regular contractions than I had been feeling for the past week, which had been erratic and mixed with sensationless Braxton Hicks. I waited a few hours until 6am when I was sure they were intensifying and getting closer together to call my midwife and my mom to excitedly tell them ‘I’m in labor!!’.
My mom started sending mass emails to everyone she had praying for us, and my in-laws did the same when my husband let them know things had started for sure. We got in the shower and hugged and kissed through the contractions – we were both SO excited and feeling so grateful that this day was finally here and we were about to meet our sons! He dressed in jeans and his ‘birth shirt’, the same white button-front he had worn at the births of our daughter and son, and his Opa’s old Rolex that he had timed their contractions by. I was feeling the same orange cotton bra I had worn the day before, and nothing else.
My midwife and her apprentice arrived at about 7:30, and the other midwives came shortly afterwards, making a team of five. The three Certified Nurse Midwives (Julia, GB, Kristie) and two apprentices (Nina & Kate) were busy setting out all their supplies and readying the room, while I worked through the labor that was getting really intense very quickly. Our nanny arrived around 8 to take care of our older children; we kissed them and said ‘your brothers will be born soon, better start working on their birthday cake!’ So Angie kept them busy baking and playing for the morning. Though I heard that MaryJane refused to leave the house to go outside, wanting to hear as much as she could, worried about some of the odd noises I was making. Her Daddy promised her I was fine, told her not to worry and she’d be meeting her first new brother soon.
I had planned on laboring in the tub and birthing the first baby in water, but we wanted to collect their cord blood to bank and with the second baby breech there was just a lot going on and my midwife felt more comfortable having more access to me, so she recommended setting up a birthing stool off the edge of our bed. I had never seen one before, but as soon as I laid eyes on it I wanted to sit on it and let this baby come! He had been descending quickly and I was ready with my husband to my right and Kristie to my left for support. It wasn’t long before my baby’s head appeared; I reached down to feel him and loved feeling his thick dark hair. Another contraction and Travis’ head was fully born, after that his whole 8 pound 8 ounce body shot out like a rocket at 8:41!
He was perfect, we were overjoyed and it felt so good to take him right into my arms. Things slowed down and relaxed as we kissed, talked, laughed and held him. I was so excited and happy to see that sweet face I had felt nuzzling the inside of my lower right belly for so long. It turned out that his face had actually been quite smashed against me and had flattened his nose, left ear and left eye but in my blissed-out state I only saw complete perfection in him.
We wanted to be patient to allow my body and second baby adjust to the new room inside, the midwives held me and massaged my belly a little to help. I watched Julia and Nina take Travis to wipe him down and swaddle him, while I felt the urge to lay down on the bed to rest. My husband laid with me, and it wasn’t long before I had Travis back in my arms and put him to my breast. He was a fabulous eater right away, and had quite a persuasive way with my uterus, which began to contract again, moving his brother down. We called in MaryJane and Van in to meet Travis, MJ especially was so excited and declared him ‘the cutest little baby ever’. It was really grounding to see them and see their sweet reaction to their new brother. MaryJane had picked out two rubber duckies as gifts for the boys, brought in the one for Travis and set it on my chest so he could see it as he nursed – so sweet! We told them that Harrison was on his way and we’d call them in again to meet him soon. Over the next two hours we continued to nurse off and on, and tried a few different positions as things ramped up again.
I had been so curious through my pregnancy as to what it would be like waiting for my second baby……how much time would pass between their births? I really hoped to have some good time with Travis, to nurse him and get to know him. Julia had talked about how useful he could be in getting labor going again so while it was part of the plan, experiencing it was a wonderful surprise. I was so proud of him to be playing such an important part in his little brother’s birth and the process of the three of us working together was confirmation of what I knew to be the truth about birth. That a mother’s body and her baby’s body are designed to work in perfect harmony, and yes even with multiples! Her body wants to birth and her babies want to be born. Un-medicated and unforced, as long as a mother is willing, intuitive and calm, her babies will be born well. Being birth-educated and supported by the right people (even if that is only your husband or yourself!) can only help.
I was so incredibly grateful to be attended by the group of intuitive women around me. The mood was so joyful and expectant. I was so happy and smiling at each of them so much, receiving their kind smiles back and getting enthusiastic encouragement of how well my babies and I were doing was exactly what I needed. They were so in tune all three of us, knowing just what I was feeling by how I was behaving, gently offering me sips of water, massage, and pillows for support before I even knew I needed them. It’s a great thing to see people who love their work. I appreciated how skillfully they worked around us, monitoring the baby still in my belly, the baby in my arms and myself while communicating with each other in soft whispers, allowing me peace to get totally into my primal state. Which I was – completely letting myself go and getting in it…in it to win it! During my last birth with my now two-year-old son I had breathed quite silently and deeply all through it and this time while birthing Travis I had learned that quick shallow panting sort of like a thirsty dog felt really good during the stage where the baby was moving down. His birth was a perfect warm-up for birthing Harrison, as it was all so fresh in my mind. Too bad I was panting straight into my handsome husband’s face and was told later I had forgotten to brush my teeth…oh well.
So things started getting really heavy, Kate took Travis so I could really concentrate on the pushing I was about to do. I was in sort of a standing position, with my butt on the edge of the bed, leaning back on my husband behind me with my feet propped up on the birthing stool. I have never forgotten a birth video my doula had shown me years ago when I was preparing for my first birth with my daughter. It showed a Brazilian woman who was birthing twin sons, and her second baby was breech. She stood there like a queen…supported only by her own two feet and silently brought her baby into the world feet-first with a smile on her face. At the time seeing one little baby leg slip out and hang down between her Amazonian legs completely bent my mind. I thought it was the most insane thing I’d ever seen. And now five years later that scene seemed completely normal, she had become my muse of the last few months and the moment was here…my time to shine and become her as best as I possibly could.
I relaxed and waited for a contraction, worked with it and was rewarded with excited gasps from everyone as one little foot emerged. Cameras flashed and Harrison thought twice and drew that foot back inside, which made everyone laugh again. Then he showed us both of his fat little feet.
Another contraction and he was born to the waist, another and his body was born and his little arms slipped out. He did so beautifully through his whole birth, his heart rate stayed steady as his body dangled from me, supported gently by Julia as his head remained inside.
So this was the one, the clock was now ticking and they were telling me I needed to work with this next contraction like I have never worked before and push my baby out. The semi-reclining standing position had worked well as my midwife had theorized to help his head ease under my pubic bone, but now that his head was there it wasn’t feeling right anymore and I wanted to be more upright and leaning a bit forward. They helped me into that position and I waited for that contraction and wasn’t feeling it. I could feel the tension in the room building, but I had read many birth stories and commentary from obstetricians and midwives in the UK where they do many successful ‘hands off’ breech births and knew they had a standard of up to 10 minutes to allow for cord compression. It had only been a few minutes for us and his heart tones were still steady so I was not fearful, and filled only with faith and expectation.
That contraction came and I dug as deep as I could, closed my eyes and envisioned graphically what was happening. I saw my body easily opening wide to expose a little chin then chubby cheeks and round sweet eyes like my daughters. And then my final prize…the very top of his perfect hairy head. That little head I had patted and massaged and watched poke up at me from the top of my belly for months. I imagined planting a big sweet kiss right on top and with that…he was born! All 8 pounds and 15 fat ounces of him at 10:50am.
Julia laid him on the floor and told me to get down on all fours on the floor too. While his heart was still beating and his cord still pulsing, he was not breathing on his own yet. Resuscitation is a skill midwives are used to using, more often for breech babies so it was something we were all expecting might be needed. Julia was giving him mouth to mouth and massaging his body roughly. I was calm and silent, watching quite stupidly until they began encouraging me to talk to my baby. I began calling him by his name, stroking him and telling him what a good strong boy he was and how proud I was of him. William was panicking a bit, saying ‘Breathe boy breathe!’ and I told him ‘Don’t worry babe, he’s fine, he’ll breathe!’ It seemed less than a minute before he was breathing gurgling breaths and was placed safely in my arms. Ecstatic joy from everyone and a few tears from my husband followed. We had both of our sons, live, healthy and perfect – the weight of the world was off his shoulders, and off my belly. The relief and gratitude we felt was overwhelming.
Two more births still lay ahead of me…which ended up being only one as the boys placentas were fused together and both came out with one contraction, which was nice. My midwife cleaned me up and began to check me over; I was thrilled to hear her say I needed no stitches! Minimizing the risk of injury during birth was really the reason I had initially become interested in active natural birth and I was so pleased to be walking away intact, with two perfectly intact and unharmed infants.
Harrison was having a harder time nursing due to his tougher arrival, so I continued to nurse Travis while the midwives helped Harrison get his reflexes going. By this time we were fairly cleaned up and our older kids were back with us, checking out their new brothers. I had gifts for them from the boys, Van seemed really happy about the twins but was REALLY excited about his new trains. MJ got a little doll that she loved but she was way more interested in the two real live dolls in front of her, fascinated by watching GB work her finger in Harrison’s mouth, finding his ‘sweet spot’.
Looking around at our family of six felt so dreamlike, experiencing the birth of our latest members all together in such a normal setting made it an extra precious event that I will be forever grateful for.
SO grateful for our beautiful new sons!
SO grateful I sought out and considered differing opinions, did my own research, made my own decisions, took responsibility and birthed in the way and place I knew was safest for us.
SO grateful I chose reason and faith over irrational worry and fear.
SO grateful I allowed our boys to grow so big and healthy, and be born when they and my body were truly ready.
SO grateful for those last frustrating days of waiting for them, each day something happened within our family to prepare us for the boys in ways we didn’t even know we needed.
SO grateful to the friends and family who encouraged and truly supported us.
You know who you are!
SO grateful for the strong decisive man I married……
who decided to trust and stand by his wife!
SO grateful to live in the blessed state of Texas, where midwife attended homebirth is legal for multiples and breech babies. YEE-HAW!!!
This pregnancy and birth was a spiritual lesson and experience for me, so most of all I am grateful to the Divine Intelligence of the Creator who made this body of mine so full of energy, elasticity, and strength to love. God is SO good, I am beyond grateful for His promises, protection and to walk in His grace.
“Can it be that the Creator intended to draw mothers nearest to Himself at the moment of love’s fulfillment?” – Grantly Dick-Read