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Category: Unassisted Childbirth

Quick Labor and Accidental Freebirth

Quick Labor and Accidental Freebirth

I had my daughter in a hospital. It was a horrible experience and I never want to have another baby in a hospital again unless I HAVE to. Before we even conceived our next baby, we interviewed midwives and picked one out. We were planning a home birth.

I had a normal pregnancy. No issues at all. Except, from 37 weeks on, I had prodromal labor. Every night I would have timeable contractions that were slightly painful but they never seemed to amount to anything. I was getting very antsy and uncomfortable and just ready to meet my baby! I had my daughter 10 days early (medical induction in the hospital) so when I passed that point in this pregnancy, I was feeling done. I started Evening Primrose Oil at 37 weeks, I bounced on my birth ball as much as I could, I walked, nested, had sex… pretty much everything would cause contractions but they would always go away. I was feeling pretty discouraged! I never had my midwife check me for dilation at all because I didn’t want to feel worse if nothing was changing.

The night of December 23rd I was 39 weeks and 3 days pregnant. We had planned on taking our daughter, Violet, to see the Lights Under Louisville. She was pretty grumpy though so I said we could just go tomorrow night, Christmas Eve. Jeff (my husband) said no, we should go tonight because it was sure to be busy on Christmas Eve. So off we went.  It was busy anyway and we waited in line for nearly 2 hours. I noticed that I was having occasional contractions, but they didn’t hurt and weren’t strong or close together so I ignored them. Jeff and I joked about how inconvenient it would be to go into labor while we were there since we were in a cave underground.

After we finished going through the cave, I told Jeff we should get Waffle House. I was craving waffles pretty badly! Waffle House was packed for some reason. The three of us jammed into the only booth, meant for 2. My belly was touching the table in front of me!

When we got home, I had a slight stomach ache. I thought nothing of it since I am lactose intolerant and had some butter on my waffles. I was still having a few contractions when I lay down, but they were exactly like the other ones I had been having for 2 weeks, except I noticed I had a slight backache with these. I tried timing them just to be sure they were nothing and they were all over the place so I tried to sleep. I set my phone down and suddenly I was hit with a massive contraction. I rolled myself out of bed onto the ground on all 4s. I tried to be quiet since it was so late and Jeff and Violet were asleep in the bed. When that contraction was over I crawled to the bathroom (easier than trying to stand up that late in pregnancy lol) and closed the door. I sat on the toilet for a few minutes and waited to see if I would have another contraction. I did. It hurt so much that I jumped up and was hanging onto the sink jumping from foot to foot. I couldn’t stand still. I quickly ran a bath while swaying back and forth thinking that would calm things down. I was shaking so badly that I had trouble getting the temperature right. I finally got the water warm enough and got in.

Another contraction. Then another. I yelled for Jeff. He didn’t hear. Another contraction. They were coming back to back and they were HARD. I yelled for him again, as loud as I possibly could. I couldn’t possibly get out of the tub and walk to him at that point, so if he didn’t hear me I didn’t know what I was going to do. He finally came in and I told him to call my midwife. When that contraction was over, I told him never mind, I must be imagining things. So he waited. Another contraction. Then I yelled, “NO CALL HER NOW! I THINK I AM DYING!” I also told him to call 911, that something must be seriously wrong. I wanted to go to the hospital. I actually thought I was going to die. But wait. These were transition thoughts! This couldn’t be transition. This couldn’t be happening this fast! I had been having contractions for all of 5 minutes!

Jeff called my midwife and she said to time them for 15 minutes or so and she would start gathering her things. I kept trying to find a comfortable position in the bath tub. We had a blow up birth pool, but getting it ready never even crossed my mind and I didn’t want Jeff to leave anyway. I told Jeff that I would never be able to get through this. It hurt SO much. I was convinced that this was early labor and if that was true, how in the world would I be able to get through transition? I felt like the biggest wimp ever.

After it had been 15 minutes, Jeff called my midwife back and told her my contractions were like this:

Contraction 0:00:55
Rest 0:00:53
Contraction 0:00:40
Rest 0:00:46
Contraction 0:00:43
Rest 0:00:39
Contraction 0:00:51
Rest 0:00:36
Contraction 0:00:40
Rest 0:00:58
Contraction 0:00:57
Rest 0:00:19
Contraction 0:00:35
Rest 0:00:45
Contraction 0:00:28
Rest 0:00:24

So basically, all over the place. She said she was just about done gathering her things and would be on her way. But she lives 2 hours away from us. I had been in labor for 20 minutes so far.

I continued to labor like that for awhile longer. I was still trying to find a good position in the tub. I had been resting on my back most of the time. I tried to flip over to all 4s but I was so shaky that I couldn’t. I couldn’t talk either, so there was no asking for Jeff to help. The contractions kept coming so fast that I couldn’t think and just lay back down. I had the shower curtain closed and hid in my “cave”. Jeff sat on the toilet next to the tub and I held his hand while he continued to time my contractions.  When one would come on, I would let go of his hand and sort of hit him to let him know that one was starting. Then I would grab his hand again and hold on tight. Afterwards, he told me that he made sure to hold my hand as hard as I was holding his so that I wouldn’t realize how hard I was gripping it. I remember getting sweat in my eyes.

I was loud. I wasn’t moaning, I was yelling through my contractions. I tried to moan, but yelling felt much better. We had the door of the bathroom closed since Violet was across the hall in our bed sleeping. By some miracle, she never woke up.

I started to feel pushy about 20 minutes after Jeff got off the phone with my midwife. It had been 40 minutes since I had my first contraction. I was convinced that I was still in early labor. I tried to keep from pushing because of that thought. I kept imagining that my cervix wasn’t fully dilated and I thought I would tear it.  I held back for 2 contractions. I was flipping all around trying not to push. My head hit my daughters hanging basket of bath toys and they fell out all over me and into the water. Finally I couldn’t hold back anymore. I was pushing with all my might and there was nothing I could do about it. I vaguely recall feeling a pop and I suppose it was my water breaking. I was in the middle of pushing though so I couldn’t really dwell on it. After the next contraction, I reached down and could feel the head right there, about 2 inches in. I told Jeff that and he called my midwife back to let her know. Even though I felt the head, I didn’t believe that it actually WAS the head.

I remember feeling the burning that everyone talks about, but it was more inside than I was expecting. After next contraction, the head was out. I didn’t really realize it until I reached down and felt it. I told Jeff that it was out and he looked in the tub and got this freaked out look on his face and said he should probably call my midwife back. She didn’t answer that time (she was driving). Jeff tried calling her again. Before she could answer, the baby was here. Jeff was on the phone with my midwife watching me as he was born, so no one caught him really! He just shot out and then I said, “Oh my god!” and I scooped him up. He didn’t cry right after he was born. I think he was just as stunned as we were! He was crying after about 20 seconds though and he pinked up really fast.

He nursed pretty quickly after he was born and hasn’t really let go since! I went to move his umbilical cord from between his legs and that’s when I noticed that he was a boy. I cried a little. We didn’t find out his sex and I was really hoping for a boy.

Only minutes after birth
Minutes after birth1

First breastfeedFirst time nursing1

Jeff put my midwife on speaker phone and she was telling me that soon I would start feeling contractions again and I would birth the placenta. I did, but the placenta sort of folded onto itself and got stuck. She told me to try very gently tugging it to see if I could get it to finish coming out, but I couldn’t get it to move. She ended up sending a closer midwife over to help just in case. When that midwife arrived, she just gave my placenta a twist and it slid the rest of the way out. She also went ahead and checked me for tears. I had a 2nd degree tear and a few skid marks as well. We decided against stitches. I told the other midwife that all of Violet’s toys would need a good washing after that. We must have looked silly sitting in a bath tub full of vernix and blood with all these bath toys!

Daddy and big sister cuddles
Daddy and big sister cuddles

Afterward, she helped me get cleaned up and moved to the bed. We called my birth photographer over to get pictures of everything else (weighing, foot prints, etc) since we didn’t think (or have much time!) to call her while I was in labor. She and my midwife arrived an hour later and everything was hectic from then on. Silas got checked out and he weighed in at 8 pounds 1 ounce and was 20 inches long. So much teensier than I was expecting! But everything was fine and we are doing great!

Bliss
Bliss

IMG_1354

 Placenta!
Placenta!

Start to finish, labor was 45 minutes long. It was hard. As soon as labor began, I was having transition strength contractions. I could never get on top of the pain. I thought I had prepared for everything- a long labor, possibility of transferring to hospital, possibility of a c-section, shoulder dystocia, etc… But I never even imagined that I would have a short labor. I never imagined that we would end up free birthing! I don’t think I have wrapped my head around it yet and Silas is 6 weeks old now. It just seems like I was pregnant and then I magically had a baby while taking a bath. It seems like labor was a dream.

Snuggling in bed
Snuggling in bed

What home birth looks like…
What home birth looks like

My midwife first arriving
My midwife first arriving

Herbal bath with mommaHerbal bath with mama

 

Photography (unwatermarked) by Stephanie Viricki Photography

‘More Faith, Less Fear’: An Unassisted HBAC

‘More Faith, Less Fear’: An Unassisted HBAC

Lisa M. shares the story of her daughter Freya’s free birth.

“This is a story of a beautiful birth – the birth of my gorgeous daughter Freya. Her birth had been planned for a long time… Pretty much since the day her older brother and I left the hospital after his very traumatic VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) birth, two years ago. Both he and I still suffer today from the experience – he physically and I, emotionally. I knew another baby of mine would not suffer coming into this world again. And she didn’t. Deciding to birth Freya unassisted was the best and most informed decision we had ever made.

October 11th was a Thursday, my husband’s “Friday”. We had joked during the pregnancy that having this baby on a weekend would be absolutely marvelous! We could get away with birthing the baby in peace – no questions asked, no phone calls, no checkups. That evening as we were watching Johnny Depp’s latest film, I began to notice my Braxton Hicks were actually causing some discomfort. Not overwhelming, only noticeable. After the movie we went to bed but it wasn’t until after a million trips to the bathroom that I fell asleep.

I woke up with the boys at 8:30am, having gotten a good solid seven hours of sleep. The uncomfortable Braxton Hicks were still there – still only noticeable but not yet bothersome. That being said, I had an intense urge to get a few things accomplished. We needed to get groceries for the weekend and my boys needed winter boots and mittens as it had snowed the day before. I woke my husband up and we were off to town by 11 o’clock am.

Walmart was our first stop. As I was browsing and picked up boots and mittens, I noticed the sensations getting stronger. I had to use the public bathroom twice while we were there. I wasn’t officially timing them but would say the contractions were about seven minutes apart. I could still walk and talk through them without anyone noticing. We got our groceries and made a pit stop at the health food store looking for some coconut water. By 2pm we were back home.

The boys and I had a little snack and then I put them down for a nap. Contractions always felt worse to me lying down, but I worked through them without the boys knowing. I too fell asleep for about five minutes before another contraction awoke me. Still feeling a bit hungry, I got up and ate half a bag of Tostito’s tortilla chips (healthy, I know!) and browsed Facebook for a little bit while sitting and swaying on my exercise ball. I started to squat and sway through the contractions, which felt amazing and made them instantly go away. I decided to make myself some kale and pineapple juice, squatting and swaying during contractions. I was still in denial about labor, thinking I had about a week of this “false” labor to go through.

During my pregnancy I had created a “birth blessing” necklace, which you can see hanging with the towels in the first picture below. I had just received a few extra beads from friends and decided it was the perfect time to put them on. I went to the bathroom to do this because by that time I had to pee every 30-60 seconds. Sometimes I wouldn’t even leave the toilet as I would pee, stand up and bend over during a contraction, and pee again. I noticed the feeling I had to poop – but was not having any back labor (thank goodness!). Already this was a completely different experience from my last two labors.

The boys had woken up by 4pm and by 5 o’clock, I told my husband to put on some soup for supper. I was fully intending to help him feed the boys but by 5:30pm the contractions were starting to demand my attention. I mostly stayed in the bathroom because of the fact I had to pee ALL the time and then had three bowel movements within the next half hour.

I would walk to the kitchen and then squat and sway or crawl on my hands and knees during the contractions. I began to feel warm and irritated by my clothes, so I kicked off my pants and just wore my underwear and tank top. I thought my toddler also looked hot (whether he was or not, I am not sure!) so I stripped him down too. I think it was more so that I wouldn’t feel alone. I periodically cracked open the window or door to feel the crisp cool autumn air. It made me feel better. I was snacking on an apple and banana and still making very frequent trips to the bathroom to pee. My last contraction in the kitchen was on my hands and knees and then after I immediately started vomiting.

7pm. My husband and my toddler would massage my back. His little chubby hands made me smile. My husband walked me to the bedroom and he read my “birthy” vision board aloud while massaging my feet. We laughed and he continued to be encouraging as I worked through another contraction. The boys bounced around happily. My three year-old asked questions and would give me a kiss every so often.

We walked back to the bathroom and I declared I REALLY needed to get in the bathtub. My husband contradicted. He felt I wasn’t ready and he didn’t want me in the tub until I really needed it. We then had a slight bickering match. Needless to say, I won and he started to fill the tub.

freya pics9

I decided to feel my cervix, not to check dilation but to just get a feel. I reached in with two fingers and felt the water bag protruding. The contractions were intense and yet I was still in denial. I knew I had another three days of this false labor. I began to panic – I couldn’t do this forever. I muttered a few things: I wanted my loving midwife who helped us so greatly throughout this pregnancy. Maybe she could speed labor up. How can dogs do this and birth so many babies at once and yet stay so calm? My husband brought me back to reality. He told me I needed to stop thinking and get back with the flow of labor, that each contraction was bringing me closer to my baby, time doesn’t matter and I am a strong woman! He was right … he is always right.

I stopped “thinking” and started “feeling” again. The very next contraction I felt a “pop”. My water broke. I scanned the tub, the fluid was clear – exactly how I envisioned. Three things immediately went through my mind. One: my midwife mentioned the water usually breaks at 9 cm. Two: during my last birth, my previous midwife had told me I needed to hold back my body’s urge to push because I could swell my cervix. Three: Ina May Gaskin had better be right! I am letting go and allowing my body to do what it needs to do!

And with that last thought, one very powerful contraction came over me and my baby’s head halfway emerged. I reached down and felt the softest hair I ever felt. The next contraction went through me like a wave – my legs shaking, I let out a very primal roar and the baby’s whole head was visible. My toddler came in the bathroom, giggling. He thought I was funny and decided to roar like a lion himself. I laughed. The very last contraction flowed through me and at 9:25pm our baby was fully Earthside.

freya pics4

Since I was on my hands and knees, my husband reached down with one hand, as he was also videoing the birth, and passed the baby through my legs. I checked and it was girl! My son was singing “baby, baby, baby!” She looked around, so calm and very alert. She made a little cry and soon after she latched onto my breast. She was perfect. I checked twice more to make sure she was still a baby girl. My little Miss Freya weighed 7lbs, 8oz and measured 19 ¾ inches long.

freya pics3

freya pics 1

This was a perfect birth – just how it should be: peaceful, gentle, loving. I didn’t even tear which just confirms that the body knows what to do, that birth is a natural bodily function. Many people say we were just lucky and thank God, nothing went wrong. I disagree. I prayed about this decision for a very long time and God brought me to this situation. I look back on both my sons’ births which were both very medical. Each caused some kind of unnecessary pain physically and emotionally to my babies and myself. With Freya’s birth – absolutely nothing went wrong. That’s not luck, that’s just how it’s meant to be. As women we need to have a little more faith and a lot less fear.”

freya pics 2

The Moment {Planned HBA2C, Unplanned Unassisted}

The Moment {Planned HBA2C, Unplanned Unassisted}

You posted a photo of “the moment” and it reminded me so much of my own. Especially because that moment is something I had waited for through 2 attempted vaginal births that turned into c-sections…

I was told I was broken.

I was told it would never happen and I couldn’t try.

I KNEW BETTER!

On April 2011, at 42w2d, I experienced THE moment.

I pushed out and caught my baby in the comfort of my own home (actually it was an unplanned unassisted HBA2C when the midwives didn’t make it in time). My husband supported me every step of the way and I couldn’t have been prouder of the team that we made.

unplanned unassisted homebirth HBA2C

I’m currently 8 months pregnant with my 4th and planning another home waterbirth. What’s amazing is that I never realized how much my HBA2C healed me until a few weeks ago when thinking of my upcoming birth. I realized I’m not even sad about those first 2 births anymore. In a way I am almost thankful for them because it was the heartbreaking lows of their births that has made me understand and appreciate just how miraculous and empowering a supported birth can be. The birth of my 3rd baby totally saved me- it gave me the confidence to face some pretty scary things in my life I’d been hiding from and it has given me the confidence to plan an unassisted birth sometime in the next 6 weeks or so. I am so excited for this upcoming birth. Everything just seems so perfect now and it blows my mind that I ever felt so much sadness from the first 2 births. It’s a sadness no woman should ever feel!  Everyone should get to feel as magnificent and empowered as I do today!

A video I created of my two cesarean births: http://www.onetruemedia.com/otm_site/view_shared?p=a76117e7f38d98af7cd815

And the video of my successful HBA2C can be found here: http://animoto.com/play/ItYrcQPpRVsdz5dMKxhTUQ

Photo and the HBA2C video credit go to Crystal Turner at Indy Birth Photographer (indybirthphotographer.com)

 

The Birth Story of Finley Nathaniel {Planned Homebirth, Unplanned Unassisted}

The Birth Story of Finley Nathaniel {Planned Homebirth, Unplanned Unassisted}

I never imagined I would have an unbelievable birth story to share. I prayed for an easy, fast birth – who doesn’t! – but didn’t really think it was something my body could do.

On Wednesday January 16th, I began feeling different enough to tell Michael that a baby would be here by Friday. Nothing painful or distracting, but I could feel that dilation was occurring. I had a cough for the past few days, and I knew that was the reason for the strong Braxton Hicks I was feeling.

I slept well (such a relative term) that night and woke up Thursday at about 7:30am. I didn’t feel much different than the day before except that now the “contractions” were a little more uncomfortable. I put contractions in quotes because I really never thought of them as that. They were only concentrated in my cervix, no back or uterus pain.

I texted Michael, who was in class, and told him to come home after Greek Exegesis. I knew that would be about 10:30am and I could parent the kids from bed no problem. I also sent a text to my prayer warriors just to let them know that “today was probably the day”. Honestly, I sent it thinking that sometime much later in the day I would say “this is it”. The text was sent at 8:21am as I was heading upstairs.

I figured it would be a good idea to go upstairs to my bed and lay down for no other reason than I was just tired. By the time I got to the top of the stairs I felt like I needed to use the restroom. I headed to the potty and tried to go. It was a very odd feeling because I was trying to go but pushing hurt. I just figured it was because the baby was much lower.

Once I went I thought all was good. Then I got up and it hit. A real contraction. I moaned out and had a moment of panic because I had never experienced a real contraction on my own. Michael had always been there for the hard part.

At 8:25am I told God I couldn’t do it alone. As soon as it was over I quickly texted Michael – “Come now!”

The next contraction started less than a minute later. I knew I needed to change positions so I went on hands and knees. Once there I thought “maybe if I just push it will help”. I was in complete shock that pushing made the baby move a LOT. I put my hand down to figure out what was happening and felt the bag of waters and half the head! At this point I pushed the whole body out at 8:27am. I kept thinking “this didn’t really happen”! And, this baby must have the smallest head! There was no pain in pushing; the only pain came down my legs when I stood during the first contraction.

I then yelled for my 10-year-old daughter Haley who was already on her way up after hearing my “growl”. I told her to grab the baby and wrap it up. Once the baby was wrapped up Haley held him until I could turn over and take him.

At 8:30am I snapped a few photos and sent one to Michael… He was completely shocked! It had only been 5 minutes since I texted him to come home.

unnamed

I then called my midwife Renee and said, “I know this is crazy, but I just had the baby.” She was more shocked than Michael. Renee told Haley how to get me comfortable on the floor until she got there.

The kids and I talked about how crazy it was that I had just had the baby! CRAZY! The last they knew, which was just 10 minutes earlier, I was going upstairs to rest. Then they heard me cry out. I am so glad Haley wrote out her story and is old enough to remember all of today’s events. What a blessing this has been to all of us!

I can only imagine what was going through Michael’s head as he was driving home. Michael got home a little before 9am (the kids ran down when they heard the garage door open and said “Daddy jumped over the front of the van!”).

Michael checked the gender and announced BOY like he expected it to be. Of course, we didn’t have a boy’s name. Renee arrived about 10 minutes after Michael, and I was finally able to deliver the placenta and Haley cut the cord. I don’t think I stopped laughing about this whole story until late afternoon. NEVER did I think a birth like this could be part of my story.

By lunch Michael and I decided on the name Finley Nathaniel. I have always loved the name Finley and Nathaniel means “given by God”. He certainly was given by God as was his blessed birth.

Morning after conclusion: Whether you have a fast or slow, hard or easy labour you still feel like you’ve been hit by a train the next morning.

Many readers have asked if my previous 5 births were fast.  Absolutely not! This is what makes Finley’s birth all the more unbelievable for me.  I have very long and painful transitions that typically last around 3-4 hours.  Praise the Lord for His mercies in this birth! I’m not counting on having another birth THIS good but I am so grateful for my shockingly fast and unexpected birth of #6.

The ‘birth text’

Autumn is a homeschooling mommy to 6 gorgeous children, and the owner of All About Cloth Diapers

Midwife’s Own Planned Unassisted Homebirth!

Midwife’s Own Planned Unassisted Homebirth!

I believe that every pregnancy and birth teaches us something as women that transforms us into the mothers that our children need us to be. My entire experience of “Sunshine’s” pregnancy and birth was one of learning to trust in my body, my instincts, and my relationship with my husband.

My hubby (B) and I were really enjoying parenting our daughter (L) and I was anxious to begin that journey again. B asked that we wait one more month before we “officially” started trying to conceive. Not one for patience, my initial reaction was to try to convince him of what I wanted, but some wise words from friends helped me to step back and wait for one more month so we could move forward united into this incredible process. Because of B’s cancer treatments and the challenges we faced in L’s conception, we expected that conceiving our next baby may take some time and quite possibly medical intervention. As my cycle began, I remember crying and feeling overwhelmed at the challenges we might face. At that moment, I told myself that I needed to live by the mantra “control is an illusion” (because it is true!) and to release myself from the pressure I was placing upon us to “succeed”.

I distinctly remember at 1:38am the night after I ovulated feeling that *something* was happening in my body. It was a surreal feeling and I looked over at B while we were watching TV and said, “It feels like something just happened! I don’t know why, but I think an egg and a sperm just got together!” Of course, he laughed and looked at me like I was crazy. I mean, who actually gets lucky on the first cycle of trying? Certainly not testicular cancer survivors! Over the next week or so, mild symptoms of pregnancy started to show up – needing to pee in the middle of the night, vague nausea, a skin breakout, etc. At this point, I was still questioning my ability to trust my body and thought that I really must be crazy! 9 days later I could wait no more, so at 5am I decided to take a pregnancy test. I thought I must be hallucinating, but there was the faintest line visible on that little stick! Amazing the power that little pee stick gave me – it confirmed what my body already *knew*, so from that point on, I tried my best to trust my internal guide rather than any external experts, tests, gadgets, etc.

The first trimester was physically and emotionally exhausting and I needed to rely heavily on B to help with L and getting things done around the house. I spent most of my time sleeping, vomiting, trying to convince L to just lay and snuggle for a few more minutes, and trying my best to save my energy for the families whose births I was attending during this time. After the nausea faded, I was able to really enjoy this pregnancy. I attribute feeling so great this time around to doing prenatal yoga, trying to eat well (organic, whole foods as much as possible), and getting chiropractic adjustments often – man, am I lucky to be married to my chiropractor!

We did our own prenatal care, with long distance support from my dear friend and midwife T checking in often from Oregon. We chose to not have any blood tests or ultrasounds, based on our research about what information these could actually provide, the risks/benefits of the tests, and the fact that we accepted full responsibility for whatever outcome we received. We spent lots of time listening to Sunshine’s heartbeat with a fetoscope, palpating position and feeling our baby wiggling in my belly. L was so excited to become a big sister and often demanded that I “open my belly” (lift my shirt) so she could kiss or talk to the baby. We discussed birth plans and knew that we wanted to have this baby in our home, possibly in the water, with only family and (hopefully!) T in attendance. I also reviewed complications with B and how to handle them, as well as writing up an emergency transport plan. Though we knew that it was unlikely anything would go wrong, it felt good to prepare for anything so we could focus our energies on the birth we hoped to have.

In the weeks leading up to my “due date” I started having lots of toning contractions that felt buzzy in my pelvis and back. My oldest sister K (and her husband) and T (and her 2 daughters) both came to visit in the week or so around my “due date”. I birthed L 2 days after her due date and felt that Sunshine might follow suit or even be a couple days early, but instead I got another lesson in surrendering control. I had more of the usual toning contractions, lost bits of mucus plug, etc. but no significant changes indicating that baby would be making an appearance. K returned to New York, anxiously awaiting the Auntie updates. As T’s flight back to Oregon approached, I started to question if we should be “doing something” to try to have this baby before she left. I felt comfortable with things that might naturally help labor along if baby was really ready (walking, sex, acupressure, etc.) but didn’t want to do anything invasive. The day before T was set to leave, I asked B, “should I have T strip my membranes?” and he reminded me that there was no need to rush this baby. So, after a lovely 10 day visit, T and her girls flew back to Oregon. I cried. Then I spent some time thinking about why I was crying – I wasn’t afraid that I couldn’t do this without her. I was sad that my friend was back on the opposite side of the country. I was able to move forward knowing that my hubby and I would be able to handle this together. After all, T was only a video chat call away!

On the morning of October 27th, I woke up and thought, “Wow! I’m 41 weeks today. Didn’t think I’d be pregnant this long, but I feel great, so why not!”. L had a bit of a rough night and had woken up early with B to get something to eat and watch a movie. I slept in, noticing that I was having more buzzy contractions somewhat regularly. Around 11am, I decided to take a shower and then went straight back to bed when I noticed that my contractions were now 5 minutes apart and had a distinctly more crampy quality, though were still very mild. B decided to surprise me with blueberry pancakes in bed (have I mentioned that he totally rocks??), so I ate and attempted to nap a bit. I texted T to let her know that things might be warming up and we joked about how this baby better not be born while she was in class. Around 12:30pm, I decided to give my mom and my friend A (who would be photographing the birth) a heads up that it might be baby day. Contractions were about 2-4 minutes apart, but I could easily breathe through them and continued about my day as usual. B discovered that our chickens, who had been on strike for the past 2 weeks, had just resumed lying, so I decided to go for a quick walk out in the yard to take them a treat. We then went up to the bedroom to inflate the birth tub and clean up a bit. At about 2pm, we ate some gnocchi with pesto and chicken and I had a random craving for buffalo chicken dip, so I had a few bites of that and said a quick prayer that I wouldn’t be barfing it up later.

Shortly after lunch, I was hanging out with L but needing to focus and get on my hands and knees on the couch during each contraction. L was a fantastic little doula and provided perfect counter pressure by sitting on my low back (like riding a pony lol). I let some of my close friends who had attended my Mother Blessing ceremony know that it might be time to light their candles, but I was still wondering if things might slow down. I had been texting with K throughout the day, but when I received a message from her around 3:30pm I responded, “Love you too… now no more texting unless I text you”, because I was starting to feel like I really needed to turn inward and focus… cue laborland! B started filling the tub with hot water and I let A and my mom know that they should probably head over.

My contractions were getting stronger and it felt good to kneel and lean forward while vocalizing. Sunshine was active and moving throughout labor, but we decided to listen with the fetoscope and were reassured to hear a nice strong rate in the 130s and 140s. I joked with T that “I was not having an orgasmic birth. Again. Boo.” Around 5pm, I got into the tub. While it didn’t seem to decrease the discomfort of the contractions, it sure made it easier to move into whatever position I needed in the moment to handle the intensity. I made a couple trips between the bathroom and the tub, feeling restless, hot, and nauseous and wanting privacy from everyone. At some point we decided to call T on video chat so she could “be there”. Her daughter was being her usual chatty self, so after joking around a bit, we decided to put them on mute. I alternated between giving myself mini pep talks during contractions, moaning, “Oooooo, strong is good, strong is good” and then whining during others, “I don’t like this. I don’t like this.” The contractions were strong, but as soon as they subsided I would think to myself, “OK that wasn’t really that bad, maybe I’m just being dramatic.” But it felt good to be a little dramatic, so I continued.

unassisted homebirth labour

unassisted homebirth birth tub

After a few good contractions in the tub, I told everyone I felt like barfing and disappeared into the bathroom again. After a little while, B came in and said that T suggested I get back in the tub unless I wanted to have my baby on the toilet, because it looked like I was in transition. I was irritated at the suggestion and told B that they were both crazy and that I didn’t want to be doing this for 30 hours (Hello, midwife-self, sign of transition!!).

I stood at the sink for the next contraction and noticed that when I grunted a bit at the peak the pain in my lower abdomen seemed to really fade away. I wandered back to the tub, grunting a bit and enjoying the fact that something finally made it a bit less owwy. I clambered back into the tub and this next part happened so quickly that it’s a bit of a blur. I felt a little popping sensation and then the most overwhelming feeling of pressure in my pelvis. I managed to blurt out, “I think my water broke!” and then started chanting to myself “gentle, gentle, gentle” as I lay on my side in the tub feeling like a caged animal looking for an escape. But there was no escape from this pressure, it just kept building.

unassisted homebirth support

I told B that he better get ready to catch. I rested my hand over myself and the wrinkly head just within, and on the next contraction my baby’s head was born and I naturally moved to a semi reclined position with my bottom floating a bit. B didn’t realize how quickly everything was happening and said, surprised, “I think I see the head!” to which I responded, “the head is *out* (fool)!”. At this point, he asked A to get my mom and L (woops – not a lot of birth action shots!). There were a few moments where my baby’s head was out and we were waiting for the rest of the body to be born. I felt totally calm and focused in those moments and told baby, “Do whatever you need to do, baby” trusting that he/she would have the wisdom to know exactly how to rotate and be born safely. On the next contraction I felt my baby’s body move through and out of my pelvis and into me and my husband’s hands. It was incredible. As B handed the baby to me under the water, I noticed a loop of cord which I easily unwrapped from the neck. I then lifted my slippery new baby up out of the water, exclaiming “Oh my God, our baby is here!” (at 6:38pm).

unassisted homebirth water birth

unassisted homebirth newborn bonding

I was snuggling the baby to my chest with my hand curled around his bum -yes, his! – I could feel a little scrotum, so I turned to B and asked him to look. He announced to the room that we had a boy. He looked absolutely perfect, slightly purple but breathing well and had great tone. L and my mom entered the room seconds later. L was absolutely glowing with love and excitement to meet our baby. She mentioned the bit of blood becoming visible in the water, so I reminded her about the placenta that would be born next and decided that I might as well get out of the tub and comfy in bed now.

10

After a bit of shuffling around with towels and setting up the bed with pads, I got out of the tub and noticed a small gush/clot indicating that the placenta had probably already separated. I was feeling great, not lightheaded at all, so I snuggled my baby and waited for a contraction. When I started to feel the familiar crampiness and pressure low in my pelvis I told B to grab the placenta bowl as I pushed while gently guiding the placenta out by the cord. I was feeling a bit anxious to not be able to assess my own blood loss well, but everyone did a great job of bringing me water and tea to drink while I massaged my uterus and B checked my vitals and consulted with T. A little more than an hour after the birth, we cut the cord and I asked my mom to make a smoothie for me with a small piece of the placenta to help slow the bleeding and replenish my body – I swear you can’t taste it at all when it’s all blended up with delicious berries, juice, and yogurt!

B finally got a chance to snuggle baby and L seized the opportunity to sing “You are my Sunshine” to him. I’m pretty sure my heart actually melted. B weighed and measured him – 7lbs 14oz and 21in long. I continued being cautious about my bleeding and decided to stay in bed until morning – which meant my lovely husband got to help me use a bedpan when I needed to pee (isn’t birth romantic??). After a few phone calls and online updates, we finally decided to all get tucked in for the night. What an amazing feeling to be snuggled together as a family, in our own family bed, after our own family birth!

Birth photography by  Amber Collins of Beautiful Moments Photography.

Oops…A Fast and Unplanned Unassisted Birth of 2nd Child

Oops…A Fast and Unplanned Unassisted Birth of 2nd Child

The birth of my daughter started at 11 am on a Monday morning. I was laying in bed as my 18 month old son played on the floor next to me. When I got out of bed I noticed that my water had broken. In my excitement I had asked my husband to hurry home. With my last child I had went straight into deep labor in less then 15 minutes. I didn’t want to be in labor alone with my child.

I began cleaning my home frantically in preparation for our midwife and the babies arrival. We had high hopes of having a successful water birth. My oldest had arrived at 38 weeks and the post man had actually delivered the liner of the tub as I was giving birth. Oops.

As the hours passed it became clear that I was not going to be having my baby anytime soon. I decided to go for a walk which helped only bring mild surges. As the evening wore on we put our son to bed and my husband fell asleep on the couch. I went to lay down in the back room to rest and wait for my baby. Finally at 2:30 am just as I was falling asleep… Youch!!! My first true surge was on its way. I practiced Hypnobirthing for this birth. A natural pain relief method to help along gentle birth.

I woke my husband to let him know that baby was on her way and decided to go sit on the toilet. I told him that he could go back to sleep and that I would spend some time alone. I texted my midwife and told her that the surges had began, but for her to get some more rest. My son’s labor took 10.5 hours so I assumed I had plenty time. My text hadn’t even finish being sent when I went in to true “labor”. I never even had a chance to see my midwife’s reply.

I told Johnny that he needed to stay up. I couldn’t move and wanted to go to the bedroom. I was unable to make it to the bed so I laid on the floor and held my pillow in the fetal position. Because of my silence Johnny assumed I just needed to rest. As my surges became stronger and stronger, I went deep inside myself. I could not open my eyes or even speak. With each surge I imagined my core becoming a red hot ball of energy. I would breathe out deeply and slowly. In my minds eye I would watch this ball of energy dissipate into nothing. The surges kept coming. Back to back to back, I would visualize this energy and continue to relax my core and breathe the energy out of my body.

I was finally able to find a moment to tell my husband to call my family and midwife and that it was time. My husband, who had only experienced the very vocal and painful birth of our first child, did not believe that I was ready to have our baby. He had assumed that I had been resting all of this time. He called my Mother and Grandmother to our house but did not call the midwife. By the time my family had a arrived I was focused deep inside once again and had no interest in the outside world.

I was unaware of my surroundings as my husband hooked the water hose to the washing machine faucet. As he began to fill the birth tub the hose lost connection and flooded our entire hallway. My poor husband was so busy stopping the flooding and mopping up the mess that he essentially missed the entire birth process.

My mother and grandmother joined me in the room. Both sat quietly on the bed not knowing what to expect. I could feel my daughter low in my pelvis and knew that is was time for her to arrive. I began to breathe down my baby which then turned into pushing. By now I was able to tell my husband that the midwife really needed to be on her way. He gave her a call and she hopped into the car. I could feel my baby wanting to come out and had asked my mother to hold my leg in the air. I knew that I would not be able to get her out in this position, but was unable to move or ask to be moved. My wonderful husband could see what was happening so he managed to roll me onto all fours and went back to mopping the mess.

All hopes of a water birth are gone at this point. Not even 30 seconds after Johnny rolled me over I could feel my baby. I gathered all the energy I had inside of me to yell my husband’s name. I yelled. “JOHNNY! BABY!!!” He ran into the room as fast as he could and caught his beautiful daughter, Lillian Grey, just as she came out and almost landed on the floor!!!! What a awesome experience!

He unwrapped the cord that had been wrapped around her neck, gave her a few pats on the back and we were able to hear our daughters voice for the first time. He passed her back to me through my legs and I sat on the floor and held her to my chest. When our midwives arrived, they cut the cord and we moved to the bed where we cuddled our baby for the first time. Lillian was born at 4:45 am after a very short 2 hour birth. Our son Zane woke up at 7:30 to meet his new sister. His eyes lit up like Christmas as he realized the baby in his Mommy’s belly was now here and that he was a big brother. He kissed her on the head and pointed at her and said her name.

The End. My accidently unassisted homebirth. Zane will be 2 1/2 on Christmas day and my little LilyBug is 10 months old and about to take her first step.

I Have Socks On! {An Unplanned Unassisted Birth}

I Have Socks On! {An Unplanned Unassisted Birth}

Amos’s Birth Story

My due date with our second child was April 24.  I was hoping to get pretty close or past that date, and was especially hoping to still be pregnant by April 21, which was “Mom’s Night” at my daughter Lillian’s preschool, where all the moms come to see activities and special songs the kids have been preparing just for them for many weeks.

The Beginning

At 7:30 pm on April 20, I was sitting on the living room couch after supper, looking at a magazine while my 3.5 year old daughter Lillian climbed on me.  My husband, Noah, was vacuuming in the next room.  Suddenly, I felt a warm wet gush and realized that my water had just broken.  I was very surprised.  My water had not broken on its own when Lillian was born, so for some reason I just never expected it.  I called for Noah but he had moved out of our room and into the kitchen and couldn’t hear me.  I asked Lillian to go get him and tell him to come.  She did, but he told her he was busy, wait a minute.

So I crawled across the room and unplugged the vacuum.  That got his attention! Luckily I had put a washcloth in my underwear an hour or so before so the situation was pretty well-contained.  I asked Noah to run to drugstore to pick up some Depends for me to wear around the house now that I was randomly gushing fluids.  Lillian was wondering what was happening, so I told her that I needed to get upstairs in the bathroom and then I would explain.  Once I was kneeling in the bathtub with my pants off as we both looked down at the clear liquid spurting out of me, she looked at me and said “Explain, Mom!”  I told her that my water had broken, and this was probably the start of the baby getting ready to come.  It was possible that when she woke up in the morning we would have our baby, but it might not be that soon.

I felt jittery, full of adrenaline, knowing that the birth was coming, ready or not.  I realized that I was probably not going to make it to Mom’s Night the next evening.  I called our midwives and doula to give them a heads up.  My midwife said that probably contractions would start in the next 24 hours, and to just keep them posted.  Since the amniotic fluid was clear and the baby was kicking everything looked fine.  They might stop over at some point to give a listen to the baby’s heart beat.  If nothing had started before we went to bed I should just give her a call to touch base.

Early Excitement

After the initial shock wore off, and Noah got back with the goods, I read Lillian a bedtime story and helped her get ready for bed.  It was just like any other night, but it had a surreal feeling and I was filled with a jittery excitement.  Noah went downstairs and set up the hose for filling the birth tub that was already set up in our family room (we planned to birth at home).  He then took over with Lillian and finished putting her to bed while I got things ready for birthing.  I made some “labor-ade” (coconut water and orange juice), changed into my laboring clothes (a black sports bra and some loose pants), and filled water bottles.  I got the bin of birth supplies out, going over the list our midwives had given us to pull together a few last items.  No contractions yet.

I didn’t want to alert our families yet since labor hadn’t started and I didn’t want to feel like people were waiting on me, but we wanted to make arrangements for Lillian to be cared for tomorrow in case I was in the thick of it during the day, so Noah called his aunt to see if she was free the next day in case we needed her to take Lillian, and she was.  I emailed my mom with “just in case” directions for her to take Lillian to Mom’s  the next night, a contingency plan we had previously discussed, although I realized that it was pretty much a certainty that I wouldn’t be the one going.

I was a little disappointed, but the excitement of getting to meet our baby made me feel better.  I wanted to give my office a heads up that I wouldn’t be in the next day and to give a status update on my docket items, but again I didn’t want to send an email yet being that we were early in the process…Noah had the brilliant suggestion to type up the email now, and then just hit send in the morning, so that’s what I did.

Noah came down after getting Lillian to bed and we excitedly got things set up, set up the video camera near the birth tub, and snapped a few last belly pictures together by the tub.  I called my midwife again before going to bed to give her an update (no contractions yet, which was fine).  I went to bed at 10:45pm, but couldn’t fall asleep for awhile from excitement.  I was still awake when Noah came to bed at 11:30.  I know I fell asleep at some point, though, because I later woke up to go to the bathroom.  I think I slept about an hour.

While I was laying in bed the baby got very active, and it was not very comfortable without the cushion of my bag of waters.  I went back to sleep and kind of dozed.  At some point I started to have some contractions, but I was mostly asleep so I didn’t note what time they started.  They were not too intense and I could easily breathe and relax through them and doze off in between.  Noah slept on beside me.

Active labor

At 2:15 am I decided to move to the guest bedroom to labor, because I wanted to use the contraction timer app on the phone but didn’t want to wake Noah.  Looking back, I think I consider this to be when “active” labor started.  I went downstairs to get my headphones and some crackers, then got set up in the guest room.  I was kind of in the “excited” emotional signpost stage of labor.  I timed a few contractions and they were about 5-6 minutes apart and only 45 seconds long, so I figured it was still pretty early in the process.  Since I was a dark room, the bright light of the phone display was annoying so I didn’t bother timing more than 3-4 contractions.

By now, I no longer wanted to lie down and relax during the contractions.  Instead, it felt better to be up on my hands and knees during the contractions, and during each one I would rotate my hips around and look at the light of the moon through the window shade.  It actually felt pretty good to do this during the contractions.  I did that for awhile, and tried to find the hypnobabies relaxation audio tracks on the phone that I had listened to a bit during the pregnancy, but I couldn’t find them.  I went back and forth between the guest bedroom and the bathroom, as I felt like I had to use the toilet somewhat frequently.

At 3:35 am I called my midwife Jane, to check in with her and get some advice.  I wondered whether I should keep trying to lie down and relax during the contractions like I had been doing before, rather than getting up to kneel.  I worried that I was wearing myself out being up on all fours every few minutes, and wondered if I should be conserving energy.  I thought that I was probably moving into the “serious” emotional signpost stage of labor, because I was worried and needing “advice” about what seemed like a small detail.  Jane suggested that I try to relax if I could, as it might be awhile yet.  She also suggested that I eat something with some protein in it.  I told her that I had noticed some pinkness now to the amniotic fluid that was coming out, and she said that was good and meant that I was dilating.  We hung up around 3:45 am.

I went back down to the kitchen to get a snack, and now for every contraction I had to drop to my knees and hang my head down, and I also had to moan gently through them a little.  At one point I really felt like I might throw up, so I kneeled over the kitchen garbage for awhile until it the feeling passed.

Ready for some company

4 am  Shortly after this, I looked at my watch in the kitchen.  It was 4 am, and I decided that I needed someone with me now to help me through the contractions.  I thought that I’d wake Noah up now, and then maybe our Doula Rebecca could come over around 5 am, so that she’d be there in case Lillian woke up and Noah had to go to her.  I was pleased that 5 am was only an hour away–the thought of having her come soon cheered me.

4:05 am.  I went upstairs and woke Noah, telling him that I needed some help dealing with the contractions.  This was the first he’d heard that I was in labor.  He asked if he could go to the bathroom first, and I said sure.  While he did that, I had another contraction in our bedroom.  I had to moan more loudly through this one, and at the end of it my body felt a little pushy, as though it was pushing of its own volition.  When he came back, I said, “I don’t know if it’s just because I have an audience now, but that one felt a lot more intense.”  I also got the shakes for a few moments, and my teeth chattered together uncontrollably.  I vaguely remembered that this was a sign of transition.

4:20 am. We quickly headed downstairs to labor in the family room, so as not to disturb our sleeping daughter.  As we walked down the stairs, Noah called our midwife and doula.  As he was telling them that I was feeling a little pushy and they should probably start heading over now, I was thinking that they did not need to come NOW now, maybe just in a little while.  Even as I thought this, I told Noah to relay to Jane that I had been having the shakes, hoping that she would understand that I might be in transition even though I couldn’t quite put it into words.

Things get intense

4:23 am. We got to the kitchen and another contraction hit.  This was definitely much more intense.  I got the pushy feeling, only stronger, and I also felt like I needed to poop, NOW.  When that contraction ended, I spluttered a single word  to Noah– “TOILET!” and dashed downstairs to the basement bathroom (in our house the only bathrooms are upstairs or in the basement).  I had already gone several times in the hour and a half before waking Noah, so by this point my body had already really cleaned itself out, but evidently there was more to do.  I got on the toilet and had a hugely intense contraction during which I hollered pretty much at the top of my lungs.  This was the beginning of the most intense part of the labor.  I yelled during all the remaining contractions, because it was what I needed to do to deal with the sensations.  It was an intense, out-of-control feeling with an immense feeling of downward pressure.  I could no longer relax my body whatsoever to deal with the contractions.  It felt like I was on a runaway train, and all I could do was hang on for the really uncomfortable ride, and yell.

Noah had come down to the basement then but I told him to stay out of the bathroom because I wanted to clean up and flush.  Before I could even catch my breath from that contraction and get up off the toilet, another one came, and again my body bore down uncontrollably while I let out a ferocious holler.  I was amazed that I hadn’t woken Lillian with my yelling, as the sound carries pretty well up to her bedroom through the heating ducts.

The contractions were very close together now, so I had precious little time in between them to do anything at all.  When that contraction ended, I knew I had to act quickly.  I got off the toilet, washed up and ran upstairs to the birth tub in the family room.  Earlier, I had thought that I would probably not get into the tub until the doula or midwife told me that it was a good point in labor to do so, because I didn’t want to slow things down by getting in to early.  Ha.  No one had to tell me now that it was okay, I was getting IN because things were obviously moving along.

I stripped off my pants and underwear as quickly as possible, an awkward process at best at 9 months pregnant, trying to get in before the next one hit.  I cried out in frustration as I discovered “I have SOCKS on!”, feeling the next contraction coming on.  I got the offending socks off, and as I climbed into the tub, I told Noah, feeling petulant, “I don’t want to do this anymore.  YOU do it.”  He replied sincerely, “I would if I could.” Quickly submerging myself up to my shoulders, I commented, “It’s hot.”  And, “I hope someone gets here soon.”  Noah replied, “I know.”

In between contractions I felt wonderful, with a delicious lack of discomfort, but during the contractions the sensation was a very intense downward pressure, and I remember thinking I really did not want to be doing this right now, and wishing I could just have a 20 minute break from the contractions.  That would be really nice.  No such luck.  They were very frequent and so intense and lasting longer.  We had set up the video camera the night before, but now I told Noah “let’s not turn the video camera on yet, this isn’t very fun.”  I didn’t feel like memorializing this out-of-control feeling.

During the next few contractions, I was kneeling in the tub facing outwards with my arms resting over the edge.  When a contraction came, I would squeeze Noah’s hands and look intently into his eyes.  I drew strength from him as we locked eyes, and I roared at the top of my lungs at the pressure.  He later told me that he wished he had earplugs.  He reminded me to relax my body, to relax my arms, but I could barely hear his words of guided relaxation over the sound of my vocalizations.  I appreciated the thought, though.  During Lillian’s labor, his words had been really helpful to focus on, and I had been able to relax my body during contractions which made the sensations more manageable.  This time, it was more his presence I drew strength and comfort from.  I remember reaching for his hands as another contraction began to wash over me, and he tensed his hands, immediately bracing himself for the intensity of the grip that  I’m sure I gave him at the peak of the last contraction.  I told him, “Loosen up.”  (Which kind of amused me).  I needed to feel a relaxed feeling.

A few minutes before, when I had been about to get in the tub, I had been trying to work out how I was going to manage to push the baby out, and how I was going to deal with the rest of the labor if it was going to go on like this for a few more hours (classic transition thoughts).  In my last labor with my daughter, the pushing stage had lasted over 3 hours, me being a first time mom with a posterior baby.  I was expecting that I still had a lot of work ahead of me.

But at some point now in the tub, I had a realization.  In between contractions I said to Noah with a quiet confidence, “You know what?  I don’t have to worry about how I’m going to do this, because my body is just going to do it for me.”  I realized my body WAS doing it.  With each contraction, my body pushed involuntarily.  I can’t even remember if the contractions hurt, I just remember the intensity and not particularly liking the intense sensations.  With each one I felt an immense pressure in my bottom that was NOT comfortable.  I heard my vocalizations getting higher during a contraction and wanted to tell Noah to remind me to keep my tones low, but I couldn’t manage to speak, so I just told myself in my head “keep your tones low.”  It kind of helped.

All by ourselves

At about 4:35 or 4:40, Noah called Jane our midwife again to see if she would be arriving soon.  I heard her ask him, “Are you guys having a baby?”  Even then, I thought, “No, silly, not before you get here!”  I just didn’t think it could happen that soon.  She was just several minutes from our house by then, but just in case she gave Noah some tips for what to do if the baby came before she got there, and they hung up.

On one of the next contractions, I began to feel a LOT of pressure down below, and I reached my hand down and felt a half-dollar sized bit of squishy baby head RIGHT THERE.  I hadn’t cared to reach down to feel the head when I gave birth to Lillian, but now I did it, and it felt just like I’d heard it described by others.  I told Noah what I felt.  He didn’t seem as concerned as I thought he might be.  Maybe he was remembering how with Lillian we had baby head for a long time before we actually had baby.  I asked him to turn on the video camera.

After the next contraction, which was shorter and less intense, I felt an extremely full feeling down below, like I was massively stretching.  I suppose that was the baby crowning.  It didn’t hurt and I didn’t feel the “ring of fire” sensation.  I was just immense.  I couldn’t say a word.  I could not speak to articulate to Noah what I felt, in this moment between contractions.  I could only hang there suspended in the water, filled with awe and baby head, with all my senses focused on feeling this very big expansive sensation in my body.  I could tell “something” was “happening,” but as it was all so fast, my mind was a few steps behind in catching on to the full knowledge that I was having this baby right now.

The next contraction finally came, and I started to moan again as I had during the other contractions, when suddenly the contraction cut short and I felt the head expelled from my body, POW!  Taken off guard, I swore, “Sh**!”   Not because it hurt (it didn’t), more because I was startled and was not expecting THAT to happen before any of our birth team had arrived.  Noah, not yet realizing what had just happened, thought I’d just had a rough contraction and began to murmur soothing things.  I promptly filled him in, saying, “The head is out!”  He got up quickly and came around to the other side of the tub to get a better look.  Remembering the many birth videos I’d seen, I said not to touch anything, that the baby’s body would probably slip out on the next contraction.

He said “Ok, but I think it would probably be good if you could push the baby out as soon as possible.”  He asked, “Do you want to catch it, or do you want me to?”

I had planned to wait for the next contraction to push again, but now while he was saying these things I decided to bear down a little, and with that the rest of the baby slipped out before I could answer him.  That was the only time in the entire labor that I intentionally pushed; the rest was all my body’s doing.  I reached down, and Noah reached into the water too and kind of guided the baby to my hands.  I scooped the baby up onto my chest, navigating around the cord, and turned and sort of sat on my heels and leaned against the wall of the tub.  So we kind of jointly caught the baby, or he helped me catch, or something.  This happened at 4:45am.

After a few seconds, the baby let out some lusty cries, and we all just sat there and caught our breath.  I was completely stunned at what had just happened.  I couldn’t believe the baby was out already, that my labor was over.  In a way, it was almost anticlimactic (that’s IT?), because I somehow had it in my head that things would take longer, using my daughter’s 14 hour posterior labor as a gauge.  Not that I was sorry it was over.  My mind was just having a hard time catching up, trying to wrap itself around the fact that I had a baby in my arms.  I realized, “I did it!”  Noah chimed in, “We did it!…all by ourselves!”

After a minute or two I asked him to get a towel to put over the baby for warmth.  After another minute, Noah said, “Let’s check if it’s a boy or a girl!  I’m so excited to find out!”  Oh yeah.  I hadn’t gotten that far yet.  I turned the baby’s body a bit so we could peek.  “It’s a little boy!” Noah said, with such sweetness in his voice.  “It is?” I asked.  I couldn’t see very well from my angle, but took his word for it.  I said, “Maybe we should call someone.”  So Noah called Jane, who had just pulled up in our driveway.  She walked in and saw the three of us just chillin’ there, and told us “You guys are awesome!”

She walked over and observed the baby and me, and said we were both doing great.  She had arrived at 4:50, five minutes after the baby.  Our doula rolled in 5 minutes after that, and the baby latched on and started nursing like he knew just what to do.  Next came the apprentice midwife, and then awhile later our birth photographer (she lived the farthest away).  Everyone (except Jane) was surprised to walk in and find an already-born baby awaiting them!

About a half hour after he was born, I decided I was ready to get out of the tub, so Noah cut the cord, and I was struck by the strangeness of my baby moving out of my orbit and across the room away from me for the very first time.  I remember thinking “I’m not ready for this!”, but it was already done.  In the same moment I felt a contraction, and out the placenta came.  I soon settled in on the pull-out bed and got back to nursing and admiring my baby.I’m so happy we have the video of the moment of birth and afterward (although pretty much the first thing you get to see is the very last contraction and then me swearing…nice).  Needless to say, we didn’t have any photos from the labor or birth, but our birth photographer got tons of beautiful pictures of our first moments as a family of four, when our daughter woke up around 6:30 am to her new baby brother.  She had slept through the entire thing.  The timing could not have been better.

She got to help with the newborn exam, with the dude weighing in at 6 lbs, 14 oz, and measuring 21.5 inches.  Our doula and the midwives made us scrambled eggs and toast and cleaned up.  After a few hours the midwives helped me upstairs to my bedroom where I was tucked in with my sweet little boy and enjoyed muffins and tea.  We named him Amos.

Amos was born at 4:45 am, which was 9 hours after my water had broken, 3-3.5 hours after I woke up to contractions, an hour after getting off the phone with my midwife the first time during labor, and 40 minutes after I woke up my husband.

Reflections

The labor and birth were not at all what I expected, from the breaking of my water, to the intensity and speed, culminating in the very private, unassisted birth of our son.  I had read many such stories but NEVER imagined that it would happen like this for me.

Looking back, my husband loves how it happened.  Now that the reverberations of the intensity of the experience have faded somewhat from my consciousness, I can appreciate the experience, and those precious five minutes on our own as my husband and I quietly took in our new baby, as something very special.

Although it sounds rather dramatic when people hear that we had our baby at home before the midwife even got there, it felt like it really was just kind of something that happened as a matter of course, with no heroics on our parts.  We had our baby, everything went great, incidentally the midwife got there afterwards and not before.  Just a woman’s body doing its thing, birthing her baby whether a professional is there yet to witness it or not.

-Jennifer

*Non watermarked Photo’s credited to Cari Dugan, http://www.cariduganphotography.com/
Accidental UC {Unassisted Childbirth} of Moses

Accidental UC {Unassisted Childbirth} of Moses

This pregnancy was much different from the previous ones from the start. I had a feeling from the very beginning that this baby would come very fast. One night I was talking with John and told him my concerns that we would be delivering on the side of the highway and I couldn’t shake the feeling. I told him that I had prayed about it and thought we should give some thought to the midwife/home birth route. John’s response was, “Yes, let’s do it!” I knew then that this was God’s path for us to follow.

So, when I was four months pregnant we switched from the OB/GYN we were seeing 45 minutes away to a CNM, a midwife, who lived two blocks down on the same street as us. She came highly recommended and we felt comfortable from the start with her.  I had a consult at 16 weeks with her and never went back to the OB. From that point on, my appointments were with her.  We walked down to each appointment and the kids and John were always included. Each appointment lasted 45 minutes to an hour. The pregnancy was stress free and I have never felt more informed about myself, my baby, or the birthing process. Our bodies are incredible! God has uniquely made us, women, to birth and breastfeed.

On Saturday night we went to dinner with my family to celebrate my Granny and Aunt’s birthdays.  My grandma had come into town and that night told Moses to, “Move it along, your Granny is in town.” I guess he listened. I didn’t feel any different that evening; I had been having Braxton Hicks contractions since about 33 weeks, so those were “normal” for me that night. I’m still not sure if I lost my mucous plug and just didn’t have any bloody show. We came home from dinner and I told John that the only “labor inducer” we hadn’t tried yet was dancing. So we put on our Kinect game, Just Dance 3, and did about five or six songs. I was tired, showered, and went to bed. Penny came to our bed like she does most nights around 11 or 12:00am – all was normal.

At about 3:00am I woke up feeling like I needed to go to the bathroom, John had diarrhea the day before and we had eaten at Cracker Barrel, so I assumed it was that bothering my stomach.  Nothing happened so I just lay down and went back to sleep. At 3:20am I woke up to a strong cramping and woke up John saying I think I might have had a contraction. He dozed back off to sleep. At 3:24am I woke him up again saying that I was going to relax in the tub to see if they were “poop cramps” or real contractions.

He followed me, with my phone to time contractions. I had another one, but they weren’t anything I couldn’t breathe through. John still had tummy troubles so he left to use the other bathroom. By the time he got back I was moaning through the contractions. They were about three minutes apart and lasting about a minute or so. I looked at him and said, “Call the Midwife! Call Rachel NOW!” Rachel, my sister, was lined up to watch the kids.

He made a 12 second gurgled phone call to her and she raced over in a record breaking 2 minutes; forgot her shoes and everything! She came in, rocked Penny and put her back to bed, and the kids stayed asleep through the whole thing even with us in the hallway in front of their rooms! God is good!!! (Later on they told me that they heard me scream, but just went back to sleep. Penny blamed it on a spider and that I was scared of the spider.)

John called the midwife at 4:00am. She was staying with her sister about 15-20 minutes away and was on the way, she told John to call her if anything changed. The contractions got more intense, but I didn’t want to get out of the tub, I also didn’t want the sound of the water to stop. The sound of the water was super soothing, so John unplugged the drain and we just let it run. I’m pretty sure that I started labor and went straight into the transition phase; I was almost immediately nauseous and shaking after the first few contractions. I started to feel like I needed to push and moved to my hands and knees.

John gave the phone to my sister so he could support me. He was pouring water on my back and neck as I was bent over. My sister called the midwife again at 4:14am and the urge to push was overwhelming, so I listened to my body. I pushed once and my water broke. The pain became super intense and I remember telling John the infamous line, “I can’t do this!!” We had talked beforehand about word affirmations, so he encouraged me by speaking, “No, Chula, you can!  You were made to do this!  This is our child!  Breathe!” My sister ran to our room to get our birth kit.

Those words of encouragement from John were just what I needed, I sat up on my knees, grabbed John’s hand, the soap holder, and pushed hard. I let out a roar and his head came out. John put his hand down to feel for the head and told me to sit up higher so that the head wouldn’t hit the bottom of the tub, so I put one leg up and was kneeling. I remembered the worksheet we had been given said that if in the water, to deliver the head in one push and deliver the shoulders in the next. So with the next contraction I pushed with all my might and Moses was born at 4:18am. We have this clocked because my sister called the midwife again when he emerged. Moses did have the cord around his neck once so John took it off and handed him to me. He got the bulb syringe from the birth kit and suctioned his nose and mouth. I just held him with towels until the midwife got there about 5 minutes later.

We had planned for a home birth and for John to catch the baby, but with the midwife’s guidance! We also planned to let the cord stop pulsating before cutting, so that worked out well too.  It stopped pulsating about 20 minutes after birth. John cut the cord and I started cramping again, so I delivered the placenta soon afterwards. This part all took place with the midwife there, thank goodness.

Everyone checked out fine; I had no tearing. The midwife cleaned everything up for us while everyone bonded together. At about 5:30am we called my mom who had my grandma staying with her. They were in shock and raced over. Moses latched on perfectly in the tub while we were waiting for the midwife and hasn’t had a problem nursing. He actually unlatches himself if he’s improperly latched and corrects it – such a smart boy. He weighed in at 7 lbs 4 oz and was 20 inches long. On Tuesday at our two day check he weighed 7lbs; it’s typical for newborns to lose up to ten percent of their body weight in the first week after birth. Today at his first pediatric visit he weighed 7 lbs 5 oz. So he’s back to birth weight plus an ounce; an excellent eater! He is  a very calm and content baby.

Penelope was the first one up that morning meeting her brother and has been absolutely in love with him since. Every time she sees him she needs to love on him and always says, “Awe, he’s just so cute!” Livi was next and wasn’t sure what to think at first; the looks on her face were quite hilarious, but she has warmed up to him quickly and loves him so much. She often says, “That’s mine,” while pointing at the baby and always asks, “Where baybee?” when entering the room, and then gives TONS of kisses. Oscar is soooooo happy to finally have a brother. He is so good and helpful and he loves to hold Moses. I can tell they are gonna have lots of fun together. John the Superdad took two weeks off from work to take care of us. We are so incredibly blessed and are in amazement of God’s handy work once again.

Side Note: I/We have been researching birth and breastfeeding to one degree or another since I had Oscar. I had a not-so-great experience with his birth in a Naval Hospital and knew that couldn’t be how it was suppose to go. I researched ahead of time the “automatic” Pitocin shot that they give women in the hospital after birth. I have always had HORRIBLE after pains, needing to take Tylenol-3 to control them, even with my first. After researching it was pretty clear, Pitocin was the culprit of the intensity of the pain.

Yes, I know after pains are very painful, but these were curled up in a ball, horrible pains previously. So the midwife and I discussed before to skip the Pitocin shot as long as I wasn’t excessively bleeding and everything looked normal. Thankfully it did and I’ve been able to control the pain with Motrin and Tylenol. Today is day four and I’m hardly having any cramping at all. I was taking Tylenol-3 for a good week with my other pregnancies.

There is so much more information out there about the unnecessary things that happen in hospitals to mother and baby. It’s really sad actually. The experience is so blissful and it is being stolen from women in this country every day. Trust your bodies, ladies! I highly recommend the book, “Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth” and some good documentaries to see are, “The Business of Being Born” and “Pregnant in America”. If you have Netflix, you can watch both of these on instant streaming. These are starting points that will have you in amazement!

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