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Birth Of Elsie {Homebirth Story With Siblings}

Birth Of Elsie {Homebirth Story With Siblings}

We were just waiting for the Braxton Hicks contractions to turn into the real deal so we could get our daughter here.  Sunday morning was spent with the church family and then the afternoon was spent with Greg’s family celebrating his mom’s 55th birthday.

I was feeling pretty good and honestly didn’t feel like I’d see my daughter anytime in the next few days.  I was nervous that when it was finally time that Greg would be late getting home and I’d labor alone, that the midwife would barely get there in time, and that everything would happen so fast, I wouldn’t hardly remember the experience!  Needless to say, that was not what occurred.

Greg decided to go ahead and get the pool set up and ready. That way if I did start my labor before he got home, I could easily start filling the pool up on my own.  We all nestled into bed pretty early and I was sleeping pretty sound until 1:43 AM.

I was awakened by an uncomfortable contraction and spent the next hour and a half pacing about trying to be sure if I was really in pain before I bothered waking up Greg.  I got out a journal and start writing down times and lengths of contractions, and finally decided about 3:30 to wake him up and call in the midwife and my parents.

Everyone arrived about five that morning. Danette and Caroline, her sweet apprentice, began monitoring Elsie’s heartbeat and my blood pressure.  My BP was slightly raised, so after a homeopathic dose of calcium and magnesium, I returned to my left side to relax through some more contractions.  That all worked, as my blood pressure lowered, and the more relaxed I stayed, the more intense the contractions were.

My mom got to work fixing some biscuits and gravy from scratch, and my husband quickly decided we needed to do this more often if it meant eating my mom’s cooking for breakfast!  I got to enjoy the fruits of her labor and spent most of the morning just nestled into my room breathing through contractions.

(Remember me talking about The Sphincter Law before? I honestly wasn’t worried this would effect me in the privacy of my own home.  I pretty much figured I have enough control over my mind and body that once labor started, I would get in the zone and be good to go.  Well, that was not the case.)

By the afternoon, with contractions still 10 minutes apart, and losing intensity at times, we thought a walk around the neighborhood would help. It did not help at all.  In fact, I felt as though everything was being put on hold.  I stayed out in the kitchen chatting with everyone and went almost 30 minutes without anything happening.

So, with Danette’s encouragement I went back to my room with my headphones in, music up, and only the company of my husband, and at times Emma.  As long as no one else was around my body would allow contractions to come up to eight minutes apart and last over a minute.  However, oddly enough, even if my sweet mama would come into the room, everything would stop.  I really got to experience how little control I had over my body’s birthing plan.

Jamie Buckland 1-2

 So, with the afternoon turning into the evening, my body slowly worked on getting Elsie lined up for her big debut.  For years Greg and I had told Emma that if/when we ever had another baby, the new little one would be in between us instead of her, and she would have to be prepared for that.  So, with the last few hours of her being the baby dwindling away, she nestled in between us to make the most of it.  We chatted about what Elsie would look like as she drew pictures, and then Greg would hold her really still as I would hum through my contractions.

Jamie Buckland 2-2

Everyone was pretty tuckered out after an eventful, yet still uneventful day.  The kids camped out in the living room with my parents and Danette and Caroline made themselves at home in the kids’ beds.  And that is how it was, still and quiet, until around 12:30am on Tuesday morning.

Finally, the contractions were coming on nice and strong!  Hooray!  I was up pacing back and forth, and then every eight minutes or so, I would bend over the bed to hum through what was now what I would consider active labor.  I woke Greg up and Danette heard us stirring around.

It was time to start boiling water for the cooled off pool and a wardrobe change as I got ready to get in the water.  Danette had told me we would hold off on getting into the pool until I couldn’t get comfortable any other way. I was at that point.  I crawled into the birth pool around 1:15am Tuesday morning and prepared myself to crawl out of it when no longer pregnant.

As soon as I got in the water, a contraction came on super strong. Then about two minutes later, another one, and that was the pace for the next two hours. My body was so relaxed in the water that I was completely out of control and the human ejection process had begun!

The water definitely helped me handle the intensity of the pain, so I just hummed away as my mind kept repeating things like, ‘and this too shall pass’, over and over.  The last 30 minutes were totally overwhelming.  I felt completely out of control during the contractions and proclaimed I felt like I was suffocating and couldn’t catch my breath.  Danette reminded me to relax and not let my contractions get ahead of me, so back to the humming and focusing.

This entire 25 hours of labor, Danette did not “check me”.  We did not know how dilated I was at any point in time.  My body was completely in control of the process, and although I felt helpless for those last few minutes, the empowerment I felt when it was all over was totally worth it!

I threw up my yummy snacks from the long day of labor as I transitioned through those last few centimeters, and started shaking as my body prepared to deliver my beautiful little girl into her daddy’s awaiting hands.  Danette gave me some ginger candy to help with the nausea, and I was really thankful, even asking for another piece to get me through the end.

Danette had a pitcher and would pour water over my back through my contractions while my husband was sitting on a stool in front of me holding my hands, and I was bent over the edge of the pool on my knees.  My mom and Caroline were patiently awaiting the progression, and my dad and kids were still fast asleep.

I remember looking over my shoulder once and finding my mother shedding big tears as she tried to deal with her baby girl being in so much pain, but the midwife was quick to comfort her and assure her all was well.

With all the controversy surrounding our decision to birth at home, I want to make it clear that I never once had any worry about my health, or the well being of my baby through the entire process.  My mind never once wandered into those dark thoughts, and I praise the good Lord for bathing the entire ordeal with His wonderful grace.

About 10 minutes before Elsie found her way to daddy’s hands, Danette told me I could check to see if I felt her head.  My water still hadn’t ruptured, and it was obvious I was feeling her sac cushioning her head in it’s descent.  With the next contraction I exclaimed that I felt like I could push.  So, I did.

On the second push, I felt my water break. Seconds later ,I announced her head was out.  Greg was scurrying around from being in front of me to getting behind me and Danette was getting the flashlight on so they could indeed see if she was on her way out!  Her head had been delivered, and with ease her little body followed just in time for Greg to reach down and lift her up out of the water.

They carefully helped me roll over onto my bottom where I stayed for the next hour.  Greg laid my sweet Elsie right onto my chest as I expressed my sheer delight that my baby girl and I had worked so hard together, and now here she was!  She immediately began to root and kick, lifting her head and bobbing around to begin suckling.  My sweet girl latched right on and has been an expert nurser from the beginning.

The after pains were pretty harsh. We waited 45 minutes for the cord to finish its beautifully engineered job, and then Danette clamped it for Greg to cut it.  Then miss Elsie got to go cuddle with her papa as they helped me get out of the pool and into my robe so I could get in the bed to rest.

Jamie Buckland 3-2

Moments later, it happened. As Emma looked on from her daddy’s chest, little Elsie took her place in between mommy and daddy.  And like that, the process I had anticipated for so long was over. My little babe who I’d dreamt about for years was finally lying here in her home, in my bed, in the blankets I had washed just weeks before.  We were complete.

And now Emma seemed so much older and much more mature.

 Jamie Buckland 4-2

The Big “E” seemed much bigger as he nestled the new little “E”.

Jamie Buckland 5-2

Elsie will be a few weeks old in just a few hours, and I’ve gotten to share our experience with some of our close friends and family. Some have been curious about how I felt afterwards.  I can honestly say it was a much easier recovery than with Ethan or Emma.  I’ve been pleasantly surprised at just how good I have felt.  I did have a small tear, but never had any discomfort from it whatsoever.  Danette had made me a brew up of some comfrey root, which worked wonderfully.

Some have asked now that it is all over, will we be trying to conceive again, and if so, will I birth at home again? The answers are yes, and yes. We plan on trying for #4 when Elsie is a little over a year old, and yes, I plan on inviting my new favorite midwife, Danette, back into my home to attend the birth of our next child.  Looking back, I am so thankful everything went just as it was.  Even with labor lasting just over a day, I feel so blessed Greg and I got to spend that time together as we waited for her arrival.

A big thanks to all of you who have supported us through this journey! And of course a huge thank you to BIRTH WITHOUT FEAR for all the information and stories that helped me along this journey.  If you want to read more about why we chose a home birth, you can read about my first two pregnancies and why I felt so passionate about sharing this experience.

{By Jamie Buckland}

The Birth of Sicily Rose {Postpartum Hemorrhage, Vanishing Twin Syndrome}

The Birth of Sicily Rose {Postpartum Hemorrhage, Vanishing Twin Syndrome}

Had it not been for your blog and all the  amazing women behind the stories you share, I might not of had the courage to go through what I endured. But, looking back now, I made and I’m a stronger mother and women for it.

This past February, we welcomed our second daughter, Sicily Rose to the world. I didn’t know it at the time of writing her birth story, but we found out a short time later that she was a twin. In my blog post, I write about hemorrhaging during our home birth, but I didn’t find out until I was 4 weeks postpartum it was because her twin was left inside of me. I hemorrhaged again at 4 weeks postpartum and almost lost my life. After being rushed by ambulance, getting a D&C, and a blood transfusion, we learned that our princess wasn’t alone in my womb.

(Side note, we thought our daughter was a twin at the beginning due to finding out about the pregnancy very early on and suffering from HG. I bled at 6 weeks pregnant and went into the emergency room. We again suspected twins when my HCG levels were off the charts but that was not confirmed nor denied by the hospital. During my D&C, they removed a 6 cm piece of placenta that was firmly attached to my womb. It was an entirely separate placenta from my daughters because I encapsulated her placenta. In the lab write up, we learned it was a vanishing twin. Vanishing Twin Syndrome occurs in 1 in 10 pregnancies on average. He or she may have “vanished from my womb”, but my baby has never vanished from my heart after learning about him or her.)

In my post, I write about dilating to a 10 twice. I dilated all the way to a 10 one week before our baby girl actually decided to arrive. And looking back now, I find it kind of symbolic. It was as if I was birthing the twin I would never hold or meet.

So in honor of our babies here is the birth story of Sicily Rose:

The Birth of Sicily Rose

Our Sicily Rose has finally arrived! She was indecisive about coming at first, but when she was ready, she was READY! On Sunday February 9th, we planned a birthday party for our Audrey Girl. She just turned 3 on the 7th so we all went to Dave and Buster’s to eat lunch and play some games. I had contractions start up that morning at about 10 am. By 11:30, we were at the party eating lunch and they were still coming on pretty strong. I couldn’t eat a whole lot, because they just kept growing in intensity. Christian and I decided to leave the party and head for home because it was snowing pretty hard and we didn’t know how fast I was progressing. Nana stayed behind so our Audrey Girl could finish up her games.

I called my midwife about 5 pm and just let her know I had been contracting all afternoon, they weren’t letting up, and that I felt like today was the day. She asked Christian to check my purple line for dilation, so she could get an estimate at how far along I was. (If you don’t know the purple line trick…Google it.)

We guessed I was about 5-6 cm dilated, so I told my midwife to just hold off on coming for right now. I kept contracting, tried to eat some good protein so I would be ready for what was to come, but I felt too nauseated and what I ate did not stay down. I called my midwife about 8 and gave her the green light to head this way. She got here and checked my dilation. She said I was at an 8. She listened to Sicily’s heartbeat and I went ahead and got in the birthing pool. My contractions weren’t horrible, but the water helped ease any discomfort that I had.

After an hour and a half, I got out of the water. My midwife wanted to see where I was with dilation. I was finally at a 10. I decided to rock on the birthing ball for a while to see if I could persuade Sicily to burrow down. She was right at the edge, to the point where I could feel her head, but she was getting hung up on my pubic bone on the right side. I did some stretching and then began feeling overwhelmed. 10pm turned into 3am and still nothing. My Midwife, Sarah, suggested I lay down and rest so when it was time to push, I would have the energy to do so.

I slept until 5am and woke up to find my contractions had died down. I got up and decided to just walk, walk, walk. I did circles in our living room around the birthing pool. Sarah told me I should eat something, so I had my mom cut up some deer sausage and I ate that. It was so good in that moment. I remember that being all I wanted to eat.

I was so flustered at this point, because I had been contracting and had progressed all the way to a 10 and then nothing. The contractions just stopped. The walking didn’t stir them back up again. I was so tired. At 7am, I found a pillow and laid down on the living room floor. Christian slept on couch beside me. At 8am on February 10th, I could hear Sarah tell Christian to get me into bed, so I could sleep more comfortably and that she was going to head home to do the same. She said she would come back over later to check on us.

I was so bummed. Here I thought “this is it”, made it all the way to 10cm, and then nothing. Everything just stopped. I slept a little while but when I woke up, all I could do was cry. My baby was supposed to be in my arms by now. Christian worked until noon that day and then came home to help comfort me. He called Sarah and had her come back over to talk with me. She came right over without hesitation and suggested I see our chiropractor. She thought that would help Sicily get in the right position and not get hung up on my pubic bone anymore. It was worth a shot to me, so off we went. I was glad I did because it really helped me settle down and relax.

After my adjustment, we went home and I fell back asleep. My mom took Audrey home with her so I could have a few day to myself to recuperate and see how things progressed. I woke up Tuesday morning to my phone ringing off the hook. Everyone wanted to know “is she here yet?” It was so hard for me. I think I cried most of that morning. Christian came home from work and told me to get dress because we were going out. He surprised me with dinner at BeerKitchen…my favorite place to eat chicken and waffles and then we rented Bad Grandpa from Redbox. It’s been a long time since I laughed that hard and it was a treat to get a last minute date night with him before we became a family of 4.

Audrey came back home Thursday night. I was more than ready to have my big girl in my arms. Nothing beats snuggles from your child when you’ve had a rough day…or week. Friday I went back to the chiropractor for another adjustment. She suggested acupuncture and I was all for it. I didn’t get anxious and told myself whatever happens…happens. Saturday was spent relaxing at home. I was tired and indulged in a nap or two. Sunday, Christian did some painting around the house, so I decided to get out and get a pedicure with my BFF, Mallory. I thoroughly enjoyed some much needed girl time. Little did I know, this would be our last day as a family of 3…

Monday morning I woke up about 4:45. I had the urge to pee but I didn’t want to get out of my nice and warm bed. I laid there for a few minutes, then I felt this wet, warm sensation. I didn’t know if I had just peed myself or if my water had finally broke. I got up, pants soaking wet, and went to the bathroom. Sarah told me that if I was ever unsure to just smell it. A broken water bag doesn’t have a smell, but urine does. Mine didn’t have a smell and I was able to then go pee so we were all good. 🙂

I changed my clothes and Christian rolled over to see why I was up making so much noise. “I’m pretty sure my water just broke,” I told him. I wasn’t having contractions at this point, so I got on my phone and googled to see how long I could possibly be waiting for my labor to really start….it said up to 3 days so after all I had just went through, I was expecting the worst. I texted Sarah around 5am and told her my water broke. Since my contractions hadn’t started up yet, we decided there was no need for her to come over. I texted our birth photographer, Rachel to give her a heads up too and then I laid back down.

By 6:00am, the contractions were coming. Christian got up and decided to make me some eggs so I could eat, set up the birthing pool, and see how things progressed. He brought my plate into our bedroom to me where I was standing over our bed rocking through the contractions. They were coming fast and strong. As much as I wanted to eat, I just couldn’t. The contractions were getting intense and I wanted to get in the water so bad. My birth pool wasn’t filled up all the way just yet so I went into the bathroom and kneeled by the bath tub. I had to tell myself to just keep breathing through it.

At this point, I knew this was the real deal and Sicily would probably be here sometime today. I told Christian to call Sarah and Rachel and tell them to get here now. I had called my mom when my water broke and I knew she would already be on her way. Sarah got here around 6:45am and just as soon as she listened to Sicily’s heart rate, I was in the birth pool. The warm water felt good and the contractions kept coming about 2-3 minutes apart. My mom got here soon after. She sat next to the pool on our chaise lounge and asked me what I needed her to do. At this point, there was nothing no one could do for me. It was just me and Sicily…working in sync with each other and trusting each other.

Sarah’s birth assistant walked in as I was laboring in the pool and I could vaguely hear Sarah tell her to get her gloves on and get ready because things were about to go fast. I smiled to myself when I heard this because that meant “this was it”…our girl would be in our arms today!

Rachel got here and then things went fast. I didn’t say a word to anyone as they arrived. I just kept breathing and focusing through the contractions. I remember thinking to myself, “When is it going to really hurt?” This pain was bareable to me. It was a good pain, because I knew in the end I would have my baby to hold. (Kidney stones hurt worse than child labor incase you wanted to know. I would birth 10 babies in a row before I would ever deal with another kidney stone.)

Audrey woke up and went to sit with Nana on the chaise lounge. She really impressed me that morning. She was so calm and spoke softly. She just laid in Nana’s lap and they watched me together. Christian came to the edge of the pool and held my arms as I sat in a squat in the water. I wanted him there. Right there holding me up. He was so cute. He kept giving me encouragement and telling me how strong I was. Sarah helped me remember to keep breathing. “The ring of fire” was felt just as Sicily was crowning and I knew we were getting close.

Sarah got behind me and put a mirror in the water to see where she was at. Feeling her head crown hurt. I was in the moment, I needed to bite something and Christian’s arm was there. He pulled back just as I realized what I was doing so I grabbed a towel and bit it instead. Just then, the ring of fire was over and out came her little head.

Sarah and Christian helped me lay back so I could push her the rest of the way out. I wasn’t in pain anymore. I was just breathing trying to muster up enough energy to get my girl here. Sarah’s assistant said, “it’s been two minutes. We need to move things along.” And just then I pushed and out into the water came our girl. I picked her up and brought her to my chest. She had inhaled a little bit of water and she wasn’t crying. Sarah told us to just keep talking to her as she patted her on her back. It worked because she let out the cutest little squeak. No crying. Just completely content laying on her mama’s chest in the water. All I could do is stare at her in awe and say, “I did it….I did it.”

Our story doesn’t end there, but how I wish it did. I wish I could tell you that I laid there in the birth pool holding my sweet girl and the rest of the day was just spent snuggling my little family of 4.

I felt the urge to push again and I knew it was my placenta coming. Sicily was still attached to her cord at this point and laying on my chest in the water. I told Sarah I needed to push and I did. Blood just shot out. The pool turned pitch black. Sarah, her assistant, and Christian helped lift me out of the pool and onto some towels on the floor. I remember Sarah sternly telling me, “Stop bleeding. You have got to stop bleeding.” And Christian told my mom to take Audrey into the other room.

Everything was happening so fast. I glanced down at Sicily still laying on my chest as I felt my placenta escape from me. The blood still flowing out much faster than it should have. I don’t really remember how but my birth team managed to get into our bed. Sarah examined me and said I had 2nd degree tearing in 3 different places. I was so glad I birthed in the water, because I can’t imagine how it would have felt if I didn’t.

My bleeding still hadn’t subsided. I was soaking the blue puppy pad looking sheets every few minutes. Sarah felt my uterus as we tried to get Sicily to latch on to eat. She examined my placenta that Sicily was still attached to, to make sure there wasn’t any leftover in my uterus. There wasn’t, thank God.

My options were running out, so Sarah did the last thing she could think of to stop my bleeding. She cut a piece of my placenta and told me to put it in my cheek and suck on it. I didn’t care. I would do anything at this point. I just wanted my bleeding to stop. I did not want to be rushed to the hospital. Christian turned white as a ghost. I’ve never seen him look so scared in all my life. The way he looked at me was terrifying. I asked him to leave the room and get himself something to eat.

Sarah’s little trick worked. My bleeding stopped and she was able to stitch me up. Her assistant fed me eggs and juice and mothers milk tea as Sicily laid on my chest still attached to the placenta. I kept trying to go to sleep but Sarah wouldn’t let me. She was afraid I would go unconscious and no one would know. Every time they moved me I started to faint. Christian came back in and helped feed me. Sicily latched on and Sarah gave us the green light to just snuggle skin to skin as we had been. Christian cut the cord and Sarah kept my placenta to encapsulate it. Another hour or two went by and Sarah continued to monitor me. She went over her concerns with Christian and came back in to tell me goodbye. She said she’d be back over later that evening to check on us again.

I spent the rest of the day laid up in bed snuggling with my babies. I was asked later if I regretted doing a homebirth because of the bleeding episode…I absolutely do not. I am glad I had a homebirth. If that had happened to me in the hospital, things would have gone a lot differently. Would I do it all over again? In a heartbeat. This was truly a once in a lifetime experience….and “I did it!”.

Birth of Sicily Birth of Sicily 2

Our birth photographer, Rachel was amazing. I can’t tell you what these images mean to me. I am so thankful to have been given the opportunity to have her there to capture these moments. I highly recommend Tripp Over Love Photography.
www.photosbyrtripp.com

The Healing Home Birth of Baby Lucas

The Healing Home Birth of Baby Lucas

The birth of my first son was in a hospital. I like to say nothing traumatic happened to me to make me question the way I gave birth and to seek out other options, better options, but I feel now that I was in denial. I cried for weeks after his birth feeling guilty for some of the decisions made during his birth and how they affected my son during and after birth.

For example, I was given an episiotomy without my knowledge let alone my permission; I felt rushed and bossed around; I felt like after 20 minutes of pushing, the vacuum assisted birth was my last resort before a c-section. I felt like such a horrible mother for not asking more questions and being more informed.

This led me to research birth and the options a woman has during such a special and beautiful time in her life. I got my hands on The Business of Being Born and Pregnant in America. I was sold immediately. I got my husband on board easily by having him watch the same things and he agreed that we would never birth in a hospital again if we didn’t need to! Praise God I have an understanding husband who kept an open mind!

That brings me to the birth story of my second son, Lucas Ray Woolf. I woke up in the morning at 5:30 when Robert’s alarm for work went off. We lay there in bed just talking and avoiding the reality that he needed to go to work and that I was STILL pregnant. I was only 39 weeks but had been dilated to a 3 since 37 weeks and had been working really hard to naturally get labor going.

I was just done being pregnant at this point. I had been uncomfortable for a solid week and was just ready. I had gotten up to pee and climbed back in bed. 6am rolled around and I had a strong contraction that lasted a good while. A few minutes later a second contraction took over my body. I told Robert that I just had two contractions and that they were stronger than my previous ones. I had experienced a couple series of contractions in the previous weeks but they were never strong enough and never stayed consistent enough. At this point Robert said he would wait around a little while and just go into work a little late.

I hopped in the shower to see if it would calm things down or if it would help kick things into gear. Well let me tell you…it kicked things into gear almost instantly! I called for Robert to come into the bathroom and continue timing the contractions. They were oh so strong and oh so close together. They were never more than 5 minutes apart and never shorter than a minute long

I was pretty sure this was it but I wanted to be 100% positive so I got out of the shower and started doing my hair and makeup…yes makeup . I was having to stop and breathe my way through each contraction making it very difficult trying to finish my task. This was it. I knew it. I told Robert to call the midwife…this was at 6:57am…then he called our friend to come get Ethan.

I started letting people know I was in labor…my mom, mother in law and some close friends. Robert went and woke Ethan up and packed up his bag. I was only able to say a quick good morning and goodbye to my sweet boy as my contractions were too strong for me to really contain myself in front of him. I knew the next time would see him he would be a big brother and he wouldn’t be the little baby I thought of him as.

Once Robert got Ethan sent on his way, he got straight to providing the birth atmosphere we had planned: bright lights off, twinkle lights on, jasmine oil in the diffuser, Peace & Calming and Valor Essential Oils on my neck and my birthing music playing.

I cannot express enough my gratitude for this man. He was so patient with me and understanding…even when I yelled at him…it was only twice and I apologized quickly each time. The contractions at this point were just so awful…and I mean AWFUL!!! I didn’t know what positions helped most if at all. I recalled birthing videos of women being so calm and quiet and envied their control.

Then I remembered the tub! I wanted to labor in the tub and have heard such wonderful stories about it! Robert got the water going for me as I got undressed and plopped myself in the tub. I did not receive that instant relief I hear about but did notice a slight increase in comfort.

I labored in the tub for roughly an hour yelling and screaming through the pain. We share a wall with our neighbors and could hear the dogs whining after I screamed. Looking back, I really hope and pray the neighbors weren’t home listening to me labor!

Anywho, I couldn’t find a position that worked for me so I got out of the tub and put my cute night gown back on. I kept telling Robert that I couldn’t do this, there was no way I could do this and I didn’t want to anymore. I cried to him asking where the midwives were and he said they were almost here.

I made my way back to our room where I needed Robert to lean on through the pain. I needed to pray. I was starting to get beat down…I needed to be done with the constant pain and hardly any time to recoup. Robert held onto me as he prayed for me out loud…oh how I love him.

We checked the time…8:33. I asked Robert to call the midwives again…I needed them…for what I was not totally sure. It’s not like they had drugs or any magic to make the pain go away but I felt like they did. When he got through to them they were getting off the exit and would be there in less than 5 minutes.

Ok…I could do this…they were almost there and could take control of this situation and tell me what to do to help the pain.

I was mid contraction when I felt the comforting touch of one of my favorite midwives, Becky. She just stood there listening to me get myself through the contraction. After it had passed she asked if I felt like pushing to which I said I have no idea…it just hurts…that’s all I know.

Darcy, my other favorite midwife came in with the supplies and quickly grabbed out a few basics so they could check me. 10 centimeters, 100% effaced and +2 station…aka go time!

Becky and Darcy finished setting up and I climbed on the bed trying to find a position that worked for me. I started out on my hands and knees. I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to be pushing or not. I didn’t really feel the urge to push but I had noticed a change in my contractions a while ago. It was a sharper more direct pain…

I was ready to push but I was preventing myself from doing so. With the next contraction Becky advised that I push into the pain. Relief…a weird painful relief if that makes any sense. I needed to push more. Next contraction…puuuuuuush!

I tried a couple more like this, each time the midwife applying oil to prevent any tearing. Becky decided that Lucas’ head was getting stuck behind my pubic bone and that maybe it was a good idea to roll over onto my back. Robert laid behind my back so I could be at an angle and keep gravity on my side.

I was asked then if I wanted them to break my water and my reply was, “Yes…whatever it takes to get this to end sooner!” With the next contraction they broke my water. I was ready to get this baby out so I could meet him!

I pushed some more and Lucas was now unstuck. I cannot remember how many times I pushed but I do remember the ring of fire! As soon as I felt that I stopped mid push. Becky explained that was the ring of fire and if I kept pushing my baby boy would soon be here!

I told her I couldn’t do this and she looked me dead in the eye and told me that I kind of had to.

“Ok,” I thought to myself, “the sooner you do this, the harder you push, the sooner this will be over.”

The next push I gave it everything I had with a grunt/scream. I looked down and saw his head!!! Oh my goodness…that’s my baby! Look at what I had done! I really was almost there! The shoulders were next and I felt like that was a small hurdle to overcome! I took a second to breathe and catch my breath…I wasn’t being rushed and told to push with only half a breath and it was so nice.

One last big breath turned into one last big push and one last big scream. At 9:11am, I felt my baby slide out of my body…out of the place I had carried and nurtured him for the previous 10 months.

Immediately he was placed onto my belly as I rested onto my sweet husband. I was done. I looked at my son whom I had just brought into this world in the best way I knew possible…in the comfort and warmth of our home drug free.

I wrapped my arms around my baby boy and told him how much I loved him. In my head I was thinking, “I did it! I did it! I can’t believe I really did this!”

Lucas started whining and making little crying noises. Perfect. Sweet perfect cries from a tiny little miracle. He made his way to my breast where he had no problem latching…an issue we had with my previous son likely from the interventions.

We left Lucas attached to his cord for 7 minutes until it stopped pulsing ensuring he received all his blood. Robert was able to cut the cord of course. I was in heaven with my husband right next to me and my new baby warming up on my chest.

I looked at my husband who had tears in eyes and I just lost it. I cried. I cried tears of joy, happiness, satisfaction. Tears that were in awe of the strength I had to do what I had just done and with a husband whom I loved so much and supported me in a way no one else could. He was my rock.

The placenta was taking a little longer than we liked to come out so Darcy gave me a shot of Pitocin…NOT a fun shot at all. Within minutes and a small push I delivered my placenta intact. For the next hour, the midwives checked on me and baby every 15 minutes. We were doing great. He was nursing like a champ. As tired and hungry as I was, I just soaked it all in.

lucas woolf and family

After the first hour the midwives went downstairs to give us some bonding time and to get their paperwork done. Robert was able to get in some skin to skin time when Lucas was done nursing and I rested. We informed our family and friends that it was all over and everyone was doing great.

When the midwives came back upstairs they gave baby Lucas his newborn exam. He weighed in at 7 pounds 6 ounces and measured 20 1⁄2 inches long. He was perfect…just as his birth had been.

robert woolf birth story

 

 

{Story and Photos submitted by the Woolf family.}

Surprise Breech Delivery {Home Birth}

Surprise Breech Delivery {Home Birth}

So, 8 months ago I gave birth to my first baby – a beautiful boy, a healthy 3.6kg (8 pound), delivered breech, vaginally, at home! He wasn’t diagnosed breech by my midwives & Dr’s, his position was not easily detected by feel as his legs were up around his head & everything more or less felt the way is should. -Alanna

I had a wonderful & straightforward pregnancy, so we decided to go for the Home birth option as it was something i was really keen on. At 40 weeks & 1 day I woke up at 3am with mild contractions. I was so excited I woke up my partner to tell him the good news- to which he replied, Midwives orders – go back to sleep you need to save your energy!! I couldn’t sleep, so got up & baked (as you do!). I made lentil & veg pies for dinner, & muffins to snack on during the day.

I did go back to bed, and then to the couch, and then back to bed, and so on for the best part of the day.

At about 6pm the contractions started to increase slightly, although I had it in my head that I would be laboring well into the night as I’d been told first babies can take their time! We sat down for some dinner (although I did more of a pace around, eat between contractions sort of thing) and then hopped into the shower. I told my partner he should call the midwives & as I was feeling a lot of pressure like I was needing to push.

I hopped into the birth pool, my waters broke (with a loud pop! Wasn’t like the lovely warm gush I had seen in so many movies), and soon after the midwives arrived. This was a huge relief & they said I could start pushing if that’s what I needed to do. The midwives saw that there was some meconium in the bottom of the pool & asked me to hop out as they could not see what was happening.

After a vaginal examination they determined that my baby was coming bum first! They had to ask whether (for legal reasons) I wanted to call an ambulance, or carry on at home. I just remember looking at my partner, squeezing his hand really tight & crying. My midwife said,  “It’s OK, it’s the same labour, same amount of work for you, the baby is fine and you can do this.”

So we carried on.

About 45 mins later my little guy was born, bum first, then the legs sprang out & down, then finally his head was born. He was arrived at around 9:45pm. The most vivid image I have is of bending over & seeing his little body hanging from me, his head still inside, and thinking just one more push and I can hold my baby. It was almost surreal.

home birth

It wasn’t until the days after that the immensity of it all dawned on me. I asked my midwives all the ‘what if’ questions I hadn’t thought to ask when I was pregnant. It had never even crossed my mind that I would birth a breech baby.

breech midwife birth
breech home birth

In hindsight I’m glad it wasn’t diagnosed. I think my whole pregnancy would have become about the breech factor, trying to turn baby, and probably accepting that my dreams of a natural, vaginal, home birth were not going to be a possibility.

As it were I was blissfully unaware, and in the end all went more or less to plan. I would not change a thing. There are always risks with any birth, & for us it came down to the trust we had in our midwives. I don’t think you can underestimate the role of your care givers, especially in a situation like this where you’re thrown a complete curve-ball right in the middle of your transition phase!

It’s like that saying (one of my favorite labor mantras) – She believed she could, and so she did.

Hospital Trauma and Healing at Home: A Story of Two Births (Part II)

Hospital Trauma and Healing at Home: A Story of Two Births (Part II)

Pregnancy and/or Parenting Through Adoption/Infertility/Loss blogger Sarah Robertson-Barnes shared the story of her first birth yesterday – a hospital birth which left her feeling guilty, dehumanized, and depressed and which she chronicled on her blog, Little Chicken Nuggets. Today, she shares the victorious, redemptive experience of her second birth, midwife-attended and completed at home.

You can read the first part of her story here.

“I hardly know where to begin.

So, we will begin at the end – with a beginning.

I was “due” on February 9 – a date that I have always questioned as there was no possible way to approximate the date of conception (years of anovulation, PCOS, infertility diagnosis, breastfeeding) and the EDD was made from one dating ultrasound. Other measurements along the way (NT scan, anatomy scan, fundal height, etc.) seemed to jive with this date so I went with it. For some reason, however, I had an inkling that I voiced to several people that I would not be making it out of Week 38. MJB was born at 38w2d.

For a few days leading up to it I had been having pretty strong Braxton Hicks contractions in the evening and throughout the night. I mentioned it to one of my midwives at my appointment on the Thursday before and she said that sometimes with second babies, “…your uterus can get very irritable.” INDEED, I thought. Friday and Saturday night I woke up every hour or so feeling very uncomfortable. On Sunday night/early Monday morning I would wake up and think “I REALLY need to pee,” but the pressure was not relieved. I would have to wait out the sensation and it would disappear. Hmmmmmmm.

After 3 of these in two hours, I wake BJB up at 5:30 am and say, “Babe, I think something is maybe happening.” I don’t recall his response but it was probably some sort of sleepy acknowledgement/denial. We decide to get up before HGB, only to look outside and see a blizzard. PERFECT.

By the time BJB gets out of the shower I am starting to feel pretty excited that “something is happening” and ask if it is possible to please work from home? I then text my friend who is going to look after HGB for us to put her on alert. Throughout the morning I am having pretty mild sensations, but they are also coming pretty regularly every 20 minutes or so. Then every 15, then every 30, and I start to feel disappointed that maybe it is nothing. I am feeling guilty that BJB has taken the day off and my friend is preparing to leave work early for no reason. Both of whom are basically like, “Dude. It’s FINE! No worries. Also, you are obviously going to have a baby today.”

BJB decides to run out with HGB before lunch and pick up a few things that seem monumentally important to me at the time and now I forget what they were. Apple juice? Loonies for laundry? Doesn’t matter. He texts me to ask if I want poutine from the chip truck like he has never met me before in my life. Obviously I say yes. If you are going to puke your guts out during transition, I recommend that your last meal be something beige and fatty versus say, spicy pad thai. Learn from my experience!

The next few hours are spent knitting on the couch, watching Downton Abbey, and jumping up every ten minutes or so to walk around for 30-60 seconds. The waves were becoming a little more intense, but nothing that a little pacing and toning (sounding “oooooooh” and “aaaaaaaah” deeply) can’t handle. Around 2:00 pm I move to sitting on the ball. BJB gets a phone call from a friend we seem to have kept missing for the last year who suddenly wonders why BJB is at home. “Oh, SRB is in labour” BJB casually tells him. So, I talk to our friend for approximately eight minutes before needing to pass him back to BJB. At this point I am thinking, “SRB, you are not talking so well through these anymore. This is happening.” And this incredible feeling of excitement and happiness washes over me. I make a super casual call to my main midwife and leave a message that I am in early labour and will call her back later.

Our next call is to our friend SK to please come and pick up HGB. She comes right away. Leading up to the birth, I was extremely reluctant to ship our firstborn son off for the night, only to come home and find Usurper Baby in mum’s arms. But when it came down to it, I knew I needed him to be safely away so that I could concentrate on his brother, and his dad could concentrate on me. And I knew he would have fun with Auntie SK.

At this point, I decide that I want to get into the bathtub. This was the only thing that brought me any relief during my runaway train-style labour with HGB. Up until now, I have been doing pretty well with walking and toning through the waves, and focusing on my “Peace” cue from my Hypnobabies preparation. While in the tub, I try my best to do the “finger drop” and the “eyes open” stuff, but can’t seem to focus on it. Instead, I find myself just closing my eyes and visualizing that each wave is in fact, just that – a wave. I am confident that I can climb to the top, and then gently roll back down.

My “special place” is a beach I used to visit frequently when I lived in Nova Scotia, so this really works for me. I know how this sounds, believe me. But I feel capable and strong, safe and supported. I really do the “…when each of my powerful pressure waves ends I feel happy, and smile” thing. For real. BJB says, “You are doing an amazing job of keeping your face relaxed” and this makes me feel so good.

The bathtub is suddenly not where I want to be, so I get out and lean on the bathroom counter for a while. My bag of waters STILL has not broken, so I am expecting this to happen at any second. (They broke it “for me” with HGB, so I have no frame of reference about what this would be like.) BJB brings me the gown I wore when HGB was born, and we stay in the bathroom for a little while. I am not sure how long because we do not own a clock (seriously), and one of my birth preferences is to be blissfully ignorant of the time.

I am generally feeling the sensations in my back, hips, and the fronts of my thighs, so BJB is instructed as to where to apply counter-pressure with each wave. My back needs a break though, so I go back to the living room to kneel and lean on my exercise ball for support. We are no longer tracking the frequency or length of the waves any longer as there simply isn’t time. I announce, with absolute certainty, that it is time to page the midwife.

We call our main midwife, Natalie, around 6:00ish. She stays on the phone with me for about a half hour, talking to both of us and listening to me have contractions. At the end of the third one she says, “Okay, we’re getting in the car and coming over! We’re having a BABY!!!!!” I stay exactly where I am until they arrive about an hour later. At some point BJB puts on the playlist we made (all Ravi Shankar/new age/yoga type stuff… I don’t know why) and I tolerate that for about six minutes. BJB also just casually makes and eats enchiladas during this portion of the evening, and is nearly crucified for his breath in my face. ANYWAY. The three midwives show up (I’ll explain why there are three in another post) but I barely notice.

Natalie comes over and gives me a big hug and after some words of excitement and encouragement, asks to take my vitals and listen to the baby. She says everything looks great, but would it be okay to check me? I agree and insist on going to my bed for this for some reason. I think I am afraid my water will break all over HGB’s play mat or something. I forget.
She warns me that the check will be “uncomfortable” and I’m like, “Dude. I doubt I will notice.” She says I am about 9-10 cm!

I look at BJB and he looks so surprised, but also so proud of me. I’ll never forget that. He gets very excited and startes running around to help the midwives set up all their gear. This literally includes boiling water and getting towels ready. We had managed to make up the bed earlier in the afternoon, but hadn’t cleared off the dresser yet. He gets to work doing this and sets the plastic pail down for a second on top of the dresser. Meanwhile, I have gotten up to pace again and decide that I need to vomit. RIGHT NOW. Into the pail! And then eleven or so more times! Much better. Natalie exclaimes surprise that my water didn’t break as that was very impressive heaving indeed. I start laughing, and then promptly crying, shivering and chattering my teeth. Why, HELLO TRANSITION!

Somehow I end up standing on BJB’s side of the bed, leaning on the ball. No idea how the ball got in the room. My contractions are now VERY intense, and with each one Natalie is doing this awesome hip squeeze maneuver while BJB crouches down and rubs my legs or back. My legs are starting to feel like lead, but I also feel “stuck” and can’t seem to move. I am getting the urge to start sinking my knees with each pressure wave, but also feel SO TIRED. I start BAWLING and enter the “I CAN’T DO THIS ANYMORE!” phase. Natalie gives me a big hug and reassures me that it is time to push my baby out now and I will be holding him soon. I am sobbing that I need to lie down but, “…you aren’tsupposed to  lie down to push your baby out!” Natalie reminds me that I can do whatever my body is telling me to do and helps me lie down on my side. She asks to check me again, and says that she can see the baby but my bag of waters is bulging.

I am dumbfounded that it still hasn’t broken yet. Natalie says that she knows I don’t want an AROM, but at this stage, it is very likely that it will help the baby “…slide right out” and may help relieve the pressure I am feeling. I agree, and again she warns me that it will be uncomfortable. It feels like a bucket of water has been thrown on me, and then… I fall asleep.

I think I slept for maybe five minutes? I remember telling Natalie that I just need to rest for a few minutes, and she was stroking my hair and saying “Whenever you’re ready.” And then, I was READY. I do not remember very much of this part, but I think it only lasted 15 minutes or so.

I close my eyes, grab the bed frame with one hand and BJB with the other. I can only describe it as riding the biggest rollercoaster in the park with your eyes closed – knowing that the ride is terrifying and exhilarating, and also that you are very safe and will pull back into the loading area very soon. The few things I do remember are thinking my sounds are getting very high, and I need to go lower. That I need to move into the sensation, not try to crawl away from it. That everything is very quiet. Then I remember saying, “IT BURNS!” and feeling a warm cloth. After about 30 seconds I can hear BJB saying, “SRB! Reach down! Pull him out!” and I grasp our baby’s shoulders and lift him out onto my chest. He cries right away and starts rooting for a breast, latching like a pro. I’ve never seen BJB’s face look quite like it did in that moment.

Our sweet boy is born.

newborn mama

For the next hour I hold him on my chest while all the after birth things are happening. We have opted to collect cord blood for both of our children, so the cord needs to be clamped immediately rather than allowing pulsation to stop. Robynn (the senior midwife) helps Natalie learn how to do the collection, and then BJB jumps in to cut the cord. He did not get to do this with HGB, a source of disappointment for both us. It is very important to me that BJB do this as a symbol of our son becoming his own person, separate from me. In the time those procedures take, I have managed to birth my placenta with no active management at all. I become hyper-focused on the realization that I have not yet labelled a freezer bag for it, but Natalie assures us that it is no big deal. She shows me the organ as she checks it, using an amazing “Tree of Life” analogy as she goes. Our plan is to plant MJB’s placenta under a seedling evergreen that my father potted for us when HGB was born in the backyard of our new home. But for now, it sits in a Zipl.oc bag next to my ice cube trays.

mama cuddles

MJB is weighed in a cloth bag hung from a fish scale. Rashmi (the baby’s midwife) looks him over, does the usual newborn tests and whatnot, and then gives him to BJB to hold. During this time I am checked (no tears!) and helped into bathroom to get cleaned up and into ye olde mesh panties. When I return to our bedroom all the blue pads, equipment, and plastic sheeting has been cleared away, and our bed is all ready for us to crawl into. We chat with the midwives for a few minutes, and they hug us both before essentially tucking us in and bidding us adieu. They leave shortly before midnight, and we lie down with our new son between us.

papa cuddles

I wish I had the words to capture the power of this experience. It has touched every fibre of my being, every corner of my heart. I remarked to a dear friend a few days later that I felt like I had been hit by a truck, but also like I could pick that truck up and throw it. In this one night, so much of the weight of my first birth, my infertility, my pregnancy loss, my anger and sadness… it just became so light and drifted away. For me, this experience has been a tremendous healing force beyond my hopes or imagination. Our son was born on the very spot he was made, surrounded by love. Through this birth, I have be re-born as a more whole version of myself. I trust my body. I trust my partner. I trust myself. I am happy. We are so grateful for this perfect day.”

A Home Water Birth Based on Faith and Evidence Based Care

A Home Water Birth Based on Faith and Evidence Based Care

Around my daughter’s first birthday in December, it was placed heavily my heart to have another child. I had just graduated college, and the timing seemed perfect. My husband agreed and we found out we were expecting in January with an estimated due date of around September 17! I immediately started researching home birth midwifery options. I had an all natural, un-medicated hospital birth attended by a midwife with my daughter. I was at the hospital less than an hour before she was born, because I knew I needed to wait as long as possible before going in to be able to stick to the birth plan. It felt weird to not have a care provider with me while I was laboring. The post partum care was disappointing with my hospital midwives. So I knew I wanted to give myself something more with this baby. We deserved the best care possible. I found a homebirth Certified Nurse Midwife in my state, and she took me on as a client.

I was incredibly blessed with an easy pregnancy. I didn’t have HG this time; in fact, I never even threw up once. I was able to work out until the middle of the third trimester as well. This was such a difference than my pregnancy with my daughter, which was great because having a 1 year old and being pregnant at the same time is quite challenging! We had an anatomy scan with the maternal fetal medicine doctor that does the ultrasounds at the birth center and found out we were having a healthy son. I still tear up thinking about that day. I knew God had a plan for us to have a son, and to keep him whole and intact. He was created perfectly, and I would not change that by circumcising him! I felt instantly connected to him the moment I saw him on the screen. I knew at that moment I would do anything to protect him!

maternity shot for birth story

Having my midwife come to my house for all my appointments was so nice. I never had to make childcare arrangements for our daughter, and it was simply convenient! I also had regular chiropractic care during this pregnancy, which alleviated a lot of aches and pains. Also, I treated myself to pedicures with my girlfriends which was fun!

Once September came I had some episodes of prodromal labor. I knew my baby was getting ready to enter the world, but each time the prodromal labor would end without me actually going into labor, it was disappointing. He had been posterior most of the pregnancy, so I figured it was him trying to get into the best position.

The early morning hours of my due date, I started having contractions that I knew weren’t Braxton hicks. I knew Berkley was coming to meet us. I was timing them and getting so excited. I cleaned and lit candles, prayed and told my husband. He needed some convincing that it was time, but once he realized it was, he started blowing up the birth pool. It was around 3:30AM at this point. We called our midwife and told her we believed I was in labor. We also sent text messages to the doula and photographer. We were so excited!

birth pool for story

My midwife called around 6:00AM to let us know she was on her way. She told me my labor may stall a bit once my toddler woke up, and recommended sending her to Grandma and Grandpa’s so I could get on with my labor. In her experience, mothers of small toddlers can get out of the labor when they mother their toddler. And I was so ready, so off she went to Grandma and Grandpa’s. I remember sitting with her on the rocking chair, where I nursed her for her first year of life, telling her mommy loves her so much, and she will always be my baby girl. It was such an intense moment knowing when she would arrive back home she would be a big sister.

My midwife was right. My labor slowed way down once Faith woke up. I went almost 2 hours with no contractions. My midwife still set up all her equipment though. She suggested I take a walk, use the breast pump, take a shower, all to get things moving again. I asked for a cervical check and I was 4 centimeters dilated and 80% effaced and baby was at minus 2 station.

Hours passed with pretty minimal contractions. My midwife went to go eat some lunch around 11:00AM to give us some space. It was so weird having such irregular contractions, yet they were so intense. I was pretty confused about the situation. When my midwife arrived back, I told her I would like an intervention of some sort to get labor moving. Once my doula arrived, I consented to a stripping of the membranes. Literally, once that happened, things picked up so fast. The contractions were coming so quickly. I could barely breathe and talk through them. I noticed all my hypnobirthing techniques weren’t helping to cope. I told my husband to call the photographer, I knew it would be soon that we would be meeting our baby boy!

My midwife didn’t want me getting into the birth pool prematurely. So when I asked her if I could get in and she said yes, I knew it would be close. This was around 2:45PM. I already felt so tired from being up all night with contractions. The pool was very relaxing, I am so glad I got that thing! It was nice being able to stretch out in it. The contractions were coming so quickly. I didn’t know how much more I could handle. I felt like I was loosing it. We put on my hypnobirthing tracks which helped a little. I even said I wanted to transfer to the hospital. Looking back, I know this is a “sign post” that means that the baby is coming soon, but I couldn’t think at that point. I just didn’t know how I could handle any more labor. The photographer walked in and I couldn’t even say hi. I felt so rude! I was sobbing. I was a mess. I felt like I was failing at my peaceful birth.

janet hugging me

labor in pool 3

birth story photo 1

 

labor in pool 2

I felt nauseated (which again, usually means baby is coming SOON) so my doula did some aromatherapy which did help.  I asked to get out of the pool. I went into my room and was crying some more. My midwife came and gave me a big hug and told me I just needed a little more courage and the baby would be here. I told her she was right, that I was scared. Looking back at my photos of that moment, I realize I definitely picked the right care provider. She hugged me and told me everything I needed to hear.

laboring on ball

Right at that moment, my water broke. My midwife called her assistant in to chart the time. It was clear fluid. I felt so much better once my water broke, but then the contractions kept coming even more frequently. I started having bright red blood drip down my leg. My midwife immediately (yet calmly) figured out I was involuntarily pushing against a cervical lip. I asked if it were too late to get back in the pool. Of course not! So I ran back into the pool. The bleeding stopped just as soon as it started. Everyone was right there with me. I told my midwife I felt like I had to have a bowel movement. Again, a sign the baby is right there. She just told me “poop the baby out”, “it’s okay!”, “you can do this”.

labor in pool 4

labor in the pool 3

The pushing was an experience I had not really had before. With my daughter, she came very quickly with no pushing stage, and I had 3 first degree tears. I wanted to be in the water to minimalize tearing. It is amazing how natural it is to push. I didn’t need any directed coaching about how long to push or how to push. If given the opportunity, it comes naturally!

pushing

Within just a few minutes, he was born! I did it! I leaned against the back of the birth pool and he was right on my chest. He had vernix! He was so cute and tiny! It’s amazing how quickly you forget how tiny they are! He got a 9 and a 10 on his APGARs. He was so beautiful and calm. My photographer said when he was born, I was saying “We wanted you so much, We wanted you!”.

group shot at birth

birth of c 2

birth of C

 

after birth of c 2

I felt like I didn’t have a lot of traction sitting in the birth pool with him, so I asked to move to my bed. We went to the bed and just cuddled, hugged, breastfed, everything that should be done in that golden hour. When we were ready, my midwife checked me and I didn’t tear! She weighed our boy and he was 7 pounds 12.5 ounces and 20.5 inches long. There were no hands on him other than mine and my husbands until we consented to his exam. She didn’t even have to draw blood to test his blood type, she collected a sample from his umbilical cord! It was such a private birth, this was the experience I wanted, the experience we deserved. I know God designed me to be able to give birth, and having a midwife with so much experience and evidence-based practices made the home birth decision even more excellent. I know my fast recovery and lack of PPD can be attributed to such a peaceful birth and loving care from my midwife and family.

we did it

kale at birth

Maternity Photo by Brink Street Photography

Birth Photography by Aperture Grrl

A Healing Natural Water Birth

A Healing Natural Water Birth

This was a very healing birth for me. My first son’s birth I was induced at 41 weeks, had an epidural, and left in love with my healthy baby but feeling robbed of my birth experience. We suffered a loss 3 years later. Henry is our “rainbow baby”. It was amazing to learn to trust my body, and watch and feel it doing everything as it should. I am NOT broken! I am strong, and it was the first time I could honestly say I am proud of my body.

2 AM the day we hit 41 weeks, I woke with lots of pressure. I wasn’t sure if it was a contraction or not; it felt different this time. I woke with the same feeling of pressure at 3, 4, and 5. I gave up on sleep and woke my husband up asking him to take a hot shower with me – today may be it! Either the contractions would slow down and go away, or they would continue to get more intense. The shower brought immediate relief; these contractions were real! They were about 10 minutes apart, but more intense than the Braxton Hicks I had been having for weeks.

I let the warm water run on my belly and leaned into the wall or my husband for extra support. By 7 AM not much had changed, I sent my doulas a text message letting them know I was having consistent contractions. I truly did not think he would be born that day. I called the midwife and let her know I was in early labor. My 4 year old, Levi, woke up and sat with me on his own yoga ball. We continued with our day as usual until Levi (my mini doula) left for preschool around 11:40. Contractions still 10 min apart, but getting stronger.

While Levi was at school I tried to nap but it was not happening. Lying down was so uncomfortable for me; all I wanted to do was sit on my yoga ball! By the time Levi came home from school at 3 PM, contractions were still spaced about 8-10 minutes apart and I was starting to tire. He went down for a nap and my husband began preparing everything for the birth. We made “labor aid” and sat outside for a bit. It was beautiful outside but too warm to be out for long.

By 5 PM, I was beginning to get nervous, contractions were getting harder to handle! I live far away and did not want to cry wolf. I asked Courtney (doula apprentice and friend) to come over in an hour, I figured she could help calm me down and try different positions. It wouldn’t be a big deal if she went home soon after, she lived nearby. I STILL was in denial I was in labor! By the time Courtney arrived at 6, Amanda (doula) sent a message asking if she should head my way. She arrived a few minutes after Courtney. We updated the midwife’s assistant and she told me to call if anything changed.

My lower back was aching, and Amanda suggested I move onto my knees and lean over the ball. I rocked my hips from side to side as she dug into my hips during contractions, ah that was much better! Low moans also helped. I knew I had to let go completely so my body could do what it had to. I was a bit nauseous so Courtney was fanning me with a wet washcloth with peppermint and clary sage oil. I felt spoiled by these two!

Around this time my son left for a sleepover with his cousins. I ran outside to give him a hug and kiss goodbye. When he came back he wouldn’t be the baby of the family anymore.  I believe my contractions were around 6-8 minutes apart by now, I wasn’t the one timing and I made a point to not watch the clock. The contractions were pretty intense by now. We turned on my BANI hypnosis cd and I tried harder to focus on breathing and relaxation.

Amanda put a tens unit on my lower back to help with aching. Henry had been posterior, so I knew this could lead to back pain. I talked to the assistant on the phone and she began to head over, my midwife would come over after a nap. They believed I still had a long way to go. I went to the bathroom and lost a little more bloody show. I had lost a few tiny pieces the night before. For some reason I forgot to tell my midwife about the bloody show, I was in my own little world! This would have been helpful later on.

My midwife’s assistant showed up, checked Henry’s heart rate and my blood pressure, baby and mama were doing great – but lying down was so uncomfortable! How do people give birth this way?? I forced myself to eat, as I knew I would need the strength. I drank Labor Aid and choked down some peanut butter toast and a honey stick. Since I was running on close to no sleep, the assistant told me I should lie down and try to sleep/relax in the dark bedroom between contractions, maybe they would pick up.

They wanted them to last longer than they had been. But remember, lying down was awful for me! I did NOT want to move. I began to doubt how much longer I could deal with the contractions and I half joking asked for an epidural. I knew I couldn’t have and didn’t want an epidural but it felt good to just say it! With the assistant’s advice, I moved into a lunging position and could feel Henry moving into the right position.

She told me to go pee and try to lay down, she was going to rest downstairs, too. I went to the bathroom and my water broke into the toilet. I wasn’t positive if it was my water or pee.. I threw up and then knew “I must be in transition!” Contractions were one on top of the other the moment I stood up. I leaned against my bed for support and had a slight urge to push. No way was I going to sleep, Henry had other plans! They started to fill up the birth pool and I could not wait to get into that pool.

With each contraction I could feel a little gush of fluid, but not enough to splash on the ground. That’s when I realized my water had actually broken. The pool was taking a long time to fill. I got in even though it was only a few inches deep and sat on my knees with my chest leaning over the side onto my husband. Towels were thrown into the dryer to heat up, water boiling on the stove.

My body began to push very hard on its own within seconds of getting into the pool. I was never checked so this freaked me out a bit. Courtney asked if I was pushing, and I said, “I don’t know!” Once she reminded me this was ok I said I felt lots of pressure, and had to push. At some point my midwife was called and began speeding to my house.

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I did not expect it to change this quickly and neither did my midwife or her assistant. I continued to push on my knees and I tried to feel his head but couldn’t. I changed positions to almost lying down in the pool, to get into the water as much as possible and my body continued to push with each contraction. I was screaming with each push, and the doulas reminded me to use low tones, and my screams turned to deep roars. My body was working so hard whether I wanted it to or not and roring helped.

I could feel Henry’s head coming down, it was amazing. Once he was crowning they told me to slow down and ease his head out, I didn’t want to tear so I tried my best to not push super hard. His head was out! I felt relief immediately. I reached down and felt his soft head and hair, I was in total shock. I asked how long he could be like that; did I need to push his body out immediately? No he is ok, I breathed and took a little break between contractions, and then my body pushed very hard with the next, his shoulders came out.

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His cord was wrapped around each shoulder, almost like he was wearing a vest. They lifted my knees up and I pushed out the rest of his body. It felt so overwhelming! Our bodies are so powerful! They un-wrapped his cord, and handed him to me. I was in total shock and could not believe I did it, or that he was here, it all was so surreal.

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His cord was pulsing for a long time, we were in no rush to cut it, and we would wait until my midwife arrived. I did not really have urges to push the placenta out. And it did not want to come out. I held Henry and did not really have a care in the world. I was told sometimes it can take up to 40 minutes. We got out of the pool, me walking next to my husband; he was holding Henry and I still had the placenta inside, Henry’s cord still attached. I laid down into bed and held my baby. Shortly after my midwife arrived, she was sad to have missed it but immediately got to work.

She helped push on my tummy a little to get the placenta out and I pushed a bit. It was huge. By now Henry’s cord was not pulsing and she clamped it, my husband cut it. I wanted to burn it off but had not prepared things ahead of time to do it, so I said go ahead. I was checked and cleaned up – I had no tearing!

Henry and I took a warm herbal bath together. I held his neck and head and floated his body in the water, he looked so peaceful. While we were doing this everyone else was cleaning up. It was such a nice bonding time. I still could not believe my baby is here.

We got into bed and checked on baby. He is perfect! The midwife weighed and measured him and everyone guessed how much, we all laughed when he was 10 lbs 8 oz. Amanda said “that’s not a newborn!” His skin was perfectly pink when he was born, he really did not look like a baby just born! He wasn’t interested in nursing in the birth pool, but once we were in bed he latched on great. I was on cloud 9. Everyone made sure we were comfortable and about 2 hours or so after the birth they left us to ourselves. Henry slept great that night, he worked hard too!

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Levi came home at around 9 am the next day and was so excited when he saw his brother. He was very proud and still calls him “my Henry”. I am so proud of the amazing big brother he has become. Finally our family of 4 is all together! I had my healthy rainbow baby in my arms and a new faith in my body.

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{Photos are by: http://smallbeginningsphoto.com/}

My Fearless Birth {Home birth turned hospital}

My Fearless Birth {Home birth turned hospital}

My wife, Jenny, and I tried for two years getting pregnant, so when we found out on our 2 year anniversary trip that I was pregnant we were more than excited! I had known since we started trying that I wanted a home birth. I educated myself as best I could. I started taking a Hypnobabies class, hired a midwife and a doula, and soaked in any and all information my fellow home birth moms had to offer.

Since the day we had come back home after finding out, spiritual things started happening in our home. We chalked it up to being my wife’s father, who passed away. Our midwife, Susan, and doula, April, were so very kind to hear us out and not make us sound crazy. Actually they helped us come to terms with it. After that things settled down until around November. We were all sitting there talking about the new things that were occurring in the house and new feelings surfacing when I started telling them that I had always had a feeling the baby was going to come early. Jenny kept saying the date December 5th kept sticking out in a big way. This so happened to be the same day her father died. We talked to the spirits (assuming it was her father) letting him know Dec. 5th was too early and we wouldn’t be able to have a home birth.

December 5th came around and sure enough I went into early labor. The only thing that kept me from going into full labor was that I put myself on bed rest for the next couple weeks. All was well.

Friday, January 4th at 3:00PM labor starts again (Due date was Janurary 3rd). Our 10 year old son, Quenton, came home from school and saw me practicing my Hypnobabies and getting super excited. It had been planed for him to be leaving that day for the weekend but he didn’t want to go. We told him it was OK, he had to go, but he was going to be a big brother when he got back. He went on his way. I tried keeping myself occupied by working on the baby book and a calendar project with friends and families guesses when they thought I’d have the baby. I was getting restless by the evening and we went and rented movies.

That night my sister came over to help out. I was stressing out with getting the room and bathroom ready since pressure waves (contractions) were getting closer and stronger. I was also obsessing about who was going to take pictures that I couldn’t focus on Hypnobabies. When she came things started progressing even more. We focused hard with Hypnobabies and used the yoga ball a lot. Later that night April and Susan came over after waves started getting closer. Jenny and I did very well through each wave. We were all very excited to meet our baby boy. We talked and laughed through each of my waves. I felt good. I felt on top of each one, progressing nicely. Since it seemed like it was going to be soon we all thought it’d be a good idea to get some rest. Even though I knew I needed the rest, once I laid down my waves slowed down. Around 8:00am (Jan. 5th) I asked Jenny to go make everyone some breakfast. I was upset and wanted to be alone for a little while. I was so sure this was going to happen and I felt bad for calling April and Susan over (since they lived 30 mins away and both had kids). They assured me it was OK but that they were both going to go home and to call them when things picked up again. I liked that idea because I was ready to do this on my own again and concentrate on what I was doing.

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(Saturday, January 5th)
Jenny and I decided to go rent a couple more movies around 11:00am to help me relax again. I remember breaking down while in the aisle at the rental place because the waves were getting so strong. We took the day to work through the waves that were quickly intensifying again. I could tell they were getting stronger than the ones I had the day before but I did not want to call April and Susan until I felt like we were really ready (in my mind I wanted to call when I felt like I wanted to go to the hospital). I did not want to take the chance of calling them and labor slowing down again. My brother came over to borrow some stuff and I remember working through the waves with breathing techniques. He was surprised to see I was that calm while in labor (although I personally felt like I was going outta my mind). We used different techniques of Hypnobabies. I tried walking up and down the road which didn’t work too well for me because it was just hurting too much. I got in the bath a lot. I rolled around on the yoga ball, also. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but I was falling out of rhythm with Hypnobabies and I could feel EVERYTHING. I would cry and the hospital kept crossing my mind. We were so sleep deprived at this point. Even though we would rest, we would get woke up every 5-10 minutes by a strong wave.

Around 10:00pm we felt we were ready for April and Susan to come. It was like deja vu, yet waves were definitely longer and stronger than Friday nights. My mom was now there since we just “knew” this was it. I got in the tub with candles and my wife. She’d rub me down with oils and we had finally gotten back into a fabulous Hypnobabies rhythm. Jenny would chant the cue words in such calming and comforting ways that she ended up putting my mom to sleep. When my mom would wake up, the vibe around the room was so different. Like a warm blanket being put on you coming in from the cold. I’m still cold, but the comfort was there. She was so brave and strong for me. Always telling me how proud she was of me. That was a big moment in my life as we had not had a close relationship growing up.

Early morning came (Sunday) and when I laid down again waves slowed down. Again, April and Susan went home. I was so upset. I cried and cried and kept saying I just can’t keep doing this. I had been working so hard at this point to stay in the zone of Hypnobabies. I didn’t know how much more of this I could take.

(Sunday, January 6th)
First and foremost- I’m not above admitting that by this point I had gone through enough and was ready to go to the hospital. The thing that stopped me was the simple fact that I had went on and on about how much I wanted this home birth and I did not want to disappoint everyone who rooted me on.

Jenny and I were left alone again, and although the waves slowed down in length they, by no means, slowed down in intensity. To be perfectly blunt- I was pissed. I was annoyed. What the heck was I doing wrong? Why wasn’t this baby out? I was doing everything I learned, everything I was taught. I never read this in the books. I had never listened to anyone tell their story of being in labor for three days, dilating back and forth. What was going on? I was ashamed in thinking I was not giving birth the right way. I kept thinking to myself, “I’m so bad at this. April and Susan are so annoyed with me. Jenny probably thinks I’m not trying my best.” But no way would I voice these things out loud. I had to be strong. I had to put my game face on and not let anyone know how different this was becoming to me, how increasingly hard it was to keep it together.

It seemed like as soon as I started thinking all this April had arrived, and Susan soon followed after picking up our son. I put a brave smile on for my son, my sister Justice (who was the same age as my son), and my mom. Soon after, my father came downstairs to give me a huge hug. I remember this moment like it was yesterday. I didn’t want him to see how much pain I was in and I knew since the waves were really close together it’d have to be a quick hug and he would need to go. Once he got down there and I fell into his arms, I didn’t have a single wave. I felt so much peace. I wanted him to stay. He told me he loved me and off her went out of town for a job.

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My family stayed upstairs as I continued to moan, sway, and breathe through each wave. “I can’t give up now! I can’t give up now!” Susan and April insisted me sit on the toilet to help keep me dilating. I hated it. No- I LOATHED IT! They sure were right though. It wasn’t long after going to and from the toilet to the bed that my water broke. I remember I was on the bed with the yoga ball asking for the bed pads because with this next contraction I’m pretty sure I’m going to pee. There it went. “DeAnna- it’s not pee. Your water broke!” Another contraction. “I’m sorry guys I’m peeing again!” “DeAnna- I promise it would be OK if you were even peeing, but you’re not. It’s your water.” I was not convinced it was not my pee until it was prob the 10th time I had a contraction and was still feeling gushes come out. Once my water broke I could not stop the urges to push. Now it all seemed so surreal. It’s official. I’m about to have my baby! My mom, sister, and son came down and sat on our bed waiting for the cue to come in and watch little baby boy Sebastian come out. An hour of uncontrollable pushes came and went. Two hours. Three hours. They fell asleep on my bed. Four. Five. ‘OMG, WHY ISN’T THIS BABY COMING OUT! Stay strong, DeAnna. They’re all here for you. Ahhhhh! Please Lord help me!’

I couldn’t stand the water anymore. I sent my family away as I was to the point that I didn’t want them to hear me cuss, I didn’t want to scare my son any more than he had already been, I didn’t want to scare my sister into never wanting children. By this time though, laying in bed, I hated everyone. I felt like every birth story, birth movie, birth show I ever watched were all lies. Every time anyone would tell me I was close I didn’t believe them anymore. Everyone was a liar. I’m NOT close. I’m NOT doing a good job (otherwise the baby would be here by now). I’m NOT about to have my baby.

I kept being checked and told that I was close. I would cry and losing all faith in Hypnobabies. Although I felt like I wasn’t doing Hypnobabies anymore, I was told they would catch me not saying much and chanting through some tough waves without even giving it a second thought. I just wished I could get a break- just for an hour. I need sleep. But nope- those urges to push just wouldn’t let up.

(Monday, January 7th)
I pushed all night. Begging and pleading for someone to do something. Everyone was so encouraging. April tried so hard to keep me calm. I remember crying as she rubbed my head looking into her tear filled eyes. Jenny was so sick as this time- really feeling the effects of everything I was going through, still sticking by my side like the amazing wife she truly is. Susan was the perfect midwife, encouraging me that I was the toughest person she’d ever met.

April needed to get home to her little girl. Everyone thought a new person in the picture to help with the support would be a good idea. So they called up Megan- a close friend and our Hypnobabies instructor. She arrived around 9am. I cried in her arms allowing every fear and angry feeling come out. “I’m trying so hard Megan. I’m doing everything you told me to do. I’m doing everything everyone is telling me to do. I can’t do this anymore. They’re lying to me or something.” She smiled this beautiful, angelic smile and told me I was amazing. She helped me get back into the groove of Hypnobabies. She helped me back into the tub with Jenny. We began to breathe, chant, laugh, and chit chat. Susan insured us that this was great and would allow that last bit of cervix to move out of the way. I felt confident at this point.

About an hour later, after the water was cold and I was ready to try pushing him out, I got out and laid on the bed. Everything intensified again. I made it clear at this point that I was way too tired to do this anymore. I wasn’t going to push him out. I got hysterical all over again as these uncontrollable waves took over my body over and over. Susan said she was going to check me. Megan held my hand on one side as Jenny stroked my head and held my other hand. That’s when I let them know that if there is no change we have to go to the hospital. I saw the look on Susan’s face. No… no change. Still a 9. “NOOOOOOOOOOO,” I cried, “Ok. Let’s go. NOW! I want the epidural and I want it now! If you don’t take me right now I’m going to go out there half naked and make someone driving by take me.”

At that point my mother came down to try and calm me down because even though I had it set in my mind that I was going, I was even more hysterical because of how disappointed I was in myself. I couldn’t stop telling her that everyone who doubted me and was negative about my birth plan is going to say “I told you so.” Everyone was so comforting at that point telling me how great I had done and that they understand and think it’s a wise choice to go ahead and go in.

We pulled up to the ER entrance and I told my wife to please go in there and tell them to have me a room ready before I get in there because there was no way I was going to scream through my waves and pushes in the middle of a waiting room. I can laugh about it now, but it was so funny getting into the hospital. The look on their faces! Those people rushed around so fast. I felt like I was in one of those really dramatic movies. I mean, no joke, the guy pushing me in the wheelchair was swerving around corners so fast I thought I was going to tip over. The woman in front of him was running yelling for people to get out of the way. I couldn’t tell them to chill out because I was busy “hoooo-hooo-haaaa-haaa-ing” but inside I really felt like I was in a movie.

I was checked once I got situated in the room. I slipped back to a 6 from a 9 since we left home. (This is what was happened at home. I would go back and forth in dilation). Another mind boggling thing? My water broke… AGAIN! Right there in the bed. I had no idea this was possible… having your bag break multiple times? Yep- it’s a real thing.

It was a couple hours later that I finally got the epidural. Oh sweet loving Lord above. Thank you! At least now I can still have a vaginal birth. I’m not gonna lie- I see why women are so quick to get those things. My wife, son, mother, sister, and Hypnobabies instructor and friend, Megan, were all there. At 8:30p.m. it was time to push. I got scared because I could feel my legs. I THOUGHT I WASN’T SUPPOSE TO FEEL ANYTHING! It was too late. I was pushing. OMG I FEEL IT! WOW! I began feeling sick and started vomiting. This is was the BEST pushing tactic haha. As I was puking the force of it was really shooting him out.

home birth turned hospital birth

“Look down DeAnna! Look down!! Baby born at 8:57p.m.”

“OMG! Look at my baby. Is he not the most beautiful baby in the world,” I said with tears just rolling down my cheeks.  My wife went with the baby and my son instantly came from my feet (watching his baby brother come out) to my head. As he rubbed my head, grabbed my hand, bawling his eyes out he managed to give me a kiss on my forehead and said, “Oh mom I am so proud of you. I can’t believe you did it. You did such a good job. I can’t believe this baby isn’t dead and we finally get to take one home.” I had never known that the loss of one baby made him think that every failed attempt of trying to conceive meant it died too. I had never known he was crushed every time (for two years) we’d have to tell him, “Nope, bud. It didn’t work this time.” My big brave son finally let it out and he was proud. Proud of ME. What an emotion. An emotion I don’t think I will ever experience again. An emotion nothing else can replace. The bond that happened in that moment made me want to be the best mother in the world not only to him, but new baby Sebastian.

birth story

I look back at how hard this labor was. I had never had a kid before so I did not know that what I was going through was rare and not a typical birth. When everyone would tell me all that happened I started to realize how strong I was. I just went FOUR DAYS in labor! There was nothing in my life that made me feel so amazing. Nothing that made me feel so powerful. I wanted to yell, “I AM WOMAN! HEAR ME ROAR!” Even though this was a very hard birth, there is no doubt in my mind I would do it all over again. In fact, I can’t wait to get pregnant again because I will try the home birth without a second thought. It’s funny because I actually hear myself thinking, “You can do even better next time!”

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A Beautiful Family Home Birth/Baby Caught by Grandmother {Graphic Emergence Photos}

A Beautiful Family Home Birth/Baby Caught by Grandmother {Graphic Emergence Photos}

I am so blessed with my children. They really have an amazing bond and as I try to tell Clara’s birth I realize that their bond started with the very first home they each occupied, my womb. I realize that much of what made Clara’s birth so amazing was what I learned from giving birth to Jesse, so I think I’ll start with that story.

While pregnant with Jesse, my husband and I lived with my parents. My mom used to be a lay midwife many years ago, so I was very blessed to be raised with a very healthy view of birth. Birth is wonderful, miraculous, amazing, intense, painful, life changing, empowering, and normal. God designed everything to work together, in an amazing way. Without interference it is perfect, most of the time. It is never something I grew up fearing, but rather, very much looked forward to the experience.

One of the many blessings my parents gave me was raising me around other families and lots of love. The midwife, who delivered me, Virginia, is a dear friend of my mom and, in fact, my mom delivered her son months before I was born while I was in utero. Her son, Isaiah, was present at my birth at a few months old. Birth, within our community, was much cherished and celebrated as a family event, not a medical event. When I thought about my upcoming birth, I knew I wanted to be surrounded by those I love and who love me. I thought of my ideal birth and pursued it as best I could. We called Virginia to see if it was possible for her to attend me even though she lived in Massachusetts.

Virginia was near the end of her journey of becoming licensed (even though she had been delivering babies for over 30 years) and was able to bless us, by attending me. She flew out to California a week before my due date (I received regular prenatal care through Kaiser to assure those in my life who were not so familiar with home birth, that my pregnancy was a very healthy pregnancy and a perfect candidate for home birth). Virginia stayed with us and was able to visit with her family who were local while we patiently waited for Jesse to decide he was ready to join us earth-side.

I very much enjoy being pregnant and was in no hurry to rush him out, however when those around you know you are “past your due date” they start getting impatient. 3 days “overdue” I had a little conversation with Jesse, where I told him how much I was enjoying being pregnant and that I knew he was cozy in there, but everyone really wanted to meet him and I was okay with sharing him now.

Every night while sleeping my cats surrounded me, my CC lay on my belly and Amber lay in the crook of my knees, while Lily (my formerly anti-social cat) joined us on the bed but as far away as she could be in a queen size bed with two adults and three cats. Four days postdates, the morning of February 17th at 5 AM, CC woke me up to ask me to let him out. As I walked to the front door I felt a trickle down my leg. I woke my mom to tell her that I thought my water had broke but I wasn’t sure. Now the excitement began, we were having a baby! So I thought… It was a Saturday and we called everyone up to tell them. Both sets of my in-laws were called. Mike, Tammy, and Alexis came out from Oakley to be there for the birth right away since we didn’t realize how long it would take and they were afraid traffic could be bad. Susan and Joe decided to wait to come since they were fairly close and I was still not having contractions.

All day we hung out “in labor” I couldn’t feel my contractions but when palpating my belly I felt it harden and release regularly. We decided to try a castor oil massage topically on my belly but it didn’t do much. We walked around the block quite a few times, but still, not much going on. Around lunchtime Mike and Tammy got us a sandwich tray and I had one, because I knew I should keep eating to keep up my strength. Finally, after all day of nothing, around 9 PM we decided to try a cocktail of castor oil in orange juice with a little baking soda to make it fizzy. It really wasn’t bad. By 10 PM I was on the toilet and not to get too graphic, but I stayed there for about an hour, rather than keep leaving and coming back. By 11 PM I had finally started active labor for real. I labored all night. I had been up all day and now I was tired, but since it was getting intense I didn’t get a chance to sleep. I did lay down for a little bit, but it didn’t help. In fact lying down was much worse. My favorite position for laboring was sitting on my birthing ball and rocking side to side. During each contraction I’d moan as my mamma had coached me and it helped so much. I had some wonderful, intimate time with my mom and my midwife. I’m not sure what time but at some point they sent everyone away for a while. My great-aunt, Evie, had lived next door but had passed away during my pregnancy, so her house was vacant. My in-laws went there to sleep so they weren’t far and my husband went to bed for a while.

Since my water had broken before contractions, we checked dilation as little as possible, but by 3 AM I had been going for 22 hours and wanted a number to quantify where I was. I was only at 3 cm. This was disappointing for me as I thought I would be further after all day, but looking back, I really had only been having strong contractions for about 4 hours.

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I remember being in the living room for a while with just my mom and Virginia. The lights were off and the fireplace was going. They were such a wonderful support, these women who had been there for me since my very first breath, now helping me breath and bring my first baby into the world. Over the next few hours my contractions were getting stronger and I was getting more and more tired. By 6 AM I wanted to be checked again to make sure I was making progress. I had progressed and was now at 6 CM. This was good because it definitely felt like I was working hard. From 6-8 AM I labored more in various positions, walking, standing, squatting, my favorite was sitting on the birthing ball. I remember at one point leaning against the fireplace mantle and thinking that I now fully understood why women get epidurals. I hate to admit it but I had previously been one to tell the women through the TV (while watching A Baby Story) that they didn’t need those epidurals. How arrogant of me! I now knew exactly why they got those epidurals and vividly remember thinking that I was glad I wasn’t in a hospital with a choice for one because I probably have taken it right then. I even asked “how long is this going to go on?” as Virginia recalls in her birth note she told me it could be only a number of contractions if I really let it take me over.

Somewhere between 8 and 9 AM I asked to be checked again. I was at 6 cm. Yes, that’s right exactly where I was last time I was checked. I was so tired! I think I started crying at some point and told my mom, I know that I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength and I know He won’t give me more than I could handle, but I was so tired! Finally I reached that point. The one where I realized, that instead of handling each contraction as it came I could look forward to each one. Not because it was easy now, but because there was a finite number of contractions I’d experience. I didn’t know that very number but God did and each contraction I had was one less than before. Each contraction I’d say a prayer of thanks that I was one contraction closer. Finally 28 hours in I was surrendering. I was too exhausted to fight them, or even bear them, and instead I welcomed each contraction. Each contraction I got to, was one closer to Jesse being here. One closer… one closer… one closer. As I was in this zone my mom offered me something to eat. I didn’t feel hungry but knew it had been a while since I had eaten so I agreed, thinking she knew best. Little did I know this was one of her ways of gauging if I was near the end. Apparently women in transition usually turn down food. She thought my behavior looked close to being done, but since I accepted the food, she figured I still had a while left.

By the time she served me malt-o-meal it was about 9:40 and after a nibble or so I felt the need to push. I went to change position and had a gush of amniotic fluid. I knew a little about birth, and when I saw the fluid had meconium I worried. The first thought in my head was that I knew it could be a sign of a problem and thought that I’d HAVE to transfer. I even asked out loud if I had to transfer. Virginia just calmly told me she would check me first and we’d see from there. I had been at 6cm for at least 3 hours but suddenly with a change of outlook, I went from 6 to complete in less than an hour. After being checked and told I was fully dilated and we would monitor baby but that we didn’t have to transfer at this point just because of meconium alone. We called everyone to come back from where they had all been resting for the night. Most important in my mind was my sister. We called Shannon, and she and Steph had just ordered breakfast at one of our favorite diners. Shannon and I had met there for pancakes for lunch almost every week while I was pregnant. She stood up and announced to them that they HAD to go because I was about to have the baby! Meanwhile, I was fully dilated and being told I could push anytime. I calmly (at least in my recollection of it) explained that if my body needed to push I would let it, otherwise I’d wait for Shannon to get there. Finally she arrived about 10:15 and I started pushing. We had an air mattress inflated in the living room and I was laying on that to begin with. My sister was behind me, my mom at my perineum, my dad on a chair to my side praying over us and one mother-in-law at my feet while the other one was taking photos, per my request. I pushed some this way laying down but as I was pushing and while he started to crown Virginia checked Jesse’s heart tones and found that they were dropping with my pushing so I was given some oxygen which helped. I then got in a standing supported squat with Shannon holding me under my right arm and Ryan holding me under my left arm. This was much better for both me and Jesse. I pushed and out came his head into my mom’s waiting hands. She checked for his cord and found it around his neck so, calmly, without even saying anything, she looped it back over his head and I pushed him out the rest of the way.

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He was handed straight to me and I unwrapped the cord from where it was loosely around his neck (a second loop) and around his arm too. They put a chair under me now so I could sit and I was able to see his tiny face. He was so beautiful! One of the stories my mom tells of me as a small child is that I used to nurse my babydolls. I guess it came back to me pretty quickly because Jesse latched on to nurse within 10 minutes of being born. The placenta came out a minute later on its own.

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We had my two father in laws, and two sister-in-laws outside and once I was presentable they were invited in to meet Jesse.

It was determined previously that I had some tearing due to Jesse’s swift arrival, as we didn’t hold back to allow for stretching due to his heart tones and nucal cord. Virginia had brought with her many supplies for emergency situations but one thing she wasn’t able to bring with on the plane was lidocaine for sutures and since they had given us so much time for bonding, my natural pain relieving hormones were no longer sufficient for sutures. Luckily, in addition to Virginia and my mom attending me, they had decided to call an old friend to be with us who was a local practicing midwife, Susanna Napierala who also brought a colleague, Claudette Coughenour. When she got there we learned that she was a Christian and had been praying in church during the worship that morning, “where you send me, Lord, I’ll go.” I ended up with 4 of the best midwives out there! When they were ready to suture me, I was asked to get up and use the bathroom first. As I stood up, my mom tells me, “If you feel like…too late” The end of that sentence was going to be “passing out, let me know.” But instead I fainted before she could tell me. This was a bit of a scare, as they all worried about blood loss, but my blood pressure was fine. It turned out I had low blood sugar from being in labor so very long and forgetting to eat. I hadn’t eaten anything since the sandwich for lunch the day before. I had a wonderful beautiful natural home birth but man was it a lot of work! Jesse weighed 7 lbs 3oz and was born at 10:42 AM Sunday, Feb 18, 2007.


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Note from Ruthie: You may remember this mama’s face from her role as a doula (along with her previously mentioned second child, Clara) at this birth. 🙂

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