There We Were… A Family – The Birth of Sequoia

Heidi’s water broke Thursday at 12:30am. She woke me up saying “Uh baby, my water broke.”  I sat up and said, “Tell me more about that,” and looked over to see the soaked sheet on her side of the bed.  We did a few things to get ready for labor while having everyone in our house. Then we tried to sleep, but to no avail.  She was having regular contractions for a while, about seven minutes apart consistently. Everything was too exciting for us to sleep, so we stayed in bed in the dark and talked for a while.  I fell asleep for a bit before waking up around 6:00am.  We let our bosses know that we wouldn’t be showing up, and talked to our midwives, doula, birth photographer, and acupuncturist.

The contractions almost stopped around 8:00am, so we made an appointment with our acupuncturist for 9:15. She had worked with us throughout the conception and pregnancy, and we had planned to see her during labor as well. We stayed there for a couple hours and she worked on different acupuncture points to help encourage contractions and labor. She told us to go home and go on a walk, and do some pumping to get contractions started up again.

Heidi had also set up a visit from the woman who runs her prenatal singing circle Wombsong, so she came around 1pm. We expected to be laboring at that point, but since contractions were still pretty stalled, we were able to have a beautiful singing session with her and prepare ourselves mentally and emotionally for labor. It was a wonderful thing to do, and we are so grateful she was able to come to us.

After she left, we did some more pumping and walking and were able to get contractions going again, but they were not very regular. Our midwife Sunshine Tomlin came around 7pm and talked about options for herbs and what they would do (slow things down or speed them up). She is always so calm and reassuring, so it was nice to have her there. She was able to be there for a contraction or two and see how hard they were, but they were still 10-15 minutes apart. She had suggested Heidi take some valerian to help her sleep, and told her to rest and she would most likely see us in the morning.

After she went home, our doula Giselle arrived shortly thereafter. Pretty soon Heidi started having very regular contractions, and throwing up after each one. The contractions got pretty serious, and Giselle and I started thinking Sunshine should maybe come back. We timed the contractions and they were consistent every 4-5 minutes, so we told Sunshine she should come back. It had only been an hour since she left! She said she’d let her assistant Angela and our birth photographer Paige Driscoll (santacruzbirthphotography.com) know and they’d be at our house soon.

Right before they got to our house, Heidi was pretty desperate to be in the tub, which we’d started filling just a bit before that. Sunshine checked her and told her to get in, and Heidi told me to get in too. We stayed in the tub for a long while, getting through contractions and breathing. Heidi was doing what she needed to do, and Giselle was such an amazing support as well. She knew the right thing to say and do to help us both, and was great at encouraging Heidi and me through each contraction. There were times Heidi felt like giving up, but having the support of Giselle, Sunshine, and Angela seemed to help her.

After a while in the tub (about two hours at that point), she was getting ready to push. Heidi started feeling like she didn’t have enough traction in the birth tub, since there was nothing to really hold onto, and she wanted to move. With the help of our VERY strong doula, we moved from the tub to the bed and Heidi pushed some more.  I kept saying she needed to go on the birthing stool so gravity could help her, even though her pushing was making some progress.

After an hour on the bed, Heidi moved to the birthing stool. After 8 minutes on the stool, Sequoia was born at 3:21am, weighing 7 lbs even and measuring 19.5” long. The midwives placed her in our arms, and the first thing we did was sing to her. We sang a Kundalini Yoga chant, “Long Time Sun,” to her.

May the long time sun shine upon you
all love surround you
and the pure, pure light within you
guide your way home

We went back into the nursery bed with all three of us, and held her and both nursed her (this is possible because I induced lactation using the Newman-Goldfarb protocol). I was able to cut her cord. Eventually we all moved to our bigger bedroom and got cozy in bed together. Our midwife sat on our bed and did Sequoia’s exam there. Before we knew it everyone had cleaned up and left, and there we were—a family.

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