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Category: Unassisted Childbirth

Fast and Calm UC {Unassisted Childbirth} Water Birth

Fast and Calm UC {Unassisted Childbirth} Water Birth

The morning of Monday, January 23rd (when I was 40 weeks, 5 days), I sent my mom and sister a text that read, “Who wants to distract me today?” to which my sister promptly responded and said that she and her girls would come over to play. I was relieved to have visitors, a bit of distraction was going to do a great deal of good for my spirit. Soon after I hung up the phone with her, I went to the restroom and was surprised and thrilled to see some bloody show. I knew that meant labor could be anywhere from a few hours to a few days away, but I was encouraged to see something going on!

Jill, Emma and Cora visited for a couple of hours and left just after lunch. My children (Tucker and Chloe) and I all took a short afternoon nap and then continued with a nice, quiet afternoon at home. I was talking to my mom on the phone around 3:15pm when I had a fairly strong contraction and I felt a gush during it. I was sitting down at the time so I think my water must have broken. I am still very unsure of when that actually happened since I never felt a pop. I didn’t say anything to her, but quickly got off of the phone to see if I was going to have another.



Several minutes later, I had another contraction that was somewhat intense for early labor. I decided to call my mother-in-law to come pick up Tucker and Chloe, as I knew solitude was my best bet to getting into a good labor pattern. I was pretty sure “this was it” and needed time to get the house ready for the birth. When my mother-in-law picked the kids up, she warned me not to wait too long to go to the hospital since third babies can come quickly. I had to giggle at that: Oh, if she only knew what was about to happen! I also called Ryan and Jill and told them that I thought tonight was finally the night.

Once alone, I did some light cleaning and started setting up the birth tub and other supplies. There was quite a bit of set up since there was really no way to predict where I would be most comfortable giving birth. I was planning a water birth with an inflatable birth pool, but I needed to set up other areas just in case the water didn’t feel right in the moment.

I layered our bed with a set of clean sheets, followed by a shower curtain, followed by another set of sheets so clean-up would be quick and easy. I also put a layer of Chux pads (absorbent sheets often used for incontinent adults) on the bed. Jill was bringing a space heater to make my room nice and toasty warm. I also put some Chux pads on the bathroom floor; for Chloe’s labor I was most comfortable laboring on the toilet so it was quite possible that baby could have been born in the bathroom. I started inflating the birth pool and threw some clean towels and blankets in the dryer (for warm towels after the birth), all the while having regular and increasingly intense contractions.

It was about 4:30pm when Ryan made it home from work, which is also about the time I called Jill and told her to plan on coming over around 7pm unless she heard from me again. Ryan needed to take a shower and wanted to run to Subway to get some dinner. I have a history of fairly long labors so I can’t really blame him for wanting to eat but I told him to hurry as I had a feeling this labor was going to be fast. I just could not wrap my head around how intense things already were, only an hour into the labor! Ryan got home from Subway around 5:30 and brought me a bowl of soup, which I sat down and ate between contractions. Ryan ate his dinner and started filling the birth pool.

The contractions were picking up in intensity and I could no longer walk or talk during them. At this point, around 6pm, I called Jill and told her to go ahead and come over as soon as she could instead of waiting until 7pm. This baby was coming! 

I continued to labor, leaning onto Ryan during contractions. It was amazing to me how intense the contractions were when they started and how quickly they were coming. I was also so much more aware of the baby’s movements for this labor. Perhaps it was because nobody was monitoring me so it was up to me to pay attention to him to make sure he was okay and tolerating labor. He was very active during labor, kicking me sharply in the ribs, taking my breath away several times.

Jill arrived around 7pm when I was ready to get into the water. I was recognizing that I was in transition, as my mood was very focused and serious. I told her to go ahead and call my mom, which was a surprise to my mom. Prior to labor, I was unsure of how I was going to feel about adding another person to the mix so I had not shared with her that she might be invited, it was a total surprise to her that she was going to see the birth of her grandson. I just didn’t want to tell her ahead of time in case I changed my mind… I figured it was better to be surprised than to be disappointed.

I got into the pool and the contractions really picked up, lasting about two and a half minutes each and often coming back to back. I was honestly a little disappointed that the water did not help with the pain of the contractions like I had hoped, but it did feel good to be in the water. I was listening intently to my birth playlist, which was playing carefully selected songs that brought me calm, peace, and encouragement. I was nearly silent during labor, breathing in and breathing out. Breathing my baby down, focusing on bringing him into the perfect position to meet his Mommy and Daddy.

Ryan told me at one point that he couldn’t tell when I was having a contraction and when I wasn’t; I was calm, I was quiet, I was focused. I whispered that he just needed to listen to my breath, that when I was breathing hard, I was contracting and when I was breathing slowly, I wasn’t. I know it was hard for him, but I did not want to be touched during this labor. I truly did want to just be left alone to do what I needed to do without any distraction. 

I felt the contractions change from dilating contractions to pushing contractions and I knew it was time to push.

I am not a big believer in pushing hard to get baby out so I just listened to my body and gave gentle pushes only when I felt an urge for several minutes. I was secretly wondering if I was indeed fully dilated…it was such a weird feeling to not have someone tell me it was okay to push. I decided to reach down to see if I could feel the baby’s head. I could feel his head and continued to gently breathe him down, giving short, gentle pushes when needed. 

I started to feel him crowning and reached down and felt his head come out. The crowning did not hurt nearly as bad as it did with Chloe, I think due to the water which was a nice benefit I didn’t expect!

I very calmly told Ryan, “his head is out,” but Ryan thought I was asking if his head was out and tried to lean down to see. When he told me, “I don’t know hon, I can’t see” I calmly corrected him and said, “no, I’m telling you, his head is out.” I was touching his face and rubbing his head and ran my fingers around his neck to see if there was a nuchal cord (there wasn’t). It was an amazing feeling to feel his features before he was born! 

At this point, I took a small break to catch my breath and mentally prepare to push his shoulders out.

The next contraction came and I pushed and waited for his shoulders to release. I reached under his arms, turned my body to the sitting position (I had been on my knees with my upper body leaning into the side of the birth pool) and pulled my beautiful son onto my chest. 

Once he was out and in my arms, Ryan grabbed a warm towel out of the dryer and Austen gave one solid cry. Then he just looked at me as I stared at him, he was so calm and alert and was just perfect! He looked just like Chloe, which was a huge surprise because according to one of our sonogram pictures, I was expecting a Tucker clone. I looked at Ryan and Jill and through emotional tears I said, “I did it!”

Austen Grey McMillen was born into my arms on January 23rd, 2012 at 8:03 pm, just a few hours after my first contraction. The labor was fast, it was intense, it was calm, it was everything I had dreamed it would be. He was born during the first verse of Amazing Grace, which happens to be my favorite hymn and the initials of his name. Poetic, don’t you think?

Planned Birth Center Birth {Becomes} Unassisted Birth in a Van

Planned Birth Center Birth {Becomes} Unassisted Birth in a Van

On Tuesday, June 12, 2012 I woke up with contractions and I was not able to sleep through them any more. It is 6:45 am. I kept thinking it’s just my body faking me out as usual. So I ignored the contractions for awhile. Robert gets up and makes breakfast. I was too nervous to eat more than a piece of bread with peanut butter on it. Thank goodness the kids were with my in laws for the day.

By 2 pm, the contractions have moved to 4 minutes apart on average and 1 minute long. Time to call the midwife? Maybe? So I did. She told me to come in just to see if I have progressed. The day before at my appointment I was 3 cm dilated with a paper thin cervix at 40 weeks pregnant.

The car ride over was evil. Contractions every 4 minutes and a bumpy 45 minute drive = Ow. Robert, once again, is a saint as I complain through the ride over. The contracts are more intense. I get to the birth center and Kathleen meets us there shortly. She checked me and I am still just 3 stinkin’ centimeters dilated. I was about to cry. The contracts are hurting to the point where I couldn’t walk or talk through them, but STILL just 3 cm? Kathleen, sensing my frustration, suggested that I take a nice warm bath at the birth center first and then see what happens. A nice warm bath relaxed me. I loved it. Robert sat with me in the room talking to me and holding my hand through the contractions  But after an hour there was still no change. Kathleen suggested we go have some supper or go walking. At this point it was 4:30 pm. The contractions were not going to let me sit through a dinner or anything. Is she nuts? LOL (She’s not). So we left the birth center and I turned to Robert and said “I can’t drive home to Greenville or walk around. What if I don’t get back in time?” So we made the decision to stay in McKinney over night in a hotel just across the highway from the birth center.

We checked in at around 5 pm and my contractions were intensifying  I figured that since I was at 3 cm earlier that I am not really progressing. Ha! Little did I know! For the next 6 hours I endured super, super intense contractions. Robert was my absolute rock. He kept me focused. He let me squeeze his hand to death, dig my nails into this shoulders as we walked in our hotel room through contractions. And he praying with me and for me. The Lore has truly blessed me with my husband. finally at about 10 pm I decided to take a shower. Contractions are now a minute and a half apart and lasting almost 2 minutes. Painful. But the shower helped. As soon as I was coming out of the shower I had on HUGE contraction where I felt the baby turn and drop into my pelvis. I got nauseous. I started sweating. My ears began to ring. I felt dizzy. I knew this was it. I was in transition and she was coming. NOW!

I told Robert “I need to push NOW.” He said “Oh no, you are NOT birthing in the hotel!” We were moving quickly to get me to the van and drive to the birth center.

We got in the van and I was kneeling in the back yelling for the pressure of my body pushing. The hotel was exactly 2 minutes from the birth center. Robert had called Kathleen earlier when I said I was nauseated, so she was meeting us there. Robert started the van. I had a mega contraction and my water broke just as he pulled up to the stop light. There was no stopping the baby at this point. I HAD to push. I am thinking “Lord God, I need You. Help me!” It was coming whether I wanted to to or not. I told Robert “I am having the baby!!! Her head is out NOW!” He’s like “No, no, no! Wait! We’re almost there!”

I am trying to hold her head in with my hand. It’s not happening. Out comes her head into my hand. My body just pushed the rest of her out and I let it. I catch my own baby, in our van, just as Robert was pulling into the Birth Center parking lot. I had just birthed my own baby unassisted in the van. 🙂 Woo! What a feeling!

I started apologizing to Robert for having the baby in the van. He looks at me after he parks and said, “Woman, ain’t no need for that. Loot at what you just accomplished.” He’s right. Wow. What and accomplishment! The Lord is so good! Look at how amazing He designed my body and every woman’s body! I was able to birth a baby and do it on instinct. 🙂

So that is basically it. Kathleen pulled in minutes later and saw I had the baby in the van. She was proud of me too. We headed into the birth center where I received wonderful after care and an herbal bath. We left 3 hours later to come home after Sarah and I were given a clean bill of health. What an amazing birth that I will never forget

SARAH ELIZABETH ONEY- 8 lbs 4 oz, 20 1/2 inches long. Born into her Momma’s arms in our van at 11 pm on Tuesday, June 12, 2012. Praise the Lord 🙂

A Story of Patience; 20 Years of Waiting, 44 weeks Gestation, an Unassisted Birth!

A Story of Patience; 20 Years of Waiting, 44 weeks Gestation, an Unassisted Birth!

After three horrendous inductions that took three days apiece, I decided that this time it was going to be different, that my son (after five girls and 20 years of trying), as my last child, HAD to have a gentle birth and I NEEDED a positive birth experience. I got researching, spending hours and hours trawling the internet, reading chapters and chapters of books, speaking to everyone I knew who had a “birthy connection”. My pregnancy progressed well with no complications other than pelvic girdle pain for which I had physio, and strangely bothered me less and less as the weeks went by. I had planned a home/hypno/water birth.

I got to 40 weeks and went “over”…The pressure was on. The midwives were calling every other day to ask did I want to “go in”. HELL NO!!!!! 41 weeks, 42, 43, the pressure was really mounting. We were monitoring his heartbeat every other day, doing doppler scans, position scans, and I was having worst case scenarios thrown at me all the time. “I KNOW THE RISKS” I wanted to shout over and over. Finally at 43 weeks and six days I went for a doppler and had a meeting with the big boss midwife who assured me that she trusted me, and that they would “back off”.

After making appointments for Monday, Wednesday and Friday the following week, I went home, secure in the knowledge that somehow I wouldn’t need them. After weeks and weeks of prodromal labour and “is this finally it?” moments, I awoke with a surge at 5:45 a.m., Monday April 9th. I decided not to wake Rob at this point. I secretly thought if I kept it to myself for a while, this might finally be it! About an hour later our youngest woke up and, as my surges were eight minutes apart, I told Rob. But after taking the girls to school I realised they had petered out a little and I just KNEW I had to go home and rest.

The surges were sporadic throughout the day, so whilst Rob did the school run I “selfswept”. It worked like a charm: eight minutes apart again. I watched some T.V. whilst bouncing on my birthing ball, I danced to one of the cds Rob had made for me, I felt fantastic and couldn’t keep the smile off my face. This was it! I was finally going to meet my son. I kept talking to him, reassuring him that this was all good, that it felt strange but that it meant we would see each other soon. I would give him the biggest cuddle and he would get some boobie juice!

The girls went to bed at eight and nine and it had become painful to stay on the ball during a surge. I had to move around. At about 10 pm I felt I needed to be in water but as the surges were still no more than eight minutes apart, I decided the bath was best for now. At 11 pm I sent Rob out for Chinese takeaway. I thought it would be hours yet, but in the 20 minutes he was out, my surges went from eight minutes apart to five minutes. Just after he got back they went to three minutes and he started to fill the birthing pool, going back and forth between the bedroom and bathroom. I was still breathing through the surges but having to concentrate on them a little more.

Sometime around midnight Rob told me the pool was ready and asked if I wanted to get in yet. I had been feeling all of the baby’s twists and turns to position himself and at that moment felt a huge surge as Kristopher moved down the birth canal and he rotated. I said, “Nope, it’s happening here.” The surges came thick and fast, almost on top of each other. My water still hadn’t broken and I could feel the bag bulging. I said to Rob, “I wanna midwife here now with gas and…” We both said, “transition!” and we knew it wouldn’t be long before we held our son for the first time.

All this time Rob talked me through every surge, giving me positive affirmations, telling me how important we are to him and how much he loves us. Then my body took over. I felt like I was dreaming. I was breathing Kristopher down, lying on my side with my head on the side of the bath, holding Rob’s hand, and all of a sudden I knew I had to get onto my knees and told Rob, “This is it, he’s coming now.” Rob jumped in behind me and I said, “He’ll crown this time,” and as I breathed deeply he did crown. I panted as his head was born and said, “Are you ready, daddy? Here he comes!” Rob assured me he was and as my water broke our son slithered into his daddy’s loving arms.

Rob passed him between my legs and I fell instantly in love with my boy. 20 years, 44 weeks and three days of waiting, and here he is – the precious bundle I know I would die for, whom I trusted to choose his own birthing time and place. He still had fluid in his lungs as he was born in the caul. I felt totally at peace as I helped him breathe and clear the fluid and Rob went to call the midwife, “Just in case.”

About 15 minutes later we were still in the bath, gazing intently into each other’s eyes as I birthed the placenta. My little man was born at 1:30 a.m., May 10th, weighing 10 lbs. 5oz, and 22″ long – perfectly, quietly, drug free. PERFECT, just as it should be.

Unassisted Birth of a Rainbow Baby

Unassisted Birth of a Rainbow Baby

“These pictures were taken by my hubby literally about 2 or 3 minutes after birth. This is our 5th baby (all girls) and she’s a rainbow baby. We’ve experienced 4 losses over the years, with the last one being just 4 months before we got pregnant with Baby J.

My last birth with baby #4 was a traumatic one that left me with PTSD for about a year. After lots of prayer, research, and soul searching I knew the best decision was for us to birth at home, unassisted. This was our first home birth, first unassisted birth, and first water birth.

Depending on which dates you use (my conception date or the first ultrasound date), I was between 41wks 5d and 42wks when Baby J decided she was ready to come earthside. Labor was about 78 1/2 hours total with the last 29 1/2hrs of that with waters leaking/broken. While labor itself was long, pushing was quick and she was out within a minute.

I had hoped to go “overdue“- call me nuts lol, and was so grateful to have gotten my wish. The birth itself was amazing and everything was so healing for me.

As BWF says– unassisted birth isn’t for everyone and I can’t endorse it, but for us it was the best decision we could have made for our daughter’s birth and I will cherish the memories forever!”

I can not get over their little girl’s eyes right after birth. She is so aware and looks to be incredibly wise.

Her ‘all knowing’ look on her face and the cord still attached. Amazing.

Water Birth, Crowning, Mom Catches, Vernix and More!

Water Birth, Crowning, Mom Catches, Vernix and More!

The Birth of Lewis sent in by Lola.

Photography by Marissa Froese. Do not copy or use without permission.

I suppose I should write it all down before it turns into that beautiful hazy oxytocin laced memory that may or may not be accurate at all.  To be honest, I don’t even know if I am the best person to tell the story because it’s very jumbled in my head.  Good jumbled.

We moved to Nova Scotia knowing we wanted to have another biological child.  I had already done all of my research and knew just how bleak my options looked in regards to my choice of care provider and birth place but we just trusted we would figure it out and know exactly what to do.  I have a history of fast, uncomplicated deliveries that have taken place at a hospital, home and a rented condo so we kind of knew what to expect from all different scenarios.  Anyway, my pregnancy started out normal with a healthy dose of major morning sickness.  Around four months I decided to go ahead and make my way into the system and arrange an appointment with a nurse practioner who then would get me in to see an OBGYN about an hour up the valley.

They were all nice.  I had an ultrasound because I wasn’t sure how or where I’d be giving birth and I wanted to check placenta positioning etc… Other than a low lying placenta that moved by my third trimester, everything was normal.  I continued to see my NP or OB randomly for the standard 3.5 second visits.  I had already bought a fetoscope so I could check my own baby’s heart rate whenever I wanted without a Doppler.  Given my history of fast deliveries, my Dr. suggested I be induced on my due date at the hospital so I would make it there on time.  That was not my favourite option.  I was seriously considering delivering at home with my own help but felt a little uncomfortable about it because our house is about twenty minutes from the closest ER and without many neighbours at all.

I had my supplies ordered just in case.  My cord clamps, fetoscope, scissors, chux pads etc.  From the beginning I had always been open to the idea of going to the hospital if that’s what I was supposed to do.  If that’s what I felt was safest for myself and the baby.  But they treat you like you have a disease here.  Like my baby would die if I postponed my prenatal appt. by a week if something came up.  Like my blood pressure would surely skyrocket so high that my head would explode if I didn’t rush in for their scheduled visits when they never once asked me how I ate or what my activity level was like.  They never once trusted  me to know my own body better than they did.

The hospital was looking less and less appealing.

I had a running discussion with my friend Marissa throughout my pregnancy and she was always willing to attend my birth.  I’m not really sure as what exactly.  A helping hand.  A calm person to bounce ideas off of.  Someone who trusted birth as well.  We tentatively planned for her to come here for the birth if I decided to stay or to come to the hospital with me if I decided to go.  I still felt a little unsettled about staying at home.  I decided that if I did stay I really wanted another person for more help.  One for me and one for the baby.  I instantly thought of my friend Donna who I actually met through my home schooling group.  I didn’t realize it but she’s attended births before and was very excited and willing to come as well.  I felt better.  I also invited her to bring her two kids along if she liked.

We collected more supplies.  Rubber gloves, bowls, towels.

And then something happened that just felt right.  Marissa offered to let me give birth at her house and Donna just happened to live next door to her.  Marissa only lives a few minutes from her local ER/clinic.   Donna is married to a Doctor.  She spoke to him about a few of my questions regarding who to call, what hospital was the best to go to in case of complications and where to get stitched up (my apprehension about the whole birth plan).   I felt completely ready.  So after the fireworks on Sunday, the first of July, we all headed over to Dan and Marissa’s to wait.

The next day,  after lunch, I had what I thought could be actual labour contractions.  I took a quick power nap, sent the kids to the playground with Mark and eventually got into the tub because they started to hurt.  My water hadn’t broken yet which was new for me.  I almost didn’t believe it was labour because it was so easy with the actual breaks in between contractions .  Marissa started getting things ready.  Towels, water, shepherds purse tincture as a bleeding preventative (it’s very effective).  I listened to the baby’s heart rate off and on and it was always between 120 and 130.  It really started to hurt and so I checked myself and felt a bulging bag of waters and what appeared to be a cervix that was dilated to about 4 cm’s.  I told her to call Dan and Mark to come home.  They got home and called Donna who came right away after a morning of riding with her Daughter.

And then, everything pretty much stopped.  Weird.  That never happens to me.  My labour doesn’t stop.  Donna was  knitting I think and Marissa was going back and forth between things.  Mark was up and down the stairs and the girls where in and out asking me questions about watching movies and eating.  Alberta seemed nervous and off.  Like a cat who follows you around when it senses pain.  I think it was only a few minutes that things slowed down but that’s so unlike my normal labours so it felt like forever.

And from there on out it’s pretty blurry.  I could be wrong with the order of things.  I just know that I stood up for a little bit and then sat back down in the tub.  I felt something sort of gush and assumed it was my water breaking and there were small clots of blood in it.  I was curious as that had never happened to me before.  I remember asking for the fetoscope a lot and always getting a very happy baby on the other end.

I started having one constant contraction.  Marissa was giving me water and talking to me and giving me more bathwater.  I had this ridiculous wash cloth on my head and it’s in all the pictures.   I don’ know how long it was, but I don’t think it was long at all.  Maybe 10 minutes.

I felt the baby’s head pop through my cervix in the birth canal.  My body started pushing and the water Marissa was putting in all of the sudden felt scorching hot.  I think it was actually luke warm 🙂  I had two pushing contractions that had me completely on my side in the tub trying not to bear down and then there was a head on my perineum.  I think this was all over the course of a few minutes.  It hurt very badly this time.  It didn’t feel calm or slow.  Just fast and raging.  Donna and Marissa told me to breath and not push (I told them to tell me this).  I tried and I think I was the loudest with this birth than any of my others.  Not screaming or yelling.  Just loudly explaining that it hurt 🙂  I think.  You’d have to ask everyone else there.

And then, just like that, the head popped right out.  And I waited.  It seemed like a long time but it wasn’t a minute.  The shoulders rotated and the body slide out.  Instant relief.  I think Mark came in right as the baby was coming out.  I pulled the baby to my chest I think and felt the cord.  It was HUGE and pulsing.

verix on newborn

The baby was pretty blue and not crying so I draped him across my hand and felt his legs pull up in reflex and under my hand a beautiful thumping heartbeat.  But he was quite stunned by the rapid entrance and I cared about nothing but getting some squeaks, breaths and a few cries.  I rubbed his spine.  I pulled him to my chest again, I think, and blew in his face.  He took a few shallow breathes.  I put him back over my hand and patted his bum and legs a bit and blew in his face again.  I checked his cord, still pumping.  And then he cried.  Not a lot but enough that I felt the whole room sort of breath in relief.  I don’t remember being worried but I do remember being very focused on the task at hand.  It felt like forever but it was a very short amount of time in actuality.  I think that his one minute and five minutes apgar scores would have been 7 and 9.  And to be honest, that first minute always seems like eternity.

newborn born in water pinking up

Anyway, he pinked up!  I was given shepherds purse tincture under my tongue and after about ten or fifteen minutes I delivered the placenta easily without even standing up.  It was intact from what we could tell.  Poor Marissa grabbed it with her bare hands to put it into the bowl.  We held it above the baby and by this time I had checked, under Mark’s suggestion, to see that it was a boy!  I was shocked.  He had a lot of Hair and was covered in vernix.  A lot of vernix.

newborn, cord pulsating, vernix, home water birth

I felt like I had torn a little bit but wasn’t sure how badly.  There wasn’t a frightening amount of blood at all and nothing abnormal  happening.  Mark took the baby and the placenta bowl because it still wasn’t cut.  I stood up, Donna helped me clean off and I went to the bed in the next room.  I felt great.

I put on a shirt and underwear with a pad and Donna offered to call her husband to have him see if I should go in for stitches or not.  I immediately tried breastfeeding him and he latched on like a pro and didn’t let go for a long time.

I have no idea when we cut the cord but it happened at some point while I was on the bed.  Donna and her Daughter did it and we clamped it long because I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with it yet.  I ended up just leaving it like that.

Donna’s husband did come and said I had a tear on the inside posterior wall that wasn’t a big deal but it was on a vessel that was bleeding.  Not dangerously so but enough that they would probably put a stitch in it if it didn’t stop with pressure.  Marissa held the flashlight while he applied some pressure, which surprisingly didn’t hurt at all, and it did stop but started up again so he said to go ahead and wait an hour, finish feeding, and to go in to our small hospital just a few minutes away.  And so that’s what we did.

In the meantime, I had started to have some bad after pains but took Aleve which really took the edge off and left me able to cope.  We (Marissa, Donna and I only, b/c Mark went to go do the chores at our house) were pretty worried about the type of reception we would get at the hospital after having a homebirth but they were great.  The nurses were a little shocked but everyone was nice and the doctor so incredibly superb. They checked me, the baby and the placenta out.   Everything looked great and so they sent us right back home with NO STITCHES!  Apparently the bleeding stopped by the time we got there.  And so Marissa’s husband Dan ordered awesome gluten free pizza, we picked it up and went home.

We all went to bed pretty thrilled with our day.  And that was that.  It was such a natural, normal event in some ways but looking back, I realize that to most it would seem crazy.  I am so blessed to be able to deliver my babies with such ease and I will never take it for granted.  This was my most  painful birth, but it was also my favourite birth.

And my son, he’s perfect…  nestled under my chin right now and almost two weeks old exactly.  It’s been my fastest postpartum recovery for sure.   I’m so thankful to the people here who helped me accomplish something out of the ordinary but so important to me.  It was a gift for sure. Dan, Marissa, Donna, her daughter, Mark and all six little girls gave me such a beautiful day that I will surely never forget.

Four weeks old…

First a Hospital Breech Birth and then an Unplanned Unassisted Birth Story

First a Hospital Breech Birth and then an Unplanned Unassisted Birth Story

Hospital Breech Birth

My first pregnancy left me somewhat jaded and mistrusting of doctors and hospitals.  My baby was breech.  He had been breech since the 12 week ultrasound and had stayed that way since.  I tried inversions, hot and cold packs, music on my lower abdomen and even handstands to get baby to flip.  At 38 weeks he was still breech.  An external cephalic version was attempted but failed.   On multiple occasions, my OB used every scare tactic in the book to try to force me to schedule surgical delivery.  He talked down to me and essentially told me I would kill my baby if I tried to deliver my breechling vaginally.  I dreaded my prenatal appointments and began to get worn down from the constant confrontation from him as well as from my family.

I have a scientific background and did my due diligence in researching breech birth.  I decided it was something I wanted to attempt.  I stopped seeing my current OB and began searching for someone who would support my breech birth.  I contacted local midwives and called all local hospitals.  No local hospital was willing work with me.  The midwives who responded to me thought I was too high risk since I was a first time mom as well as carrying breech.

I began to get disheartened as I hit many dead ends.  Just when I began to lose hope, I got a phone call from midwife Gail of spinningbabies.com.  She let me know of a Doctor at a hospital 2 hours away from me who would attend breech births.  She even offered to be my doula!  For the first time in a long time, I felt calm and at ease about my situation.  I felt accepted and normal.  My appointment with the new OB was completely refreshing as he spoke to me like an equal and treated my baby’s position as a variation of normal.

The labor was long and very taxing- about 15 hours of active labor and 6 hours of hands and knees pushing.  I had excruciating back labor due to baby’s frank breech position.  But, the end result was a healthy baby (9 lbs 9 oz!) and a healthy, uncut mother.  I was so proud of myself.  I felt I had beaten the system.  I jumped through hoops, fought with doctors and my family, and eventually stooped to desperation…but, I beat the system.  I had never been more proud of myself or more thankful to those who had helped me and believed in me.

Unplanned, Unassisted Home Birth

We learned we were expecting again when our little boy was 9 months old. Because of the stress of my first pregnancy, I knew I needed a different option.  I just couldn’t go through pregnancy in a hospital environment again.  We interviewed several birthing centers as well as a home birth midwife.   Despite recoils from family and friends, we chose home birth.  It felt right for us and I clicked right away with Erin, the midwife.  We were thrilled when Erin confirmed around 20 weeks that baby was head down.  The 9 months of stress free prenatal appointments were pure bliss.  Instead of talking down to me, Erin supported me in every way she could and was always there with an open ear.  Instead of dreading my prenatal appointments, I looked forward to them.  Erin cared about me in a way a doctor never has.  She came to know me, my son and my husband deeply.  She knew details about my personal life and helped to entertain my busy son during our appointments.  She started out as my midwife, but very quickly became my friend.

As labor drew closer, my Husband, Stephen, joked several times that he thought this delivery would be quick.  Little did we know this would be such an extreme understatement!  I woke up on Monday night with horrible stomach cramps, nausea, and eventually vomiting.  This lasted for about three hours.  I was able to fall asleep and work up the next morning feeling fine.  Around noon on Tuesday I passed some blood tinged mucus.  I notified Erin of my symptoms, but she didn’t seem concerned and said I should expect labor to begin in the next few days.   I went about the rest of my day as usual.

I tried to go bed early that night because of my lack of sleep from the night before.  I finally made it to bed around 8pm.  I couldn’t get comfortable and I never got to sleep.   I had my first ‘real’ contraction around 9:30 pm.  I had a few rounds of prodromal labor, so I still wasn’t convinced this was the real thing.  I timed my contractions for an hour and found them to be 8 minutes apart and getting stronger.  I got out of bed and talked to my husband who was working on homework in our living room.  We timed my contractions for a little longer and found them to be 6-7 minutes apart.  I put in a phone call to Erin and she decided to start the trek to our home.   At first I was hesitant for her to leave since my first labor was so long, but she lived an hour and a half away and thought it would be better safe than sorry.  In retrospect, it’s a good thing she left when she did!

At that point, my husband and I started setting up things for our home birth. We thought we would have plenty of time so we didn’t rush.  Steve was getting supplies laid out and started figuring out the birthing tub.  I focused on making our bed with a waterproof cover and an extra set of sheets.   While I was making our bed, I noticed my contractions were coming around 6 minutes apart and were getting really strong.  I had to stop what I was doing and breathe through each one.  Erin called around this point to check how things were going and if I wanted her assistant to leave ahead of her.  (The assistant lives a half hour from our house.)  I didn’t realize how progressed I was, so I told her I didn’t think it was necessary.

At that point, it was around 12am and Erin was about 45 minutes away.  I finished making up the bed and I head out to the kitchen to see how the rest of set up was progressing.  I just made it to our kitchen counter when I had a gripping contraction.  I hung onto the counter and breathed through the pain.  I did what felt natural to me- which happened to be a strange lunging motion- during the contractions.  Steve had the birthing pool inflated and was just starting to connect the hose to the kitchen sink when I had another contraction only 4 minutes from the last one.  Steve walked by with the hose, told me he loved me and started filling the pool.  The next contraction came less than three minutes after the last one.  I thought I felt the baby move down.  I just couldn’t believe baby would come this quickly, so I brushed the feeling off.

Then, contractions started coming right on top each other.  As soon as one would end, another would begin.  At the end of the next contraction, I felt a slight urge to push.  I said to Steve that I thought baby was coming, but he ignored me and kept on working on set up.  (I found out later that he didn’t believe me at first!)  When the next contraction came, I felt baby’s head move down quite a bit and the ‘ring of fire’ sensation started to build.  At that point I yelled, “THE BABY IS COMING!  CALL ERIN!!”

Steve ran over to me and ripped my shorts and underwear off.   He saw the top of the baby’s head.  At that point, he turned into a frantic mess.  He phoned the midwife (who was still 30 minutes away).  I told him to get some chux pads (which he proceeded put on the floor upside down J)  I was able to pant through two or three contractions during this time.  After the pads were down, I knelt down on the floor and hung onto the kitchen counter for dear life as my panting ceased to work and my body began to push the baby out on its own.

The baby was born in three contractions.  The first one pushed baby’s head out half way, the second pushed baby’s head out fully.  After this point, my contractions let up for a minute or so. Steve was able to talk to Erin on speaker phone and she encouraged us with calm affirmations.  When the third contraction came, baby’s shoulders and body were born into Stephen’s arms.  The time was 12:37 am.  I heard cries right away.  Steve passed the baby through my legs and I clutched the newborn to my chest.  Steve said, “We have a boy!”  But, the sex of the baby was the last thing on my mind.  I was just happy to have a healthy, pink, crying baby.  I looked down at the baby and saw him looking back at me with trusting, clear eyes.  He knew me.  I breathed in and smelt his sweet head.  It was such a serene, peaceful moment.  A moment I’ll never forget.

A few minutes after the baby was born, we made our way to our bedroom where I laid on our bed and waited for the midwives to arrive.  Baby latched on and began nursing like a pro.  15 minutes after our baby was born, the midwives walked into our bedroom, each one beaming a smile as they congratulated us.  Erin checked baby’s vital signs and found them all to be perfect.  As she was examining the rest of baby’s body, she got a strange look on her face.  She looked at Steve with a huge smile.  I saw him follow her gaze and watched as his face twisted up in confusion.  “It’s a girl!” he exclaimed.  It turns out in the pandemonium he mistook her parts for male!  Even though I was thrilled with having another little boy, all along I had secretly been hoping for a girl.  Emotion washed over me as I realized that the sweet little being I held on my chest was indeed the little girl I had been pining for.

Erin helped to deliver my placenta and afterward explained each part to me.  It was beautiful in a unique way.  She then checked my bottom.  I had two superficial tears that did not require stitches.  The assistant midwife prepared a wonderfully relaxing herbal bath for us.  I got into the bath with baby and Steve and I bathed her together.  She was calm, alert and perfect in every way.   After the bath, Steve, baby and I crawled back into our freshly made bed.  Baby was weighed and measured.  9 lbs 5 oz and 21 inches at 8 days ‘overdue’.  A healthy girl!

Erin talked to me about ways to keep comfortable post partum and explained warning signs to look out for.  We chatted for a few more minutes before the other midwives came in to say good night.  Erin tucked us in and told us to get some rest.  She said she would see us tomorrow and congratulated us yet again.  I listened as the midwives milled around, working on cleaning up from the night’s event.  They even did the laundry before they departed, bless their hearts.   I smiled to myself as I recounted the last few hours.  Who would have thought?!?  A three hour labor?  Even though my home birth didn’t go quite as planned, (I really wanted to be able to use that tub, darn it! J), I wouldn’t change it for the world.  The experience of an unassisted childbirth is something I’ll never forget.  It was so completely empowering.  Delivering our baby into my husband’s hands is an experience that has bonded us even closer together as a couple.

Birthing my sweet girl at home was everything I hoped it would be and more.  There was no fear and no stress.  There was just intensity and love.  I am so incredibly thankful to those who supported me in my journey, but I am especially thankful to Erin.   I am thankful to Erin for her quiet, calming presence.   I am thankful to Erin for genuinely caring about me, always listening to me, and never talking down to me.  But, I am most thankful to Erin for empowering me, believing in me and allowing me total control over my pregnancy and birth.

I  felt completely at peace with the world as I drifted off to sleep with my already snoozing husband on one side of me and my sweet little baby girl on the other.

Two Hour Accidental Unassisted Homebirth

Two Hour Accidental Unassisted Homebirth

The birth story is a little unconventional, but it was an unconventional birth!

*Note: I had been having contractions since 32 weeks. At 38 weeks, my midwife did a vaginal exam at my request, and found my cervix was low, soft, and anterior, and baby’s head was engaged at 0 to -1 station. I was 11 days over my EDD when she was born. In my state, a midwife is required by law to to turn you over to an OB once you hit 42 weeks. If these hadn’t been factors, I would not have bothered with natural induction methods.*

Friday, April 13, 10 days over EDD

7:23 p.m. — Take first dose of the “midwife cocktail”, containing 2 tablespoons of castor oil.

7:45-8:45 p.m. –Become BFF’s with my toilet and box of baby wipes.

8:45 p.m. — Text midwife to ask if the second and third doses are necessary. since first dose has been so successful. She replies that it’s up to me, but if I want to have a baby tonight, I should probably do at least one more dose.

8:50 p.m. — Make many horrible faces ingesting another 2 tablespoons of castor oil.

9:00-10:00 — Run a bath. Wonder at the miraculous way the body insists on emptying itself out even when you stopped having anything to empty out like, five poops ago. Get in bath. Read a book. Have handful of contractions.

10:30 p.m. — Lie down with magazine and seven year old son. Seven year old promptly falls asleep with feet shoved in back. Experience a couple of strong contractions, then a couple more. Think, “No way that castor oil worked THAT quickly”. Followed by, “Huh, maybe I should start timing these.”

10:50 p.m. — Start timing contractions. Every 4-5 minutes, anywhere from 1-2 minutes long. Have to sit up through them. Tell husband there’s no way this is real labor, and promptly have to stand up to vocalize through particularly harsh contraction. Lather, rinse, repeat.

11:43 p.m. — Contracting on a toilet is not fun. Call midwife. She is immediately on her way, but lives 45 minutes away. I expect her in about an hour.

11:45 p.m. – 12:00 a.m. — Call my mom. Call best friend. Contractions are excruciating and feel like baby is trying to explode Alien-style through my pubic bone.

12:00 a.m. – 12:30 a.m. — WTF IS THIS?! Sit on toilet a lot. Husband is filling pool with three buckets. Groan. Ask WTF I was thinking?

12:30 a.m. – 12:38 a.m. — Still on toilet. Husband still filling pool. Body goes, “Screw you, guys, I can do what I want!” and starts pushing. Hear myself roaring and try to relax, but pretty sure I am literally splitting in half. Also maybe still pooping.

12:39 a.m. — Husband informs me pool almost done. Water slightly cooler than needed, but eff that noise, I’m getting in. Hobble from bathroom to bedroom and practically dive in.

12:41 a.m. — As soon as butt hits water, my body produces one gigantic, involuntary push. Feels like taking biggest poop EVER in history of pooping. Baby’s head emerges halfway, still in caul. Tell husband, “Um, the head is there.” Husband says, “I can see the head.” He thinks he has time to turn around and do something, then get in water with me and catch her. He turns around.

12:42 a.m. — Another involuntary push and head and body all whoosh out of me with speed and approximate force of a freight train. Husband turns back around at noise of splash to see me pull baby from water.

12:43 a.m.- ish — Midwife arrives. Mirren is perfect. The end!

Mirren Renea, born at 12:42 a.m. on April 14th, 2012, weighing 8.5 lbs, 21 inches long.

Planned Home Birth Gone Unassisted

Planned Home Birth Gone Unassisted

Early labor started around 8:30 AM, Tuesday, May 10th, 2011. Contractions were anywhere from 6-10 minutes, nothing unmanageable. This continued for an entire 24 hours into Wednesday, the 11th. Thankfully, I was able to sleep during the night through the contractions. I was going to really need this rest for later!

It was getting pretty uncomfortable, and so I called my midwife, Dina, around 8 AM. She arrived around 9 AM, and checked to see if I was dilated. My cervix was very posterior, but she could tell I was 100% effaced. She couldn’t find the opening of my cervix because it was so far back, but she said I was likely only a fingertip dilated. So disappointing!! I thought for sure I’d be at least at 4 cm!! She told me to stay upright, and go for a long walk. She left, and said to call her when they were consistently five minutes apart, and painful that I could not talk through them.

Cliff and I walked to my mom’s house, which is up the street. As long as I was walking, my contractions got to be anywhere from 4 minutes to 6 minutes, but they never became completely regular. The pain was also still tolerable.

We arrived at my mom’s a little after 10 AM, and my sisters were already there since the day before waiting for the baby to arrive. It wasn’t long until my contractions required slower, deep breaths to get through them. I was also beginning to feel the pain in my back. I had horrendous back labor with Isiah, and later on I would have it even worse than I did with him.

Cliff, my mom, and I went for another very brief walk with Isiah in the stroller. I was really needing to breathe through contractions, and use the stroller to support my weight. Cliff and I decided I better get home because if I got any more uncomfortable, I wouldn’t be able to get in the car.

We probably got home around noon? And things started picking up really fast, but again, my contractions never got regular at five minutes apart, or three minutes apart. It would jump from six, four, five, two, five, one, six.. I was texting with Dina, and told her I didn’t need her assistant to come yet. But with the next contraction, I told Cliff I changed my mind, and to tell Chris (the assistant) to get here. This was probably at around 1 PM, and Dina said it would be a bit before Chris would arrive. I really though we had more time, so I never thought I should call Dina to come over.

Over the next fifty minutes, I had several excruciating contractions, and I could not keep from yelling through them. My back labor was incredibly awful, and no amount of counter pressure from Cliff could help. I was writhing in pain on the bed, on the toilet, on the couch. Like I said, my contractions were all over the place. So, my last three contractions went six minutes, five minutes, and with the one that came at two minutes, I hollered, “I’M PUSHING I’M PUSHING, I CAN’T HELP IT.” And then, “MY WATER JUST BROKE.” I was laying on my right side on the couch at this time, and Cliff later told me he could see my shorts getting darker and darker as the water soaked them, along with the couch! He rushed to grab towels so as to not further ruin the couch, and ripped my shorts off. Baby’s head was already half out.

He called Dina, it was 1:51 PM. She heard me screaming, but Cliff gave me the phone and she calmed me down. Cliff then called my mom, cause she was just up the road, and while on the phone with her he is freaking out. I said to him, “HONEY, IT’S OKAY. I GOT IT! I GOT IT!” So, I pushed the head out. And Cliff kept telling me to push, push. He was going nuts! I calmly said, “No, I have to wait for another contraction.” It wasn’t long, and out slid her body at 1:52 PM. I told Cliff to help me bring her to my chest. And there she lay…. Mallory Mathilda Lee.

She was very quiet, didn’t cry. In fact, we had a scare because her entire head and face were dark purple. We both thought she wasn’t breathing, but she sounded like she was sort of taking little breaths. We started to rub her pretty vigorously, but it didn’t significantly change her face color. It didn’t occur to me that her body was pink, and that should have indicated she was fine. She WAS fine, really. I found out when Dina arrived a few minutes later that because she flew out at ludicrous speed, her face and head were bruised.

Only moments after I delivered, my mom and Cliff’s mom showed up because Cliff had called them while I was delivering. They were both shocked to see me on the couch, with my empty birth tub, and no midwife present. My mom thought that when Cliff called, I was in the tub delivering. She didn’t realize this was the situation!

When Dina showed up, she didn’t even have shoes on. She ran out of her house, and showed up in socks. She said she had not missed a birth in years, and this does NOT happen frequently. She apologized to Cliff and I. No hard feelings! I was feeling awesome. Practically laughing at how it went down. I just kept saying, “Oh my gosh! This is GREAT! I could not have wanted this any other way! I’m not mad at ALL!!!” It’s no ones fault, and I really didn’t think that my labor was going to go that fast. So, I didn’t know I should have called Dina to come over earlier. I thought I had plenty of time!

It got to be close to an hour after delivering, and I still did not deliver the placenta. At 2:41 PM, it stopped pulsing, and I pushed it out. It was pretty big, around 1.5 lbs. Cliff cut the cord, and Dina checked to make sure I didn’t have any damage below. To my disbelief, I only had a tiny tear where I tore last year, but this required no stitches. I had 2nd degree tearing with Isiah (granted, he was 8 lbs. 2 oz., with a fat head).

Dina was ready to get Mallory weighed and measured, and also wanted to get a diaper on her. Oh, but OOPS. I didn’t feel that Mallory had already had her first poop ALL OVER MY CHEST AND STOMACH. Dina put her hand right in it! We didn’t see because I had a towel over us.

Mallory weighed in at 6 lbs. 15 oz., and was 19 inches long. We really thought she’d be at least 8 pounds. She was just a peanut!!

It was really great that we had such a long time of skin to skin contact. I began nursing her, and that is still taking some work but it is going great. Everything about my labor, delivery, and bonding, was all different than with Isiah.

Delivering my daughter with my husband will change me for the rest of my life, and change my marriage. I feel like a new person, and while every birth can feel empowering, I feel like I can do ANYTHING! Dina said that if anybody needed this to happen to them, it was me. I AM very blessed and fortunate that she was healthy, and we had no complications following her delivery. I can’t thank God enough for allowing this to all go so smoothly and safely.

unassisted birth baby

At a day old, Mallory is continuing to nurse, sleep, poop, cry. It’s all wonderful, and it is tiring and hard. But it’s all awesome. Isiah isn’t even home yet, either. So, that will be the biggest challenge. His reaction to Mallory was perplexed, and a bit drawn back. He didn’t know what to make of this little baby! So, he poked her ears a little bit. I can’t believe at not even a year old, he is a BIG brother! Nine days short of a year!

Anyway, there you have it. My planned home birth gone unassisted, insane and insanely awesome, painful and joyful, the most incredible thing in this world!

When Mallory was 6 months old with her big brother…

An Unintended Unassisted Birth

An Unintended Unassisted Birth

My daughter was my second baby, an easy hospital birth after an unnecessary prostaglandin induction at 38 weeks. My first was similarly induced at 29 weeks after we found out that he’d be stillborn. My hospital births weren’t bad or traumatic experiences, but there was something lacking – it wasn’t my space, I didn’t feel in control, certain things happened without my consent or against my expressed wishes, and my stay afterward was poor with inadequate food for a nursing mother. If I were to birth in hospital again, with 10 years more knowledge and experience than I had the first time around, I’d definitely be making that space my own and doing things my way. A number of things made me want to home birth this time around though – mainly, evening up the power balance and knowing that I could have my husband and daughter with me constantly.

On Tuesday evening I got my wish. We’d just got back on Sunday night from a weekend away, a honeymoon gifted by friends. I was worried I’d give birth over that weekend while my daughter was away – she’s nearly eight and had been preparing herself by looking up water birth videos on YouTube, and I knew she’d never forgive me if I had the baby without her there.

On Sunday night I began having contractions that weren’t Braxton Hicks – they were painful and felt productive, but my husband had developed a bad cold and I needed his support, so I made the conscious decision to go back to sleep. By Tuesday morning he had his voice back, and the contractions returned when I drove my daughter to school. I got home and asked him if he felt ready to have a baby that day. We were only at 38 weeks, but I’d had the feeling all along that we’d go early.

I had the urge to do a whole lot of cooking and freeze some meals. At half past eight that night, the contractions I’d felt that morning returned and became regular. I made several calls to the on call midwife, but she didn’t want to page my midwife as she kept stressing that in order to be productive, my contractions should be lasting 60-90 seconds. Mine were only around 30 seconds long (and we never recorded any longer than that). Well, these sure felt productive, and having laboured for only 3 1/2 hours with my daughter I didn’t expect things to take too long.

Against the midwife’s advice we ‘filled’ the pool – and drained the hot water tank! Things moved quickly after that and I gave up the phone to one of my support crew when the locum midwife was still rambling about timing during a pushing contraction, and I realised that they were never going to make it there.

Julian Richard was born into the water and his father’s arms at four minutes to midnight after what must have been – but seemed like less than – ten minutes of pushing. I turned around to see him pink, breathing and crying already.

I guess what we had was technically an unassisted birth, but I felt like I had plenty of assistance! I had my mother and sister there, my close friend Sarah, and amazing student midwife Jo who took all our special photos. My favourite photo, the one that just sums up the labour for me, shows my daughter looking on in concern while my husband Richard supports me through a contraction.

Their love gave me an immense amount of strength. If Richard was absent for a second, there was another hand there for me to hold. For all my desires for privacy and seclusion, I don’t think I could have done it without that special group of loving friends and family.

What was so special about how it all turned out for me, is that the birth fear was Richard’s, as a first time father. I knew I wanted a home birth, but I needed his support and a lot of tears were shed at the beginning of my pregnancy over our different outlooks on birth – he was scared I’d die. I needed him to have absolute faith in me. His love and tenderness just absolutely shine through in these photos.

My husband didn’t ‘trust birth’ – and perhaps he never will – but he trusted me as his wife to make an informed decision and he had the strength to face up to his fears. I wish more fathers could catch their babies, and experience the exhilaration of this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

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