Homebirth Filled with Patience and Love {Water Birth & Cord Burning}

by Krystal Cleaver on October 10, 2014

On Friday, April 18th, your daddy, sister, and I were leaving the house for dinner.  I had just stepped outside when I felt a small gush. I joked with your dad that maybe my water was leaking. We went about our evening and had a lovely dinner and then went for a short walk. As we got home that evening, I felt another small gush of fluid.  I decided I’d sit down for a while and then stand up and “bounce” a little to see if I leaked more. Sure enough, I did!

I quickly called my midwife and asked her what to do.  She told me there was an amino-swab in the birth kit and to test the fluid with it and to call her back with the results.  I used the swab and it confirmed that, yes indeed, my water was leaking.  I started to feel anxious and excited, and I was worried about now being put on a time limit. I had been Group B positive for most of my pregnancy, and the longer I went without going into labor, the higher the risk that you might be exposed.

I called my midwife, Sunshine, and she told me that she felt comfortable with waiting a while to see how things progressed.  A week prior to my water leaking I was given antibiotics for an infected tooth (coincidentally, the same pregnancy safe antibiotics they would use in labor for Group B at the hospital). She told me to rest and that we would meet each other in the morning to start me on labor inducing herbs and check on you, but that maybe we would see each other sooner than that.

Meanwhile, your sister was buzzing with excitement about your arrival.  She ran around the house yelling, “Mama’s water broke!  The baby is coming!”  I went to bed that evening, my mind racing with anticipation, and kept telling myself I would wake to labor at some point that evening.

I woke that morning as the sunlight flooded the bedroom. I was having no time-able or painful contractions.  I made myself some breakfast and watched TV until Daddy and Cecilia woke up. Once it was a reasonable hour, I decided to try to find an acupuncturist that could see me that day.  It was Saturday, so most acupuncturists were not available.  I finally got a hold of a woman from the Birth Point Acupuncture group that was able to see me that afternoon.  We met Sunshine before heading to the appointment.  She checked on you and you sounded great!  She then gave me black and blue cohosh and castor oil.  We shared our concerns about waiting with ruptured membranes and I told her I was worried about being transferred to the hospital.  She told me that she was OK with waiting a while longer and trying to get things started with the herbs, castor oil, and some acupressure techniques that an acupuncturist had taught your dad the day before.

We went to drop off your sister with Grandma Donna so that we could spend some time that evening focusing on helping you drop lower. We headed to the acupuncture appointment and I had a very intense session.  The acupuncture was bringing on some contractions, but once the needles where out they stopped. The women told us to go home and rest for a while, then head back at 4pm for a second round if I wasn’t in labor yet.  We went home and Daddy and I cuddled and took a nap.

We woke to find Grandma had brought us a breast pump we could use to try to stimulate labor. We headed back to the acupuncture for another session and once again contractions stopped once the needles were taken out.  We headed to pick your sister up from Grandma Donna’s house and headed home. Once I was home, I texted Sunshine to let her know I was still not in labor and we made a plan to meet around noon on Easter Sunday at my fathers house to check on you.  Daddy, Cecilia and myself went about enjoying what we thought might be our last evening together as a family of three.  We watched a movie as I pumped and Daddy got the herbs and castor oil ready for me. I cuddled your sister a while then she was off to bed.  Daddy and I stayed up for several more hours working at the acupressure, herbs, and castor oil.  As I laid down to sleep that night, I envisioned laboring with you, the contractions coming strong, feeling you drop lower, and finally you being born into the water into your father’s hands. I envisioned this over and over again until I drifted off to sleep.

I woke once again as sunlight began to fill the bedroom. I laid still for some time and felt the sun against my face praying you would decided to be born that day. I finally got up, got myself some fruit and found a comfy spot to sit and pump and watch TV until everyone else was up. The contractions were coming while I pumped, but once I took the pump off my breasts the contractions faded like they had the day before. I waited for Daddy and Ceci to wake up so we could get the day started. The morning went quick once everyone was up. We made a light breakfast, sister enjoyed all her new gifts, and dad and I went about doing the herbs, acupressure, and pumping. Soon it was time to go to my fathers for Easter lunch. I was looking forward to this meal because that evening I would be taking the castor oil for the second time.

Once we got there we talked with the family, enjoyed the sun, and ate probably one of the best meals my dad has ever made! Cecilia hunted for her eggs, and daddy did more acupressure on my hands and feet. Sunshine came over right after we had finished eating, she checked your heartbeat which was perfect, then we talked about taking a bigger dose of castor oil and meeting that evening to do a membrane sweep. I texted my acupuncturist early that morning to see if there would be anyway for me to see her today and she responded at lunch saying she could meet at 3:30. We enjoyed a little more time with the family and decided Cecilia would go to grandma’s to swim while we went to the appointment.

The acupuncture appointment went well. I talked to you while the needles where in and told you not to be afraid, that we could do this, that you would be born at home but I needed you to decide to come soon and that we where all very ready to meet you. The contractions started to have some discomfort, but they faded again once the appointment was over. Daddy and I decided to take a walk on the cliffs above the ocean before picking your sister up. We walked hand in hand enjoying one another talking about who you would be and what you would look like.

The waves were massive that afternoon and so strong when they hit the cliffs it misted salty sea water all over us. I rested my hand gently upon your home and told you to come as strong as the waves. We walked back to the car and went to grandma’s. We visited with Cecilia for awhile, I cuddled her on Grandma’s bed, and we decided it would be best for her to stay with grandma that night to give daddy and I some more time getting you to come. After saying our goodbyes to Cecilia we made our way home, stopping along the way to get a few last things for the birth.

Once we were home, I started pumping and waited for Sunshine to get there to do the membrane sweep. She arrived around 7 that evening and we talked about everything. Daddy was starting to feel nervous about the chance of infection the longer my water had been broken. Sunshine also started to feel a little outside her comfort zone. I told them both that I knew you were OK, I knew I was OK, and I knew that you would be born at home. Sunshine was willing to let me go until tomorrow afternoon to see if labor would begin.  I did not want to be in the hospital giving birth and I was very confident that you were perfectly fine, and that you would come before then. Sunshine did the sweep and told me I was 3cm but my cervix was mush. Sunshine left and daddy and I spent some much needed time cuddling and being close.

We drifted off to sleep for the night, but I woke in the middle of the night to some contractions and decided to spend some time pumping. They started to fade, so I went back to sleep. I woke again right before the sunrise. I spent some time envisioning your birth, the contractions coming strong, your head pressing against my cervix, you coming lower and lower until you where born into the water then into your fathers hands.  I was having no contractions when I woke up and went back to pumping.

I woke daddy up at 6:30 and asked him to make me breakfast and spend some time with me.  I was beginning to feel defeated. I started to fear that I wouldn’t be able to bring you earthside the way I so badly wanted and needed to.  By 7:30am I called Sunshine and told we needed to do something more to get things going, so I asked her to come over and sweep my membranes or break my waters completely.  She agreed and said she would come at 9AM. That hour and half felt like forever!  I laid in bed and cuddled our kitty Luna.  She had not been very interested in me or my belly this pregnancy, but that hour she felt like cuddling right on top of you.  I think she knew it was almost time to meet you.

Daddy sat next to me on the bed playing guitar.  9AM came and Sunshine arrived.  She checked on your heartbeat and told you that today would be your birthday.  She proceeded to break my water, starting by stretching my cervix.  I went from 3cm to 4cm and once she had broken the waters I was at a 5cm.  We talked a little more about waiting longer and we decided that if I was not in labor by the next morning we would transfer. Sunshine left and I went back to pumping.  Contractions started to come strong and they started to have some discomfort to them.  After about 20 minutes of pumping I realized they where not stopping!  So I told daddy to start reaching out to the family & childcare, and to start getting things ready. Before we had made any calls, Grandma Donna called us saying Cecilia wanted to come see me.  Once daddy was off the phone and they were on the way I got my birth playlist going, put on my labor gown and sent Sunshine a quick text saying that the contractions where coming more frequently.  I began working through the contractions by sitting at the edge of my bed and bouncing on my birthing ball.  I was having a hard time finding a comfortable place during to labor, and soon went to the floor and sat in the doorway of my bedroom.  I began to make noise as they passed and rocked my hips back and forth.

I heard Cecilia and grandma arrive so I rolled my ball into the living room and visited them.  I was still able to talk and move when I was not contracting but needed to focus on them to cope with the discomfort.  I started to feel like I needed a quiet place, so I went to the bathroom leaned against the counter, rocking my hips back and forth. Daddy came in to check on me, and I asked him to draw a bath and bring me a drink.  The water felt amazing, but the bath was just to small for me to get into a comfortable position.  Soon I was out of the bath and heading to my bedroom.  Bouncing on the ball was not helping anymore, so I went to all fours and leaned over a pillow tower on my bed.  I was starting to really need to work through the contractions and knew it was time for Sunshine to come back.  I quickly called her to check in and then put my focus entirely into working through the contractions.  Cecilia and Grandma Donna were still home, and daddy and I had made plans for our friend Tona to come by and take your’ sister out to play at the park until I knew you were ready to come. Tona arrived right away, giving me a hug and taking Ceci quickly out to play.  Grandma went to rest in Cecilia’s bedroom and daddy began filling the birth tub.

By the time everyone had left I was on all fours in the living room.  At quarter till noon Sunshine and Angela had arrived.  I remember saying, “Thank goodness, you are here” as they walked through the door.  Angela helped your Dad with a few things around the house and set out all the midwife supplies while Sunshine tracked my contractions and offered encouraging words.  I was really having to vocalize through my contractions and began making a low Om noise. As soon as the tub was filled I asked if I could get into it. The water felt amazing.  I was able to be on my hands and knee without gravity weighing me down.  I was having back labor so Angela massaged with black pepper oil for pain relief on her hands Angela applied counter pressure to my sacrum.  Daddy got into the water as soon as I was positioned comfortable.  He stood behind me, rubbing my back between contractions.  I tucked my feet under his shins and leaned over the tub.  The pressure he applied wasn’t helping much with my back pains and I remember yelling, “Do whatever Angela was doing!”.  Angela showed Daddy how she applied the pressure and I went back to focusing on the contractions.  Angela needed to check your heart rate, and it took a lot for me to move into a position she could hear you at.  I was contracting while she listened to you with the Doppler and needed her to stop more than once so I could moan and breathe through my contractions.

Soon the contractions were coming so strong and fast that my whole body was shaking.  I kept the low Om noises going but they began to grow louder and louder, and I was no longer in control my body.  It had taken over and I was now in Laborland.  I began to feel doubtful and told Sunshine I didn’t think I could do this anymore.  She told me with a smile and a nod that I was doing it, and I leaned over the tub and began to tell my say, ” I am doing it, I am doing it!”.  Daddy says I was smiling as I repeated those words.  I think this is when the change happened for me.  Not only was I feeling intense pain, but I was also feeling pleasure. When the contractions started to release it felt good!  I started to make low pitched “Oh” noises and smiled as I felt myself coming down from the peaks of the contractions.

I remember looking up at my birth flag and being drawn to the word “Flow” someone from my blessing-way had drawn for me.  I started to vision you flowing from my body, and that is when I think I hit transition.  Bob Marley was playing in the background and Sunshine sang the words to the song under her breath.  I remember shouting out that if what I was feeling wasn’t transition than I was ready to go to the hospital.  All I got back was a quiet and knowing “mhmm” from Sunshine.  That was her cue to check me.  She came over to the pool and asked me to float my butt to the top of the water (which was not a easy task).  Once I had gotten into position she checked me and told me I was 10cm! She asked if I was feeling pushy and I said no, but then my whole body started to feel like it was splitting in two and I so badly wanted to close my legs but couldn’t.  A contraction came after that that had two peaks and that is when I felt you move under my pelvis.  I remember saying, “Come baby boy, come.”

The desire to push began to take over and I told them my body was starting to push on its own, I then leaned back into your father’s lap and he whispered sweet words to me.  He told me that I was strong and that no one would ever be able to tell me that I was and that if they did I wouldn’t have to believe them, and began to cry.  I started to feel the “ring of fire”.  Sunshine asked if we were ready to meet our baby and daddy and I reached our hands down to feel your soft mushy head starting to be born.  We were the first people to ever touch you, and it’s something that I will never forget.  Soon your head was born and Sunshine called out “Oh!  There’s an ear!”  After what felt like eternity your shoulders emerged.  Sunshine slipped her hands under your arms and I quickly slipped my hands under hers and we pulled you up together.  You where born at 12:40pm from water right to my chest.  I remember saying “oh my goodness” a few times then peeking to see if we had a son or another daughter.  I leaned back into daddy and softly told him you were a boy!  The excitement from him and midwives filled the room.

water birth

 unnamed

About 10 minutes after you were born I birthed the placenta and made my way out of the tub.  I was having a hard time standing so Angela made me a spot on the living room floor and you where handed to me there.  Your sister and our birth photographer, Paige, got to the house at the same.  Your sister came quickly over to check you out.  We gave each other love and then I told her you were a boy.  Oh, what love was in her eyes when she met you for the first time!  Once I was able to get up I made my way to the bathroom to get into a night gown and you, Daddy and Ceci went to the bed for some skin to skin time.  Once we were all settled in we nursed for the first time.  You took right to it!

We were waiting until your’ grandparents got there so we could all share in the burning of your umbilical cord.  We wanted everyone that cared for us during this sacred time to share in process of detaching you from what nourished you all those months.  Grandpa Steve and Grandma Donna arrived first and Grandpa Steve was so very excited to learn you were boy that he gave Daddy a big high-five!  Then Grandpa Mike arrived and we started the cord burning.  It took about 15 minutes to burn the cord and each of your’ grandparents, Ceci, our midwifes, and Daddy and I all got to be a part of the process.  Grandpa Steve and Daddy finished off the burning together.  Soon the grandparents were leaving and the midwives were finishing your’ exam.  Tona took Cecilia out for a little while so we could get some rest.  Sunshine and Angela left shortly after and Daddy, you and I settled into our first evening together.

cord burning

cord burning

placenta

From the time Sunshine broke my water until the time you were born was just 3 hours.  You listened to me.  You came as strong and fast as the ocean waves and you where born with love and in bliss at home.

Thank you, my beautiful son, for taking me on a journey like no other.  Thank you for showing me patience.  Thank you for teaching me to trust myself and for showing me the most blissful side of birth.  Welcome to this beautiful, wacky family.  May you forever feel the love we have for you.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Bethany October 10, 2014 at 1:31 pm

I love that placenta picture! It definitely looks like a tree of life!

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